Wednesday, 18 July 2018

BRAPA - The Heavy Woollen Cats of Walthamstow (Part 1 of 2)



It was that joyful biannual bananary time of year when I take a group of work friends on a BRAPA expedition.

We're becoming more adventurous as time goes on, the first few outings being in the shadow of Dewsbury.  We then spread the net slightly to Greenfield & Mossley, before more recently going to Newcastle, and then Liverpool back in Feb, which was no more Heavy Woollen than a shellsuit.  And we were really stretching the concept now with a trip to E17 - Walthamstow.

The kind of pub East London photo I'd have taken had I lived in t'olden days
I met the assembled gang in the Parcel Yard at Kings Cross, a station pub I seem to both admire and dread in equal measures, and they were all finishing off their brekkies.  I'd arrived at bit later from York, they'd all travelled down from L**ds, and I'd been further delayed as I'd had some 'business to attend to' in a nearby cubicle.

Let me introduce the gang.  We had Jason 'Mr Angry' Garrett, maintaining his 100% Heavy Woollen record.  We had Piper Corday, who has only missed two trips.  We had Simon 'Sy' Clark, his second appearance after the Greenfield day.  And we had debuts for Piper's Dad, Mick, a proper no nonsense Morley bloke, and his jovial partner, Shirl, a real livewire of a character.  A good solid group of folk.

They told me they'd spotted an ale for sale in here costing £230.10.  I know this pub can be expensive but I thought they were joking til they showed me the menu!  Insanity, Fullers must think people are born yesterday.  I got bottles in my cupboard older than that, and I can't give 'em away!



As we got up to begin our Tube journey on the Victoria line to sunny Walthamstow, we had the perfect example of why I tend to travel alone.  Piper wanted to go into the Harry Potter shop, Mick & Shirl hadn't got their underground travelcards, and Jason needed a cigarette between leaving Kings Cross and getting down into the Underground!  'Patience is a virtue' I told myself, as a cool crisp pint in a cool old pub flickered before mine aley eyes......

"Baby if you've got to go away
I don't think
I can take the pain
Won't you stay another day?"


When poet and all round great bloke Brian Harvey penned the above lyrics for East 17's unlikely Christmas Hit 'Stay Another Day', it is worth noting he was remarking on Walthamstow Good Beer Guide Entries potentially being de-guided for the forthcoming 1995 edition, and imploring the local CAMRA branch to keep the entries unchanged so his cross-ticking didn't become too problematic (he was on tour a lot, so opportunities to return home to E17 were few and far between).

The record books will tell you two remained, and one was de-guided, but not replaced, so a moral victory for Mr Harvey at least.

The three in 2018's edition were very different, and our first, a supposed 10am opener looked as shut as any open pub can actually be, with no lights anywhere, even when we got inside, I thought it about 75% likely that our overly serious barkeep was going to tell us they 'weren't ready yet' or some guff.

Mick, Shirl, Pipes, Me and Sy (Jason hates photos so takes most of them)

1427 / 2173.  Olde Rose & Crown, Walthamstow

But to his immense credit, he pulled through 4 pints of some Guava & Rum Russian World Cup beer, which was somehow not as disgusting as it sounded.  When Shirl asked how it tasted and I said 'mmm, getting hints of guava and rum!' I actually think they all thought I was serious, including the barman, so I had to backtrack and trot out my now tedious "I'm more of a pub than beer man".  The pub was vast, chilly and pretty basic, which might in theory sound like the type of pub I favour, but in reality, there was something rather drab and unloved about it.  And I can't believe an influx of custom would hugely change that either.  It seemed to be living in a local past based around theatre productions and live music events, but a horizontal papier mache Moomin was about as exciting as the decor got, and when I excitedly photographed a nice looking pillar next to me, Sy told me it was just used to house a fruit machine!  A smell of bleach hung in the air, nice the pub had been cleaned, but it took over the beer a bit which is a common problem of 11am drinking, and whilst it was hard to dislike the pub, it won't be one I'm recounting on my deathbed in the year 2043, and this is often the problem with London pubs, they seem more likely to be forgettable than most, in my experience so far. 

A photo including a Rose & Crown to sum up the disappointment of the pub

Good ale but a weird glass, perhaps from rural Derbyshire?

