Saturday 17 December 2022

Deadheading the Roses?

The plan for yet another train strike day was to do some overdue ticks in Everton, but yesterday I received an email from a friend (Thanks, Mike) to tell me that Wetherspoon's were closing their Bootle outlet on Sunday so I headed there instead, to the Wild Rose:

With only a day and a half to go they were already running down their stocks, and the only real ale left was Ruddles, which I found to be unexpectedly tasty.  I had thought that on the final Saturday the place would be jam packed, but I easily found a table in a comfortable booth.

I wonder what the reason is for the sudden closure just before the busiest week of the year.  I checked the Echo website and they only got the news on Tuesday so at least it's not one of those annoying "I'm the last person to know" situations.  Will it become a pseudo-spoons like some other closures have (e.g. Picturehouse), or is that the end of this site.

The pub was quite busy but I couldn't tell how many were there to say goodbye, I imagine it's pretty popular at this time on a Saturday anyway.

I checked my records and purely by coincidence this pub has just recently re-entered my target list, as the previous visit was five years and five days ago, all the more reason for a farewell tick.

Now I'm here it would be foolish not to collect some more, and in fact there's one never visited before, so let's try the North Park Tavern:

A standard shop conversion with no cask.  A good choice of keg stuff though, and just for a change I went for the "boring" option and had a fine pint of Paulaner.

Not as busy as the dying spoons, with only five customers and it was very cold in here.

Christmas music at a pleasant volume mixed with quiet conversations.  The pleasant decor makes for a rather good pub but they really need to turn up the heating.  I know fuel prices are high but people won't come out for a pint if they have to wear a warm coat, gloves and a hat.

Speaking of fuel prices I was amused to receive an email from my supplier telling me the price of gas has gone down by 0.001 pence per kWh.  This is going to save me one penny per year apparently.  (Needless to say, they simultaneously raised the electricity price by a much larger amount.)

Next, Jollys:

A plain well kept boozer this and, thank goodness, it's warm inside.  Ticking over nicely with about fifteen or twenty customers being served by a friendly efficient barmaid/landlady.

World Cup footie was on the tellies, silent I'm pleased to say, the sound in here being gentle pop music and mixed conversations.

The larger other side was empty, in fact out of use I think, probably very wise and helping with keeping the in-use side warm without breaking the bank.

I must say I liked the Christmas tree in here, covered in white and sparkly decorations with the occasional gold bauble.  I'm no style expert so I can't say why, but it just seemed to fit perfectly in the room.

What to do next?  There are plenty more ticks in Bootle but then I've got to spend ages on two buses to get home.  Alternatively, I could break my bus journey with a pub at the change point providing, of course, a toilet break as well.  I think that might be wiser, on balance.  Or I could split the difference and do one more Bootle tick and do the toilet break as number five.

OK, you talked me in to it, as I had to walk past to get to the bus station; directly opposite the doomed Wetherspoon's is Hyper Bar which I haven't been in since 2004:

The striking mural depicts Bootle and England footballer Alex Greenwood, member of the Euros winning team in 2022.

A well done modern pub this with no craft or cask pretensions, most seemed to be drinking Carling.  I had a Guinness and bagged the last free table in this popular place.

Just after I sat down a group of half a dozen lads on some kind of crawl came in, they raised the sound level by a few decibels but were well behaved and enjoyed their lagers.

I could hear some music but it was mainly drowned out by cheerful chatter.  This is what a boozer should sound like!

Croatia were beating Morocco as the second half started, but no one seemed to be watching.  Another screen had pop videos, matching the mostly inaudible background music.

Time to start for home, with a personal needs break and required tick half way, at the Jolly Miller.  Sorry, way too dark for a photo; here's one from my preceding visit in 2017:

This Greene King "flaming grill" outlet was unsurprisingly busy given the date, but I was able to find an un-reserved table to enjoy my excellent pint of Abbot.

