I most enjoy tacking a 20 minute pub stop onto the end of a 2 hour walk round a new town. Not many new UK towns left to explore, of course, but you always find something unexpected if you give a place a bit of time.

So with Abingdon, probably not top of Dave’s list on his next UK visit but worth a look.  Some splendid civic buildings, ancient almshouses, the Thames, and load of Greene King pubs.  Three out of four…

Market Square (heroes)

It’s also a cheaper and shabbier bit of Oxfordshire than the Cotswolds bits, which means there’s decent charity shops and a bakery on Stert Street whose mince pies have passed into folklore in our household.

Sadly, no 9am drinkers in the Spoons, just families distraught at the lack of dedicated espresso cups. And you thought you had problems.  Great toilets (top), nice staff.

Trad Ullage in Spoons shot

Broad Face, the GBG newbie, was due to open at 11am according to everyone except the Broad Face itself, so I had time for extended exploration.

Your actual Thames

In total, I must have walked past my target 4 times before it opened.

Not a micro
Ah, history

But the 20 minutes in the town museum was well-spent, particularly if you like your Morlands/Old Speckled Hen history.  A neglected beer brand.


More history
A notice

And then, at 11.30, it opened.


The Broad Face had a cheery welcome, a sign with Galatians 5:22 on it, white tiling pretending to sell craft, Maria Carey and Wham singing their Christmas hearts out (accompanied by our barmaid heroine), and 3 pumps turned round.  Like the whingers keep asking Spoons to do.

Someone’s been drinking the beer

The West Berks Old Boy, served in open plan gastropub thin glass, was as solid an NBSS 2 as you’ll find anywhere, just OK enough to prevent the plants getting a watering.

Monstrosity of a glass

There, sold it to you Dave.

NB Always good signage, if not great beer, in Oxon.


  1. That does look like a nice town to visit. I like the look of it. When did themed W\Cs start cropping up? I use kegs as urinals these days almost more often than ceramic urinals.


      1. There’s no better porcelain in t’world than from Staffordshire.
        With Draught Bass and bull terriers too it’s not such a bad county.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. But they’re north Staffordshire !
        And keeping to the proper Staffordshire boundaries there are the breweries we so admire in Brierley Hill, Woodsetton and Wolverhampton.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not really in the first or even second division of historic towns. There’s a lot of insensitive modern redevelopment in the centre.


      1. Agree, but we do have a lot of worthwhile towns and cities, and traditional architectural features aren’t the only things tourists look for (hence the visits to Brick Lane and Bermondsey and gritty Bristol).


      2. Someone was suggesting that tourists come for the Red Arrows.
        And then there’s the suggestion that we wouldn’t have a tourist industry at all without the monarchy.


  2. It might have been the Deaf Cobra and they chose an anagram for the new name.

    The weekend before last I found no cask Belhaven in Dundee, Dunkeld, Edinburgh and Perth – and now I realise it’s because it’s all sent down to Oxfordshire. ,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My local CAMRA branch had a trip around Morland’s Brewery back in the late 80’s, when it was till brewing. We also did a couple of pubs in the town, but I can’t remember which ones.

    As a piece of complete trivia, the head brewer at Morland’s, served his apprenticeship at Mackeson’s of Hythe. He must have been getting on a bit, because I only vaguely remember Mackeson’s. They certainly ceased brewing some years before I was old enough to drink.


    1. Paul,
      Mackeson in Hythe ceased brewing on 3rd May 1968.
      I think in its latter years Morlands was brewing at way below capacity, its lack of viability thus making a takeover inevitable.
      How thankful we should be that the Westgate Brewery has carried on with their Old Speckled Hen !


  4. The K2 phone box shown behind the urinals might be because the one in Carfax, Oxford not far away is one of very few outside London.


  5. “Market Square (heroes)”

    I see the Turkish barber on the right has changed his sign since the 2017 Streetview was taken.


    Intrigued by the Tourist Office signpost and the fact that the Citizens Advice Bureau signpost point in different directions. I guess we don’t want the locals getting the same info as those out of towners. 🙂

    “whose mince pies have passed into folklore in our household.”

    A bit like dwarf bread?


    That last one at the bottom, ‘private’; not sure which book that’s from. 😉

    “Ah, history”

    Love the description on Google Maps; ‘rustic gastropub’. Says it all really.

    “A neglected beer brand.”

    I’ll have you know I partake of Old Speckled Hen over here every so often.

    “A notice”

    So noted.

    “served in open plan gastropub thin glass”

    See? 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s a bit of irony in someone hand lettering a sign, whose sole joke is the repetition of the word “notice,” failing to notice that they’ve written “thankyou” as a single word.

    We American fans of English beer have to appreciate Old Speckled Hen as one of the very few brands that can be found over here (and even then, it’s a rarity). I’ve never had a pint of it that was truly delicious though, I have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ha! Well, I have had it out of bottles/cans, in which case I recall it being a bit watery. More recently I’ve only had it on tap, in Michigan and NYC, in which cases there’s been an odd sourness to it– probably the sort of taste you encounter when you say it’s become ‘vinegar.’

        There’s no getting around it: These are bad times for American fans of British beer. These days there’s basically nothing on the bar from the UK, anywhere you go. So when you do see a place has made the effort to have something like London Pride or Old Speckled Hen on, you can only be grateful.

        Liked by 1 person

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