Friday, 17 March 2023


On a remarkably warm day I took a bus under the river to Moreton, where I first headed to the Grange:

With the exception of a surfeit of Irish decorations (Is it a special day today??) this pleasant friendly boozer hasn't changed since my visit five years ago.  

Five minutes of fiddling in the cellar failed to fix the Carling supply, eventually I gave up and had a more flavoursome lager instead.  I did wonder if this would come at the Carling price, but sadly not.

The pub was very quiet considering it is two on a Friday afternoon, one group finishing their lunch were the only other people in the "lounge" side where I sat.  I could hear some chatter from the other end of the building, but the five bar staff were hardly stretched, even with two of them busy working on the Carling pipework.

Next, to the centre of Moreton and the Vineyard:

Not much sign of the bistro I recorded five years ago, and I think they've knocked down some walls, maybe?  Anyway, a pleasant open room with a counter on one side, the decor is plain and not over the top.  Any fool can add lots of decorations, it takes taste and skill to produce plain attractive styling.

The landlord disappeared to change his baby's nappy, asking me to field any customers.  Meanwhile, the bloke fixing the light over the door finished his free drink, "that's the easiest pint I've ever earned".

So, I was the only customer until two younger blokes came in wanting to watch something on the telly.  Cheltenham I guess.  The landlord turned down the music and up the commentary, but to a quiet non-irritating level - Well done.

Now, just across the roundabout is the Coach and Horses:

The traffic makes it really hard to get a good photograph of this pub!

It was very busy in here and I toured the whole pub with my pint before squeezing in a corner.  "Got any tips?" asked the lads at the next table.  Apparently they'd spotted me as I came in and I look a bit like a famous tipster.  We soon established that I'm not him!

Ordinary pub decor in here, unchanged since my visit five years ago although clearly well maintained in the mean time.

This place is really doing well at three o'clock, so much busier than the previous two pubs.  Racing commentary was drowned out by the happy chatter of dozens of customers, despite the 'speaker being just above my head.

The Irish decorations were fairly muted here, just a few balloons, although the barmaid was wearing St Patrick's Day deely-boppers.  Is that the right word for those springy things on your head?

I looked around the room as the 2.50 at Cheltenham was run.  Clearly the majority of the people were here to watch the racing, but by no means all of them.

Next, off down a side street or two to a pub which might not be open, let's see...

I was looking for the Sandbrook, but now it's the Clipper:

So it has switched back to the original name, but nothing else has changed in this classic 60s estate boozer.

Just as last time (2018) the lounge is closed off and the happy team of regulars are clustered at the counter chatting with the landlord and landlady.

I waited patiently for one of the regulars to go to the toilet, so I could find out where it was.  No one did so I had to guess.  While on my way there I glanced through the lounge doors, it would appear to be ready and waiting for use perhaps at busy times or for functions.

Lots of banter and shouting as the Gold Cup was run, one of the regulars had a bet on, and his horse fell, I think. I worried that everyone was staring at me until I realised one of the tellies was right above my head and that was what they were watching.  

Finally, I returned to the middle of Moreton, to Greene King's Farmers Arms:

Gosh!  Even busier than the Coach and Horses, with a massive throng at the counter being served fairly well by the bar staff.  It has been said that "who's next" is an admission of failure by bar staff, they ought to be keeping an eye on the crowd and should know who comes next.  Nonetheless, I was soon served with a decent Greene King IPA, I didn't see any other pints of cask sold while I was waiting.

I was given a "buy five get one free" card with my pint, I don't think I'll manage to fill it, at one visit every five years my free pint comes in 2048, age 87!

Quiet commentary from Cheltenham was drowned out by umpteen animated conversations; as I had commented to the gentleman next to me at the counter, it's good to see a busy pub nowadays.  The customers ranged from boozing blokes to dining families - appealing to both is the secret of success nowadays, I think.

My table was reserved for "entertainment" from 7.30, I wonder what that means. Does the performer sit here or do they move this table away to make some space?  In any case, I'll be home before then.  

