The nice man at CAMRA books had asked me to take a photo of his former home, and I always accept requests on this blog. Swans on the river, Bunyan statue, 20 minute wait in McDonalds for espresso; all present and correct.
But Bedford is changing, even since my visit earlier this year to bless the Bass. Some smart cafes and restaurants around the Higgins Museum and at the top of the High Street. A Brewhouse and Kitchen has appeared, always a sign of impending gentrification.
The Harpur isn’t going to feature in my top 1000 shopping centres, but a few signs of craft have invaded the side streets.
And street art is beginning to appear alongside the cranes looming over the new riverside developments, some of it good art.
In a year’s time, with the Bunyan meeting room re-opened and the cranes gone, this will look like a pleasant small county town rather than Aylesbury.
The King’s Arms is a rare traditional new entry into the Guide, in a year of micropubs, brewery taps and Marston 2-for-1s. The cheery landlord told me it was back in after 18 years, which was rather alarming as I’m sure I would have ticked it off in 1998. Such things keep GBG completists asleep at night.
It’s a fairly standard Bedfordshire Greene King (a cool IPA NBSS 3) place, but the building is a rambling gem with at least six different drinking areas. A proper pub for everyone, rather than a niche pub for beer tickers. Welcome back Kings Arms.