This was about as idyllic a Cornish lunch as you could imagine, every calorie of which we earned the hard way after a 6 mile hike along the coastal path from St Ives.
I don’t know whether it was the hearty food, the sun-trap beer garden or the local colour that made the experience so delicious.
Under a blue sky, three thirsty girls arrived at The Tinners. We found a table outside, ordered our drinks and pored over the lunch menu.
My friend Karen went in to order at the bar. I love those sunlit afternoons when the inside of a bar seems as dark and cool as a cave. Inside, Karen placed our order – a pint of prawns and granary bread, a goat’s cheese salad and a ham ploughman’s. We came unstuck with the latter.
To give you some important context, the Tinners is presided over by a woman in her sixties and her troupe of buxom local barmaids. It appeared to me that they all love working in this pub.
The barmaid taking Karen’s order asked her if she wanted cheese for an extra pound on her ham ploughman’s. Karen queried whether cheese wouldn’t already be included on a ploughman’s. The barmaid, failing to stifle her laughter, rebuked Karen that this was not the case.
Karen paid and scurried. Except she’d forgotten to take cutlery. On bravely re-entering the pub she heard the same barmaid telling her colleague: “Cheese? I couldn’t keep a straight face.”
So, as a piece of advice, I’d say, don’t question the ploughman’s. And do pay for the cheese because it was fantastic value – brie, Cornish blue, goats cheese and a delicious vintage cheddar, all in generous chunks.
A second piece of local colour that occurred later is worth mentioning. The Tribute beer delivery arrived and after unloading, the two draymen cooled down with a Coke in the bar. This time, I went to the bar for another round.
They were in high spirits and the brace of barmaids were lapping it up.
Drayman 1: “Guess what?”
Drayman 1: “I ran over a turkey this morning. 10 tonne of truck behind me – I couldn’t stop. I said to Mick, I said, I’ve ruined someone’s Christmas.”
Peals of laughter.
Barmaid: “Where you off next boys?”
Drayman 2: “Gurnards, Cobblers, then back to St Ives.”
I went thirsty but I didn’t mind.
So, the food was perfectly appropriate for the setting. It was decently prepared and, even better, served with local charm: the waitress who brought our food called out “Prawns?” and handed me mine. Then, with the goats cheese salad in hand, glanced at it, glanced at it again and said “I don’t know what this is.”