My eldest son James has been serving pizza on his break from Sheffield Uni.

Barring a lads trip to Rugby (don’t laugh) to play computer games, and that walk up the tower he hasn’t left the house other than to do his 8 hour shifts at Pizza Hut.  Not that the deep crust Marinara isn’t good.

This Monday (see, catching up !) I took him out of the county on a mystery trip, in the sense that I didn’t decide to head to Colchester till I’d reached the Stansted turn.  Keep going and we could have attempted an afternoon in Harlow.


The decision had absolutely nothing to do with my penultimate new Essex GBG tick, of course.

So, what does Colchester have to entertain the modern 20 year old with no interest in craft beer.


A largely intact castle ?  Probably not.

Oooh, scary

A natural history museum with ancient pub cat ? Perhaps if you’re six.

Run !

A pedestrianised high street with charity shops and umbrellas ? Nope.

Thought that was Oswestry

What about one of those shiny new art galleries that seem to have more space for the café and toilets than art ?


Actually, firstsite is pretty good, in a modern art way (top).  Loads of projectors and weirdness.

But what a 20 year student really wants is a good feed. Middletons aka Colchester Steak & Grill is a good example of the high standard of unfussy dining that Essex folk demand, complete with a soundtrack of Hearsay and the Christians. Very Essex.

Sticky ribs, messy burger and chocolate fudgecake for £10.99

I sort of scared the Southworths off a pub crawl in Colchester, which was a bit unfair, but it lost a bit when the Dutch Quarter lost the Stockwell Arms.

old bit, with slope

Still, it’s a pleasant town with pleasant backstreet pubs like the Abbey Arms, where James kindly sat outside for 5 10 minutes while I did the ticking.


The Abbey Arms marks a return to the back street boozer after last year’s dalliance with craft.


I didn’t take any photos, as the regulars were immediately chatting with me in a fairly non-inquisitorial way, with the local Scot frankly astonished I’d been to Kilmarnock (and survived).

And the beer, something from Sorachi hops, was a bit stunning (NBSS 3.5), from a brewery whose beers sometimes seem to make up the numbers as guests in Greene King houses.

Two beers, both local

Shamefully, I made James jog all the way back to the free car park (I never pay).  Parking charges in Colchester were the talk of the town in the Abbey Arms.


    1. Garrison town, of course, and home of the notorious “Glasshouse”.

      Some years ago I stayed there for a few days and went in a backstreet pub where the conversation was spectacularly politically incorrect 😱


      1. T’other Mudgie,
        Yes, I remember Colchester for the hand written “No Squaddies” signs on pub doors.
        And I remember the Castle there on 8th July 1974 for my first ever Adnams.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. T’other Mudgie,
        I thought it was more than one pub but am not sure and don’t remember which ones.
        But if a publican wishes to attract right minded customers by the elimination of conversation that’s spectacularly politically incorrect isn’t “No Squaddies” as understandable as “No children” or “no dogs” might be in other circumstances – or “No Bullingdon Club members” in Oxford 35 years ago ?


  1. That window suggests it was a Truman’s pub.
    It probably dates from between 1958 – when they took over Daniell & Sons Castle Brewery and their 150 tied houses – and 1971 – when they pulled out of Burton selling that brewery to Everards.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Speaking of Harrow,which is only one letter away from Harlow,did you know it has the highest concentration of Japanese people anywhere in Britain ?
    Apparently they all arrive at Heathrow,jump into a black cab and say ” Harrow taxi driver ”

    I’ll get my kimono.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s