Godalming pub crawl

The Pepperpot

The Pepperpot: The Spartak Mogadishu manager does his best to be mistaken for Godalming resident Ashley Cole

GODALMING became the centre of national scandal in 1726 when a local woman began giving birth to rabbits.

Mary Toft raised herself from obscurity by convincing even King George I’s own surgeon she was capable of delivering a bumper litter of 16 bunnies, as well as bits of other animals.

The deception was uncovered when Toft was found to have inserted woodland creatures inside herself before faking the births.

Fortunately, Vicki the bus spotter was not in such capricious mood 287 autumns later when a party of regular crawlers made the day trip from London Waterloo to sample the pubs in her new Surrey home. A deer was spotted in her garden though.

A couple of Binksy’s extremely fiery Bloody Marys were more than enough to warm their house on a Saturday lunchtime and the group – including the Kenna chairman, Palts the Balt, the Spartak Mogadishu manager and of course the irrepressible Sutcliffe in a shirt of questionable taste – ambled down the hill to sample four of Godalming’s ale houses.

The first town in the world to have a public electricity supply in 1881, it was fitting the day of the pub crawl would also see the people of Godalming throng the streets to see their Christmas lights switched on.

Tipplers were made to shuffle through thoroughfares tightly packed with market stalls, carol singers and wide-eyed locals around the town’s centrepiece – the Pepperpot – as Vicki assured everyone it was ‘never normally this busy. Just old people’.

The Star Inn

The Star Inn

The Star Inn: This sign continues ‘…a local woman who shoved dead rabbits up her lady garden.’

Having fought through the crowd, crawlers filed into the first pub, which according to the badly-punctuated sign outside has stood on the site since the Eighteenth Century, and has retained much of it’s ‘Olde Worlde’ charm.

The Star Inn chips

Sutcliffe considers eating someone else’s leftover chips

Inside the pub was a low-timbered place with one of those frustratingly small bar serving areas which cause a pseudo flash mob in one part of an otherwise quiet snug. Table service must have been the norm when people believed women were capable of siring quadrupeds.

Despite its size, the bar served an interesting array of obscure ciders. Sadly, a roll of the dice produced a vinegary snake eyes. The barman was only too happy to point out better choices afterwards.

Sutcliffe was reasonably impressed with the ale on offer, and his hypersensitive pretentiousness-o-meter, which strobes wildly in all but the most down to earth London pubs, didn’t even register. The pub was solid.

The Rose and Crown

The Rose and Crown:

The Rose and Crown: Sutcliffe unimpressed

Outside the Rose and Crown looked like a charming old building perched on a hill. Inside it was all refitted wooden floors and Jeff Stelling’s face. The cosy bar area makes it difficult to stand somewhere that isn’t blocking someone’s view of the vidiprinter.

Committed lager drinkers looking for something more than Stella Artois or Kronenbourg would be disappointed here. Committed deviants would not – the barman looked like a 10-year-old boy.

Only because the toilets were located in a separate building out the back, was it discovered the boozer has a charming beer patio and a sizeable covered area to delight any smoker.

The Richmond Arms

The Richmond Arms

The Richmond Arms: Binksy in a winter wonderland

Christmas is a difficult time for any pub. Striving to maintain tradition while giving punters the flavour for buying a few more festive rounds leaves publicans with the singular choice of decorations. At the Richmond tinsel is bar sales.

After the pokey interior of the Rose and Crown, the Richmond was a red-carpeted grand hall. The front bar is a very welcoming room with a counter bulging out from the wall opposite the entrance. Again it was a trip to gents that afforded further exploration – a large function room at the rear was the find.

One imagines loyal regulars are this pub’s lifeblood. They most certainly enjoy well-kept beer.

