Well here I am, sitting on Warrior, safely(?) tied up on March Town Quay. I came up by train (Peterborough must be the most unhelpful, information-free station anywhere, even when it isn't besieged by Newcastle fans) and arrive this afternoon, obviously bringing the sun with me, and a little while later we were joined by the splendid marvellous wonderful Moominclan (they said I was to write nice things about them).
Then in the spirit of scientific enquiry and purely for the public good, Jim and I set off to investigate the town's hostelries. Well. I know this is the Fens, and one must recalibrate one's Grim-ometer (TM) to avoid it constantly going off and draining the batteries, but still.
We began by looking for the Oliver Cromwell Hotel, well spoken of in the Good Beer Guide (2009). When we found it however, a modern low brick building with uPVC windows and those coloured lights in a tube around its menu, not even the promise (surely empty) of four real ales could entice us to cross the car park. So then we moved on to the Griffin Hotel, which had a nice interior with some fantastic oak carving. Here we had some bottom-of-the-barrel Bombardier and lapped up the atmosphere (large screen football and youths wearing their trousers fashionably below their buttocks (they stopped doing that in London years ago) but not the beer which smelt like the spirits of salts that Jim put down the bath plughole last week and we couldn't go in the bathroom for hours. Next, to the Red Lion, an Elgoods pub which looked unpretentious and quite rightly so, not actually having any cask beer at all, Elgoods or otherwise, but a distinct smell of damp and three pissheads, being the entire clientele, propping up the bar, and jeering as we left at our foolishness in coming into a pub seeking beer.
After that, The Acre seemed an improvement, having only one telly, and two sorts of Greene King beers. So we had a pint of IPA and looked at the menu, and were going to order some unambitious pub grub, but it was only six o'clock and the kitchen didn't open until seven, so we said we would go off and check out the Ship, right above our mooring, and then maybe come back.
At this point things looked up considerably. The Ship, which was previously a right dive, just reopened last Thursday after a complete refit (including of the clientele) and was really super, with three real ales and at last some local ones. They didn't do food yet (come back in eight weeks) so after a pint we set off to look for some chips, but were sidetracked by the Mamma Mia Italian (no, never!) restaurant right next door. They could fit us in provided we could eat up within an hour and a half, so we did and it was very good too with super service. Now the Moomins and Jim are back in the Ship while I do my blogging duty, but I'm off right now to join them. The lesson of this tale is that it pays to conduct extensive research.