Sunday, 4 April 2010

On rain, pubs and wet Bank Holiday Weekends....

Happy Easter everyone!

Don't know what the weather's like where you are, but it is decidedly wet up here at The Edge of The Fens....(World?).

This has put the kybosh on any plans I might have had to saw up more of next winter's logs, or chug down to the 48s at Clayhithe to remove more large stuff from the bank.

So, what to do..........?

Well, as I type, it's still only 10:05 a.m.: a little early even for me to be considering spending the day in the pub......

However, I've just looked at Chertsey's blog, ("Beware the pubs of March"), to see that they have had a pretty awful time of it trying to find a decent pint in convivial surroundings in that town.

So, I've decided, in the spirit of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to share the findings of my very extensive research into the riverside hostelries of the Cam and a bit of the Ouse.....


"The Cutter Inn" on Riverside is a good pub.
Lunchtime is the best time to go: The beer is good, (Adnams etc) and the food and service fine. (I've never had a duff meal there yet) However, of an evening, it gets louder, younger and more boisterous as the night wears on. This may be exactly what you are looking for, but personally, I find that drunken youth is generally only ever of interest to itself, and tedious in the extreme to anyone who is over the mental age of their shoe-size.

The Cutter's biggest problem is its proximity to Cathedral Marina, home to enviromental vandals, eye-wateringly expensive diesel, and a biblical plague of plastic boats. The owners of the latter will go 'boating' of a weekend, which involves unmooring from their marina jetty and sailing the grand total of 120 feet to the public moorings outside The Cutter, where they sit all weekend, before embarking on the long voyage back to their jetty. This means absolutely no chance of a mooring spot for a narrowboat or widebeam.

So, in fine weather, (none of the plastics would venture out in the rain: they might get their nice shiny boats wet.....) The Cutter's out. If it's raining, though, you are in with a chance.

The Ouse and Old West River.

If you detour off the Ouse and on to the Old West River for half an hour or so, you will get to The Lazy Otter. I've used this pub when helping our friends Neil and Jackie of nb Olive with a major paint-job and blacking in the nearby dry-dock. I've not taken Pippin up there so can't comment on the ease or otherwise of mooring, although there is a GOBA mooring very close to the pub.

Like most modern pubs, The Otter lacks anything in the way of atmosphere, being designed as a very efficient food and drink outlet. This it does well, the beer seems well kept, and if cider is your thing, they do Pickled Pig, a local brew of legendary strength. Not a place to fall in love in, or indeed with, though.

Chug back off The Old West and onto the Cam, hard-a-starboard for Cambridge, and the next pub is "The Five Miles From Anywhere".


Even if you are about to perish through dehydration and inanition.

It is a large, ugly, modern building. It is a very long way to the next pub, but that, of itself, is no recommendation for this dreadful place.

Your next stop is The Bridge at Clayhithe. There is usually ample space to moor, as the local plastic boat club next door has its own, presumably subsidised, club-house. Most steel boats that moor here don't object to budging up a bit if necessary, and if Pippin is in residence, you'd be welcome to come alongside.

The pub itself is a bit of a curate's egg.The interior is cosy in winter with real fires, and cool in the summer, if a bit on the gloomy side. The decor is aging nicely, aquiring a patination that suggests it's a real pub, not a designed confection. The large riverside beer garden is lovely in summer. However, it's owned by the notoriously rapacious pubco Punch Taverns. This means the landlord, Noel, who is a thoroughly nice bloke, is locked into buying beer at inflated prices from Punch. Passing this on to the clientele means a round in The Bridge is pretty steep. The staff are pleasant, willing, overworked and underpaid. They have my sympathy. The food is 'okay', though service when busy can be glacially slow. Again, this is the fault of the pubco, who won't give Noel the budget for enough staff to get things running at the proper speed. A good place to go if you aren't in a hurry.

On then through Bait's Bight lock and to "The Plough" at Fen Ditton. Can't tell you much about this one except that we haven't been back since it took me five minutes to get served the first time we moored up there.

There were two other customers in the place at the time.......


Assuming the river is sufficiently clear of rowers, your next stop will probably be "The Fort St George". I say probably, because having moored up at Jesus Green, you are in Cambridge proper, and have a choice of pubs that is unsurpassed for many miles. The Fort is a good place. Food's good, beer's good, service is pretty good, and it's staggering distance from the visitor mooring. What more could you want? Well, as I say, you are spoilt for choice, so from here on, you are on your own.

That said, if The Lucky Ducks read this and want to add any local knowledge acquired now they are town-dwellers, feel free!

Well, it's now 11.15, so The Bridge will be open.....

Cheers, everyone, and Happy Easter!

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