Regular readers will have guessed I’m a big fan of Jamie Oliver and his relentless attempts to improve our diet through his range of pizza restaurants.  I know Pub Curmudgeon shares my admiration.

Jamie was brought up in the badlands south of Saffron Walden where his parents ran a pub that failed to make the Beer Guide. Rumour has it that top GBG pub explorer Simon Everitt also lived here before being expelled from Audley End for poor dress sense.

What’s different about the Navigator today ?

25 minutes on the train from Cambridge brings you to Newport, feeling a million miles from the M11 until those days there’s the inevitable oil spill and the lorries divert along the B1383.

I’ve said it before; Essex contains some of our greatest villages (and grimmest towns).


Overshadowed by Walden and Duxford, Newport is a picture postcard of pargetting.  And has a shop that appears to sell Nose Gay tobacco boxes.  Being Essex, it still manages to support an Indian takeaway, as is the law round here.


I’d walked the bounds, and taken in more antique shops than the world needs, in half an hour. People were looking uneasily at me through their (antique) net curtains, so I joined the early evening crowd in the White Horse, which I shall describe as a “recommended pub“.


This is not a Jamie Oliver pub, it’s a retiredmartin pub, that’s open all day to serve beer and pork scratchings and talk to you (if you want).  Essex pubs are more consistent than pubs in any other county, seemingly always prompting comments such as “unfussy“, “unspoilt interior” and “drinker-friendly“.

I could have told you from the photo alone that this Essex (OK, 4 miles from the Herts border), though the blokes in shorts at the bar and “The Sound of Indie ’96” were also giveaways. It’s always 1996 in Essex.

A pint of Milton Justinian and scratchings were £3.80, which seemed a bargain, particularly since this was the best beer from my home village since the Milton brewery “tour”. A cool and chewy NBSS 4 in fact.

The next recommended pub, a jolly half hour sprint west, was the one in Clavering that Jamie’s father doesn’t own.

As you’ll have guessed, the Fox & Hounds has whiteboarding, local tradesmen at the bar, and Fairport Convention from about ’71.


A proper play area too.  No doubt Si will break it, if he didn’t 30 years ago.


Perhaps a more modest ale house, with Wherry and Black Sheep in decent nick straight from the barrel.

Plenty of seating, but of course in Essex everyone sits (or stands, Grrr) at the bar.  And wears shorts (it was cold outside).  And talks about the Essex Sunday League.


Evening meals here in a side room seemed very incidental to the proper business of the pub. The village wet-led local is still in rude heath in Essex, and not just at weekends.



23 thoughts on “JAMIELAND

  1. The best bar blocking I experienced recently was three lads on stools at the bar, one blocking the view of the hand pumps, another on his tablet and t’other eating his tea. And then you get that look when you reach over to get your beer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Next time you could always try “accidentally” spilling some beer down their backs. A waste of good beer, I know, and they might also turn nasty, but on the other hand they might eventually get the message that blocking access to the bar, with their hot sweaty bodies is just a tad anti-social!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Not a big fan of Jamie’s war against sugar; but my wife did enjoy watching his “meals in minutes” shows.

    Oh, and I think Saffron Walden is a bang up name for a town or village. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Once you get away from its southern fringe, Essex is a lovely and surprisingly unspoilt county.

    The blogpost you linked to must qualify as one of my most impassioned rants 😛

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It is one of the most painful places to reach by road, roundabouts every few seconds. Foulness Island used o have a pub you could only visit with permission but it closed in 2007, an opportunity missed to annoy GBG completists..


  4. I could take you to loads of none recommended pubs Richard,
    Just do a pub crawl with me and you will drink in loads of keg only pubs,Darlington was about 50/50 split between keg and real ale yesterday,but the keg John Smiths Magnet which was in most pubs was really nice,i had to take a half of real ale vinegar back to the bar in the Darlington Flyer,so keg is not always bad,though the replacement Hobgoblin was nice.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for that comment Martin.
        My wife can still drink a lot but not the 24 pubs,when we did Edinburgh in 1987 we did 177 pubs in a week,on our Falmouth holiday we only did 75 pubs in a week.
        I feel perfectly alright on the Sunday morning after doing 24 pubs and a few home brewed pints of mild.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I am very curious about this comment: “Essex pubs are more consistent than pubs in any other county.” I know I ask this type of thing a lot. Why do you think this is the case? Also, what other areas come close? I know of counties you don’t like and towns you love, but I am not sure I have ever asked about regions. Would love to hear Mudgie, Richard and Alan comment too. I know to much to ask Simon to comment; Tom’s comment I likely won’t be able to figure out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Over the years I found Essex folk more similar than folk from any other region, and not because of any particular pride in their county. They all seem to have robust characteristics of straight-talking, doing a proper job unfussy and without pretension. People in the best off towns don’t tend to eat at pretentious restaurants, preferring good value and quality. preferring good value and quality.

      You’ll rarely find duff fish and chips or Indian restaurants in the county either. On the other hand, there’s nothing quite quirky enough to be outstanding (no Bass in a jug, for instance).

      Most other counties seem to have bigger variations in affluence and lifestyle and pub quality.


    2. My take on counties is i do like some and others no so much,my home county of Nottinghamshire is pretty boring if traveling through it and most towns are pretty down to earth,i like Derbyshire as it has some good scenery and lots of pubs.
      I agree with what Martin says about Essex straight forward normal people just like most people in the Midlands and up North.
      Some of the counties south of London are too posh for my liking and too expensive.
      I could go on and on as i have had a drink in all but two English counties,no doubt Martin as had a drink in all of them.


      1. I like Nottinghamshire, it lacks the hills but the forests are great and towns & cities like Newark and Nottingham have great architecture and pubs.

        I was really makin the point that Essex is very consistent; there aren’t lots of posh bits and slums (I simplify), and you’ll get decent cask beer nearly everywhere. Somewhere like Nottinghamshire has much bigger contrasts, and lots of keg beer (is that right, Alan ?).


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