Friday 12 November 2021


Now the 2022 Good Beer Guide is officially published I can reveal that the new edition contains four pubs in Merseyside which I've never ticked.  The first was Jaxon's in Walton, covered last week.  Number two is a branch of Peaky Blinders in Churchtown, so two trains and a bus ride were required, all free on my new pass of course, to take me there.  (I promise I'll stop boasting about the pass soon eventually.)  

First, though, my Google maps research had thrown up a possible target of which I was previously unaware, and so I found myself strolling through the rather pleasant Botanical Gardens, to the Settle Inn:

I wonder what this building was originally?  Anyway, inside is one large high ceilinged room, sort of church hall or village hall, with a cafe counter and a bar counter at one end.  At this time of day (two thirty) all the other customers were on coffee and the like, but that didn't keep me from enjoying a pint of Shipyard.

This place is a rather clever combination of cafe and pub; they have live music in the evenings when I guess it's a lot more pubby.  The menu, of basics like pie chips and peas, looks good and good value.

Next, the Hesketh Arms:

The church next door had a wedding just finishing, and I worried for a moment that the pub might be full, for the reception, but then I saw the bridesmaids getting into cars, so clearly the festivities were elsewhere.

Last visited in 2013, this is an up market dining place under the Vintage Inns brand.  Nonetheless, quality real ale, I had Wainwright, is available and there was no attempt to persuade me to eat.

The interior decor here is very good but I suspect the antique features are all faked, although perhaps some of the wood panelling could be genuine. Very pleasant anyway, lots of small rooms partially knocked through (So totally unsuitable for a reception.)

It was quite busy for a wet Friday afternoon, a bit too early for dinner but too late for lunch.  Although, as soon as I'd typed that, meals came out for the next table.

Just across the road from the Hesketh is the Bold Arms:

Down market this one, but only in comparison to the Hesketh, otherwise it's a very pleasant Greene King food-led operation, with quite a lot of antique features inside, woodwork and leaded glass.  No change since my 2012 visit.

My pint of Abbot was good.  Very few customers at three, although I could hear some chatter, perhaps there is another busier room?

The real fire near my seat wasn't lit, but clearly they do use them sometimes, in fact I could see a basket of kindling and some fire tongs.  I always like a real fire in a pub, it lends some cosiness and comfort that you can't get any other way.

My exit via the gents revealed there is another side to the pub, but only one or two customers were in there.

Finally, on to the "prime objective", Peaky Blinders:

Never having watched the programme, I'm not sure how these places relate to the TV series, perhaps not at all?  Anyway, a pleasantly decorated room, u-shaped around the servery area.  It was converted from a bank, apparently.  The lampshades, especially the giant one above the counter, are very attractive.  

Four real ales were on offer and my pint of Landlord was spot on.

Not many customers at four on a Friday, one group of lads on lager was all I could see.  More people came in as I drank my pint, and gradually the place got less empty.

My seat by the window gave me a good view of the rain, it looks like I'm going to be getting wet on the way home.

Pub of the day: Difficult.  All were good in their own way.
Miles walked: Less than a mile.
Maybe coming soon: Garswood, Aigburth, Bromborough

Thursday 11 November 2021

A Few In Town

Business took me into town, once that was completed there was no excuse not to tick a few pubs:  I started in Ye Hole In Ye Wall:

Nothing has changed in this wonderful pub, ticking over with a number of regulars enjoying cheerful chats on a Thursday afternoon.  Six real ales were on, I chose a lovely Trappers Hat.

A number of fine architectural features inside, including some impressive leaded glass in the partitions.  I'm not qualified to say how much is genuine antique.

On to the Slug And Lettuce:

No architectural gem, this one!

Not my sort of place, offering a plastic chain dining experience, but drinkers are totally welcome, and my Guinness was carefully poured and promptly served, so no complaints.

Quite a few customers in, both diners and drinkers, with most of the latter on cocktails and/or shots, apparently.

I tried to understand the market for a place like this:  Am I being over cynical in suggesting it is for people who are too scared or too snobby to go into Wetherspoon's? 

I was a little irritated  to see Christmas decorations up, but I fear my "Bah, humbug, it's only November" campaign is pretty much a lost cause.

Just across the road is the William Gladstone:

Quite similar to the last place in approach, I think, but with a few large screens showing cricket. A similar mix of diners and drinkers.  Christmas decorations, of course.

The food seems cheaper in here, £9 vs £11 for fish and chips, if I recall correctly.

There were three handpumps on the counter, but all had the clips turned.  I wonder if they do real ale at busier times?

I seem to recall coming in here back in 1998 when it had just opened as a Hog's Head, casks of  ale were on display behind the counter, and the cellarman made a right pigs ear of tapping one while we watched.  Beer spraying everywhere!