The very pleasant home of a fruit machine

Papier mache Moomin being weird

If they are referring to my morning bowel cleanse, they are too late
'Don't worry everyone, the next pub is only 0.2 miles!' I cheerily declared as we left, thinking I should be holding a yellow umbrella as I felt very much the tour guide.  "352 yards, right I'm holding you to that!" says Mick, just to ramp up the pressure.  Who'd have thought he was former army? 

352 yards and one scary road crossing and lady with amazing yellow and black dress later, we were there.  Even huger pub this one .......


Piper goes for the arty angled shot, and it worked!
1428 / 2174.  Bell, Walthamstow

Despite being another imposing Walthamstow boozer, this was a very different animal to the Rose & Crown.  It was more 'modern day London' in many ways, the hanging baskets the first giveaway, then comfy sofas, young boho people, quirky decor and as Shirl noted, William Morris style wallpaper to give the Moorbrook in Preston a run for its money.  Fish wallpaper in the gents cubicle was headache inducing, and I'm glad I didn't need to linger.  A demonic Metallica pinball machine was less out of place than the Creature from the Black Lagoon in Beerwolf Books, Falmouth, and the place seemed to have a happier more 'loved' feel than our previous pub.  Me and Sy braved an ale with an amusing pumpclip called 'Slap in the Face'. It came in a dimpled jug, and was a metaphorical slap in the face at least, tasting as it did, of piss, though I think this was more the ale itself than any poor cellar management issues.  Mick, Jason and Sy started talking about chlorinated chicken, the EU, Northern Ireland, and other non-BRAPA friendly topics when all I wanted to do was see if distant dogs had funny expressions on their faces or if strange men were eating scotch eggs in a cockney way!  But then, a murmur passed across the whole pub and everyone peered out of the window as police sirens took over.  Traffic slowly filtered passed the window, in what the pub concluded was a presidential motorcade for Mr Trump.  But why come through the centre of Walthamstow?  A Brian Harvey fan for sure.  

It really was!

The scene so typically London


Piper hides from POTUS
A loo to be proud of

Pub three would prove to be a pre-emptive , and I'll review that one and the others in part 2, so I bet you are absolutely dying for it now like a next episode of Neighbours after a spectacular cliffhanger!  See ya tomorrow.

Si

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

BRAPA - World Cup Whittlesey (Part 2 of 2)

The traffic was terrible, the bus had zero air conditioning, and the level crossing was up/down/shake it all around, meaning getting to Whittlesey from Peterborough bus station in time for England's World Cup Quarter Final versus Sweden was by no means a formality.

I tried to be clever in getting a bus rather than a train, thinking it'd save me a decent walk from the railway station into the centre. But as it turned out, it was as broad as it was long.  And the omens are always bad when you see a wretched Sheffield United couple waiting with you.

A fine example of why every bus station in the UK feels like being in South Yorkshire

I had no idea which of the three GBG listed Whittlesey pubs to watch the match in, so I thought I'd just walk and see which pub I bumped into first.  After all, I had to get all three done at some point this afternoon.

The first pub I came to was the Letter B, apparently called this because Whittlesey once had too many pubs, which makes zero sense unless there is a Letter A, and Letters C-Z, none of which are in the GBG if they exist.  I later thought I saw Letter P (a micropub) on the way back to the station but I think it was just a road sign and a patch of earth.



