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Looking on the Sunny Side.

Updated: Jun 22, 2022

Having spent five hours yesterday struggling to pass the shortage of HGV drivers struggling to overtake each other at 55.9mph on every slight rise on the M5, today was to be spent transporting Ma and Pa Outlaw to Wells for some social interaction. With about ten miles worth of fuel left in the tank after the drive south Mrs. Bygone Boozer thought that it'd probably be a good idea to fill the tank before we had the outlaws loaded and lashed down in the back, so we set off to the local filling station.

It did seem a little busier than I'd expected it to be, but it was a Friday at 9.30 and all those white van men were probably just picking up their coffees and Ginster pasties ready for their morning breaks. Fully fuelled, it was back to the house to collect the outlaws.

Parking in Wells was relatively easy and with Ma and Paw O delivered to their desired location we set off for a stroll around the town, sorry, city.

I was going to include this past pub in the post as well, but it seems that there may well be a possibility of it reopening after quite a few years of closure.

Mermaid Inn wells
The Mermaid Inn, Wells.

The boards which used to be up at its windows have been removed and planning permission was granted last year for the demolition of outbuildings and the construction of four two-bedroom houses behind the pub with one of them being for its manager. I'm still not totally convinced that it will survive though as there has already been a successful attempt by the developers to remove the 'manager's accommodation' condition from the granted permission. I won't be too surprised if the Mermaid doesn't feature in a post of its own in these pages in the not too distant future.

To occupy our time, Mrs. Bygone Boozer an I swanned around what many folk in Wells consider to be England's smallest city, conveniently forgetting about the City of London. We swanned by the Swan Hotel...

Swan Hotel Wells

...and we swanned by the swans at the Bishop's Palace...

...before plonking ourselves down for a couple of continental coffees by the cathedral's Penniless Porch.

Caffeine levels topped up there was time for a little more swanning around and my eye was caught by this cheerful sign in Union Street.

Sun Inn Wells

Things are not what they seem though.

The pseudo Sun Inn with its name, sign and Usher's shield.

The Sun Inn is to be found at 20 Union Street but it is not a pub. It used to be, and was for a century or two, plying its trade on what was previously known as Grove Lane.

Somerset Life would have you believe that this thoroughfare was formerly known as Grope Lane because it used to house most of the city's brothels and that "the prudish Victorians renamed it Grove Lane." I have to disabuse them of that for in 1822 – George IV's times. We still have to squeeze his brother William onto the throne before Victoria gets a sniff of it – according to Pigot's Directory of Somerset and Bristol, William King was running the Sun in Grove Lane. We can see that the Mermaid was going in those days too.

Extract from Pigot's 1822 directory.

Two hundred years later and the Sun Inn is an inn no more. It still displays its sign and name, and the shield above the latter informs us that it used to be an Usher's house, but it served its last pint to locals in September 2013 and now operates as a Greek taverna.

A little more swanning around and it's time to collect Ma and Pa Outlaw and head back to Glastonbury and the obligatory post-outing fodder of fish and chips. But not before having to retrace our steps to collect Ma Outlaw's handbag which she had somehow contrived to leave behind. Looking on the sunny side, however, passing those 'no fuel' signs at the garages I'm quite pleased that Mrs. BB had that thought this morning for I'm in possession of a full tank of fuel. We can at least now drive home tomorrow. Much as I love the Outlaws, the prospect of the alternative doesn't really bear thinking about.

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