This raiding of the archives is fine, but it’s no substitute for the permanent exploration I was doing ’till a month ago.

Frankly, much as I miss the pubs, I’d give anything just to walk round a new village near Maidenhead. Preferably one with an open Chinese takeaway, mind.

Next door village Cottenham will just have to do for now. And even the chippy there has shut up shop, as I discovered on my 58:37 minute walk yesterday.


The slightly coarser elder brother of Waterbeach, Cottenham sees itself as the epicentre of Fen Edge entertainment, with reed cutting workshops, eel reels and palm reading with Dennis of Grunty Fen at the Village College.

Alma Mater

CVC is where my lads went, leaving less of an impression than I did. Mind, my impression was made with a bunsen burner on the science lab ceiling in 1979, round about the time the Clash’s London Calling became one of my first 7″ purchases.

Lacking the barracks of Waterbeach and the fruit farms of Histon, Cottenham has the horseracing (never been) and the travellers’ site.

And a rather gorgeous High Street I probably didn’t appreciate at 14.


The queue for the Co-op is too long to brave a visit for essential supplies, and I regretted the recent closure of the wall mounted chocolate dispenser.

Vital service

The Nestle machine was last used by Pepys, who appears to have TWO houses named after him near the church.

Elsewhere, the top of the windmill will no doubt see life as a micropub at some stage.

Not the most attractive Fens windmill tbf

Near the windmill you’ll find the attractive Dissenters Cemetery,


the resting place for a sizeable number of the C of E clergy opposed to the growth of craft beer in the late 18th century.

They needn’t have worried.

The nearest Cottenham got to craft was the Wherry at the Jolly Millers, starting point for an 8 pub crawl on my (ex?) brother-in-law’s stag night in May 1986. I suspect 6 of those were Tolly (no NBSS scores survive).


8 pubs was about 6 pubs too far for a 21 year old beer weakling back then.

Only 4 left today, and even those seemed less than fixtures, even before the lockdown.

Proper Greene King boozers,

Hop Bind. Strangely alluring

the on/off foody place at the war memorial,

Chequers. Close as Cottenham gets to gastropub

and the frankly bizarre Waggon & Horses, or whatever the remaining letters spell.

T.. W….n. n…. ses
Great sign

Tucked away in the warren of residential streets between church and college, this one is a real mystery, the sort of place that puts the “b” in basic boozer.

Talking of bees.


13 thoughts on “COTTENHAM CALLING

  1. When you bought that “London Calling” single, did you at the time realize the place it would hold in music history? I mean, I certainly felt that way when I bought a 45 of “I Am a Camera” by The Buggles. 😉

    Loved the line about Pepys being the last one to use the Nestle machine. Isn’t he the guy who originated the popular saying, “When you’ve grown tired of Swiss milk chocolate, you’ve grown tired of life.”


    1. I think London Calling has only gained its iconic status over time. It was only a Number 11 here, I bought it in a London street market for the cover.

      You’re serious about the Buggles aren’t you? Aren’t you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The truth is I’d bought the entire “Adventures in Modern Recording” album (one of the first 5 or so albums I bought as a teen, as I recall), so I didn’t need to buy the single. But for some reason I do have a vivid memory of seeing the “I Am a Camera” 45 on the wall of a record store; apparently the record company made at least some sort of push for it being a hit, but sadly it was not to be. Trevor Horn did all right for himself in the end, though, didn’t he?

        That’s interesting about London Calling. Some of these songs gain so much stature over time that it’s surprising to find they didn’t even make the top ten when first released.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m not one for retrospection, as you’ll know, but I looked at the Official UK Charts ( for the week commencing 13 January 1980, when London Calling peaked at No. 11.

        While I reckon music is better in 2020 than ever, there’ll never be a Top 75 that good ever again. Take a look.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I’d never heard of it, but “I Am a Camera” is a condensed version of “Into the Lens”, which appeared on the Yes album “Drama” which featured Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes. And is actually a lot better than many people give it credit for.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for posting this! Had never heard “Into the Lens” before; interesting to encounter this and hear a much more rock-n-roll version of what I’ve gotten used to in synthpop form. Very hard to imagine “I Am a Camera” being pulled off in live performance, but I reckon “Into the Lens” was ready made for it.


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