FARNISH PUB GUIDE (also Restaurants, Cafes, B&B's, etc.)
Should you ever come to visit Farnish (which is not that likely, as it is
a very hard place to find, let alone get to), you might like to know the
following -- in fact, to survive, you HAVE to know.... Although the
island only has about 1600 inhabitants, there are plenty of pubs. Places
to stay, and other amenities (such as public Loos), are very rare. In
spite of its decrepit condition, the LOCH NORWORT HOTEL is your best bet
for a visit to be remembered and cherished, and it is centrally located
(not conveniently, since there is no public transport -- yet they do provide
a mule-cart service when you can stir up the groom).
FARNISHAM, (or to use its archaic name, NOSTRIL):
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FLATFISH INN. Nice dockside pub, somewhat rowdy; bar food (fish & chips);
some accommodation (crude); the saloon bar is attached to the Cripplewort Theatre.
- RED GARTER HOTEL. Fairly rustic pub by the gatehouse (farm-oriented
rather than maritime); bar food (plowman's lunch and shepherd's pie, very good); NOT a hotel, in spite of its name--the accommodation is taken up permanently by farm-labor pensioners.
- THE FARNFORK ARMS. Where the constabulary, such as it is, hangs out;
no accommodation (unless you can convince them you are an ex-cop or a
- THE MILLER'S LEGS. Right next to the Mill. This is where the island
beer Shlug is brewed, from the chaff from the flour mill (tastes somewhat
like a glass of vodka with a tablespoon of wheat germ stirred into it).
The pub is just a shed; mainly, you bring along empty beer, coke, milk
bottles and have them filled at the tap for take-home. Only open during
work hours (daylight). [Martha Grimes has supposedly written one of her
pub mysteries about this place, but it hasn't seen print yet.] The name
of this place reportedly derives from the miller who managed it some
years ago, when there was a drought, and he kept the millwheels turning
by harnessing himself to the differential and kept the damn thing running
with his own leg power.
- CRIPPLEWORT THEATRE. The only entertainment 'palace' on the island;
small cinema for old movies, mostly B&W Westerns, etc.; Punch & Judy
shows; recitals; school plays. We can't afford to keep the web site updated as to
their scheduled events, but if you are curious, here is the August 1999 Program. Though out of date, this will give you an idea.
- COLDBOTHAM HOUSE. An adjunct of the Art Museum and the Mitherglew Collection.
Like the associated Tea Room, this is not technically a public house or restaurant but
merely an amenity of the museum.
DOLPHIN INN. Next to the fish warehouse; smelly and generally awful, but
some yachtsmen (mostly investment bankers) swear by it; limited accommodation,
if you can stand it. Billy Millweel, the poet, used to hang out here 150 years ago, so the place does have some historic interest, and his old seat by the fireplace is still preserved (you aren't allowed to sit in it, but there is no sign that says this).
- THE PLOUGH. Local hangout par excellence; decent local food; the
accents are so thick here, you will not understand anything, especially
on a Saturday night [the islanders think you are making fun of them if
you keep saying 'What?' so be careful--best just to nod and say 'Ayyup'].
- RESTAURANTS. You're out of luck, pal. Mrs Mitherglew's daughter
runs a Tea Shoppe next to the Guildhall in Farnisham; the Fresh Nails
beauty parlor also serves tea and scones; there was an erstwhile hot-dog
stand at Fling Point Overlook, but I don't know if it's still there.
Fresh pickled herring is always available in the Market Squares in
Gelling and Farnisham (on Market Days, which are on the fourth Thursday
of every month, and every Saturday from May to October).
- You can always have a full-course meal at the
Loch Norwort Hotel;
best to arrange in advance. Luigi, when he's sober, can come up with some
very interesting dishes (e.g., Tree Pig Marinara, Grillslug Marsala,
Tosti la Piquante Herring), but normally be prepared for something like
lamb shoulder with cabbage on the side (with mint jelly imported from
Pakistan), and boiled Irish potatoes with skins-on (also imported).
[They call what passes for Yorkshire Pudding here "Yawks-Sir" after an
event in 1898 involving a Yorkshireman and a serving maid; I think
that's kind of quaint.]
- LOCH NORWORT HOTEL. There is actually a bathroom in each wing. The Saloon
is kind of nice, looking out over the lake (service is spotty, but there
is a large hand bell on the bar). Tennis court (better to play Badminton
on this, as the surface is not too good); bowling green/bocchi court (the
latter courtesy of Luigi the cook); paddle boat and canoe rentals.
- BORWOOD HUNTING LODGE. If you can convince the Porter that you are
descended from the Duke of Clarence, you can get a good Single-malt
Scots whisky here (5 quid into his pocket will do it too). Watch out
for the incredible assholes that might be around in the summer months
who come to 'hunt' (there is no game on the island)--tell them you used
to ride to hounds with Jacquie Kennedy and you'll be OK.
- MOONSHINE (Skibbeens). Every place has them; here, if you are
daring enough, try the grotty little house (you can't fail to recognize
it, as it is the only one with a complete roof) next to the Glib Castle
ruins, quite a hike from anywhere. There is also a Dive near the Poorhouse
in Farnisham (behind the Customs House) that serves as the local casino
and bordello; not recommended, unless you are that sort of person
[knock on the red door down the cellar steps and tell them Grobius sent you--
if the bouncer gives you trouble, mumble 'remember the sweaty pig?'].
- BED & BREAKFAST. Knock on someone's door and chat them up; they might
put you up as long as you can prove you are married to your companion.
Don't even bother at the northern 'hamlets'--Cold Comfort Farms indeed.
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