Sunday 1st April
Sping finally in the air
Sunday Lunch too

North, south, east west – who knew which roads were best?

A total of 22 MX-5s – plus a Vauxhall VX220- embarked on the Eastern Region Pub Hunt kindly sponsored by EMG Mazda, Cambridge, on April 1.

Under a blazing spring sun, each team planned their best route to find 16 Suffolk pubs and answer a question at each. The winner would be the one getting all the answers correct, in the shortest possible distance.

Organiser Jon Elsey said: “I wanted to do something a bit different this year and make it a little harder, by not giving exact addresses members had to really hunt for the pubs as well as answer questions.

“When I planned the challenge I hadn’t realised the significance of the date - now I just wish I’d built in an April Fool too!”

When Jamie Tinks’s beloved Sat Nav was confiscated and locked in his boot by Jon, the Norfolk motor nut said: “You have to be joking!” - and he and wife Clair immediately teamed up with two other couples with more local knowledge for help.

One by one the teams left Needham Lakes car park at minute intervals from 9.40am, having prepared their route to the final pub, The Manger at Bradfield Combust.

Just half an hour in to the hunt, somewhere near Kersey, area coordinator Martin Curtis declared: “I’ve had enough of the pot holed narrow country lanes - I’m sticking to main roads from now on!”  as he drove off in the opposite direction to everyone else!

At Kersey, Gary Smith said: “You wouldn’t believe the number of things we’ve encountered on the narrow roads- a huge tractor, then a 4x4 which just sat there - and I wasn’t about to go up the bank.”

Satellite navigation systems had been banned, and mileage was double checked by Jon but some people still found a way to take a few short cuts - by phoning pub landlords to get the answer to the questions.  Luckily one landlord told them a ‘2CV’ was the vintage vehicle in his car park- the wrong answer as he’d forgotten the rusting tractor by the hedge!  Maybe mobile phones should be confiscated as well next year!

Many people resorted to asking local for directions to some of the more difficult to find pubs, that’s allowed.

After returning home first – but without all the answers, Kendra Dixon said: “We asked for directions to the first pub and also the second, so got two for one. But when I asked the name of the cottage next to the second pub nobody seemed to know!

“The bin man we spoke to in Needham Market said how popular the pub seemed to be today - everybody had asked him where it was!”

Team mate Darren Wragg said: “I did consider reversing round the villages to keep the mileage down, but Kendra said she’d get out and walk if I did.”

On his arrival at The Manger, Gary Hawksworth said: “We were never quite sure we had it right. We even considered ringing friends at Somersham to ask them whether the pub next door to their house was pink or beige – I couldn’t remember!”

Martin added: “I think the road signs around the Wattisham airbase are all wrong because all roads seemed to lead to Battisford! It must be a MOD security thing, that’s my excuse for getting lost around that area, and its not the first time its happened either.” 

Elizabeth Sherwood said: “We thought it was good to find some new roads to drive in Suffolk.”

John Mellor said: “We know we didn’t get the answers all right, and we didn’t do it in the shortest distance, but by asking the locals we made lots of friends around the county!”

By the time everyone had enjoyed lunch and a few well-deserved drinks at The Manger, Jon had calculated the statistics to find a winner.  The prizes to be awarded were all donated by EMG Mazda at Cambridge who’s support for the day was greatly appreciated.

The First prize winner was Michelle Workman in her yellow NA MX-5.  Coming prepared with a list of Suffolk pubs helped Norwich-based Michelle and her passenger in a team called ‘The original yellow peril’.  They got all 16 questions correct and covered just 61 miles, to win a bottle of champagne and an MX-5 baseball hat.

She said: “That was really, really fun, particularly when we kept passing people never knowing who was going the right way.

And I love the hat – I was going to buy one so that’s great.”

They were closely followed by Neil and Amanda Davidson The 50 %ers who did 66 miles and won a model MX-5.

Andy and Mel “The Engineers” notched up 67 miles and won an MX-5 keyring.

Various other prizes were awarded for different endeavours throughout the hunt with Andy and Mel also winning an EMG polo shirt and Martin and Sharon winning the ultimate fabled prize of a Mazda beach ball.

The Having the Most Fun Award went to Keith Augustus who completed the most miles (over 90), to win an EMG keyring, and John Pinn also won a keyring for taking the longest at 3hours 39 minutes – but he had no passenger or navigator to help.

The bonus question set by The Manger landlord Alex was: “How many other pubs are the in the UK called The Manger?”

Wendy and Ray Black, who correctly guessed that there were none, won an EMG keyring.

It was the first time Jon had organised the annual pub hunt. He said: “This was the region’s first big challenge event of the year and it was great to see so many people and some new faces.”

“We were extremely lucky with the weather and congratulations to all the winners. I hope people got as much fun out the event as I did organising it.

“Thanks to Alex at the Manger for accommodating us all and EMG for the prizes”


Tracey Sparling

Jon Elsey

Martin Curtis

Photo Library


The Results

Team Miles Pubs
Michelle Workman and passenger 61 16
Neil and Amanda Davidson 66 16
Andy and Mel 67 16
Tony and Jane 70 16
James Medlow and Jane Patching 70 16
Ian and Tula (Team 321) 73 16
Gary and Sam (Smiffy) 74 16
Jamie and Clair (Team 321) 74 16
Steve and Alvina 74 16
Katie and Val 77 16
Martin and Sharon 77 16
Gary Hawksworth 77 16
Keith and Fran Augustus 94 16
Daz and Kendra 60 15
Wendy and Ray Black 60 15
Steve and Mandy (Team Midnight Water Pumpers) 66 15
Robbie  (Team Midnight Water Pumpers) 69 15
Bill and Sue Medlow 75 15
Duncan and Elizabeth 76 15
John and Sue Mellor 85 15
Martin and Karen Barnett 78 14
John Pinn 91 14


Many thanks to the contributors of the above photographs.

Copyright 2005 Eastern Region All rights reserved