A night in the Norfolk Broads, one of the few bits of Britain I don’t get. Despites Bowie’s recommendation I’ve never felt the slightest inclination for a slow exploration of fields;a canal trip round the Black Country lockworks sounds much more appealing.

It’s also very dull on the ground, which is why I so rarely seen any more than the odd aggressive cow on my walks here. Half our village seem to head towards Great Yarmouth in Summer; I can only assume they spend their time looking for cheap socks in Roy’s of Wroxham.

It’s the quiet that people go for, but it’s prosecco and scampi that pays the bills for replacing pub carpets. The solid looking Decoy in Fritton had 2 youngsters drinking lager at the bar, and 2 oldies dining. At 7pm on Friday night in June. It wasn’t Ibiza.

Genuine ’80s only Jukebox

The Jukebox provided the lighting for the pub, but the hissy ’80s pop was coming from a battered radio set to Smooth FM, which I was surprised to see had reached Waveney. The arrival of WiFi (which I always confuse with Internet) was the main topic of the night.

I’d like to tell you I enjoyed a stunning half of Green Jack (NBSS 2.5) in a Greene King IPA glass (close enough I guess) to the accompaniment of “Endless Love“, but I’d be fibbing.  The plastic Toby jug of your dreams though, and lovely people.


As were the folk in the livelier Red Lion in Halvergate, another throwback to more innocent times, before Sam Smiths and big-screen TV took over the world.

Sams get everywhere these days

This is a genuine one room village local, reminding me of the old Ridleys Brewery Tap. A few cheap meals weren’t interfering with the business of casual drunkenness, and the well-to-do gents at the bar summoned the hard-working landlady from the back more politely than is often the case. The level of disinterest in France v Rumania was as palpable as the interest in the visitor with an estuary accent. Simon will stand out a mile.

No idea where the Sam Smiths link comes in, but the Red Lion certainly had some of the feel of a Barnsley Sams, though sadly without the bargain lager. It more than justified it’s inclusion in the new Guide though, the Aurous from local Tipples was complex and superbly kept (NBSS 3.5). Challenging opening hours for Simon Everitt but he’ll find a way.

Which leaves a minor classic. Caister’s Never Turn Back is another first-time Guide entry, and one of the GBG’s most stand-out designs. Caister is Great Yarmouth without the Dickens, the sort of place I’d camp at for a tenner, and seems to serve as the official tap for the vast holiday park that looks so appealing in our June downpours.

The beach looked lovely in the setting sun though, and the pub was wondrous.  Small children took up most of the public bar, supervised by their Gran, a group of locals cheered French throw-ons, large dogs came and went and the promised Pedigree was available in bottles.

It worked for me though, rather like a South Normanton estate pub does, and even the horrific Adnams branded “glass” couldn’t knock the shape out of their Bitter (NBSS 3.5). Wondrous toilets too.

So that was Norfolk for another year  – rubbish in parts but with unexpected greatness.


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