Category Archives: Beer

Time Team in Castor update II

Time Team in Salisbury
Image by Wessex Archaeology via Flickr

Rob at the Royal Oak is hosting a Channel 4 Time Team event at the Royal Oak on Sunday 13 March.

The episode filmed in Castor last June will be screened from 5:30pm. After that there will be a local knowledge quiz and a raffle. Time to mug up on all those snippets of Castor legend and lore bandied around the bar on cold winter evenings.

And while you’re there get your lips around a pint or two of Rob’s excellent ale.

See you there.

Channel 4 Time Team in Castor update

Time Team
Image via Wikipedia

Remember last summer? Those bright, warm, humid June days that are – in the gloom of winter – either a distant memory or a longed for season to come.

And remember when the boys and girls from Time Team were delving in trenches and scurrying around the school field, churchyard and Old Rectory gardens in search of the Roman Praetorium – or quaffing Rob’s well-kept ale in the Royal Oak late into the summer evenings?

Well, keep an eye on the TV schedules for a reminder because – according to a report on the website – the show is due to air its 18th series from February and Castor is the star of one of the episodes.

Save our pubs – use ’em or lose ’em


Nearly 900 pubs closed down in rural Britain last year. It’s a clear indication that traditional village life is under threat of extinction in many parts of the country – including ours.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has revealed that 893 pubs closed in rural areas last year, with 195 new boozers opening – leading to a net loss of 698 in 2009. The previous year, an estimated 650 country pubs called last orders on their businesses.

This is despite ICM polling commissioned by the Federation showing 82% of country dwellers say a pub is an important part of a village, including 46% who say it is ‘very important’.

Village shops are also in rapid decline with around 400 closing in 2008, while schools closed at the rate of one a month in rural England between 1997 and 2008.

The Federation said the mass closures reflected a declining demand for services in villages where local families – the core customer base – had been priced out of the area by wealthy commuters, pensioners and second home owners.

Federation chief executive David Orr said: “The cornerstones of traditional village life, such as the local school, the shop and the pub, are disappearing from the rural landscape at an alarming rate. 

“Rural towns and villages need to have mixed, working communities, otherwise there is a very real danger our countryside will become little more than a theme park for weekenders.

Brigid Simmonds, BBPA chief executive, added: “Along with local shops, post offices and schools, village pubs are pivotal to the life of local communities across Britain. Pubs act as much more than a social venue. They are a focal point for sports teams, local groups and meetings. In addition they provide a range of community services like post offices and shops.  We need a climate that allows these community businesses to thrive.” 

Mike Benner, CAMRA chief executive, said: “There is a pressing need for the Government to support community pubs and other local services, which is why CAMRA has praised moves by Nigel Adams MP to bring forward a new Parliamentary Bill with the potential to empower local communities threatened with the loss of local landmarks such as the pub. 

“Such potentially groundbreaking legislation could help to redress the current crippling UK pub closures, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done to prevent rural communities from losing their irreplaceable social hubs.”

Part of the problem is the ‘Tesco-isation’ of every aspect of our lives. Cheap booze, cheap tellies, microwave curries. Many people now prefer to sit indoors sipping a chardonnay and munching their microwave dinners, watching strictly or updating Facebook – rather than spend a couple of hours in the pub actually talking to people. Pubs are under threat because they can’t compete on price with the supermarkets. But they can compete as a social hub – and we don’t really want to bring about the redundancy of face to face human interaction.

Over the years many pubs have gone; The Wheatsheaf (house), The Barley Mow (flats), The Dragon (house), The Fitzwilliam Arms (now Fratellis). The by-pass has reduced passing trade but the population of the village can still sustain two pubs.

I have it on good authority that one of our two remaining pubs could close if the lack of use continues. And the first to complain when it goes will be those that live locally but never involve themselves in village life and visit the pub once a year for a Christmas pint.

So – use it or lose it.


Summer’s gone but it’s Beer Fest time!

Summer’s gone and all the leaves are fallen.

Well not quite, but the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) Peterborough Festival is on and that for me signifies the end of summer – even if the autumnal equinox isn’t until 23rd September. It’s the last event leading up to the August bank holiday weekend.

It’s tinged with yearning for the summer past (what summer? I hear you cry) yes but it’s a great social occasion and a time to enjoy draft ale that you might not find in the local in a great atmosphere.

If you’re from the area you can guarantee that on any given evening there will be many familiar faces, friends and acquaintances that you don’t see from one year to the next propping up the bar or listening to the (usually) excellent live music. If you’re not, don’t worry because the locals are friendly and the ‘craic’ is great.

The Peterborough Beer Festival is now in its 33rd year and has come a long way from its humble origins in local pubs. From there it moved first to the Wirrina (roller skate arena and hall) and now to a marquee complex on the banks of the River Nene near the Key Theatre.

Something of an old beer fest hand now – I’ve been going almost every year since the fifth festival – I shall be there again looking out for the old faces, saying farewell to another summer and drinking to the coming Autumn.

Just need to pace myself. I’m not as young as I was and work beckons in the morning.