I watched another race on the telly in my eye line.  One fall, I hope neither horse nor jockey were hurt.

Time for home, I think, so I strolled up to the station.

Pub of the day: The Clipper, a classic.
Beer of the day: Greene King IPA
Miles walked: 2.6
Maybe coming soon: Southport, Edge Hill, Wavertree, Rice Lane

Thursday, 9 March 2023

New Ticks In Town

On a cold snowy day I started my researches in a new one to me, Alberts Schloss:

Actually not completely new, I came here last Saturday afternoon with a friend for lunch, but we were turned away at the door, no tables for eaters available.  We took our custom elsewhere.

Anyway, the door guard was off duty so I could wander straight to the counter today, and anyway I was only here for a drink this time.

A waitress had to chivy the barman away from his chat before I could be served, he then redeemed himself by offering a napkin to wipe my misted up and wet spectacles while he poured me a lovely pint of Budvar Dark.  I suspected this might be one of those card only places, but no, cash is also taken.

The large open room is decorated in, I suppose, bierkeller style.  There are some long benches in the middle, plus booths and other smaller tables scattered around.

All very pleasant, bright and cheerful and comfortably warm.  (I notice Northern Rail, having tired of cancelling trains, are running them without heating now. I know the price of electricity has gone up, but even so...)

Background music mixed with cheerful conversations as I enjoyed my pint and perused the menu.  Pretzels, wursts (sic) and burgers.  Er, isn't the plural of würst würste?  Not sure I approve of this Deutschglish or whatever you call it.

I wanted to dislike this totally fake pastiche but actually it's rather good and I look forward to trying the food some time.

With one new tick under my belt it's time to try for another, the Duke Street Market:

Much bigger than the small frontage suggests, this is a classic warehouse conversion with the usual rough brickwork and exposed steel joists.  There are six kitchens along one wall offering various food styles, and I must say it smells good.

I was pleased to learn from the "greeter" that if I didn't want to bother with the QR code and internet ordering I could just go up to the kitchens and order directly.  I wonder if she only says that to "older" customers?

The place was doing OK, I guess, for a Thursday afternoon at the end of lunchtime, but a number of cooks and waitresses seemed to be idle.  Having said that, it seemed to get busier as I sank my pint.  The slightly too loud music mixed with chatter.  

Time for a proper pub, I think, or at least something in that general direction.  McCartneys Bar:

Goodness, is it really eleven years since I was last here.  I have to admit I don't recognise the pleasant interior at all, has it been remodelled or is my memory failing?  In any case, a plain pub with one long main room plus one or two side areas. Decorated with a Beatles theme, nicely understated.

Sadly the hand pump had gone since my last call, so it was Guinness for me.

Just a few customers were creating a quiet background of conversation to mix with the music.  There was also the occasional click of pool balls.

I noticed an area of the main room with no tables, surrounded by various disco lights, so I assume this place is party central on a Friday night.

Can I get another new tick?  What about Lounge 69 across the road?  Is it within my purview?  I don't think I can be bothered if there's no draft beer.

No worries, I could see a dozen keg fonts on the counter, so in I went.  The greeter wanted to know if I was eating, and then she transformed into a barmaid when I said no.  My first choice was off, but I was soon served with a pint of Stella.

I looked at the cocktail menu.  Given that this claims to be a cocktail bar, only having nine options seems a bit limited.  My favourite, bloody mary, isn't on the list.  When was the last time I had one?  Twenty years ago an ordinary airport bar in America would do a bloody mary, complete with a stick of celery, for "breakfast".  And I seem to recall having one on the plane as well.

The decor in here is rather wonderful in my opinion, I don't know how to categorise it - Lots of mosaics and ceramics, and a fun use of brass pipework fittings as table legs and handrails.  

Good decoration notwithstanding, the place is not doing very well at three on a wintery Thursday, I might be the only customer or perhaps there's one or two out of my eyeline?  I hope they do better at busy times, as I really do like the styling.  Mind you, they could do with turning the heating up a bit, there was no way I was going to take my coat off in here.