Lots of the happy chattering customers were obviously out for a pre-Christmas celebration, I wondered how busy it will be next Saturday, Christmas Eve?  I think in the 21st century everyone is ensconced in their warm home by the 23rd and the Christmas Eve nights out with my friends that I remember thirty years ago are no longer the way to go.  In case that sounds like a complaint, I should own up that I don't expect to visit a pub after a meet with friends on Wednesday 21st until another get-together on Wednesday 28th.  Maybe?  Or will I do a survey on the Friday?  We'll see; are the trains running?

Considering this ought to be one of the busiest nights of the year I'm afraid this pub wasn't that packed; there was plenty of food coming out, but still a number of empty tables.  That doesn't really bode well for the industry.

Four required re-visits and one first timer, I think I'll catch another bus to take me home.  Farewell, Elisa Day.

Pub of the day: I think I'll award this to the Wild Rose as a goodbye gift.
Beer of the day: Abbot
Miles walked: 0.8
Maybe coming soon: Everton

Friday 9 December 2022

Mainly Birkdale

I headed north in rain and sleet (Why didn't I go in yesterday's sunshine?) to Ainsdale aiming for just one new tick; the Golden Monkey:

I entered what appeared to be a small shop conversion, and soon got a pint of Cunning Stunt.  Then I found that there is a larger back room.  Both parts are nicely decorated, the back room a little more restrained.

I sat on a very comfortable leather sofa in the back and I had the room to myself while there were only one or two customers in the front.  Not a good trade but probably OK for half one, hopefully it'll do better later.

There are plenty of other pubs in Ainsdale, but my objectives were elsewhere so I headed back to the station for a short run to today's main target area, Birkdale.

I arrived during a lull in the precipitation so decided to risk the furthest target, the Fishermens Rest:

Oooh.  Naming confusion!  It says Fishermens outside, but Fishermans on the mirror behind the counter.  All the other signage I could see and the menu vote for ~mens.

Anyway, this pleasant food-oriented pub was very busy.  I soon got a fine pint of Landlord, but no chance of a table so I leaned on a pillar which had a shelf for my pint.

With the exception of two or three regulars propping up the counter, everyone seemed to be dining, and there was a delicious fishy food smell.

I spotted a newly vacated table which was reserved from 3pm, I should be going by then, so I was able to sit down.

The soundscape here was almost entirely formed of cheerful chatter as the happy dinners finished their lunches.  To see this place at half two on a cold wet Friday, one would think the hospitality industry is on a high.  Sadly, one would be wrong, I fear.

The menu looks very good in here, pub classics plus some more unusual items such as chicken and black pudding stack, or rainbow trout fillets.

The cluster of regulars at the end of the counter had expanded to five by the time I was ready to leave, presumably they are allowed proper seats when it's quieter!

Part of this place's secret, I decided, is a team of landlady and staff who kept everyone fed and watered and organised in a efficient and at the same time friendly manner.   What a great pub.

Would I get soaked and/or frozen on the walk back?  No, the weather had improved, it was much brighter than when I came.  I did notice, however, that some of the rain had frozen on the pavement, making it somewhat slippy.

I made it safely back to the middle of Birkdale and to the Park, another one not visited since 2012:

Another food-oriented place perhaps more "cookie-cutter" in style, being a Greene King chain pub, but very pleasant anyway.  Nowhere near as busy as the Fishermens, but still ticking over at three on a wet Friday.

World cup footie was on the tellies, but it wasn't obtrusive.  I wonder what the work reunion tomorrow evening will be like once England kick off?

My pint of Morland Bitter was good, the other handpump offered Greene King IPA.

Next, across the level crossing and in to the Barrel House:

A tiny shop conversion here, offering two cask ales including my favourite Titanic Plum Porter, of which I enjoyed a gorgeous pint.