The Red Lion

The Red Lion

The Red Lion: Little to nothing of any note

Coming from the warmth and care of the Richmond, the Red Lion is in stark contrast. Sometimes it’s immediately apparent crossing the threshold that no one cares about a pub – not the punters, not the staff, not even its website. It’s just a set of numbers on a balance sheet in a brewery HQ hundreds of miles away. The landlord’s cutting his teeth and building his CV in the hope of moving on to a more illustrious tippler. That’s the Red Lion.

As a result this pub lacks charm, the beer’s dreadful and the only factor keeping it in the game is its size and location in the middle of town. There’s live music performed in the evenings, which appears to help give it all the character of a beer stand at the O2 Dome.

While crawlers made the best of the Red Lion’s inhospitable front bar the Godalming Christmas lights were turned on. Everyone doubled back to Vicki and Binksy’s for chilli and gin.

Conclusions

It was widely accepted the first boozer, The Star Inn, was the best. It did mean the rest of crawl was like a slow puncture of quality – with a small rally at the Richmond – ending in the flat Red Lion experience.

As Kenna pub crawls visit and assess more and more pubs, it’s clear that striking the delicate balance between running a business, keeping an imaginative array of beers and building an assembly of loyal regulars not too cliquey so strangers feel unwelcome is a complicated demand, and one publicans approach with varying degrees of success. A Kenna pub rating system is on the drawing board.

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Charing Cross branch pub crawl

Charing Cross branch

Charing Cross branch: The one on the right

FOR MANY the Northern line is a commute, a means to go out or a few minutes to wonder just who ever goes Colindale.

For an intrepid band of boozers who coined the 38 bus route pub crawl and the River Thames boat trip pub crawl, it’s an opportunity for a day exploring the capital’s drinkers.

Taking on the whole network during licensed hours would be optimistic and unnecessary, so on Saturday 2 November 2013 just after 1pm tipplers gathered at Kennington underground station to visit a pub for each stop of the Charing Cross branch.

The route offers excellent highlights of London’s famous landmarks and includes a river crossing. As always, this review is provided to advise and entertain the prospective pub crawler, walker or tourist. Here’s the itinerary:

  1. Kennington – The Prince of Wales
  2. Waterloo – The Kings Arms
  3. Embankment – The Princess of Wales
  4. Charing Cross – The Harp
  5. Leicester Square – The Porcupine
  6. Tottenham Court Road – Bradleys Spanish Bar
  7. Goodge Street – The Rising Sun
  8. Warren Street – The Prince of Wales Feathers
  9. Euston – The Crown and Anchor
  10. Mornington Crescent – The Lyttleton Arms
  11. Camden Town – The Worlds End

Each heading below links through to the pub profile page on the excellent Beerintheevening.com.

1. The Prince of Wales, Kennington

The Prince of Wales, Kennington

The Prince of Wales: The pub carpet and an awful shirt offered military enthusiast Sutcliffe a chance to demonstrate urban camouflage

A gem anyone would be happy to call their local. The Prince of Wales is set in the corner of a quiet square with a couple of tables and chairs outside, and a cosy snug.

Sutcliffe, Binksy and the Kenna League chairman became the only three crawlers to continue their unblemished attendance record. They were joined by the Young Boys of Vauxhall manager, the Still Don’t Know Yet manager, Lady Norman and sundry others.

One pint down, the short walk to Kennington station was taken for the route’s only tube journey. Unlike the two previous crawls, the sun was out.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: What can I say? Nice choice of carpet (matched my shirt). Quiet backstreet boozer. I think we shocked the locals.

Dazza: Nice area. Standard pub. Impressive carpet design like Sutcliffe’s shirt, although I think the shirt had more stains. People outside seemed confused why we were taking a photo.

2. The Kings Arms, Waterloo

The Kings Arms, Waterloo

The Kings Arms: “Dis is de autobahn.”

There are many other pubs closer to Waterloo station but they cannot compete with this firm favourite, let down only by the lack of apostrophe in the signage.

