I'm now sat in a restaurant/pub/cafe called Bar thr3 that until a few years back was more your traditional British pub.
Wetherby used to have ten traditional pubs, but one outside town closed a while back, and another underwent a similar transformation to a restaurant where through the week, you can get two meals for a fiver.
Why am I in this pub as opposed to any other? What has made me pay £3.20 for a pint of Guinness. It's not that I love Michael Buble, who is playing somewhat loudly in the background.
No, it's because they have free wireless internet for customers!
Apart from meals, and I recall from last year they were pretty good, this is how Bar thr3 is battling for survival.
Indeed, life is tough for the publicans. Several times in the past few weeks, I have seen something you would have never seen before. Big banners outside an hostelry advertising the tenancy is available. In one pub yesterday, the gents had adverts saying the pub chain had many vacancies available as pub managers, paying upto £20,000 a year.
Commentary such as this from the Journal in Newcastle explains the reasons why pubs are in trouble.
Similar anti-smoking laws to New Zealand is blamed, high alcohol taxes, as well as cheap booze in the supermarkets. Tougher drink-driving laws and patrols are an added factor for rural pubs.
And it looks set to get worse as the deepening recession tightens belts further.
Indeed, can anyone afford buying several pints a night, even if they try cheaper brands at cheaper pubs?
Then. there's the cost of food as well.
Just as the supermarkets are blamed for cheap booze and cheap petrol (causing the closure of gas stations too) ; the supermarkets with their growing range of convenience/ ready meals are hitting here too.
My favourite Marks and Spencer often has deals such as 'Dinner for 2' featuring restaurant quality meals for two with veges, a dessert and a bottle of wine for ten quid. Quite often Ten quid a head would be going rate for a meal.
On New Year's Eve, we paid £45 for three mains and two drinks apiece and the food was only standard fare, nothing fancy.
Years back, this particular pub was noted for its steaks, and the place would be packed out, but on Wednesday night it was pretty quiet and judging by the mediocre quality of the food, in this village location, 10-15kms from the nearest town, my dad doubted the place would survive for long.
Yesterday, we were in Scarborough , a North Yorkshire seaside town, and called in at a Wetherspoon, a mass-market pub chain, a Countdown or Pak'N'Save of the pub world. The large pub was like a supermarket of sorts, a barn even, and the food was pretty poor. Value okay, but let me say, I won't want to go to one. But the place was busy and seeking staff like managers!
And on Christmas Eve, we were at another place, also noted for food, and one offering coupons for January, three roasts and a bottle of wine for £20 to make the most of those bleak winter Sundays.
In the village, there are two pubs. One down at heel with cheap beer that seems to do ok, the other dearer and upmarket and serving food, but noticeably quiet the times I have been in this winter.
It featured free copies of the local CAMRA newsletter calling on the government to introduce minimum prices for units of alcohol so the supermarkets would not undercut pub prices by too much.
In the next village, one pub by the main road is a big house, and the carpark now has townhouses.
So life is indeed tough in the pub world.
So what can we or anyone do to help save the British pub? Or indeed the pubs of New Zealand, who naturally will be suffering the same trends and issues.
I doubt there is a role for government, except perhaps to look at alcohol taxes.
The rest is obviously down to the publicans themselves.
Keep your prices down if you can, and serve more and better food, something different and better, to set you apart from others.
I guess it all boils down to competition and the ever intense competition for our dwindling pound or dollar. There is no easy answer.
But free wi-fi will also help. I see a couple of other drinkers and their kids here with their laptops too!