Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Gayton and Heswall

Three trains and a long walk (Well, 1km so not that long.) were required to get me to my first target today, the Glegg Arms in Gayton:
Inside the ancient-looking building is a pleasant modern Beefeater restaurant which makes non-diners such as myself welcome.  I ordered cask with some trepidation but I needn't have worried, the Doom Bar was fine.

At three on a Tuesday the place was understandably very quiet, I could just hear some background chatter and the occasional clink of crockery, from the few other customers.

The Beefeater brand belongs to Whitbread, I noticed.

I checked my database to find I was last here twenty years and two weeks ago, on the same trip mentioned a couple of weeks ago that included Oxton - So it was certainly overdue for a revisit!

On the other side of the roundabout is another even more ancient-looking building, housing the Devon Doorway:
Inside the splendid thatched building is an up-market restaurant with very pleasant mostly modern styling, and just a few original features, wooden beams and the like, remain.  Happily, one part of the space is allocated to non-diners, and that was where the only customers were.

There were two handpumps on the bar and I had a fine pint of the wonderful Salopian Oracle.

As far as I could tell, customers at four consisted of one group of about seven, and one couple, and me.  We were all sitting in the drinkers' area.  As I typed that another couple with a baby came in, they were also non-dining.

I was somewhat intrigued to see a special offer of "Two courses and bottomless Prosecco."  I wonder how much fizz one could drink in an evening if it was unlimited.  I fear I would end up passed out on the floor trying to make sure I got my money's worth.  Mind you, it does say "T&C Apply", perhaps "not available to professional boozers" is one.

On to the Beer Lab:
A standard-looking micro-pub in a converted shop, with two women and I as the only customers at four thirty on a Tuesday.  The friendly landlord, obviously interested and knowledgeable, discussed the beers with me and the ladies, and I eventually chose something rather good from Maghul's Neptune Brewery.  Unfined said the clip, but it was less cloudy than some normal ales I've suffered!  And very tasty.

A slow trickle of new customers kept the place going, everyone got a friendly welcome and some chit-chat/beer advice.  Most of them seemed to be after gossip about the To Let shop next door, to become a Turkish Restaurant apparently.  I suspect that means kebab shop!

I was pleased to notice that while 1/3 and 2/3 are available, all the draught beers come in pints as well.

Everyone (Except me) knew the landlord, and had a chat on arrival.  I think if a place like this opened within walking distance of my home I'd close down the pub guide and just drink there every day!

Next, Barcode:
What a contrast!  Something of a come-down after the last call, when it comes to quality ale anyway.  A tiny shop conversion, but not a micro-pub in the way we expect them, no sign of any cask or craft, this is at the Tetley smoothflow end of the ale spectrum.  And there's nothing wrong with that, it's clean and tidy, and very pleasant inside, and the friendly barman/landlord was chatting about football with the other customer.

Various sports were on the tellies around the walls of the small room, I bet it's busy in here for Liverpool matches.  Or do they support Tranmere around here?

This is quite an unusual type in the pub range, a recent shop conversion that's not a real ale place.  Will it be a success?  Let's hope so.

Finally, the Johnny Pie:
This is a completely modern construction behind the bus station.  Inside it has fake traditional styling creating a rather good ambience for a standard food-led pub.

In contrast to all the other places visited today the first thing that struck me on entering the door was a loud hubub of conversation from the umpteen other customers.  Having already said food-led I have to say the majority of the customers I could see weren't eating.

My pint of Jennings Cocker Hoop was drinkable but not the best I've had, and possibly cloudier than the unfined ale I had earlier.

My pub guide entry from 2009 describe the food as "not cheap" but with fish and chips costing just £7.60 it's clear that's no longer true.

They've got that feature of a telly in your booth here, surely it must be annoying unless you can choose the channel yourself?  And the volume.  I didn't sit in a booth myself, perhaps you can.

Time to head home.  Here's a new idea for the blog, how about Pub of the Day?  Today, it'd have to be the brilliant Beer Lab - Great ale, great atmosphere, great everything!  I very nearly stayed there for another drink or two, abandoning the rest of the day's research.