The public bar and saloon bar are served by a central counter with a singular recruitment policy. The curious conservatory area out the back was closed and pieces of a fireplace blocked a door onto the Victorian splendour of Roupell Street.

An open fire roared in the public bar where Rounders and Simon were found Kenting it up. The former Wandsworth Window Lickers manager arrived and within minutes was telling his Nurburgring story to the first person who listened.

Drinks finished, the crowd walked back past Waterloo station, alongside the Royal Festival Hall and over the River Thames, where Simon’s story of investigating Kent dogging spots as a local reporter prompted Binksy to enlighten everyone with the phrase ‘seagulling‘. Car windscreens will never look the same again.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: The ‘back’ was closed due to building work which meant we had to squeeze into the tiny public bar. Nice place with staff who are very understanding when you’re drunk (from experience). Unfortunately it’s usually full of rich local bankers and lawyers who wish they were working class (a la Jamie Oliver) complete with plummy mockney accents and flat caps from Harrods. Some of the team fitted right in here.

Dazza: Small and pokey. Quite dark and bloody hot in there.

The Wandsworth Window Lickers manager: A lovely pub, as always serving up some delicious beer. Shame about having a chimney by the front door.

3. The Princess of Wales, Embankment

The Princess of Wales, Embankment

The Princess of Wales: Champion beer, average pub

The traverse of Hungerford Bridge, as it so often does, sparked conversation of the 1986 massacre in the town of that name.  The good news was Sutcliffe’s encyclopedic knowledge of military hardware was present to confirm one of the semi-automatic weapons used by Michael Ryan was an American M1 carbine. The bad news was the Judean Peoples’ Front manager – a renowned lookalike of Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik – was mysteriously absent and could not offer his opinion on the matter.

Overshadowed by Charing Cross station, the Princess of Wales is a fairly generic central London pub with not much going for it except some interesting ales. The 50p game began.

Sadly, the future Princess of Wales wasn’t there. Only the incumbent Dulwich Red Sox manager and Vicki the bus spotter.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: I don’t really remember much about this one which is probably as good a description as it needs.

Dazza: Bit more trendy, very sporty. Expensive drinks. Steep stairway to the toilets, or maybe I was starting to feel drunk at that point, not sure. Michael Buble (not in person I hasten to add, that would be awesome) playing in the toilets which was nice to whistle to while taking a piss.

The Wandsworth manager: I believe that this was the introduction of the first 50p. Well done the chairman for seeing it off. Average pub, nothing to report.

4. The Harp, Charing Cross

The Harp, Charing Cross

The Harp: Matted

Crossing the Strand, crawlers were treated to one of the West End’s more compelling pubs.

The Harp has a great range of beers, although patrons are made to enjoy them in a narrow, crowded atmosphere. Unusually for an Irish pub, singing is not allowed. The sour member of staff who ordered crawlers to stop made one wonder if, for a place named after a stringed musical instrument, the barmaids should not appear more regularly plucked.

Having claimed the chairman in the Princess, the 50p game struck the Still Don’t Know Yet manager, who was still complaining of a night shift and three hours’ sleep.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: Cosy, little place (small and over-crowded) with an impressive collection of beer pump clips.

Dazza: Impressive collection of beer mats. Narrow pub with beer-goggle looking staff behind the bar. Lots of portraits on the wall, can’t remember who they were of though.

The Wandsworth manager: Interesting boozer with a seven per cent beer called Black Jesus, not for the faint-hearted, no-one manned up. I was given serious grief for drinking from a bottle. In hindsight I wish I had stuck to these.

5. The Porcupine, Leicester Square

The Porcupine, Leicester Square

The Porcupine: Plenty of pricks on the outside

The Porcupine sits halfway up Charing Cross Road in a swirl of tourism. Refraining from any jokes about the place being a bit pokey or full of pricks, more crawlers found themselves necking pints of ice cold, gassy lager because of the 50p coin dropped into the bottom.

