A bright and sunny but somewhat chilly day saw me taking the train to Formby where I hoped to fill in a few gaps in the guide.
I started at the Railway, located conveniently adjacent to the station. My last visit here was as long ago as 1998 so it was well overdue for a re-visit. It's now a member of the Ember Inns chain which despite being a food-oriented organisation usually means a decent pint of ale, and I was not disappointed. There are about twelve hand-pumps all told, although by no means all in use. The ales on offer were mainly standard national brews - nothing wrong with that - and I selected a pint of Tribute which I was pleased to note came in a Tribute glass.
The interior decor of Ember Inns pubs always seems to be the same, a sort of contemporary style, slightly up market. I was pleased to note that, apart from a small display advertising Christmas meals, the Christmas decorations had not yet arrived. The place was pretty quiet, perhaps unsurprisingly on a cold Tuesday afternoon, but there was a steady trickle of custom.
If a visit to the Railway was overdue, then my next pub was doubly so, because I've never been to the Royal before. Here I found a large free-standing building containing a pleasant pub with the standard two-sided layout. The bar side, where I first entered, is somewhat plainer than the nicely done lounge side.
Initially I could see no handpumps in the bar side until I spotted one at the back of the bar with a London Pride clip on it. I suspect this is merely a signpost to indicate real ale is available, although I suppose it could be an operational pump. Anyway, I strolled round to the lounge side where the barmaid was, and found two handpumps. Unusually for me I skipped the London Pride and stuck to the Cornish theme of the trip so far with a pint of Tribute from St Austell Brewery. (Which I had the pleasure of visiting a few years ago.) It was spot on.
I selected a table at the far side of the lounge from where I could observe activity, but there wasn't any; the majority of the few customers preferring the bar side.
I checked out the menu - standard pub food at good prices - and noted the pub was not apparently part of a chain.
Pub number three was the Village Inn, located in a former shop in Formby centre. Not only have I never visited before, but this pub wasn't in the guide at all until I discovered it on Google streetview while planning the trip.
Here was a large, well cared for, plainly decorated room with TVs showing sports scattered around. Definitely a "wet-led" operation this one, and no real ale either, so I settled for a Guinness. There were plenty of mostly cheerful drinkers in the place, many of them older than I, and more came in to join the throng round the bar as afternoon turned to evening.
The Christmas decorations were up, by the way.
So far in my wanderings I had walked past the Cross House Inn twice, and to get back to the station I had to pass again, so at last I went in. This has a proper restaurant area, with diners being shown to their tables by waitresses, but it's still a true pub as well, with seating and a telly for non diners. Various real ales were on offer and I finished the day with a pint of Titanic's Lifeboat.
The interior is very nice, with lots of wood panelling, and some fairly tasteful Christmas decorations (Bah! Humbug! It's still November!)
When I arrived I noted that the food operation was not doing well, as I could see no-one eating, but as I got further down my pint a steady flow of customers appeared for the restaurant.
Time for the train home, noting that with two new ones today I've now visited 1,167 pubs in Merseyside, and there are 1,786 listed in the guide.