1424 / 2170.  Letter B, Whittlesey

Key to maintaining your sanity in this pub ticking game is that you have to learn to roll with the punches.  When I pushed the door open, my biggest anxiety was seeing a heaving boisterous pub, three deep at the bar, stuffy, with no personal space or decent view of a screen.  So it was a surprise to find a cool dark, almost empty venue, with both screens switched off.  It was 2:40pm for heavens sake!  But I wasn't about to say "you putting the footie on, mate?"  If the landlord doesn't wanna put it on, he doesn't have to.  I might just have to neck this in 20 mins and move on (if I'm that desperate to watch England anyway!)  At the bar, in the gloom, I handed over £3.80 instead of £3.60.  Hardly earth shattering behaviour, but the landlord loved it, and the one local propped on the bar then asked if he could buy his pint with £1.50.  Jeeez, these folk were easily amused weren't they?  I turned around to see a nervous looking man with a t-shirt on bearing the slogan 'Troop Loops', which seemed to be a breakfast cereal for Storm Troopers from Star Wars.  Hmmm, niche.   He must've read my mood cos he whispers to me "is he not putting the football on then?" and I whispered back "I was thinking the same thing" and he was like "ummmmm".  But at that moment, probably about 10 minutes to kick off now, the landlord finds a light switch, AND then a remote control from underneath a pile of papers and puts it on!  Hurrah.  Troop Loops scarfed wife arrives, and two other couples.  A cool breeze was blowing in from the street, and I had a prime view of the match.  One of the other couples joined me, then their blonde friend turned up and the women told me they were only here for the wine.  I'd been chatting quite nicely with the blonde lady, it was a boring first half an hour, and when she said she'd wished she'd brought her book to read, I encouraged her to delve into my Good Beer Guide.  Then the magic was gone.  The ladies went outside to drink wine in the sun, Harry Maguire scored, I was the only one who jumped up with any real ferocity, but there were at least 12 punters in by now.   I chatted with the bloke, and he really hated Raheem Sterling.  Part of me wanted to go to a different pub for the second half, but there was something very compelling about the atmosphere of this understated gem and the ale was top notch, so with two mins to half time, I went back up for a Tim Taylor Boltmaker to "beat the rush" which was the best of the lot.  "I'll top that up for you if you take a swig of it mate!" said the barman in that occasional comment which never makes sense to me.  "Hahaha" replied that jolly local and his mate, "he's only doing it cos he's seen yer Good Beer Guide on the table!"  "I'm not a CAMRA spy .... probably" I joked, as I returned to my seat but fell down a step!  Smooth.  They brought us complimentary crisps, a nice touch.  England won quite easily, and as the final whistle sounded, two blokes ran to the jukebox next to me and screamed "WAHEY, THREE LIONS MUST BE ON HERE SOMEWHERE!" and soon, we were all having a sing song.  The bloke I'd been sat with asked me if I'd join him and the ladies in the beer garden, but alas, I had two more pubs to do so said it'd been a good experience, but I must away!

You wouldn't think we had 15 mins til kick off in an England World Cup Q/F

Couple goals

Perfect Boltmaker very close up

Three Lions on (in or under?) my shirt

Troop Loops bloke impressed throughout, well done Mrs TL for maintaining huge scarf in extreme heat

"HARRY ARRY ARRRRYYYY"

The complimentary crisps had a nice sour cream n chive edge
Further down the road on the other side, I came to a stern blue looking thing, but I had high hopes for it cos Martin Taylor had said it out loud once, and I really needed to crack on and try and spend just 30 mins in the next two (each, not combined, that'd break my rules).


1425 / 2171.  Boat, Whittlesey

It looked a bit ominous, like if this was a film, you'd now hear thunder crashing, owls hooting and wolves howling, though to be fair, the sound of a howling creature is always less than 300 yards away in any Mid or North Cambridgeshire location.    The welcome thankfully was smiling, gentle and slightly inquisitive as the dregs (I mean customers) were just seeing off the errrm dregs of their drinks, as G.Lineker wrapped up the football coverage on a modern curved screen.  This seemed an even more intimate setting than the Letter B.  A very chatty dude started asking me about BRAPA & football, and though he was a pleasant chap, I was relieved when he left so I could prop against his stool as my legs were sapped of all energy.   I'd been kicking every ball.  The barman, a relaxed lovely bloke with an ultra dry sense of humour that makes a vintage landlord, seemed more proud of his whiskies than anything else, but was ruffled for a brief moment as tennis appeared on the TV.  He leapt out from behind the bar like a leopard on acid, and shouted "SORRY EVERYONE BUT TENNIS IS WHERE I DRAW THE LINE!"  By now, two blokes with Northern accents were chatting next to me about fishing hot spots in the local area.  I asked where they were from and they said 'Barnsley', one of the BEST answers they could have given because anyone who is anyone knows it is one of the best places in the UK.  They didn't take me seriously as a northerner until I admitted working in L**ds.  "You work in I.T. don't you?" they decided, TWICE, despite my banking claims.  They were down here fishing, having drained the lakes of Silkstone and Hood Green.  Now imagine if I'd said they looked more like newt collectors, they wouldn't have been happy.  My 30 mins plus was up, 'twas time to squeeze one more in before t'train.

The 'dregs' of England's World Cup win start seeing off their drinks

All quiet as Gary wraps it up

Whiskey, whisky and shizz
Time for one more pub, but here is where the trail goes cold as I can't remember much about it, I'd like to say it was nothing to do with the ale.


