Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Sunlight and The End Of The Rainbow

Two trains carried me to Port Sunlight station, and I took a walk in the autumn sunlight down to the busy New Chester Road.  A moment of worry when I reached the blob on my map to find a large estate of new houses under construction, but a little further on I reached my first target, the Village:
This is a large hotel/leisure complex and I was aiming for what they call The Pub, where I found a standard chain-style food-led operation.  No real ale, I had Goose IPA for a change.

The interior decor was rather plain grey wood panelling and walls.

Quiet music and gentle chatter mixed here, it wasn't very busy at two in a Tuesday but there was a steady flow of food emerging from the kitchen door near where I was sitting.  The atmosphere, or rather the lack of it, was typical of a hotel bar.

Back into the pretty Port Sunlight village, and the Bridge Inn:
Inside the wonderful building, completed in 1906, is a large open one room food-led pub, with wooden roof beams and a rather good art deco lantern above the counter.  (OK, it can't be art deco if it was built in 1906, lets just call it a stained glass lantern.)

Only one handpump on the counter, offering Abbot, but it was hidden behind a sign warning of a long delay for food orders so I, perhaps wrongly, assumed it wasn't available and stuck to lager.

The place was busy, everyone else seemed to be dining, but I managed to find a table.  A steady flow of food out of the kitchen again, tempting me with delicious smells, but I'm not waiting 45 minutes as warned by the sign.  The menu, under the Flaming Grill brand, was quite cheap - fish and chips £6.50 - I had expected higher prices in such a tourist attraction.

On to Bebington, and the New Chronicle:
This shop conversion always turns up something unexpected:  In 2011 I was walking down this street and discovered the Chronicle, a pub of which I wasn't aware.  This time, my Streetview research had shown it was now called No.6, but when I got here it's become the New Chronicle.  Under new management since 22 October says the sign.

The inside has been substantially remodelled since it was a food-led pub in the Smith and Jones chain.  Now, the light and airy interior has excellent modern styling which I really like.  There's a dance floor area at the back of the room with a DJ setup on a mini stage.

Only two customers plus me, racing on the giant screen but no-one's watching.

With no real ale - three handpumps, one clip turned round and two naked - I went for Carling again.  The barmaid, very apologetic, had to go and change the keg, which took about five minutes.  The "cellar" is upstairs, unusually.

In the early years of my pub surveying I had a special rule that if I could make all my notes before being served, we could count it as a tick and walk out.  I only ever did this a couple of times, and recorded the fact in the guide - See for example Bar Zero.

With so little custom they're apparently saving on heating costs, it was quite chilly in here.

Just a short way up the road is the Rose and Crown:
Ah, that's better!  At last, a choice of seven real ales in a warm(ish) comfortable traditionally decorated pub.  This is what they want!

Just a few customers had braved the chilly weather to come out for a drink.  The ones who entered while I was there greeted their friends with "It's cold out there" or something similar.  All were older than I - it's not often one can say that nowadays.

Another short walk to the Wellington:
A large pleasant knocked through room with quite a small counter in this Greene King chain food-led pub.  A few groups having an early dinner and just one drinker (plus me).

The sound was gentle chat mixed with Sky Sports News.  The heating was working well here, I was lovely and warm as I enjoyed my pint of IPA.

I set off on the long walk to Higher Bebington, irritated to discover it was now raining.  I was slightly mollified by the chance to get an unusual picture of the Rose and Crown:

Would the daylight hold for a picture of a never before visited pub?  Not really, here's the Acorn:
I saved it for last as it's by the bus stop, and carried on in worsening rain further up the hill to the Travellers Rest.  Here it was definitely too dark for a photo, a situation I think will become a common theme of this blog until March next year.

Now this is a proper pub:  Wonderful (fake) antique decor, six handpumps, GBG listed, and filled with pleasant chatter amongst the regulars.  What more does a pub need?  And it's warm inside!

I had a pint of London Pride, it's a shame this has been dumbed down since I used to enjoy it back in the nineties.