50p Porcupine

Her Maj: The cause of much necking

Being part of the Nicholson’s chain, the décor goes for the ‘Olde London like Jack the Ripper used to take a drink there guv’nor’ that few of that pub franchise manage to pull off. The Porcupine is no exception.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: Dull, touristy, but a reliable watering hole

Dazza: I think the Still Don’t Know Yet manager 50p’d me in there. I managed to pass it on to Martin’s mate. Sutcliffe has a photo of him holding the 50p. Sutcliffe got rather excited as it was really in focus!

The Wandsworth manager: Another 50p in play, goosed! Here starts the slippery slope, besides that not a bad boozer.

6. Bradleys Spanish Bar, Tottenham Court Road

Bradleys Spanish Bar, Tottenham Court Road

Bradleys Spanish Bar: No room inside, mild bedlam outside

This bar’s website has a whole section dedicated to their ‘pride and joy and centrepiece’ – a jukebox that plays vinyl. As they crammed into the tiny bar area of Bradleys five pints down, many crawlers were rebuked by staff for knocking into the music box and causing it to skip.

Retreating outside to the quiet street just behind Tottenham Court Road station, a pint of Cruzcampo became the first casualty of the day when it smashed into the pavement.

This is a great bar, if you’re one of the five people in it.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: Nice Spanish back street bar. I imagine it has character but I was getting too pissed to remember at this stage. I remember Dazza getting shouted at for repeatedly bumping into the vinyl jukebox. Someone dropped their pint. I think we disgraced ourselves.

Dazza: Wasn’t this one the Spanish bar? Really small. I fell against the jukebox and skipped the track which the locals didn’t like. Someone dropped a glass outside so I’m sure the regulars loved us frequenting their dark pit of a bar.

The Wandsworth manager: Classic “don’t touch the f*cking jukbox” I believe was heard as someone again made the record jump. First breakage of the night and 50ps flying round all over the place.

7. The Rising Sun, Goodge Street

The Rising Sun, Goodge Street

The Rising Sun: Costume cobwebs were the day’s consistent eyesore

Calls throughout the day to watch the football were briefly met when crawlers filed into a packed Rising Sun. Several large screens high up on the walls of this airy pub transmitted events from Ashburton Grove to a sea of upturned faces.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: Don’t remember this one. I think Dazza didn’t come in due to mounting drunkeness.

Dazza: Really crowded. Much bigger bar. Lots of sport on TV. Took me ages to find the toilets (which were right by the front door). Getting seriously pissed. Eyesight starting to blur.

The Wandsworth manager: Aresnal were on, the beer was a flowing and it was starting to get a little bit messy. Very windy outside.

8. The Prince of Wales Feathers, Warren Street

The Prince of Wales Feathers, Warren Street

The Prince of Wales Feathers: Alcoholism, unmasked

The third and final pub of the day named after Welsh royalty, the Prince of Wales Feathers is an expansive place. It was still early in the evening and the party largely had the floor to themselves. Finding themselves ahead of schedule, everyone had a second drink.

It was there that the Young Boys manager paid for an ill-advised wager on Australia to beat England at rugby that afternoon. As an Englishman, there are few better sights than a Welshman having to down a glass of pink gin because your country won a match they shouldn’t have due to a controversial refereeing decision that infuriates Australians.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: Posh and polished but I don’t remember any character. I do remember Dazza having to sit this one out and walk up and down the street outside to try and avoid throwing up. I was talking to him with the aid of a doorway’s support when I was subtly informed by the owner of the flat above to stop ringing his doorbell with my shoulder. Someone wussed out (Martin?) and bought themselves a cup of tea instead of beer. £3.75 for a cup of tea, £4 for a pint of Peroni.

Dazza: Can’t remember much about this one. Really drunk. Had to take a breather outside.

The Wandsworth manager: My usual piss stop on the way home, so good to have a pint in it for a change (the pub not the…). I believe that Barry White made an appearance here. It would have been a good idea to get some food in at this point.

