The Stour Valley needs its railway back Moving into Summer: It's been raining, but the swallows are back. Anyone seen a Swift yet?The Stour Valley needs its railway back

As everyone well knows, these pages are an unofficial record of the goings on at The Angel, from the partisan point of view of a paying customer. All views expressed are those of the author. So up yours, Greene King.

19 May

Kevin and Paula Settle In

The transition from the Thorogood era has been relatively seamless.
There have been a few changes, like the couple of Spotty Dogs (which spend, however, far less time than their predecessors scrounging snacks from the punters), a couple of cartoons of the landlord and landlady, that new bell and an engraved Landlord's Tankard.
Beyond that, the Guest Ale programme continues, with Abbot Ale, Wadworth's 6X and Archer's Golden all having made their mark.

Whatever good came out of Swindon?

Good question.

Instantly answered by the average locosexual or Railway Enthusiast, of course, with a quick reference to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Collett, Churchward and the Great Western Railway.
But beyond that?
Well, it seems that two other creations of mid-Wiltshire have actually hit the national scene, or at least Suffolk, in the shape of Archer's Golden, the product of a smallish independent brewery set up in the late 70s, and our new landlord, Kevin, a refugee from the nearly-West Country himself.
Everyone else I've spoken to about Swindon says it's best known for its multiplicity of roundabouts and little else.

First reports, however, speak highly of both these migrants to the land of the Angles.

More Changes in the Air

Apart from the Guest Ales already alluded to, Kevin and the eminence grise (the artist previously known as Thorogood), have more changes in mind.
The first of these has been the welcome repainting of the Angel's exterior, which is now a deep and satisfying golden colour, with a contrasting dark green on the woodwork around the roof.

Readers of earlier editions will be aware of comparisons made with the liveries of various pre-Nationalisation railway companies. Now: I do like the new colour a lot, but I have to be honest and say that that is partly because it reminds me of nothing unless it's one of those old weatherboard signalboxes of the South Westen Division of the Southern Railway. It wouldn't look out of place on the down platform at Chard Junction. Lovely.

Another change in store is planned for the shape of the bar counter.
It is a familiar hazard of Angel drinking that the route to the loo, past the corner of the bar, is often partially blocked by fellow drinkers. It used to be worse, when the coat rack got in the way too. Put someone swaying gently on a bar stool, and the way is almost impassable. Now the proposal is to round off the corner to create more space. The only downside I can foresee is that it will put an end to inpromptu gut-barging contests between those on their way and those on their way back. Pictures will follow.

Such pictures may well take on a new glow, since Thorogood Enterprises have also suggested (at long last) a scheme to remove those dreadful fairy lights from the beam above the bar. We'll see.

Oh yes, and another thing: the new régime has also reinstituted a dart board, up in the Eyrie. I honestly thought that darts had long gone the way of bear baiting and witch swimming into the history books of primitive and coarse games, but it looks as though I was wrong, and that part of the pub will have to be designated a hard-hat zone again.

Oh, and by the way ...

Far be it from me to turn these strictly independent pages into something commercial, but I must report that Kevin has also launched a lunchtime snack venture which, by reputation, should be well worth the effort.
So all those brave souls making their Long March along the Stour Valley Way, or struggling from The Cock to the Black Lion, or just waiting for the Beestons Bus will now be able to obtain ample sustenance.

24 May

More Travellers Tales

The onset of summer always brings with it a crop of stories concerning Angel regulars and their peregrinations beyond the borders of this fair county.

Pride of place in this batch must go to Jonathan Farrance, who has been to Uttoxeter.

Jonathan always has been one to impress the ladies. His chat-up lines are part of Angel legend (but most are outside the remit of a non-Adult Verification site). He is also renowned for his sense of humour.
One of his first demonstrations of intent with a certain young lady was to infiltrate an explosive device into the business end of a cigarette about to be smoked by said young lady. How we laughed.
To be fair, Tracy-Anne smiled too, after she returned from the burns unit.

No big surprise, then, that Jonathan wanted to make an impact with his knowledge of the tourist attractions of England, so, one Saturday, the decision was made to make a trip to Alton Towers. And why not? It is the perfect place for a gentle stroll among the beautiful plants and trees, to see the sights and to brave all on a trip on Oblivion or Nemesis. In short, the perfect place to impress.

