PUBLICANS Paul and Diane Watkinson are celebrating an unusual double.

The couple, who have run the Black Horse in Wigginton, York, for the past seven years have now also taken over the reins at neighbouring pub The Cottage, in Haxby – only 600 yards away.

“People have said we must be mad competing against ourselves, but I’d rather compete with myself than someone else,” said Paul.

The path between the hostelries – which are on the same stretch of road – is a well-trodden one, with the pair splitting their time between the two.

Paul and Diane have not had a minute’s rest since they took over The Cottage several weeks ago.

The pub’s 35-seater restaurant and lounge have already been redecorated, a fresh menu has been introduced as well as five real ales, the bars have been revamped and even the real log fire has been lit “for the first time in about 10 years.”

The Cottage, which was built in the late 1800s, opened as an inn in September 1980, and is one of three pubs in Haxby.

“It’s got great potential,” said Paul. “We are ready to make a go of it. The Black Horse has a good reputation for its food and we want that reputation for quality here at The Cottage too.”

Their striving for excellence was boosted this week when the pub was given a good food hygiene award from City of York Council.

One of the main differences between the pubs is that The Cottage has a function room, which is available for weddings, christenings, funerals and other parties.

Paul said they were keen to put on regular music nights, with York singer-songwriter Steve Cassidy, a former member of the John Barry Seven, already scheduled to play there once a month. They are also holding regular quiz nights and fundraising events.

Paul, whose parents had pubs in Sheffield and York, worked as a relief bar manager in Cumbria before he and Diane bought the Black Horse in 2005.

“We wanted to own our own pub for years and now we’ve got two,” said Paul.

Pub prices from past

THE Cottage was opened in September 1980 by Joyce and Geoff Carr. Joyce sold it in 1999. Here is a selection of bar prices from 1980:

• Stout – 31p
• Bitter – 45p (bar), 47p (lounge)
• Lager – 52p (bar), 54p (lounge)
• Vodka - 42p
• Babycham – 41p