Coming soon:  Billinge, maybe.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

St Helens

I started another St Helens Saturday at the Phoenix Inn, a new entry in the Good Beer Guide:
The outside looks a little down at heel, perhaps, but the inside is comfortable and well looked after, as indeed it was back in 2003 when it was keg only.  I turned left for the lounge side where I found three handpumps in operation, and my pint of White Rat was superb, and only £2.50.

A smattering of regulars were keeping the place going, I was pleased to see at least one of them was on the cask.  Some were watching soccer on the tellies, (Liverpool winning.) others were just chatting.

There was no evidence of an influx of CAMRA members brought by the new guide.  This has been top of the list for my next St Helens tour for some time, it's just a coincidence that I arrived two days after their promotion to the top flight.

On to Wetherspoon's Glass House:
"Don't go in on a Saturday", a friend warned, "you'll never get served".  I'm pleased to report he was wrong, and I soon had a spot on pint of Exmoor Gold.  The place was busy but not packed, and I easily found a table.

I had noticed once before in here when I visited at peak Sunday roast time (Back in the days when they still did roasts.) that almost no-one was eating, and the same was true today.  The denizens of St Helens still think of a pub as somewhere to drink - Quite right too!

Next, the George:
A classic two sided boozer, this one, well cared for and comfortable.

On the counter in the lounge side - I took the right hand door this time - were three handpumps with no clips, and it was only after I'd ordered my lager that I spotted three more on the other side, at least one of which had a clip, so I can't comment on the quality of the real ale, if any.

Football was on the telly, analysis of Liverpool's victory by now, but no-one was watching.  A number of regulars in the other side, and one or two in the lounge, chatted.

A brief delay at this point, while I nipped back to Wetherspoon's because I'd forgotten to take a picture!  Then on to Rendezvous:
I arrived to find some regulars but no bar staff, "He's gone to change a barrel".  Eventually the harassed landlord/barman returned, and fiddled with the Fosters font, failing to produce any beer.  "I've changed the keg and the gas", he said, "I don't know what else to do."  This meant Carling and Fosters were both off.  I had a Guinness to avoid any further hassle for him.

I sat in a rather pleasant room with the regulars, there's a much larger room with another counter, deserted when I was there but I bet it's busy later on, when they have live music.

Finally, the Royal Alfred:
This pub has spent some time closed and boarded up, but I received a report a few weeks ago that it's back in action.

I can see why it closed - In the large pleasant interior were about three customers, and if that's all you can muster at half three on a Saturday afternoon things are not looking good.

It's rare for the jokes painted on the walls of pubs to make me laugh, usually because I've seen them before, but there was a new one on me:
And here is the weather forecast.  Tomorrow will be muggy.  Followed by Toogy, Weggy, Thurgy and Frigy.
Actually "Wanted:  Odd job man to wash dishes and two waitresses" also raised a grin.

The decor in here includes some beer memorabilia left over from when this was a Porters Ale House, but the handpumps on the counter have clearly not been used for a long time.

As I drank my lager the place filled up, negating my comment above about lack of custom.  Soon, the juke box had been fired up and I was in a lively, busy, popular boozer, building up to Saturday night.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Good Beer Guide 2019

It's out, although my "early" copy still hasn't arrived.

I can report that in Merseyside 15 pubs are out and 13 are in.  As always, if you want to know which they are you'll have to buy the book.  That's if you can find one.  (Bitter, me?)

Of the 73 Merseyside pubs in this year's guide, there are five I have never visited.  That'll give me something to do over the next few weeks, or probably not in one case:

Regular readers of this blog will have noted my occasional whinges about places with limited opening hours, especially when they don't keep to the hours advertised on the internet.  But things are taken to a ridiculous extreme in the new GBG:  The Connoisseur Ales Brewery and Tasting Rooms in St Helens is, as far as I can see from their web site, only open for a few hours a month.  St Helens CAMRA must be having a laugh!  This section of the book is headed "The Pubs" - Surely there's a proper pub in the area they could include, instead of this one which clearly belongs in the Breweries section.
Update, Saturday:  I've got mine at last!       

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

The Closed Pubs of Kirkdale

I set off in improving weather for a pub survey where my internet research suggests I might be in for a meagre harvest, but let's see...

