Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Purple Baize, All In My Brain

A veritable Cook's Tour on the 472 bus eventually brought me to Heswall. 

I started with a Good Beer Guide tick, the Jug and Bottle:
This large house contains a rather good food-oriented pub.  It is mostly knocked through inside although there are some strange interior walls with windows in.  The decor is mostly pastel colours with a few areas of dark wallpaper and bare brick, and a stone floor.  Overall, a pleasant ambience is created.

I took an excellent pint of Brimstage Trappers Hat served in a Brimstage glass, and sat down on a church pew.  A few groups of happy customers filled the room with gentle chatter.

Next, a walk down steep hills.  I enjoyed the scenic views of the Dee and Wales beyond, thinking they won't be so pleasing when I have to climb up again:
Eventually I reached the Black Horse:
Curses!  It's shut.  I couldn't tell for certain whether this is just Tuesday afternoon or something more permanent, but I suspect the latter, I'm afraid.

I trudged back up the hill as far as the Dee View:
All the regulars, who were sitting at the counter, looked round as I came in.  Only two of the six handpumps had clips, and I chose Trappers Hat again.  It didn't seem quite as great as the previous one, but still good.  Once again, it came in the correct glass.  I noticed none of the locals were on the cask.

Sound in here was a quiet commercial radio station, and chit-chat of regulars and the staff.  Then, the music switched to the selections of a young lady who proceeded to dance and sing along, to the amusement (or possibly embarrassment) of the regulars.  I think she belonged to the pub?  After a couple of numbers she left, and peace and quiet was restored.

The decor in here, wooden beams and the occasional horse brass, is exactly the same as last time I was here, nine years ago.

Next, back towards Heswall town centre, and the Exchange:
Inside I found a sort of sports bar, deserted on a Tuesday afternoon.  The decor, grey and purple, is actually rather good, and I was particularly impressed by the pool tables with matching purple baize.  Isn't that a Hendrix track?

I must say the Trip Advisor reviews of this place are pretty mixed, to say the least.  I can only report that service was cheerful, friendly and prompt and my seat was comfortable.

Having worked in the industry for many years I was intrigued to learn that the building is a former telephone exchange, hence the name.

Across the road is the Otto Lounge:
One big open room with large windows onto the street, some of which were folded back.  The standard naked air conditioning ducts and retro industrial lighting is mixed with some 1930s glass lampshades.  As well as the eclectic selection of the pictures on the walls, they've got a collection of mirrors, including some wonderful art-deco examples.

I couldn't see anyone eating at four on a Tuesday, but the menu of standard pub fare plus tapas looks good.  As soon as I'd typed that, food appeared and before long I was nearly the only customer not dining.

The trouble with open windows is that wasps can get in.  One annoyed me for a few minutes, but when it tried to steal some of my lager it had crossed a line.  I squished it!

My next port of call was the Paradox Bar:
Not really my sort of place, this poncy cocktail bar, but it still has to be done for my researches.

The friendly barman gave me a pint of the house lager, even though I think I asked for a half.  It was more flavoursome than a Carling, anyway.

I sat at a table right in the middle of the deserted room, lowering the tone I fear, but with more staff than customers, forty minutes after opening, who cares?

Two girls came down the stairs and were immediately served with food.  Did they order it in an upstairs bar?  Presumably.

I must say the slightly quirky decor in here is rather attractive.  On the Paradox theme, they've got some Escher works, a favourite of mine.  As I say, not my sort of place and definitely not a pub, but nonetheless very pleasant.

My eye was drawn to one of the TV screens.  It was showing the cooking methods for items on the menu.  What a brilliant idea, I was soon keen to try their food.  I'm surprised more places haven't used this clever promotion, although I suppose "Take bag from freezer, 95 seconds in microwave, empty onto plate" wouldn't be so enticing.

