Thursday, February 13, 2020

A Pick of Peterborough

Just under a week ago, as part of the activities around my birthday, Amy and I decided to head out on a pub trip. Picking a convenient Saturday that also happened to be the day before I turned 33, we picked a location that neither of us had been to, although I had visited locations nearby on more than one occasion. Our journey would take us southeast into Cambridgeshire and would allow me to complete the trilogy of cities in that particular county. Having visited both Cambridge and Ely before, the third part of the triumvirate was well overdue a visit. Hence our jaunt to the city of Peterborough.

Peterborough is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, with a population of 202,110 in 2017. Historically part of Northamptonshire, it is 76 miles (122 km) north of London, on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea 30 miles (48 km) to the north-east. The railway station is an important stop on the East Coast Main Line between London and Edinburgh. The city is also 70 miles (110 km) east of Birmingham, 38 miles (61 km) east of Leicester, 81 miles (130 km) south of Kingston upon Hull and 65 miles (105 km) west of Norwich.
The local topography is flat, and in some places the land lies below sea level, for example in parts of the Fens to the east of Peterborough. Human settlement in the area began before the Bronze Age, as can be seen at the Flag Fen archaeological site to the east of the current city centre, also with evidence of Roman occupation. The Anglo-Saxon period saw the establishment of a monastery, Medeshamstede, which later became Peterborough Cathedral.
The population grew rapidly after the railways arrived in the 19th century, and Peterborough became an industrial centre, particularly known for its brick manufacture. After the Second World War, growth was limited until designation as a New Town in the 1960s. Housing and population are expanding and a £1 billion regeneration of the city centre and immediately surrounding area is under way. Industrial employment has fallen since then, a significant proportion of new jobs being in financial services and distribution.
The original name of the town was Medeshamstede. The town's name changed to Burgh from the late tenth century, possibly after Abbot Kenulf had built a defensive wall around the abbey, and eventually developed into the form Peterborough; the town does not appear to have been a borough until the 12th century. The contrasting form Gildenburgh is also found in the 12th century history of the abbey, the Peterborough version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle  and in a history of the abbey by the monk Hugh Candidus.
Present-day Peterborough is the latest in a series of settlements which have at one time or other benefited from its site where the Nene leaves large areas of permanently drained land for the fens. Remains of Bronze Age settlement and what is thought to be religious activity can be seen at the Flag Fen archaeological site to the east of the city centre. The Romans established a fortified garrison town at Durobrivae on Ermine Street, five miles (8 km) to the west in Water Newton, around the middle of the 1st century AD. Durobrivae's earliest appearance among surviving records is in the Antonine Itinerary of the late 2nd century. There was also a large 1st century Roman fort at Longthorpe, designed to house half a legion, or about 3,000 soldiers; it may have been established as early as around AD 44–48. Peterborough was an important area of ceramic production in the Roman period, providing Nene Valley Ware that was traded as far away as Cornwall and the Antonine Wall, Caledonia. 
Peterborough is shown by its original name Medeshamstede to have possibly been an Anglian settlement before AD 655, when Sexwulf founded a monastery on land granted to him for that purpose by Peada of Mercia, who converted to Christianity and was briefly ruler of the smaller Middle Angles sub-group. His brother Wulfhere murdered his own sons, similarly converted and then finished the monastery by way of atonement. 
Hereward the Wake rampaged through the town in 1069 or 1070. Outraged, Abbot Turold erected a fort or castle, which, from his name, was called Mont Turold: this mound, or hill, is on the outside of the deanery garden, now called Tout Hill, although in 1848 Tot-hill or Toot Hill. The abbey church was rebuilt and greatly enlarged in the 12th century. The Peterborough Chronicle, a version of the Anglo-Saxon one, contains unique information about the history of England after the Norman conquest, written here by monks in the 12th century. This is the only known prose history in English between the conquest and the later 14th century. The burgesses received their first charter from "Abbot Robert" – probably Robert of Sutton (1262–1273). The place suffered materially in the war between King John and the confederate barons, many of whom took refuge in the monastery here and in Crowland Abbey, from which sanctuaries they were forced by the king's soldiers, who plundered the religious houses and carried off great treasures. The abbey church became one of Henry VIII's retained, more secular, cathedrals in 1541, having been assessed at the Dissolution (in the King's Books) as having revenue of £1,972.7s.0¾d per annum.
