November is the cruellest month for pub tickers. Only 30 days to visit pubs, dark by 4, discovering one in four Guide entries unexpectedly shut, and then on Saturday lunchtimes they’re often eerily quiet.

Typical Saturday lunchtime, somewhere near Dereham

But “Rejoice ! Rejoice !”, December brings with it hordes of once-a-year pubgoers, all queueing at the bar when only one of them is ordering, all without a clue what to do.

But at least they’re happy to pay £3 for the Diet Coke they’re allowed by their employer(my NHS experience, anyway) and £15 for a plate of Xmas-themed slop.

One of my main motivating factors in retiring early, apart from hating offices, was the urgent need to avoid the Christmas Lunch. As Mrs RM will testify, I don’t do Christmas (average spend – zero).  “Let every day be a blessing unto ye” etc etc.

But I really don’t know how many of our pubs would survive without the Christmas boost. Those super-profits keep pubs going through Dryanuary.

Today’s photos come from the ivy-covered faded gem that is the White Horse in Norfolk’s Longham,another place I’d never heard of before.

Pub sign
Poison Ivy

Saturday 1.30 pm. Six cars in the car park.  Inside two old blokes at a table drinking Scotch, silently watching the John Lewis ad.

Can I help you” said one of them.

It was the owner.  I’d intruded in his house.  When he realised I was after a drink rather than a chat about PPI, he warmed a bit. A little bit.

“Come dine with me”

The Woodfordes was end of the barrel (NBSS 1.5), but I wasn’t disturbing him again to take it back. I left it behind the plant pot and left them to their telly.


The A47 between Swaffham and Dereham lacks the honeypot status of Burnham Thorpe, and this was the highlight of our trip;


I think it used to be a windmill. Becton is another scruffy edge-of-Fen village with an oversized church and a notable absence of lunchtime visitors.


The surviving Windmill is a workaday pub whose outdoor smokers gave me such a stare that I thought better of taking a cutting edge exterior photo.

The interior is not much better, “typical rural Norfolk/Lincolnshire unimproved” is my best attempt at description.


An exciting beer range, but “Worth the Wait” is sadly misnamed.  Slightly busier here, but my half was the only cask I saw poured, and again I can’t finish it (NBSS 1.5). I’ve had much better from the local Beeston brewery; this does neither pub or brewery any favours.

Top cask line-up

Not much for Mrs RM on the design front either.

I left most of that
Classic mens room

So two disappointing Guide outlets, notably not redeemed by having 3 pumps and an interesting guest beer on.

I doubt either is going to be flooded with Turkey munchers in December, but no doubt the locals will all be out in force on 24 and 31 December.





    1. There’s a lot like that in rural areas which rely on middle-aged lager drinkers or wine-drinking diners. Not many GBG entries in West Norfolk anyway, and the rural entries seem to reward guest beers (shock ! horror !).

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Those of us outside the camra beer bubble (ie we actually go in pubs that aren’t in the gbg or recommended by our camra mates) will have been in thousands of pubs like this, and discovered the shocking truth – that most pubs that serve cask beer do it in a half arsed fashion, with a poor choice and equally poor conditioning.

      Welcome to the real world.

      As I always say, if you can’t do cask properly, best not to do it at all.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Agree on that py. One beer (Adnams or Wherry) would be plenty. Adding 3 more, with ones folk in a rural Norfolk village have never heard of, is never going to get people off lager, smooth and wine.


      2. But surely all its woes will be solved by putting on ten cutting-edge craft cask ales and waiting for the customers to come flooding in.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Depends on the location and the competition Peter. Might work well in any thing from a city to a small market town, but not in a rural location, where clientele is either handful of lager drinking locals or traveling diners. Best to stick to keg and bottles in those situations.


  1. How disappointing, a drop of Doom Bar could’ve got you out of a hole there mate.
    When a chap I used to work with couldn’t get served within his normal 90 seconds during December, he’d slam down his glass yelling “I’ll be back in January when all the bloody amateurs have pissed off!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know the A47 between Swaffham and Dereham well; rather too well in fact. I’ve never stopped anywhere along that stretch because it’s either been at the end of my journey, or the beginning. I don’t recall passing any pubs of note either.

    Looking at your map, Longham is the next village along from Gressenhall, where dad’s care home is situated. There is a pub called the Swan, close-by and overlooking the village green. I’ve occasionally been tempted to call in, but my schedule doesn’t normally allow for this. Perhaps it will, now that my sister is moving away.

    Two points; first, how did these two pubs get into the Guide in the first place? Second, glad to see you’re getting into the Christmas spirit! I thought I was grumpy when it comes to the festive season, but blimey!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was the inspiration for that Dickens book, Paul.

      I’m always a little reticent about saying beer wasn’t great, but there’s no point glossing over slow selling beer. Of course, the beer may have been a lot better on previous visits, though I doubt many visitors complete NBSS scores round here.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. For an American, this whole “amateurs clogging up the pubs at Christmas” thing is a bit of a surprise; is it that there’s a tradition of office parties being held at pubs at Christmas, resulting in lots of non-pub people going to pubs just to attend the party? Or is it a more general “you haven’t done Christmas right unless you’ve gone to a pub” kind of thing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the former, Mark. Years ago many firms organised their own evening parties, often with disastrous results. Nowadays a sober lunch down the local family dining or gastro pub is the norm. I hated the politeness of them with a passion but it’s a managerial duty. I’d say half the people attending will only go to the pub half a dozen times a year, always to eat, never to drink.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My company’s “Christmas do” takes place this coming Friday afternoon, at the local pub, just five minutes walk from our workplace. There will be a sit-down meal, with an open bar, but no “shots” or cocktails, as some of the younger members of staff did get carried away in previous years.

