If you were reading yesterday, I left you en route from Hazel End to Birchanger, in an Uber with a very jolly guy called Goran.
The Birchanger pub is actually a club - exciting for the humble pub ticker, you never quite know how they are going to react to your arrival. During the last 7 years, I've ran the full gamut of club emotions, ranging from trying to chuck me out for being CAMRA scum (Penistone) to 'come and share our barbecue and meet the whole family' (Hungerford). No wonder I approach the them with mild apprehension.
|Defibrillator - good to have on standby for GBG tickers at clubs|
An open door is always the first relief. Buzzers, locks and latches are notoriously tricky, and usually lead you to being laughed at by all and sundry. Being a 'seasoned pro' by now, I simply stride up to the bar, big cheery smile, and order a pint, just as a local would. There are no questions, the well kept Hadham Gold is dirt cheap, and the place is rammed with jolly locals. Birchanger Sports & Social Club (1886 / 3315) , it seems a cracker. Beer on good form, lovely building, hell, there is even a cricket match going on behind me outside which I somehow fail to notice for the first 20 minutes! It is clear I'm viewed as an outsider from the off. My comments on the wonderful looking meat at the meat raffle met with voiceless stares. Usurped from Table 8 by a bloke and his missus saying "do you mind mate?" when I'd got there first, simply because being more 'known' than me, it is their right to sit at nearer the bar amongst their chums. Relegated to the back of the room by the stage, eventually a hybrid Ziggy Greaves and Craig Bellamy shouts over to me when he sees my GBG. As I shout back to reply, explaining BRAPA, he cuts me off mid sentence with "it's okay mate, enjoy your day!" Sensible fellow! Cracking place, but reassuringly in keeping with that 'ticker visits club' tradition, a little bit odd!
|Yum, much meat!|
|Two pubs down, two Hadham's down|
|Going for a wander around the various rooms also got some funny glances|
|Pink bloke won a prize in the meat raffle, but missed out on his preferred cut of meat|
|My eventual position on the outskirts!|
|Live footage from Wendens Ambo|
|Don't worry, that's just the village shop, we're not in Sixpenny Handley (obscure tickers joke)|
|That is better! 14th century thatched fun|
|Photo of the day|
I were proper feelin' it now pals, but two pubs still to do. First a village that is possible via bus from Saffron Walden, or even a decent stride out from Newport station if you are on form.
|Pitch penny perfect - and look at that lovely floor|
|Simon getting served, alongside Dr White Shoes|
|Mr Informal Arrangement doesn't want to pay just yet|