The small room has an impressive array of Belgian bottled beers on offer, including Rochfort 10, Delerium Red, Delerium Nocturnum, Kwak, Oude Geuze Boon and so on.  I was tempted by the presentation box of Rochfort 8, Rochfort 10 and a glass, but I resisted.  If anyone wants to buy me a Christmas present, you need look no further!!!

A wonderful micro this, ticking over with regulars who all know the barman, it's doing well.

One more before I go, it was going to be Birkers but the temptation of a new tick drew me to @ No. 4:

As a pub researcher with a database, I must say I don't like places with odd names like this one, 'cos it tends to mess up the sequence.  Does @ slot in around At?  The computer says it comes before A.

Anyway, I entered yet another shop conversion to a moment of concern - No fonts at all.  But wait;  there are six taps on the bar back, I forget what I chose but it was a tasty craft ale.  Not as good as the preceding four casks, of  course.

Almost as soon as I sat down the lights were dimmed and the musician in the corner started tuning up.  This could be rubbish or great, I thought.  Aha, any performer who has a pint of ale on a special clip on his mic stand has got to be good!!  And he was.

In my experience, we don't seem to get that many live musicians in Merseyside pubs; in other places I've been to, especially Australia, almost every bar seemed to have a singer or a band.  You Can't Always Get What You Want, gosh I've never heard that one acoustic before - Excellent.  And Wichita Lineman as well!

I peered out of the window, it's pitch black of course, lucky I got a picture earlier.  Time to go home.

The train back to Liverpool was busy but on time, and I emerged from Central to find a decent covering of snow to slow my march to Lime Street for my train home.  Considering Liverpool can go a whole winter without any snow, this is quite bad for mid December.  Will I get to my home without falling over?

I did.

Pub of the day: Fishermens Rest
Beer of the day: Titanic Plum Porter
Miles walked: 1.3
Maybe coming soon: Everton / Anfield

Friday 25 November 2022

West Derby Village

I returned to where it all began (See here for the story.) with a short bus ride to West Derby Village, and I headed first for the Sefton Arms:

Has it been redecorated since my last visit?  I don't really recall the pleasant interior looking exactly like this.  The Christmas decorations (Bah! Humbug!! - It's only November) are done to a tasteful level, and mix nicely with a little world cup bunting.

One pump on the counter so I decided to risk Greene King IPA.  The barmaid had obviously never been taught how to pull cask ale, a hefty tug on the handle while the glass stood on the drip tray resulted in a pint of froth with about half an inch of beer.  She apologised, waited for it to settle and then repeated the process with the same result.  After she had served two other customers, interleaved with intermittent pulls on the pump we were getting nowhere.  Eventually I persuaded her to remove the sparkler, and we soon achieved the proper result!  The actual ale, when I finally got to taste it, was fine.  As fine as their IPA can be, anyway.

The sound in here was mainly football commentary, the hosts were not doing very well I gathered.

A gentleman at the counter was ordering some Baileys and brandy, with a double of Three Barrels in each.  I used to be overly fond of Baileys and whisky, I don't think I've ever tried brandy.

This pub used to have a separate room with counter at one end, forming a "public bar" which was almost a separate pub, while the main part was the "lounge" side.  I noticed on my way in that one or two of the windows at that end were boarded up, leaving me to suspect that it is now out of use, and I couldn't see a way through from this part of the building - i remember a door last time I was here.

Not many customers on a Friday afternoon, I wonder how the other pubs here are doing.  Let's find out - The Hare & Hounds:

And the answer is, a lot better.  Both sides of this pub were busy, and I sat at what appeared to be the last available empty table.  Of course, when I say busy I'm talking 2020s standards, the days when you had to squeeze in the door and push your way to the counter have gone forever, I fear, except perhaps for pubs in town in the weeks before Christmas.  (Actually, I've got a work reunion to go to in Liverpool two weeks tomorrow, it'll be interesting to see how busy things are.)  

There were no clips on the three handpumps, I suspect cask ale has been abandoned in the five years since my last visit here, when I got a free pint if I remember right.

