The Guide Post, Ryhope Street South, Ryhope, Sunderland

A rare sunbeam broke through the rain while I was driving through Sunderland with my sister.

Amid the grim weather that has plagued the city over the last few days, we decided to make the most of it and stop off for a drink.

Just as we'd settled on the idea, we passed The Guide Post.

The pretty hanging baskets, clean exterior and appealing blackboard boasting various offers was enough for me to slam on the brakes and make a sharp right turn.

Once inside we were a little let down with the slightly shabby and dated decor, but while the sun was still showing its face we ordered our drinks (a pint of Fosters and glass of white wine for 4.50) and decided to step outside into the beer garden.

Well what a surprise that was.

We were expecting a claustrophobic, dank backyard, but instead we stepped out into possibly one of the best beer gardens we've come across.

Only slightly smaller than the inside of the pub, the beer garden is filled with benches, wooden tables and chairs, a decking area and a spacious sheltered area with seating and heaters to cater for the smokers.

The green-fingered pub boss obviously fancies themselves as a bit of a gardener and surrounding the edges of the beer garden is a whole host of freshly-potted plants, adding a whole burst of calming colour to the area.

In true British fashion, the spurt of sun didn't last long and it we had to move back inside.

After settling in one of the many seats, we had more time to take in our surroundings and on second glance they weren't all that bad – worn in a loving and homely way is probably a better way to describe it.

With a wooden bar, wooden flooring and wooden panelling running half way up the walls, when the sun's hiding the pub can seem quite gloomy.

But when it's out it's light and airy and has a fresh kind of feel.

And with a pool table, darts board, jukebox and projector screen showing the latest sports, as well as live music nights, there's something to keep punters entertained.

Drinks aren't badly priced and The Guide Post is obviously keen to push its selection of real ales through its Thursday night cask ale club, where all pints are 1.75 with a free taster.

Serving White Tornado, Pedigree, Lambtons and Double Maxim on the menu for about 2.20, if you're a real ale fan then Thursday nights are the night for you.

Between 1pm and 7pm Monday to Friday, there are a whole host of other drinks at bargain prices, including John Smiths for 1.95 and Gray's Export for 1.95.

Unfortunately, as with all too many pubs, it's the toilets that are a big let-down – grubby and musty, with one cubicle that didn't lock and the other with no toilet paper, is how I found them.

If I came back I might find myself having to cross my legs on the way home.