Saturday was wet and blustery, a great day to go to Cleethorpes and count baby seals (c.2,000 of them).

Donna Nook is an area of salt marshes, used by the RAF for bombing practice and, more secretly, by grey seals for breeding.


It’s all very cute, though whether it was worth a nearly six hour return trip is something you’d have to ask my boys. Once in your life, anyway.

We were on the posh side of Grimsby, and so lunch was at an Ember Inn.  There are three of them in the Beer Guide for Grimsby, and like all their other pubs they’re identical.  Spoons get a lot of stick for identikit pubs, but their pubs have individuality, as well as a greater range of customers.

Ember used to be child-free when I first saw them in Brum, but now are quite happy for my teenagers to eat there, which rather seems to take away one of their differentiating points.

In fairness, they’re professionally run, the York Terrier seemed better than OK first out of the barrel (NBSS 3), and the food was cheap.  The steak pie would even meet Pub Curmudgeon’s test, and the illegal looking burger was served in the now traditional manner.


On the way back we passed more closed pubs than open ones, including this (presumed) classic. If the nice lady in Camelford this week had offered me the Black Label I would probably have succumbed.

The A16 is a dull road, even by Lincolnshire standards, although Louth is a great pub town which deserves a revisit, if only for the Gas Lamp Lounge.

I couldn’t even persuade the boys of the merits of the life-affirming views from the Boston Stump.

So we stopped at Holbeach for the safer pleasures of peanut butter ice cream made by Laddies in the town, and Otley beer, which is made in Wales and served in the excellent Cask in Hand, which looked very inviting at dusk.


The young owner, born and bred in the town, had a good chat about Holbeach pubs and the limitations of the “micropub” philosophy, well exemplified as he sold Carlsberg and spirits to the next customers while Mrs RM drank a pint of Aurora in record time.  Really enjoyable pub, as is the other nearby micro in Spalding.  Not much else in town though.

 The only other landmarks from Holbeach to home are the triangular bridge and Abbey in Crowland; I’d love to see some beery developments spread out from Peterborough to that attractive small town.

No doubt I would have felt better disposed toward the Ember Inn if I’d known about the 20p CAMRA discount before I’d paid.



10 thoughts on “SEAL CUBS, MICRO PUBS

  1. That pic of the Ember looks exactly like the inside of the Black Bull, 10 minutes from where I live in Fulwood. I presume M&B picked up all the furnishings on a massive bulk discount. Bet the beer selection was dull too. The BB serves Thwaites Original, Wainwright, Pendle Witches, Brakspear Bitter and Black Sheep.

    Once they wrote on the blackboard “Coming Soon : Doom Bar” You’d’ve thought they’d want to keep it quiet.

    Still, not as dismal as the Vintage Inn up the road in Broughton (also an M&B brand), where the Original is 50p more than in the BB, and otherwise the choice is GK IPA and Old Speckled Hen.


    1. Black Bull is BBB heaven !. You’re right, couldn’t tell any of them apart. All a similar size too, unlike Spoons.

      Beer range was thrilling – York Guzzler, which ain’t bad, Tetley and the hilariously named Chris Moose from Butcombe.

      Not many Vintage down here, used to serve Bass badly.


      1. You should do a crawl up the A6 from Preston to Lancaster. Bus ticket is £7.40 for a Dayrider. I make no promises about choice or quality in any of them, though.


      2. Used to be a good pub at Garsstang but nothing on A6 now. Bit wet at moment too.

        Need to stay in Preston soon and do the exciting 4 new Beer Guide pubs in Fylde, inc Poulton Spoons


  2. My friend from Grimsby constantly tells me to avoid the GBG pubs in this area as the ‘standard is poor’ and ‘they simply have quotas to fill’.

    Which is a way makes me even more intrigued! And now I’ve read this, I want to visit even more.

    A ‘micro’ revolution could work around here.

    Also is it wrong I now want an Ember Inns burger for breakfast?

    Enjoyed the write up as always, Si


    1. Demographics aside, Grimsby really couldn’t be more different from the wonder that is Hull. There isn’t really a Grimsby Old Town.

      I just checked – Grimsby proper has 2 Embers, a floating pub (Barge) and a ’50s community pub I didn’t get at all. The haddock and chips was wonderful in the Barge; you must include that to get a BRAPA tick. Cleethorpes is a different beast.

      Even my son couldn’t finish that burger, I reckon 1,800 calories worth.


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