Tuesday 29 June 2021

A Rake's Progress

Trains took me to the last station before the Cheshire border, Eastham Rake.  I wonder what Rake means in this context, there's also a Brombrough Rake two stations along the line.

I started at the New Rake Hotel:

I was very pleased to find nothing has changed since 2015 when I was last here.  This one of an increasingly rare breed, a 1950s/60s (Actually, it opened in 1960 I believe.) estate boozer which retains a lot of its original decor.  An art deco style lantern above me, dark wood panelling on the bar front and some of the walls, bench seats all around the room.  I suspect there might have been some knocking through, but other than that a lot looks original. (But what do I know?) 

Back in the eighties when I lived in Manchester my local looked exactly like this inside, except of course for the clouds of smoke.  It was demolished years ago.

Just like my local back then, there was no real ale so I enjoyed a refreshing pint of Carling.

The staff (Landlord and landlady?) were cheerful and friendly, despite my failure to sign in.  A few regulars were creating gentle background chatter, one said she had come in early so she could get home before the football fans come in.  I'd forgotten there was a match later, I'll have to see if I can complete my researches before the crowds appear.

A bloke accompanied by a young girl came to the bar.  A small Coke with a straw ... And five Jaeger bombs.  "Starting early", commented the landlord.  I assume he was with a group outside, unless all five were for himself!

Next, on to the village centre and the Hooton Arms:

A rather good country pub this, in the beautiful village of Eastham.  The football fans were already arriving, and all of the tables were marked as reserved, mine from 4.30.

Not much original architecture inside, I think, but it's certainly very pleasant, and the bar staff were already being kept busy, I bet they'll be working even harder later on.  Anyway it's good too see a pub doing a brisk trade on a Tuesday afternoon, even if it is only a one-off.

Loud mostly football related chatter drowned out the background music as I enjoyed my excellent pint of Landlord.

The music was from MTV, I thought they were all reality shows nowadays but apparently not.  They played my suggestion for the new English national anthem, Vindaloo by Fat Les!

I doubled back to the Montgomery which unfortunately isn't open on Tuesdays at the moment:

So, back over the borderline between ancient village and 50s estate, and on to the Argyll, hidden behind the trees:

A nicely done sixties estate pub, well looked after and very comfortable inside.  

There were quite a few customers outside, less inside, altogether enough to keep the barman busy.

My pint of Ossett Yorkshire Blonde from the only operational handpump was decidedly past its best, I'm afraid.  Last time I was here, in 2015, they didn't have any cask, and I would have been better sticking to keg again this time.  I resisted the temptation to ask for a takeout so I could pour it on my chips later.

The big screen was set up ready for the footie, I'm guessing it will be busy in here come kickoff time.

Once again I observed how the table service rules can be handled well:  A solitary drinker on the far side of the room waves his nearly empty glass which is enough to get him another pint.  It's a shame that some places are just not coping as well as this, requiring one to mess about downloading apps, and it's always a different app to the one you used in the previous pub.  It seems to be the chain places that are the worst at this, with the honourable exception of Wetherspoon's.

More people came in as kickoff got closer, and the background music was replaced by the inanities of the overpaid crisp salesman.

Now I've got a choice:  Only three pubs done, do I go for a long walk and join the footie fans for another tick or two, or do I just go home.  I'm afraid I took the lazy option...

To punish me for that decision things started to go wrong:  First, my mask broke as I took it off on exiting the pub.  Second, it was a bit further to the station than I thought, and I arrived there at ground level at the same time as my intended train arrived on the bridge - no chance of catching it.

Pub of the day: New Rake for its classic architecture and all-round atmosphere.
Miles walked: 3.0
Maybe coming soon: Southport.

Wednesday 16 June 2021


Regular readers of this blog (In the unlikely event that there are any.) will be thinking "Why Waterloo, he was only there last year?" and they'd be right, but I had an appointment nothing to do with pubs, so while I'm here it would be foolish not to do some ticking.  In any case, if all goes to plan I should be able to avoid the ones I visited in 2020.

I started at the Liver:

A moment's concern when they weren't open at 12:03, but a minute later the door was open and I wasn't even the first one in.

I was promptly and efficiently signed in and served, and moments later I was enjoying a pint of Yardbird from Greene King.  First out of the pump on a hot day is always a little risky but this was spot on, and at cellar temperature.  And with a 10% CAMRA discount - As always I forgot about this, but the barman offered.

I idly wondered about having some lunch.  Do they do food?  I looked around but couldn't see any menus etc. so perhaps not.  Internet says they do.  I guess the current regulations mean you can't put menus out on the tables.

I say this every time I come here, there's something special about the Liver that I can't put my finger on, but whatever it is I love it.

There were very few customers at twelve on a Wednesday, I hope they are busier later.

On to the other end of the main street, and the Marine:

Last time I was here this had been renamed as Champs, and was a rather good but totally deserted sports bar, if I remember correctly.  Now it has reverted to its former name and the sporty theme has gone, leaving a well done food-oriented place which was doing a decent trade at one o'clock  although there was plenty of room for more customers.  