When civil war broke out, Peterborough was divided between supporters of King Charles I and the Long Parliament. The city lay on the border of the Eastern Association of counties which sided with Parliament, and the war reached Peterborough in 1643 when soldiers arrived in the city to attack Royalist strongholds at Stamford and Crowland. The Royalist forces were defeated within a few weeks and retreated to Burghley House, where they were captured and sent to Cambridge. While the Parliamentary soldiers were in Peterborough, however, they ransacked the cathedral, destroying the Lady Chapel, chapter house, cloister, high altar and choir stalls, as well as mediaeval decoration and records. 
Housing and sanitary improvements were effected under the provisions of an Act of Parliament passed in 1790; and an Act was passed in 1839 to build a gaol to replace the two that previously stood. After the dissolution the dean and chapter, who succeeded the abbot as lords of the manor, appointed a high bailiff and the constables and other borough officers were elected at their court leet; but this ended when the municipal borough was incorporated in 1874 under the government of a mayor, six aldermen and eighteen councillors. Among the privileges claimed by the abbot as early as the 13th century was that of having a prison for felons taken in the Soke of Peterborough. In 1576 Bishop Edmund Scambler sold the lordship of the hundred of Nassaburgh, which was coextensive with the Soke, to Queen Elizabeth I, who gave it to Lord Burghley, and from that time until the 19th century he and his descendants, the Earls and Marquesses of Exeter, had a separate gaol for prisoners arrested in the Soke. The abbot formerly held four fairs, of which two, St. Peter's Fair, granted in 1189 and later held on the second Tuesday and Wednesday in July, and the Brigge Fair, granted in 1439 and later held on the first Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in October, were purchased by the corporation from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1876. The Bridge Fair, as it is now known, granted to the abbey by King Henry VI, survives. Prayers for the opening of the fair were once said at the morning service in the cathedral, followed by a civic proclamation and a sausage lunch at the town hall which still takes place. The mayor traditionally leads a procession from the town hall to the fair where the proclamation is read, asking all persons to "behave soberly and civilly, and to pay their just dues and demands according to the laws of the realm and the rights of the City of Peterborough".
Railway lines began operating locally during the 1840s, but it was the 1850 opening of the Great Northern Railway's line from London to York that transformed Peterborough from a market town to an industrial centre. Lord Exeter had opposed the railway passing through Stamford, so Peterborough, situated between two main terminals at London and Doncaster, increasingly developed as a regional hub. Coupled with vast local clay deposits, the railway enabled large-scale brick-making and distribution to take place. The area was the UK's leading producer of bricks for much of the twentieth century. Brick-making had been a small seasonal craft since the early nineteenth century, but during the 1890s successful experiments at Fletton using the harder clays from a lower level had resulted in a much more efficient process. The market dominance during this period of the London Brick Company, founded by the prolific Scottish builder and architect John Cathles Hill, gave rise to some of the country's most well-known landmarks, all built using the ubiquitous Fletton Brick. Perkins Engines was established in Peterborough in 1932 by Frank Perkins, creator of the Perkins diesel engine. Thirty years later it employed more than a tenth of the population of Peterborough, mainly at Eastfield. Baker Perkins had relocated from London to Westwood, now the site of HM Prison Peterborough, in 1903, followed by Peter Brotherhood to Walton in 1906; both manufacturers of industrial machinery, they too became major employers in the city. British Sugar remains headquartered in Woodston, although the beet sugar factory, which opened there in 1926, was closed in 1991.
The Cathedral Church of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Saint Andrew, whose statues look down from the three high gables of the West Front, was founded as a monastery in AD 655 and re-built in its present form between 1118 and 1238. It has been the seat of the Bishop of Peterborough since the diocese was created in 1541, when the last abbot was made the first bishop and the abbot's house was converted into the episcopal palace. Peterborough Cathedral is one of the most intact large Norman buildings in England and is renowned for its imposing early English Gothic West Front which, with its three enormous arches, is without architectural precedent and with no direct successor. The cathedral has the distinction of having had two queens buried beneath its paving: Katherine of Aragon and Mary, Queen of Scots. The remains of Queen Mary were removed to Westminster Abbey by her son James I when he became King of England.

