|Water-side drinking at the Plough in Bolnhurst (see pub 623).|
And then, when bus 28 did arrive, the driver had no idea where Bolnhurst was so a local old lady from nearby Keysoe and former bus driver who looked about 200 years old were on hand to advise him. Even then, he stopped in the wrong place. And even at the right stop, it was a 0.8 mile walk along a un-paved road to the pub with motorbikes storming past. The North Beds scenery was at least, picturesque but 1pm before my first pint? I'm glad all BRAPA pub ticks aren't such a huge undertaking!!
623 - PLOUGH, Bolnhurst - Set back off the road was a large white building which I took to be the Plough. It took some getting in, with a weird latch almost destroying my last ounce of patience after all the effort it had taken to get here! I was expecting a gastropub from the descriptions, and the first words I heard on entering the pub were "yes, but do you get tomatoes with that?!" and you could see through the bar to a gaggle of white-clad cheffy people in the kitchen. However, a couple of interesting ales and very friendly staff made up for this, and being a nice day, I took my pint of Church End Hooker outside to stop me resenting the almost restuaranty set up too much. In fact, a helpful barman opened the conservatory door for me (I could've chosen a more straightforward route near the loos) and then brought me some complimentary crisps, the proper thick handmade type. It is little touches of class like this that you remember. As I sat on the smart patio in the sun alongside a pretty pond (which looked more like a stream), this was as content as I felt all day, maybe I'd peaked too soon as the taxi arrived to take me back into Bedford.
|The Plough was one of the trickiest BRAPA pubs I've ever tried to get to!|
624 - KNIFE & CLEAVER, Houghton Conquest - After a delayed no. 42 bus where a friendly bus driver lady seemed to instinctively know I was visiting Houghton Conquest for this pub, she dropped me off right outside. I had a few reservations having read about Michelin stars and French chefs so although you could never describe it has a traditional pub, it certainly felt pubbier than expected with the dining area hidden away to the back. I saw York Terrier was the guest ale, so ordered this with a sense of irony which back fired when I was charged £4 a pint by a grungy barmaid who later described a new wine as tasting like "cat wee", though my general feeling was again of a hardworking, well run pub with lots of barmen running round asking if I wanted another drink, something to eat etc. I shuffled into an alcove to enjoy my pint and a strange sad sense of being alone suddenly hit me, not sure why, maybe I was channeling a ghostly energy of a murdered French chef!
|Arriving in the brilliantly named Houghton Conquest|
|Outdoor fun in the sun at the Sun (which wad fun)|
|Old, friendly, a bit creaky - and I don't just mean Cliff and John.|
627 - HALF MOON, Kempston - There was no sign of any of the above drama these days, just another friendly community style village local. The barman/landlord was very impressive, giving me a choice of football matches to view, he reminded me a bit of Karl Beattie from Most Haunted fame. However, the real star of the pub was a bulldog who was introduced to a bar area of local dog lovers (I kept my distance though he waddled over for a stroke at one point!) but he went from hero to zero in a matter of seconds when he farted, almost clearing the place out. This was as dramatic as things got, I was disappointed that local favourite Wells Eagle IPA (reassuringly tasting of copper coins) was the only ale on with two handpumps turned round, whilst the pub lacked a certain cosy feel though the people were warm (not literally, well I don't know, I didn't rub against any one!) Christina at work's sister lives in Kempston, and as I walked to the bus stop, it seemed a picturesque high class suburb of Bedford.
|Bulldog action in the Half Moon, before he farted!|
All in all, another successful Bedfordshire outing, it now moves into 7th in the "pub" league table and I'll be back next month for some Dunstable based fun, my first real venture to the south of the county.