9. The Crown and Anchor, Euston

The Crown and Anchor, Euston

The Crown and Anchor: What a shower

On the other side of Euston Road, the Crown and Anchor offers a pleasant bar area. Apparently the place does good food, but if in Drummond Street it’s better to try one of its amazing traditional Indian restaurants.

The Hairy Fadjeetas manager, Spartak Mogadishu manager, PSV Mornington manager and the Headless Chickens manager – whose team currently sits on top of the Kenna – swelled the crowd.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: No idea.

Dazza: I wandered off somewhere when we got to this pub. Managed to find my way back before everyone left. The Pirate joined us here I think, looking like Marty McFly with his life preserver.

The Wandsworth manager: Well, I remember walking up from Warren Street, even looking at street view things aren’t that clear. Did we pick up the Pirate at this point?

10. The Lyttelton Arms, Mornington Crescent

The Lyttelton Arms, Mornington Crescent

The Lyttelton Arms: “Whoa! Take it easy on the jig there, Dazza”

A key lesson learned from the number 38 bus route pub crawl was that minimal time between pubs leads to shaky decision making later in the evening. By walking between each boozer, crawlers are given adequate opportunity to take some air and regulate their intake. The tactic was paying dividends at this point in the night. Except that no one remembers what happened in the Lyttelton.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: …

Dazza: Sobered up a bit here. Didn’t take much notice of the pub. Crap report. Hit the lemonades!

The Wandsworth manager: Erm…not sure if I made this one, no memories….hhmmmmm.

11. The Worlds End, Camden Town

Massive. Absolutely massive pub in the epicentre of Camden. Heavy metal blared as crawlers entered the final drinker. Memories are dim, but there really was all sorts in this place. And it smelled.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: Can’t remember this one at all but it must have been dull because I didn’t even take a photo.

Dazza: Gothic overload. Couldn’t tell who was dressed in their usual night gear and who was dressed for Halloween.

The Wandsworth manager: Was this the rock bar? 

Bonus pub: The Abbey, Kentish Town

The crawl had finished way ahead of schedule and presented the central committee with dilemma. Follow the Edgware line to the superb Enterprise in Chalk Farm or the High Barnet line to The Abbey in Kentish Town where Sutcliffe’s mates were having a party? The bearded wonder successfully pushed for the latter and the crowd traipsed up Kentish Town Road for shooters and dancing.

Crawler comments

Sutcliffe: Bonus extra pub to join my friend’s birthday party. After the initial setback of Lady Norman farting (which cleared the room) and then blaming it on me, I warmed to this place. I vaguely remember someone losing a jacket and some very over the top Halloween costumes but I was quite far gone now. The chicken kebab in New Cross Gate made the long slog home worth it.

Dazza: Was this the bonus pub? Lady Norman lost her coat and Tim farted, which caused the back room to clear and many disgruntled people.

The Wandsworth manager: Vague recollections of dancing with the Pirate and attempting to chat to anything with boobs, skirt and a pulse.

Conclusion

Having organised three London transport-themed pub crawls in 12 months, the central committee patted themselves on the back at how simple and entertaining the Charing Cross branch event had been. Everyone was in good spirits, the crawl had finished way head of time and even the weather held out.

But there was something missing, and it wasn’t until the hangover had finally subsided a couple of days later that it became apparent. Blunder, or the lack of it, hadn’t visited itself on anyone. Nothing went wrong. No one truly disgraced themselves. No peculiar locals sharpened their pitchforks. The whole crawl was as functional and unobtrusive as most of the taverns visited. Even Sutcliffe lost interest in taking photos by the end.

Plans are afoot for a crawl of the Croydon tramlink in spring. The central committee can only hope the locale throws a few curved balls. Perhaps dropping into the New Addington pub where an infamous regular once turned up with a machete would be a start.