The interior has not changed much, although it's been well looked after in the intervening years and remains pleasant and comfortable.

I had a choice of viewing here, two different racing channels or the footie.  The volume was pleasingly low on all of them so the main sound in here was chatter.

Again Christmas decorations were tastefully subdued, which seems to be a common theme this year, although I fear we may see a rash of more tasteless decorations once we reach December.  

What a classic boozer this is; chatty regulars, friendly barmaids, warm and welcoming, what more could one ask for?  Well, real ale I suppose.

Across the road to the Hunting Lodge:

Conclusive proof that the price of ale doesn't affect custom:  My Guinness here was well under £3, as opposed to £3.40 over the road, and yet it was pretty empty here.

Just a small number of customers were scattered around this pleasant but slightly "plastic" pub.  Remarkably, no Christmas decorations at all, which must be worth a million bonus points.  There were lots of world cup bunting and an impressive array of flags on the ceiling.

The Qatar match finished and we switched to the build-up for the Netherlands - Goedemiddag to all my Dutch readers.

Not really much to say about this pub, pleasant comfortable friendly and quiet.

Next, what I hope is the best pub in the Village, the Halton Castle.  Hang on, though, what's this?  The Book:

A rather good shop conversion, too big to be called a micro I think, as it is clearly two shops joined together. I wonder how long this has been here?  The menu says March 2018, so only a few weeks after my last visit to the area.  The shops were formerly a butcher and a bookmaker's.

The well done interior, with painted brick and rough woodwork walls, is very good.  The frontage is two shopfronts, don't try the first door, it's only a fire exit and pushing on it just makes you look daft, and everyone inside can see you make an idiot of yourself.  DAMHIK.

Five pounds twenty for a Guinness, that's double the price in the Hunting Lodge!  And yet the same level of custom.

Again, tastefully restrained Christmas decorations complemented the pleasant decor in here.

Once again let's head for the Halton Castle.  Oh no, there's another new one to do first, the Cubicle:

Well I never - Another bar I've never heard of.  One pleasant comfortable room with a tiny counter in the corner.  I spotted that the Guinness font was a surger not a keg so I switched to Love Lane.  But it wasn't Love Lane despite what the sign said.  Instead a very tasty pint of something else pale and crafty, the name of which I didn't catch.

The only other customers were a group of five who were enjoying some chatter at one table, the rest of the room was empty.

This small squat brick building used to be florist, Streetview reveals.  Given its location at the edge of the Sefton Arms' car park, I wonder if it was originally a betting shop?  (Update:  I have been informed that originally this building housed public conveniences, which certainly explains the rather unusual name.)

With winter arriving, they definitely need to sort out the spring on the front door, it seems to settle ajar, resulting in a cold draught.  Even when a member of staff came in and carefully closed it, it opened itself again.

Once again the crimbo dekkies (After 30-odd years I think I'm entitled to use the local vernacular) were not over the top, just tasteful.

Eventually a departing staff member banged the door properly shut.

Now comes a difficult question:  The Halton Castle remains, but I have already had five pints;  should I go for six and complete the Village?  I think so, although it's too dark by now to take a photo.  Here's one from last time:

I was disappointed to see the three handpumps were all clipless so its "best pub in the village" status is at risk, but this multi-roomed gem is still a fine establishment.  Busy with customers of all ages, a classic local's boozer doing a good trade at half four on a Friday.

The football was just about audible but the main noise was umpteen animated conversations, exactly as it should be in a proper pub.  Christmas decorations were sparse and well done in here.

My Guinness went down very easily and all too soon it was time to get the bus home.  It's not often I get six ticks in a single day, and two were new ones as well!

Pub of the day: Halton Castle, despite the lack of real ale.
Beer of the day: GK IPA
Miles walked: 0.8
Maybe coming soon: City Centre or Birkdale

Friday 18 November 2022


Perhaps unwisely given the weather forecast, I headed under the water by bus to try a few pubs in Liscard last visited in 2017.  And hopefully one from 1999.