I listened in to some of the chatter:  "He says he loves her but he's not in love with her.  I think that means no sex or anything." (!)

Finally, back down the hill and we finish as we started, with a never before visited pub, this time the Acorn.  See picture above.

Here I found a classic food-led place in Mitchel and Butler's Sizzling chain, busy with happy diners at six on a Tuesday evening.

There were three handpumps on the counter but they didn't look in use so I finished my day with a Carling.

Why do people still go the bar to order food without knowing their table number?  Have they never eaten in a pub before?  Were I foolish enough to ever get a job in a pub, this would drive me potty, I'd probably get sacked for calling the customer a dozy cow.

Time for a bus under the river, for a train home.

Pub of the day: A close run thing, the Travellers Rest wins over the Rose and Crown by a gnat's whisker, but they're both great.
Miles walked: A touch over four.
Maybe coming soon: Kirkby

Saturday, 27 October 2018

The (Mostly) Closed Pubs Of Edge Hill

Another Saturday survey restricted by a train strike, but I haven't run out of destinations accessible by bus yet, so off to Edge Hill. This is probably going to be one of those trips with more pictures of closed pubs than actual drinks, but let's see...

I started with a walk along Lodge Lane, which used to have seven or more pubs in its less than half a mile.  They're all closed, and some demolished, until the last one, Chaplins, which I was pleased to find open:
One large open room, but with a length of the former dividing wall in place to split the space a little.  Large windows along two walls gave it a very light airy feeling in today's bright sunshine.  The interior was plain but well done, and well cared for except for a couple of seats in need of recovering.

Just two or three regulars in, hardly keeping the barmaid busy.  The background music was fairly loud, but not to excess.

No real ale, of course, so I started today's research with a Guinness.

Next, a long stroll back up Lodge Lane and on a long circular path passing many closed pubs, here's a few pictures starting with the Grosvenor:
The Dart:
The Masonic:
The Bears Paw:
The Rose Vaults (Formerly the Weighing Machine):
And the Royal Arms:
At last I returned to the spot where I had got off the bus, and went in to the Durning Arms:
One fairly small odd-shaped room with plain pleasant decoration, and most seats occupied on a Saturday afternoon.

The place was filled with a hubub of chatter and laughter, the racing on the telly was silent.

Originally there was a "lounge" side, which I guess is now out of use.

Now what?  I've "finished" Edge Hill and only found two open pubs.  Luckily I had a fallback plan:  The bus route back home passes through Picton.  I've already been there a few times this year, but there's still two pubs I haven't ticked since 2004, and with only two to do it was low down on my list of targets, but two is just what I needed now.

So, a short bus ride later I reached the Cock and Bottle:
This place was very busy, and a drunk and very noisy woman was ejected (politely but firmly) just after I arrived.

The plain but nicely decorated front room was too crowded for me to find a seat so I stood in a corner at the end of the counter to drink my Guinness.

There's a "secret" other room here, where they were showing the Liverpool match.  I saw umpteen pints and other drinks disappear through a door at the back of the servery, and heard a loud cheer when Liverpool scored, but when anyone tried to get through, they were told it was a private party, and rebuffed.

Finally, the Barley Mow:
In contrast to the Cock & Bottle across the road, this plain one room boozer was empty, and very chilly in the plain tidy interior.

One customer, who was wearing shorts in today's cold weather, had a very loud shouted argument on his phone, and then after some more shouting, exited by one door and came back in by the other, then went out again and disappeared.  He had left three quarters of a pint of lager behind.

Shortly afterwards, the other customer also left, leaving just me and the barman.  Two minutes later shorts man and the other customer returned.

Now a slight hitch in my plans.  My bus home was a few minutes early, and disappeared into the distance as I approached the bus stop.  What to do?  I could stand in the cold at the bus stop for half an hour, or flag a taxi.  Or, as neither of those options appealed, I could nip into the Rose, conveniently located by the bus stop, for a quick half and get out in plenty of time for the next bus.  So that's what I did. 

