I finished Northamptonshire’s Beer Guide entries on Saturday (technically Mrs RM did but I took the photos). It’s not that big an achievement for me, though Simon will find the logistics a bit tougher than Bedfordshire when he gets onto “N” in 2023.
There are a number of remote pubs to the west, south of Daventry and north of Banbury. This is one of the least explored parts of England, along with the area west of Stafford (and that has the Anchor at High Offley). My parents are the only people I know to have intentionally visited, presumably to tick off the Garden Centre at Badby and admire the bluebells there.
The A361 takes you through some attractive villages on the way to Upper Boddington, where the Plough is a model of Cotswold loveliness, without the Barbour jackets.
I could be wrong but it looks as if a former Bass sign has been doctored when the Bass was removed. I’ll let them off with a warning, as otherwise this is a model village pub for pretty much a model village.
“Bed & Breakfast” it says, not “Dining with Rooms” as it would 20 miles south. A warren of basic rooms for drinkers with a simple room for diners, and a menu of pub dishes with simple descriptions for under a tenner.
We settled for packets of crisps and a pint of Great Oakley that Mrs RM rated very highly. A range of GK IPA, Spitfire and a Locale seemed about right, though coloured ciders seemed in high demand outside.
A real mix of rooms for all types of customer, though we were in that Golden Hour of pub garden viability. I enjoyed exploring, measuring the thickness of those walls and admiring the 1984 Pirelli Calendar in the Gents. Mrs RM didn’t disclose what was in the Ladies.
We spent an hour in the county town. Twenty years ago I would have felt the same about that town as about Huntingdon or Bedford, particularly after the Cobblers left the County Ground for their plastic monstrosity. No Upton Park-style ceremony for them in 1993.
Since then I’ve discovered numerous interesting boozers in the suburbs of the town, like the Lamplighter, Malt Shovel and Olde England.
The centre looks a bit underpubbed, with only the excellent Wig & Pen in the current Beer Guide. The one below definitely isn’t in the Guide:-
The Rifle Drum is probably my favourite pub I haven’t been in. If the setting, down an alley off the attractive market place in view of All Saints, looks attractive, I assure you the Drum is not a pub you’d take Mrs RM in for a comfort break just because the Wetherspoons is closed (sore point). A survivor, though no real ale. WhatPub claims to have surveyed it in 2013; I’d like to see the scars.
Even more traditional is the long-closed Shipmans, which WhatPub suggests is due for re-opening. It says a lot about Northampton that a sizeable town could support such basic pubs; you don’t even find them in Portsmouth now.
Northampton looked gorgeous yesterday, the golden stone of All Saints and the Guildhall impressing as much as the revitalised St Giles Street and the wonderful Shoe Museum. The noodles from Funkys in the market made up for Cheltenham’s culinary disaster.