Three new ticks should be enough for anyone, so I think I'll head for home before the snow gets too deep (joking).

Pub of the day: Alberts Schloss
Beer of the day: Budvar Dark
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Rice Lane, Southport, Edge Hill

Saturday, 25 February 2023

From Everton to Tuebrook

I headed out towards Breck Road, Everton on a very chilly Saturday afternoon, starting at the Brunel:

My pre-flight checks had warned me this closed in 2021, and it would appear to belong to the local Baptist church now.

A little further along is the Royal:

At first glance I thought this might also have closed, but through the steel grills I could see people moving about inside, so I went in and sure enough found a plain two sided boozer with a fair number of customers.

The interior seems to have lost the fake beams I noted last time.  It's a little tatty, perhaps, but clean and tidy.  And comfortable, albeit a touch chilly.

The spelling on the various notices is appalling:  "premesis" indeed!  I blame the teachers education system.

On to the Lutine Bell:

This one looked closed as well:  Shutters down on the front door and a man on a ladder working on the side door shutters.  But no, there are people inside.  Advised by the shutter menders, I headed round to the back yard entrance and in through the smokers area.

Once inside I found a plain beautifully maintained pub, well occupied by regulars at half one on a Saturday.

The rather bright mustard yellow paintwork I recall from my last visit, in 2017, has become a cheerful but not over garish red.  And it's warm in here as well.

There were enough people in here to make the main sound a hubbub of cheerful chatter; of course they all know each other.  This really is the archetypal friendly boozer, long may it survive.

It was pleasing to see a barmaid kept busy all the time I was here, an almost non stop flow of drinks over the counter.  She did occasionally have time to stop for a chat, but mostly she was pouring.

A little further along is the Windermere:

Another one that looks to be closed, and this time it is, I'm sorry to say.  With the benefit of hindsight I wonder if I should have pushed on the door?

I carried on, passing the long closed but still standing Richmond Arms, last ticked in December 1998, when they had hand-pulled Walker's Bitter:

And on to the Cabbage Hall:

This is a nicely done family dining sort of place, very different from the Lutine - And just as successful.

A well decorated and spotlessly clean interior with nothing historic remaining in this fine 1920s or even earlier (guess) building.

Quite a few family groups were eating, although I wouldn't call it busy.

I've heard of "doggie bags" for taking left over food home but the group sitting near me had plastic glasses for left over lager when they left, I've not seen that before.

I'm not sure if I've discussed the odd name previously:  It is said that a large manor house nearby had the wall on the street decorated with stone pineapples; this was fashionable in Victorian times - And nowadays as well.  The local people had never seen a pineapple and so named the house cabbage hall.

The closed Brunel, expected, and Windermere, unexpected, leaves me short of targets so now I have a choice:  Go home after three, redo a pub done last year, or go for a slightly longer walk.  I looked at my map, there's one isolated target in Tuebrook, so walk it is...

I last visited the Flat House in 2017, I wonder if it has changed?

The answer is it is basically unchanged but a little cooler and, I'm afraid, a lot emptier.  I remember last time I was here - in 2017 - rejoicing over the discovery that "proper" traditional boozers like this were continuing to do well.  I had to perch at the corner of a table, because there was nowhere else to sit.  Today I had the same table to myself and there were plenty of others available.

It would be warmer in here if the smokers would "put wood in't hole" when they went out the back for a smoke.  Actually, after I'd written that they mostly did, and the room felt a lot more comfortable without the icy draught.

There was a steady flow of customers in and out, and many of them knew each other and/or the rather attractive barmaid / landlady.

They've got that mysterious "Caines Lager" here; where does it come from?  Only £2 a pint in February.  I guess my Carling marked me out as an idiot, because Carlsberg is also £2, but I paid somewhat more.

OK, only four ticks today but I think I'll head for home...

