On the warmest evening of the year, Graham led five riders down to the Alban Way and along it, leaving at Smallford to head south to the longabout. Here he eschewed the new controlled cycle crossing, and waiting for a break in the west-bound traffic, he negotiated round it and exited through Colney Heath, where we noticed in the twilight the door of the Crooked Billet was open - a welcome sign which lodged in our collective memory . At Welham Green we crossed the Great North Road to go west along Wild Hill Road but deviating right along Grubbs Lane to take us past the house of Samantha Fox, a thoughtful touch that brought back happy memories to the older riders. Then it was down Kentish Lane to again cross the Great North Road and go into Brookman's Park, an area which makes Harpenden look like a slum. We then descended Bradmore Lane, which, even in the dark, we could see had become the local fly-tipping area. Heading South along the old A1 we got to South Mimms and turned left at the White Hart, now closed by McMullen's, to go down to the Black Horse, the planned destination. It was all in darkness and obviously also closed. So we went on another half-mile west to the Old Guinea in Ridge, which was unusually crowded but had run out of beer. We then headed another mile and half north to the White Horse in Shenley, where we discovered the only beer was Doom Bar, which was considered to be beyond the pale by the CAMRA members present. Following a brief council of distress to consider the dire situation, we headed back to Colney Heath, where two very acceptable beers were on offer at the Crooked Billet, which we had seen earlier was definitely open. I subsequently discovered that the Black Horse is closed Mondays to Thursdays.
|Finally a pub with real ale..........|