Prior to our arrival in Peterborough, I knew 2 definite facts about the city. Firstly, that a former Bishop of Peterborough is the father of hip-hop DJ Tim Westwood and, secondly, that the city was recently ranked the worst place to live in England, if not the UK. Whether the latter of these details would affect our opinions of the place at the end of the day would remain to be seen. We journeyed to Peterborough by train, arriving around 12.40 in the afternoon after a trip of just over an hour. It being a Saturday, we expected the train and the pubs themselves to be busy and this would soon to be the case. We weren't quite sure what to expect however as we immersed ourselves in our expedition. Our first stop of the day was not too far at all from where we'd arrived. Leaving the station, we turned left and then turned right once we reached the local Waitrose. Directly in front of us, on the other side of a busy dual carriageway, was the day's first stop. Our adventure would begin at the Brewery Tap.
Brewery Tap, Peterborough, 2010

Formerly an employment exchange, the premises reopened as a pub in 1998 and is now the home of a custom made specialist brew plant for Oakham Ales. The brewery equipment is visible through a viewing window inside the pub. The interior is modern, with a mix of high and low tables, as well as comfy sofas and benches. The upstairs mezzanine floor serves as a restaurant where good quality Thai food is prepared on the premises and can be also be ordered downstairs. The bar sits off-centre and features high shelves stocked with wines and spirits and, most importantly, 2 banks of 4 handpulls. To one side of the bar, a small corridor leads to the toilets. Good use has been made of a large interior space and atmospheric lighting. Background music plays a mixture of styles and the pub also hosts live entertainment. On the day of our visit, one of the banks of handpumps is in use offering, unsurprisingly, beers from Oakham's portfolio, in this case Inferno, JHB, Bishop's Farewell and Citra. I may have mentioned my love for Citra in these entries before but, this time, I went for something different and opted instead for Inferno (4%). This is a straw coloured beer with a citrus hop character that builds in the mouthfeel, leading to a clean, dry and citrus finish. This was a superb choice with which to begin the day. Amy opted for a cider and we took our drinks over to an area of low sofas not far from the main entrance. The pub was moderately busy with both diners and drinkers and we took the opportunity to peruse the extensive and reasonably priced Thai menu and drooled over any that happened to be carried passed us on its way to a lucky recipient. There is certainly lots to enjoy at The Brewery Tap and we'd picked a good place to start.

Our second destination wasn't too far away. Leaving the Brewery Tap, we turned left and made our further down Westgate and towards the town centre, where our next stop sits on the left side amongst a row of shops. I actually managed to walk past it to begin with but Amy quickly set me right and we arrived at The Bumble Inn.
Bumble Inn, Peterborough, 2016

Formerly known as the Bimble Inn, this micropub opened in June 2016 in what was formerly a chemist's shop, and was named Peterborough and District Pub of the Year in 2018. It is also, deservedly, Good Beer Guide listed. The interior is suitably minimalist with relatively bare walls, low sofas to one side and the rest of the seating consisting of moulded metal tables and high chairs. A door to the rear leads to the cellar with an adjacent one containing the toilet. The bar is small and sits roughly halfway into the room. A well stocked fridge sits behind it with a couple of keg taps on the back wall and 5 handpumps, pride of place, on the bar top facing the door. The choices here are certainly interesting and we are faced with the options of Cameron's Steamer, Beermats Heather Mead Ale, Fixed Wheel Sniper, Sarah Hughes Surprise and Pentrich Blank Maps. I was intrigued by the range of beers available, no more so than the Heather Mead Ale (4.5%) from Beermats, based near Newark. I was right to be intrigued. This is a pale ale with both heather and honey flavours making it sweet and with a nice sharpness that balance well against each other without being overwhelming in either case. It's flavour profile made it far too easy to drink. Whilst the pub is small and was rather busy, there was a table spare but we opted to stand instead, largely to avoid taking up a table that was more suited to larger groups. We would not be there long anyway before it was time to continue our wandering.