Pub of the day: Lutine Bell
Beer of the day: Carling, again.
Miles walked: 1.9
Maybe coming soon: Southport, Everton, Edge Hill

Friday, 17 February 2023


A bus under the river soon saw me in Liscard where there are a number of pubs last ticked in January 2018 and therefore due a revisit.

I started in the Queens:

Not much change in here in five years except for a refurbishment which has resulted in the side I selected looking even better than last time, I think.

Two handpumps on the counter but an "awaiting perfection" sign meant no cask at the moment.  Perhaps later?  I had a Carling.

About a dozen regulars were keeping the chatter going, not bad for one on a Friday, I imagine there are a lot more later.

I could see three different TV sports channels from my seat.

Three constables came in and had a brief word with the barman.  Nosy as always, I tried to listen in but failed.

Next, the slightly odd Stanley's:

No clips on the three handpumps, so it was fizz again for me, and they haven't got Carling!

As I remarked last time I was here, this is a rather peculiar place.  The bare brick decor with little touches that hint at "baronial" style, especially the impressive fireplace, is very attractive but I'm not sure what kind of clientele it is aimed at.

In any case, at two on a Friday I was the only customer which doesn't bode well, although if I recall correctly it was pretty quiet last time I came and it has apparently survived OK since then.  A sign advertised food on Sunday, I can imagine the place full of families enjoying Sunday dinner.

I listened to clonk-clonk-clonk, always in threes.  Yes, the staff were playing darts.  Where did I hear that sound before?  Oh yes, the Volly in Waterloo.

Moving on, I walked to the Vineyard which I expected to be closed; it was, so on to the Duke Of Wellington:

Here I confused the lone barmaid by sneaking in the side door while she went out the other for a smoke break.  She apologized profusely but actually a thirty second delay is hardly anything to complain about.  I insisted there was no problem.

Those stories about people going to their local to save on heating at home clearly don't apply here, it was freezing.  Just a very small number of customers, I think "ticking over" would be exaggerating the trade.  Perhaps some heat would get more people in.  There's a Wetherspoon's just down the road, I bet that's warm.  (We'll see later...)

Onwards, hoping for better ale, to the Lazy Landlord:

Result!  Oakham Citra, one of the greatest ales ever made. Carefully pulled through before my pint was served.  And it was gorgeous.

I've always thought of this as an above average micro-pub, and this visit just confirms that opinion.  Pleasant decor, friendly barman, quality ale, what more could one ask for?  Not that warm inside, but certainly warmer than the Wellington, and storm Otto outside.

Plenty of breweriana decorates the small back area, including a wonderful Tetley sign.

The place was ticking over at ten past three, with more customers than the ten times larger Wellington.

Finally, the Wetherspoon's Clairville, which I'm surprised to see I haven't ticked since 2017:

Another great result, another one of the best ales ever, this time it's Titanic Plum Porter.  Perhaps I ought to make a list of the top ten ales, but that might result in more controversy than I'm ready for?

Plenty of free tables but this is certainly the busiest pub today.  It is now nearly four o'clock, so I guess the others may be more busy than they were.  A classic Wetherspoon's this; where all you can hear is a hubbub of chatter.  My shares are gradually creeping up in value; I think investors are finally realising that the 'spoons formula will do even better in a time of financial constraint and it's the more expensive pubs that will suffer.

As I enjoyed my ale I thought some more about the "greatest ales":  Am I allowed to include historical ones?  Burtonwood Bitter in 1981 would be on my list, for example, but you can't get it any more.

Pub of the day: Lazy Landlord
Beer of the day: Oakham Citra
Miles walked: 1.5
Maybe coming soon: Breck Road, Rice Lane, Edge Hill

Tuesday, 14 February 2023

The Book

Following a lot of editing and typesetting, the 2023 edition of the Merseyside Pub Guide book went on sale today.

This year's weighty tome has 298 pages and lists 1,941 pubs of which I have visited 1,426.

