Well the Pokémon craze died fairly quickly in our house, but that won’t stop our teenage sons being grumpy at the loss of a day’s internet. Particularly when what they get instead is a 20 mile bike ride past stinging nettles and Greene King fun pubs.
This was another exploratory campervan trip 30 miles down the road in Mildenhall, a place I’d normally have got marginally less excited about than Leyland.
I’d consider it a Fen town, until recently propped up a bit by the US Airbases (now only Lakenheath). If you’ve been to Chatteris or Littleport (why ?) it’ll look very familiar, full of bungalows, takeaways and pebbledash.
That said, it was actually looking in decent shape, with a new Information centre/loo block/dossing area at the centre of town, and some pretty houses off the High Street that at least hint at Suffolk colour.
There’s more restaurants than pubs, perhaps reflecting the high number of American residents; it’s unusual to see two Thai restaurants, two curry houses, a Chinese, Jamaican and Sushi place in a Fenland town of 10k.
These are the three central pubs;
Clockwise from top left; a Greene King foody local, a rambling hotel I was too poorly dressed to enter and a Hungry Horse. The nice volunteer at our Caravan park seemed very excited that the Horse had Old Specked Hen, presumably as a guest beer. There’s a fourth local on the road out that I missed.
Since it’s never going to get a Wetherspoons now, Mildenhall needs a micro.
QUIZ TIME – What would be a good name for a micropub here. Clue — –g–
What Mildenhall does have is access to the edge of Thetford Forest, well away from Guardian readers on a day’s leave from Centerparcs. This was our first family bike trip in a decade I reckon, and I picked a pleasant route that would only take in all the places listed on WhatPub.
Half an hour out of the forest we crossed the boardwalk into Barton Mills, a smart village with a surprisingly basic pub. The bit below is only half of the Bell.
The outside area seemed to belong to a different building from the Bell, whose future is/was uncertain according to WhatPub. We were the only visitors in what looked a village boozer from rural Beds, but the Lacons Highlight was surprisingly good (NBSS 3.5), washing down copious chilli nuts to good effect. Haircut and a pint for a tenner, too. Sightly scruffy and with a poker room, I rather loved it.
The other “pub” in the village, The Bull, is the smart restaurant you see from the A11 and which is probably more in line with expectations of the residents of houses like this;
On to Worlingham and a bonus quiz question.
QUIZ TIME (2)- Find the error below
Worlingham is where it starts to go wrong. Pub stop 2 has just closed, it’s hot, and I take the family through a jungle of stinging nettles and barbed wire, proving Town Councils don’t road-test their cycle routes. It’s worth it for the views of car scrapping plants as you enter Red Lodge. There’s an error in the photo below as well if you can be bothered.
Our first foray into Red Lodge, a main street with competitive cyclists whizzing past, so we stopped at the eponymous pub. “Pub” may be a bit generous for the self-billed “best steakhouse outside Timbuktu”. but it did at least serve a San Miguel that helped Mrs RM complete the circuit. The GK IPA wasn’t warm, that’s all I can say (NBSS 2).
On the route back the youngest son drove his bike through two foot of mud, and then fell in the green slime below dodging a ferret running across the boardwalk. I haven’t laughed so much since Simon Everitt’s post on the stolen olive. Matthew will see the funny side eventually. He slept through the fighter jet fly-by and the gunshot.