WELCOME TO HITCHIN

Simon spends what seems like a month in North Wales and crams it into 2 blog posts; Mrs RM and I spend an evening in Hitchin (zero ticks) and you’ll get at least three posts out of it. I reckon 400 words, 8 photos and a map is about the limit for my readers; you’ve all got lives (haven’t you ?).

On the Saturday we headed down to That Kent to do the in-law duties. You remember the in-laws, the ones who went pub mad in Sheffield in June.

Just a tad too far for the day trip, so we booked a hotel in Hitchin, where I could meet up with Pub Man Extraordinaire Depeche Mode John.

We used to live in Hitchin in the ’90s, and this was the view at the bottom of St John’s Hill before we sold our house to a Luton Town footballer and returned to Cambridge so my parents could babysit James.

After the Tourist Office was closed in 2004 the official welcoming committee duties were devolved to this duck (press PLAY);

It’s good to be back. Said neither of us.

You’ll remember I was here only last Autumn rediscovering the Craft Union place, the Greene King diner and the half-beamed McMullens boozer, and realising that Hitchin did have some merit after all.

Mrs RM couldn’t quite see the transformation, but there was a continental air about it you won’t find in Stevenage New Town (yet).

We actually held our wedding reception in this street in 1992 (forget the date) as part of the “Get Married and Honeymoon for under a grand” concept that ought to have been franchised.

Like the rest of Bucklersbury the site of this significant event is now a tiny restaurant, without real ale.

We thought about booking a table for a nostalgic meal later but ALL the places were completely booked, bucking the trend of empty pubs elsewhere.

Good to see, though our enthusiasm was rather dampened by the (lack of) welcome at the old school hotel that I won’t name in case I’ve left anything in the room (it takes me months to realise).

It’s good to see Hitchin so busy !” I said, noting the joyful children and parents in the pedestrianised street.

Bah ! Bad for business. Everything is bad for business” said the owner, sticking a key in my hand and returning to more important duties than trying to get us to eat with him that night.

To be fair, the overpriced but spacious room was still cheaper than anything else half-way between Sheffield and Tunbridge Wells, and was right next door to the Spoons, always a bonus.

I’d have liked to have dragged Mrs RM off to tick a new GBG pub, but oddly the social club in Welham Green didn’t appeal so we consigned ourselves to a night in Hitchin.

Luckily, we had Hitchin John to guide us.

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