A short break from the real world of Thimbleby and Willoughby Waterleys as I return to the fictional town of Cambridge, where Punk IPA costs us £6 and our new cutting-edge Station Tap is run by Youngs.
We also have year-round sunshine here, which means retired folk like me can watch cricket at Fenners AND get sunburnt for pence.
Until the big cloud comes along and you wish you’d brought a coat. And it wasn’t free, it was a fiver, which either means Cambridge University are skint or I sneaked in without paying last year.
Lancashire are hardly the top draw of the Summer here, as the “Authentics” (?) hit town on 20th June, but the scorecard does acknowledge guests from;
“a beautiful city* that has fuelled the wealth of our nation since the industrial revolution“.
You don’t see welcomes like that extended to Milton Keynes when they play at Wimbledon, do you ?
Fenners in June is a good place to see the season’s fashions, and our guests from Manchester certainly contributed (see top) to a festive atmosphere in a crowd of about 200, made up of folk like me, young club pros and schoolchildren on scooters.
Not sure what Mr Everitt would make of the banter, but “a lovely story of Ray Lindwall“, endless recollections from 1981, and two pros performing SWOT analyses on their girlfriends (figuratively not literally) had BRAPA potential. All to the backdrop of folk in Panama hats with Waitrose bags acquired as minimum purchase to get a free coffee.
This is real cricket, the sort you can’t actually see from the boundary rope as the ball whizzes past the students ears for five balls out of six. That’s why I tend to enjoy cricket via Cricinfo rather than in real life. Perhaps they could make the ball bigger and colour it orange or something ?
But Jimmy Anderson is a wizard, a true star, and he was pretty much unplayable when finally brought on second change.
Five wickets for ten runs (all edges) in eleven overs. I remembered why I never took up cricket, or any sport frankly. It looked scary out there.
BUT THERE WAS NO BAR. Or certainly not one the plebs could use. The two next to me had some Italian liqueur and Prosecco, a young chap lugged round a giant bottle of Dandelion and Burdock. You could have been in Crewe Wetherspoons.
As Jimmy was applauded off I made for the nearest GBG pub.
With 40 minutes for lunch, you’re spoilt for choice around Fenners, but I was overdue a return to the Live & Let Live. Frankly, I was a little surprised it was open Monday lunchtime.
Very definitely one of Mill Road’s classics, though I’ve not always been as big a fan of the Nethergate beers as the pub is.
But Oakham Citra works perfectly on a sunny day, and looks the business.
If that pint looks slightly hazy, it cleared due to magical powers present in the pub as I found the best seat (i.e. the one where I can see everything). As you can see.
Cellar cool, flat, rich and leaving a taste in the mouth after I left Café de Paris, this was an NBSS 4.5 beer in a Top 100 pub. A beer drinkers pubs with a nod to the 20th century (rum and coffee), proper seating, civilised but lively, and with the best beer I’ve ever had there.
The chap behind me had a half-and-half of Oakham’s Green Devil with his Citra, which is the sort of off-menu ordering I approve of. A group of Lancastrians (Scousers, actually), seemed equally entranced by the place, particularly when his odd request for a dark beer was successful.
If I’d brought my book I’d have stayed put, but I felt obliged to return for the afternoon session as Lancashire’s batsman made hay.
Astonishingly, within an hour the University had them at 45 for 7, so what do I know. Enter Jimmy to steady the ship, just like he did against the Indians back whenever.
I nodded off mid-afternoon, which is what you’re supposed to do at proper cricket. By the time I woke up it was somehow all over. 25 wickets in the day.
*This is presumably Burnley but could conceivably refer to Liverpool.