Mrs RM had spent 9 nights in Royal Tunbridge Wells solving family dramas so was grateful when I came to drive her home, particularly as the in-laws toilet was broken and the outside privy had been decommissioned in 1972.

It’s a four hour journey from Kent to Sheffield, so Stamford is a decent half-way stop (unless you’re dying for the loo, in which case the grim-beyond-belief Thurrock Services will have to do).

Stamford has several things going for it. Firstly, it’s gorgeous, day or night.

Secondly, there’s always free parking just far enough away from our tea spot to irritate Mrs RM.

and thirdly, there’s enough gentrified and gentlefolk trade to mean places like the venerable Tobie Norris will be both open and just busy enough. No-one wants to eat calzone on their own in Grantham.

It must be a decade since I visited the Tobie Norris; we tried to get in a few years back but got turned away and ended up at karaoke night in the Golden Fleece.

So Mrs RM had never seen the glories of Tobie’s interior, as it were, but she recognised the ancient house style of Knead pubs from a trip to Newark’s Prince Rupert.

Don’t ask what’s in her lady bag. Or why she can’t keep whatever is in there in her pockets; women aren’t allowed pockets due to sexism.

I bought the beer while Mrs RM chose the pizza. Very Old Skool. Tough choice, so go local, go Grainstore.

Oooh, have you seen the Bass mirror ?”

I had.

The Tobie isn’t cheap, but it’s not quite destination gastropub either. You can imagine some people other than us would have made a late choice to come out, though no-one seemed to be there just for a beer.

Which is a shame, as the Grainstore was superb, a rich NBSS 3.5. Mrs RM’s second pint was a 4. That calzone above was stuffed with chicken bits and onion bhaji and didn’t quite work, but did mean I didn’t have to eat till Friday.

25 years ago Stamford had one of the largest varieties of beer in any pub in the UK. Nowadays the range may seem more pedestrian, but quality is as reliably high. And this is Lincolnshire !

“You MUST go upstairs” I urged Mrs RM. A safe bet she would, as the loos are up there.

But it’s the 12th century bling arch room you need to see. Follow the finger…

High up the wall is a blocked up door that formerly led to a secret micropub that served illicit halves of Bateman XB in the 1960s. One day they may open it as a separate bar called “Billie’s on the Wall” and seek separate GBG listing like in Buxton.

Of course, you can’t come to Stamford and not be offended by the 1970s “art” in the Gents.

In 2017 it was Country Life in the Cosy Club, and now this. Mrs RM was shaking with rage.

10 thoughts on “TEA IN THE TOBIE NORRIS

  1. I shake every time I see that Pirelli calendar smut, occasionally with rage. We don’t rate the food for the price, but I rate the pub very highly. Knead sold off a handful of their pubs last year, but thankfully they’ve not messed with the winning formula.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agree, the food is overpriced, but as with Brunning & Price (is there one in Corby yet ?) you’re paying for the building and the service, possibly an extra 30%. Seemed some deal on with the basic pizza and glass of wine though.


  2. I’ve actually been to this one! Two Lincolnshire pubs and the Norris is one of them!
    Agree re not just a gastro pub and Mrs BB was a big fan

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Heading north, it took 5 minutes to exit the M25, 5 minutes to reach the carpark (terribly signposted), 5 minutes to nip in for a wee and some Greggs, and then 10 minutes to crawl back on that sliproad at Purfleet back to the M25. Literally, half an hour. Not that the other options (Harlow McDonalds) are much better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The services, just off the M11 – Bishops Stortford turn-off are fine, and relatively easy to access for north-bound traffic. Traveling in the opposite direction, they are a complete nightmare, as you need to cross several lanes of fast moving traffic, on that massive roundabout, in order to join the southbound slip road, back onto the M11.

        I consider myself a fairly confident driver, but that roundabout is reminiscent of the chaos that is the Boulevard Périphérique in Paris, so much so that on many of my drives back from Norfolk (when my parents were still alive), I would continue straight passed – even though I could have done with a “comfort break!”

        Liked by 1 person

  3. We were there in july2107 -& I sent you a photo of that very mirror -if I remember rightly I had a very bizarre pizza with a duck topping. We love the Knead pubs

    Liked by 1 person

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