“Can I order the plant pot on the Spoons App ?”




You’re getting reports on ALL the pubs post 4 July. Even the dull Spoons.

All things have their purpose; even the dull Spoons in Cambridge which James and I visited on Friday to see how the local “hospitality” sector was doing.

Weird shot of Cambridge
Cambridge crawl.PNG
Regal sits bang centre in Cambridge

The hospitality sector was doing OK, to be fair.  Those odd little cafes facing Kings College called Fitzbillies and Copper Kettle and Cambridge Satchel Co. at least had visitors, domestic tourists replacing the Japanese and Chinese we know and love.  The outdoor market, long an embarrassment to the city, now provides a culinary feast.

It was the shops that were struggling, the modernised downmarket Grafton empty and the modernised posh Grand Arcade bereft, bar a sad queue for John Lewis.

Empty streets

The Regal‘s trade on Friday lunchtime would be an acid test of the public’s confidence in a return to pubs with infections, if not deaths, still running in the hundreds.

Get used to the queue

We headed upstairs, somewhere we rarely go but a great place to be nosey.


Our table was a good 3 metres away from an internet using lady on her 3rd bottle of Tyskie and allowed us to admire some impressive rejuvenation of one of Timbo’s scuzziest* if largest outlets.

I ordered James a fudge cake on the App then wandered down with my 50p voucher for a beer.  You can’t use CAMRA vouchers on the App, something which Discourse is urging CAMRA top brass (castle) to fix.

I got THIS close to the bar.

New shiny handpumps

Sorry, Sir. No queueing at the bar. You need to queue over there for table service”.

By the time I’d got to the head of that queue I’d forgotten the beers so just said IPA. Least I remembered my voucher. £1.60 a pint is plenty, as Sir Humphrey used to know.

Two minutes later, back upstairs, the nice lady told me the IPA was off.  I remembered they had Wolf; they always have Wolf.

It looked OK.

Looks OK

I shared with James my joy at getting a replacement beer that cost 49p more than the original.  He looked traumatised.

My joy turned to horror as the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing revealed itself as an NBSS 1.5 in NBSS 3 clothing.


Yes, it’s Saturday’s beer for Friday’s cask kids.  No, I wasn’t going on the App to take it back.  Or looking for a plant pot option.

On the way out, James noted only one brave couple of OAPs where normally there’d be dozens on Fish & Chip Friday.  The little snug to your right as you enter, “Gentlefolk corner”, was deserted. 

Perhaps the VAT cut and Rishi’s 50% will tempt them back. The cask won’t.


*Not a compliment


21 thoughts on ““Can I order the plant pot on the Spoons App ?”

    1. Despite my better judgement, I’ve given Spoons a chance (or actually 5) to impress since the 4th. They’ve certainly smartened their act, but I don’t think many cask drinkers pick Spoons anymore, not like they did 20 years ago. My worst pints last year were in Timbo Towers.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. This was interesting to me: “domestic tourists replacing the Japanese and Chinese we know and love.” –I reckon all over the world businesses that depend partially (or fully) on the tourist trade are feeling a lot of pain during this pandemic. Interestingly Japan itself has become substantially reliant on huge numbers of Chinese tourists in recent years; I have had the experience of staying at a hotel near the airport in Japan and finding that half or more of the guests down at the breakfast bar were Chinese. I wonder how much the virus has disrupted all this.

    Now, I know I should be speaking regretfully of your bad cask experience, but fans of the RetiredMartin blog know that it isn’t complete without the occasional “Is there a potted plant around here” saga. Let’s just hope it remains occasional! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ll confess, Mark, I turned to James and said “My readers are going to love the first plant pot tip”. He smiled, bewildered. Sadly Spoons are pot plant deserts, if I’m not mixing metaphors.

      Typically 50% of Cambridge visitors would be from Japan and China (and Korea I guess); no exaggeration. 2 months ago when we were allowed to go out a bit more it was next to zero, perhaps a few more now. They’ll be back. Cambridge has looked stunning this summer and I’m no hometown fan.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Hi Mark, according to my colleagues in Kyoto, Japan is coping well with the pandemic. After checking this online I discovered they’ve had approximately 22,000 cases and just 982 deaths.

      On the tourist front, I noticed quite a lot of Taiwanese visitors whilst I was out there, which was seven years ago now. There are probably a lot more from mainland China now – or were until the start of the pandemic!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re doing well, Paul. Didn’t some politician have trouble deciding whether his very own wife was Japanese or Chinese recently?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Etu,
        Was that Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt two years ago referring to his Chinese wife as Japanese ?


  2. But, but, but….. you didn’t say “too many beers”. Which that obviously is at present, unless there was only 1 beer on and Tim is still up to his old trick of sticking up pumpclips irrespective on whether the beer exists.

    Can you reserve a station platform? Asking for a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That Wetherspoons reminds me of the Picture House two miles from me in that that’s the carpet design Tim uses for his former cinemas.
    It recently opened for the first time since October but I’m in no hurry to use up a voucher.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Nasty looking soapsuddy head there – shame the mild wasn’t on form, as it’s a lovely type of beer when it is…

    … should have gone for the Doom Bar……..after establishing that it is the post lockdown beer of choice…;)


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