NEWS

Day Breakers at The Scooter Club

Scooter enthusiasts will descend on Woolacombe this weekend for an annual rally. Back in Devizes our own Scooter Club host their monthly do at the Cons Club on Saturday night (22nd Sept), with the brilliant Day Breakers from Swindon.

Let’s be honest here, it’s no walk in the park for them, attracting scooterists with a highly regarded rally on at the same time. This said The Devizes Scooter Club has fast built a reputation in town for hosting some quality and very worthy events, ideal to attract anyone with a passing interest in soul, reggae, ska and mod music of yore.

Also, they’ve actively supported and raised funds for The Devizes & District Opportunity Centre with two free fun days.

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The Day Breakers at the Scooter Club’s charity BBQ this summer. Image by Ruth Wordley.

Notwithstanding the repertoire of The Day Breakers doesn’t just confine itself to the genres of the Scooter Club, but expands to include a diverse range of retrospective anthems; Dexys, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, to name but a few, and also have an element of folk-rock and Irish classics from The Pouges and The Levellers, for example.

Together their blend creates a buzzing atmosphere. I’m delighted to announce them appearing at our Birthday Bash event in November, that’s how passionate I am about these guys. You may also have seen the band’s duo act of Cath and Gouldy under the pseudonym Sound Affects, also prolifically gigging locally.

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So, perhaps it’s the ideal opportunity for you to throw caution to the wind, and give it the sociable Scooter Club events a go; help them fill the large venue, as it’ll only attain said buzzing atmosphere if we, Devizes bohemians support it! Don’t arrive at the break of day though, what’s in a name? Doors will open at 7:30pm…I think! Tickets are a tenner, expected to be on the door or in advance at the club, Jeffersons and Vinyl Realm.

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Beaux Gris Gris on the Saddleback

Just three points between them saw the Saddlebacks lose over Walcot this Saturday, but by the evening the Sports Club came up trumps as the polished sound of electric blues blessed wall to wall; Beaux Gris Gris & The Apocalypse came to rock, and did with a passion. Not before local blues legend Jon Amor eased the crowd in with his own entertaining, and often amusing compositions, one such inspired by shenanigans of his youth in Devizes, “Just Another Stitch in You Party Dress.”

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There was tight professionalism and even balance for a band only formed a year ago, with members spread across the pond. Smiling in an airy back room, dynamic front girl, Greta Valenti clarified she grew up in Louisiana, hence the New Orleans blues label, but now lives in California. “That’s how it all started,” she begun, “because Robin wanted to do a blues project, so I said only if it’s in a Louisiana style.”

Guitarist and UK British Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Robin Davey of The Hoax, who had worked with Greta in the band Well Hung Heart, has dual citizenship, now residing in California. “Technically,” Greta informed, there’s four Americans and one British in the band.”

Already smitten with her iridescent azure bob and striking accent, I was keen to ask Greta how they overcome the distance. “Well, the first time we started writing songs it was just me, Ali, and Robin,” she explained, “just doing recordings with our phones and sending them over to Bob Fridzema, and Mark [Barrett.]” I shrugged, yep; so easy now with the internet. But Greta continued, “we had one practise before we went on tour. This time though, we flew Mark over to California to do a couple of shows over there and, yeah, now we’re here!” Opening their new tour only for a night in Devizes though, as this morning saw them land in Holland for the Breda Barst Festival.

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Not hanging around, the tour is promoting their debut album; “Don’t let the Bastards Drag you Down,” surprisingly released just, “a couple of days ago,” Greta smiled. “Yeah, and we’ll go from there, we needed the album so people know who we are, as we’ve just put out a video for Heartbreaker.”

The only reference I came into the interview with though, was the video of the title track, which, to me, heralded an evident country inspiration to their blues panache. So, I was surprised on asking Greta the band’s influences that Motown popped up. She stumbled on this question, but without pretention, more pride in her band, she replied, “umm, this question is always hard; everything, I dunno, everyone here, our band!” Still struggling she murmured, “Nick Cave meets Louisiana Blues meets, ermm, gypsy and a little bit of Motown soul.” The third song into the set, I could sense the soul influence, with a sprinkling of swing too, divergent from the punk attitude I preconceived; still, it was kick-ass!