I wasn't worried when I passed the Cabin - derelict, the Miranda - gone, and on to the William Shakespeare - closed, as they have all been closed for some years:
On to one I hoped might be open, the Pitch Pine, but no, it's closed as well.   I wonder if that is permanent, or just Tuesday afternoon - difficult to tell:
The Bedford and the Banjo were definitely out of action, as were the Victoria and Swifts:

Not a good start!  On to the Hawthorne and, at last, an open pub:
One large main bar, plus a side room not visited in this pleasant locals' boozer.  The understated decor, with pale wood matchboarding above the dado is very pleasant.  There's a rather fine old fireplace at one end, must be 100 years old (Or a modern repro.)

This is the first keg pub I've visited for yonks which doesn't have Carling on offer, or maybe it was there and I couldn't see it.

Silence reigned when I went in, until someone fired up the jukebox.  Just five or so regulars were keeping the place ticking over, so there was gentle chatter under the music.

As I enjoyed my long-awaited pint I gazed around.  The room really is well decorated and well looked after, a number of little touches giving it a homely comfortable ambience, although if I'm going to nit-pick, it's time to reupholster the bench seat where I was sitting.

The disco lights around the ceiling suggest it'll be very noisy in here on a Friday night.

Only one more pub on my target list and, guess what, it's shut!  The Peacock looks like it is still operational, but not this afternoon:

So that's the plan wrecked!  Where next?  It hints at desperation, going to a pub I visited only two years or so ago.  But I was desperate, so on to the Mons:
A standard chain dining pub this, under Mitchells and Butlers' Stonehouse brand.  Very quiet as you might expect on a Tuesday afternoon, but still the occasional food order going through at the bar.  I must say the carvery meals look good, and at £6.29 quite a bargain.

The three handpumps had no clips so it was lager again.

I think I've previously reported that this pub is allegedly named after the airfield in Belgium from which the bombers that cleared the area came.   Whether that is true I cannot say, but it seems in rather poor taste if it is, since the previous use of the land was probably terraced housing.

Totally off plan now, but let's carry on to a couple of places not visited since 2004.  Quite a long stroll eventually brought me to the Top House and, praise be, it's open:
I described this as a back street gem fourteen years ago, and there's no reason to change that.  The traditional interior has been partly knocked through while retaining separate rooms and I wonder if, originally, the side of the servery facing the lounge rooms would have had a glazed partition with hatches.

Anyway, it is still very pleasant and beautifully cared for.  I sat alone in the back room, which has a bench seat round two sides plus tables and chairs in the middle, and enjoyed another Carling.

Very gentle background music, and quiet chatter were all I could hear here, the loudest sound was the hand-dryer in the toilets!

I took a moment to find out by how many we'd won the cricket.  What??  India 298 for 5 at tea needing 166 to win.  Surely we can't lose the Chef's last match?

On to the Anfield Hotel.  Would my improving luck hold out?  Yes:
Repetition alert!  My notes from 2004 again say "backstreet gem" and once more, that's right.

A rather splendid three room traditional pub, with a rather odd layout, I suspect things have changed since it was built, probably over 100 years ago.  The ceilings are very high throughout, but parts of the dividing wall between lounge and bar sides are "only" eight feet high.

At four on a Tuesday the place was very quiet, a couple of blokes playing pool and I were the only custom, I think.

I learned from a notice that this place is also known as the Bottom House, presumably becuase it's just down the road from the Top House.

There's a drum kit located above the entrance porch, very strange, but I think I've seen that done before somewhere?  Now I know some people would say that putting the drum kit out of reach of the drummer will improve many groups but I don't think I agree.

Time to test my luck one more time, on to the Abbey:
Oh yes!  It's open.

A rather fine one room boozer, with quite a few regulars sat at the bar.  No real ale, of course, so I was on the Carling again.

The regulars chatted, with some commercial radio station providing background music.

330 for 7...

The barman/landlord joined his friends sitting at the bar, only returning briefly behind the counter when he was needed.

So, after a very poor start I collected some good ticks, that's Kirkdale pretty much cleared.  I walked about 4 miles.  England won eventually.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Oxton Twenty Years On

A bus under the Mersey would have dropped me off right outside the first pub for today, but I pressed the button too soon and had to walk from the previous stop, during which time at least three other buses passed me.  Anyway, I soon reached the Swan:
Inside the impressive building I found a pleasant, comfortable and unexpectedly busy food oriented pub with Mitchell and Butler's Sizzling brand.  One of the few pub chains not owned by Greene King!

