I had to pop back to take my Dad to a health clinic today. It’s not my 50th birthday, so don’t go grassing me up.
Dad is OK (and wants golf back), perhaps better than when I left, but my heart sunk at a return to dour, featureless Cambridgeshire.
No overnight stay, no pint in The Sun, not even a sneaky Crispy Beef from Chung Hwa (closed Tuesdays; why can’t old people time their hospital trips with Chinese takeaway opening times ?).
I stretched my legs at Stretton.
Actually, I really didn’t. The tiny village of Stretton has big “Access only” signs at both entry points, and the road north reaches a dead end at HM Prison Stocken, unwitting star of Rutland’s rise to the top of the Covid league.
The Ram Jam services is one of two dozen on the A1 North which give you the deep joy of a minimal slip road back onto a dual carriageway full of lorries ferrying figs to Ferrybridge.
Until a decade ago the Ram Jam Inn was a popular stop on the Great North Road for legends as diverse as Geno Washington (of Ram Jam Band) and me, who stopped here for a half of John Smiths Bitter once. And my Dad, who had to stop here for a pot of tea and scones whenever he travelled to see relatives in Leeds. Possibly their 3rd trip since Waterbeach.
Not only is the closed pub a sad site, the service station isn’t much cop either.
Who’d stop at a Spar when there’s a Greggs not far off ? Sadly, the days of pub stops on the A1 are long gone.