25th February 2020
I was going to spend Tuesday cleaning the house, but due to Mrs RM’s work commitments (boo !) on Sunday I’d failed to do the two ticks to complete Oxon, and a nearly finished GBG county so close to home (well, 2 hours) is a scratch that needs to be itched as they say in Minneapolis.
So I headed off towards the 312 roundabouts that constitute Milton Keynes and North Bucks, hopefully for the last time this GBG years.
Wantage is about the size of a Baldock or Thirsk, but punching well above most towns of 11,000 for pubs. The Royal Oak has been a national Pub of the Year finalist, the Shoulder of Mutton is boisterous, and the Swan is the fun pub exemplar. And down the road the Greyhound even provided drinkable Ramsbury (wow).
It’s worth half an hour of your time, if only to scour the charity shop for Elliott Smith CDs and check on the status of the Novel Library.
Most folk here are female, 65, and wearing more pashminas than Pashmina Pauline.
I hide from them in the Regent Book Shop, which lacks the 1975 GBG.
The King’s Arms is a rare new GBG entry round here, as craft unexpectedly comes to the Vale of the White Horse.
If Brunning & Price took over BrewDog, this is what it would look like.
Quite an exotic cask line-up spanned the strengths, from the 9% Magic Rock to a 3% Rooster (or something). That’s to be applauded, I think.
I went for the weak one, a bit chilled but tasty enough (NBSS 3), and noticed how Ullage is both bigger AND better than the Oxford pretender. I can say that now I’m out of Oxon.
One other bloke at the bar was having a conversation with the barmaid about excess moisturisation, Fleetwood Town (?) and duvet washing. The sign of a posh pub.
A winner, as was my steak and melted cheese bap (the baguettes had run out) from the mysteriously named Wantage Family Butchers.
I walked down the High Street devouring a fistful of glop, trying not to eat the silver foil. The pashmina ladies kept well clear.
Worth an overnighter in Wantage, I’d say.
Just one thing. On NO account find yourself here on 3rd April.
You have been warned.