Friday 31 May 2019


Outwith my purview, I know, but worthy of a visit.  Of course I don't need an excuse for a pub crawl, but I wanted to ride the new train service on the Halton Curve, so I travelled from Liverpool to Frodsham, where I started in the Queen's Head:
At ten past eleven it was unsurprisingly empty.  The interior is an odd mix of very old stonework and beams at one side, and less ancient traditional dark wood matchboarding elsewhere.  Overall a very pleasant multi-room pub.

There were four handpumps and I selected a pint of Weetwood's Cheshire Cat.  I turned down the offer of a loyalty card, who knows when I'll be here again?

The music was a bit loud for an empty pub, I thought.  The menu looks good, fish and chips were £9.99

Next, the Red Lion.  Annoyingly, they don't open when Whatpub says they do.

On to the Bear's Paw:
A splendid ancient building outside, inside lovely dark wood panelling in multiple rooms.

The handpumps in this Greene King house offered the usual IPA, Abbot, Speckled Hen, plus two from Weetwood, my pint of Eastgate was spot on.

The menu with GK's Time Well Spent branding includes fish and chips at £9.99.

Initially empty, this place got much busier as I enjoyed my pint and watched a bit of World Cup Cricket.  All the other customers seemed to be here for the food.

Next, I walked straight past the front door but eventually found my way in to the GBG-listed Helter Skelter:
I think this is a modern conversion, it's very nice inside.

No less than twelve handpumps in here, no wonder CAMRA like it.  I had a great pint of a favourite of mine, Salopian Oracle.

Much busier that the previous two places, in here the gentle background music was mostly drowned out by cheerful chatter.

I must say this is a wonderful friendly local's boozer, filled with laughter and chit-chat.

My next target was the other GBG pub, Kash 22, but it wasn't open:

Neither was the Cholmondely Arms:

So I headed for the Golden Lion:
What a beautiful interior in this Sam Smith's pub.  I couldn't see any real ale, but the keg OBB was £2 a pint.

As you can imagine, at that price it is quite popular although it was by no means full.  The soundtrack was multiple conversations, with no music.

It was only after I had typed these thoughts that I noticed the "mobile tablet and laptop free zone" sign.  Ooops!

So, with a number of my targets being closed when they should be open, the Red Lion got another chance:
Perhaps more down market than most of my previous calls today, but none the worse for that.

Only Doom Bar on the counter, so I decided to stick to lager instead.

The regulars were occupied playing pool and chatting, while I watched the Windies trounce Pakistan.  (As soon as they'd won, the telly was switched to horses.) 

The pub seemed to have more dogs than humans in, I'm not sure how many, if any, were residents.  They certainly made more noise than the humans, anyway.  Racing from Epsom was on the telly now, with just one or two of the regulars paying attention.

Time to head for home, with the added bonus of a loco and coaches to take me to Earlestown:
Pub of the day: The Bear's Paw for looks, or the Helter Skelter for ale and atmosphere.
Miles walked: 1

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Eastham and Bromborough

A train under the river, and then a long pleasant walk through the woodlands of Eastham Country Park found me at Eastham Ferry.  There are two pubs here virtually side by side, both with Marston's branding.  I started in the big rather austere building that is the Eastham Ferry Hotel:
I can't remember what the interior looked like last time I was here, back in 2003, but I'm guessing it hasn't changed much.  Very pleasant, with some old-looking features (I initially wrote original here, but as it was built in 1896 I suspect not.) including ceiling plasterwork and a rather fine semi-circular counter in dark wood with etched glass panels.  It's partially knocked through, but retaining separation between the areas.

There were two handpumps, and my pint of Pedigree was the best I've had for ages, the last few times in various places I've been unlucky and it's been chilled to death or just tired, but this one was perfect.
The food menu looks good value, with Fish and Chips for £8.75, but at ten past one I couldn't see anyone eating.  The place was pretty empty with just a handful of other customers.

Just a few yards away is the Tap:
This Brewers' Tudor building houses a fine traditional boozer.

