Thursday, 6 August 2020

Kirkby

A bus took me to Kirkby on an intermittently sunny Thursday afternoon.  I was aiming for some pubs I last visited a long time ago, and I began at the Park Brow:

A good start, one family were sitting outside and I entered a plain and very well cared for room with a counter at one end.  The barmaid soon served me a pint of fizz, paid for in cash.  There was no one else in this side but I could hear hints of activity from the other bar.

I can't recall much from my previous visit twenty-two years ago, but I suspect it has changed little and it remains a pleasant plain working class pub as I described it then.

The dray arrived and the whole place shook as kegs were dropped into the cellar.

I departed via the gents and the lounge side which was very nicely decorated.

On to the Kingfisher:

Another classic estate boozer, the two sides are partially knocked through here.  Another Carling for cash from the cheerful barmaid.

I sat on a comfortable bench seat and looked round.  Quite a few people in here, and a game of pool underway.  Unusually, no music at all, I could just about discern some racing commentary under the general chatter.

My memory clicked into operation:  I think the three pubs in this part of Kirkby were one of my first research trips back in 1998.  Slightly intimidated by the area's reputation I was more than a little startled when, as I walked down a residential side street, a video recorder suddenly flew out of the front door of a house and crashed in the front yard.  It was rapidly followed by a very young boy who grabbed the mains lead and proceeded to drag his new toy round the yard.  The windows of the house concerned were boarded up, the local children had obviously gained entry and were having fun with what they could find inside.  I walked on, a little more nervous, but nothing untoward happened to me on this nor many subsequent visits to Kirkby.

Next, the Falcon:

A third classic estate boozer, but it opens at five, so no tick today.  Drat!  (There is a rule amongst pub bloggers that says I should here insert a rant about opening hours, but in this case I hadn't undertaken any research in advance so it's hardly the pub's fault.)

On to Kirkby's centre.  I'm looking for Brambles, not visited since 02, but first I spotted the former Wetherspoon's which, unbeknownst to me, is now the Market Tavern:

It's been taken over by Greene King, who'd have thought it?

Rather to my surprise, there were two handpumps and my pint of Old Golden Hen was a ridiculous £1.29.  Yes I did say pint.  And it was in good nick as well.

The place was very busy, in fact I had some difficulty finding an empty table at which to sit.  I couldn't see anyone eating but I guess three in the afternoon is not a peak time for food.

Nought out of ten for Greene King's software people, their app that I had to download last week doesn't know about this pub.  What's the use of that?

The place got busier and livelier as I enjoyed my ale, the chatter rising to a crescendo as more and more regulars came in.

Finally, Brambles:

I was last here in 02 when it was called Central, I think, and it doesn't seem to have changed since.

There were plenty of people in, the sound track being Johnny Cash mixed with lively chatter.

The sign said table service only but no one was taking any notice and I joined them at the counter to order another pint of Carling.

As I reached the end of my pint, I watched the bar staff (2) thoroughly cleaning the counter and the room.

The TVs were showing gardening programmes, not really right for a sports bar.   Why not the cricket?

The pub "salesman" here was offering me pizza, I think.

So, four boozers all doing well post-lockdown, what more could one ask for?  I was disappointed to have missed the Falcon, though.

Pub of the day: Market Tavern, for decent ale and lively atmosphere.

Miles walked: 1.8

Maybe coming soon: Formby

Friday, 31 July 2020

Crosby, Thornton, Wakes (and Young)

Time for my first real pub research outing since lockdown .  Probably not a wise choice of day to go on a trip to Crosby, as everyone else in Liverpool decided on a day out in the sunshine, making the trains rather busy.

My long suffering tablet finally expired this morning so I had to set off with just the phone, which actually turned out alright.

Another downside of choosing Crosby is that I did a survey here a couple of years ago, so I don't really want to do the obvious pubs today.  This meant I had to march past the wonderful Crows Nest, and the Birkey and on for another mile to the pleasant suburb of Thornton and the Nags Head:
Here I was soon seized by a friendly barmaid/waitress who marched me round the one way system to my table.  A quick glance at the counter as I passed showed only GK IPA on handpump.  The waitress was very keen that I order using their app, resulting in a long delay while I downloaded and installed it and then registered.

Then I found the app didn't have any cask ales.  I concluded it probably wasn't on, and just went with fizz, which was very refreshing after my long walk, and very quickly delivered once I'd mastered the app.

