Tuesday, 5 March 2013

the lark in the morning

lay me low
lay me low
where no one can find me
where no one can hurt me*

When the temperature rises a little and the sun smiles down on us, there's nothing better than to pull on the old walking boots and wander around the countryside. Well, there is and that's to walk up a hill. But I live in Suffolk, so that's not going to happen. Sunday morning and we're off up to Blythburgh where the best Suffolk pork comes from.

A walk along the banks of the River Blyth from the Blythburgh church and back through Wenhaston was a pleasant interlude. It had been an unusual week, to say the least. Other than when someone wants to talk to me, I quite like ambling along listening to the birds and seeing what's about. After the group of some eleven of us had upset an oystercatcher who piped his complaint for ages whilst we walked up past his patch, I settled into wandering along content with my own thoughts. I watched a great white egret fly lazily off above us and listened to the first of several skylarks. Spring seems to have settled in already - last week it was cold and now the gorse is in bloom and the larks are singing their hearts out. At some point a heron flew over too.

I've been blogging for some three years now and it was on my mind. Other than the fact that I seem to be getting quite a few spam messages from "Anonymous" (so these now go straight to the bin and  deleted) I have noticed a tendency towards the verbose. So, gentle readers, I aim to try to write with more brevity as from now, you'll no doubt be pleased to know. I will occasionally embed a video now that I know how to do it but I promise not to overuse it.

The point of the walk this week came from my inquiry of some of the more senior East Anglians amongst the group - yes, more senior in years than me - last time as to whether there is a pub with no bar around these parts. Some of you may be familiar with the Cock at Broom, Bedfordshire which was a popular haunt of mine at the tail end of the seventies and early 1980s. We lived at the end of Langford just around the corner - Jordan's Mill is between Langford and Broom - for a few years. I was informed that there was a pub nearby in Suffolk that was similar. One of the guys is a retired policeman from the Essex-Suffolk borderlands so seems to know the area exceptionally well and it was him that suggested this particular hostelry.

So after the walk we all drove down to Laxfield  for a pint or three of Adnams. It was a fantastic find - a real old-fashioned pub. I haven't bothered to write too much as the links will tell you all you need to know. One thing I will say though is that the pub is known as The Low House as well as its more familiar one of the Kings Head**. I notice that the Cock is still much the same and that there are only ten similar pubs in the country. I was pleasantly surprised to see a poster for Fordham's Ashwell Brewery (not a good snap of it but we had to  leave as time was getting on). This is not a Brewery I was at all aware of but perhaps Mr Cornell may be able to enlighten us further. I can't find a mention of it in Amber, Gold and Black, Martyn. ***

Anyway, suffice to say that a fine time was had by one and all. I mentioned last month about a community buying out the local pub and since then I've heard of more and more similar stories of communities getting together to save such venues. In fact, one of the guys with us was telling me of his retirement plan to put such a venture into being within the next year or so. If you're familiar with the lost folk singer Anne Briggs then it's the village where she rehearsed with Steve Ashley's band Ragged Robin for Sing a Song for You. Sorry if that's a little guarded but you never know who's listening! Anyhow, it's the pub mentioned in Steve Ashley's notes for the album. She's the Annie mentioned in Sandy Denny's The Pond and the Stream on the first Fotheringay album.

A great end to a bizarre week and now that the weather has improved there is a palpable feeling in the air of Spring. I always feel a bit better at this time of the year and I hope you all do, too.

* from an old improvised Shaker hymn
** no apostrophes used in pub names you've probably noticed
*** apologies Martyn - it's there in your other book Beer the Story of the Pint on page 243


eeyorn said...

A quick Google reveals a brewery company founded in Ashwell N. Herts by Elias Pym Fordham in 1796. There's an entry about it in 'The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records' which is available as a PDF (sorry can't give a URL at the moment). Bizarrely, most of the entries Google throws up is for a US microbrewery originally founded in Dover, Delaware about 20 miles south of where I lived for about 3 years at the turn of the millenium.

Anne Briggs was also, I believe, the subject/heroine of RT's beautiful song 'Beeswing'.

Listened with Zouk last night to Mark Radcliffe's recent show which featured a segment on the upcoming Bert Jansch tribute film/DVD/CD 'Folk Roots'. Amongst which was a gorgeous version of Bert and Ann performing 'Blackwaterside' - get it on the iPlayer quick if you missed it!!!

eeyorn said...

More about the Fordham brewey

<a href='http://www.ashwellmuseum.org.uk/page_id__61_path__0p2p24p.aspx>here</a>

eeyorn said...

More about the Fordham brewery


Dave Leeke said...

Thanks for the Fordhams stuff - I'll check it out later.

Anne Briggs certainly was the influence for "Beeswing". As for Bert, I remember the original broadcast and I think I still have it on vhs somewhere. I read a review of the dvd earlier this week in 'Uncut'.

I saw finally got to see Bert a couple of times at the end of last Century, once at the Fleadh and once at the Arts Theatre in Colchester. He was brilliant both times.