Archive for the ‘Sawston’ Tag
I have never seen the White Lion open and kind of assumed it was out of business but as it turns out they just don’t open during the day. So when I ran past and it slowly registered that the curtains were open I looped back and tried the door only to find about 8 guys in there standing around with beers and looking, sounding and acting like movie hoodlums. Cool, I thought and ordered a Fosters.
The owner told me they usually don’t open during the day but he did it as a special favour to these guys as it is Christmas. That worked out for me and I took a few minutes to take in the sparse, furniture free room…there was another room but this one definitely seemed geared away from items usable as weapons. So, it was only mildly funny when the 9th guy shows up with a pool cue case and one of the original 8 says, “Oi! Yer ain’t supposed to bring the shot gun in ‘ere!” As I lean out from the bar and look at the thing now leaned against my stool, the owner says, “they’re just takin’ the piss, it’s just a pool cue.” “S’alright with me either way, I’m from America.”
There were some opportunities to run in some pretty wintry scenery the week leading up to Christmas. On one occasion I caught the bus to Sawston and followed the paths (they are still apparent even under 4 inches of crunchy powder) out to Whittlesford, a few miles east. I did get lost but I think that had less to do with the snow than with me starting on a different path than I intended; the security gaurds at the paper plant I trudged up to were especially helpful, though and sent me on a much nicer path than I had originally planned, crossing a couple of creeks and coming up behind an ancient church via the cemetary. The route, in total, was 8.5 miles but I had some typical refreshment stops planned (more on those to follow).
The ice became treacherous as the week wore on, though, and this was the last good day for running of this sort until after boxing day, although I did get approximately 3 miles in after picking up our Christmas goose at our butcher in Cottenham. It was already dark and I went up every street but the right one, it appears, trying to find the Waggon and Horses. The 5 kg goose packed in its cardboard coffin and the glazed streets and pavements put me at about 11-12 minutes per mile pace, but it was fun, got me warm and killed as much time as I would have done at the pub.
Proud of their monarch and proud of their bus shelter!
Now this place was the shit (that’s a good thing, touchy english people). I entered a saloon bar via an entrance way decorated with past glory:
The bar was full of guys that stopped their various lively conversations and stared at me as I sloshed my way into the bar and ordered up a Bateman’s XXXB and a scotch egg. I got the egg because I had been trying to chase down something to eat for a half hour (see the White Horse, Queen’s Head, and Greyhound notes posted a few minutes ago) and was really happy to see that it was huge (and only £1.20).
I took it outside to the smoker’s tables because it seemed like the place where all the filthy habits should be banished and there’s nothing as filthy as a scotch egg. I pulled up a chair at the table with the bar kitty and listened into some conversations, and interfered with one when it veered to “oh, you remember him…short hair, good manners,” which made me laugh, then me laughing made the other folks laugh. They turned and I said, “yup, you’d remember good manners around these parts.” “Oh, you’re an American, everyone has good manners there.” But, then I was in the chat for the rest of my meal…nice friendly crowd, and the rest of the conversation centered on this woman’s late dog so it was easy enough to keep up.
And, then it was time to go. A short chat about other pubs in the area with a guy at the bar and I was on the bus back to Cambridge. Well exercised, well fed, and, well, rehydrated.
The menu seemed a little pricy and the place was more-or-less abandoned except for the help and some transients. Too bad, it looked like a really nice place.
I enjoyed a Woodforde’s Wherry and stole a coaster with a quiz on the back and looked arou the oddly decorated lower bar.
Maybe it is busier in the evening. The conversation about washing machine repairs didn’t really grab me, but it was the only game available. The rain slacked up and I crossed to the King’s Head.
So, another Carling and a hide from the rain in the doorway of this grand old lady that left us far too soon. Looks a grand place. RIP
A week or two ago I got off a bus at the White Horse for a run to Duxford and it seemed to be open. But, today I ran from Cambridge (in torrential rain) and changed to dry clothes in a phone box 100 meters to the north and found the place locked up and darkened at 1:30 pm. Here’s why it pissed me off:
Yup, they said they’d be open. I had picked up a Carling to toast the definitely dead Queen’s Head later on, but I had planned on lunch down here after my run. No time for this so I’ll assume they slipped this mortal coil and enjoyed my Carling in three gulps as the rain re-wet me through my spare clothing.
[side note, the old guy slumped over the saloon bar--to keep it from floating away, I reckon--at the King's Head later said he doesn't know if they've been open at all this week and that a better choice, anyway, is the Chequers in Pampisford just around the corner]
Update 31 October 2009: See this article: ‘Drugs den’ given a new lease of life for details on how it closed in the first place and its possible future.
Update 5 January 2010: Here’s a photo showing progress on the refurbishment from the week before Christmas as I passed through Sawston on a run:
I spotted the Queens Head, a shuttered pub, on the bus ride through Sawston and thought I’d grab a can of beer to salute it, but the next bus stop was just after ANOTHER closed pub–the Woolpack–that received the honours instead.
It’s a shame that so many of these can’t stay in business, but I think the folks that blame the smoking ban are shortsighted and wrong. There’s a general migration away from social interaction of the sort a pub affords and more toward just getting massively fucked up (which you can do just as well with cheap hooch from the supermarket). I dunno the answer. But, one thing is for certain…the Woolpack is as dead as that can of Carling I finished on the front step. RIP.