Tour de Partridge

Norwich rail station

Norwich: “Think about it. No one had ever heard of Oxford before Inspector Morse. I mean, this could really put Norwich on the map.”

THREE days, two cyclists, one master of light entertainment.

With the summer fading fast Sutcliffe and I decided to finally get our act together and organise a cycling tour.

The Normandy landing beaches were too much to arrange in a week, so we went for something a lot more achievable: Norfolk, the home of Alan Partridge.

On Friday 6 September we found ourselves on a train from London Liverpool Street to Norwich mid-morning. Matters of accommodation and route had been taken care of by Sutcliffe.

We would take in the Norfolk countryside so eulogised by the fictional broadcaster, as well as a couple sights made famous by his work.

The account below will hopefully provide some useful advice to anyone planning a cycle trip in north Norfolk. It also contains references to Alan Partridge.

Day 1 – Norwich to Sheringham – 31 miles

Having taken a few minutes outside Norwich rail station to inspect a map showing the extent of the city centre’s pedestrianisation, we set off heading north on the A140. I was on my Trek 1 Series road bike, Sutcliffe his mountain bike with slick tyres.

Just after passing Norwich Airport we bared left onto the B1149, going six miles past Horsford before turning right towards Oulton Street.

Three miles, a right and a left turn later we arrived outside Blickling Hall, or as Alan Partridge once tried to convince his Ukranian girlfriend, Bono’s house.

Blickland Hall

Blickland Hall: “This is Bono’s house, eureka. Those spiky trees I think are Joshua Trees.”

The Bucks Arms next door served adequate sandwiches – the bread was a little dry – and a good pint of Aspall cider. Or two.

Fed and watered we took in the National Trust property which boasts “the biggest collection of hatchbacks in the country” and “the sort of dog the Nazi’s used to chase Steve McQueen”.

We were still taking photos and worrying other visitors when it started to rain. Continuing north we went through Erpingham, Aldborough and Suested.

There is plenty of woodland here, and it was wet going in the narrow lanes as the raindrops dripped from the leaves above. By the time we got to Metton we were soaked.

A brief consultation in the pouring rain led to the decision to forego a visit to Cromer Pier, scene of the epic finale of Alpha Papa, and head straight to the youth hostel Sutcliffe had booked in Sheringham.

A soggy climb up through Great Wood vindicated the choice.

Sheringham youth hostel

Sheringham: “Youth hostelling with Chris Eubank.”

Pubs in Sheringham

Asking where was good to go in Sheringham at the counter in the youth hostel, the man behind it proudly informed us there were fishermen on the coast who couldn’t read or write. The enquiry was modified to include pubs.

It’s been a long-held view that seaside towns produce the worst pubs because they don’t need to produce good ones. When it’s sunny and everyone’s on holiday they’ll drink anywhere. Unfortunately we discovered this to be true of Sheringham.

The public bar in recent CAMRA winner the Windham Arms was the scene for first pint of the evening where there was a good range of beers and an excitable group of tradesmen playing pool.

Pint number two was in The Lobster, a pub more tourist-friendly but insipid. The Two Lifeboats on the seafront gave views of the sea, but the beer, the interior and the food all felt like it was assembled, fittingly, by Allen key.

We stopped into the Robin Hood for a nightcap on the way back – plenty of memorabilia on the walls, but like every other pub we visited lacked Friday-night zing.

Back at the hostel it turned out we were sharing the dormitory with a middle-aged man who spoke very passionately about welding. Sleep came in no time.

Day 2 – Sheringham to Hunstanton – 40 miles

Don’t take the croissant option for breakfast at Sheringham youth hostel. Just don’t.

Sheringham fry up

Sheringham: “Minor criticism – the egg and the beans were too close together. They can mix, but I want that to be my decision. Use a sausage as a breakwater.”

A seven on ten fry up and a bright, sunny morning were an excellent start to day two.