You can order a copy direct from the printer by clicking here, or it is available from Amazon and other distributors.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Another Match Day

My recent successes at Anfield prompted me to try the other local team, so I headed out to Kirkdale.  The danger of going out on a match day is that you, dear reader, will probably have to suffer the opinions on football of someone who knows nothing about it.  Mind you, if you watch the coverage on the telly you'll be accustomed to that, and I don't get paid millions for my drivel.  I'll try and resist the temptation...

A good start:  Close to the station the Peacock and the Melrose Abbey, both of which I feared were long gone, are open.  I snapped photos and carried on towards the ground, saving these two desirable ticks for later.

Always a sign of disgruntled fans, a Cessna was towing a banner around the ground, I didn't manage to work out what it said. 

Down a side road is the impressive building that is the Medlock Hotel:

Last ticked in 2000, I suspected this one was out of action but no, and I was soon swigging a Carling in the comfortable lounge.  I can't actually remember 23 years ago, but it seems to roughly match my database entry from then, a two sided pub.  The lounge side may have been knocked through as it's now one room with nice wood panelling below the dado.

The match was on the TV in the bar side, with a handful of locals watching, I was in splendid isolation in the lounge.

I hurried my drink, hoping to get as many ticks as possible done before full time, and headed out.

I passed the Westminster, which I thought might be match days only but it was shut, and noted the Barlow was open, and then did a double take when I realised I'd walked past the Elm Tree but it wasn't there any more, having been replaced by new flats and houses:

Next, last visited in 2004, the Springfield:

Last time I wrote "A beautiful well kept traditional boozer with a small front bar and a very pleasant lounge served from a small hatch", and nothing much has changed.  It was nearly empty while the match was on despite it being on the telly, and the staff were enjoying their chippy dinners during the lull.  A friendly barmaid offered to move with her chips so I could have a better view.

The decor in the lounge side is very plain, with no pictures on the walls, but well maintained and cared for.

Carling again, knocked back quickly, and then on to the Winslow:

Another '04 one, this, so a third desirable tick.  I've only ever been in here previously post-match, so a bit hard to make comparisons.  It was surprisingly busy at half time, but I got the feeling that a significant proportion of the customers were staff from here or other local businesses, enjoying the eye of the hurricane.

Pundit whitter on the TV was mostly drowned by cheerful chatter in the end I sat in, I noticed there didn't appear to be any way to the other bar without going outside.

Memories of here a long time ago were evoked; it was dark, the music was loud and the room was jam packed with friendly Everton and away fans.  I recall being impressed to see the away fans treated well by the locals, with a little friendly banter but no aggro.

I bet this place is still popular after the match, they even offer free food according to the signs.

With the second half under way it's time to start heading back towards the station, hoping I can get another two ticks without too much overcrowding.

The Melrose Abbey:

The efficient and friendly barmaid apologised for the lack of fivers in my change, and then later came to see me to offer to swap one for five coins, I said it's OK, I'll spend it in the next pub.  She also pointed out the free food, not sure what it was but it smelled good!

I'm getting tired of saying this but once again the pub is plain and well looked after.  The match was on in the bar side, I resorted to the lounge where I sat alone and made my notes.

Oh dear, I've resisted well so far but here we go...  Everton were now winning, if they keep on to full time it will be a great result for the new manager.  Also, the bottom of the league is quite "compressed", so one or two unexpected wins could move them up quite a bit.

Finally, the Peacock:

Another one last ticked in 2004.  The historical interior I noted last time seems to have gone, but it's still a plain pleasant well cared for boozer, with quite a few locals watching the last few minutes.  Others fired up the pool table so clearly weren't interested.

The quarry tiled floor is rather unusual, contributing to the plain but well maintained space.  There was quite a lot of LFC decor, it's obviously not an Everton pub like the Winslow was.

Everton still winning with just a few minutes to go, can they make it?  I've managed five pints during the match, can I get to the station before the fans?

They did and I did, sharing the train with just a few early leavers.

Pub of the day: Too close to call, they were all good.
Beer of the day: Er, Carling.
Miles walked: 2.1
Maybe coming soon: Undecided.

