15th January 2020

And so, it begins, five days in the South-West, whatever that is, on a road trip with my sister Julie.

It’s not quite On The Road, but there is a high speed blow-out on the M5, fiddles and mind-altering quantities of Draught Bass. Just not at the same time.

My niece Patricia and hubby John (don’t forget Dad, he has the difficult job) is expecting a baby in the summer, and Sis wanted to discuss arrangements for getting the lad/lass on the waiting list for CAMRA/MCC/RAC membership.

And six hours there and back gave us time for some rare brother/sister catching-up.

Oh, and there might be a few GBG ticks. I reckoned twenty.


Take a look at the Bing route guidance to our lunch stop in Gloucestershire.

The red blob next to Waterbeach shows how long it takes to get out of Cambridge at the moment; 40 minutes to even reach the A14 last Wednesday.

Then the new A14 road layout confused us and I denied Sis the treat of the first leg of the Huntingdon bypass. She was, briefly, inconsolable.

Oddly, the best route south-west is slightly up and across via Solihull, and we’d didn’t stop till past the M50 and the Vale of Berkeley.


GBG aficionados will know this area for two recent CAMRA National Pubs of the Year (with Cheltenham’s Sandford close by).

Those with more sadistic tastes will remember Berekeley Castle as the scene of the murder of Edward II.

“they kept him down and withall put into his fundament an horne, and through the same they thrust vp into his bodie an hot spit, or through the pipe of a trumpet a plumbers instrument of iron made verie hot, the which passing vp into his intrailes”

That’s what you got for taking a leak on Caerphilly Station in the early 14th century.

These days Berkeley is all informal dining and twitchers.

That’s the highlight on Wanswell

First and foremost the Salmon (new GBG) was a loo stop, which quickly revealed what we were in for. Not only “Fine” soaps, but Scottish soap. With French writing.


No-one was at the bar, and it was pretty clear we were expected to take a seat and read the handpumps from our tables. Stuff that.

Sis is pretty sharp when it comes to assessing pubs.

“Nice lay-out”

“Good welcome”

“Lots of old beer mats”

“Everyone’s older than us”

“Partridge feathers”. “What ?”

Nice fire

As with Duncan, Sis fulfills a vital function on these trips, consuming the beer and leaving me with dregs by which I claim my approved tick.

Bass clock

The beer was a bit lacking in condition (NBSS 2), but just good enough to save the lass the joy of a Taylor taking the beer back.


Meh beer, but nice people, and really great food, particularly that squid. And I know my squid. Personally.


Very polite, though the burst of The Jam was unexpected.

“And – stop apologising for the things you’ve never done,
‘Cause time is short and life is cruel –
But it’s up to us to change
This town called malice

More hamlet than Town, really.

Anyway, Sis, where next ?


  1. Well I’m enjoying this road trip already. Did your sister issue any guidelines regarding how she’s portrayed in your blog? “If you make me look like a fool, mark my words, I won’t hesitate to share all those embarrassing stories of what you got up to when you were a teenager.”

    As an accompany to beer it’s hard to beat good fried squid. Sadly it’s hard to come by, as so many places do an awful job of it, seems to me.


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