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Last Updated: Friday, 21 November, 2003, 18:32 GMT
Bush enjoys mushy pea lunch
Mine's a pint: Bush at the Dun Cow
George and Laura Bush swapped Buckingham Palace banquets for a slap-up fish dinner at Tony and Cherie Blair's local pub.

After feasting on the finest cuisine for the first two days of his state visit, the teetotal US president chose the fish, chips and mushy peas at the Dun Cow Inn in Sedgefield town centre.

The president had been "very friendly" and spoken to all the locals, landlady Mishy Rayner said.

"It is something he does not usually do - come into a pub, have a drink, relax and talk to people who are there," she told BBC News.

"He was lovely," Mrs Rayner said.

Her husband, Geoff, had looked "more stressed", she joked.

The Bushs and the Blairs chose the same meal from the pub's menu, starting with cream of potato and leek soup, followed by the fish.

President Bush had "seemed thrilled" with the "local produce", Mrs Rayner said.

He cleaned his plate but declined a pudding of lemon crème brulee.

US president George Bush meets UK prime minister Tony Blair's neighbours in in Trimdon Colliery, County Durham
Bush met Blair's neighbours
The president had drunk a "wonderful" non-alcoholic lager, before volunteering to pose for a photograph with the staff and signing some of the pub's menus, Mr Rayner told BBC News.

"They were very very appreciative," he added.

The Blairs and Mrs Bush also sipped soft drinks.

Mr Blair is a "bit of a regular" at the Dun Cow, according to the Rayners.

Lionel Jospin had also had lunch at the the low-ceilinged, traditional pub when he was French prime minister, Mrs Rayner added.

But "there was a different standard of security" for Mr Bush's visit, she told BBC News.

It is not only world leaders who receive the red carpet treatment at the Dun Cow, though.

"We treat everybody with the same respect," Mr Rayner told BBC News.

Earlier on Saturday, in Trimdon Colliery, County Durham, the Blairs' next-door neighbours, Eddie and Petra Greaves, and their daughter, Gemma, had the distinction of becoming the first "ordinary" people to meet the president and first lady on their visit.

Neighbours on the other side were taking pictures and the president walked towards them, gave them a thumbs up and said: "Thanks for your hospitality."




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