And I can tell you as one of them, completing Beds is MUCH tougher.

13th-15th January 2023.

A long weekend in Waterbeach, with 3 days to crack Bedfordshire’s four GBG newbies*. Thrilling.

Despite nearly catching up on the blog (take that, BRAPA !), I’m giving you four pubs in one today.

Because Beds is Boring. And they can have that as their slogan for free.

Unusually, all four newbies are in what you’d call rural North Beds, with none in Luton or the county town.

I’m bored of writing this already, but let’s crack on.

Yes, it’s the Plough in Langford, a dull dormitory village whose Red Cow was a genuine spit and sawdust classic in the ’90s till the smoking ban killed it off.

The Plough had the best Greene King IPA since then, a tight headed NBSS 3.5, and a really friendly welcome, but loses points for showing the offside United goal in the derby. A nice family friendly local, pleasantly refurbished in that hateful Greene King style, and if it really is the last pub in Langford I think they couldn’t ask for a better one.

Northill’s Crown was a bit of a shock, mainly because Northill and adjacent Ickwell are actually rather lovely, in sharp contrast to the Caldecotes you pass on the A1.

In fact, I’d say the Crown was almost posh. A dad paraded his son to the bar, offering his services to do the washing-up to pay for his extravagant lunch. I’m not sure if the lad knew his dad was joking.

A Surrey style dining pub (IPA here was £4.60), another barperson shocked we just wanted a quick beer, another packed pub, and (in fairness) another excellent drop of GK IPA. This one was flat and cool (NBSS 3.5+).

A third IPA of the weekend in Bromham, which Wiki would have us believe has a population of nearly 5k despite having no features of interest.

Most of those 5,000 souls were in the Swan on Sunday lunchtime,

crowding the bar with ludicrously complex drinks orders. You know the type; “Slice of lemon and a dash of Lee & Perrins. NO ! Put the Lee & Perrins in FIRST !”.

IPA only £3.70 here, nearly a quid cheaper than down the road, and a smart village pub I’d like to slag off but just couldn’t be bothered to.

The beer was, again, good (3.5), though the smell of roasts and baby (not on the same plate) knocked a half point off by the end of the pint.

Which leaves us with the Hare & Hounds in Old Warden, home to the Shuttleworth Collection of flying machines.

A fourth busy Beds pub of the weekend, which shows how seriously some folk take Dryanuary, and another pub where I had to resort to the high stool at the bar.

My run of decent Greene King ground to a halt here, with Charles Wells Origin Pale Ale on the bar. GBG quality, but as dull a beer as I’ve had in many a month.

Appropriately enough.

NB Good to see the Albion in Ampthill still No.1 in the GBG despite the geographic mucking around.

*OK, OK, to see Mum and Dad and visit Chung Hwa as well.


  1. “More people have stood on the moon…and I can tell you as one of them…” You mean you’ve actually been to the moon? Are there any micros up there?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “More People have stood on the moon than have ticked Bedfordshire”

    Does seem to assume there’s a difference.

    Having lived in Bedfordshire (or maybe it was on the Moon) for a short while in the past, not convinced could differentiate.


  3. “Charles Wells Origin Pale Ale on the bar. GBG quality, but as dull a beer as I’ve had in many a month.”

    Charles Wells beers (ignoring the old brands that ended up with Marston’s but still parade under that former name) are now produced by what’s called Brewpoint Brewery. The four different ones have had (which doesn’t include Origin to date) have all been miserably dull.


    1. Yes I knew it was called something with “Brew” in the title; most of the beer was their keg range which no-one was drinking. The Origin was clean but dull, what’s the point ? I’m sure the Wells experimental range in the mid-10s weren’t bad.


      1. Yep, they made an effort with something/someone (met him, so was an actual person) called the Wandering Brewer Project, cuckoo brewing whilst they built their new plant. Delivered some reasonable stuff (from evidence of four different brews came across). Not sure what happened to that all that input and development once they got Brewpoint up and running.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hugh,
      Last autumn I had their Origin, DNA and Legacy in their most northerly pub, the George at Castleton. One was too citrussy but the other two suited one to old for “inspiring” beers.


  4. Dare I say, that I quite like Bedfordshire, despite it being a land-locked county. I can’t say the same for those hideous, new Greene King glasses; although fortunately, I haven’t come across any yet.

    I’m pleased to report that in this part of the world, dimple mugs, with a handle, are making a comeback, and I’ve enjoyed drinking out of a few since Christmas, most recently today, in the wonderfully restored, Little Gem, at Aylesford.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Bedfordshire must be my least-pubbed (GBG) county in England and Wales. I think the only pubs I’ve ever been in are the Cock at Broom and some pub in Leighton Buzzard we went to for a pub lunch on a work visit in the early 80s. I’m not going to rush to book a holiday, though. I remember an early edition of the “Good Pub Guide” complaining about the poor quality of pubs in the county.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say a night in Leighton Buzzard at the Spoons hotel might be worth it. The Black Lion, Red Lion and a few others would make a decent crawl, particularly if you can tolerate a micro and a brewery tap.

      The Albion in Ampthill, the very first pub in the GBG for 20 years, is/was a cracker.

      I’m sure Will will be around shortly to promote Luton.


      1. Well, OK. But only because you asked so nicely. Actually Luton is pretty poor for beer. Only the Bricklayers Arms stands out, the Great Northern is good, the Black Horse tolerable and the Painters Arms is gorgeous but the ale was poor last time I went there (WhatPub says there’s no real ale again now). Actually, most of the rest I haven’t been to for a long time, so maybe I’m missing something.

        Probably not.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. T’other Mudgie,
      I’ve been to a few Bedford pubs thanks to the wonderful London Midland ‘Great Escape’ day ticket but otherwise know the county no more than you. It is one of only three counties, along with Durham and Rutland, I’ve not stayed in these past fifty years.


    1. Well, Daivid, it certainly had two, but I actually think it was FOUR ! The basic Sow & Pigs in Toddington, Rose & Crown in Ridgmont (the one with the Rupert theme) and two dull town pubs in Bedford itself (Devonshire ? Three Cups ? White Horse ?). Pretty sure I did them in 1997-98 getting my collector card stamped at the bar, will try and find the details.


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