In recent months I’ve been taking my Dad out and about to some of the great cultural destinations of our nation; Downham Market, Wisbech, Colwyn Bay, North Shields.
“Would you like to go to the gardens at Spalding, Dad”
“Not really“. It’s best to be blunt when you live in the Fens.
Your loss, Dad.
I think he knew he’d be made to walk 5 miles, stop constantly while I took photos and end up in a plain workingmans pub. He’s sharp like that.
There’s a touch of Georgian Wisbech about Spalding along the river.
And Ayscoughfee Hall is almost a match for Peckover or the Elgoods gardens. And it’s free.
As is usual, it’s so good I get to share it with the grand sum of a mum and two children looking for an ice cream.
Some gorgeous almhouses and parish church on the south bank,
but the star turn (as so often) is a Sam Smiths pub.
That was in the Beer Guide a decade ago, but Fenland’s paltry GBG allocation means that these days the trad pubs are out, in favour of (drum roll) a micro pub. So no space for this one anymore;
The town centre has a fair few handsome buildings, including that Fenland essential, the gunmaker.
There was no-one else taking photos, but it’s a photogenic place, worth a day trip from the south.
It was market day, which meant only half the town were in the Spoons.
The Ivy Wall has lost a Guide place earned from opening, and to be honest the beer from Naylors wasn’t a highlight (NBSS 2.5). Working out how to use those self-service coffee machines was.
Lots of life, lots of BRAPA-standard characters, like this one;
I skipped the Prior’s Oven, though it’s a wonderful micro with killer chutney and a promise of Baz’s Bonce Blower (12%) on the bar for Christmas.
The clock struck 3pm, traditional opening time for a tradesmens’ pub like the Drayman’s.
This is the sort of plain boozer you rarely find in the Guide these days, outside South Wales anyway. It’s what I love about following the GBG; I wouldn’t have guessed this was a real ale pub, let alone a new Guide entrant.
At 3.10pm it was already bustling with pool players, paper readers and professional boozers. In fact all the people who would have been kicked out of the Sam Smiths for swearing were here.
Try telling that landlord he should add another six pale beers and start offering tasters…
I stayed long enough to hear tales of heroically selfless acts to keep local pubs in business.
“I was on a two day bender. I think the wife knew where I was”
“A cheeky couple turned into a cheeky ten pints. And ten double vodkas”
“You gotta support yer local pubs”
I put my pint on the windowsill and knocked over their darts trophy (above). A few folk looked at me in a friendly but suspicious manner. Simon will know what I mean.
So sank the last of a superb Tribute (NBSS 3.5). Some fantastic lacings on that pint.
Not a classic, but a #ProperPub. Just one thing missing. It took me a while, but eventually I tracked down the mobility scooter…