HERE at Great Marton the heart-warming fires of Blackpool’s oldest pub, The Saddle Inn, are once more crackling with logs and cheer.
It’s all thanks to popular staff of owner the Stonegate Pub Company and, in particular, the Saddle’s present stand-in boss Bev.
The quiet, well-humoured and efficient Bev has had the chimney sweep round. Her enthusiastic team, led by ‘Luscious Lou’, have added sparkle. Now passing shoppers are coming in from the cold to enjoy a warmer festive craic with regular patrons.
It shows there’s more to being a popular pub than big-screen Premiership footie and two-for-one lagers or ‘party shots’.
Local lady Bev knew the fireplaces were focal points in quaint rooms at the historic inn, on Whitegate Drive.
“They’re part of the traditional charm here,” she told me, “and reflect the pub’s warmth.”
The Camra-listed Saddle can now pride itself on real ales, real people and real fires - along with some hearty, bargain grub.
As nearby stores stack Christmas trees and play carols, the surge in customers is a reminder that committed local staff and old-fashioned values count most with the public.
There’s a lesson in this for our traditional-style resort. How good it would be to see more locals shopping, eating and drinking in town - rather than heading to suburban supermarkets and rural or ‘posher’ locations.
Still, the festive season is off to a cracking start. The crystal lights display along Central Promenade is stylish and dazzling; while the line-up of shows - from Bob Dylan to Mamma Mia! - is surely second to none.
Perhaps the New Year when it comes will be brighter too. It certainly seemed so to me this week - when sitting beside Bev’s fire.
* Roy’s humorous history of the Saddle Inn is available at the pub; with other books at Gazette reception, Blackpool Cricket Club and Plackitt & Booth in Lytham. Visit royedmonds-blackpool.com for full details.