Oh dear.

It was all going so well.  October has brought me a string of trips to interesting places (Levenshulme), quirky pubs (Levenshulme) and great beer (etc).

So why did I have to go to the outer reaches of Milton Keynes on a wet Thursday and spoil it ?

Because the Beer Guide demandeth it, that’s why.

Woughton 1.PNG

Oddly, the Olde Swan is lumped under Woughton on the Green on it’s Guide debut, even though tucked between the Hospital and Open University.  Quite why Milton Keynes CAMRA don’t claim it is your quiz question for the day.

Woughton 2.PNG

Roundabouts apart (and Redditch is worse), I do find MK a quite appealing mix of parkland, canals and occasional loveliness.



So, the good news first.  Woughton-on-the-Green is a really attractive suburb/village alongside the Grand Union, reminding us that MK is actually in an architecturally pleasing but dull county.



Worth an hour of your time to walk through the autumn leaves, being looked at suspiciously by locals.

Then the clock struck 12,


and it was on to the Swan.


A pleasing old building, ruined by the Chef & Brewer hoardings.


You’ll have your own views on whether I’m a grumpy old man or not.  If unsure, ask Mrs RM.  I don’t mind Christmas and Halloween tat, if I’m honest, but they’re always the same.

Please wait to be seated“, the sign said. I never wait, and  slipped past the security guards to get a glimpse at the hand pumps to the right.


As exciting a range of beers as you’ll find in the MK suburbs, no doubt.  The craft offer was Stella, Peroni, John Smith’s Smooth and Aspalls.

Sticking to my New (Beer Guide) Year pledge, I had an overpriced half of IPA and looked for somewhere to enjoy it.


In vain.  All tables were set for dining.

Just then, I spied a tiny space by the loos with a couple of posing tables to the left of the bar (the half with keg fonts and no hand pumps).  It screamed “Non-dining scum sit here“, which I did.

Beat you !

The look on the ramblers’ faces tells you I’d nicked 50% of their seating.  They hated me.  I assured them that the IPA was so dull (NBSS 2) I’d be gone by the time they’d decided on their drinks.

Given that they took ten minutes to decide they were all having coffees, that gave me plenty of time to be entertained by banter about “short legs” and  “robust finances“.  Luckily they spoke loudly, drowning out the terrible pap music.

One chap got his holiday snaps out (a short break in Aylesbury, I think).  I was tempted to ask for a look.


If I sound particularly grumpy, there are 3 reasons.

  1. This pub is in the Beer Guide.  The Coopers in Burton isn’t.  This joke isn’t funny anymore.
  2. Despite warnings, I banged my head on the low beams.
  3. There will soon be overexcited parents banging on our door expecting treats for their children.  I will be down the pub. But which one ?






      1. It confused me (j/k). 😊

        In two hours I shall don the Guinness costume my wife made for me six years ago (back when Guinness was my go-to drink) and will sit, with phone in hand and with 3 porch lights on, staring through the sliding glass door of her commercial kitchen at home waiting to hand out treats to the kiddies.*


        * In deference to the Guinness costume I shall be drinking Oatmeal Stout 🍺

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good for him. I’m anti the celebration of historic days full stop. Every day should be lived to the full. And our celebrations are so predictable. That said, Halloween parties for children seem big business for pubs.


  1. As an aside,,,the colour in your plant shot is fantastic….I agree. I don’t see how the Coopers isn’t a nailed on cert every year. Everyone I know likes it (might be my friends….) by that I mean even gin drinkers, wine drinkers etc etc…what’s there not to like. Particulalry liked the acerbic wit regarding holidays in Aylesbury!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Undoubtedly yes, there is an element of “Ooh! New! Shiney!” about the reaction to many new micropubs and craft bars. Added to this, very often the people setting them up are known to branch members, or are branch members themselves, and so it is hard to give them the cold shoulder.

        Having said that, only time will tell whether these new venues have staying power. A point I’ve made elsewhere is that many micropubs are essentially the vision of the individual who set them up, and it’s by no means a given that they will survive a change of ownership when the original owners sell up.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. You do have to wonder what the NBSS scores look like for places like this, or indeed if the local branch even uses NBSS.


  2. “In vain. All tables were set for dining.”

    Now that the parcel has been picked up I’m just killing time (and drinking beer 😉) till the trick or treaters show up, but:

    Is it really a faux pas to sit at a table with cutlery set and just have a drink? My experience over here is if you sit down and just want a drink they just take the cutlery away. But then again we aren’t the great pub nation called Great Britain. 🇬🇧

    No rush on answering as it’s just gone midnight there and over here the kids are starting to arrive (actually, one old couple walking their dog whom I ran over to with a bowl of candy and told them what great costumes they had… and they took a candy each). 🤗


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good question. You can normally sit down, but they won’t take the cutlery away, and it’s no fun making space on a table with forks, napkins and wine glasses.

      Did I ever tell you about the Birmingham restaurant that had a bar in the Beer Guide; they wouldn’t let me take my beer in, only wine (beer demeans the place, they said).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not taking the cutlery or glasses away is just… weird. 🤔

        As for the Birmingham restaurant… double weird! 😯😏

        No kiddies as yet. Hope they start coming soon as mini chocolates go well with Stout. 😜



  3. You! Are a Martyr Sir!

    I would have walked instantly at the sight of the Devil’s trinity of GK, Spectacled Hen (sic) and Abbot Ale. People like us should really group together to form a campaigning group to force large mainstream brewers to stop brewing such distasteful shite and forcing it on an unsuspecting public. Once the group is set up we could formulate a method of grading beers and publish a list of the top 5,000 pubs in the country. We could call it ‘The Guest Beer Guide’. We could table a motion, in triplicate, three years in advance of our annual general meeting to ensure that pubs serving ales of this type should never get into our Guest Beer Guide?

    Anyone who wishes to join this CAMpaign Against Shite (but conforms to an outdated vision of real ale) Mainstream Ale (CAMASMA) please append their details below;


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