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Due to Covid-19 many pubs are working to new operating procedures. Please check directly with the pub first before visiting.

The Dirty Duck

Woolsthorpe, Grantham

I hate to use the term 'new normal' - I prefer to think of it as a ‘brief blip’. Never-the-less, it is reassuring to see pubs take this ‘blip’ to regular service seriously.

The Pub

Tucked away in Vale of Belvoir, The Dirty Duck is just outside Woolsthorpe village and sits discreetly alongside the Grantham Canal. A pub since 1910, it was originally called The Rutland Arms and is only a few miles from Belvoir Castle. Fun fact (it’s not fun) – Belvoir Castle is owned by the Duke of Rutland, where the family have lived for almost a thousand years. Also ‘Belvoir’ is pronounced ‘beaver’. I won’t spoil you with any more of these gems in case you visit over the summer holidays.

The Dirty Duck is the second pub we’ve visited since reopening and it was rather nice, and surprising, to see we weren’t the only families braving the pub with young kids, with 2 other families taking up tables in the beer garden.

Although the pub is +100 years old, it looks pretty spritely considering its age and certainly doesn’t suffer from some of the constraints of older pubs. Spacious door ways, ample room to swing a car seat around, a nice big bar area, cosy sofa and dining tables, all wrapped up in a pretty clean and modern décor.

The owners here have clearly taken all the Government guidelines on board – we were greeted at the door by staff; encouraged to sanitise our hands; tables were spaced out to give diners some elbow room; and plastic screens adorn  the bar. If you want outdoor seating then this place has it covered. And by the bucket load. The main patio has endless space with plenty of tables all distributed with social distancing in mind. If you’re lucky, you might grab a table that runs alongside the canal. If the beer garden is looking full – fear not. Around the back is a second patio with equally stunning views of the canal and countryside.

Having reopened on the 4th July, the pub currently operates a booking service for indoor seating, with the beer gardens being a first come first served basis. So if the weather is looking shiny, I’d highly recommend getting in early, or at least booking a table inside and hoping the French doors to the courtyard are kicked open.


The Grub

The Dirty Duck is operating a restricted menu for the time being, which is understandable. Most of your pub classics are still covered from Fish & Chips to Grilled Salmon Teriyaki, as well as a good range of options for the kids. I plumbed for a ‘Steak Sarnie’ (£8.75) and pint of Batemans. After much (futile) umming and ahhing, Mrs PST went for the ‘Dirty Duck Burger’ (£11.50) and half a Doombar. Much like Dixie with her sausage and chips, you can pretty much guarantee that no matter the menu, 9/10 times it’s the burger. On this occasion though, I think she may won – I had a small case of food envy.

For the kids menu (under 10’s) the choices are pretty standard. Top of the list – Sausage and Chips. So, what did the Dixie pick? In an effort to probably wind me up and after seeing the gentle ribbing I gave Mrs PST for her burger choice, she bucked the trend and copied Wilma with the Chicken Nuggets and Chips (£5.00). Kids! It’s hit and miss these days whether the kids eat food when it’s put in front of them, even when they choose what they want. But today they each chowed down most of the plate.

I’d say the portion sizes were about right size for our younger sprogs. You may want to consider the adult menu for slightly older kids. And if you still have a little room left for pud, the options are ice cream tubs or ice lollies.

& for the Bubs

So. The elephant in the room. Kids in pubs. If we are being completely honest, it’s not the easiest of times to take you kids to the pub and I get it. Even if you are keen, not all pubs are necessarily comfortable with allowing children back in the bar. And those that are have had to change things up. For the time being, gone are the days of board games, pool tables, shared books and toy boxes. Children wandering around freely is also a big no no. That means as a parent we need to be a little more prepared.

We’ve always loaded the girls up with their own pub packs. Contain crayons, colouring books, small toys collected from Happy Meals or won in an arcade. So, we are usually well prepped - it’s about the only part of parenting I am prepped for.

It came as a nice surprise then, for kids’ menu to come with an activity sheet still. Of course, the communal crayon pot has gone, but a quick rummage around our pub packs and we found some crayons we had ‘inherited’ from another pub along the way.

The other big draw other than the beer garden, when Coronavirus finally does one, is the outdoor swing park, which was sadly closed on our visit. Even better is the pubs second, smaller, beer garden is plonked right next to it, meaning you can sit and enjoy couples time while having one eye (hopefully not bleary) on the kids. Hopefully this will reopen soon.

All that said, the jewel in the crown here for the family, is the canal. If you can make it through lunch without upsetting too many people / kids, head out the car park, over the little humpback bridge and you’ll find a quintessential piece of rural countryside - the canal. Complete with tow path, locks, narrowboats, fishermen, ducks, swans, all manner of wildlife and fresh air. Take a stroll, work off lunch and keep the kids away from the ipads for more than 5 minutes. Man I got old during lockdown.

Pub crawl: July 2020

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