Friday, 27 January 2023

New Ferry

I headed under the river for my first Wirral survey of the year, starting just outside Bebington station in the Railway:

An always pleasant pub this, warm and comfortable.  The lone handpump offered Mad Goose but the barmaid advised me it wasn't on yet, so I stuck to Carling.

Disappointingly there were only two other customers at one on a Friday, I hope they get many more later.

I moved on, taking pictures as I passed various targets (In case it's too dark later) eventually reaching the trigger for today's trip.  Wetherspoon's John Masefield is on their "For Sale" list, so could close without warning if a buyer is found:

...or, experience has shown, it might survive indefinitely.  

A pleasant smaller than average 'spoons this, offering a decent selection of cask, I chose Skyline from one of my favourite breweries, Peerless, and it was very good.  They had the wonderful Full Whack in Blacklers on Wednesday but unfortunately it ran out before I could get a pint!

Custom was quite good on a Friday afternoon, some late lunches but the majority were just drinking.

I know some people, snobs perhaps, like to criticise Wetherspoon pubs but the warm friendly comfortable atmosphere and cheap food and drink in here are hard to beat.  Customers from four to ninety-four were enjoying a visit to their local boozer.  I wonder where they'll go if it closes?

After pub spotting on the way here I knew it was time to head homewards, as there are three ticks on the short walk back to the station.

Firstly, Charlies Bar:

Although I was too nice to say so in the blog, when I discovered this shop conversion four years ago I felt it was a triumph of optimism over reality and I didn't really expect it to survive.  I'm happy to be wrong, here's a lively popular boozer filled with animated chatter from plenty of customers.

What can I say?  Plain, pleasant, down market, very well maintained, friendly staff and customers, etc etc.  One of the staff who was leaving offered an elderly regular a lift home, how's that for a community pub?

It's not really my sort of place, and I expect the karaoke later will be deafening, but this really is a fine pub, long may it continue.

I carried on, passing the Wirral Hotel which has closed since I was last in this area:

Next, to compensate for the loss of the Wirral Hotel, something that seems to be happening nearly every survey at the moment:  A brand new tick, the Bulldog.  What an impressive mural:

One large square room in this conversion of a former bank, once again a comfortable space filled with cheerful chatter at three on a Friday.  There's a pool table in the middle of the room, and this was the trigger for much of the friendly banter.

As in the last pub, there were racks of betting slips on the walls, clearly the long running tradition of ale and the horses is alive in New Ferry.  My mind goes back to smoke (and drunk) filled pubs on a Saturday afternoon where everyone else was concentrating on the racing on the TV to see if they'd won.  Here, the races were on the telly on two different channels, fortunately silent.

There was something on the wireless the other day about the increasingly popularity of men's shorts in winter; there was one exponent in here.  

I wonder how much it costs to set up a place like this.  The wallpaper and paint will be cheap, the false ceiling with air conditioning units much more expensive.  I imagine the alcohol industry will subsidise the fonts, optics, glasses and so on but in the end it's a question of whether the custom can pay for the staff wages, business rates, rent, and the actual beer and spirits.  I keep reading about how hard it is for a pub to make enough money to survive, and yet I keep finding new ones.  

Finally, the Good Beer Guide listed Cleveland Arms:

Only two handpumps, one clip turned away but the other provided a perfect pint of Trapper's Hat.  I'm pleased to see CAMRA rating quality above breadth of range, this is the sort of real ale provider we need to encourage.

A plain boozer mostly knocked through but still with some separation between rooms, once again the main sound was cheerful chatter and banter amongst the friendly regulars.

It felt a little chilly in here despite my seat near the wood burning stove which seemed to be producing more light than heat.  It had a pair of those "magic" fans on top, which are powered by the heat of the stove, but frankly it felt like they were blowing cold air towards me!

Judging by the notes on the blackboard, this pub still has a real darts team, next fixture is away to "Brom B" on 31st Jan.

Time for home...

Pub of the day: Wetherspoon's John Masefield
Beer of the day: Peerless Skyline
Miles walked: Just one.
Maybe coming soon: Undecided.