I've got used to sitting in splendid isolation on my Tuesday pub surveys, so I was rather surprised to find this place was quite busy.  It wasn't anywhere near full, but there was a steady stream of customers ordering at the bar.  Almost all were eating.  The piped muzac mixed with the contented chatter of diners and the occasional clatter of cutlery.

I must say I was impressed by this pub.  Service was friendly and efficient and everything just seemed to run well.  A barmaid dashed out from behind the bar to assist an elderly gentleman who was in danger of spilling his drinks carrying them back to his table, and she then fetched his cutlery for him.

The real ale range wasn't very exciting, but my pint of Doom Bar was spot on, and served in a Doom Bar conic, so much better than six ales you've never heard of, three of which are vinegar.

I was going to walk to the next pub but a bus turned up just as I left, so I took the lazy option to get me to the Halfway House:
Another very good pub, this, with a splendid brewers' Tudor exterior.  I entered the bar side which had four handpumps three of which had labels attached.  The actual ales were in the other side, and the friendly efficient landlady soon fetched me a fine pint of Adnams' Southwold.  I was offered the choice of straight glass or dimple, obviously I chose the nonic (So, technically not "straight".)  Only £2.35, too!

Four regulars were chatting, while the jukebox played some great tracks.

So far, two quality pints in two never before visited pubs.  Things can only go down hill from here?  Except the walk to the Queens Arms is almost all upwards!
Well, we're back to a very limited real ale choice here, in fact only one, but the Doom Bar was in perfect nick, so that's fine in my opinion.

The interior has contemporary decor (whatever that means) and has been knocked through into one room, but retaining some interior walls with holes in them, to keep some separation.

I think all the other customers were eating, and there were quite a few of them, once again confounding my Tuesday afternoon expectations.

I watched as the landlord tried and failed to set up the network connection on the display screen by the bar.  Don't you just hate those keyboards driven by up/down/left/right on the remote!  My satellite box at home has the same scheme.

I marched on, up and down hill, (Gosh, lots of big houses round here.) to the Caernarvon Castle:
Well I never!  I walked in to find ten handpumps on the bar, and I eventually selected Silhouette from the Ship and Mitre's own Flagship Brewery, and it was a gorgeous stout.

Not quite the beer range one expects from another Greene King chain pub, this one carries the Time Well Spent brand, but if they can keep the quality up (On my sample of one pint, they certainly can!) then that's great.

I was last here way back in 1999, when it was a Berni pub serving Cains and a guest on cask.  To be honest, I have no recollection of the place, and can only go by what I recorded in the guide back then.  It has obviously been redecorated but I suspect otherwise hasn't changed that much in the intervening years.  Except for adding lots more handpumps, that is.

The place was doing a good trade despite it being three on a dull Tuesday, the only sound was a steady background chatter from happy diners and drinkers.

Next, to Oxton Village itself, and the Oxton Bar & Kitchen:
A bit posh for my taste, this one, and a very tired half of Peerless Langton Spin didn't endear it to me, but nonetheless it's a pleasant foodie sort of place.  A few people were drinking outside, and just one or two with me indoors.

It's a full twenty years since I visited the Oxton Arms as it then was, and it's been refurbished out of all recognition.

On the bar I noted taps for Love Lane and keg Titanic Stout, amongst others - I don't think they're looking for John Smiths Smoothflow drinkers in here.

No conversations to listen in to, until a friend of the barmaid arrived for a chat but, curses, I couldn't quite discern what they were saying!

There's a fake, I think, brick fireplace on one wall, with a fish tank where the fire should be.  What a great idea!

The bird in the clock behind the bar can't count, it did at least six cuckoos when the hands said four o'clock.

As I drank my rather poor ale, a subsequent customer asked for a pint and it ran out, so mine was clearly the last of the barrel, and is therefore perhaps forgivable.

As expected, the Homebrew Tap wasn't open on a Tuesday:

So, on to another pub I last visited in 1998, the Shrewsbury Arms:
Another place I was last in twenty years ago, and my comments from then - "Excellent old building with a nice paved garden.  Good beer" - don't need any changes.  On the other hand, the real ales on offer then, Higsons, Boddingtons and Cains are all long gone.