There are lots of pubs in Liscard, so I had to walk past a number last visited in 2018 to find the 2017 ones.  I started in the Royal Oak:

A large very well done pub with restrained decor, comfortable and popular on a wet Friday.

Gentle muzak blended with cheerful chatter and the click of pool balls in here.  The world cup coverage on the telly was fortunately silent.  I didn't think it had started yet?  In any case, England won the World Cup last Sunday.

There were some loud arguments about the pool, apparently someone wasn't correctly following "Birkenhead Rules".  It seemed a bit like a game of Mornington Crescent, where no one actually understands the regulations.  (Don't get me wrong, it was all cheerful banter, and actually now I think of it there was a remarkable lack of swearwords.)

Looking around before departure I noted the impressive brick fireplace by the entrance, clearly a modern construction but none the worse for that.  Also, beside the main door is a K6 phone box, half inside and half outside, an unusual bit of fun decor.

Next, the architectural wonder that is the Primrose:

The fantastic interior has survived another five years unscathed, I'm very happy to report.  Dark wood paneling, wonderful ceiling plasterwork and so on.  I do wonder if the wooden gantry above the counter might be a more recent addition, from my angle it has more of a sixties look?  Another historic feature now rare is the pie warmer on the counter!

Again, background music mixed with happy chatter, the place was doing well although the back room accessed through a splendid wide arch was empty, all the regulars were concentrated in the bar side.

When I walked past the Saddle to reach the Primrose I noted quite a few people with black ties - Would it be shut for a wake, I wondered.

Everyone in the noisy packed pub was here for the wake, but no one objected to an interloper having a Guinness, so I sat in a corner and made my notes.

Not really a good situation for researching the guide, as I'm sure today is non-typical for this pub, but I can still say it is nicely decorated in traditional style, knocked through into one front room plus a back room with no counter.  The real fire in a wood burning stove added to the comfortable atmosphere.

There is a Liverpool tradition that you can't have a wake without a falling out and a fight, but there was absolutely no sign of that here:  Lots of very drunk mourners, plenty of manly hugs but all well behaved.  The deceased clearly had a lot of friends.  

Feeling something of an intruder I quickly downed my pint and left.  Rest in peace Robert Murray Brown.

Next, the prime target for today, the Boot:

Thanks to a combination of limited opening hours in the past, and my bad planning, I haven't been in here in this millennium, so I was especially pleased to tick it today.

Even better, they've got a couple of handpumps, my pint of Japanese London Pride was very good.  And at less than three quid it was the cheapest pint of the day so far.

It was quite busy in here, I had to look round for a free table.  The background music was almost completely overwhelmed by happy chatter.

The plan was to finish with another '17 tick, the Wetherspoon's, but on my way to the Boot I had spotted a place unknown to me, Twelve Sixty.  Sorry about the picture, it was getting dark by now:

Even better than a 1999 revisit is a brand new pub, and this one's a belter.  The place is difficult to get in to, the first door I tried was locked.  Eventually I found the correct door and after pulling, then pushing, then pulling again I was in, much to the amusement of the three customers and the landlord, Dave.  I was pleased to see five handpumps one of which dispensed a lovely pint of one of my favourites, Ossett White Rat.

As soon as I had sat down two of the other customers departed leaving just a young lady and me.

I have to say it's disappointing that the Boot is so busy and this micro is so empty, but it only opened three weeks ago so maybe more people will learn of its existence as time goes on.  I really hope it gets enough custom to keep it going.

The other micro here, the Lazy Landlord, is also on my '17 list but it will have to wait for my next visit.

I chatted to the other customer, she had come out to do some shopping but never got further than here.  Two more customers came in and the shopper went off to make her purchases.  