The place was ticking over gently, probably rather quieter than one would have expected on a Friday afternoon pre-Covid.  A number of people in black ties arrived just as I did.

It doesn't seem to have changed much since my previous visit ten years ago although to be honest I can't remember what it was like then, my notes say "ordinary food-pub decor", actually it's rather well done so perhaps improved over the decade.

Next, just 100 yards or so down the road is the Grapes:
Another dining-type pub, this one under the Sizzling brand.  There was a tape across the entrance and I was allowed in only when I agreed to sit outside with my drink, "We've no free tables inside".  Another pint of fizz, this time collected from the counter.  Luckily some high clouds had moved in, so I didn't get roasted at the outside table, most of them had no shelter.

I have to say the new normal for pubs is rapidly losing its appeal, if I'm going to get this amount of inconvenience everywhere I might as well stick to the few favourites where I know I can get decent ale without hassle.

As I swigged my lager and dodged the wasps, a funeral party arrived complete with black stretch limo.  Perhaps their booking was the reason I wasn't allowed a table inside?

Next, a long walk back to Crosby itself where there were a number of potential targets.

I headed for the Blues Bar, never before visited, but there was a big sign "Reserved for a funeral" and the place was packed.  I wonder if it was the same funeral as I had seen in Thornton, probably not.

But what's this?  Just across the road is Frankie's, not in my database:
We've got one table left outside, the waitress said, so I took it, after zapping the track and trace logo - first time I've been done today although I suppose the app at the Nags Head will have recorded my visit as well. 

The tiny inside looked like pleasant modern decor but I didn't really get a good look, stuck outside as I was.  Grand opening today said the sign, but actually it's a re-opening under new management.

The place was very busy and the waitresses were running about keeping everyone served.  I wondered if they would let me in to use the gents?  (They did.)

On leaving I realised this is in part of a rather splendid, once you notice it, Art Deco row of shops.

The wake over the road was thinning out now so perhaps I could get another new tick in the Blues Bar?  Yes!!
A very well done modern bar/restaurant, this, with a slightly less up market and also very nice sports bar on one side.

The covid-19 screens hanging over the counter made it look like they weren't serving, but they were and I was soon enjoying my fourth pint of lager at a small table in the corner of the room.  There were three handpumps on the counter, one with a clip, but I didn't think it was worth the risk.

A nice smell was emanating from the open kitchen, I think that's a pizza oven at the back.

My grammar alert was triggered by the "cocktail's" menu on a blackboard, and I think "margarita" is spelled wrong, oh hang on I'm thinking of the pizza which is margherita.

As Friday afternoon moved on to evening the place got busier, a number of people eyeing my table, while the queue at the counter got longer.

Next, there was a bar called Eight Degrees down a side alley here, which I thought had closed before I could visit, but instead I found Larkin's Bar:
The doorway and alley were full of drinkers so I didn't like to take a photo, I pinched this one from their social media instead. 

A tiny bar with just enough room for one pool table, full of lively regulars, spilling out into the street.  Obviously no real ale so Carling once again.  The chatter was loud in the tiny room with horse racing on the telly in the background.  No tables were free so I had to sit at the bar and ignore the suspicious looks as I wrote this on my phone.

Cash only in here, my first use of real money today.

Ooh look, they've got one of those Guinness Surgers, they're still going then.

Well I never, the advantage of sitting at the counter is you can see what the barman is doing, someone had an Aussie White over ice.

I must say in this day and age it's great to find a lively noisy plain boozer.

Time to head for home, I think.  Good grief, social isolation what's that?  The train back to Liverpool was about 150% loaded, packed with families going home from a seaside trip and groups off for a night out in the city.  Most but not all were masked but this is not what the authorities had in mind, I think.  

When I got to Lime Street with forty minutes to wait for my train home, I realised that "the authorities" had no interest at all in social distancing, or they wouldn't make us carry on with only half the normal train service.

Well, a better than expected survey despite the hassle of getting in and out of the chain pubs.  Who'd have thought I'd get three brand new ticks, taking my grand total to 1,326.