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We continued to discuss, how when it came down to blue’s level, all these genres blend effortlessly, as it is, after all, the root of all of them. For some reason I babbled a bit about friends arguing over ska and metal, but with this in mind, mentioning how Fats Domino would’ve influenced both, it’s all one and the same thing at base level; Greta agreed. Here then is why we need to throw off preconceptions about blues as a genre, and Beaux Gris Gris are a prime example, breaking that down and redefining blues with nods to its contemporary offshoots, and bringing those genres crashing back to blues, stylishly. For no matter what offshoots this band referenced, it always returned to raw and spirited electric blues.

There was clearly a connection akin to Ray Manzarek and John Densmore of the Doors, with (drummer from the Hoax,) Mark Barrett, and Bob Fridzema (of King King and Joanne Shaw Taylor) on keys, as members subjugated entrancing and convoluted instrumental breaks. Vocally Greta and Ali mimicked this, stripping down a track, Thrill Me to the minimum and spellbinding the crowd.

 

Meanwhile Robin broke the fourth wall by stepping into the dancers with sublime guitar solos, at one point gathering chairs for the few still sitting to be moved closer to the action. Irish-American singer-songwriter in her own right, Ali Coyle shone on bass guitar and support vocals, and binding the team together for this awesome show, Greta has the kick-ass attitude of Gwen Stefani but the style and grace of Lulu, and a powerful vocal range to prompt me to think of Aretha Franklin performing Rock Steady.

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Still, the punchy title track, which was performed with grace last, I had to ask, I mean, not paranoid or anything, just to elucidate, “who are the bastards, or is that a too obvious question?!”

“Well,” Greta considered her answer, “I think we all have our own bastards, in America there’s probably a particular bastard, an orange-coloured bastard.” I assured her he’s not predominantly liked here either. An interruption broke our chain of thought, I tried to clarify, it wasn’t a direct link to Trump, rather more general. “We just felt like it’s a way a lot of people feel at this time, in a lot of different places. But if it’s not those bastards, it’s your boss at work, or, you know.”

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So, who’s writing? “A lot of the songs I write the melodies and lyrics, Ali wrote one she bought into the group, others we wrote together, Robin wrote Bastards.” So, like the composition of the band, it’s an amalgamation. It’s this shareware ethos which bonds the band and gave us this unforgettable performance. The encore of which saw Jon Amor invited back, concluding with a mutually respectful guitar-off for want of a better term, against Davey.

 
While I chatted to John about the prospects of another Saddleback, which was confirmed for next summer, I was keen to ask organiser Mirko, if this was part of a series of smaller “Saddleback Presents” nights, of which he confirmed another is due in November. If this then, is the only the beginning of autumn for Saddleback events, it’s going to be a most welcomed stormy fall.

 

Follow Beaux Gris Gris on Facebook

 

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The Cracked Machine Works

Watching a program on TV, set in the 1990s, the other day I noted a poster for Pink Floyd’s “The Division Bell,” on the wall of the teenage protagonist. If it wasn’t for that, it’s an album I’d have long forgotten.

Without Waters (who had strong words to say of it) but tipped to be a return to traditional Floyd, I never got on with this release of vacuous glib, despite its popularity. Maybe after 14 albums the band just went through the motions for avarice, Gilmour sang like he didn’t give a toss.

In 1994, with trance and ambient house forerunning The Division Bell was the final nail in the coffin for mainstream prog-rock, a detachment indeed. Farcical to call it thus, mundane rock would’ve been apt. For example, The Ozric Tentacles were Frome guys actually progressing the genre, but in underground circles it was techno offspring, Eat Static which really pulled advances in music.

Times had changed by 94, never dreaming I’d be here in 2018 listening once again to space-rock like a Hawkwind throwback. But here in our humble Devizes is a band which had so far escaped my attention. It’s a sound worthy of attention though, for Cracked Machine’s debut album released on PsyKa Records in May, “I, Cosmonaut,” is the album I’d have wanted to hear when I clicked play on that Division Bell CD.

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Whaa, I hear you cry, wait just a cotton-picking minute here. Yes, I did say that. As they play the Lamb’s Fold next Friday (21st September,) I wanted to check this album out, despite knowing Pete and Jacki of Vinyl Realm wouldn’t muck about with Sheer Music’s treasure, still I was left surprised and overwhelmed at how good this band are.

Self-described as “an exciting four-piece band who weave together hypnotic grooves, infectious riffs and layers of sonic texture to create compelling and original soundscapes,” Cracked Machine was formed in 2015 by skilled musicians, and it shows. Introducing then, Bill Denton on guitar, Chris Sutton on bass, Clive Noyes on keys/vocals and Blazej Gradziel on drums, Friday night at the Lamb is set to sooth, with support from Sally Dobson aka the Salamander and The Compact Pussycat too.

