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 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) 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.