Leaving the Bumble, we again turned left and then took the next left in North Street, at the end of which lies The Ostrich Inn.
 Ostrich, Peterborough, 2009

Originally known as the Ostrich, the pub then became a home brew shop before reverting back to a pub called Bogart's, themed after the eponymous actor. In 2009, it was once again reopened as The Ostrich following a significant refurbishment and with new ownership and management and is now Good Beer Guide listed. The interior features a U shaped bar which is central to the room. The entrance leads through into the bare floor boarded main room which features a small stage in one corner. At the other end of the U is a room with a pool table and dart board. Low tables and chairs provide seating throughout and rear doors lead to a small garden. The pub is quite busy when we arrive, mostly with Peterborough United fans, and we end up standing at the bar, which gives us even longer to investigate the row of 6 handpulls. On offer at the time are Skinner's Sennen, Hop Back Summer Lightning, Rooster's Yankee, Tiny Rebel Salted Caramel Stay Puft and Beermats Charismatic with the 6th pump given over to cider, in this case Abrahalls Thundering Molly. I was sorely tempted by the Tiny Rebel but couldn't convince myself that I could justify it at that time of day so instead I settled for Yankee (4.3%) from Rooster's out of Harrogate. This is a straw coloured beer with delicate, fruity aromas, a well balanced taste with a hint of sweetness and a finish of bitter fruits. It's a very refreshing beer and the pub itself is lively and welcoming without being overbearing. I liked the ambience of it here. The day was shaping up very nicely so far and we both agreed that our first trio of pubs had hit the spot. What else would the day bring?

We were about to find out. Bidding farewell to the Ostrich (a strange sentence out of context), we retraced our steps back to the high street and once again turned left. Crossing the first side road we came to, we turned left down the next (Broadway) and followed it to the end, whereupon we located our next stop. The obligatory trip to a Wetherspoons was about to be ticked off by The College Arms.
College Arms, Peterborough, 2000

The pub takes its name from its former life as a technical college that opened in 1903. Wetherspoons opened the building as a pub under their own distinctive branding in 1996. This is a very large venue, spread over two floors, with a long, curving bar on the ground floor and lots of seating throughout. The decor is traditional Wetherspoons and the walls are decorated with old photos of Peterborough and framed photos of local historical figures and historical tidbits. This being a Wetherspoons, you can rest assured that the toilets are upstairs. It being a Saturday, it's no surprise that the pub is busy with locals, families and more football fans who will shortly be heading to the game. We managed to get served quickly enough, although it did take me a while to make a beer choice. The bar boasts 14 handpumps, of which 12 were in use on our visit. Many of these were multiples but the full options were as follows: Ruddles (x2), Doom Bar (x3), Nottingham Legend (x2), Abbot Ale, Hadrian Border Farne Island, Maxim Double Maxim, Grainstore Ten Fifty and Harviestoun Haggis Hunter. There was ultimately no way I could ignore a beer called Haggis Hunter and so that became my choice for this particular stop. Amy ordered a cider and we managed to find a table that was slightly more out of the way of the main bar area, near to the kitchen, or at least the place where the food comes out. What can be said of the beer? At 4.3%, Haggis Hunter is a spicy and fruity amber ale with notes of raisin and plum. It's now early February when I drink this so I feel that some of the festive punch has gone but it's a tasty beer nonetheless. It was nice to be able to get a table here. As much as I don't normally mind Wetherspoons, this one seemed to be especially chaotic, even for the middle of the day on a weekend.