From the off, the opening track, “Twin Suns Rising,” akin to a fantasy book’s introduction, lets you know what to expect. Lucid free flowing rock, restful and spellbinding.

Ingeniously composed, aforementioned Floyd springs to mind, from the slant of “Echoes” from the “Meddle” album. Despite this comparison, these otherworldly sounds are contemporary rather than archaic, or retrospective of a psychedelic era of heavy Hawkwind, Tolkienesque interpretations, hand-made bongs and Gilbert Shelton comix, but with a pinch of trance, replacing Tangerine Dream synths with sublime space-rock guitar riffs and solid basslines, it takes you on a journey few albums do these days.

There’s even a spoken sample akin to ambient house opening “Svetlana,” but again with wailing guitar it’s mellow driving rock for a twilight ride. Again, with the final song, “Transorbital,” shards of dance music’s side of mellow repaid me a call, almost the trip-hop of Nightmares on Wax, least The Orb’s trance method. But by the time it’s done, the wailing guitar riff returns you it’s space-rock predominance, gorgeously.

We wait until the 4th tune, the title track, for vocals but it doesn’t matter, it’s the soundscapes which you’ll blanket you and submerge you into pillows of fluffy ambiance. While there’s these clear influences of prog rock classics, the Ozric and Cream, to name but a few, it’s undeniably unique and a double thumbs-up from me. You can get it at Vinyl Realm, even on vinyl, naturally!

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www. facebook.com/crackedmachineband

https://psyka.bandcamp.com/album/i – cosmonaut

www.psyka- records.com

 

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Riding Along on an E-Bike, Baby!

I try out an e-bike, chat about environmental issues and Green Drinks events with Sustainable Devizes chairman, John Schofield.

 

Firstly, a massive shout out to Jenny Dalton and the other members of the Seend Pork Pie Cycling Club, who, pie-fuelled, are zooming through the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, again! Last social media post saw them on day 4, from Ludlow to Haydock. In a couple of words; “bugger that,” perhaps adding “for a laugh,” for good measure.

 
As I’ve harked on previously, cycling is simply not my cup of tea; a cup of tea, maybe a bourbon biscuit is much more my cup of tea. An attempt to cycle the couple of miles to work a few years ago confirmed my loathing and total handicap for the pastime, when the handlebars collapsed on me.

 
This followed an episode where I struggled to cycle the steep track to the Caen Hill Lock carpark, only mounting the darn thing upon arriving at a break in the bushes, so people wouldn’t see me pushing it with an expression of failure smeared across my sad and exhausted mug. I just haven’t got what it takes; fact. I got as far down the canal as Foxhangers but, stuff the fox, I was the one hanging. An elderly couple breezed past me, the gent telling his wife, “we’ve done eight thousand miles this morning, maybe we should stop for a quick break?” Go on, geroff with yer!

 
Never say never though; the chairman of Sustainable Devizes stands at my front door in his Lycra, missing one bicycle. John Schofield has cycled from Bromham this clement afternoon, to let me try his e-bike; I did warn him past experience on this mode of transport was as wobbly as my balance.

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So, I’m taking a quick trip around my estate, passing by the house and yelling, “this is so much easier!” Because it is; I could, at a push, make it to work, and back, alive, perhaps even further. “E-bikes are great at flattening out the hills!” John told me. So, if a slob like me can push extreme boundaries, just think what you could do with an e-bike; save the environment, not forgetting zipping past all those frustrated drivers, wedged in traffic in Devizes; the only movement they make is their fingers across phones, tapping out a whinging post for Facebook.

 
How apt under current traffic conditions in town, for the first in this season’s talks from Sustainable Devizes, on October 17th, on the subject of how to convert a bicycle into an e-bike. “Basically, it’s a bicycle with an added electric motor and battery,” John explained, and for all intents and purposes it resembles an average bike, the water bottle replaced with a battery and a neatly hidden motor at the pedals. “Legally the motor should only be activated when you pedal, so it gives assistance,” he continued, averting my fear it’d zoom away like a jet-ski! “Also, the motor must cut out when you reach 25kph,” as if I would contemplate that speed!

