Tuesday 19 February 2019

A Few in Town

Pub surveying is currently severely disrupted due to family commitments, but I managed to escape for a quick trip to town, starting at the relatively new Port Bar on London Road:
Here I found bright cheerful quirky decor with walls of corrugated iron and shipping containers, and lots of bare chipboard.  They've also got a genuine-looking railway colour light signal.

When I arrived there were just two women sitting at a table, one was the barmaid.  Two unexpected handpumps on the counter, but both had clips reversed, so I had a Blue Moon for a change.

Two blokes came in, and took lots of pictures of the interior, before settling down for some beers.  Owners planning a redecoration?  I don't think it needs it, the place is immaculate.

I noticed a "25% off for NHS staff" sign, obviously hoping to attract people from the Royal up the road.  That's an impressive discount; how about 25% off for pub bloggers?  But then my review might be biased. 

Doubling back down London Road I called in to Paddy's Bar:
The first time I came here it was a classic scruffy smokey boozer called Dixie Dean's, busy with drunks.  Needless to say, it's not like that now.  Clean and tidy with the walls covered in Irish stuff, and with only two other customers.

The sound in here was racing from Fontainbleu, hasn't English racing restarted yet?

The two other drinkers left to find their hotel, so it was just me and the barman.

Next, a few doors down is the Lord Warden:
This used to be regular haunt of mine, a group of us failing to win the quiz for week after week (We suspected the landlord's mates always won!)  The real ale was usually good.

Today I found no real ale, just two naked handpumps, so it was a half of lager for me.

Only two or three regulars were scattered around the pleasant well cared for interior, the sound was just the music.

After a bit of shopping I headed for another never-visited location, Brownlows Inn:
Here I found a plain well done corridor bar, busy with regulars.  A bit of a theme today, two handpumps on the counter, but no real ale.  I'm not sure how long this has been a pub, it must be at least ten years, but I've never got around to visiting before.

The music mixed with cheerful chatter from the regulars, creating a comfortable friendly atmosphere.  I could see racing (From Wetherby, answering my previous question.) on the telly, but no-one seemed to be watching it.

The "salesman" in here was offering an anorak.  That's a new one!

There was a tray of sandwiches on the counter, but I wasn't sure if one had to wait for the cover to be lifted.  Eventually one of the regulars helped himself, clarifying the protocol.  I resisted, nonetheless.

Pub of the day: The Lord Warden, for its pleasant comfortable interior.
Miles walked: 1.8 miles, but most of that was for the shopping.
Maybe coming soon: To be honest, I don't know.

Saturday 9 February 2019

Smashing The Next Milestone

On the final (I hope) train strike Saturday I took two bus rides to Croxteth, starting at the Viking's Landing:
A milestone achieved, this takes the pubs visited count to 1,300.  A bog standard modern food-oriented place, located by the East Lancs Road.  It was quite busy on a Saturday afternoon, with most customers dining.

I pushed past the queue waiting to be seated - There wasn't a sign, why didn't they just grab a table?

Eight handpumps on the counter but only Wainwright available.  I had a rather short, but otherwise excellent, pint.  A sign on the bar said "Try our bottled cask ales", surely a contradiction?  I presume they mean bottles of Pedigree or whatever.  A good thing, that more pubs should do, but don't call it bottled cask, for goodness sake.

The hubub of chatter and occasional clatter of crockery were doing their best to drown the gentle background music, while I rather selfishly occupied a table for six.

Next, a walk taking a shortcut across waste ground.  This is a slightly scary part of Liverpool, there were groups of youths on cycles, others on motorbikes without helmets, and cars stopping in the middle of the road to chat to pedestrians.  But that could just be my paranoia; no-one took the slightest interest in me, even when I stopped to take pictures, and I soon reached the Lobster:
Well, the milestone didn't last long, as this is number 1,301.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I certainly didn't predict a large plain spotless lounge side with no-one in except me and the barman.  Both of us kept our coats on as it was pretty chilly.

I could see a couple of regulars playing darts in the other side, and later two more customers came in and headed through to join them.

With my architectural eye I noted that little original remains inside, except perhaps the basic layout.  I don't think the carved wood counter front is more than twenty years old.  In any case, the place is rather pleasant, and it's a shame there aren't more customers.

On to the Abbey Road:
Another new one - 1,302 and counting!

This larger than average shop conversion has one big open room.  On entry I was assailed by very loud music.  The customers were one family group with children at a table, plus half a dozen blokes standing at the counter.  Their chat, even the youngsters, was pretty much drowned out by the music.

Once again, despite the slightly tatty exterior everything inside was clean, tidy and well maintained.

Man United were winning on the telly, but no-one was watching.

To one side of the room was a roller-shuttered doorway, I wonder where that leads?  Function room perhaps?

There ware a few moments of peace, until one of the noisy family fired up the jukebox.  Oasis?  A Manc band in Liverpool??  Excellent!

Later, another group came in, two blokes and two children.  It's good to see that the traditional family Saturday afternoon in the pub isn't completely dead.  The little 'uns had colouring books while dad and grandad swigged ale.

Walking towards the next tick, I passed the location of the Brewer's Arms, now replaced by housing.  This pub is a contender for my award of the scruffiest ever visited, I think:  Back in 1998 I recall someone had thrown up on the floor.  Now, that could happen in any pub, what made this one stand out was that it looked like it had been on the floor since the previous day!