So off they drove, for an idyllic 3 hours on the A14, M1 and A50 into the wilds of deepest Staffordshire, including a panoramic view of JCB headquarters. And what did they find when they got to journey's end?
It was closed.
So they went to Uttoxeter instead.
As you do, when you're out to impress.
Strangely, the lovely TA still managed to smile about it.

Anyway, all was well, because they had a lovely time in Uttoxeter. Jonathan even found out how to negotiate a revolving door on the way into and out of and into a hotel.
And then to make it up to TA, on the Sunday, Jonathan took her to a second-hand record sale.

Watch this space.

Where else?

Well, I'm still awaiting postcards, but the Whippersnapper went to Prague; there are rumours of His Wardship making it to Tenerife; and Jim "Sizewell" Gardner disappeared for a week or so and returned with a bronzed dome, so I assume he's been somewhere other than Stowmarket. In the other direction, Old Salty Phillips has flown back from Heidiland to renew his acquaintance with the real world. Fran came over for a few days too. Welcome both. Salty, incidentally, has applied to join the lifeboat crew. So that those who need to can make an informed decision on his application, I'm publishing it here for your perusal:

"Having discussed with the local branch of the National Inshore Committee Executive, we applaud your decision to launch the Glemsford Inshore Rescue Lifeboat Service. As an ex-nautical person l would like to volunteer my services, but as i Live over here, would it be possible to have some advance warning of emergency call outs? May i suggest that A suitable name could be Sir Ale, or has this matter been resolved? l have completed my first year with the Swiss navy and tomorrow l will be returning to the UK for some R&R, so l hope to have the opportunity to discuss my membership application with some members of the committee. As another point in my favour, some say that l look nice in yellow.

Ahoy to one and all

Old Salty & Shipmate Fran"

Further news to come

Bali is somewhere beyond the imagination of most of us for whom a trip to Bury Market is a bit of an adventure and for whom Colchester takes on the character of the Forbidden City, but a certain intrepid Young Person, renowned for an infectious laugh ("infectious" in the clinical sense of being invasive and potentially life threatening) and reading Psychology text books over pints of IPA, is heading for the Pacific paradise in the near future for a couple of months of whatever one does in such places. I assume that doesn't mean mundane things like washing sprouts and boiling carrots. Have a nice time Hannah. Look out for the bed bugs. If you find an internet café, send us an email or an entry in the guestbook, and plenty of postcards.

Meanwhile, ...

Smiles are gradually beginning to re-appear on the faces of the regulars who support Ipswich Town, after their unhappy demise from the Premiership. Those penalty misses by N*****h City against Birmingham were something of a godsend. Will has even been seen to crack his dimples.

Exorcism Unnecessary

Kevin does not believe in ghosts.

Therefore he has, quite logically, not been troubled by the resident spirit of the Angel. The IPA has remained unsullied by poltergeistic activity. Hector and Henry's hackles do not rise outside THAT room. So all is quiet.

But there's plenty of time yet.

Laura Norder Lives

Glemsford hit the news headlines (in the Suffolk Free Press) after PT's last night, when a totally unconnected and mindless outbreak of vandalism occurred in the village.

Sometime after 1 a.m., upwards of 20 cars had windows and windscreens smashed, apparently by a group of youthful residents whose activities and associated brain functions would give Neanderthals a bad name.
Despite frantic police activity in the form of A5 leaflets being left around the village, as far as I know no arrests have been made.

An upshot of these events has been that Glemsford has seen more police activity in the village in the last month than has been seen since the Melford Riot. As a result, all the pubs have had frequent reminders of the exact nature of "closing time", despite the fact that it is patently obvious to all thinking persons that the reptilian boneheaded louts who were responsible were probably too young to be in a pub anyway, that the pubs were probably long closed at the time and that the sort of intoxicants they used are not normally obtainable in a pub. Add to that the fact that, if such subhuman pillocks want to buy alcohol, they only have to visit a friendly local off licence or big supermarket, and the overt pressure being put on honest, mature, innocent drinkers seems not only to be misdirected but a waste of money too.

Still: I'm not complaining. The law must be obeyed.
Er, like the 30 m.p.h. limit through the village?

Ho hum.

I've decided to keep each addition to these pages separate, rather than simply add length. I hope regular readers will not get too confused.

The end of The Thorogood Era

Life under The Tyranny of Spaniels

The first part of 2002

News from Christmas 2001 and January 2002

Back into October and November 2001

News from December 2001 - Follow this link

Page maintained by Steve Clarke, 09 November 2005 Copyright(c) Steve Clarke. Created: 10/11/99 Updated: 25/05/2002