This pleasant boozer hadn't changed since I was here in February, and it was a lot warmer than the Barley Mow.  The decor remains pleasant, albeit slightly marred by Hallowe'en nonsense.

Just three customers plus me, so the barmaid wasn't kept busy.

Outside for a second attempt at a bus home and it was spot on time.  Despite the lack of open pubs in Edge Hill, a very successful day with two areas ticked off.

Pub of the day: Difficult, none of them really stand out, perhaps I'll choose the Rose because it was warm when I was cold!
Miles walked: 3
Maybe coming soon: Bebington

Thursday, 25 October 2018

City Centre Miscellany

I was in town for shopping, but I might as well tick a few pubs off, starting with the Queens:
Hidden in a corner of the mostly up-market complex of restaurants that is Queens Square is this plain basic boozer.

At one on a Wednesday there were plenty of customers enjoying their lager and chatting.  There were a lot of swearwords to be heard!

As I enjoyed my lager I was wondering what this unit was before it became Queens.  Research when I got home revealed that Streetview shows it as some kind of cafe called Pure Cabin, but there used to be a place somewhere here called Bar Med and I suspect this might be it, or did that become La Tasca next door?

Next, Pogue Mahone:
My notes from 2008 recorded this as "probably the nearest you'll find to a real Irish pub in Liverpool."  Only having visited Eire a couple of times I'm not sure how true that is, but it feels less "plastic paddy" than most.

My Guinness (what else) was part filled and left to stand for a minute, in fact the friendly barman asked me to sit down and then brought it over.  Does this really make it any better?  I'm not sure, it seems to me the pint somehow had more body and flavour to it, but that's purely subjective and may be just because I'm sitting in an Irish bar.

Only two other customers at two thirty, so the place was very quiet.  Then three more people came in, doubling the population of drinkers.

I looked round.  There's a pile of pumpkins in the corner, awaiting carving for Hallowe'en I presume.

Finally, the Blob Shop:
On occasion I have described this (verbally, not in writing, thank goodness) as the scariest pub in Liverpool, because when you walk past there always seems to be a drunk or two (or more) smoking and/or staggering by the door.

In truth it's nowhere near as bad as that might imply; down market certainly but, at three in the afternoon, full of cheerful friendly old blokes.

The only noise was the steady chatter, the racing on the TVs was silent, or too quiet to be heard over the hubub.

Two staff were needed to keep the clientele in ale, most were on lager, as was I.

My notes from 2004 record Aussie White and Red Biddy served from barrels behind the bar.  There's only one barrel now, but it looks like it still dispenses one of those, although it could be decorative with the tap piped from elsewhere.  I looked round but I couldn't see anyone who wasn't drinking a pint.

The servery was covered in Hallowe'en decorations, cobwebs, spiders, skeletons and so on.

Shopping completed, I headed for home.

Pub of the day:  I think Pogue Mahone, for its pleasant atmosphere and friendly service.
Miles walked:  2.4 miles.
Maybe coming soon:  Edge Hill, Bebington.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Litherland

I set off on a very blustery day and two trains took me to Seaforth & Litherland station.  I've done a few trips to Seaforth in the last year, so today I headed for the other side of the tracks.

The first pub on today's list was the Red Lion, which looked shut, but I could see TVs and fruit machines lit up inside.  I decided to save it for the end of the survey, see below.

I walked past Buckley's, now the Masonic Hall:
... and the Priory which has been replaced by housing.

On to my first important target, the Kirkstone.  I was somewhat disappointed to find it has been demolished before I had a chance to tick it:

On to the large roadhouse that is the Netherton, a standard Greene King Hungry Horse food-led pub in a large roadhouse:
Four hand pumps on the counter, with four clips, but only the IPA was actually available, and that was well past its best, I'm afraid, and it got worse as I worked my way through it.

Inside the standard pleasant open room were some late lunchers and one or two drinkers, the place was gently ticking over but the staff were hardly stretched on a windy grey Tuesday afternoon.

