You may struggle to believe this, but Huntingdonshire, not least among the historic counties of England, has had more Wetherspoon openings in the last 3 years than micropubs. Read into that what you like.

Following hot on the heels of the county town, St Ives (not that one) got its Spoons today. A Tuesday opening gives me no opportunities for a Duran Duran pun, and Ruby Tuesday doesn’t work as it’s steak club (£9.15, seemed expensive).

As recorded on the statue (top) Oliver Cromwell left St Ives for London in 1636 due to dissatisfaction with the lack of a decent pint of “Available Soon“.

As serendipity would have it, I had a return trip to nearby Fen Drayton today, and a chance to combine a trip to the Swan & Angel with a first trip on the Guided Bus.  £1.90 for a 2 mile one-way journey it cost me, a mistake I was still regretting as I walked back in the drizzle an hour later.


The Swan is the most anticipated arrival in St Ives since that bus enabled old folk to leave their drab Greene King pubs for a craft paradise without touching the A14.

Picking a photo to express the euphoria of the old Puritans was difficult; this one possibly sums it up.


This is a fairly drab shop narrow shop conversion, familiar to the good folk of Brent and Harrow.  They’ve even got the books bought by the yard here.

The overall effect is even more restaurant-like than usual, but I’ve more time for Spoons food than some, and it’s all shiny and clean (possibly the only day it will be so clean).

In keeping with their other main theme these days, they’ve also got a fair few of that popular “Available Soon” on.  For those who care about such things, the beer range looks pretty good when they’re all on.


No “last cask of Cloudwater” (carried on a donkey up the guided busway), no new Websters, but Citra and Titanic here, with Orkney and Arkells out of sight.  There’s two of my bugbears with Spoons; no prices on the clips and the beers on two parts of a long bar, so you don’t actually know what’s on.

A fair number of Spoons vouchers were being exchanged, with CAMRA members taking time to ensure staff knew about the need to top up their cheap pints.

Only space at the posing tables at 2.30pm, but at least that gives you a good vantage point of condiment dramas.  The opening day crowd was a real demographic mix, with school holidays bringing in plenty of well-behaved children being fed fudge cake and coke.

The Citra was good (NBSS 3+), but well below the nectar I had in Cambridge yesterday. This would have made an excellent case study in the primary role of the licensee in delivering a quality pint; Citra is a well-made beer only occasionally served at its best.

At £1.99 you can’t complain at all about value for money in the Spoons, but I’d rather pay double for a great pint.

I’d had excellent beer in the Oliver Cromwell before, and that’s where I’ll be heading next time.

Below is the “Office” where a work colleague and I once completed an annual review over pints of Hoegaarden. Those were the days.


I walked back to Fen Drayton via the lakes, where an excited chap in combat fatigues shouted “Bittern booming !”

I thought this was a reference to the rise of micropubs around Southampton, but turned out to be this rarely spotted creature.

With a friendly “I hope you tick the ducks you want to see“, I left him to his craft.

We enthusiasts have to stick together.


      1. I’ve never had a guided bus on a guided busway. I had one once from Atherton to Tyldesley on conventional roads and thought it just a bog standard characterless plastic omnibus. I’d assumed something must happen on the busway like it sprouting wings or the bus driver bursting into song.

        St. Ives was controversial as the busway was on the trackbed of the railway. Have the locals come to accept the fact yet?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I though that guided bus from Tyldesley was opening/reopening this year. It is just a bog standard bus on guidelines.

        Buses seem more frequent (every 8 mins in afternoon), I think it’s successful despite expectations. A lot of fuss about next stage though.

        Will there be a guided bus from Grimsby to Spurn Head ?


      3. I’m not really sure what is happening with the guided bus way. I did hear they were planning to extend, when we did it the guided busway just ran from Manchester to Leigh from where the bus went on conventional roads. It isn’t my area of expertise I’m afraid.

        The normal accepted method of getting from Grimsby to Spurn is to walk at low tide.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. “At £1.99 you can’t complain at all about value for money in the Spoons, but I’d rather pay double for a great pint.”

    Me too, and it will be interesting to see if it has any effect on the town’s GBG pubs, or if the draw of good beer is stronger than that of cheap beer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I doubt the Royal Oak or the Cromwell will suffer, the Spoons isnt cosy or pubby, but the run of the mill GK houses (not that I know them) might.

      One old boy (with CAMRA vouchers) was already complaining about prices in the Spoons, think they’re Cambridge rather than Newmarket levels ! Guinness £3.09


  2. My local Spoons always put prices on all pump clips and never has those waiting conditioning signs on any of the ten pumps,when a beer runs out they put another one on straight away,i have only seen one pump with no clip on about twice in all of my visits there.

    Regarding guided bus ways are they for buses that dont know where they are going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most Spoons do put prices on, don’t they, perhaps this was opening day nerves. Coming Soon signs seem quite common though.

      Guided buses are a way of attempting to repair the Beeching damage by reopening old lines. I presume Notts trams are on old rail lines ?


      1. Once out of the city centre the Hucknall line is old railway lines,the Clifton was only runs on a bit of ex rail lines and the Toton line is all new and runs on streets.
        That idiot Beeching shut a station that was two minutes walk from my house.

        Liked by 1 person

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