The interior includes some impressive ancient stonework and old wooden beams.  Could it all be fake?  Possibly, but I don't think so. 

Chatter from inside and outside, blended with gentle background music formed the soundscape here, a very nice ambience.

It was only spoiled a little by the large sign wishing me a very Merry Christmas from "Team Shrew", and exhorting me to book my Christmas dinner soon.

While I enjoyed my spot on Black Sheep here I logged on to the database to check on exactly when I last visited, and it looks like it was nineteen years and 364 days ago, on the fifth of September 1998.  Really, I should have done this trip tomorrow to get the full twenty years!!

Basically finished for the day, I thought I'd better check on the Cock and Pullet before I headed home.  It was closed as I had suspected it would be:

Tuesday, 28 August 2018


I started my visit to Crosby at the beautiful Crow's Nest:
This listed architectural gem never changes, thank goodness, the wonderful interior has leaded glasswork, dark wood panelling etc.  The lounges and the snug are served via hatches from the servery.

Quality real ales are served, I had Yorkshire Blonde from Ossett - Very nice.  I noticed table service continues in the lounge, although this is official or just for locals I don't know.

The place was very quiet with just a few people in, the only sound was the banter between them and the landlady.  One of the regulars was writing the real ales on the blackboard, putting up with much heckling - Apparently someone had spotted a spelling mistake recently and complained to the landlady, so she was especially keen that he got everything right.

Just along the road is the Birkey:
What a pleasant Greene King pub, two sided, both deserted at one on a Tuesday.  There weren't any menus visible where I sat, it's unusual to find a GK house which isn't in one of their dining chains.  Perhaps all the menus are in the other side.

Last time I was here, back in 2002, it was keg only, so I ordered real ale with a little trepidation, but my pint of Old Hoppy Hen was spot on.  I wonder how many different words the marketing people can put between Old and Hen to stretch this franchise.  I've seen Crafty, Spooky, Golden, Hoppy, and of course the original Speckled.  Anyway, mine was hoppy as advertised, and delicious.

The only other customers were a small kid and his grandad.  The barmaid soon had the paints out so the little'un could do some pictures, while grandad looked on, bored.

I strolled past the Crosby, which is closed and up for sale:

Onwards to the Endbutt:
Greene King seem to be taking over the world!  This is another place that was keg only back in '04, but now has GK brews plus Landlord, my pint of which was very good.

Inside the impressive 1920s building, the interior is bog-standard twenty-first century chain pub, all knocked through into one enormous room.

Unlike the Birkey, menus were everywhere, under the Time Well Spent brand, and with fish and chips for seven quid it looks good value.

Custom was sparse on a Tuesday afternoon, the piped music mixing with a little quiet chit-chat and the occasional click of pool balls.

I should record my first sighting of Christmas publicity here, a small display at the end of the counter exhorting me to book my Christmas feast today.  The year's nearly over!

Back towards Crosby's centre, and to the never before visited Pioneer:
This up market brasserie is very welcoming to drinkers, with some tables unsuitable for dining.  The bar menu includes various sharing platters.  In the other room, out of use with the chairs stacked on the tables at three on a Tuesday, I think there's a restaurant menu.

The decor inside is very well done contemporary, creating a comfortable ambience even when it's empty.  The only other customers were a noisy group sitting at a table outside, drinking San Miguel in the cold.  I stayed inside, alone.

So, as I often say, not my sort of place, but good nonetheless.

Needless to say, now that I've mentioned Christmas, this place had a number of adverts for breakfast with Santa, Christmas dinner etc, etc.

On to the Edinburgh:
Once again a pub I had logged as keg only now has real ale.  My pint of Black Sheep was maybe not the best but it wasn't bad.

The classic interior has been preserved, and I was served at a tiny hatch in the bar back before adjourning to a lounge.  A gentle hubub of chatter from the bar mixed with racing commentary from the TV there, in the room in which I sat was one other customer, drinking lager and fiddling with his tablet (As was I), and total silence.  I mean I was fiddling with my tablet, not his, but I think you'd already worked that out.

