Back to Huntingdonshire today, and a fairly drab walk around Broom, with one redeeming feature.
St Neots and East Bedfordshire aren’t packed with great pubs, which makes Simon Everitt‘s exploration of the area from his York base all the more intriguing. He’s just joined me in visiting all the Bedfordshire pubs in the Good Beer Guide (this is very competitive, you understand). I guess the lack of tourism makes it easier to concentrate on the BRAPA challenge*.
Having lived just down the road in Hitchin, I know this area well and nothing much has changed, apart from some improvements to the A1 and a slightly more modern Biggleswade. There’s some good walk around Sandy if you like birdsong and closed pubs though. These towns continue to acquire in-fill housing, adding more London commuters to their light industrial base.
Broom itself is a small village with a couple of attractive buildings, and until recently two pubs. The Beer Guide regular White Horse closed last year, leaving the National Inventory-listed bar-less Cock to take its place in the GBG.
It’s a good 15 years since I visited the Cock, then Greene King, and it’s changed less than I expected. Trip Advisor reviews imply fussy foodies, but the menu is as simple as the four rooms, which I like a lot.
I wouldn’t call the interior startling (it’s not Boar’s Head standard), and the gravity dispense from barrels isn’t unique. I did like the pubby atmosphere a lot though, helped by some good interaction between the cheery barmaid and some mature regulars. It’s just a shame there weren’t many of them; I was the only diner.
I followed the regulars lead in ordering a Doom Bar (NBSS 3), which had a pleasing level of body rarely found on handpump, even if I wished they’d ordered the Adnams.
Pub Curmudgeon had a bad bacon experience a while ago (here); I’m fairly sure things have changed, for the better, as mine was very good. It wasn’t bargain cheap though, and the crisps and salad seemed unnecessary for a bacon sarnie.
Resisting the skittles, I walked to Jordans Mill, where my favourite granola is made. It’s also where the local grey pound is spent, a modern café heaving with lunchtime trade setting themselves up for modest mill tours and garden walks. They could even get bottled beers here.
I noted recently the growth of the Garden Centre food trade, which is clearly taking trade from Cambridgeshire pubs. This enterprising factory outlet is clearly hitting the traditional pubs, which can only be a bad thing, as the Cock needs more than the heritage pub market.
*This is what Simon thought, by the way.