Our short trip to Dunstable started in the Britannia Northampton, the usual lack lustre ales on tap. I suppose Tribute is passable and generally refreshing but it is getting dangerous close to bloody Doombar status, so Citra and I sipped our way through the pale Cornish ale. It was in decent nick, clear with the head clinging loosely to the glass. This was Citra’s first pint in a while as he’d been shouting hooey down the pan for a few days. And yes Citra confirms diced carrots where in evidence. Parker arrived to collect us just after 4:00pm it took about 45 minutes to get to our first Dunstablian pub the Victoria Inn, we had intended to frequent the Globe but limited parking opportunities swayed us away.
The Victoria is a PUB in every sense of the word, very clean and tidy, immaculate in fact lots of attention to detail. The brass and copper pipework in the toilet was gleaming. Not a posh pub but one for the locals and they are well looked after. Nice bar area with plenty of ‘what’s going on’ signs, TV’s and decent grub available at a sensible price. Four hand-pumps on the bar, the house ale brewed by Tring named Victoria Ale, with two from Cottage Brewery, Golden Arrow and DB4, plus Courage Best. Parker went for the house beer, Citra and I went for Golden Arrow. Both ales were in beautiful condition, pristine clear, good head, good temperature, perfect. Golden Arrow is just one of many Rail Ales they brew. Lovely premium pale ale, nice and hoppy, citrusy and refreshing coming in at 4.5%. So nice we had two. Parker didn’t say much about the house ale; he raised the glass and nodded towards the inner-glowing ale with an air of approval. The TV’s were scrolling notices of forthcoming events to be shown over the next week. One said World Cup rugby 6th Oct, 20:00 KO Fiji vs Uruguay. ‘Free chilli at half time’. Citra thought this was a political statement and commented further that he’d enjoyed a couple of glasses of the finest Pinochet just a few weeks back. Oh dear, Parker and I looked at each other and decided it wasn’t worth the explanation.
We moved just down the road to the Pheasant, a pleasant pub we plucked from Dunstable pubs. Nice enough boozer which has now appeared in the last 3 Camra GBG’s and in once again listed next year. Six hand-pumps one adorned with; yes you’ve guessed it; I’m not even going to mention it. Another had Tribute on it, with a third sporting Courage Directors pump clip. The fourth pump clip was turned around, boo-hiss as it looked like Wychert an ale from Vale brewery was once drawn from this pump. However, there was some salvation; we had two world cup rugby themed ales one from Tring ‘Up & Under’ and the other from Vale brewery ‘The Good Game’. I bet the breweries spend hours coming up with these inspirational gems. ‘Up & Under’, is more closely associated to rugby league not union. ‘The Good Game’ did Brucie come up with that belter? Parker had a cup of coffee, Fuggles and Citra went for ‘The Good Game’, it was a nice ale, light copper/amber, with a thin head at 4.1%. Not special but easily drinkable and was served in good condition. A couple of other Poppies fans were just leaving making their way down to the Victoria, they would enjoy that pub. Next up was ‘Up & Under’, pleasant enough coming in at 4:0%, amber, light bitterness with a floral nose. This will no doubt get quaffed in great numbers during the rugby world cup. During our stay at the Pheasant both Parker and Citra went to the toilet both returned with puzzled looks on their faces, It wasn’t until I also went to dispense the previous hours consumption that I realised their consternation. Surely this couldn’t be the only bog in a large pub like this, just one pan and a wash basin that was it; a uni-sex toilet. Some of the white tiles had been painted with silver paint turning them into scratch tiles, graffiti on every tile, most unusual. We didn’t traipse around the pub looking for something with a little more grandeur to piddle in; we just went to the game.
Err, the game, well what can I say, I don’t usually mention much about the footy in these blogs but what the heck. This season we look as though we are sponsored by the Performing Arts Society, beautiful to watch with flowing passing footy but very little to show for their efforts. Unfortunately our games remind me of the scene from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the lost Ark. Indy’s in a very busy Tunisian market place, full of thieves, fakirs and ne’er-do-wells. He’s working tirelessly to find his lost love, then suddenly there’s a clearing in the gathered throng. An immaculately dressed Arab warrior appears in full regalia; wielding a sabre. His sword is rhythmically swishing and swirling cutting through the air drawing ‘oohs and aahs’ of adulation from the ragged crowd. This warrior is clearly skilled in his martial art, an incredibly dangerous threat to Indy’s life, so he pulls out a gun and shoots him. That’s Kettering; full of sword swishing but with no productivity. We danced, we frolicked, we moved the ball about beautifully, we lost 4-0, Poppies in action
So the game was over, we drove just a few miles up the road to Toddington, once a village where most Poppies Travel buses stopped on their way back up the M1; that was when the Sow and Pigs was still open. Marvellous Greene King pub, back when they used to have them.
Anyway we went into a newish pub the Cuckoo; housed in the 15th century listed Old Town Hall overlooking the market square. The Cuckoo is a small two roomed pub, one is a pleasant lounge with oak looking furniture, the other is a small bar area with 8 hand-pumps all numbered 1 to 8. With 6 ales and two ciders, the six ales available were Cuckoo bitter brewed by the Leighton Brewery, Fullers Seafarers and Chiswick, Hornes Triple Goat Porter, Nobby’s Tow'd Navigation and 3 Brewers St Albans Golden English Ale. We all went for the latter. Delightful golden ale as the name suggests, served in perfect condition. Clear with a tight white head clinging nicely to the glass, very refreshing pint. Easily drinkable coming in at 3.8%; could be a good session ale. We met others PRATS there, Petit Chemise and Marshall, they’d been to The Globe before the game and easily found a parking space, balderdash, never mind next season. Marshall was drinking the Hornes Triple Goats Porter, he was talking too much to tell us how it was, Petit was also on Golden English Ale. On another day we’d have sampled the pork pies and scotch eggs but it was late, maybe next time. That was it for the night, some decent ales and some disappointing footy.