I noticed around the walls bell pushes for table service, I assume they don't do anything in the 21st century.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

New Ferry

I started my New Ferry research in the Cleveland Arms:
Inside I found a well cared for pub with a popular bar room partly knocked through into a side room, and there's also a pool room at the rear.

The decor is plain, well done and well maintained, much the same as last time I was here.

I was surprised to see two hand pumps serving Brimstage brews, so with some trepidation I selected Trappers Hat.  "A man of taste" commented the bar fly.  The ale was spot on, a great start to the day.

Back in 2003 I wrote that the jukebox was too loud, I was just about to note that that no longer applied when someone turned it up!  The lively chatter of the regulars was mostly drowned out by the music.

It was raining gently as I left, and in the 50 yards to the next pub this turned to a torrential downpour, so I dashed to the door of the Wirral Hotel:
My guide entry from 2003 was somewhat disparaging; "A scruffy one bar pub with a deafeningly loud karaoke".  I'm pleased to report it's nothing like that now, spotless decor with a rather attractive rough wood theme, and the music was at exactly the right level.  A handful of locals were keeping the place going, cheerful chatter mixing with Duran Duran.

It's a little surprising that two pubs can survive so close together, but both seemed to be deservedly doing OK on a Thursday evening.

At this point my plans began to unravel.  The next target, Shillings, had a big sign on the door saying PRIVATE MEMBERS CLUB, so that's one off the list, and a big bloke lounging in the entrance meant I didn't dare take a picture.  A few doors down, Alice's had the shutters down:
I'm not sure whether it's closed permanently, but it looks like it to me.

On the other side of the road, I already knew the Farmers Arms had been closed for some years and is now an Indian Restaurant:

So, I headed to Wetherspoon's John Masefield:
Also known as Adolph's Place, perhaps because the pictures of the eponymous John which adorn the menus show him with a Hitler-style toothbrush moustache - surely Charlie's (Chaplin) would be more tasteful.

Cultural Insert:  John Masefield 1878-1967 was a poet.  His most well known lines are probably "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky".

It was fairly busy, but with tables available, and I settled down to enjoy a spot on pint of Pendle Witches' Brew.

Now, a particular reason for me visiting New Ferry was to tick off Freddie's Club, one of the few Good Beer Guide entries in Merseyside I've never been to, but it doesn't open until seven on a Thursday, so suddenly I was an hour ahead of schedule, and having saved the Railway by the station for the homeward journey I had run out of pubs.  Should I hang around here for an hour and a half, or take a walk somewhere?

I decided on the walk, and headed towards Rock Ferry.  The problem with going off plan is I hadn't pre-checked Streetview, and I must confess to a sinking feeling as I turned off the main road onto a side street which had new houses on both sides - surely the pub has gone, and I've never ticked it.

But wait, what's that in the exact place of the blob on my map.  Yes!!  The Derby Arms is still there and it's still a pub:
The interior consists of a number of areas partially knocked through around the servery.  All have excellent restrained decoration, creating a comfortable ambience.

Unfortunately there were only a few customers in, I really hope they get enough to keep the place going.  Maintaining the interior to this quality can't be cheap.

A bonus tick I wasn't expecting today.  Should I walk on and get another?  Why not...  So I strolled to the magnificent inter-war roadhouse that is the never visited Kings Arms:
Inside, nothing original remains, it's a pleasant modern "Hungry Horse" outlet, doing a roaring trade with a 50/50 mix of drinkers and diners.

I perched on a high seat near (but not blocking!) the counter and swigged my beer.  I browsed the menu and I must say under eight quid for fish and chips is good value nowadays.

A further walk took me to the prime objective of the day, Freddies Club:
Would it be open?  Would it have decent real ale?  Would I be allowed in?  The sign "Private members club" didn't bode well, and having ignored that, the empty room with barmaid and one customer wasn't promising either, but in fact the answer to all three questions was absolutely Yes.

One large pleasant main room with bar counter, plus a side room from which I could hear the clack of pool balls, constitute this rather fine social club/pub.

My pint of something from Brimstage was excellent, and once again I was complemented on my taste by the resident bar fly!  (Not the same one.)

How do you provide quality real ale in a quiet place like this?  Or maybe the question we should be asking is, if they can do it why can't other places?

I enjoyed my tasty pint in the peace and watched cricket on the large screen.

