Sign swaying in the wind on a grey winter’s day with a first floor window shutter hanging forlornly, this pub summed up my post-Christmas feeling.

A makeshift poster on the door announcing that there was no hot food today only added to it.

But on the inside, it’s fair to say that everything conspired to cheer me up at least a little.

Temporary staffing issues, it turned out, led to the lack of a proper lunch but the bloke behind the bar was good enough to knock out a couple of baguettes rammed to the brim with filling.

As expected, The Bull was quiet on this January weekday afternoon but, impressively, not deserted.

A handful of folk dotted themselves throughout: a chap with binoculars and an Independent relaxed with an ale, a working man spent what must have been most of his lunch hour – and probably daily wage - on the fruit machine and some old gents enjoyed a sandwich among the beams and nostalgic pictures downstairs.

A trio of ales, including Doom Bar and the just-about-still-acceptable Rocking Rudolph, greeted us at the bar and didn’t cause gasps of astonishment when the bill came.

Nothing about The Bull staggered me with its excellence but, at the same time, it was a relaxing place for me to take the weight off my feet.

Another notice outside, featuring upcoming entertainment, leads me to believe it may get livelier too.

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The Bull Inn, Main Road, St Mary Cray

How it rated:

Décor **** Cosy inside

Atmosphere *** Not the best time to tell but pleasant enough

Staff *** Not overstaffed but keen to please

Food ** Not bad for a baguette

Drink *** Pretty good

Price *** About right