A man trying to visit all the pubs contained in the Good Beer Guide has given his verdict on Basingstoke’s watering holes.

Simon Everitt, a bank worker from York, has spent the past six years on his quest, which initially started as he followed Hull City’s league campaigns.

“I found myself really enjoying going around and sampling a different town,” he told the Gazette. “Home games were a bit more dull, it was the same experience every week.”

After doing this for a while, he decided that there was nothing to stop him from doing the pubs on their own, beginning his quest, which he has named the British Real Ale Pub Adventure. The quest began at the start of the guide - The Albion in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. He would then explore new pubs on Saturdays, as well as using “the vast majority” of his annual leave for pub tours, and completed Bedfordshire in 2017.

Simon has now moved onto various other destinations, where he bases himself on main railway lines to help him get around, using public transport to travel to his various destinations. “The planning and travelling sometimes takes longer than being in pubs!” he said.

When public transport fails, he will often walk to visit out of the way pubs, which he says he doesn’t like to leave out, walking over 90 miles across a nine day trip to Surrey. “It keeps you fit,” he explained, “and stops you getting too drunk, or the beer belly getting too big!”

Joining him on his quest is “good luck mascot” Colin the Cauliflower, who goes down well when he appears in the various pubs on the adventure. “I think he’d have more followers than me on his own Twitter,” Simon says. It can be a dangerous journey for mascots though, with Colin’s predecessor Martin the Owl missing in action after a visit to a pub in Cockermouth.

When pubs started to close due to coronavirus restrictions, the pub visits had to stop for months until they began to reopen. Simon says that he “had a bit of wobble,” feeling like he was “being suffocated” by the new restrictions, and wondered if the trips were still worth it after pubs reopened. However, after trialling a few pubs, he said he quickly “rediscovered a love of pubbing.”

“You’ve got to roll with the punches,” he said. “It’s symbolic of the pub ticking challenge, you never known when a train will be cancelled or a pub will be full. It teaches a lot about yourself mentally.”

Simon’s trip to North Hampshire began on October 3, where he battled Storm Alex to visit the county’s CAMRA-approved pubs. His tour took in the Old House at Home in Newnham (“a bit strange and foodie”), the Crooked Billet in Hook (“a very cosy pub”) and Barton’s Mill in Old Basing, which he wasn’t overly keen on. As for Basingstoke itself, he described the pubs as “a bit boring,” with the Wetherspoons he visited “a bit bland.”

However, he said the Basingstoke Sports & Social Club was his favourite in town, describing it as “a fine place to call it a night,” but for his true highlight, Simon recommends the Waggon & Horses in Hartley Wintney, which he said was “a fantastic local, with people telling me all about the past, and I got a real sense of that.”

Despite Basingstoke itself maybe not being the highlight of the tour, he’s pretty keen on Hampshire as a whole too, even if it is “early days.”

“I think Hampshire has friendly people who engage and have a conversation,” he said, “unlike other places in the South East. There are beautiful villages with their local pubs, and a couple a day have opened my eyes. However, Hampshire’s got its fair share of chain pubs that can be bland too.”

Over his five day trip, he managed to tick of 29 pubs in the guide, drinking 30 and a half pints that cost around £108 in total. He’s also visited two pre-emptive pubs that may be added to the guide’s next edition, which comes out at the end of the month.

“It’s a neverending task,” he admits, but he’s looking forward to the challenge. He’ll be heading back to Hampshire early next year, where he hopes to tackle the pubs in Winchester and its surrounding villages.