With the new Good Beer Guide out in a week or so, I wonder if this will still be in.  Judging by my single sample I would say why not?

I think we will gloss over the incident as I departed.  Eh?  Oh, alright, if I must:  While I enjoyed my excellent pint, a couple came in with a dog.  After she'd served the humans, the landlady put out a bowl of water for the dog.  When I'd finished my beer I returned my glass to the bar and then turned towards the gents.  Unfortunately, I trod on the water bowl, spilling most of it on the carpet and the rest up my trouser leg.  How embarrassing!  Profuse apologies all round!  I blame the dog.

Time to head for the station to go home.  But hang on, what's this?  I walked past before and completely failed to notice Charlie's Bar:
A plain nicely done corridor bar, this, with a number of locals sitting at the counter.  No-one behind the counter, they shouted and eventually someone interrupted their smoke break to serve me.

The clean modern decor is well done in here, and the regulars were obviously enjoying their chatter with the staff.

Finally, back towards the station and a strategic toilet break before the train home, in the Railway Inn:
Well, what an unfair designation "toilet break" is for this pub!  They serve quality real ale and I had another Trappers Hat in a very comfortable open knocked through one bar pub.

Gentle background music mixed with chit-chat from the many Thursday evening customers.

It was (well past) time to go home as I reflected on a very successful day with eight pubs ticked, four for the first time.  And about four miles walked.

Coming soon:  Crosby.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Price Differences in Cambridge

On one of my regular visits to the City of my birth I took a chance to visit a few pubs.  I started in the Clarendon Arms:
This pub probably scores low with CAMRA because they only have three real ales, Greene King IPA, Abbot, and a guest, but the ones I tried were spot on, so I'm happy.  (Of course, now I've said that it'll probably pop up in the next Good Beer Guide, expected next week.)

The food looks good, and is popular, but it's not cheap.

At half twelve on a Saturday the main custom seemed to be foreign family groups dining - It's pleasing to see visitors enjoying a "proper" British pub rather than using some chain chicken outlet.

I can't make out the interior architecture here, the floor is mainly ancient looking stone flags, but the part where I was sitting had polished concrete tiles.  The walls are painted wood panelling.  Anyway, it's very pleasant, which is the important thing.

On to the Saint Radegund:
The smallest pub in Cambridge says the sign, but it's no Lakeside Inn.  One small room with a counter in the corner is decorated mainly with rowing paraphenalia, including some Bumps trophies for the St Radegund VIII.  I see on one that they bumped Champion of the Thames, my next destination.

They serve quality real ales from Saffron Brewery, I had a wonderful porter.  I was somewhat startled when the landlord said "That'll be two pounds."  "Er, is it always this cheap?"  "Yes."  All ales £2 says the sign, now that's more like a decent price - I paid £4 in the last place!

Just me and two regulars arguing over whose round it was (In a good way - "It's my turn to pay", "No, I'll get these") constituted the custom at one o'clock.  Three more came in later.

Why have I never been in here before?  It's a wonderful pub!  Probably because they don't open during the day, except on Saturday.

I particularly like the nameplates marking late regulars' places at the counter.

Next, down the road to the Champion of the Thames:
Back to Cambridge prices here, my pint of a tasty guest was £4.50!

A great antiquey interior in this small two room pub, serving quality real ales and great pork pies, I must say.

If you want more than a snack, it would seem that they have Thai food delivered from a takeaway nearby.  I'm not sure how this works, do you order at the bar?

Apparently, this pub is run by the same people as the Clarendon, perhaps that's why the guest ale was the same.

Finally, on to Wetherspoon's Regal for reasonable prices:
A quality pint of Woodforde's Once Bittern (get-it?), for only £2.79, minus 50p with a CAMRA voucher.  (Mind you, my local 'Spoons charges £1.99, so here is still not cheap!)

This enormous converted cinema (Which was once advertised as the largest pub in the country, it has now lost that title to another branch, in Ramsgate.) was doing a roaring trade on a Saturday afternoon.  It was busy, but not so full that I couldn't find a table.

I've always thought it was a bit gloomy inside here, a cinema has few windows, of course.

Annoyingly, I never visited the other Cambridge Wetherspoon's before it was closed by a fire.