The two handpumps at the end of the counter were in use, sadly as kitchen roll holders, so I had a nice cold pint of Guinness.

No doubt about food here, I was offered a menu as soon as I sat down.  The selection of pub standards looks good.

They've got building work going on, mainly outside I think, so there was a steady flow of electricians carrying drums of cable and ducting through the pub.  They were extending the cover on the garden and adding an outdoor giant screen, I think.

Next, the Raven:

More of a down market boozer, this one, but none the worse for that.  A few blokes in, some playing pool, and the music was a bit on the loud side.

One efficient barmaid was providing table service, the card machine was broken so I paid with real money, the first time I've done that in a pub for ages.

Was that an Aussie White I saw being poured?  I wasn't sure it still existed!  I didn't see who was drinking it - not really a blokey drink is it - so I imagined a granny sitting out of my sight round the corner, but I never saw her.

Two policemen came in just as the barmaid disappeared out the back.  When she came back they discussed some crime prevention scheme and exchanged contact details.

Now, on to the Alexandra:

Another down market boozer in terms of clientele, perhaps, but beautifully decorated and maintained.  No cask, of course, so another Carling for me.  Quite a lot of people in, for the first time today the main sound was animated chatter, generally drowning out the music.  

The barmaid was on the ball, as seems to be the norm nowadays, and almost instantly I had my lager.

Definitely the busiest pub I've visited today, and it's still only two o'clock.  Silent football on most of the tellies, but royal Ascot in front of me.

Now this is how table service restrictions should be handled:  The regulars stand up and approach the counter, but not close, place their order and then the barmaid delivers the drinks to the table.

I discussed surviving the pandemic with one of the regulars, and then it was time for the train home.

Pub of the day: The Liver.
Miles walked: Hardly any.
Maybe coming soon: Undecided.

Friday 11 June 2021

New Brighton

On a rather grey but warm Friday I headed off to New Brighton.  The trains were quite busy.

I started in the Three B er I mean the James Atherton:

The temporary renaming as the Three Bellends has ended but there's still plenty of the related publicity material about the place.  I haven't been in here since 2006 when it was called the Railway, so I didn't really know what to expect.  What I found was a rather well done two room pub with, oh joy, the handpumps in use, and I was soon enjoying a fine pint of Hawkshead Pale.

Almost no other customers at two thirty, rather disappointing I think, quality ale needs drinkers.

Decent rock at a comfortable level was pretty much the only sound in here.

Next, let's try the Harbour:

Apparently not open at the moment although it looks to be operational, so on to the New Brighton Hotel:

Back in '03 when I was last in here it was an Irish style pub called Peggy Gadfly's.  I'm not sure why I've always missed it on subsequent trips to the area; possibly it was only open in the evenings, as indeed it is now Monday to Thursday.

Anyway, well worth another visit, the decor in the multi-roomed interior is rather good, not over the top just comfortable.  The theme colour is grey which seems to have become very popular in recent years.  Contrasted by a little mauve lighting.

Three handpumps on the counter but no clips, so I resorted to the black stuff.  

Again very quiet, only three other customers, chatting to the barman.  If we don't get more people out drinking on a Friday afternoon there are going to be a lot more pub closures to come.  Come on folks, I can't do it on my own.

The floor show arrived, landlady and friend and the handyman who was installing glass rails.  The banter was highly entertaining.

I was intrigued to see a font for draught cocktails on the counter.  I wonder what they taste like?  Can I have a pint?  Wisely deciding not to pursue that line further, I moved across the road to the never visited Homebrew Tap:

They don't exactly have a spectacular exterior style do they, this small chain?

A well done shop conversion, actually two shops knocked through, almost next door to the Bow-legged Beagle.  Sadly, no cask ales today, two naked handpumps on the counter and the friendly barman said they're just waiting for a delivery.

Instead, I selected a hazy pale from Magic Rock called Murk-Life Balance which was great, with a flowery hoppy flavour.

Continuing today's theme, only two other customers at four on a Friday, I'm getting more and more worried about the future of these places.

Next, I abandoned my pub ticking principles and headed next door to the Bow-Legged Beagle, last visited only nine months ago:

What a contrast with next door.  Running out of tables, outside and in, and the barman was constantly busy serving.  Clearly this is where everyone goes to drink!

Four handpumps in use, some great selections including Ossett Butterley and my choice, Peerless Oatmeal Stout, which was very good.

The soundtrack in here was animated chatter, I think there might have been some music underneath?  Actually, on further listening, no there isn't.

As often happens in micros, most of the customers know each other and the friendly efficient barman, Pete.

While I was enjoying my ale, a peanut butter milk stout was added to the blackboard.  Sounds great, but it's time to go.

Pub of the day: Bow-Legged Beagle
Miles walked: Only 0.7 today.
Maybe coming soon: Waterloo