RAIS­ING THE BAR

A gor­geous baby-shaped bomb had gone off in Eva’s life. But did it have to mean last or­ders for – you know – fun? It had the buzz of a real pub

Real People - - PUZZLE TRAIL -

Bub­bles froth­ing over the side of the glass as I weaved my way back to our ta­ble, I plonked the pint in front of my hubby, Phil.

‘Did you put your siren on – wide load com­ing though?’ he teased.

‘Oi,’ I laughed. ‘You’ll be wear­ing that pint soon.’

‘You know you look gor­geous,’ Phil smiled. ‘Still, we won’t have many more nights like this once Baby comes along.’

I was due any day now, and we were both so ex­cited!

‘I’ll miss our date nights, though,’ I ad­mit­ted.

While we both knew our lives were about to be turned on their heads for the bet­ter, we were adamant we wanted to keep our re­la­tion­ship alive, too.

Me and Phil, 33, had known each other for 11 years, since I’d come to live in Chel­tenham, Glouces­ter­shire, from my na­tive Hun­gary. He was study­ing pho­tog­ra­phy, and I was do­ing an in­te­rior de­sign course.

We both dis­cov­ered we shared a love of mu­sic, fes­ti­vals and, of course, nights in the pub.

We’d spent many boozy nights out with friends when, in 2010, our friend­ship turned to ro­mance.

Af­ter that, there were more nights in. But we still en­joyed shar­ing a bot­tle of wine or a cheeky shot of pálinka, a fruit brandy my fam­ily would send to us.

We’d mar­ried in 2013. Now, just over a year later, we were about to be­come parents for the first time. Ex­cited and ner­vous... we couldn’t wait!

We’d moved into a new house just three months ear­lier, and I’d spent all that time pre­par­ing for our new ar­rival.

And on 21 July, our beau­ti­ful Mil­lie ar­rived, weigh­ing 8lb 8oz.

‘Hi, gor­geous,’ I smiled, over­whelmed with love for her.

She was such a good baby, ate and slept so well. Of course we were knackered, though – no new par­ent can es­cape that fog of tired­ness.

‘Do you re­mem­ber when Fri­day nights meant boozy nights in the pub and a ke­bab on the way home?’ I yawned to Phil one night.

We were still in that para­noid, first-time par­ent stage, where we wouldn’t take our eyes off the video mon­i­tor while Mil­lie slept.

‘Nights out?’ Phil chuck­led. ‘Re­mind me what they were again!’

‘I do miss a bit of “us” time,’ I sighed, wist­fully.

Weeks passed in the bliss­ful daze of new par­ent­hood. But if we looked on Face­book, and saw our friends post­ing from the pub about how much fun they were hav­ing, I had a pang of envy.

‘Didn’t think I’d ever miss a han­gover,’ I groaned.

‘I’d love a night out, but I’d miss Mil­lie too much.’

We’d al­ready de­cided that when she was older, we’d take her to Glas­ton­bury with us.

And a cou­ple of months af­ter she was born, Phil came home

with a big grin on his face. ‘What are you up to?’ I frowned. ‘Well, you know how we miss the pub, but don’t want to go and leave Mil­lie?’ he said. ‘Yeeeees...’ I replied.

‘Well, how about we bring the pub to us?’ Phil smiled. ‘What do you mean?’ I laughed. ‘I’m going to build us a pub!’ Phil an­nounced.

He ex­plained that he wanted to turn the con­crete garage in our gar­den into a pub. ‘We can still have friends over… have nights “out” just the two of us,’ he smiled. ‘With­out leav­ing Mil­lie.’

‘It sounds per­fect,’ I laughed. ‘It’s got to have a name though, don’t you reckon?’

Just then, our grey­hound, Mitch, let out a big yawn.

‘What about The Wonky Dog?’ Phil sug­gested.

We’d got Mitch when he was 10. By then he had a bro­ken tail and one stroke be­hind him, mean­ing he couldn’t use his back leg, so was wob­bly on his paws.

We al­ways joked he was a bit ‘wonky’. ‘I love it,’ I said.

Phil’s dad brewed his own ale, and said he’d show him how to do it. So, over the next months, we set about ‘op­er­a­tion pub’.

When­ever we had a bot­tle of wine or beer, we’d soak the la­bels off to dec­o­rate the pub’s walls.

The house had been a re­pos­ses­sion when we’d bought it, and there’d been lots of bits and bobs left be­hind.

‘We should try to make use of them,’ I told Phil.

Some friends had given him pal­lets to make the walls; I used an old sofa to make seats; some­body do­nated two bar stools; and I even found snooker cues to use as cur­tain poles.

Each week­end, Phil was out there, ham­mer­ing away.

‘We’re going to have some date nights here,’ he’d say.

‘As long as you don’t bar me!’ I teased.

‘We’ll be hav­ing plenty of lock-ins,’ he told me with a wink.

Phil in­stalled a log burner, and a friend even painted his very own

The Wonky Dog sign to hang out­side. We had a lan­tern made, too, with the pub logo on. There were beer mats on the wall, a work­ing beer tap, op­tics...

‘I’ll give Peggy Mitchell a run for her money,’ I gig­gled, fix­ing a bot­tle of gin to one of the op­tics. ‘Get outta my pub!’

Finally, The Wonky Dog was open for busi­ness. ‘Drinks are on the ’ouse,’ I laughed.

We even had a glass fish on the bar filled with peanuts. That Fri­day night we de­cided would be our first date night.

Af­ter Mil­lie was in bed, I cooked us a lovely pasta din­ner.

‘One for the road?’ Phil grinned, af­ter our meal.

‘That’d be lovely,’ I smiled.

So we trot­ted out to the pub.

‘What can I get you?’ Phil asked from be­hind the bar.

‘Wine, please,’

I smiled. ‘And a cheeky pálinka?’

With Mil­lie’s video mon­i­tor propped up on the bar, we sat on our stools and sipped our drinks.

‘This is lovely,’ I said, grab­bing a hand­ful of nuts. ‘We can go “out”, but still be home with Mil­lie, and we don’t need to worry about get­ting a taxi back home!’

Soon, we were invit­ing friends and fam­ily over to The Wonky Dog.

As ev­ery­one helped them­selves to drinks, it soon had the buzz of a real pub.

When Mil­lie started walk­ing, she’d tod­dle into the gar­den and start play­ing with the beer mats and la­bels on the wall.

‘Youngest bar­maid in town,’ I laughed. We had so many lovely nights there, and peo­ple loved com­ing over to join us.

On Bon­fire Night 2015, we had loads of friends and their kids round. We cooked hot dogs and the pub was buzzing.

Stand­ing out­side, as we set off fire­works and they lit up the sky, I cud­dled into Phil.

‘The Wonky Dog was a fan­tas­tic idea,’ I smiled.

‘We’ve man­aged to be­come parents, but still stay the same old Eva and Phil.’

Sadly, we’ve re­cently had to call last or­ders on The Wonky Dog, as we’re mov­ing house so Phil can be closer to work.

But he’s al­ready got plans for The Wonky Dog Two.

And what else can I say to that idea, but cheers! Eva Avery, 36, Chel­tenham, Glouces­ter­shire

We’re a light­hearted bunch

Lit­tle Mil­lie is a natural be­hind the bar

fam­ily Our pint-sized

Evey­body loves our wa­ter­ing hole

Mitch: the orig­i­nal Wonky Dog

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