Not a formal pub survey, just a local walk for other reasons, but it gave me a chance to re-visit two pubs which are long overdue for a return. I started with the classic 1990s dining place that is the Chapel Brook:
Very quiet at one on a Tuesday, just a few other customers scattered around the enormous pub.
I was guided to my table by a cheerful waitress who took my order for Doom Bar. A bit risky ordering cask at this time in this sort of place, but it was in excellent nick and certainly didn't have the first out of the pump taste I had feared.
Unusually there was no music, so the main noise was the staff discussing the new closing time (I think they concluded it was last orders 21:00) and clinking glasses as they unloaded the washer.
I don't think anything has changed in here since my last visit back in 2014, although the quality of the interior shows it has been well looked after in the intervening years.
Next, the Hare and Hounds, which for some reason I always think of as the Coach and Horses (This always creates confusion when it comes up in pub conversations.)
Again I was seized on entry and checked in, this time it was choose your own table and someone will come and take your order. I did and they didn't.
Plenty of staff chatting or fiddling with mobile phones, but not coming to me. Hmph. Is this the new new normal? To be fair, it was only a couple of minutes before a young lad came to collect my order, so nothing to complain about, but it just feels wrong to be sitting in a pub with no drink in front of me.
The place was ticking over gently but fairly empty. Two elderly women struggled with the sign in process and by the time they'd managed it there was a queue behind them.
First day of the new rules and they'd no idea how it was supposed to work, my request to pay by card led to confusion and he had to ask his boss, who advised that card payments were at the counter. He had to set up a tab for me so I could pay up when I left. I can see me walking out and forgetting to pay somewhere soon.
Boris was on the telly, thankfully silent, confirming that today's new local rules (Table service only, close at ten.) go national from Thursday.
As usual, I kept an eye on what was going on around me. A feller who was drinking a purple drink (Probably Strongbow Dark Fruit) ordered another, and then rejected it. It looked a lot less purple than usual. His replacement was back to normal. This made me wonder, do they have one keg of cider and then add syrup in the pump for the fruity version? It's possible, maybe, but my Google researches say no.
Maybe coming soon: City Centre or Ainsdale