I headed onwards, committing the cardinal sin of walking past a never before visited bar called Barcode, I'll save that for my next time in Heswall, and so to the Harvest Mouse:
Cor!  That's a hard to beat exterior.  Inside is a slightly disappointing bog-standard pub interior, not as exciting as the outside suggests, but nevertheless very pleasant.

My pint of something from Otter was not bad, but not the best I've had.  I couldn't see anyone else drinking real ale.

The place was ticking over gently, mainly with diners, it's a member of Greene King's Time Well Spent chain.  The sound here was quiet chat mixed with the background music, which as I typed this played the Eagles' Desperado - You can't do better than that.

It was time for the long bus ride back to civilisation, and then a train home.

Coming up:  How about Cains Village on Saturday?

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Kensington

Would my luck improve after Tuesday's disappointments?   Once the rain stopped I headed for the Kensington area of Liverpool and began my researches in the Olympia Hotel:
I had thought this place was closed, it has looked tatty for a long time, but passing by on a bus earlier in the week I had seen it was still open.

Inside the rather scruffy building is a beautifully cared for three room pub.  Both lounge and bar were populated by plenty of cheerful locals.

The lounge, where I sat, is completely covered in Everton paraphanalia, I didn't check whether the bar side was "red".

The conversation here was about town (That's Scouse for the city center, by the way.) being too crowded due to the Pride festival.

Across the road from here were the famous Grafton and the Derby, both closed now:

I headed for Boaler Street, a road which at the time of my first visit had umpteen operational pubs, possibly the last back street in Liverpool which could still claim to have "a pub on every corner."  Would any have survived into 2018?  It was time to test my luck.

The Alexandra Lodge is now something religious, a reversal of Wetherspoon's trick of converting a Methodist Hall into a pub:
Next, the Bourne Arms has completely disappeared in what is now an industrial estate, and then the Cumberland is housing:
When I reached the Newsham Park I was surprised to find it open, my Streetview researches having suggested otherwise:
They've knocked through into the former back room since I was last here, I think, creating a plain friendly one roomed corner house.

Once again, Saturday afternoon means a significant number of regulars, and the background chatter was louder than the music.

Unknowingly, I was sitting in Tommy's corner, so when he turned up I had to talk to him - The landlady warned he might sit on my lap because I was in his seat!  Actually, he was a useful source of info, telling me the next target was open - "I've just come from there".  He was keen to buy me a drink, but I explained it was one per pub, so we shook hands and parted.

So, on to the Sir Walter Raleigh:
A plain beautifully kept boozer this one, with half a dozen regulars keeping it ticking over.  One of them was driving the juke box, which was slightly louder than the background chit-chat.  (His taste in music was not the same as mine.)

The immaculate interior includes a classic plain early 20th century fireplace with original ceramics.

While I was drinking my lager, a man arrived with a parcel which was six inches by six inches by about ten feet, labelled Projector Screen.  When he came up to where I was sitting I said "It'll never fit".  "I told them, but that's the size they wanted" he replied.  Surely the time to install a giant screen was before the world cup?  Although it's just in time for the new football season, I suppose.

I should confess that I swigged my lager more quickly than usual in here, to make sure I escaped before Tommy joined me - His last remark had been "I'll see you in there, get me a pint of Carling!"

That's it for Boaler street, so I moved on, passing the closed Molyneux:
The weather, sunny so far, spotted me with rain, although the sun was still shining.  On to Kensington - the road, where my first call was the Vinebrook:
Once again, a well cared for boozer, one open room partly divided by odd lengths of wall.  One area is raised two steps above the rest, this feature seen in every Oak Lodges house, is a subtle way of creating an area that feels separate without blocking visibility.

A hubub of locals' chatter muxed with racing commentary in here.

Last time I visited it was during an England match in Euro 2004, and all the regulars had painted faces, hats, and hooters.  I wonder if they did the same in the recent world cup?