Pub of the day: Hard to say, I think I might just have to choose Larkin's as a liveley friendly boozer.
Miles walked: 4.2
Maybe coming soon: Don't know yet.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Birkenhead

Not a "pub survey" this afternoon, just a few drinks over the water with friends.  We started in Wetherspoon's Brass Balance
As with all the 'spoons I've visited post-lockdown, this was doing pretty well, with plenty of drinkers and diners keeping the staff busy.  My pint of Abbot was rather muddy, but it tasted fine.

Next, on to the Stork, where we found one customer, one member of staff, and no real ales.

We moved on immediately to the Riverview where we again found no ale.

Just next door is Gallaghers which seems to have gained a mural:
Here, they were ticking over nicely, four real ales were available including Plum Porter but I chose White Rat which was perfect.

We adjourned to the beer yard which has been nicely done up since my last visit, making for a very comfortable and pleasant experience.

Next, on to the Swinging Arm where we again found a lack of real ale.  We decided to stay anyway, and I enjoyed a pint of Shipyard.

Finally, we ended the day with a couple more of the excellent White Rat in Gallaghers, before catching the train home.

Pub of the day: Gallaghers
Miles walked: 1.2 miles
Maybe coming soon: Crosby

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Dale Street

Called to do my duty at the Blood Donor centre, I took the opportunity to visit a few pubs along Dale Street, starting at Rigbys:
Here I found compulsory table service, hand gel and form filling, and just two other customers.  (I later spotted some more in the courtyard at the back.)   The three staff had very little to do.

There were just two real ales on, I had a superb pint of White Rat.

Just a short stroll along Dale Street is the Vernon Arms:
There was a chain across the entrance and I had to sign in and be allocated a table before being allowed in the pub.  They had a full range of real ales on offer, but the rum porter was somewhat past its best, the first off pint I've tasted post lockdown - I really should have rejected it.

The place was ticking over nicely, with almost every table in the front part occupied, so I was assigned a table in the back room, on my own.  Are they trying to tell me something?  Perhaps the patch on my arm was off-putting.

A little further up is the Excelsior:
The barman insisted I treated my hands as I entered (I would have, anyway) but there was no requirement for ID.  Only two real ales on, and I selected Landlord which if I'm being really picky was maybe a little over-chilled but pretty much spot on when it was brought to my table.

I must complain that a strongly lemon scented hand wash spoils the flavour of the ale until it wears off ones hands, a more neutral gel would be much better.

Only one member of staff was visible, ably looking after the six or so customers here.  As with the other two visits today, the soundtrack was quiet muzac and chatter.

I was glad to see the pubs back in action, especially the Excelsior and the Vernon which I had noted boarded up a couple of months ago.

Friday, 10 July 2020

The First Week

Here's a list of all the pubs I've observed during this first post-lockdown week.  After careful consideration I have decided I am not going to maintain or update this list because (a) it's a lot of effort, (b) it's not fair on the many excellent pubs who lose out purely because I haven't walked past them yet and (c) the information will get out of date on a daily basis.

My general feeling has been relief and pleasure that I'm back in the pub, but I'm concerned that if the current restrictions continue long term then many places will not survive.  I haven't visited any at traditional busy times yet, but I noticed some had queuing markings outside the door; the day I have to queue to get in to a boozer is the day I switch to drinking at home.

Huyton
PubDayStatus
CroftersFridayOpen
Stanley ArmsFridayOpen
SwanWednesdayOpen

Liverpool City Centre
PubDayStatus
Ava'sThursdayOpen
Blarney StoneThursdayOpen
Blob ShopThursdayOpen
Butterfly and GrasshopperThursdayOpen
Celtic CornerThursdayNot open when I passed.
CrownWednesdayOpen, with a very limited range of real ales.
DispensaryThursdayOpen, excellent ale as usual.
ExcelsiorThursdayOpen
Jimmy'sThursdayNot open. Signs say opening Thursday.
LiffeyThursdayNot open when I passed.
Molly Malone'sThursdayNot open when I passed.
Nelley Foley'sThursdayOpen
NookThursdayLong closed.
Pogue MahoneThursdayClosed and tinned up.
RichmondThursdayOpen (I noted the decorators were in a couple of weeks ago.)
Rose and CrownThursdayOpen
ShakespeareThursdayOpen
Ship and MitreThursdayOpen, great ales.
Smokie Mo's
(Charlotte Street)
ThursdayOpen
Sweeney'sThursdayOpen
Tess Riley'sThursdayOpen
Vernon ArmsThursdayOpen
VinesThursdayNot open when I passed.

