Friday 16 July 2021


The road to Roding was long and leafy.  The last bus passed down this road in 1954 (probably), and if Littley Green had seemed a rural pub tick, then this next one had even fewer public transport solutions.

Our taxi driver was the enthusiastic youthful type, cooing and ahhing as me and Eddie reveal the lengths us pub tickers will go to in our quest to green up a bit more of the Good Beer Guide.  

My nerves could barely take it.  Dr Google was claiming the pub had a mid afternoon closure period.  The front doors and windows looked like they'd not budged since 1954 (my new favourite year).  But Eddie had done his due diligence, and seasoned lockdown tickers like us should know by now that most obvious entrance is actually the least obvious entrance.


Can you see how unsure I look at this stage?  Bye Mr Taxi! 

It was with a great sense of relief when we finally got inside Black Lion, High Roding (1825 / 3254) though I had already decided that if push came to shove, I'd employ Mr Mackay pub ticking tactics and crawl in through an ajar window and pull myself half a Worthington White Shield.  The pub felt incredibly still, creaking with warped beams and old fashioned fustiness, 1954 last fumigation?  And true enough, a quick browse at my 1982 GBG shows it was a 400 year old pub selling Ridleys then, not a lot has changed.  It lacked something of the unique charm of the Walnut Tree, but the guv'nor greets us with the friendly air of a man who isn't used to much Monday afternoon passing trade.  We sit on a gigantic oaken table, the type which would have accommodated King Arthur and his fellow boozers back in the day.  Eddie plays a blinder to get a taxi out here, as I admire the saucy postcards in the gents, and the Colchester Pale goes down very nicely indeed.  The taxi is here, we dash off but we are called back.  We haven't paid!  Honest mistake guv but these pubs that don't take payment immediately (and there's too many of them these days for my liking) are asking for trouble.

#WokeSi2021 wants these shoved into a Bristol canal

"You're twisting my Cauli man"

Warpy and beamy (potential name for two new cats I want)

"I can't stand around with you lot all day" (well, you won't get paid for your pint then!)

It is more like a minibus than a taxi.  But it is right we arrive in style at our next pub.  One I'd been highly anticipating ever since I'd started Cambridgeshire ticking.  If you'd recorded all of mine and Martin Taylor's conversations re the pub, it would not only be very boring, it'd last about 27.5 minutes.

Sure enough, it felt like we were driving down the runway of this airfield.  The bar looks like the aircraft control room.  I found it as amusing as I'd imagined in my mind's eye.  The inclement weather and cloudy skies only add to the atmosphere, my flying lesson would have to be postponed.  Shame, Colin had brought his goggles and leather gloves.

What a time to be alive!  Millibar, Andrewsfield (1826 / 3255) here at last.  It sells one beer, Ridley Rite by Bishop Nick, and by gum, let me tell you now, best kept pint of my two week holiday, possibly of 2021.  I've had this ale a few times too, but never kept this well.  The benefits of just having one on?  Can't be a coincidence can it?  The owner is a marvel, friendly, witty, and our latest taxi conundrum (again, the guy couldn't hang around, which I tell Eddie is down to sitting on two consecutive table 13's earlier) is resolved as he takes over and does the ringing for us.  This doesn't happen outside County Durham's dining scene.  Superb.  The bar is busy too, with jolly, bawdy blokes, all having a laugh and an ale.  Where do they come from?  How do they get back?  Maybe they sleep on the Cessna, Mustang and B17's? Not often I build up a place this much in my mind and it ends up exceeding expectations.  Superb.

Our hero pulls the pints

Eddie and a local enjoy the ambience

My view

You don't need a weatherman to tell you it ain't flying weather

Nice 'ead Eddie

The last thing I need (shame it ain't 1954 though)

This would seem to suggest I stayed for another half

Our final taxi man plonks us back in civilisation, if you can call Braintree that.  Although this next pub came highly recommended by that fabulous couple I met in Goldhanger, it kind of passed me by as a bit of a dull blur, which I'm sure in no way is linked to alcohol consumption but apologies to the pub anyway.

Maybe Eddie can enlighten us, but yes I remember very little about the King William IV, Braintree (1827 / 3256) I didn't even do a Twitter check in.  I remember the landlord greeting us in the carpark as the taxi pulled up, arms folded, a trick he later repeated indoors for the below photo.  They were proud of their Moody Goose beers, I had the 'madmen' and Eddie reminded me I was getting a bus on the other side of the road to him to take me back to Colchester which was good cos I think I was having an out of body experience.

Looks quite a modern interior, so perhaps it didn't make the impression some of our older ones did

The bus journey was similarly a bit of a blur, just glad I didn't need the loo.  Wish I could remember the significance of my final photo of the evening.

Oh well, it had been a good last two days with Eddie, but now I had different Essex pubs that he'd already done, so contrary to what George Michael and Andrew Ridgley may have you believe, I was always planning on going solo.

More on that tomorrow night, I'm going to write it now, but don't wanna make this blog any longer.

Thank you, Si 

1 comment:

  1. I've studied that final photo at length and concluded the chap is carrying a Limited Edition 2008 Woolworths carrier bag marking the closure of the Chelmsford branch that year. THAT'S what you noticed.

    Hope that helps.