As I drank my fourth Carling the sky blackened.  Would I get soaked?  Only a short walk to the next pub, and thence to the bus stop, so probably not.  A brief downpour threatened to spoil that prediction, but by the time I'd been to the gents it was almost over, so I just caught a few spots on the way to the architectural splendour that is the Kensington:
Still a miniature gem, this three room classic has the lounge served via a hatch in the leaded glass bar back.  There's also a back room with a "stable door" to the servery, but I think you're required to walk to the lounge's hatch to get served nowadays.  In 1999 I enjoyed waitress service in this room.

Back in 2009 I noted this place was closed, thank goodness it wasn't permanent!

The sound here is purely the hubub of cheerful chatter from the large number of regulars.

As usual, I was monitoring the activities of the other customers:  I'm sure "Excuse me!  Landlady!  Two halves of lager" is not the way to ingratiate oneself with the staff.  Mind you, it seemed to work, maybe I should try it instead of waiting patiently to be served!  Oddly, the two halves were for someone else, and the purchaser left them on the counter and disappeared.

Another strange sight, a bloke came in carrying a bar stool.  He moved another stool out of the way so he could sit on the one he'd brought.

Time for a bus home.  Coming soon:  With the resumption of normal-ish train services, somewhere over the water, maybe Heswall?

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Out Of Luck in Earlestown

I have always known I was taking a risk doing pub surveys on Tuesday afternoons:  With it being the quietest time of the week, pubs might not bother to open.  So far, I've generally got away with it, but my luck had to run out some time, and today turned out to be the day.

With my choice of destinations limited by the closure of the railway at Lime Street, I decided to mop up a few places in Earlestown that I'd not visited for fifteen years, or in one case, never.

Outside the station is the Railway, which was closed as expected:
This place has closed down and re-opened a few of times over the last ten years, but I think it's finally had it this time, although you never know.

Next, I headed for the Houghton Arms.  Hidden down a residential cul-de-sac as it was, I had guessed this would be long gone so I wasn't very surprised to find it converted to housing:
I wandered to the Old Crow:
Looks like it's still an operational pub, but not open at two on a Tuesday.

Now a long walk (Made much longer by a failure of my sense of direction) to the Griffin:
Once again, an operational pub but not open.  What a magnificent building!

My thirst was really building now, and I headed back towards the centre and, at last, an open pub, the Wellington:
Behind the rather scruffy exterior is a clean and tidy plain two bar boozer, with a handful of regulars chatting and watching racing in the bar side.

As usual, no-one took any notice as I typed on my tablet, but for some reason I can't explain I felt a little uncomfortable here, so I quickly tucked it away in my bag.

I've not been in since 2003, so at least I got one desirable tick today.

My next target was the never before visited Rosie's Bar:
Despite the sign outside saying it opens at 2pm on a Tuesday it clearly hadn't.  I suspect it might be closed forever.

I was running out of targets now, not fancying the long walk to Wargrave and Vulcan Village, and I dithered about catching a bus to Saint Helens and doing some pubs there, but I decided to stick to Earlestown and tick off a couple that I'd done "only" four years ago.  So, on to the Newmarket:
Last time I was here, in 2014, it was in the middle of being redecorated and we were squeezed into one small room.  Today the whole place was in operation and the interior is plain and well cared for.

As usual, I went in the wrong door and joined a couple of racing fans in the bar, while there was quite a bit of cheerful chatter audible from the lounge.

What a pleasant, comfortable, friendly pub this is.  For some reason I just felt at home here.  All it needs is some real ale to go with the handpumps!

The shortage of open "target" pubs is not all bad news, it gave me an excuse to have a pint in the Wetherspoon's Nine Arches which would normally be disallowed because I was here only two years ago:
Hidden down a back street in a former Methodist Hall, this is a rather fine member of the chain so I was glad of an excuse to go back.  On my previous visit, in the first weeks of opening, it was absolutely packed; today was a lot quieter, but still doing steady business in drink and food.

I was particularly chuffed to see one of their international collaboration brews called "Anti-hipster-min" on the bar, having enjoyed four pints of this gorgeous beer yesterday evening in my local branch, so I had another today.  It's brewed at Adnam's, by the way.