I have omitted Wetherspoon's from the table, as far as I know all of them are open and the ones I have visited have all had decent real ale.

The New Normal?

I headed into town to do some shopping which allowed me note the status of some pubs as I passed.  See the following post for a list.

Having completed my appointed tasks, it was time for a pint.  I headed for a favourite, the Dispensary.

I had to zap a QR code with my phone and then text the government before entering!  Presumably there's another procedure for less well equipped drinkers.  I was guided to a table and handed a menu.  The waitress soon returned to take my order for a pint of the wonderful White Rat.  I paid by contactless of course.

The place was quite busy in post-lockdown terms, with only one or two vacant tables, dropping to zero while I was there.  A gentle background of chatter mixed with the quiet music.  The beer was excellent.  I noticed the waitress was very on the ball in offering another as people's glasses neared empty.

Having had a haircut on Tuesday I was on the lookout for any lockdown hair disasters amongst my fellow drinkers, but I didn't spot any.

So, not a bad experience for my first non-Wetherspoon pub, but there's no way it will scale to a busy Friday night.  If these restrictions continue long term then I fear the pub as we know it is doomed.

I walked on, pleased to note that the boarding up had gone from the Vernon Arms and the Excelsior, both of which were open.  I aimed for another favourite, the Ship and Mitre.

This is basically unchanged, apart from being asked to fill in a track and trace form, and reminded not to stand at the bar once served - What a great improvement to pub etiquette this is, no more bar hogs blocking my view of the pumps!  They currently only have about half the usual number of real ales on, with all the pumps in the back room being out of use, but the pale one I had - I forget what it was - was spot on.

No music in here, just a gentle background of chatter

Moving on to Friday, and a couple of pubs in Huyton, beginning with the Stanley Arms.

Apart from an orderly queue at the counter nothing has changed in here, and on a Friday afternoon it was busy with families enjoying meals, as well as groups of drinkers and some solo ones as well.

Quiet music mixed with chatter and the occasional rattle of crockery, as I enjoyed my Guinness.

On down the road to the Crofters.

A similar experience here, except that half the pub is reserved for diners, guarded by a waitress who directed me to the drinkers' end.  A short queue of people standing at the bar didn't take long to process and I was soon served.

Again, quite busy but not completely full, even with the significantly reduced capacity.


Saturday, 4 July 2020

Reborn On The Fourth Of July

It was with a mounting feeling of anticipation that I headed out this morning, my destination was Wetherspoon's Barker's Brewery.  Will there be any decent ale?  Will there be a queue?  Will I need ID to get in?
No queue!  I headed in, walked up to the bar, and ordered a couple of pints of Big Bog Willo-The-Wisp, and sat down at one of the tables.

Wonderfully, nothing much seemed to have changed.  OK, the tables were more scattered, some screened off, and there were screens around the tills at the bar.  But the basic experience was unchanged, the ale was very good, the staff were friendly and chatty.  Most of the Saturday morning crowd seemed to turn up, although overall I felt it was slightly less busy than a normal Saturday and very few breakfasts were served.

The manager stopped for a chat, bemoaning the difficulty of ordering real ale last week, many breweries being sold out, but luckily Big Bog had come up trumps.  He said the choice might be a bit limited, we advised that one decent real ale was enough to be going on with!  (Actually, I later had a Porter also from Big Bog, so that's at least two decent ales.)

So, a gentle return to something approaching normality, let's hope it continues like this.


Monday, 20 April 2020

Another Update

Not much to report, as I don't think "pub research" is a valid reason for wandering around.

The Excelsior has joined the Vernon Arms in being boarded up:


Thanks to the demolition of the flyover, it is now much easier to take a picture of the Ship and Mitre:

Monday, 30 March 2020

Lockdown Update

The last two pubs I visited were the Oak Tree and the Swan in Huyton, in the afternoon of "Lockdown Friday", the 20th of March.  The landlady in the Swan was busy putting up Mothering Sunday decorations, not knowing they wouldn't be used.

I was tempted to nip to Wetherspoon's in the evening for a farewell pint or two of decent real ale, but in the end I didn't bother.  I may come to regret that more as the weeks drag on into months.

Today (Monday) I headed into town on the train to visit the Blood Donors.  The city was very quiet, of course, with all pubs shut, but I was particularly concerned to see the Vernon Arms was boarded up - They're obviously not expecting to re-open any time soon, if at all.

