After putting off this piece for a couple of weeks, I can put it off no more.
I keep reading about folk seduced by North Norfolk, but it’s not for me. Full of ghastly gastropubs, warm beer and North Londoners on mini-breaks, it’s my idea of Maidenhead-by-the-Sea.
But Wells is where I spent some of my podgy childhood eating chips and playing the gaming machines in Pop Inn amusements. It’s still there !
On a shove-penny machine like the ones below I won an actual cigarette in 1976, which at the age of 11 was a bit of a dilemma. Luckily our neighbour George gave me a Freddo (old size) for it when we got home, Innocent days.
Slot machines apart, Wells is a quirky little town without the airs and graces of “Sunny Hunny”, with some proper seaside variety stores,
and some questionably named pubs.
It’s not posh, but the narrow streets give it a touch of Staithes, though without the cliff-top views. From the walk along Beach Road you can see the little islands where I used to annoy my Dad by getting stranded by strong currents while he was reading the Express.
Of course, the B&Bs along the quayside are now preceded with “Luxury“, which is entirely North London’s fault. What’s wrong with “Economy” ?
Despite a decent number of day-trippers for late November, it was tranquil and stunning.
The boat in the top photo is the Albatros.
One of our quirkiest GBG pubs alongside Grimsby’s Barge, it’s run by a Dutchman who ran aground many years ago with an unlimited supply of Woodfordes Wherry and pancake ingredients. I’m convinced most locals don’t actually realise it’s a pub.
Up the pedestrianised main street past the gastropubs you reach the Edinburgh, which is the sort of place you’d expect to find Glaswegians in, if you know what I mean. “Bass occasionally” says WhatPub. More false hope, I’m afraid.
Which leaves Guide newbie the Lifeboat, reopened recently by great Dane Carsten after closure in 1999.
Primarily a B&B, the bar is small and cosy and I confess I feared the worst for the beer without a horde of regulars at the bar.
But the beer range is tight and sensible, and the Moon Gazer Pale cool and tasty (NBSS 3.5). I told Carsten his beer was good, and he gave me a passionate tale of cellar management, of putting the beer to bed and cleaning the lines, of keeping beer at 11-12 degrees. Such enthusiasm for cask is rare and wonderful.
We compared notes on the Copenhagen drinking scene, but I sense Mikkeller may not displacing Carlsberg Export on his bar anytime soon. Lovely man.