Next, back towards the station to finish in the Ram's Head:
This plain boozer has kept its historic layout with the two room lounge side served from three hatches at the back of the servery.

The decor in the bar is plain but well cared for, clean and tidy as everywhere is nowadays.  The "bare brick" wallpaper in the lounge looks ugly, but that's only my personal taste.

I watched Tipping Point on the telly at the end of the bar, blimey the questions are easy (Angleterre is French for which part of the United Kingdom?) but it's a fun gameshow for afternoon TV.

Time for my train home.

Coming soon:  Kensington and then further afield once the trains are back.

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Wavertree

I began today's perambulation with an attempt to finish off Smithdown Road, starting at the Evil Eye:
This converted shop has the now-standard bare brick walls and retro light bulbs, and seems to carry off the style better than many.

Two handpumps but no clips, so I had a rather tasty pint of Goose Island IPA, served in the correct glass.  Mind you, at £4.80 a pint, it's not cheap!

The place was ticking over at two on a Saturday afternoon, a group of people at the back of the room were quietly chatting, over some food I think. 

The music, a good selection, was at exactly the right volume for the time of day; the giant speakers and audio gear being set up around me told me the "DJ and alternative karaoke" later on will be a lot louder!

I studied the posters.  How come it's "Liverpool Beer Week" and I've never heard of it?  Is that why a group of twenty or thirty people, some carrying bottles, have just walked past?

Next, the Craft Taproom:
I'll simply repeat what I said last week; what kind of a pub isn't open at one o'clock on a Saturday?  There wasn't even a sign showing opening hours, so I didn't know if it was worth waiting until three.  Whatpub says it opens at one, facebook says two.  I wonder if it's actually closed for good?

On to the Brookhouse:
A bit of a change from last place.  Maybe a hundred people in, but this enormous place is still not crowded at all.  Some were eating, others here for the beer, customers ranged from groups of youngsters through families to the old codgers in the corner.  (I don't like to think where I fit in that progression.)  There was a fifty-fifty mix of diners and drinkers

The knocked through interior retains a hint of its original splendour, mainly the high ceiling plasterwork and a few leaded glass panels in the windows.

Should I go back to try the Taproom again, now it's three o'clock?  I can't be bothered, it's their loss.  So, forwards to Hill 16:
The full name is Hill 16 Grog House and Kitchen, a bit of a mouthful!

No real ale, of course, so I had Heineken.

Inside there's a bit of an Irish theme - the gents is labelled Fir - but this is no "plastic paddy" bar, it's much better than that.  Chit chat between the barman and subsequent arrivals told me they're moving from Irish to more of an American dive bar feel.  Anyway, I couldn't really say why but I liked it.

A gentle stream of customers kept the place ticking over while I was there, some had food.

Golf was on the tellies, the commentary mixing with chatter and rather good background music.

Something that always causes me to cringe: One part of the wall was decorated with 12 inch records.  Although my own collection is tiny, I feel that any vinyl is precious and it's sacrilege to glue it to the wall.  Perhaps my (limited) exploits as a pirate radio DJ influence my feelings on this matter; I would only take enough records for one show into the studio, just in case we were raided and I lost the lot!  (We never were.)

Next, a stroll across the park to Picton, and the Prince Alfred:
A busy lively boozer, with plenty of friendly locals filling the place with chatter and drowning out the gentle background music.

The decor is fake traditional, the large wood beams and imposing fireplace are all fairly modern, I think, but make for a pleasant feel anyway.  Regrettably the stag's head and collection of chamber pots seem to have been lost in the years since my last visit, in 2003.

Un-surprisingly there was no real ale so I had another lager, Carling this time.

I couldn't get over how lively and busy this place was, perhaps I need to do more Saturday and less Tuesday researches?

Finally, the Thatched House:
Now this is a true down market boozer, loud music and louder regulars, a very drunk one of whom moved a table so I could sit down more easily.

The inside has bog standard plain decor, as always nowadays well maintained, clean and tidy.

