Alternative title: (Framlingham) Castle on a Hill
Some more shameless raiding of modern pop culture today. My son Matthew was disgusted with yesterday’s effort, but it’s harder to work the LP he got for his 16th birthday into my post. Here’s a sample of his Lorna Shore album.
So he gets the next best thing, the most brutal track from Edgy Ed Sheeran’s latest LP. American readers may need to know that Ed is a Suffolk maths teacher who releases albums with mathematical symbols to help his Sixth form pupils improve their GCSE scores. Rather like Kate Bush did with Pi on her Aerial album.
Ed comes from Framingham, the nearest town to my sole remaining Beer Guide tick in Suffolk.
Only seven newbies in the whole county, which says a lot about the pace at which micropubs are invading East Anglia.
I’d been saving the Crown in Great Glemham for the Latitude Festival up the A12(Guardian reader on Sea) that Mrs RM is dragging me to in July. But frankly I don’t rate our chances of getting the campervan down those narrow lanes, so I did it en route to Southwold.
The A1120 from Stowmarket to the coast via Earl Soham is labelled a “tourist route“. Let it be a warning about how easily the English are impressed by signs proclaiming a “tourist route“. I’ve just heard the radio advert for “Suffolk Day”, the scariest piece of radio since Orson Wells in 1938.
But Framlingham remains largely an unspoilt (and little known) gem; Saffron Walden on the cheap, perhaps. Even a philistine like me can admire the palette of pale here.
I don’t remember it looking quite so upmarket on my previous trips. Farrow and Ball paints, Lemon Tree café, Cromer crab and pop-up antiques shops driving a booming grey economy.
You need about 90 minutes in Framlingham; 20 minutes to visit the gorgeous castle, an hour to discuss lunch options (I recommend the GBG Station Hotel), and 10 minutes to find the loo (it took me 15).
Five minutes away, the Crown is the sort of smart gastropub that should benefit from a Framlingham success story. It looks pleasant and unfussy, and serves Salt & Pepper Squid at lunchtime.
Very New Suffolk, and like recent Beer Guide entries it offers local beers from Earl Soham and, er, Black Sheep. Both of those suit me fine.
Actually the hand written pump clip said “Dark Mild“, mirroring the DIY ethos of a recent Sussex oddity I visited. “We like to do our own pumpclips” said the cheery landlady, before enquiring as to the brewer and chalking “Earl Soham” on to the clip.
“Earl Soham ? I hope you’re not turning into a craft beer bar !” said the local at the bar. It’s too late mate, Sam Smiths keg means you’re craft already.
The Dark Mild was, you’ll have guessed, vinegar. Vinegar in a handled jug. (NBSS 0.5).
I asked the landlady to taste it, in that polite way the English have.
“Terribly sorry, but I’m not sure if this hasn’t reached the end of the barrel“.
She deferred to the landlord, who was mortified. He put a new barrel on, served it in a proper glass, and suddenly it was superb (NBSS 3.5).
And there’s my dilemma when it come to duff beer. If I occasionally come across a bad pint, changed apologetically for a good one, should I applaud the pub ?
Or is it really my job to test their beer ?