1426 / 2172.  Hubs Place, Whittlesey

It looked a little bit naff (some of you may note the font and styling), and it felt a little bit namby pamby, friendly and all, just a little bit limp and lacking the character of the previous too, but like I said, the World Cup ales were taking their toll.  I often turn to the GBG description in times of need like this, so am not too surprised to read that this hole is the bastard twild of a local National Lottery winner.   Nicely done, the cream and red vibe made it feel like a middle aged ladies bordello serving tea and scones and massages rather than a boozer.  When mine, SeeTheLizards and Cooking Lager's lottery syndicate comes good, the pub we are opening will be very much the opposite to this.   A man at the bar seemed temporarily interested in BRAPA. "Which Peterborough pub were ya wanting then?" when I was bemoaning I'd not get it done today.  When I replied 'Coalheavers' he said "arrrrr very good" as though he wanted me to touch his robes and we'd be transported there through time and space (plot twist - he wasn't wearing robes).  Then, someone slagged of the Vine at Coates and told me not to bother, not for the first time today.  I tottered through to the 'World Cup viewing area' which was now a mass of chairs enclosing this pubbier room, and hurdled them in almost Evil Knievel fashion, rather than just move one.  I lost a few phone pictures, another drunk accident, so you'll have to imagine the other bits.  The Pride was drinking well, which is a nice positive to end on!


It had been a fun day, and attentions now turned to next Saturday and a trip down to London.

Si

Monday, 16 July 2018

BRAPA - Castor Slugger - Part 1/2 (Back in the Cambs)



I'm not sure what I was thinking back in April when I'd booked these train tickets to get me into Peterborough as late as 11:36am.

I'll tell you one thing I definitely wasn't thinking, and that was 'England might have a World Cup Quarter Final, 3pm kick off'.  But I was now.  Reality can be real.  I won't say anything more profound all blog so you may as well stop reading now.

The upshot of this poor planning was that I'd missed the bus to Castor by one minute, and would have to wait a whole hour for the next one.  And today of all days, I couldn't afford to wait.  I HAD to be in Whittlesey for 3pm.  So a taxi it had to be.

Before this though, I'd already experienced further woes of travelling later than usual.  Two York twilds were waving at passers by from an upstairs window before I'd even got two minutes out of BRAPA Towers.  "Yoo-hoo" they shrieked.  Camp twilds, always the worst!

And on the train, a silly man behind me had got on the wrong train, and when the nice train guard lady said she'd only charge him the excess rather than a full fare ticket (not like Bedfordshire 6th April 2014 20:00 hrs, NEVER FORGET, very much my Hillsborough), he STILL kicked off for the next half an hour like a big baby, being really unpleasant to her.  His penance, a sympathetic trainspotter came to sit with him for the rest of the journey and talked at him about privatisation and other trainsplainery fave topics - sets and shunters, ballast and grice.  Karma.  Unless you're Tom.

Then the woman in front booked an online holiday on loudspeaker with a Skype travel agent.  She's staying 500 yards from the beach.  I won't tell you exactly where, but I could.

My taxi driver was a jolly bloke, bit scared I sat in the front but I like to be able to hear them, make sure they aren't swindling me, and show them the GBG at a glance.

Castor looked a lovely place, all the buildings were grey and thatched like you looking at some black and white photo, but with a very hot sun in it.  Pub one was imminent ......




