King’s Lynn Festival, Corn Exchange, Crown and Mitre, Dukes Head, Ferry Lane Social Club, CAMRA
Bar Man by Jeff Hoyle, August 4
It’s Festival time in Lynn once again, and after the popular free music performances have entertained the crowds in the Tuesday Market Place, it’s time for the rather more highbrow events to take centre stage.
A host of great musicians have appeared over the since it began in 1951 including the Bar Wife’s brother-in-law who had his moment in the sun back in the 70s.
These days the range of events has expanded beyond the core classical music, and the organisers deserve congratulations for assembling such an interesting programme this time round.
Who would have thought that a film about Eric Ravilious, an inter war artist could draw around 150 people on a Monday afternoon? Perhaps they had been to see the Blast to Blitz exhibition (possibly the best we have ever had), or heard the fascinating talk by Frances Spalding. Even for those who are not hard-core classical music fans, there was plenty on offer.
The folk trio Leveret were good, but my favourite was the Gigspanner Big Band with Raynor Winn presenting Saltlines. What a treat to have music events that go beyond tribute bands or songs from the shows. Of course, all this culture can leave one with a thirst. Ferry Lane Social Club probably had a few more visits than a normal week, but what to do on the evenings when they are not open?
The Corn Exchange does not offer cask beer, nor does the pop-up bar at the Guildhall. Oh, for the days when the Riverside was one of the best real ale venues in town. Let’s hope the long-awaited redevelopment of the complex includes somewhere that offers a decent pint. The Dukes Head no longer serves real ale. Remember the days when the wood panelled front bar served draught Bass?
Wetherspoon’s is a possibility. There is usually at least one beer that is pretty good and the prices will not break the budget, especially as CAMRA members receive £30 of money off vouchers per year as part of their subscription. The Gatehouse is one of the Greene King pubs also offering a CAMRA discount, but it is a bit of a walk.
Thoughts like this were swirling around in my head when I received an email from Paul just before setting out for an evening concert. It contained the great news that the Crown and Mitre was open again. You will have seen very few references to this gem of a pub in my column over the past few years.
Of all the places I have name checked both in my column and our CAMRA newsletter, this is the only one that has engendered critical replies, and rather than keep explaining that my words were being misinterpreted and I was trying to promote the place, I decided that the game wasn’t worth the candle and refrained from mentioning it.
How would it be under the new management? It was wonderful to walk in and see the bulk of the fabulous decorations and artefacts still in place.
Four beers on the handpumps were an encouraging sight and my pint of Oakham Inferno was top rate, while the welcome and service was less confrontational than on some occasions in the past.
The downside? I could buy almost three pints next door for the cost of one in the Crown and Mitre.
Still, the promise of gastro food and the beer quality will demand that I make another visit.
Will I become a regular? If the Corn Exchange puts on more great shows and I don’t receive the stick that I have in the past from supporters of the pub, then maybe.