Before leaving town I popped into the brilliantly-named Fudgetastic to pick up a present for the war office – whose indifference towards to middle-distance cycling is dwarfed only by her indifference towards Alan Partridge.

It turned out the friendly lady in the fudge shop was a huge Partridge fan. Apparently some of the cast of Alpha Papa stopped by after filming had finished at Cromer and she’d met Sean Pertwee. I got the impression she’d wanted to do a lot more than sell him fudge.

Setting off at 10am west along the A149 we reached Weybourne after three miles up and down along small rolling gradients.

Just after Weybourne is The Muckleburgh Collection, a private museum of tanks and other military hardware. With quite a few miles to cover that day, we decided not to part with the £8 entry fee and settled for a peek through the fence.

This was fortunate. Sutcliffe gets a bit intense around tanks…

At Kelling we bared left onto Wood Lane and climbed up to join a national cycle route. It was around six miles from Sheringham I realised my waterproof jacket was still in the youth hostel drying room.

Rather than add 12 miles to my day while Sutcliffe gloated and dozed in a hedgerow I decided to get them to post it to me later (which they did). Anyway, the weather showed no signs of rain…

We passed through Wiveton, Langham, Binham, stopped for some Terry’s Chocolate Orange on the River Stiffkey at Warham and headed into Wells-Next-The-Sea.

Warham chocolate orange

Warham: “You might find some superficial damage to the box, but the chocolate’s perfectly edible. I’ve given them to all the ladies I know aged fifty and under. Over fifty just seems sarcastic.”

The rest of the coast may have gone into hibernation for the winter, but Wells was alive with tourists.

On the sea front we stopped at The Golden Fleece for refreshment. It was Sutcliffe’s round so I didn’t really see the inside. It gave the impression of being a bit ‘dog on a string’. Sutcliffe quite liked it.

An aperitif later we decided to dine on the Albatross, a pub pancake Dutch boat moored at the quay. It was full of families and the crepes took 45 minutes to arrive. Sutcliffe seethed and I lost count of the number of times he used the phrase ‘sh1tting out kids’.

After lunch we took the tourist cycle route around Pinewood Holiday Park, which boasted many static homes but to the ear no air bass being played.

The ‘cycle’ route became very sandy. It would be inadvisable to attempt this on a road bike. Even Sutcliffe’s mountain bike struggled.

Back on tarmac, we took the A149 to Burnham Overy Staithe rather than the more well-cycled route through Holkham Hall because Sutcliffe wanted to revisit the holiday cottage of his youth. One flashback to his first experience with an older man later, we turned left up to Burnham Market.

Most of the local folk we’d met in Norfolk had been friendly, helpful and even glad to see us. The women in the shop in Burnham where we stopped to get ice cream had such appalling customer skills it felt like we hadn’t given her a much-hoped-for second series.

The weather was fresh and sunny for most of the day, but somewhere along Burnham Road near Cresent Wood the heavens opened.

Crescent Wood

Crescent Wood: “It’s funnier than rain!”

Having brought two waterproofs with him, Sutcliffe was overjoyed as I pulled on his budget poncho. We took refuge in a hedgerow for 10 minutes as the shower passed over.

Needless to say, I didn’t have the last laugh.

At Ringstead we turned right and having nearly completing the day’s ride stopped at a cafe by the lighthouse in Old Hunstanton for tea and cake. In Hunstanton we checked in to the youth hostel and hit town.

Pubs in Hunstanton

Hunstanton sunset

Hunstanton: “How long did you put that in for Lynn? It’s hotter than the sun!”

Yet further evidence to prove the ‘seaside town pubs are rubbish’ theory was to be found here.

We started with a pint in Waterside Bar which was full of all sorts of human life clinging on to the summer season. The pub did offer a good view from Hunstanton’s west-facing coast and the sunset.