I noticed the local who moved the table for me was drinking cans of John Smiths, not the draft Tetley.  Odd.  He turned out to be the nutter of the pub, dancing to the music and generally messing about to the amusement of the other customers.

One of the regulars had a little dog which everyone made a fuss of.  It was obviously used to being in the pub, and lay down at its master's feet.  I was worried that someone drunk (Possibly me) would tread on it but thankfully no-one did.

Time for the bus home.  Coming soon, possibly:  Kensington and Earlestown.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Around Woolton

I started today's outing in the Brown Cow in Gateacre:
In contrast to the half-timbered exterior, the inside is modern.  A pleasant plain boozer, knocked through into one open room, and very well looked after.

Three hand-pumps on the bar, but all the clips were turned round (NBSS 0).  This is probably why we don't come in here any more on the Woolton Pub Crawl, which this year started just round the corner in the Black Bull.

The sound was some daytime TV rubbish, mixed with cheerful chatter from the three or four locals.

On to what used to be the English Rose, now the CookHouse:
Inside the unusually curved building, the English Rose retained a few original-looking features, but they have now been swept away in the comfortable pleasant modern interior.  They concentrate on food, and there's a large carvery counter at one end of the room.  At two on a Thursday no-one was using it, although there were a number of diners about the place finishing their lunches.  I wonder how long a joint of roast beef can sit under those lights before it goes dry and leathery?  (Not a complaint since I didn't try any, a well run place would throw it out before that happened.)  There were nine chickens rotating in the spit-roaster so they are obviously expecting some more custom later.

I risked a pint of Deuchars IPA from one of the two handpumps, it was a bit tired but just about drinkable (NBSS 1.5).

I see from the TV screen displaying their adverts that there's an electronic pub quiz here - "no pens, no paper, just download the app".  Makes me feel old!  If you're doing the quiz on a smart phone, what's to stop you looking up the answers on Google?  [Other invasive data-gathering search engines are available.]

A bloke who had been sitting outside brought his lager back because a wasp had landed in it.  He got a free replacement!

Next, an awkward border-line pub, is it in Halewood or Woolton or Hunts Cross?  Whichever is correct, plotting the pubs on a map shows it's not far from the CookHouse, so off I headed.

The Grenadier is housed in an unusually-shaped 1960s building:
Apart from being beautifully maintained inside and out, this doesn't seem to have changed much since my first visit back in 1999.  It retains what could be the original layout, and probably the original matchboarding.  The lounge side looked out of action so I sat in the bar, the only customer.  There's a smaller room off to one side, I don't know what its original function was, perhaps just a snug, but with no windows and the lights off it wasn't in use today.  I've no idea what the sticking-out upstairs is or was for, I couldn't even see a way up - perhaps staff accommodation?

Unusually, when I ordered my drink "Carling please", I was asked "half or pint?"  I stopped saying "pint of" a few years ago and this is the first time it hasn't worked.  (NBSS 0)

I was about half way through my drink when another customer came in.  I always think it's great if the landlady knows your name, and Brian was so honoured.  Another one (Jack) joined us later.

On to the Waiting Room(s):
The signs outside names this "The Waiting Room", but the fake etched glass in the windows says Waiting Rooms, so who knows what the correct name is?  The nit-picking pub collector's nightmare!

Anyway, whatever the name, inside is a partially knocked through pub surrounding an island servery.  Most of the interior is in the original station building but the front part is an enclosed area outside the original late 19th century walls.  This makes for a fun, quirky layout.  It's strange to have an old stone and brick wall complete with windows across the middle of the pub!

No real ale so I had another Carling, with no question as to the quantity this time.  (NBSS 0)  I reckon this would be a good place for a real ale pub, similar to the ones in Irlam and Urmston on the same line.  Mind you, I would only come in once every five years so who am I to comment?

