March 2020

Day 2 of the “World Without Pubs“, and the latest in my series of increasingly desperate attempts to sell the Fens to you as a holiday destination, should you ever be allowed to leave Paisley or Maidstone or Bridgend.

If you’d assumed Little Thetford was next to normal Thetford on the A11 to Narrrrfolk, be prepared for a shock.

Lt Thetford
You’ll be experts on this soon

A one street village leading down to the Ouse, home to 792 souls,. 792, remarkably is exactly 10 times the average age of the residents based on the cheery folk I encountered.

Those of you who pay attention may remember this sign at Stretham pointing to the Fish and Duck Inn.

All signs should lead you to pubs

I headed there now.

Lt Thet2
“When will you be going to Padney Quarry” you ask

I’ve walked the bounds of Lt. Thetford, as its fans call it, a couple of times.

The Pedigree van remains, a victim of rampaging Little Thetfordians who diverted a delivery to Stretham’s Red Lion into a siding in 2011 and stripped it bare.

Any barrels left will be conditioning nicely

It lies, forlorn, in the garden of the Social Club (probably Greene King) which provides the only lubrication to the gentlefolk.

The only lubrication apart from Plumb’s Dairy, my own milkman, whose demand has apparently trebled in the last week.


30 minutes to Cambridge, 5 minutes to Ely, 6 hrs 22 to Paisley.

What can I tell you about Little Thetford to get you to change your summer holiday plans, bar the fact you won’t be having a summer holiday ?

Nice church

The recumbent bicycle man has moved to Ely.

Hi-tec enterprise

And the WWF Shark Swim in the Ouse is on hold for now.

Another one you’ve missed

But this is the place for your social distancing.

Calm down, it’s not a real fox chasing a pheasant
House invaded by trees
“Waz”and “mushy” is fen speak for fish and chips
Round House – Future micropub ?

It’s been a dry village, remote riverside pub apart, for about as long as Landbeach.  The number of Cambs villages without a pub may not have reached its peak, you feel.

Three Horseshoes

Near the railway line a lone plasterer sang Chas & Dave’s “Sideboard Song“, badly, the first public entertainment in Little Thetford since VE Day.

Rail passengers sing along to “Got my beer in the sideboard ‘ere”

Then it was down to the River, just like in the Springsteen song.

Black and white image of river showing small chain ferry on left bank with shire horse and driver ready to go across to the right bank where we can see a windmill
By Unknown author – Cambridgeshire Collection 

Quieter than in the 1890s when a ferry conveyed a horse and cart to Barway for purposes unknown.

 A drain
A river

Half an hour along the muddy bank to the Fox & Duck marina, where the pub has been demolished so I can’t bring you any reminiscences about a decent little stop for pleasure boats that was selling Theakston when I bade it farewell in 2003.

R.I.P. Pub 

I walked the riverbank for an hour; a few dozen boats including our Shakira (top), one man and his dog.  Which chased me.  I think it was called Arthur.

The skies closed in.  I trudged back.

All roads lead to nowhere

Are you bored of the big skies yet ?



  1. It’s slowly sinking in that there won’t be a summer holiday… Hard to accept. I’ll throw a road question out there. I notice that from Heathrow Google maps always prefers M3 and A303 over the M4 and M5 when one goes west. Even when one goes to Exmoor. Is that the preferred route by real travelers and not just we who are living vicariously through google? Planning a visit for late 2023 when we have the vaccine.


    1. 2023? Optimistic.

      M3/303 avoids the inevitable slowdown on M5 between Bristol and Taunton, and a good 20 miles shorter.

      On the upside, the M4/M5 gives you the joy of passing Maidenhead and the option of Bass at the Ship in Portishead.

      Happy to be of service.


    2. Dave,
      “when one goes west”

      What we’re gonna do is
      Go West, Life is peaceful there
      Go West, There in the open air
      Go West, Where the skies are blue
      Go West, This is what we’re gonna do
      Life is peaceful there, Go West
      In the open air, Go West

      but not till 2023 ?
      And what about that Bathams lunchtime and Wolverhampton evening ?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fingers crossed but things aren’t looking good for travel. This seems like it is going on for a long time sad to say.


  2. Glad to see you supporting your local doorstop delivery milkman, Martin. We’ve had our milk delivered ever since moving in, 26 years ago, and we used the same local dairy for 7 years prior to that,at our previous residence.

    You might pay a few pence a pint more than at a supermarket, but you can’t beat opening the front door and finding the bottles waiting there in the outside porch.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Living in a flat in a high crime area called a shithole, I rather feel that if I engaged the services of the local milkman I would never actually receive the milk despite him delivering it correctly. I would like to drive a milk float though.

        Whilst you may not sell the fens as a holiday destination, you do portray a most interesting view of it. How I wish those of us without private transport could get out further in these times and explore our area.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do occasionally walk to Immingham from Habrough. Sadly advice is to forego the pleasure of the train to Habrough at present. Also the station waiting room at Habrough is currently enforceably closed.


  3. I like the prescience on the part of the builders of the Round House, as to the possibility of future invasion by paratroops.

    “They don’t like it up ’em!”


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