By the way, if you're short of supplies, the Lidl on Lime Street had plenty of bread, milk, eggs, rice and toilet rolls, a few bags of pasta and even some antibacterial liquid soap.  And it wasn't busy.

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Waterloo

Gosh, it's windy here, perhaps I should have selected an inland location for today's survey!  Anyway, the sun was shining brightly as I started a mopping-up operation in Waterloo.  I've been here a few times in recent years but there's still a handful of places overdue for a revisit.  I started in the Old Bank:
Something strange in here.  Either my memory from 2011 is faulty or the place has been gutted and remodelled.

The interior now is extremely well done in traditional pub style, with lots of dark wood panelling and some glazed partitions.  The more I look, the more I think it is all new, in which case they've done a superb job.

Two clips on the pumps, and my pint of Titanic Steerage was excellent.  Most of the regulars were watching the horse racing (Cheltenham Festival), and my change came with a sweepstake ticket offering a free pint if my horse won, but it didn't.

The sound in here was lively chatter amongst the cheerful regulars, with racing commentary in the background.  What a great pub.

Just two doors down is Wetherspoon's Queens Picture House:
A quick scan of the counter here, and it was another Titanic brew which caught my eye, so I had an excellent pint of White Star which I must say tasted just like the Steerage I had before.

As you would expect in a spoons, the place was busy with a wide spectrum of customers, but not so busy that I couldn't find a comfortable seat.

The quirky decor is rather good in here, I sat in the side room which has bare brick walls and a skylight to let the sunshine in.

My next target was another pub not visited since 2011, the Lion and Unicorn:
They certainly like their pubs in Waterloo!  Another busy lively boozer with the soundtrack a mixture of cheerful chatter and racing commentary.

No real ale in this one, so I had a pint of Foster's for a change, Australian fizz instead of the usual Canadian.  (Yes, I know they're both brewed in England.)

No matter which way I looked there was a screen showing the racing, I couldn't avoid it.

That's the three pubs here overdue for a visit ticked off, what should I do now?  I decided to finish in one which has changed its name since my last visit.  In 2018 it was Stamps Too, now it's the Waterpudlian:
Apart from the name, nothing seems to have changed here since my previous visit.  The decor is exactly the same, in fact there's still a Stamps Too sign, and most importantly the real ale continues to be excellent.  Another favourite of mine, White Rat, was on so no difficulty in choosing what to have.  And it was great.

Only two other customers, which is a shame; this place deserves more.  Happily, as soon as I'd written that another one came in, followed moments later by some more.

Time to head home.

Pub of the day: The Old Bank for it's brilliant rebuild.
Miles walked: Only half a mile today.
Maybe coming soon: Thornton and Crosby.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Saint Helens West

A bus ride in bright sunshine carried me to some overdue ticks in the South west of St Helens, and I started my researches in the Eccleston Arms:
In the twenty-two years (!) since my last visit this has moved up market and it's now a rather posh looking dining place. They also have accommodation upstairs.

Two handpumps on the counter, I'm afraid my pint of Lancaster Amber was of poor quality, probably first out of the pump today.

There were a few groups of diners scattered around the four areas, I sat in the front room in splendid isolation. The Muzak was pleasingly quiet.

Just a short walk away is the Bird i'th Hand, another pub last visited in '98:
No problems with the real ale here because they didn't have any, so it was a half of fizz for me.

Outside, as you can see, this is a rather fine inter-war roadhouse, I don't think much if any of the interior is original apart from the doors and windows, but it's very pleasant. It has been mostly knocked through but pillars and some glazed wood panelling keep the separation between areas.

Only a handful of customers were in, quiet chatter mixing with the music.
The menu of pub food standards looks good, and good value. The font on the name sign had led me to believe this is another Greene King chain pub, but the menu suggested it might be independent?

On to the Black Bull:
Completing a very satisfying trio of pubs not visited since 1998, this one is housed in a splendid inter-war building even better than the last one. Inside I found the interior is a mixture of original features and more modern parts.

No clips on the handpumps again, I had Guinness this time.

At three on a Thursday afternoon the place was pretty empty, in fact at one point I think I was the only customer in the room.

This large room was only a small part of the building, I suspect there are other rooms perhaps closed on a weekday afternoon, or permanently. On the other hand, I could hear voices from elsewhere so maybe they are in use.