I walked to the Stand Park, only to find it has been replaced by new housing, another one escaped before I could visit it.  So, on to Cookson's Bridge, located on the canal:
My notes from 2003 say nicely done out and kept clean and tidy, and there isn't really much to add to that, except perhaps to add a "very" or two.  It really is a beautifully kept large open room, the restrained decor very pleasant.

Three handpumps on the counter, just one clip - Wainwright - but after the Netherton I didn't fancy it, so I had a Guinness.  (No real ale was pulled during my stay so I was probably right.)  The pie warmer at the end of the counter would have been tempting but it was empty.

Just a few regulars chatting, otherwise the place was pretty deserted.

The friendly barmaid was on the phone as she served me, talking to the landlady who apparently watches the CCTV when she's not there.  "Best behaviour then," I said, she commented that it's good to know someone's watching when you're working alone.  Later, she nipped out for a smoke break, first asking everyone in place if they wanted serving.

My next destination was the Liverpool Arms which I already knew was closed.  It too has been demolished:
Here it is back in 2003:

Then, the Jubilee.  Would it be standing? Would it be open?  YES:
This rather fine 1930s (?) construction seems to have retained its original layout with four or five rooms around the servery, with a counter in each one.  I walked through a number of deserted rooms, eventually finding one with three customers and a barmaid.  I'd seen some handpumps on my tour but no clips, so I stuck to Guinness again.

The interior was well done and carefully looked after, but I couldn't spot much original, apart from the layout.  The counter front in the room in which I settled definitely wasn't, but it looked like it might be in the original location.

Back towards the station, now, and the Red Lion:
It still looked closed but as I approached, a woman headed for the door and went in.  Yes!

Inside the narrow door I found one small room, just a tiny part of the whole building, busy with lively customers.

I was soon equipped with my usual black stuff, and sitting on a slightly threadbare bench seat, taking in the hive of activity in this friendly lively boozer, so rare to find this amount of activity nowadays, especially on a Tuesday!  Two bar staff were needed to keep everyone in drink.  The music was pretty much drowned out by chatter and laughter.

It was pretty cold in here, they had lit the fire but no-one had fed it any coal so apart from the occasional crack of the kindling it wasn't actually contributing much to the room, and it soon died down.

I noticed a bowl of nuts on the counter, but I thought it might be too risky.  Fussy, me?  Yes.

Pub of the day: The Red Lion, because it was so unexpectedly busy, lively and happy!
Miles Walked: 5.5
Maybe coming soon: Edge Hill, Bebington.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Maghull

I started today's research with a longer than usual walk of about two miles from Maghull station through suburban, light industrial and finally rural scenery to the pretty village of Sefton, and the never before visited Punchbowl:
A nice enough interior in the standard food-led chain pub style, this could have been an Ember but it's actually Vintage Inns.  At three there were still quite a few diners lingering over a long lunch, finishing their drinks or ordering sweets.

There were five handpumps on the bar but only Doom Bar and Black Sheep facing forward.  Not a very exciting range, but the Doom Bar was in good nick so who's complaining.

What more can I say about this place, a bit boring really?

I could have waited for a bus back to Maghull, but it was twenty minutes away and I reached my next target in less than that.  The Meadows:
Contemporary decor in this large roadhouse, partly knocked through to create one open room plus a couple of side rooms.  In the Hungry Horse chain, so targeting diners, but drinkers are welcome too and one end of the big room is the "bar", occupied by half a dozen regulars playing pool.  I was interested to note there are still separate gents for the bar and lounge sides.

My notes from 2004 describe it rather disparagingly as "youth oriented", obviously it's had a change of direction since then.

I couldn't see anyone eating but perhaps they were concealed in the side rooms.

Ooh look, it's nearly Hallowe'en - Lots of stupid decorations.  On the plus side, at least they can't put up the Christmas stuff yet!

Overall, the place was quite busy, steady chatter from all directions mixing with the background music.  Bruce Hornsby and the Range - Isn't his pub near here?  Wait, no, that's Hornby.

