Come on, what rhymes with Brandon ?
Hands up who could place Brandon on the map. Apart from Mudgie and Pubmeister.
I bet even the lycra-clad Guardian readers down the road at Center Parcs couldn’t place it. Our neighbour went to Elveden, and had no idea she’d been within a couple of miles of Thetford. I blame SatNav.
It’s a decade since I last visited a town most famed for its former state-of-the-art cinema, if you believe Wiki. That one hasn’t lasted well.
The walk from the tiny station into town isn’t one of our finest perambulations, and I’m a bit surprised to find the attractive new Beer Guide entry where the dull hotels used to be. Quite why you’d spent a night here rather than in Mildenhall I can’t imagine.
The Ram is very Breckland. Old, rambling, unimproved, virtually unused restaurant, Old Boys.
Six Old Boys at the bar, six ales on the bar, perfect symmetry.
The barmaid looks like a lady who knows what she’s doing, and I beave the question.
“What’s going quickest please ?”
“Abbot” comes out before I finish the “please“. No tasters or jam jars needed here.
Proper tables and bench seating next to the big window. Perfect.
OK, a branded Abbot glass would be nice, but I like John Smiths. Just pretend it’s cask not Smooth.
Pub Curmudgeon wrote eloquently about the cask crisis (here), noting how rarely you have a pint “where you would turn to your drinking companion and say “Taste this! This is what cask’s all about!” “
This Abbot was that good. Cool, rich, tight head, as good at the end as the start. NBSS 4.5.
The banter was what you come to Brandon for. The price of potatoes, and the big news of the day.
“Salisbury’s a wonderful town”
“‘Ave you been then”
“No. Not even twice”
All played out to the accompaniment of Abba’s “Eagle“, a rarity in pubs these days.
I spent ten minutes searching the three rooms for the Gents, before finding the classic outside loo. It was flooded, and filthy.
And also presumably decommissioned, for as I came back through three doors marked “No Entry” I noticed the sign for Rest Rooms behind the bar. Never mind, I shall never go back.
The pub wall has a sign for a walk along the meadows, so I took it.
It was pleasant enough, with a footpath free of dog mess, which is all you can ask.
My mini town guide for Brandon could just say “Littleport, but with Portuguese cafes“.
A few signs of what must have been a lucrative flintknapping industry survive.
Two former Guide pubs, the Bell and Five Bells, looked strangely alluring after a pint of Abbot, but you have to be disciplined with limited train services.
My coffee and cake in “Flavours of Portugal” cost £2.40, so I had enough pennies for the tinned octopus in the colourful tin. Now this is craft.
So Brandon has it all, even a leisure centre, an Aldi and a chimney sweep.
What more could you possibly want ?
NB The Beer Guide just turned up. Report to follow.