25th February 2020

Getting a sprint on now, with a night on the western edge of Wiltshire to complete my second of three GBG counties this week.

Even Duncan is panicking at my progress, which will no doubt be impeded by a Coronavirus lockdown that confines me to the Days Inn at Membury Services for 3 months.


Two to do in Wiltshire, and I wish I could have done justice to Marlborough but for the third straight trip it was tipping it down.


Rather like Suffolk, those Wiltshire towns below Swindon range from the “gritty” to the “twee”. Melksham isn’t the twee one, in case you wondered.

On Sunday we’d stopped at the Royal Oak on the way home from Devizes, drawn by an a promised 10am opening. On Sunday !

Despite there being approximately 3,700 gentlefolk and professional pashmina wearers walking the street(s) of Marlborough comparing coffee menus, the Royal Oak was shut, due to a power issue or something. So we both had croque monsieur and a flat white in The Food Gallery, cos we’re posh.


So I had to go back, two days later. Some people living in Marlborough don’t even visit it that often.

There’s a beautiful little town in there, hidden being three rows of parked cars and Waitrose hoardings.

Oh dear

Pleasingly, it competes with Stockton-on-Tees for the coveted title of widest high street, a title Stockton currently holds until the effect of Bass banking in the Sun performs some natural correction.

There aren’t many pubs as grand as the Royal Oak in Stockton though.


It looks like one of those Olde English Inns that Greene King run with £120 per night deals advertised in the Telegraph.

But here the average age was 29.7 with than 72.9, groups of rugby mates blocking my way expertly at every turn.

Cosmopolitan Marl

Quite an ambitious beer range has given it Marlborough’s first GBG entry since the English Civil War (the one run by the BBBs against the Crafties).

MORE Lilley’s

ALWAYS go for the beer with the handwritten label. Of course not, but I did anyway as it was called “Hottie” and only 3.2%.

AT the bar the hipster was encouraging his Japanese girlfriend to try a half.

What should I try” she asked the barmaid.

The Hopper is nice and hoppy, and from just up the road at Ramsbury

Hopper ? Well, could you read the handwritten pumpclip ?

I snatched the bay window

The Hottie Hopper was nice and hoppy, thanks for the tasting notes. Perhaps you can tell that by the foamy lacings.


But I doubt you care.


  1. Celebrating your progress you mean?! It has been a mighty effort by you this year that will be rewarded by a lower and possibly manageable 2021 target. Unfortunately the new camper van has been ruled an artificial aid and is not permitted under Rule 47 Para 3.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The tall, lanky bloke with the hat and scarf, eyeing up the bird at the bar, doesn’t look like your average rugby player – or is he the hipster with the Japanese girlfriend? Difficult to tell from the angle of your shot, Martin.

    On a more serious note, Mrs PBT’s and I took a diversion off the M4, and down through Marlborough, on the way back from South Wales last month. We both liked what we saw, so have earmarked it for a weekend’s visit.

    If our cruise gets cancelled due to Corona-virus, Marlborough could end up as our plan B.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looks like a great place to visit. I’m often surprised when a town this size is one I don’t really know about. Definitely on the futures list for me. My subscription really pays off again and again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We actually passed through Marlborough on a departing Sunday drive from Devizes to LHR. We were too early for a pub visit.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. The cruise isn’t until May, and it’s only to Hamburg. Who knows what will happen, but there has certainly been a media frenzy over Coronavirus.

        Nothing like a good scare story to put the wind up Daily Mail readers! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

    2. T’other Paul,
      I thought the tall, lanky bloke with the hat and scarf eyeing up the bird at the bar was the Marlboro Man from tobacco advertising campaigns that “featured rugged men portrayed in a variety of roles”.


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