1422 / 2168.  Prince of Wales Feathers, Castor

In a recurring theme of 2018 pub ticking (Delph being a key example), I'd barely stepped over the threshold when I was greeted by a gorgeous pub dog Charlie (nothing twoggy about him) who was then shouted to 'get away' from me by a lady who realised I wasn't one of her local fanboys.  She would redeem herself later though.   Charlie didn't really do much more of interest, so apologies to 'Cats' from San Jose for not writing the detailed dog review I promised her.  He simply existed in the pub space in a languid manner, a bit like Socrates playing for Brazil in the 1982 World Cup.  At the bar, I took my change out of my pocket and proceeded to order it so I could pay in the exact change.  The barman clocked me, so I gave him a big smile, but he then confounded me by shouting to a bloke sat on the left of the bar, reading a paper, minding his own business.  "Jim ..... JIM ..... JIMMMMMM .... WHAT YOU DRINKING?"  "Eh?" replied Jim, appearing from behind his broadsheet with a dazed look on his face, even looking between me and barman in a 'why've you not served someone who is actively seeking a drink?' kinda way.  Village pub life at its finest!    So more waiting, but not to be denied, I still joined in their weird England game preview.  "Shame Vardy is injured" says Jim, possibly the only person in the UK to utter this today.  Landlord started slagging off Jordan Henderson.  A wry smile passed over my face, though I chose not to agree, for I'd had quite an animated chat with my friend John Watson about him two days before, telling him I was trying to learn to love him after years of thinking he's a weak link.  "I might close mid afternoon so I can watch the game in peace" said the landlord, which was so par for the course in GBG ticking land, it surprised me less than Jim, who simply looked aghast.  "You .... you... wouldn't!" he burbled.  I managed to get in a Hull City/Harry Maguire mention, to make my mark!  Danny Rose played for Peterborough, the landlord told me, so he's the locals fave.  Talking of the Posh, someone asked why the pub was so quiet today.  "Peterborough are away to Bedford in a pre-season friendly" he replied.  "Or it might be the village fete."  Another old local mate of Jim's came in.  "Who will England play in the semi final if they win?  I just can't find ANY information about it ANYWHERE!" he whined, proving Castor really was cut off from civilisation.  I'd even ordered a World Cup beer from Castor themselves, the kind that modern beery types think gives CAMRA a bad name with its comedy logo and shit name.  I LOVE seeing beers like this, from a time before beer folk took themselves deadly serious.   Was a bit warm though!  But flavoursome.  In a refreshing change of topic, the Saddleworth Moors fire suddenly became a very hot topic (excuse the pun).  "If it spreads to Manchester, it'll be an improvement!" screams dog lady from the other room.  Redemption complete, it was time to trot to the next pub.  Amusing place.

Charlie greets me

And yes, I did say the full name out loud!

Jim and landlord have amusing chat

A red wall and platey thing trying to be impressive
It really was boiling hot outside as I walked down the street, passing the scorched village fete, proving it really might be taking custom away from the pub. I snuck inside for a quick piccie, though a man who looked like an archery teacher scowled at me but didn't fire at me, which was nice.


The next pub was soon on the horizon, and it looked even more beautiful than the first, but could it do the business inside as well?



1423 / 2169.  Royal Oak, Castor

You are all aware by now of the 'threat' that all pubs called the Royal Oak carry, and here it seemed to be a rather impatient landlord, for when I ordered an Oakham Inferno (really good quality, much cooler than my previous one, Simey Beer Score - B) his eyes never left the screen opposite.  I'd been vaguely aware Formula One was on, fair enough, perhaps he's fan, it takes all sorts.  But when I turned to see why he'd made zero eye contact, he was simply watching an advert for 'Bake Off : The Professionals'.  Talk about how to make you customers feel devalued!  Mary Berry really does like haunting my BRAPA experiences.  A really nice old couple came in, and like me, looked around at the low beams, amazing cool backroom with a farmhouse feel, great corridor to almost outdoor loos, this pub had a special atmosphere.  They asked if the football was going to be on.  YES.  And are they doing food?  "No, we aren't doing food at all!" said Mr Impatient proudly.  They looked crestfallen.  Never before have I been on the side of the food wanting folk!  And what a shame about the loud piped music, interspersed with whizzing F1 cars.  I honestly think this pub could've been a year-end contender if had just got a few simple little things correct, but still very good.  Time had ticked on, I really had to down my ale, for my bus was almost due, just as a twild with a broken arm wandered in and started whining, and a barmaid who actually smiled had appeared.  Shame.

No food for these legends



 
My bus was a bit late, but I could still just about make my connecting bus to Whittlesey.  More on that next time, but for now, it is goodnight from me, and goodnight from him!

Si

Sunday, 15 July 2018

BRAPA - Month End Review (June 2018) / Preview (July 2018)

Tinners Arms, Zennor.  In my Cornish Pubby Element

The fact that I'm sat here writing this on 10th July after the Belgians have fallen to the mighty French (and releasing it on 15th July after the buggers have won it!) just shows how behind I've become as a result of that two week pubbing extravaganza in Cornwall and Cambridge.

