|Photo : Simon Everitt|
One of the great joys of pubs in the UK is the sheer number of varied locales and experiences available. Whatever your own personal desires and comfort levels are, there is usually a pub nearby that will suit you. People even write blogs about this stuff, I hear.
Of course, many people aren't really seeking varied experiences. No. They just want a drink. They want everything bog standard, and maybe even identical everywhere they go. These are people for whom even Wetherspoons are too risky. After all, they may not like the carpet.
Where there is a market, there will be someone there to provide the desired service or product. And for seekers of the identikit pub, there is Ember Inns. Everything, and I mean everything is the same no matter which one you have unfortunately found yourself in. Big pillar outside. Standard menu. Line up of beers from large regional breweries (they even now have their own 'Ember Ale' so as to provide an option for those who are disconcerted by having to choose between Thwaites and Moorhouses). Massive and probably fake fireplace. Blackboards proclaiming about something called "Chip Tank". You get the idea.
For example, I was once reading a Twitter post from one unhappy blogger who had found himself in one of these places. He posted a photo of it and I thought "What's he doing in the Black Bull?" (my local Ember). It turned out he was in Exeter.
There is a rumour, totally unsubstantiated of course, that there is a factory in China churning out Embers for the export market to the UK.
Still, gives pub tickers a chance to play "Ember Bingo" (see above), and for that we should be grateful.