A number of regulars were chatting, the only other sound was racing on the telly.  The large speakers implied it would be a lot noisier later or perhaps tomorrow evening.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Mostly Duke Street

I started another St Helens Saturday in the Lamb:
Saint Helens continues to surprise and having nipped into the Lamb for a quick lager because my GBG target doesn't open until one, I was startled to see six handpumps.  I had a pint of something from Coach House, I didn't like it much but that's down to my preferences rather than any fault with the beer, I think.

The inside is rather fine, very well decorated with a few original-looking features in the partially knocked through lounge side, the bar looks good as well.

A handful of other customers, none on the cask, were just about keeping the place ticking over.

I strolled on to the Good Beer Guide listed News Room:
Bugger!  It opens at three, not one as shown on whatpub.  Don't you just hate it when that happens!  Oh well, their loss.

I headed back towards the centre, to tick off some of the other places on Duke Street, starting with Perry's Bar:
A plain clean and tidy corridor bar with no-one but me present.  Eventually I realised the landlord was grovelling behind the bar sorting something out.  He soon jumped up and served me a cool pint of fizz.

Not my sort of place, giant speakers in a small room, no-where to sit down, but I bet it's buzzing on a Saturday night.

The landlord continued sorting out behind the bar, undisturbed by other customers, while I watched Goodnight Sweetheart and then Are You Being Served? on the telly.  I tried to pretend I wasn't interested but couldn't resist smiling.

Just next door is the Green Room:
Another plain, clean and tidy shop conversion, wider than Perry's and with a lighter friendlier interior, and more customers - At least five plus me.

My pint of Carling was a remarkable £1.90 which probably explains why there were more people in!

The TVs here were showing racing but I don't think anyone was watching.

The bar front is covered in posters for music performances here.  Have they got a hall out the back or do these happen in the small room in which I was sitting?  Judging by the picture I would have thought the Cheese Puff Death Squad (!!!) could fill the whole room with no space for an audience!  I guess I'll have to come back on a Saturday evening to find out.  Maybe.

I can't say why but I really liked this place, at this time on a Saturday it's a friendly local's boozer with a cheerful landlady looking after everyone.  As I neared the bottom of my pint she asked if I wanted another before disappearing out the back for something.

Just a couple of doors further down is the Kazbar:
This unusual 60s construction used to be a furniture warehouse.  Inside the curved glazed frontage is a small pleasant one room boozer, very bright and airy.  Upstairs is a sports area according to the sign (Pool, darts, dominoes) or you can sit in the sunshine outside.

A dozen drinkers were keeping the place going, plus a family outside.  Best music so far today, the Eagles were followed by Gerry Rafferty.

Another pleasantly comfortable place with friendly cheerful happy locals and staff.

I had wondered if today's England World Cup match would interfere with this trip, but as kick-off time passed no-one seemed inteterested and the tellies in here continued to show racing.  Shortly after I'd typed that, a few minutes after kick-off, someone put in a request and the channel was changed to show the game, and moments later Belgium were 1-0 up.  The bloke next to me had a bet on for 3-1 to Belgium, I think he's in with a chance!

Next door is the Breeze:
A large airy light open room was busy with drinkers and football fans, I even saw one bloke with a St George's Cross in his hair.  The match was on and most were watching, pleasingly the commentary was loud but not deafening.

Way more customers than anywhere else I've visited today, and still plenty of room for more.  I bet this place does well later on, the sign says open until 5 am!  I'm too old for that sort of night out nowadays.

What am I saying?  I've always been too old for 5 am!  When I lived in Pittsburgh, if you knew where to go you could drink right through the night and finish with a lager and breakfast, but I never managed that.

A steady flow of customers kept the place much busier than anywhere else I'd been today, while England completely failed to respond to Belgium's early goal.

So, that leaves the News Room on its own in this corner of St Helens, reducing their chance of a visit any time soon.  Serves 'em right, what kind of a pub isn't open at one o'clock on a Saturday?