I watched the cricket for a while, Pakistan vs Australia, I was sorry to see England knocked out while I was in Gallagher's yesterday.

As I enjoyed my pint of Love Lane, the cellarman appeared and started pulling through two of the handpumps, so I guess real ale will be on soon.  Sure enough, Doom Bar and Hobgoblin Gold became available a few minutes later.

Finally, the Rose and Crown.  Sorry, too dark for a photo, winter is really closing in!

I wasn't sure this place had survived the pandemic, but it was open and busy at four.  Last visited in 2016, I'm pleased to report nothing has changed, the (probably) historic woodwork is still wonderful, especially the arched entrances between the rooms.

Quite a lot of customers were keeping the place busy, and happy chatter was matching the music.

Football and racing on the various TVs here, where's the cricket?

Pub of the day: Ye Hole, obv.
Miles walked: 1.6
Maybe coming soon: Southport, Aigburth, Garswood, Bromborough

Friday 5 November 2021


I headed by train to Walton, the last time I'll have to pay as I get my pass on Monday!  My first port of call was the Prince Alfred, not open last time I was here, but it seems to have been renamed:

Much of the signage calls it Fratelli but, as you can see above, at least one sign still says Prince Alfred.  Perhaps they didn't have a long enough ladder!

Inside I found an unexpected interior, very nicely done with a small-ish bar side, and the remainder laid out as a restaurant, the whole looking rather good.

Only one other customer in at three on a Friday, I hope they get some diners later.

In keeping with the restaurant vibe, the background music was classical piano, a nice change from the usual pop.

Three more lads came in to join the one at the counter as I enjoyed my pint of lager, pleased to have ticked a "pub" not visited since 2004.

Quite a long march, next, to the Cuckoo Hotel.  To be honest, I came here for a picture of a closed pub, but no, it's open:

A perfectly good two sided boozer, with quite a few customers on a Friday afternoon.  Two different racing channels on the tellies, both silent, and some of the regulars were taking an interest and filling in betting slips.  In fact, the quiet corner I'd chosen was right in front of the betting slips rack, causing a number of people to apologise and reach over my head!

The pale grey and dark grey colour scheme is very well done, the interior looks like a 1960s refurbishment with matchboarded walls and counter front and a false ceiling over the servery.  I didn't look in the other side.  Another one last visited in 2004, so long overdue.

Now, on to the real reason for today's trip, a brand new (to me) place, Jaxon's:

Sorry about the picture, it was getting a bit dark by now.  A rather good micro this, quite small but not the smallest I've seen.  Plenty customers in at half four, but still a few free tables.

I succumbed to the temptation of an apricot, peach, lime and cheesecake (Or something like that) beer called Oscillate Wildly which was rather good but a little too weird for my taste, perhaps. Better than the Carling in the last place anyway.  Actually, it got better as I drank and by the end I was really enjoying it.  It came from Team Toxic, who are something to do with Liverpool Brewing Company.  I was pleased to learn that, by chance, I'd chosen a local brew.  One of the other casks was from Big Bog, also local, the other two were from breweries I didn't recognise.

As I enjoyed my pint the place was gradually filling up, soon there were no free tables.

I looked round:  Oh dear, I'm the only one in here old enough for a bus pass!

I resisted the temptation of Big Bog Kaleidoscope at 6.5% and headed on, to Wetherspoon's:

For some reason this is the least recently visited pub in the area, so let's tick it.  At five on a Friday it was, as expected, pretty busy, but there were still one or two free tables, one of which I bagged after I'd got my pint of Black Sheep Dead Parrot, which was rather tasty.

Not much food trade here, in fact I couldn't see anyone eating, just a large quantity of happy drinkers of all ages.

My mind wandered onto the subject of busy pubs.  On Wednesday I was in the Ship and Mitre which was packed because Liverpool were playing, but we still managed to find a table and enough seats.  Rewind twenty or thirty years, and it would be standing room only, as would any pub on a Friday evening. Now that I'm officially old, I don't think I could cope with that!!  So, did the pensioners in the 1990s stay at home on a Friday, or did they stand with everyone else?

Good night John-boy.

Pub of the day: Jaxon's
Miles walked: 2.5
Maybe coming soon: Southport, Garswood, Aigburth

Tuesday 2 November 2021

2022 Good Beer Guide

A satisfying thud on my doormat this morning heralded the arrival of the new Good Beer Guide.

A quick scan of the Merseyside pages revealed that eight pubs have been removed and nine added since last year, giving a total of 73 entries.

As I say every year, if you want to know which pubs they are you'll have to buy the book when it goes on sale later this month.