I set off for the launch of the CAMRA Heritage Pubs guide in Preston this morning, but got no further than Grantham. My chosen hotel (not I hope a euphemism) had been trashed last night, and Preston seems to be full tonight (at least for tightwads like me).
So I recovered over four cups of coffee in the Tollemache, Grantham’s stalwart Spoons, and annotated my new Beer Guide for an hour. Lincolnshire is looking like a doddle to complete this year, with the unbridled joy of a return trip to Cleethorpes thrown in.
At 8.53 am I was the only customer. At 8.59 a small group had congregated, change in hand. By 9.07 the place was half full of morning drinkers, seemingly all on pints of Magners.
I see a lot of comments on blogs about how sterile Spoons are compared to a “proper”pub, whatever that is. So for the record, I note that;
- The bar person seemed to know most of the elderly customers well enough to banter with them, to their delight.
- Folk were chatting to each other, whether they came in as part of a group or on their own, not sitting on their own at home watching TV.
- This was the most cheerful atmosphere I’ve encountered in ages, at least when they weren’t discussing the recent price rises.
For the record, the beer in the Tollemache is as good as ever, the Nottingham Brewery house beer being a solid NBSS 3. A fairly ambitious range of LocAles if I’m honest.
To be honest the Spoons was the busiest place in a very quiet town, unless you count the residents in the town’s most famous pub.
It’s as pleasant as ever, and a quick wander round St Wulfram’s Church could convince you it’s as attractive as Newark. The pubs are particularly lovely, if a little dusty.
The shops are a different matter, though fans of Pound Shops will be in their element. At least you can buy things you want here, particularly if you want sweets.
The pub scene has been static, with the (invisible) Chameleon Music Bar a short lived GBG entrant. Over the years the town has seen the full range of pubs in the Guide, from a Goose to a Railway Social Club, but the Nobody Inn seems to be the flagship. The drinking vessels make a change from nonics too.
I didn’t make the pilgrimage to see The Dress this time, somewhat distracted by having just missed the highlight of the year at the Guildhall. Sounded better than the show in Cirencester.