Sadly this kind of trade often spells the death-knell for characterful village pubs like the Kings Head, where the owners go full-tilt for the food trade and in the process turning unspoilt village pubs into smart but characterless licensed restaurants. I've seen this so many times in village pubs that it's a real delight when I come across one that remains essentially a pub at heart, as is the case at the Kings Head. A separate restaurant, and large, beautifully maintained riverside garden fulfil the role of dining space for the many hungry visitors, leaving space in the original bar and lounge for more 'pubby' pursuits, including Darts and the Northamptonshire pub game speciality of Table Skittles.
I feel that the owners of the Kings Head have a achieved an excellent balance between the pubs traditional role as a place for drinks and socialising in the village, and the essential food trade without which a pub like this would almost certainly not be viable.
|The view from the bar, well stocked with locally brewed real ales|
This is a typical scoreboard layout for Table Skittles in this part of Northamptonshire. Each player in the team plays a singles game against an opponents drawn randomly at the beginning of the night. Each game is concluded when the first player wins 7 legs, scored as a tally at the top, and the final number of legs won by both players then counts towards the total for the match, in this case the total for the home team was 25, with a winning tally of 35 for the visitors. The progress of each singles game is recorded below the totals, with an 'x' marked against the winning score for each throw. The 31-42 scores would have been from the final 'Beer Leg', where each team set a total score for the opposition to beat, decided over three legs. Islip appear to have won the Beer Leg too.