Nestled in rural Nottinghamshire is a little village called Teversal. It’s near Mansfield, close to the Derbyshire border, and is surrounded by the Teversal Trails, walking and cycling trails made up of the former railway lines that date back to the days this was colliery country. It also happens to be the place that was home to Lady Chatterley in D.H.Lawrence’s novel. It’s also home to one of the strangest, yet strangely great, little eateries I’ve ever been to.
We were in Teversal camping with our friends, who have been there before. They told us a story of walking in the driving rain on their previous visit and out of the torrent discovering the Teversal Trails Visitor Centre. It was here that they warmed their cold bones with steaming mugs of tea and a basic, reheated, pie with mushy peas and granule gravy. And even a sausage for the dog.
Obviously, we wanted to see this place. Who wouldn’t want to after a story like that? So on a recent visit we stopped there during a walk to see it for ourselves. It certainly lived up to the picture they’d painted. A brick built building that looked more like a local football club house than a quaint cafe. Inside, a lino floor, plastic chairs, and tables covered with plastic tablecloths. Sounds a bit rubbish hey?
And then you look a bit closer and you see that each table has been carefully decorated with a miniature vase, the walls are covered in the area’s history and community notices, and – most importantly – it’s full of people. Locals enjoying a bacon ‘cobb’ (we’re in Nottinghamshire, you’ve got to call them that), walkers popping in with dogs in tow, families, couples, all sorts. And it’s run by volunteers, some of them former miners apparently, all keeping it running like clockwork. Talk about a community hub!
The menu’s simple – bacon and sausage cobbs, beans on toast, pies and peas, sausage rolls, cup-a-soups and toast. For drinks there’s tea, coffee, cappuccino, chocolate, and even latte. Oh, and oxo!
Obviously we tried the pie. Steak and ale for me and Mr M, with mushy peas and a miniature jug of gravy. Apparently some days the men are on duty, and some days it’s the women – and the gravy differs accordingly. The pie was bought in – from a local baker apparently – and reheated by the gruff man behind the counter, as were the peas I imagine. Both tasty, not gourmet, not expensive (£2 to be precise). The gravy was made from granules and was pretty thin and watery. I’m told apparently the ladies make it a bit thicker.
It certainly wasn’t an award-winning dining experience. Even our friends puzzled over whether the pie had tasted better last time, and whether that was purely because it was their salvation from a long walk in the rain. But as I munched on my pie, sipping my mug of builder’s tea, I took in a place that is clearly at the centre of Teversal.
A plate full of bacon prepared to order especially for some rather pretty little dogs, as opposed to the cold pre-cooked sausages on a tupperware on the counter for other canines whose owners are less fussy. Two old dears eating teacakes on one table, a couple studying a map of walking trails on another, and our rather rowdy foursome complete with rather full-of-beans Weimarana on another. Men of few words doing their duty at the counter, mixing up the gravy granules for eager visitors, with another lady who was clearly a volunteer restocking the freezer with goodies.
A place with real heart. A place where it’s not really about the food, but about what food can do – nourish, replenish, and turn somewhere into the heart of a community.
We paid for everything we had at Teversal and I’m sure they had no idea I planned to write about it. Don’t think they’d be too fussed even if they did!