My next target was a never before visited pub which I expected to be closed, the Glassblower:
And indeed it was.

Now time for a treat, CAMRA's national pub of the year 2018 and still great, the Cricketers Arms:
I was pleased to find this place continues to be a real ale fans' heaven, and my pint of Jarl was perfect. Served in an oversized glass as well.

No audible music in here, the soundtrack was cheerful chatter from the many customers, certainly the busiest pub of the day so far.

It's pleasing that, away from the town centre, hard work and quality ale can make a successful pub, long may it continue.

Pub of the day: Obviously the Cricketers.
Miles walked: 2.3

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Childwall and Broad Green

A train and a bus took me into Liverpool's inner suburbs, specifically Childwall and the Halfway House:
I entered the bar side to find no staff and only one customer, sitting at the counter.  "You'll get served quicker in the other side", he advised, so I went through the corridor to find a much busier lounge side, with more than half of the tables occupied by diners.

Pedigree and Doom Bar were on handpump and my Pedigree, served in a John Smith's conic, was a little over-chilled and tasted rather bland, where's the Burton Snatch?

Gentle background music mixed with the chatter of happy diners as I enjoyed my pint.

It's almost ten years since my last visit here, when the place was packed with people wearing 3d glasses watching footie on the telly.

Next, a stroll through up-market suburbia to the Childwall Abbey:
This place was substantially refurbished in 2018.  I can't recall details from my previous visit in 2006 but I get the feeling the interior is less "historic" than it was, although it's certainly very pleasant.

Despite being branded a Marston's house, they didn't have Pedigree on, my pint of Bombardier was fine.

Again, gentle muzac and cheerful chatter were the soundtrack here.

At this point, something I love about my life in Liverpool happened; a former work colleague walked in.  Pub research was put on hold for an extended catch-up session.

I said goodbye to Alby and headed on to Wetherspoon's Childwall Fiveways:
The Fiveways was a regular Friday night haunt of mine thirty years ago, and inside it hasn't really changed, a rather good fake traditional style pub with dark woodwork and leaded glass panels.

My pint of a stout from Big Bog was excellent, pint of the day so far.

The pub was, as you expect in a 'spoons at half term, busy with families enjoying food and drink.

My mind wandered: When I was five years old I don't think my parents would have considered it appropriate to take me to a pub - It's interesting how the norms have changed in the intervening years.  All the little ones today were reasonably well behaved so I didn't feel their presence detracted from my enjoyment of the boozer in any way.

Onwards along Queens Drive, to the Rocket:
A well cared for modern construction which, I think, replaced a pub of the same name demolished for the construction of the adjacent M62.

Fairly quiet at five on a Tuesday but still ticking over. I checked out the menu which I must say looks to be good value; my standard reference, fish and chips, is only £7.69.  I couldn't see anyone eating, though.

No real ale, so a half of Canadian fizz sufficed.

Just a hundred yards or so to my final call, the Turnpike, it was OK when I set off but I was being shot-blasted by hail by the time I got there.  (Too dark for a photo, I'm afraid.)

Concentrating on their food offer, the place was quite busy, family groups and couples enjoying their dinner from the standard pub menu.

Just one real ale was on offer, my pint of Doom Bar was in good nick.

The quiet background music was completely drowned out by chatter and the rattle of crockery.

I forgot to look for the time capsule to be opened in 2045 that I noted previously, I hope it's still here.

Pub of the day: Childwall Fiveways because it provided the pint of the day.
Miles walked: 3.4 (Would have been less if I hadn't caught the wrong bus!)

Saturday, 4 January 2020

New Year in Town - Part II

Another day, another varied selection of pubs in Liverpool, starting with a place I've never visited:  This used to be Tom Hall's until it went bust last year, now it's Jurgen's Bierhaus:
I pulled my hat down and hoped none of my Evertonian friends were around to see me as I quickly sidled in.

Inside I found a large cellar bar in three rooms, decorated with lots of LFC memorabilia, and mostly painted in their colours.

Surprisingly quiet on a Saturday afternoon, just seven people in the large "boot room" where I sat to enjoy my Guinness.  Live football on umpteen tellies, luckily silent, not Liverpool though.  I wonder if it'll be busy in here for the derby tomorrow.  Sadly I'll be 200 miles away by then.

Mercenary as always, I can't help wondering how much Herr Klopp gets paid to allow his name and picture to be used.