Soon, it was time to relocate. Our next destination was slightly back the way we had come but on the opposite side of the road. Next on the itinerary was the Sir Henry Royce.
Sir Henry Royce, Peterborough, 2015

This former Yates's reopened under its current iteration in 2015 following a major refit. Named after one half of the Rolls-Royce engine partnership, the pub is operated by Stonegate and has been set up to be more of a traditional pub than its predecessor. The inside is large with lots of seating, divided up by use of internal pillars and small dividing walls. A small, raised area is to one side of the entrance with a mix of booth-style seating and more traditional tables and chairs making up the rest of the furniture. The bar is long and located along one wall. There are 6 handpumps on the bar, 3 of which are in use at the time of our visit, proferring a choice of Abbot Ale, Black Sheep Best Bitter and Wychwood Hobgoblin. I opted for the latter on this occasion. We retreated from the busy bar area and managed to find a round booth on the raised area from which to people watch and enjoy our drinks, as well as the opening few minutes of the Ireland-Wales Six Nations match. The Hobgoblin wasn't bad. It definitely wasn't the worst I'd had but also didn't quite tick all the boxes. Still, there had, and would be, more beers throughout the day that would more than compensate.

It was time to retrace our steps again now and we once again, made our way back to main high street, this time turning right, to visit a place that we'd walked past slightly earlier in the day. Our attentions now turned to the Bull Hotel.
Bull Hotel, Peterborough, 2009

This Grade II listed building dates from the 17th century, when it started life as a coaching inn, a role it filled until approximately 1901. Significant refurbishment of the building began in the 1970s and it is now a well-appointed hotel that caters mainly for the business market. There are two entrances, one to the front which goes directly into the bar area and another at the side that feeds through into the reception space and foyer. We picked the second of there and navigated our way around the reception to where a small flight of stairs leads down into the bar area. The bar is small and faces into a lounge style room, with original exposed brickwork and beams, broken up by clever use of partition walls and pillars. Once again, there are a few people in, most them in the middle of or just finishing lunch. The aforementioned bar features 2 handpulls, with just the one functioning when we arrives. The beer on offer is another from the Oakham range, specifically Scarlet Macaw and so it is that to which I am drawn. With us having ordered, we found a small table round table behind a pillar, in the main part of the room opposite the bar. This is certainly an atmospheric place. The modern features are right at home amongst the traditional aesthetics and it's clear that parts of the building are of a considerable age. It's not just the features from an earlier century that are still remain. Other things more ethereal are said to linger. A strong presence has been felt in the bar area with people reporting someone brushing past them when there is nobody nearby, a sensation that is often accompanied by the sound of jangling keys. There is also alleged to be a ghostly canine. Years ago, the dog of a guest that was staying at the hotel was fatally injured by a cart outside the building. It's reported that muddy pawprints are often found by housekeeping staff on the bedclothes in the room in which the dog stayed whilst corporeal, always when the room is known to be unoccupied. A tragic tale indeed but no surprise given the age of the building. Back in a more earthly realm, I can confirm that the beer was very good. Scarlet Macaw (4.4%) packs aromas of gooseberry and peach on the nose and carries with it a lingering, bitter finish. This was certainly an interesting place to have a beer, even if it was slightly confusing in that, whilst the bar seemed to cater for non-residents of the hotel, a code was required for entry to the toilets. Or, you could do what we did and follow somebody else in.

Our next stop would be something very different indeed and required a bit more walking then we'd done so far. Leaving the Bull, we crossed the road, headed left and then quickly right into the main shopping precinct. Passing the magnificant cathedral (after a quick selfie), we crossed another main road and eventually reached Town Bridge which passes over the river. I'm a big fan of pubs on boats so you can imagine how excited I was to reach Charters.

