CONVIVIALITY cannot be bottled but if it could be, there would be several pints of the stuff hanging above the bar of the Jolly Farmers at the bottom of a very steep hill in the tiny village of Leavening, in North Yorkshire.
Creating a welcoming, relaxing atmosphere where people who have supped for years rub along happily with tourists just passing by, takes time and takes years of cultivation.
It helps, too, if the pub can boast long-standing regulars like Ian Milburn, a former quarryman, who is always a fountain of wit, good humour and local knowledge.
Richard and Sarah Smith bought the pub in August 2004 and have survived the inherent difficulties of running such an isolated pub in this country – in the past two winters, conditions have sometimes been horrendous.
There can be few events more disheartening than watching as the snow falls and knowing that you will soon be picking up the phone to take yet another party cancellation for more than 30 diners.
As is traditional for a village pub, it is the social heart of the village, and Richard takes a keen interest in local events such as cricket matches, dominoes and pub quizzes.
It has been a pub for a long time and was previously The Board Inn, one of the several pubs in the village at the time. Before that it was a blacksmith’s workshop.
Inside there are cosy snugs, a games room where bands have been known to entertain and a reasonably-sized dining area. Outside, there is plenty of room to take a foaming pint into the fresh-smelling air.
Tel 01653 658276. Main Street.