Next, the Sefton Arms:
Sadly, this rather fine 1950s or maybe 1930s pub would appear to be closed, let's hope I just arrived on the wrong day.  Their last Facebook post was a year ago which doesn't look promising.  Looking on the bright side, this was the first of today's targets that I've been in before, so at least I can claim to have visited.

On to the Western Approaches:
There was some kind of "do" on in one part of the large open lounge side, complete with decorated tables and chairs, balloons etc.  "Boy or girl" said the sign.  What's this, then, an "expecting" party?  I've never heard of that.  Maybe a "baby shower", but I thought those were women only?  They were finishing up and leaving, I resisted the temptation to "minesweep" the buffet leftovers!

The rest of the lounge was quite busy with umpteen regulars, this place is certainly doing a lot better than the Lobster.  Chatter was generally louder than the music.  I think the other side was closed, on leaving I discovered it is now a function room.

Another plain, spotless, well maintained boozer.  Surprisingly, the telly I could see was showing the cricket.  I suppose they can't (legally) get the Liverpool match.  I hope I'm on the way home before full time, or my bus back to town will take for ever!

One more pub in the vicinity, not in Croxteth according to the way I draw the borders, but worth ticking off, another one last visited in 1998, the Lingmell Inn:
Back in '98 this was the Royal Oak.  Since then it's been the Oaks and, I think, closed for a while.  Its current incarnation as the Lingmell Inn is a large open one room pub with very well done contemporary decor.  It was doing a good trade on a Saturday afternoon, families, diners, and drinkers occupying most of the tables.

The menu of pub standards looks good value, fish and chips is £8.

My notes from 1998 record this as a two sided pub, I think the other side is still there, but not in use at the time of my visit.  I also recorded real ale then, no sign of that now.

Too many noisy kids in here for my liking, I must say.

Only five pubs today, but with three never before visited and one twenty-one years ago, it's not a bad haul for a trainless Saturday.  Time to go home before the footie lets out.

Pub of the day: Abbey Road for its lively friendly cheerful atmosphere.
Miles walked: 2.7
Maybe coming soon:  St Helens

Tuesday 5 February 2019

Not Southport

I had intended a trip to Southport today but luckily my final pre-flight check was to see how the trains were running, which revealed there are no trains to Southport this week.  So I headed to Liverpool instead.

My first target was a long overdue revisit to Peter Kavanagh's:
Happily, this pub hasn't changed since my last visit, it still has the wonderful collection of bric-a-brac covering the walls and ceilings.  On previous occasions I hadn't really appreciated the historic woodwork and leaded glass that would make this place a gem even without the collection.

A number of cask ales were available, I chose something tasty from George Wright.

Only a few customers in, initially all I could hear was quiet conversations, until someone fired up the music - which was pleasantly quiet as well.

Next, the Blackburne Arms:
This is another reliable source of real ale, I forget which I selected but it was excellent.  The one I chose was "a bit lively" so Maggie brought it to my seat once it had settled. 

They obviously aim for dining, in fact I was asked if I was eating when I went to the bar, but there is a drinkers' area at one end of the room.

Custom at one on a Tuesday was a group of diners, a bloke reading the paper, and a pub blogger typing his notes; conversation and music forming the soundtrack.  I sat on a comfortable high-backed bench seat and enjoyed my pint.

I am one of those people who often wonders what would happen if I did something "naughty", but never tries it.  Here, the barmaid went to the ladies, and I contemplated nipping behind the counter and refilling my glass.  I reckon I would have got away with it, but my basic honesty prevented me trying.  And quite right too.

The forecast rain had arrived on time, so it was a quick dash to the Caledonia:
I have previously considered this place a little on the grubby side but I must say it was spotless and tidy today.

I chose a pint of a stout from Northamptonshire and it was excellent, as the beer always has been in here.

A dozen or so customers were filling the echoey room with chatter and mostly drowning out the music.  Unfortunately the place is dog friendly and once one of them started barking, they all did!

Now, on to the Beer Engine, I haven't been in here since 1997, when it was a night club called Plummers:
Rather good modern quirky decor in this enormous open room, which was totally deserted on a Tuesday afternoon.

I stupidly missed the handpumps at the end of the counter and had a schooner of some tasty craft ale, the name of which I forget.  Actually, at this level of custom, cask ale probably wouldn't have been a good idea.

When I said deserted, I wasn't exaggerating, just me and the barmaid in the place.  This made me wonder who would do the cooking if I ordered some food - the menu looked to be quite good value - is there a chef poised in the back?

I relaxed in a comfortable leather sofa and typed this, no-one else came in.  I hope they get more custom at other times, a youth-oriented place serving cask ale is to be commended.

On departure, my trip downstairs to the gents revealed another empty room, and an open kitchen with a chef, answering my earlier question.

I headed on to "Rapid Street", and to a researcher's quandary:  Should I visit the favourite Dispensary, or the overdue for a tick Roscoe Arms.  The two are opposite each other and with a supreme effort of willpower I went in the Roscoe Arms:
Once again I ordered before spotting the handpumps, so I had a half of Carling.  Bombardier and Wainwright were on.

Another deserted place, for most of my stay I was the only customer in the pub.  Pleasant plain decor, clean, tidy and comfortable.

At last, another customer arrived, doubling the trade, and she ordered a pint so actually it was trebling!

Pub of the day: Peter K, obv.
Miles walked: 2.2
Maybe coming soon: Southport, Croxteth