A break for my tired feet, as Bar Du Fay is just across the road:
I wanted to criticise this place by describing it as the bar for people for whom the Meadows is too posh, but that's completely unfair.  It's a very well done shop conversion, with plenty of cheerful regulars chatting to a friendly barman.

The decor, fake stone floor, varnished matchboarding below the dado and plain cream plaster above enlivened by just the right number of pictures and signs makes for a very pleasant interior.

The one hand pump is purely decorative, I suspect, although I did spot a "Today's cask ale" blackboard.  It was blank.

As I noted in 2010, no-one seemed to be drinking wine in this wine bar, all were on lager or Guinness.  I had the latter, it came in a rather stylish new tapered glass.

I had also noted previously a "Wheel tappers and shunters" bell on the wall, but initially I couldn't see it this time.  Hang on, there it is, strategically positioned at the end of the counter so that the staff can use it to call time, I guess!

Next, just a short stroll to the Cask Cafe:
This shop conversion/micro pub wasn't quite what I expected:  I entered a small room, packed with cheerful noisy regulars, with a counter with five hand-pumps.  I was quickly served something delicious and local.  So far, so standard micro, but through an opening at the side of the counter were two more rooms, more peaceful and spacious, and I retreated to a comfy chair right at the back to enjoy my ale and write this.  It's great, and rare, to have the choice between the friendly lively regulars at the front or the peaceful back room.

Mind you, I'm not sure I fancy some of the seats, they look a bit uncomfortable (And I think the brewery might want them back!)
The sound here was Smooth Radio playing gently from a speaker above my head (You can't really do any better than Dancing Queen) and the fairly distant chatter and laughter from the front room.

There were lit candles on every table in the back room, a bit unnecessary when most were empty.

Not far down the road is the Alt Park:
Another chain food pub, this time wearing the Sizzling brand.

One enormous knocked through room, with chain pub contemporary decor.  At half five on a Friday it was busy, as you would expect, with many of the customers having food.

The handpumps seemed to all be labelled "Settling in the cellar" - Yeah, right.  I had a lager.

Finally, back to the station, for a last drink in the Great Mogul.  Luckily I took a picture on my way out, because it was too dark by the time I got back there:
At six on a Friday it was busy, as expected, but I managed to find a table at which to enjoy my pint of Great Mogul.  The pump clip had Joshua Tetley's signature, lord knows where it's brewed nowadays.

The interior is rather good, with glassless windows in the walls between the rooms, creating an open feel whilst keeping the separation.

I spotted a Meccano poster celebrating local man Frank Hornby.  I had also seen some in the Meadows.  I guess both were a bit miffed when Wetherspoon's "stole" him.

Time to wend my weary way home.

Pub of the day: While I'm tempted to select the Punchbowl purely because of the sense of achievement ticking a pub in the middle of no-where, it's obvious that today's winner must be the excellent Cask Cafe.
Miles: Five miles walked.
Maybe coming soon:  Litherland, Edge Hill

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Glossop

A trip further afield, into Derbyshire, for a Thursday and after completing my non-pub-related business I climbed up the long hill to the cluster of pubs which I think is in Old Glossop.  The weather was glorious, bright sunshine and blue sky, and nowhere near as chilly as the 1 Centigrade reported at Manchester Airport this morning had led me to expect. 

I started in the Good Beer Guide listed Queens:
A very pleasant interior partially knocked through, and I there's a restaurant upstairs as well.  There were seven handpumps on the counter and I was torn between two favourites, Thornbridge Jaipur and Oakham Citra, the latter won, and it was excellent.

A steady trickle of trade at one on a Thursday kept the staff occupied, some dining but mostly drinking.  A small group of what looked like pub crawlers came in, I tried to listen in for tips on where to go next but I couldn't hear!

I eyed up the architecture; some matchboarding, and the leaded glass windows suggest a 1930s or 1950s refurbishment perhaps.  The fake ceiling beams have been painted over or boarded over.  So, no architectural gem but who cares, it's a great pub.

