Sometimes I have to go to a plain pub with plain people in a plain village and give you nothing except the joy of knowing that I’m one tiny step closer to completing the Guide.
But the real point of ticking is discovering or re-discovering the gems of the UK. Like Stotfold in beautiful Bedfordshire*.
Mrs RM and I lived a couple of miles away in Letchworth in the early ’90s, but I couldn’t recall anything about Stotfold, bar a 0-0 draw with Raunds in the United Counties League in 1994 punctuated by Ian Atkins shouting “Winners !” “Seconds !”, back when I visited non-league grounds rather than non-league pubs.
For a small (<6,000) industrial town it’s quite rural in feel.
The most famous resident is “Queen” Victoria Pendleton, though Wikipedia also gives us this Local Hero;
“Robert Seymour, (Kpop Artist), Member of BTS, hes got grey hair so therefore he is good kpop man.”
Half an hour is plenty of time to explore the town highlights. As always, walking aimlessly is your best bet. Jehovahs Witnesses, Strict Baptist churches, Indian takeaways, Greene King locals, you know what to expect.
An hour after leaving Baldock station, I claimed the Crown.
The Beer Guide talks of beers on gravity at the Crown, making it seem mysterious and beery. It’s not. And the Guvnor was never going to ask “You one of them CAMRA ? “.
I saw Greene IPA and Adnams Broadside; if there was a beer from the barrel the locals were keeping it for themselves. So I had the IPA, my second of GBG19.
A dozen Old Boys alternated between the smoking hut and the bar and high tables, leaving me with a fairly pubby area to myself.
You could hide from life here. And I did, only interrupted by the Southampton v Brighton repeat. Someone shouted out the full-time score, ruining it for me.
The IPA was decent enough (NBSS 3), and it all felt very cosy, if you prefer old gramophones, Top of the Pops jukeboxes, and redundant fireplaces to exposed ducts and long tables. Which I do.
“He’s got a nice girlfriend. She’s got a company car”
“Done well. And he’s not all that.” You know how it goes.
It wouldn’t get in the Beer Guide in Derby, but it would almost anywhere in Scotland. What more can I say ?
The GBG said sandwiches were available, but I really didn’t fancy my chances, so I held on to Charles & Co, the authentic looking chippy down the road, stopping only to admire the discarded Paul Simon CD booklet.
Anywhere up north, Charles & Co. would be called Stotfold Fisheries. The search for haddock in the freezer was worthy of its own soap opera, and London escapee Mr Charles told me more about fish than I could ever wish to know.
The incident of brill substituted for monkfish on the North Norfolk coast in 1979 has clearly not been forgotten. Or forgiven. Quite how he got on to reminiscing about the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping I still haven’t figured.
Anyway, medium haddock and chips for £6. Superb.
I doubt I’ll be heading back to Stotfold soon, but I might nip back for that chippy.
*It’s the heat getting to me