It had been a mixed day in Northants so far. Kettering had been mean and moody yet an excellent pub, Loddington had offered a glimmer despite some dining banality, and a peculiar taxi experience / train journey combo to Wellingborough had convinced me that today would need to be filed under the 'strange' category (although that could account for 95% of BRAPA trips in fairness).
Having walked 15 minutes into Wellingborough centre, pub three was waiting for me ......
If the Coach & Horses, Wellingborough (1860 / 3077) looked a bit airy fairy from the outside with boring inn sign, craft beer, pizza and Brewdog blackboards, once inside, my initial thought was 'wow, I've finally hit the jackpot here!' The lady who greets me, we'll call her Tracey, Track n' Tracey, is so delighted that I've downloaded the new NHS app for checking in purposes, she makes a point of thanking me. Take that Piper! The pub is a dark, wooden Aladdin's Cave, festooned with pump clips and 'breweriana' (if that's a word, it shouldn't be, awful) with signs, adverts and mirrors of pub times past. The beer range is insane, 12 handpumps, 4 craft ones, and 15 ciders! It wasn't long before the alarm bells started ringing. Can't go wrong with a Salopian, right? Well, this Darwin's Origin started out 'tired' and was descending into vinegar by the end, I purposefully left some. Too many ales on? Definitely. Being barked at (twice) not by dogs, but by people, as I tried to follow the one way system round to the gents didn't help, neither did an irritatingly vocal student trio, but the scales were rapidly falling from eyes. The pub suddenly seemed all style, and very little substance. A quirky looking lady eyed Colin from afar, but when I turned to smile, she looked away. An old man on day release (care home? prison?) was ushered in for a pint. Trying to get him to follow the guidelines seemed a trial. "We tried to stay in Kettering, but just ended up back here!" explained a lady, asking for a caramel gin. A pub that promised so much on arrival, but had delivered so little by departure.
I felt quite poorly as I ran to Wellingborough's makeshift bus station to catch a bus out to two villages beginning with the letter 'E'. Again, time seemed to be against me today.
Once there, a strange young man with a giant bottle of Lucozade appears at my shoulder and starts twitching (not in a bird watching way) and making excitable noises, not dissimilar to those Chris Tarrant used to make on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
At the same time, Northants #PubMan of the year 2019 Mark Shirley and Leicester #PubWoman of the Year 2021 Laura Hadland are teasing me about a Micropub in Corby which definitely isn't preemptive. Candle or something. Why does Corby never have anything in the GBG? It is a Northants Basildon isn't it?
All this going on whilst I'm trying to flag down this delayed bus, who seems reluctant to stop for me despite the bus station setting! Yes, I was feeling the pressure.
I go to the furthest one out, despite being desperate for a wee again (cos I didn't wanna go again in Coach & Horses and get snapped at again). The village is really pretty, despite more psychotic looking locals, this on the sign ....
|Welcome to Ecton, proceed at your peril|
|Okay, there's no need for that! Toilet decor.|
|The main gang - lovely guys|
|Our hero does important pub work, and another smiley gang|
|Ready for a quick getaway, scarred by Amanda Holden chat|
|Looks pretty normal so far, yes? |
|Bloke on right had a real 'pub ticker' vibe about him throughout|
|And today's banned word is ........?|