49 Good Beer Guide listed pubs plus 6 pre-emptives is my second highest total ever, and by gum, was I feeling it by 16th June, needing a full two weeks off to recover!

It all started soberly enough, wading around the Fens with my webbed toes in Ramsey, a place where phone reception doesn't exist, neither do taxis, and I ended up holding court in the front bar with the 'old boys'.  It ended in the Talbot Ale House, St Helens, drunkenly staggering around trying to find the toilets like a Thai twild lost down a mine.

The first of 49, Jolly Sailor in Ramsey

Cornwall was incredible.  Apart from Isle of Man and Doncaster, I don't think anywhere feels more 'foreign' and I had to work so hard for some of the ticks, the sense of achievement was great.  Cambs might've been a step too far but RM was the host with the most, and made life easier than I deserved.

At the 'Five Miles from Anywhere No Hurry Inn' in Upware

A Fathers day in Birmingham and finishing South Yorkshire for a second time in BRAPA history were other highlights, oh and not forgetting vegan fish n chips with my sister 5 years on!

Giving Dad an Abba mug for Fathers Day

Hard to pick out three overall, but here we go ......

1. Blue Anchor, Helston
2. Tinner Arms, Zennor
3. Turk's Head, St Helens




Plenty of other classics, but a few lame ducks as well - my biggest gripe of the month being poor beer quality.  Now, I'm pleased to say, I probably only have two or three instances per year of beer that is bad enough to take back, but I had several instances this month.  I know it has been unseasonably hot, and I'm not even sure that is a good excuse, but I expect better from the GBG.  Beers at Towans Cross x2, the Geldart in Cambridge and the Red Cat in Crank were all vinegar to an extent, whilst other tired pints in Mousehole, the Haymarket in Cambridge and Trevaunance Cove were certainly not up to GBG standard.

A pretty dodgy pint in Moueshole
I should therefore mention the pubs where the quality stood out, so well done to West Wratting's Chestnut Tree, Palmerston Arms in Peterborough, John Francis Basset in Cambourne, Beerwolf Books Falmouth, Royal Oak in St Ives, Cambs and all 5 in St Helens for serving top pints.

A great pint at Royal Oak in Cambs St Ives

I always say (slightly tongue in cheek) that it is all about the pubs and not the beer for me, but this month I realised that when you are drinking poor quality ale, the twilds are that bit more annoying, the bar blockers are that bit more wankerous, the sleeping drooling doggie is that bit more twoggish, and the barmaid with the tribal midriff tattoo brandishing a food menu is that little bit more judgey.

July 2018

If June was a veritable feast of pubby activity, July signals a slump.  I know that because I can already tell you that by the 15th, I'll have only ticked off 9 Good Beer Guide pubs.

Boring reasons for this include a lack of cash, hot weather, trains being idiots, work being horrible and sapping all my energy and enjoying the World Cup (the lamest excuse of the lot).

Like a student doing last minute cramming for an exam, there might be a late flurry of activity in the final ten days of June to bring my figures up to a respectable 20-25 mark.

Castor, Whittlesey, Walthamstow, Cleethorpes, Washington .... I'll try and be there at some point if I haven't already!

County Progress Report

Cambridgeshire is bubbling away just nicely, like a pot of deep red soup in the Queen's Head at Newton.  Even with the 2019 GBG on the horizon, I honestly think I could be looking at completion by the end of the year.  New Year's Day in Andrewsfield Bar, on a rural Essex airfield anyone?

Cornwall is still in need of much attention.  Next summer, I'll do a more mid-county trip taking in places like Bodmin.

Where to go for my October 'Autumn Special' holiday?  Channel Islands?  Northern Ireland?  Dumfries & Galloway?  Bristol?  London?  Cumbria, would that be weird?  I've considered them all but I'm edging away from all of them and towards Dorset.  It doesn't look easy to the west of the country, but it is an area I have neglected almost entirely.

Tyne & Wear might be finished this month, that'd be canny wouldn't it?

Greater Manchester and Merseyside will live to fight another year, but that doesn't mean I won't chip away at it in the meantime.  I still even have a few North and East Yorkshire pubs that need a visit before that most magical book in the world plops through my letter box.

Derbyshire will officially 'take off' from mid August but rail engineering problems mean it might not be til mid October that I can get down to the likes of Derby and Matlock and Ashbourne.

See you tomorrow for my latest Cambs write-up.

Si