If in doubt, add a cat. Even if it is a cat having a rest on a dustbin outside the pub you’re writing about. Porcelain cats remain a poor substitute.
You might think our feline friend is the best thing about Melksham. And you’d be right. But a close second is the juxtaposition of the Labour and Conservative Clubs, staring sullenly across the High Street at each other, one looking rather more affluent than the other.
Bass from the jug in the Con Club, Cloudwater DIPA in the Labour (joking).
Rather like Essex, Wiltshire has a large modernised town as it’s commercial centre, spectacularly attractive villages amid the rolling hills, and some unexpectedly plain small towns. Plain is being polite.
Melksham is Wiltshire’s Grays. Actually, Grays has a beach.
Oddly, Melksham doesn’t. But it does have the chocolate-box tourist draws of Bradford-on-Avon and Lacock to keep it company, and plenty of this overlooked BBB.
But it’s no resurrected Calne. In fact even Trowbridge would give it a run for its money at the moment, with a central area being dug up especially for Summer.
Fortunately, the Assembly Hall was ready for Mick Jogger’s world tour.
9th September. Make a note. Sadly I’ll be colouring in the new Beer Guide that day.
Like its neighbours, this is a solid town with solid shopping opportunities. Few independent businesses in a town of Greggs, Costa and £stretcher.
The Waitrose came as a bit of a surprise; the antiques shops less so.
I had no recollection at all of Melksham, but my comprehensive spreadsheet records a decent GBG Spoons next to a Chinese takeaway. I have a memory for Chinese takeaways.
Not a great deal to do except head up through the park and north to the new Guide pub. It’s a walk straight out of suburban Luton, complete with gargoyles on roofs and Ford Escorts.
The WhatPub description for the Pig and Whistle uses the words “Community Pub” more than strictly necessary, but that’s what it is.
Clean and homely, the sort of place that’s open all day so you can hide away, or chat with locals if you want. Don’t ask for a WiFi code.
The Spoons in town has clearly mopped up most of the traditional pub grub trade, and there’s just a lone retired couple finishing off their trencherman portions, which made me regret my earlier takeaway quiche.
“Half an Otter please”
“Ice with that ?”
“Ice with Otter !”
“Oh, I thought you said…” I never found out what he thought I said.
Proper blue wall seating to enjoy a decent Otter, cool even without the ice (NBSS 3).
This being Wiltshire, the conversation was of high quality, drawing on the BBC News.
“PMQs ? Monkeys in a zoo ” Poetry.
“He asked for a ramekin. A ramekin. What the ***’s a ramekin ?”
The rest of the banter surrounded imminent hospitalisation, and a local who had “got caught short” after drinking a whole bottle of wine, and left his trousers on the road on the way home. These things don’t happen in micropubs.
And still, people watch telly rather than going down the pub for entertainment.