    So plenty of beer and wine, no enforced bonhomie, and certainly not a sober afternoon. Perhaps we are the exception these days. What’s even better, I can get the train home!

    Btw Mark, what do American companies do in order to celebrate Christmas with their employees?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think a company do is still a bit different from public sector, where we moved from evening meals to lunchtimes some time go, and ANY drinking would result in disciplinary action. Much easier in big cities to get home without driving, of course.


      1. Depends on the manager. I’ve been to NHS, Fe sector, and social services Christmas dos when I did a bit of temping over the years, and they were definitely not sober affairs.


    2. Hi Paul, thanks for the question; sadly I have no personal experience of this, since I’ve been self employed all my life (not that I’m sad about being self employed!). I’m told that they’re generally held at restaurants; I’d guess really big companies have them at special banquet halls, that sort of place. I think they’d always be in the evening, though– hard to imagine an American company doing an office party as a lunch.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. American companies normally have an event at a restaurant or a manager’s home. Spouses included. Awful events. I always seem to have a conflict on the date they select.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My current manager, a rather over the top person, started talking about this year’s holiday party in August. In a sales environment these parties are even worse than normal. A group of people that really don’t like one another standing around pretending they do. Two to four hours of agony. Good thing I have to baby sit that night. I love that my wife has grandchildren…. A much better way to spend time.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. So much for the more is better. One good cask beer would most definitely suffice.

    As for the once a year pub goers we get a bit of that over here in Canada. The brewpub I visit once a month in Nanaimo when down there for work is always jammed full during December in the afternoon. I asked them last year why that was and it’s as you said; Christmas workplace get togethers. By January it will be back to normal.


    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s the Longwood Brewpub on Turner Road (not the Longwood Brewery which is the same company). But I like the look of that White Sails. If not this month then I’ll make a note to drop by there in January.



  6. Wow! What a disappointment. And these pubs are in the GBG? I’ve heard lots about Norwich (county town of Norfolk), I’ve always been suspicious – like Norwich? Maintaining my ‘don’t stop at service stations drive into the local town and support the local independent traders’, we called into Dereham en route to deepest East Angular (sic) in the summer. Oh my god! And everyone says it’s grim up North! What a dump of a place, the local economy obviously flatlined around there sometime in the late 70’s. You can tell where a place is at by the ‘do they allow dogs in’ test. By extrapolation of your and my Norfolk findings, Norwich? Never!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hate Christmas with a vengeance.
    Now the kids have grown up I don’t see any point in it.
    I cannot think of a single present I received as an adult that was nice,wanted or appreciated until my family finally worked out that giving me booze was the best option.
    And mean ? I’ll tell you how mean I can be.
    I once provided an entire Christmas lunch for my family for €16.50.
    January – bought supermarket Christmas pudding for shelf clearance bargain of €1.50.Likewise a side of smoked salmon €3.50
    July – 1 frozen stuffed turkey for €4.50.They were almost giving them away as who wants to eat turkey in July ?
    August – 3 packets of frozen Aldi roast potatoes in duck fat,parsnips in glazed honey dressing and sprouts €4.50
    October – one red,one white wine won in pub raffle.Cost of ticket €2.
    Bisto gravy and Bird’s Eye custard – approx 50c.
    They absolutely loved it as well although obvs lots of crestfallen faces when I told them afterwards what it had cost.
    That was my best Christmas EVER.
    And Christmas in pubs ? Last night was the staff Christmas outing for my company.Ten girls who work for me,all sensible and educated women,started with a mid-afternoon lunch at the local golf club and by the time I caught up with them late last night they were literally getting their tits out for the lads and stealing posh gin glasses from the pub.
    Including my missus ( although fortunately she kept hers covered ).
    This is just the start of the worst drinking month of the year made hell on earth because my local is traditionally the last leg of the 12 pubs of Christmas.
    The only way to bear it all is to drink even more than usual.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I have no problem with part time pub goers,if like i have seen this week standing five foot away from the bar waiting for a bar person to ask what they want,i can get served quicker,but normally tell them to move closer to the bar.
    Am i and my wife the what we call the only normal workers who get dirty while doing our jobs,everybody on blogs seems to talk about offices and the like,we have both never been to an office party as we have never worked in one.
    Factory piss ups used to be great in the 80s,lots of drinking in the factory and most pissed by 11am when it was time to go to the pub,those days have gone,the factory where i work lays on pies and mushy peas which are cooked in the ovens that heat treat springs,we normally leave before 12 and go straight to the pub for a proper piss up,no looking at what each other drinks,just get it down your neck as quick as you want.
    That is what it is like for most people i know.
    Now you know how the other half lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Our Christmas do is a four course lunch startng at noon, free champagne, wine and port, then to the pub where the directors take it in turns to buy rounds and we take bets on which placement student will make the biggest fool of themselves. Normally goes on well into the small hours.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a different world for you lot.
      We have never had a four course lunch and have never drunk proper Champagne or port.
      I know which world i would rather live in.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re not missing much Alan. Champagne is just a poor man’s pale ale. And a four course meal is just like having ye dinner and tea in the same sitting

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You can’t beat a glass of port Alan, especially at Christmas. Champagne though, is very over-rated, but don’t tell the French! On second thoughts why not?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s very overrated, that Champagne. People at weddings always get the hump when I say “ugh, Champagne” though, and I don’t get asked to their next wedding, which makes Mrs RM happy.


  10. I know how to try and wind people up, Martin.
    Failed twice as did not fall for the other club over the Trent and you know how much we disliked that craft crap in Falmouth.
    I have been doing a bit on my blog not yet published about the Nottingham pubs we did over the last three weeks.
    It may hopefully get finished later next week when i am back home after another hospital visit.
    Lucky again today in the football,are the wheels falling off the bus.

    Liked by 1 person

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