A nice sunny afternoon and England looked to have the ashes in the bag, so I headed out for a survey to Eastham, and four pubs I haven't visited since 2003. Sorry, no pictures this time.
First call was the splendid Hooton Arms, with a fine
antique exterior and interior. Sadly the real ale didn't live up to the
surroundings, and my pint of Old Speckled Hen was rather past its best,
although not bad enough for me to reject it. I watched Doctor Who on
the telly, and used my tablet to provide one of the locals with a
cricket update (Australia 82 for 0).
Next, a stroll just a few yards up the road, past the church where a wedding was just beginning. Someone had come in to the Hooton to report that the groom had been lost; hopefully they'd found him again because the bride arrived as I headed on to what used to be the Stanley Arms. Now called the Montgomery, it's been done up rather well in contemporary pastel style, and concentrates on diners with an up-market menu. I selected Copper Dragon's Golden Pippin from the three hand pumps, and was disappointed to discover this was another pint somewhat past its best. As I sat in splendid isolation - I was the only customer at three on a Friday afternoon - I was somewhat miffed to see the Golden Pippin erased from the blackboard to be replaced by a new real ale. If only they'd done that before I arrived!
(138 for 4) The sunshine had been replaced by a grey overcast as I headed into the council estate of Mill Park to the pub I've got listed as the Rake, but apparently it's now the New Rake Hotel. This is a classic unspoiled 50s/60s estate boozer, complete with art deco style glasswork inside, and it's got classic estate pub customers to match! The only thing to show I hadn't gone back thirty or more years was the missing fug of cigarette smoke! No real ale, but after the last two pints I was quite pleased to have a decent Guinness.
(153 for 4) My fourth destination has also had a change of title, the rather long-named Argyll and Sutherland Highlander is now the Argyll, although not much else has changed in this well cared for sixties pub with a pleasant open interior. Quite a few locals were keeping the place lively at five on a Friday. No real ale so another Guinness; last time I was here, in 2003, there was a choice of four handpumps. The menu of pub standards looks to be good value for money. 189 for 5 and time to head for home.