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.
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.
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.
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).
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 ?
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.