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It was my father-in-law’s 88th birthday today, so Dawn drove John and his wife Norah (plus me) over the border into Lancashire for a birthday meal at a pub in Delph, Lancashire that John and Norah knew but that Dawn and I have never visited. A splendid afternoon was had by all. For a start, it’s a lovely drive from where Dee’s parent live, at Crosland Moor in the hills to the West of Huddersfield. You traverse the Colne valley as far as Marsden, then cut up over the moors atop the Standedge canal and rail tunnels before dropping down into Diggle and finally to Delph itself. As we weren’t eating until later we also called into a popular garden centre to browse their Christmas collection whilst allowing me to buy some winter Pansies so that I can provide some colour in the garden over the next few months. Yep, I’m of that age where I enjoy browsing in garden centres!

The pub that John had chosen for lunch was the Old Bell Inn. It’s a listed 18th Century coaching house which contains a pub, restaurant and hotel rooms. It also has a claim to fame. In the bar there’s a 2014 certificate from the Guinness book of records, which records the fact that they had a world-record number of gins in their bar. They currently boast of stocking over 1100 different ones. It’s not just gins either, they also have an impressive collection of other spirits, including a cabinet of select Brandies, one of which will set you back £200 a shot! Real ale drinkers aren’t neglected either as there’s four hand-pulled beers which included Timothy Taylors and Millstone from nearby Mossley.

We ate in the restaurant rather than the bar. They couldn’t fit us in until 13:45 and when we arrived, we could see why, the place was packed with groups enjoying Christmas lunches! The atmosphere was really jolly and whilst the staff were run off their feet they were on top of everything and served with a smile and a joke. We ordered from the special Xmas menu. Whilst John and Norah (who’re gluten-free) had the soup of the day, Dawn plumped for the Chicken Liver Parfait served with fruit chutney and toasted ciabatta whilst I had the Shawarma Kofta served with pickled red cabbage, warm Pitta and Raita. Both were excellent. The taste and texture of the Kofta was excellent and it had a real kick to it too, which I certainly appreciated.

When it came to mains, the three members of the Platt family all plumped for Turkey served with roast and mashed potato, carrots, sprouts, parsnip and a pig in blanket plus lardons and finally, gravy. I went for something more local and traditional which I’d discovered by accident when out photographing in the area when I first moved up here – rag pudding (minced meat and onions in suet pastry cooked in cheesecloth) with chunky chips and mushy peas.

None of us had any cause for complaint about the quality of food or the portion sizes – or the prices. At £14.95 for 2 courses, they rank as very good value for money.

All agreed it was a lovely lunch and now we’ve discovered the place Dawn and I will certainly be back. The area around Delph, Uppermill and Diggle has a lot to offer and knowing there’s yet another good pub and restaurant in the area adds to the attractions. I’d certainly recommend it.

Here’s a few pictures from our visit.

Shawarma Kofta
Chicken liver parfait
A local delicacy – rag pudding.
Seating in the bar area.
The bar. The Gin collection is off to the left…
Just a part of the 1100 plus Gin bottle collection.
Gin, Gin, Gin, Gin…
The brandy cabinet.
The birthday boy and family…

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