Thursday is Bedfordshire day. Words to strike fear into the heart of any traveller except the estimable Simon Everitt, probably the only other person to have walked the county ticking off the largely dull Beer Guide pubs.
I do like to give places a second chance though, and Simon had formed a better impression of Sandy‘s Guide entry recently, so I walked the bounds yesterday.
You may have noticed an anti-east Anglian tone on this blog caused by my aversion to flatlands. Sandy has lovely hills, starting pretty much in the market square.
A shortish walk took in fields of rapeseed, bluebell woods, new-born lambs and the sand hills visible from Caesar’s fort, which overlook the town.
That makes the town sound fairly attractive, and these are ideal short but strenuous walks, which is why I saw not a soul for 90 minutes. I prefer the company of sheep anyway, and for once I wasn’t attacked. Late April is a great time for walking in England.
That market square is a real let down though, and the town lacks architectural interest with the exception of the old Town Hall, bravely photographed for you from the middle of the busy roundabout.
Not much in the way of pubs, either, with a plain Greene King house the only survivor on the square and another at the station. A characterful Charles Wells house (a rarity I concede) that I used to lunch at now sadly closed.
Now there’s more Indian restaurants than pubs by the look of it. Bedfordshire’s curry houses are one of its strengths, but for a quick lunch it had to be a clanger.
This is Gunn Bakery’s own version of the savour/sweet pasty developed for miners, and is all you need for a calorific lunch before a half in the Sir William Peel (next door to the Gandhi in Sandy, another converted pub).
Years ago, in fact before 2007, there used to be a host of food-free pubs in East Bedfordshire, but now the Peel is a rarity. It’s a bit Wellington-lite, but four beers, with Batemans and an Oakham as regulars, is what I call a sensible range.
It was an interesting UFO-themed range too, with the Cosmic Citra an excellent half (NBSS 3.5). Cosy and with a good mix of seating, it was getting decent trade for a Thursday lunchtime, and remains a rare wet-led pub open all permitted hours.
No chance of a Wetherspoons here with their current retrenchment, and I suspect the Peel fulfils the role of a micropub admirably (for better or worse).