Increasingly I’m getting away on Sunday nights, when the A14 is passable and hotels are half the Friday rates, but you can still expect 1 in 3 of the new GBG entries to be open.
So that means I’m spending more Saturdays close to Cambridge, tidying up blogs and cupboards. Feel my pain.
Last Saturday I arranged to meet top pub man Leon for a quick pint at the Haymakers before Tranmere’s thrilling draw with Cambridge United. It’s important that visitors to the city see the gritty bits of Cambridge as well as the chain restaurants in the centre.
The walk from the new Cambridge North station to the Haymakers is one of the less heralded urban walks.
And street art along the guided bus route is at the primitive stage.
Problem was, I had nearly an hour to kill before I met Leon, so I drifted towards one of the real Cambridge oddities.
I wrote about the Golden Hind, one of the famed Tolly Follies when it was re-opened three years ago. Oddly, it hasn’t graced the Beer guide since then, despite my rave review of the Broadside. Still looks lovely, though food trade was considerably lower than I remember in what was always a basic local before the refurb.
Anyone who’s been in a modernised Greene King diner in the last year will recognise the line-up, plus or minus a Colchester or Buntingford beer.
I nearly turned on my heels and walked out, being a beer snob and all.
Oh, not you.
Well. would you resist ? Perhaps not the ideal lunchtime pint, unless you’re BRAPA or Mrs RM, but I knew you’d want to know if it was any good.
Well, if there’s a more reliable pint, even when first out the taps in a lager pub, I’ve yet to come across it. Not quite Staggs standard, but a chewy NBSS 3.5.
I joined the rabid crowds watching the Brighton v Derby Cup tie. Since the volume was turned down on the telly and the R’n’B turned up, it was a painful experience. All I can tell you is that Bogle miscontrolled the ball, because the lad opposite shouted that out.
Next to me a sockless Old Boy was tucking into his big breakfast, oblivious to Bogle.
He asked the barmaid who took his plate for another pint of Peroni, and had the £5.05 ready for her when she brought it. And I thought table service was dead.
An outwardly impressive but soulless chain pub, partly redeemed by some decent beer.
But was that pint of 6% heaven a folly ? Oh no.