 
As it’s still a bike, you don’t need a license or insurance. But the million-dollar question is cost. After browsing a website and noting to buy an e-bike weighs in over 3 grand, John stressed it’s around £400 for a conversion kit.

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We moved onto my own electric work vehicle, my trusty milk float. I was keen to ask, without getting overly political, “if a vehicle in the 1970s can be electric, shouldn’t they all be by now?” Does John think it’s oil industry backhanders preventing the growth of this, and many other greener solutions? “It is interesting that even after Tesla showed the world how to make great electric cars,” he replied, “the main manufacturers really haven’t got on with it. There has to be some pressure on them from the oil industry.”

 
Like many green issues, they don’t get the funding, something is amiss.

 

 

The bottom line, I feel, is the need to obliterate the concept that environmental issues are a bunch of whinging tree-huggers making a whole lot of fuss, and except change is overdue. I ask you what has a scientist to gain from lying, his pursuit only to discover how and why things function? A two-part question, the latter half being, now consider what a politician, hell bent on elevation up the ranks and wealth, has for lying? Beggar’s belief, it really is!

 
Still, knee-deep in water middle-Americans adopt the ethos it’s God punishing them for electing a Muslim president, and good old Trump will don a cloak, wear his underpants on the outside and save the day. It is no hoax, you blithering idiot. It’s not a paranoid hippy trip-out. Sustainable Devizes is not a registered charity, not a company out for financial expansion, least simply a social committee of likeminded individuals keen for change.

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Electric cars and bikes just one of the many issues they discuss. “The previous chairman did petition the council for more charging points,” John explains, “Some of the members have written to various supermarkets to try to get them to put in charging points.” For I feel batteries running out is a point many worry about with electric vehicles. For John’s trusty bike though, with a range of 25+ miles, the battery has never run out, and if it did, he’d just cycle it home!

 
I sigh, wondering if I’m only preaching to the converted here, pondering if anyone who needs to change their ways will read thus far. For John has organised a regular social happening, aside from the Sustainable group, called “Green Drinks.” It’s basically a less formal pub beano where anyone with so much as a passing interest in environmental issues can meet and chat. “Green Drinks is more about socialising with people who either work in environmental fields, or who just care about the environment. It’s nice sometimes not to feel that the meeting has to be organising some way of changing the world,” John clarified.

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“Such events happen in towns all over the world,” (http://www.greendrinks.org/) “So I thought I’d see if anyone in Devizes was up for it.” The first meet saw five turn up at the Vaults, discussing a range of topics from the political situation, to how to cope with slugs attacking your vegetables. John is aiming for the first Wednesday of every month, although this subject to change as it may clash with meetings from Sustainable Devizes.

 
For now, the next green shindig will be at the Vaults starting at 7:30pm on Wednesday 3rd October; all welcome, just look for the Green Drinks flag!

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For info on Sustainable Devizes and details of upcoming events Click Here.

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Strange Tales which are Unknown to Science

One of the older kids, super-cool, least I thought at the time; now I’d label him as a poser! With lengthy-hanging fringe, he’d habitually flick back with the frills of his cuff, he’d slide rather than walk, in winkle-picker pixie boots. On the eve of breakdancing, when I was duty bound to be attired in whatever my mum chose, normally hand-me-down stay-press and Fred Perry shirts, this kid was one step ahead; a “new romantic.” Like the pensive look of Simon Le-Bon, it was a trend I fell short a few years from.

He gave my brother a mix tape, while I marvelled at the computer-generated sound of electro from the US, this cassette was filled with synth-pop, and with it I realised there was already a definite electronic sound the UK charts only simmered over. Thanks to Ministry of Sound eighties compilations for the reminder, I realise I was “into it” all the time, as the pop of the era nestled it, prior to selling electronica out to the hit factories later in the decade.

Electronic music in its infancy heralded a new realm, which old rockers despised and punk groups tuned into or else fell into obscurity. Say what they liked about Adam Ant, he was filling his dandy purse and they weren’t. But why burp all this up now? Well, for nostalgic purposes this Strange Tales CD, “Unknown to Science” is outstanding. Its opening track, “Strange Tales Theme,” flew me back there, nicely. I kept it in my jean’s back pocket right through the Saddleback Festival, after singer Sally Dobson handed it to me. No matter how many ales I sunk, I remembered to take it out of my pocket before I sat down; I’m glad I protected it.

