I took a swift and possibly irrational dislike to Berkhamsted. A town of few redeeming features made worse by my being given the wrong opening times for The Lamb. Not inclined to linger longer than necessary I had an early and thoroughly pleasant pint (Totem by local brewery Haresfoot) in a disappointing Wetherspoons that promised lots but delivered little.
And then it rained.
Tring is one of those maddening places where the station is some distance from the town. I had decided that rather than walk there I would instead walk along the towpath of the Grand Union Canal for half an hour to reach the Grand Junction Arms. A horribly muddy towpath and wholly inadequate clothing put paid to that plan and getting the next train north I left Tring for another day.
My first stop in Leighton Buzzard was All Saint’s church to see the graffito depicting Simon and Nellie arguing over how best to cook a pudding. It is from this pleasing image we get Simnel cake.
Leaving the church I warily popped into the Golden Ball. I am always suspicious of a pub promising a great atmosphere – at 12:20 on a Monday afternoon such promises are seldom lived up to. I was further put off by a ‘house ale’ which was nothing more than a mass brewed Carlsberg cask ale which is produced solely for lazy pubs to put their own name to. This pretence summed the place up. A shite pub pretending to be a good boozer – and failing. Bitter & Twisted by Harviestoun increasingly reflected my mood.
The beer selection was ordinary. That it is in the Good Beer Guide raises questions about the standard of pubs locally – or the taste of local CAMRA members who voted it in.*
This day was not going well.
Then there was the Red Lion. A dog, an open fire, a fish tank, a small but impressive selection of ales plus a real cider, and a couple of people talking about railways. This is a pub to cherish. I had a Strongarm by Camerons and was contented.
*I think Leighton Buzzard is in the South Beds CAMRA region. So I am one such member. I have never taken part in the discussions for local entries into the Good Beer Guide. Perhaps I ought to start.