Maybe next:  Gateacre and Smithdown Road

Friday, 6 July 2018

A Bonus in Liscard

Another Wirral survey, but not rural this time.  I started in Wallasey at Sheridans:
Back in '04 when this was the Black Horse I described it as rather tatty.  Definitely not the case in Sheridan's which has great, rather restrained decor in the two sided interior.  It's clearly well looked after.

There were three real ales on the bar but at half twelve on another hot day I didn't want the first one out, so stuck to fizz.  No cask ale was pulled while I was here.

I noticed a local called this "The Black", I often think people renaming a long standing pub are on a hiding to nothing.

The inevitable footie decorations here included a couple of "England" cushions!

Every table had a rack of menus and a number but none of the handful of customers were eating.  I did notice a strong burnt food smell emerging from the kitchen, though, so something was (over) cooking!

The DJ console and glitter ball suggested it'll be a lot noisier later, in contrast to the peaceful calm I was enjoying.

Next, a short stroll to the Cheshire Cheese:
Just three customers and me in this very pleasant multi-room pub.

Contrary to my decision in Sheridans I decided to risk the cask here, and my pint of Landlord was pretty much perfect.

The interior seems unchanged since my last visit, in 2004, but it's obviously had care and attention since then, keeping it in good nick.

I bet this is a great pub to have as a local:  Friendly, comfortable and serving quality ale.

There's a fine collection of gin bottles filling the high shelf all round the rooms.

A quick check of the Ship confirmed it was closed, as expected:

Next, a longer walk took me to the Boot, which now opens at four, apparently.  Hmph:
Will I still be here at four?  Probably not, in which case it's their loss, I'm not coming back to Liscard for just one pub!

Across the road is the Scrap Yard:
Inside I found a quirky fun interior full of tables, with just a few customers drinking coffee.  At the bar there were twenty or more craft ales, too many for a pub ticker to make a quick choice!  I always feel under pressure when the barmaid is poised to serve me, so I quickly selected a stout from Mad Hatter which turned out to be fantastic.

They've got one of those clusters of fake retro lamps, but someone was too lazy to fix them to the ceiling, so instead it's twelve bulbs tied together in a bundle which, actually, looks rather good, better than the standard spread out arrangement.

My next port of call was supposed to be the Tower but hang on, what's this?  It looks like a pub and by golly it is a pub!  I'd never noticed Rocks before, but here it is:
Well I never!  It's a rare event nowadays to come across a completely unexpected pub, I must have missed this on my streetview walks.  Bonus!

Located next door to a Wetherspoon's you're faced with a choice:  Either you compete and do real ale and cheap food, or you go a different way and do something else.  This place has chosen the latter, and seems to be doing a good job.

I was surprised to note that the keg bitter here was Bass, I didn't even know that still existed.

No real ale, but the decor is great fun and I bet it does well in the evenings.  There's a bit of a Mexican touch, I think.  One has a choice of seats at the bar, posing tables, comfortable-looking booths, or tables and chairs on the mezzanine.

There was exactly one customer plus me at 3pm, but I'm sure it's busier later.  The signs advertise live music Wednesday to Sunday nights.

It's never a good sign when the delivery man is paid in cash, but I couldn't see what he was delivering, so maybe it was nothing to do with running the pub and, let's face it, it's certainly nothing to do with me!

On to my next planned target, the Tower:
I've not been in here since 1999, and I reckon it's not changed much, still a well cared for two sided boozer, at the end of the main shopping area.

The three or four drinkers, along with the barman, were watching world cup footie, whilst I selected a seat from which I couldn't see a screen.

I spent some time thinking about the interior here.  I'm guessing it was built in the late 60s or early 70s, and that it hasn't changed much since.  If I'm right, it's perhaps worthy of preservation as there're not many surviving pubs from this era.

So, it's gone four o'clock but, thanks to the discovery of the Rocks, the Boot has lost out and will have to await my next trip here, which could be five years away.  Of course, now that I've written that a new micro is bound to open and get in the GBG and I'll need to come back next year!

Coming soon:  Vauxhall or Smithdown Road.