A couple of real ales were on offer, I had a great pint of Banks' Sunbeam.  It is pleasing to note that, as with the last place, this is not a "Real Ale" pub, and yet it serves excellent real ale.

I think I was initially the only customer, some more came in while I was enjoying my ale.

The only sound in here was rugby on the telly (I think.  I'm sure I heard them mention Anfield at one point?), the gentle whirr of the chillers behind the bar, and, briefly, others ordering their drinks.

Now, this is scary:  Wondering about the sport I was hearing, I fired up Google on my tablet, intending to type "rugby at anfield".  I typed "rugby" and it offered "at anfield" as the first suggestion.  How did it know?  Pass me that tin-foil hat!

A long walk back through the Country Park, by now full of families and dogs, then took me to the Royal Oak:
Last time I was here, in 2003, it was a Beefeater, now it's in Greene King's Hungry Horse chain.  The inside has standard chain dining pub decor and ambience, but I think slightly above average.  In the corner where I sat, the wood block wall panelling was attractive, and very unusual.

I approached the counter to see the barman attempting to pull a pint of IPA, and getting mostly froth.  He asked what I wanted, so I requested a pint of IPA "when you've done that one".  "Am I doing it right, it's my first day?", he asked.  I offered some advice about letting it settle, but it soon became apparent the cask was empty, confirmed when his boss came to see how he was getting on.  I next selected Abbot.  "This is a pale one", he said.  "No, that's cleaning fluid" I replied.  Finally, he pulled a good pint of Ruddles County, the only other option.  He couldn't find it on the till, "Sorry, I can't help with that".

Just to be awkward, I occupied the table for twenty in the corner but the place, although ticking over, wasn't busy and no big groups came in.  Actually, for a Tuesday afternoon it was doing quite well.  With "Jumbo cod and chips" only £7.99 I'm not surprised.

Just a short walk to the Bromborough:
The mystery here is why have I never been in before?  It's only 100 yards from the Royal Oak.

Anyway, inside the Brewers' Tudor construction I found a pleasant food-oriented pub with Greene King's Time Well Spent branding.  There were plenty of customers, mostly not dining, and the chatter was louder than the background muzac.

I checked out the menu, fish and chips is only £5.99 here, it's getting cheaper.  Perhaps it'll be free by the end of today's survey!

The standard IPA or Abbot were on offer, my IPA was fine.

For my next long walk, I cheated and caught a bus to Mississippis:
I wasn't sure what to expect in this never before visited shop conversion.  Not a micro-pub, it is quite large and pleasantly decorated inside.

Four handpumps on the counter, offering from left to right no-clip, Trappers Hat, Doom Bar and Doom Bar.  My Trappers' was spot on, despite the young lady having to ask her boss how to pour it.  Today's themes seem to bar staff on their first day, and quality real ale!

A few lads playing pool were creating most of the chatter in here, with music and Sky Sports News in the background.

Finally, across the road to the Three Stags:
My previous review of this pub includes "all Ember Inns seem to look the same", which I think is still true, but there's nothing wrong with that.

I was surprised to see quite a wide selection of real ales, and I had a spot on pint of Dark Star's Partridge, a classic traditional "ordinary" bitter.

The trend of cheaper food was broken here, with fish and chips costing £10.49.  The place was ticking over at five on a Tuesday, I imagine it's a lot busier at other times.

Time to head for home now, what a great pub survey it's been:  Six pubs, two never before visited, and ALL serving quality real ale.  Also, some very pleasant walking through the country park.

Miles walked: 3.7

Saturday 18 May 2019

The Mapping Project

Other commitments continue to prevent regular research but I have not been completely idle, and the project to map all the pubs in the guide has been proceeding well.  A bug in Google maps has temporarily (I hope) halted progress, but at the time of writing I have the positions of 1,597 pubs recorded in my database.

You can see the results of this effort by clicking here or by clicking on the Pub Map link at the top of each page of the guide.  Alternatively, click on the Map link in the Location column when looking at a pub's details.

If you can provide a precise location for a pub missing from the map, or notice one I've got wrong, please let me know at the usual email address or in the comments of this blog.