Tuesday 29 August 2023


Do it yourself bacon sarnie again today. Not that I mind. It’s a pleasure to cook bacon on an eye-level grill. So much healthier, too. Why do continental cookers never feature them?

Dave has already made tea. And has French TV on again. A news channel, this time.

I have to break up my tea with a spoon, it’s so strong. Does the job, mind.

When the kids have dragged their sorry arses downstairs, we watch the Women’s World Cup Final. To be fair, Alexei wasn’t up that late. And looked human when he rose. Unlike Andrew, who’s in mumble mode again.

A ketamine and rum binge today, Andrew seems to have been on. For, at a rough estimate, six days. With maybe just a smidgin of 2CB on the edges. He has a wild, but subdued air.

“Tea, Andrew?”


“Is that a yes?”

“What do you think?”


“Just shut up and pour me some tea.”

I love our morning interactions. Exactly why I became a father. Though, at least one of the kids is in a good mood. Or, at a minimum, inquisitive.

“When are we going to Spoons. Dad?” He’s been asking that since we arrived. Before, really. About a week before we left Amsterdam.

“Soon, Lexie, soon. We’ve still plenty of time.” Or maybe not.

After checking on the interweb, I notice that today is its final day. Better get there quick, before all the booze has gone. The plan is to eat at Spoons and then continue on to Collingham, the village about seven miles outside Newark where Henry has his Cat Asylum brewery.

Dave phones for a taxi. It takes a while to get through.

“Not too bad. It’s coming at quarter to four.” He reports.

“That’s crap. It’s only half past one.”

“Oh, I thought it was later.”

Yes, you senile old hippy. It’s a fucking hour later than you think. I only say that in my head. I hope. Dave hasn’t reacted. I must be in the clear.

Eventually, our taxi arrives. And whisks us to downtown Newark and Spoons.

We take the back way in. Where new estates have filled in all the fields between Balderton and town. Detached houses, but packed tightly together, with almost no gardens. Lovely. That’s typical of the new homes around here.

Spoons is reasonably busy, but not packed. Obviously, there’s no cask. Hardly anything on draught at all. The kids are lucky: there’s still some cider. I have to make do with whisky.

The kids haven’t had lunch. Or breakfast, in Andrew’s case, and are hungry. But there’s hardly any food, either. Not really a surprise, I suppose, just a few hours before they close their doors forever. Luckily, they still have burgers. Both get one with chips. Nothing left tickles my fancy.

The fun begins when we try to get a taxi to Henry’s. Nothing doing with the numbers we call. Henry suggests that we try the rank by the stabby club.

After a quick walk through the deserted Sunday streets, we get to the rank. We’re in luck: there’s a lone taxi there. That’s relief.

“I thought we were going to have to walk.” I quip.

“Be serious. We remember how far it is.” Andrew replies. “I suppose we could get the train.”

“It’s still quite a walk from the station to Henry’s.”

“You could carry me piggyback.” Alexei suggests.

“I’d be radgebacked before we got two steps.”

“It would be funny, though, Dad.” Andrew interjects.

I’m starting to think the ungrateful gits are trying to hurry me on my way to perpetual oblivion. No, not another bender in Hong Kong. (I’ll never go for all-you-can-drink spirits again. The blood. So much blood. All mine, fortunately.) A permanent oblivion.

The sun is still out and Henry is sitting in the garden with a few mates. Including Chris Cunningham, his salesman and general helper in the brewery.

Lounging outside as the fading sun bathes us in soft, orange light is very relaxing. Birds chirrup and dart across a cobalt-blue sky Then a lorry thunders by a few metres away.  Rather spoiling the bucolic scene.

Aren’t villages were supposed to be quiet? The road running past the brewery isn’t exactly a major artery. And it’s a fucking Sunday evening.

I’m drinking a Stout. I’d tell you what it was called, but the bottles are unlabelled. Nice, that’s what it is. Don’t really give a toss what it’s called. Apologies for the totally useless tasting notes. I’m in holiday mode.

When the sun finally drops exhausted below the horizon, and the other visitors have fucked off, we resort to the tap room. That is, the plough workshop. As was.

Wow. He now has a proper bar counter. With casks stillaged behind it. And a proper cash register.

“This is looking scarily professional, Henry.” I remark.

“I thank you for your lack of faith.”

The contrary is true. I’m quite impressed by his current setup. But I’m not going to tell him that. What do you expect? I’m English. We don’t compliment each other unless we’re after a job or a shag. Except our children. Often, not even then.

In a corner there’s a decibel meter.

“We have to be careful of the noise when the tap room is open. A neighbour complained and we need to make sure we keep below a certain level.”

Every time a lorry goes past, the decibel meter sprints into the forbidden zone. I guess the lorries aren’t a nuisance for the neighbours.

No craziness today. On our other visits, everyone ended up totally plastered. Is today an improvement or a disprovement? Tomorrow will tell.

Despite my concerns – abject dread, really – we can get a taxi. We can all still walk and have our phones. It’s wins all around. No-one has lost any teeth, either. Or sustained any stab wounds. A really top day out.

We catch Dave before he goes to bed. The kids hacking into their slab, while I sip whisky in a sophisticated way.

“Is that a quadruple?” Andrew asks.

“More like an octuple.” Alexei ripostes.

“Can you two just fuck off and let me enjoy my whisky?”

In unison: “No.”

“I didn’t think so.”

The Sir John Arderne
3 Church St,
Newark NG24 1DT.
Tel.: +44 1636 671334

The Cat Asylum Brewing Co
12 Besthorpe Rd
NG23 7NP

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