Finding myself unexpectedly in Rainhill I set out on a quick survey. Not properly planned, this one, so I was expecting to find some places shut, and sure enough the Holt was, although it certainly looks operational:
A short walk down the road brought me to the Rocket, and it's open:
My first pub research visit of the new era. (I've been in - or outside - quite a few over recent weeks, but mainly for social reasons rather than research - Lowlight was sitting outside the Fall Well with my hand over my pint to keep the rain out; highlight was my first indoor pint in the Ship and Mitre on Monday.)
I still haven't got the habit of the new arrangements: I remembered to wear a mask and then walked up to the bar and ordered a pint. The cheerful barmaid patiently explained the rules, probably for the hundredth time.
No real ale, it looks like the handpumps went in the refurbishment, so I was back to the old familiar Carling.
The interior has changed a lot since my last call, back in 2016, knocked through into one U-shaped room surrounding the servery. Very nicely decorated in restrained style, perhaps a little "identikit" but very well done.
Only a few customers in, but not bad for half twelve on a Wednesday I suppose.
On to the Victoria:
This one hasn't changed since last time (also 2016), the decor is not quite as "new" as in the Rocket, but still very pleasant. No sign of any handpumps here either (I've got a suspicion this might become a theme in my researches now.) so I had another lager. Again, customers were sparse, surely not enough to pay for the two friendly efficient staff.
Even in a fairly empty boozer I must say it's good to be sitting inside and absorbing the atmosphere. The soundtrack in here was a music channel on the tellies, mixed with the happy chatter of the bar staff, obviously pleased to be back on duty.
As I finished my pint I wondered how many more of the Rainhill hostleries would be open? Would I find some real ale? Let's see...
On to the Commercial:
Open? Yes. Cask? YES!
This pub - one of my favourites - never changes, thank goodness, and I was soon ensconced in one of the side rooms with a fine pint of Wainwright.
They've gone mad on the social distancing in here, with miles of hazard tape marking off alternate sections of the bench seating round the room. I wonder how long into Friday night that'll last!
Not very busy, unsurprisingly at two on a Wednesday, but I could hear mixed chatter from the regulars scattered around the wonderful interior of this architectural gem. An important part of the conversations was along the lines of "you have to sit down, she'll take your order" as people got used to the hopefully temporary rules.
I must admit I was somewhat concerned about this pub's survival a few years ago when it closed for a few weeks with a banner advertising new owners, but apparently I was worrying unnecessarily. I note it is on CAMRA's list of historic pub interiors, but not (yet) listed.
A pleasant food-oriented pub with standard "Sizzling" decor inside and out, pretty empty at this time on a Wednesday.
I spent an annoyingly long amount of time wrestling with installing the app so I could order, I should have said no and given a manual order instead. No real ales on offer in the app, to be honest I didn't actually check the counter for pumps. Once I'd sorted out my technology, my lager was promptly delivered, but this isn't really what I want in a pub; I look forward to ordering at the bar before too long.
A few more customers came in, and had a lot less trouble with the technology than I did.
So, my first survey post lockdown. How was it? No real problems, but I am a little worried to note that all four of today's ticks had real ale last time I visited but we're down to just one now. I hope that as things settle down and restrictions are further lifted we will see more cask.
Miles walked: 2
Maybe coming soon: New Brighton