Next, just round the corner to a place I haven't visited since 2012, Ma Boyle's:
Here I got a pleasant surprise, as there were three handpumps on and my pint of Lister's Christmas Ale (All the way from Sussex.) was excellent.  Many years ago this was a wonderful place for real ale, and on one occasion I was even allowed to pull my own pint, possibly the only time I've done that.  So you can imagine my disappointment in 2012 when there was no cask, and my pleasure today on finding it's back.

Quite busy with people drinking wine or cocktails, and eating - the menu looks tempting I must say.

Music at just the right volume plus happy chatter formed the soundtrack of this rather fine pub.

So, this place can go back on my list of Liverpool's hidden gems, although judging by the trade there's not much "hidden" about it.

Where next?  Although not due for a tick, the Pig and Whistle's not far:
A visit here is always a little disappointing as I can remember the historic interior before it was refurbished away back in aught five.  Nonetheless, it's still a pleasant boozer, and my pint of Unicorn, the only real ale available, was fine.

The tiny stage in the corner was equipped for a solo performer.  I guess they also do Karaoke and a sign says "NO VALERIE, NO ANGELS, NO BARBIE GIRL, NO 500 MILES"  That's a shame, with two of my favourites excluded.  (It's left as an exercise for the reader to guess which two!)  I've never sung Karaoke but one of those four is the one I'd probably choose if I was ever stupid/drunk enough to do so.

Pretty quiet in here, and by the time I'd finished my pint it was just me and the barmaid.

Finally, another Liverpool classic, not visited since 2014, the Carnarvon Castle:
This tiny gem was busy as always but I managed to find a seat to enjoy my pint of Director's and write this.

A lively throng of Saturday afternoon shoppers came in and out and as soon as anyone vacated a table someone else wanted it.  Sadly the ceramic frontage and the wonderful collection of dinky toys have long gone, but it's still a wonderful traditional boozer, long may it continue!

No music in here, just a hubub of cheerful scousers.  When I was younger a pub where you had to stand up was fine, of course, but nowadays I need a seat!  On the other hand, it's not often I'm the youngest person in the pub, but I may have been here!

I must say it's a little surprising here slap bang in the City Centre to find I've got no mobile signal.  (I wanted to check my train home)

Pub of the day: Carnarvon Castle

Thursday, 2 January 2020

New Year in Town

My first call of a couple in town was somewhere I haven't visited since 2011, The Bridewell:
Why haven't I been in this wonderful place for nine years, missing a number of name and ownership changes?  You can sit in a cell in this former police station, which has been very well done out since my last visit.

The friendly landlord pulled me a pint of a superb stout from somewhere.  There were five handpumps on, offering a wide selection of different ales.

Very quiet in here and with the music at a sensible volume the main sound was the cheerful landlord chatting with customers.

There's an upstairs as well, I think, but I didn't visit it.

On to the Hub, but it's not called that any more.  Albert's Schenke:
I marched past the "Please wait here to be seated" sign without noticing it, and joined the throng at the counter to order a beer.  Service looked a little slow, but in fact I soon had my drink and bagged one of the few empty tables.

Well well, it's changed a bit since I visited the Hub in 2011, but the one thing they've kept is a small range of quality real ales, I had an excellent pint of Liverpool Pale.
It's now decorated in a sort of German bierhalle style which I have to say I rather like.

Very busy in here, there were only a few free tables, and the majority of people seemed to be drinking rather than eating, perhaps not surprisingly at three in the afternoon.  The only sound was a loud hubbub of happy customers.

After a while I realised why I like this place so much:  It reminds me of "German" bars I've frequented around the world, the Paulaner Brauhaus in Beijing being a particular favourite.  Of course, none of those places serve real ale!

The area around here is full of new eateries and bars, so perhaps it's time to try one new to me; how about Lock and Key:
I think this is mainly a "boutique hotel" (whatever that means) but on the ground floor is a rather well done tiny bar with a couple of Love Lane brews on tap.  Very nicely decorated, I'm not sure how to describe the styling, apart from "pleasant".

Despite it being a cold grey Thursday afternoon, the place was ticking over nicely although not full, and the quiet background muzac was mostly drowned by conversations.  Custom thinned out as I enjoyed my beer, at least one of the clients was only here for a coffee and the free wifi. 

Pub of the day: The Bridewell