Built in 1907, and originally named Leendert-R, this Dutch grain barge is now permanently moored on the River Nene and was opened as a pub called Charters in 1991. Good Beer Guide listed and a stone's throw from the football ground, the pub can get very busy but we had lucked out at this time of day as the football had already started and so there were only a handful of customers present. Boarding across the gangplank leads you through a door that directs you down to the lower deck where the bar is located and takes up most of the opposite wall bar a space at the end that contains. Further seating is located opposite and in an alcove to one side. There is also a TV at one end and a door that leads to the toilets and a restaurant that occupies the upper deck. The green on the riverside acts as an excellent beer garden and also provides mooring for nautically inclined visitors. On the bar are 8 handpulls, half of which are occupied by Oakham (Inferno, JHB, Bishop's Farewell and Citra). The other 4 are reserved for guests. On this occasion our guest options are Navigation Eclipse, Lord's Mount Helix, Dancing Duck Waitangi and Wild Weather Deck Full of Jokers. Being a fan of both Dancing Duck and New Zealand hops, it was a no-brainer to go for the Waitangi. At 4%, this a crisp, clean and easy drinking pale ale with a big smack of citrus from the New Zealand hops and flavours of lemon and lime. It's delicious and might even be my favourite beer of the day up to this point. It was nice to find a pub that wasn't overly busy at this time of day and we sat in the far corner of the alcove, slightly diorientated by the shape of the place and the fact that we were on a boat. We also managed to quickly befriend a very nice American or Canadian (I couldn't tell but I know they're different, I'm sorry) who recommended a pub that we already had plans to go to. It's always nice to have a tip.

A bit more walking was required to reach our next stop, although it wasn't far away. Leaving the riverside, we continued our journey over the bridge and then turned right onto Oundle Road. Following the road under a railway bridge and into a decidedly more residential area, we located our next location on the left, shortly after passing some playing fields. It was time now for the Yard of Ale.
Yard of Ale

Dating back 120 years and previously called the New Inn, the Yard of Ale is built on land that was originally part of the stable yard for the nearby Palmerston Arms (more from which shortly). It was refurbished and reopened in July 2017 and is now featured in the Good Beer Guide. Decorated in 3 shades of grey, the interior is split level, featuring the bar to one side and steps down to a pool room, also served by the same bar. TVs are located throughout. The overall layout is essentially one large room divided into 4 by the central supports. There is a beer garden to the rear and the pub was also awarded Branch LocAle Pub of the Year for 2019. Speaking of the ale, 6 handpulls feature, with an interesting choice of beers on offer. At the time of our visit, the choices were Digfield Mad Monk, Sharp's Doom Bar, Oakham Waimea, Baker's Dozen Magic Potion, Timothy Taylor Landlord and Thornbridge Jaipur. As tempting as Jaipur was, it made sense to try something more local and so I went for the Mad Monk (4.8%). This turned out to be a dark ale, with a full body and hints of chocolate and malt. It was an unexpected delight! The same can be said for the pub itself and we watched enough of the rugby to see Ireland seal a win before we ventured on.

Our next stop was considerably closer. In fact, as our American/Canadian friend had pointed out, it was only two doors down. This was the Palmerston Arms.
Palmerston Arms, Peterborough, 2009

Another Good Beer Guide listed venue, this stone-built pub is 400 years old and operated by Batemans. The main entrance leads directly to the bar with seating in a lounge nearby and stools positioned at the bar. Old brewery posters decorate some of the walls, along with photos of old Peterborough. A TV occupies a spot in the corner. One handpull sits on the bar, offering Batemans XXXB but not to worry as 10 other beers are available from the cask! The cellar is directly behind the bar and visible through a window. The room beyond is packed with casks from which the majority of the beer is poured straight into your glass. And what a range they had. On the day of our trip, there was a lot to choose from: Brewsters Hophead, Castle Rock Harvest Pale, Castle Rock Session Pale V2, Batemans Hooker, Oakham Bishop's Farewell, Oakham Green Devil, Exmoor Stag, Burton Bridge Burton Porter, Black Sheep Riggwelter and St. Austell Tribute. Seeing as I don't often see Exmoor beers outside of the West Country, it would have been rude to pass up the chance to have some now. And this turned out to be an excellent move! Stag (5.2%) is a pale brown-coloured beer with a malty taste and aroma and a bitter finish. It certainly drinks far easier than its ABV! As we worked through our drinks, the England-Scotland rugby match was starting and so we absorbed the opening few exchanges before we were, once again, on our way.

