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:
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.