PUBS v GARDEN CENTRES IN THE FENS

My weekly trip “home” to Waterbeach is centred on getting Dad out of the house so he can stock up on new seeds and socks at the garden centre in Horningsea, the “posh” village that’s about to get a sewage works from Milton. Residents are, understandably, thrilled.

Leaving the door, Mum surprised me by saying “Take Dad to that pub across the road“.

Did she know I’m nearly up to date on the blog and need more material ?

The Plough & Fleece has been in and out of the Guide since the “community” took it over from Greene King a few years back. The public bar is a gem, even though it’s mainly a dining area.

Look closely in the back mirror and you’ll see me checking my Untppd tasting notes to see which of these four I’d risk a half of;

The tasting notes for the “IPA” were a bit inconclusive so I went for LHG, which is possibly “Landbeach Happy Gardeners”.

Dad had already picked the seat by the fire (top), whose warmth was countering the draft from the open window that gentlefolk insist on, because, Covid.

Apart from a group drinking wine at the bar, we were the only custom on Saturday lunchtime, which was a shame.

Across the road, we could see the nondescript cafe at Scotsdale Garden Centre busy as usual. The coffee and cake at the garden centre has long replace fish and chips and a pint at the pub, even though the pub is often cheaper and always the more homely option.

Perhaps Mum wanted me to take Dad somewhere less busy; I still see lots of folk choosing pubs based on how quiet they’re likely to be, rather than the opposite.

The beer was GBG quality, the scampi and burger and chips good pub grub (less restaurant-y than I remember), the service was exceptionally friendly. Luckily, Dad remains very decisive, picking the first thing he liked the look of on the simple menu and eating it all.

And after buying seeds and socks I took Dad on an aimless drive round posh Cambs, pointing out places he’d played football/golf/Salvation Army carols at, and ending the Emmaus charity cafe in Landbeach.

If you thought garden centres were mopping up pub trade in the Fens, wait till you visit the charity cafe.

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