I’ve quite a lot of travels to write up at the moment; I might have to sub-contract it out to Simon as he’s clearly got more blogging stamina than me.
But I’ve put posts on Dronfield, Leek, Oswestry and Folkestone on the back-burner to bring you a report on a riotous lunchtime in Royston. Let Mrs RM be my witness.
Whisper it, but if you want entertainment in pubs, rather than a quiet pint of cask conditioned pale beer, then micro pubs are a bit lacking. You need to head to Wetherspoons, preferably one with an “international” clientele, a fruit machine and a central setting in a quiet market town.
No idea why we went to one of Hertfordshire’s lesser towns (it lacks the drama of Stevenage, or so I thought), except that it’s only half an hour on the train, and the closest new GBG tick is closer to two hours away (Leicester).
Royston is really all about the Heath, and a walk up the hill to Therfield would have been the healthy option if not for the Spring drizzle.
So to distract Mrs RM from the lure of Savers Discount Store, I headed for the local museum, a real treasure trove of social history, on a par with the gems in Leatherhead and Desborough.
They have a splendid collection of Phillips memorabilia at the moment, in amongst the hosiery, dolls houses and printing presses.
The curator gave me a potted history of Philips Brewery, while Mrs RM slunk away to stroke the knitted mice (top).
The museum was run by cheery folk who seemed resilient to the threat of council cuts. Their confidence seemed all the more surprising given the recent closure of the town’s public toilets, which puts Council priorities into perspective anyway.
Royston Cave, the other tourist attraction, has more limited hours, and I’m glad we got our visit in a few years back before erosion takes its toll, at which point it will no doubt become a micropub.
It is rumoured that the cave contains a copy of the 1985 Good Beer Guide thrown down the well by the local CAMRA chairman in frustration at the omission of his favourite McMullen pub due to use of a cask breather. Since that date, no Royston pub has made the Guide, and it’s not as if the nearby countryside is full of classic free houses.
Mrs RM was acutely aware of the pressing need to make inroads into the Spoons vouchers, so headed for what she assumed to be Tim’s Royston house.
It’s gaudy enough to be a Spoons, but the “greeter” and McMullen pumps gave the game away. Despite the appeal of wood fired pizza, we made a polite retreat.
The Jolly Postie certainly looked the pick of the Royston dining options, but they don’t accept Spoons vouchers.
The Manor House does, but of course virtually all their meals now come with a pint, which does mean you have to drink a lot of beer even before you can use the vouchers.
Luckily, this Spoons has an unusually good range of beer, even a day before the Beer Fest starts. Mordue Radgie Gadgie, Conwy Welsh Pride and an Oakham Enough Rope making a pre-Fest appearance were all highly rated, particularly by Mrs RM. I’d say NBSS 3.
But the beer is secondary to a chance to sample the new menu, and make a decisive stand against Mrs RM’s quinoa fascism.
It’s pronounced to rhyme with Niall Quinn, not Roy Keane, you Kent posho. It was all very good anyway, and less calories than the beer, which is how it should be.
The pub was the proverbial melting pot that characterises great Spoons. We had;
A Spanish lady running her internet business on a laptop, over several pints of 1664, while her baby gurgled along to BBC Kids, and her lazy boyfriend issued occasional demands for pints of Thatchers
“Ma ma. ma ma mama, ma ma“ – translation “When are the collaboration beers on ?”
Next to us an old couple had their lunch interrupted by an authentic EastEnder perched on the end of our table, dissecting the Hammers and the Graham Poll ThinkTank in AN EXTREMELY LOUD VOICE.
Next to the bar a group of six old boys were perched on a table designed for three, SHOUTING the racing odds. You get the idea.
The theme of the pub was groups of old boys; another posing table had four gents, all drinking John Smiths Smooth, and confessing “My units were off the scale“.
The real drama came on the way back to the bar, where an Irish chap was vigorously banging the fruit machine in a way not seen since Felixstowe Arcades c.1976.
At the bar, the chap below was demanding to see the manager about a fruit machine that failed to pay out a week ago. Coincidence ? I think not. I’ll never know how it ended, unless I but the Royston Crow, of course.
More to the point, what has he got in that bottle ?
This is a pub for the ages. It even had a creditable attempt at craft on draft;
Oddly, the last time I saw that Eton Rifles was in Spoons in Feltham. Equally oddly, Feltham was the last time I was in a Spoons with this much happening.
With Simon’s superior hearing and eyesight, I can’t imagine what he’d make of this place if it makes it into the Guide. We can but pray.
We may be back in Royston soon. This nightclub appealed to Mrs RM’s sense of adventure.