What can it all mean ?

Folk who just track down interesting beers and classic pubs miss out on a lot.  Simon goes to Hoyland, which even people in Barnsley have never visited.  I get a trip “home” to Stevenage to tick off a Greene King pub.  Retirement is underrated.

Stevenage is, of course, best known as the stunt double for Slough in The Office (UK version). I’ve fond memories of the place though.

The lovely people at the Lister Hospital employed me for five years, taught me 3-sided book-keeping, and delivered our son James (after 36 hours, mind you). James will never get that off his birth certificate, but he’s not the only one.


Yes, renowned diver Ashley apparently hails from here too.  I learnt this from the attractive wall display on the plastic flyover between the railway station and the Wetherspoons. I think it counts as a museum of sorts.


The Spoons is obviously the other place to explore local history, but apparently not to explore their cask range. 10 pumps, no pump clips. More cellar problems rather than abandonment of cask apparently.  That would have made a better story, and possibly made commercial sense in Stevenage.  It would give them more space for promotions for craft cans and manager’s specials.

I hope the Standard Bearer sorts out its cellar and gets in the Guide soon; the barperson was the most cheery I’ve ever met (“You’re more than welcome, my lovely“), and the quality of conversation would provide Simon with 3 posts worth of material.  Pregnancy tests, blow-up dolls and WKD in the same sentence, pensioners today know how to live.

The underpass to the Old Town is Doncaster-level scary. Not much in the way of street art for you, and no change at all in the New Town, though the new Ibis budget hotel next to Tesco is now the most impressive building.  Appropriately, I bought some Megadeth CDs for my son in their sale. I expect Matthew will get into Stevenage’s most famous musical export at some point, but their CDs weren’t in the sale.

“Xi dingir anna kanpar”

Two points for linking the lyric to the artist.

The Old Town itself had a street fair that managed to obscure my view of all the impressive coaching inns.  I’m a big fan of swan boats though.

Temporary stand erected for Stevenage v Newcastle FA Cup ’98 shown right

As everyone in Stevenage will tell you, the Old Town is OK. It must be, I spent my “Stag night” in the Surma, which still has a plaque up to commemorate the fact.  I was teetotal before marrying Mrs RM, so the highlight of the evening was watching Denmark beat Germany in the Euros in the nurses quarters at the Lister.  Kids today don’t know what a good time is.

Mark Whittington’s head went in the curry here

The Chequers is one of those odd new Greene King places that have been smartened up and given a really ambitious beer range. Pontefract, Hertford, Aylesbury and less exciting places had one like it in the Guide last year.  Is it a Local Hero, anyone ?


My instinct seeing that many pumps at opening time is dread.  I went for a pint of the XX Mild, not really a beer to drink in halves.

It was a magnificent mild (NBSS 4), despite it’s low strength. I rarely see it anywhere, but last time out (Free Press) thought it a bit watery and dull; this was full-bodied and full of flavour.  £3.50 for a 3.0% ABV is on the high side, but I’m happy to pay more for quality.  Some rarely heard Smokey Robinson tracks too.

I’ve no wish to ever revisit Broadhall Way, unless their social club does an Orient.  I do, however, feel a burning need of bucket list proportions to get to the twisted heart of Stevenage’s many suburbs, and revisit Our Mutual Friend.


  1. You are a man of wide musical tastes: Sanctifier? I cannot find a connection between Stevenage and this Brazilian Death Metal band. They did release a song: zi dingir anna kanpa.


  2. We went to Stevenage earlier this year. We had a specific pub to visit for research (The Pied Piper) but did pop into Our Mutual Friend (lovely) and Spoons (standard, fine) on the way there/back. We rather liked the place, especially having enjoyed (a) the film of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and (b) John Grindrod’s book Concretopia.


      1. That’s the one. The royal visit gets a mention in the thing we’re working on at the moment — there’s some lovely newsreel footage around.

        Just the whole pattern of the town is fascinating, and it’s pretty well preserved. Churches with concrete spires!

        I generally feel deep comfort just wandering around post-war low-level housing estates — the landscape of my childhood, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s