Of the other two pubs here, I wanted to try the Bull's Head because I've not done it before but it was closed for refurbishment, I think:

So I resorted to the Wheatsheaf, last visited in 2011, instead:
From the three handpumps I selected something from the local (about 200 yards away) Howard Town brewery.  My first thought was that it was a bit naff, but further swigs showed I was completely wrong, it was just a touch thin after the gorgeous Citra, and I was soon bedded in and enjoying it.

No other customers while I was here, how do they keep going, with two staff?

Back down the hill to the town centre and in to the GBG-listed Star Inn:
A comfortable plain multi-room pub with only one counter, and there was no-one behind it so I had plenty of time to dither over my choice from the five on offer.  Oakham Citra again, or how about the local Howard Town Dark Peak at 6%?  The landlord returned, apologising, from sorting a delivery and I selected the Dark.  It was absolutely superb; beer of the day, beer of the month, maybe beer of the year!  A real hefty flavoursome winter warmer.

The conversation between the landlord and two regulars was all about beer.  When it turned to Milton Brewery I was able to butt in as it's local to my birthplace.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Nearly New Brighton

I headed under the river for another Wirral trip.  The bus stopped at the toll booth to get some change!  My objective today was four pubs on the outskirts of New Brighton, and my first destination was the Telegraph:
The excellent interior here features rough plaster and beams and a fine stone fireplace.  I wonder how much is genuine antique?  It's partly knocked through but retains separation between the areas.  There's a newer extension on one side, aimed at diners I think.

Behind the bar-blockers were five handpumps, I spotted Titanic Plum Porter so didn't bother to look any further.  And it was wonderful.

The seven or eight regulars sitting or standing at the counter were enjoying a lively chit-chat, some argument about magnetic compasses I think.  In the bar side where I settled was another group of five, chatting about various subjects mainly footie.

Just round the corner is the closed Little Brighton:
And a little further on is the Sandridge:
A little down market compared with the Telegraph, but still pleasant, well cared for, and comfortable.

No sign of the dark wood panelling I commented on in 2004, the only fifties feature I could spot this time was the matchboarded counter front.

A handful of regulars were keeping the place ticking over, most of their chatter was about the racing on the telly.

There were two handpumps on the counter, but just a turned round Doom Bar clip, so it was a Guinness for me.  I also noted the nowadays-unusual Webster's Bitter on tap as an alternative to the ubiquitous John Smith's.

Next, a walk down a steep hill (Which I'll have to climb up later!) to the waterfront, and two pubs close together, starting with the Pilot Boat:
Nothing very exciting about the interior here, but it's comfortable and tidy, knocked through into one open room.  Just a hint of inter-war decoration remains, in the leaded glass windows.

The two handpumps offered Hobgoblin (With Halloween pump clip) and Lancaster Blonde, my pint of the latter was spot on.

Each table had condiments ready for diners, but there weren't many at three on a Tuesday afternoon.

There was a gentle background of chatter mixed with the jukebox.  The barmaid came out to take a food order, so it's waitress service here.  The menu, not your usual chain stuff, looks good.  (Fish and chips £9.25)

Next, just fifty yards down the road, the Magazine:
How odd.  A rather beautiful multi-roomed pub serving quality real ale, but I was the only customer.  The barmaid pulled me a perfect pint of Peerless Red Rocks and then returned to idleness while I adjourned to a quiet comfortable side room to enjoy my ale.

Unfortunately, the lack of custom and the instant attention from the barmaid had caused me to order without surveying the entire counter, I could have had the rare in this part of the world Bass if I'd looked a bit more carefully.    I should have studied that excellent book, the Merseyside Pub Guide, which recorded a perfect pint of Bass back in 2003 - Obviously the author is a man of taste!  Never mind, the Red Rocks was excellent.

Eventually one or two more customers came in, so I wasn't the only one, but I think we need more drinkers to keep a splendid place like this going.

Time to climb the hill to get the bus home.

Pub of the day: I think the Telegraph, the best combination of a good choice of real ales with a decent Tuesday custom.  The Magazine is a close second.
Miles: An easy one today, only one mile walked.
Maybe coming soon: Maghull, Litherland.