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It’s lived on the CD player in my kitchen since, a review overdue, but its brilliance took me by surprise. Few months prior Sally sent me a track, “Not a Witch,” to add to our online Now spoof of local music. While I liked it, I have to admit it was a tad gothic for my taste. Whilst I’d approach Joy Division in the eighties, to dye my hair black and apply eyeliner would’ve been a substantial number of steps too far. Once relocated to Wiltshire in 87, I noticed a trend we didn’t have in Essex; the goth-look. To me the corridors of St Johns looked like the school scenes in Uncle Buck.

I found by default I had to worship Robert Smith if I wanted to get off with Marlborough girls sozzled on Cinzano, but venturing further wasn’t for me, and I alienated myself away from fields with anything Nephilim in, veered clear of Sisters of Mercy, in case they bite. It just felt so gloomy and miserable.

Glad to say by subject matter Not A Witch is the most gothic fashioned on the album, other tunes of melodic, bass and synth-driven sounds were more satisfying to my ear, more upbeat, prompting memories of Depeche Mode, The Human League and the plethora of eighties pop bands on the aforementioned “hair-flicking” cool kid’s mixtape. If you send me back to 1985 I could add a track like “Entropy” onto it unnoticed, it bounds with retrospective indulgence.

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“Unknown to Science” then is a keeper on my shelf; overflowing with baroque ardour, admonitory narrative inspired by the darker crooks of essence, but absorbent of pop, with tracks like the catchy “Human Forest” and beguiling “Nanobots,” and utilitarian punk, like “Wolf Eyes,” rather than overtly gothic like “Not a Witch.” The band describe it thus; “musical curiosities from the darker side of the street,” it only swerves close to being gothic, and if any comparison needs to be made, I’d tinker on Yazoo.

While it’s a tall order to assume Sally’s vocals to be as commanding as Moyet, they caress the band’s élan and balance the nature of Strange Tales powerfully and stunningly. Fronted by Wiltshire’s Sally Dobson on synth/drum programming as well as aforesaid vocals, reinforced by the characteristic basslines of Paul Sloots, resident of West Sussex and veteran of the Crawley music scene, they’re now joined by guitarist Lea Truckle.

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On speaking with Sally, who locally regularly gigs acoustically, I was curious which she preferred, solo or as Strange Tales. Indirectly she explained that due to location of its members, Strange Tales was a rarity. I am however keen to hear them perform live as a three-piece, as “Unknown to Science,” is a worthy treasure and dissimilar to our current local scene. Give it and try and I’ll guarantee you’ll feel the same way, even if you were absent from the era of lengthy-hanging fringes, frills on cuffs and pixie boots.

You can pick a copy up at Vinyl Realm, or for more info check their website here.

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Lego & Steam

The week before the end of the school holidays and it was time for the attack to commence. A Lego spaceship was poised over Lego town, lasers set to kill. The suburban metropolis I’d taken all holiday to create was about to meet its annual apocalypse. Dad called it to action; “tidy up your bricks, now!”

At the start of the summer break each year I’d plan my town. Sadly, I actually drew up blueprints of the road layout, considered the geographical position of essential services such as the train and fire station and strategically designed its infrastructure; no slapdash, nothing left to chance. It was Sim City before Sim City. It was in fact, also Minecraft, Roblox and at times like this, Grand Theft Auto.

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To say I loved Lego was an understatement; it’s was beyond a toy, it was the outlet for creative juices to flow, it was a magical realm where I could play out all my imaginings, it was, in short, whatever I wanted it to be.

My Dad saved up for a holiday in Denmark because of this obsession; no Legoland in Windsor back then. He drove to Brighton to stop my pleas to visit the Lego Show, and spent a small fortune so that I may have two humongous boxes of bricks, a train, and much more. But it seemed I wasn’t alone, it took him some convincing when I became the Dad that he should surrender the boxes so his grandkids (and I) could play with them.

His argument, it was something they could play with when they came to visit flawed upon arriving; he sat up for what must have been weeks, constructing the train, the garage et-all, so, he claimed, it was ready for when they came; he wasn’t fooling anyone.

Seems those inventive bricks are adored by all who connect them, Top Gear presenter James May made an actual house with them, Bugatti recently made a real working car too, and I’m glad my children now love them, building on the collection I passed down. If they ask me to help I’m down on the carpet before you can say Ole Kirk Christiansen du er en gud.

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Seems my Lego licence has expired slightly and I’m now building illegally. You could call the Lego police, but their police station is in bits in a box somewhere…. 

