Why didn’t you have something decent like Butcombe or 6X ?” said Pub Curmudgeon of my trip to the reservation-friendly Fosse Bridge. Good question, though the choice of Windrush Ale (the day before that word burnt into the national consciousness) seems oddly appropriate now.

Still, I didn’t make the same mistake in Swindon.

The southern Cotswolds ?

Or Blunsdon, if we’re being pedantic. In fact, no new pubs in Swindon itself since 2014, fact fans.  That must mean that not only are there no new Embers and Spoons opening, but no micros and Taps either.  Which is odd.

I like Swindon.  Not only because of the Magic Roundabout and Art Gallery and cheap travelodge, but also because of this;


Actually, that’s the Canadian Arkells, a bunch of Canadian heartland rockers I saw supporting Frank Turner at Cambridge Corn Exchange tonight. No doubt Russ knows them personally.

No Arkells pubs in the Beer Guide, but some decent BBB in the Heart in Hand at the centre of  Blunsdon, a quiet village just off Ermin Way and close to the home of famous Swindon Supermarine FC.

There’s an information board, too; everyone loves a village information board.

Welcome to Blunsdon

A muddy footpath provides a surprisingly steep descent to the Lower Village, with its grain farm and sewage works to entice you.

Steep. And muddy.

I arrived at 1.58pm, feeling rather hungry.

Heart in Hand

Life has taught me many things, including not to expect to get fed at 1.58pm in an English pub.

And so it was here.  But the Landlady seemed as disappointed as I was, and anyone who says “There you go, my lovely” when handing over a pint is OK with me.  My senses were working overtime, and I dithered before settling on a packet of scratchings.

A much easier choice of beer, though no doubt someone will berate me for not having the Ramsbury.

Top head
Rare Bud on draft

Compared to Cambridge or the Cotswolds, the interior is plain and a bit 1980-ish, if that’s a word.

Fresh flowers on the tables suited a “mature” dining clientele and an informal business meeting about photocopiers taken place over lager by the window.

The Butcombe had a bit of depth to it (NBSS 3+), too, though I didn’t see much cask poured. An odd but welcome addition to the GBG.

But never mind that; we’re back to Sooty for the charity box, so all is well.




  1. Sooty looks a lot more content than Albert but that’s probably with not having been at sea all his life. I see that one of his eyes is bigger than the other but maybe that’s with being for a blind charity.
    I thought Butcombe Bitter to be a really good beer for many years after the brewery was founded forty years ago but a pint a few weeks ago seemed nothing special. I expect the beer hasn’t changed but many newer beers have a notably higher hop rating, strength and distinctiveness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My recollection is that, in its early years, Butcombe Bitter was a noticeably paler and drier beer than it is now. The 1982 GBG describes it as “light and clean-tasting”, which isn’t the first phrase that would spring to mind about the current brew.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Butcombe was the new micro that famously only did the one beer for about the first 25 years of existence, and glorious it was. Once the founder sold the brewery on it has become much like 100’s of others with a wider range, but not necessarily for the better. I had a distinctly average pint of Rare Breed last Saturday.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Scott,
        Yes, indeed, Butcombe must be the only brewery in recent times to have traded successfully for so long on just one beer.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a valiant attempt to trap the unwary Martin on his travels.
      I’ve heard rumours that Donnington may be about to rebadge SBA with the same name to persuade the unwitting to visit as well.

      Liked by 1 person

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