Not for the first time that day we retraced our steps. Heading back down Oundle Road and back over Town Bridge, we again reached the central shopping precinct and this time turned left onto Cowgate. Following the road as it curved round, we saw our next destination ahead. It was now time for the Beehive.
Beehive, Peterborough, 2010

Located in Albert Place, the Beehive is identifiable from its pub sign which is that of a jovial young woman sporting the eponymous hairstyle. Originally built in the 1850s, it closed as a pub in the 1980s before reopening in 1994 after an 8 year period of dereliction. However, it was later sold to a pub company and eventually closed before reopening in July 2017 as its current incarnation. The inside is light and airy with a patio area to the rear and photos of old Peterborough dotted around the walls. The furniture is simple and quirky with one table (where we ended up sitting) decorated like a chess board. The bar occupies the left hand wall and there is seating spread evenly throughout. A door to the rear leads to the adjoining fish and chip restaurant which supplies food to the pub. The bar itself holds 4 handpulls, although only one of these was in use at the time, featuring Lacons Legacy. It's just as well that this is a delicious beer. At 4.4%, it's straw in colour with aromas of lemon and pineapple that draw you into flavours of citrus and grapefruit before combining into a mellow finish. It's a belter! This is a nice, little gem of a pub with some interesting features, not least of which is the wall of framed Trip Advisor reviews featuring the best one I've ever seen ('Never been' -- 3 stars). Well, we have been and it definitely warrants more than 3!

We continued our previous route when it was next time to move on. Following the curve of the road, we crossed over and made our way to Queen Street in St. John's Square where we would find the Queen's Head.
The Queens Head, August 2017

The Queen's Head was originally opened by Charles Wells in the mid-1990s and known as HG's where it made considerable use of HG Wells theming. It reopened in 2009 as the Grapevine, taking its name from a nearby pub which closed in the 1980s and is now the site of Argos. The pub closed again in 2012 but openedthe following year after a refurbishment into Clarkes Restaurant. In 2017, it was returned to Charles Wells ownership, whereupon it once again became a pub and operates as part of their Pizzas, Pots & Pints theme. This is another very quirky and innovative looking venue with some unique features throughout. The bar occupies the right hand side of the room but is dwarfed by an imposing looking stone baked pizza oven at one end. Amidst unusual posters, adverts and a dummy poking legs first from an upstairs window, are casual seating in the form of high round tables and lower scrubbed four seaters. The smell of pizza is everywhere and its awesome. The bar features 4 handpulls, 2 of which were available when we were there, with a choice of Lancaster Bomber or Courage Director's. I've briefly touched upon my soft spot for Director's before so my choice here should come as no surprise. A very good drop it was as well!

Before making our way back to the train station, we had intended to visit one more pub in the form the Draper's Arms, a Good Beer Guide listed Wetherspoons establishment. However, to our dismay, the pub was closed for a refurb but should be back open by the time you read this. So with that, and once we'd found our bearings (with the aid of Google Maps), we returned to whence we came and made our weary back to the East Midlands. What had we made of our day in Peterborough? It had certainly been an experience. I think Amy and I both agree that, whilst the first and last parts of the trip were excellent and featured some cracking pubs, the middle portion was perhaps a bit of a let down. Whilst none of the beers were terrible, a couple of the venues were of the sort that could perhaps have led to Peterborough's unfortunate ranking in that recent survey. However, I am very much not going to judge a city by a small minority of its venues and a single visit. All-in-all, Peterborough was an interesting experience and whilst it may not be the first place that springs to mind when real ale is mentioned, it certainly deserves an honourable mention on behalf of some of its pubs. It certainly surprised me, and who doesn't like surprises?