What astounds me as a grownup is their business acumen. Their ideas hidden from competition with military precision, their marketing second-to-none, and in all my years of buying Lego models never once, ever, has the product been faulty or missing a single tiny piece. Lego is flawless.

But if I thought I was an obsessive, I hadn’t seen anything until I visited the Steam Museum’s Lego show a few years back. There were “adults” there who paled my interest in Lego by comparison. They built a wide variety of awesome models, some pitched their own compatible ingenious inventions, or sold collections the like you’ve never seen.

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But the outing was a double-whammy, for you get to explore the brilliant interactive museum of the GWR; where curators worked the factories, only too pleased to elucidate their fascinating memories. In fact, I think my son, six at the time, enjoyed the museum more than the Lego, least if not, just as much.

This is Swindon at its absolute pinnacle, for kids from ages 1 to 101.

Make no mistake this experience wasn’t cheap but if you have even so less as a passing interest in Lego, it’s worth every penny. It’s coming back; the 2018 Great Western Brick Show at Steam is on October 6th and 7th, 10am-5pm. You know everything there will be awesome, and if you’ll ever help Emmet find the piece of resistance, it’s there.

 

Click for the Great Western Brick Show website

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Quality Home-Cooked Pub Grub in Rowde

Must’ve been months ago now, when I dropped into The Cross Keys in Rowde for a feature on the theme of how village pubs need to be the hub of the community, and how landlady Kelly was planning, and so-far achieving that.

 
I confess I only browsed the menu then, propping up the bar and chatting with Kelly, therefore I only passed comment on how appetising it looked. Now, as a family birthday treat, of which I had no intentions of writing a review about (got have some time off eh?!) I’m glad to post an update, simply because it was, as I suspected at the time, so good.

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Seated in the bar area, as the Saturday night bookings filled the restaurant area, was no bad thing; the football was on, my daughter’s ideal viewing, Man City (yeah, I know, I can’t expect her to transfer to West Ham on the best of seasons let alone now.) Also, the bar area is, as we wished for, the hub of our village, inviting and friendly.

 
Save it to say, in the past when chef Rob Philpot run that kitchen like clockwork, producing the best pub grub I’ve tasted, the Cross Keys has a reputation to uphold. It’s a rep that has waned at times, but risen like a phoenix out of the ashes again. If high standard home-cooked pub grub is what you favour, that is what you’re going to get, in ample quantity.

 
The better half had a burger, homecooked and stacked with onion rings it made me ponder if I’d made the right choice with the lasagne. Lo-and-behold though, the lasagne was also a homemade beauty. In a deep dish using mozzarella as opposed to some felonious pubs which use cheddar, it was positively oozing with flavour, with garlic bread toasted to perfection.

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I don’t why I needed to order sweet potato fries and onion rings as a side order, because even though they were fresh and homemade too, I couldn’t finish them. One of my Gran’s annotations, “Yer eyes are bigger than your belly,” is most apt on this occasion, despite the confusion in taking it literally as a child.

 
Talking of kids, my daughter was catered for, chips swapped for a jacket potato as she required, and it was plentiful. She reported it as tasty, and it only ended in a clean plate, allowing room for a sundae, naturally. Pudding would’ve been dangerous for me though, I was close to exploding and half a bowl full of sweet potato chips still peered deviously at me, inviting me to pick at them as pudding. they were sweet enough, but imaginings of Mr Creosote from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life haunted me.

 
If this is what the everyday menu is like, it leaves positive dreams of the renowned Sunday carvery . I’ve been recommended the pizzas here too, but we’d had pizza the previous night; spoiled rotten I am.

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Kelly herself was assisting Dan in the kitchen, but popped all smiles only to notice it was me, and as so often happens these days, her expression changed to “please, be nice!” I don’t know why people do this, I know I’ve built a character which tells it as it is, for if I didn’t it’d get boring and unreliable, but especially I don’t know why when they’ve nothing to fear, as the commitment they put in, prior to realising it’s that nasty bloke who writes that darn website, is excellent! I gave her a thumbs-up across the bar and the smiles promptly returned.

 
The menu may be standard pub dishes, but there’s been no corners cut to bring to a level of high standards, price-wise is also standard but with quality as generous as this, we left a couple of pints down, content and intending to return. As for Kelly and her welcoming staff, they seem to enjoy breathing life into these walls, which only comes as a valid bonus.

 

Cross Keys, Rowde: booking recommended; click here

 

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