While the main point of retiring was to explore, I’d also been looking forward to a few lunchtime pints in Cambridge pubs, with loads of Dickens loaded on Kindle to finally read.
In reality I’ve only spent a half-dozen or so lunchtimes in town, but today I decided to see how our city centre pubs were doing at the height of the tourist season (albeit minus it’s students, who tend to stick to college bars).
Starting at the station, I popped my head in a dozen or so pubs in and around the mile up to the “hill” (Cambridge castle mound). I was surprised at how quiet they were, in direct contrast to the thriving chain eateries that dominate Regent and St Andrews Street, the main shopping streets.
I have found the back street pubs around Mill Road and the old Kite area, from where most of our Beer Guide pubs come, equally quiet at lunchtime, though still with commendable beer quality.
What stood out in the city centre was both the lack if office workers and tourists. The lunch hour pint for office workers went in the 1990s here, and I can only assume that our many overseas visitors prefer the brand names and sterile atmosphere of our restaurants.
Even in the Eagle, probably the only pub in most Guide Books, I saw more coke than beer being drunk. I saw very few pints of real ale pulled.
Things do pick up in the evening in Cambridge, but I’m not surprised that a significant number of rural pubs nationally are closing lunchtime. That would be a significant move for the nationals to make in city centres.
There was one exception – the Wetherspoons was it’s usual busy self, with lots of beer being served to a wide range of customers. But then, many people dont count Spoons as a pub. The Edwin Taylor Stout was a superb lunchtime pint, even without the curry.