Feeling peckish we dined in Fishers of Hunstanton – a fully-licensed fish and chip shop – for a mountain of tasty food and bottled Peroni. It being the interval, we washed down dinner with a couple of drinks at the Princess Theatre bar nearby before heading over the green to the Golden Lion Hotel.

Hunstanton

Hunstanton: “Which is the worst monger? Fish, iron, rumour or war?”

Sitting amongst the retirees in the hotel bar, we were quietly enjoying that most precious commodity in Norfolk, free wifi, when an unusual noise came from behind Sutcliffe which for once didn’t originate from his alimentary canal.

The only other time I had heard the metallic, vibrating sound was during an episode of Alan Partridge when he meets the Hamilton’s Water Breaks video production team in the bar the night before filming.

I surpressed a few moments of inner mirth as it dawned on us that a man was using an electrolarynx. He left with his wife before we had a chance to offer him a pint of lager, a G&T and a Baileys.

Day 3 – Hunstanton to King’s Lynn – 20 miles

Observations on youth hostels

Having not stayed in a British youth hostel since a school trip to Stone Henge, by Sunday morning I made some curious observations of that particular accommodation.

Youth hostels in Latin America and south east Asia, likely due to climate in those regions, are full of dark, exotic, young people, bright eyed and smiling. As ready to swig the local jungle juice as buy a pillow case full of marijuanua from friendly locals.

From the available evidence in Norfolk, the inhabitants of English hostels share the same wide eyes, but it’s more of a fixed stare, growing more vacant as drops of rain gather on the windows.

In place of bikinis, ethnic jewellery and ‘holas‘ are Berghaus jackets, Ordnance Survey maps and awkward social skills. Sutcliffe was in his element.

Sandringham

Sandringham: “You took that on the bus? Sonja, anyone who knows us might have thought it was me inside there. Me wearing a bear costume. They’d think I’d lost it again.”

After crushing Sutcliffe’s morale over 18 holes at Blackbeard’s Adventure Golf, we followed the A149 south (Lynn Road) for a couple of miles before turning left at the Norfolk Lavender Centre.

A brief push uphill to Sedgeford and we rejoined the national cycle route through Ingoldisthorpe, on to Sandringham House. We stopped to get our picture taken with an oversized squirrel.

The cycle route struck through a forest before hitting the A149, or a tarmac way parallel to the main road. Peeling off right the last few miles went through the quaint village of Castle Rising before the suburbs of King’s Lynn and the train station. We hadn’t seen a single BP petrol station in three days.

King's Lynn

King’s Lynn: “Jet from Gladiators to host a millennium barn dance at Yeovil Aerodrome. Properly policed, it must not, repeat not, turn into an all-night rave.”

Pubs in King’s Lynn

Enjoying status as an historic port, strategic coastal town and the birthplace of Alan Partridge, I always thought King’s Lynn would be a classy, Cheltenham-on-sea type of place. I was to be heavily disappointed.

Our chief concern was to find a good pub for lunch to celebrate the completion of our tour. Even with technology at our fingertips this was an impossible task.

Upon request a chubby policeman on duty in the pedestrianised town centre suggested Weatherspoons. The sun has certainly set on King’s Lynn’s glory days.

We decided to try the Crown and Mitre next to the River Ouse. Aside from the interesting pint of obsucre German lager, a poor choice. We weren’t from around those parts.

King's Lynn burger

King’s Lynn: “You feed beefburgers to swans.”

And so we fell into the beer garden at The Globe, a Weatherspoons pub bursting with the living wage and all the finesse of turning up to a funeral in a Castrol GTX bomber jacket.

Two beers and a burger later, with the theme tune from Black Beauty in our ears we returned to the station to bring our stay in Norfolk to a close.

For those thinking right now that a visit to Blickland Hall and a weekend cycling round Norfolk hardly constitutes a ‘Tour de Partridge’, I’ll leave you with the words of Alan himself: “You could try Watchdog, but I think they’ve got bigger fish to fry.”