Leaving at least two '17 ticks for next time, it's time to head homeward...  I remember catching the wrong bus last time and half an hour later I was even further from Liverpool, let's try to get it right this time.  Just as I arrived at the little bus station, a bus with Liverpool on the front and the right number turned up so I was soon on my way. 

Pub of the day: Twelve Sixty
Beer of the day: White Rat
Miles walked: 1.6
Maybe coming soon: Don't know

Saturday 12 November 2022

Townsend Lane

I headed out on a sunny Saturday afternoon to Townsend Lane.  A schoolboy error - Liverpool are at home at three, so the traffic was horrendous and the bus took ages.  Eventually I reached my first target, the wonderful Farmers Arms:

This architectural gem dating from 1925 remains unchanged, I'm pleased to report.  I entered by the wrong door and found myself trapped in the smaller half of this two sided pub.

The room was busy with large chatty groups, their conversations drowning out the football commentary in the background.  Tellies all around were showing Man City struggling, except the screen above my head which had racing.

This is what boozers should be like:  Filled with cheerful drinkers and animated chatter.  Let's hope I find some more like this today.

Next, the Clubmoor.  I expected it to be closed and it was:

On to the Canon:

This plain two sided traditional boozer was fairly quiet when I entered, but judging by the array of glassware being loaded into the dishwasher I'm guessing it was full of fans a few minutes ago.

Another one that hasn't changed since I did the same survey five years ago, I think it is good news to find these pubs which have survived COVID apparently unscathed.

I checked the dictionary to confirm the name of the pub refers to religious (or musical) matters rather than a big gun.

I considered my plans for the rest of the day, basically this close to Anfield (Almost near enough to see the For Sale board!) I need to do as many pubs as I can manage and then catch a bus into town before the footie lets out.  I've got about 100 minutes.  I quickly downed my second Guinness and moved on.

Just a short walk to the Elm House:

Clearly I was tempting fate with my comments about pubs surviving, this one hasn't.

Just a short way further along Townsend Lane is the Winchester, also known as the Townsend Lane:

Both names are displayed, what is a pub researcher to do?  I think Winchester has greater prominence on the outside, so I'll go with that.

As I was handed my Guinness the live football match on the telly played the Last Post.  I was startled and impressed to see the whole pub fall silent, the cluster of regulars at the counter standing quietly.  At the end of the Post everyone relaxed, the chatter restarted and I moved to a seat.

Another classic boozer doing well on a Saturday afternoon, once again the used glassware being tidied away suggests it was very busy with fans earlier on.

Jeff Stelling was mostly drowned out by animated chatter amongst the regulars.  He seems to have aged a bit since I admired his non-stop talk umpteen years ago, with a lot more umms and errs now than I remember.

Next, the Stadium, formerly the Cockwell.  Annoyingly, I seem to have forgotten to take a photo here.

Oh dear, a rather worrying place this, almost every window along the frontage was smashed, but it was still carrying on.  Only a handful of customers, plus a group of women, staff or friends I think, one of whom was sticking Christmas stickers in the windows.  A poor substitute for reglazing, I feel.  Was this just mindless vandalism, or something more sinister, I wonder?

Liverpool winning 2-1, Everton losing 2-0. Is it my imagination or are there more three o'clock games than usual?  Perhaps because it's the last Saturday before the World Cup interregnum?

The decoration process moved on to the windows by my seat.  While a Santa sticker is undoubtedly better than a hole in the glass, I still think a glazier is needed.  

Here I am in pub number four, it looks like I'll have no difficulty in finishing my research before the final whistle, in fact plenty of time for number five across the road.  The Willow Bank:

A rather fine two sided boozer this one.  I think it has changed since my last visit, the arch-roofed area at the back has been integrated into the rear room perhaps.  It still has a stage at the back, which I imagine is used sometimes for live music and/or a disco.

Gently ticking over at four on a Saturday, there were a decent number of customers in here, families, couples and groups of friends.  Another place that has got through the last few years, I hope they all survive the coming recession as well.

Contrary to the previous plan, why don't I walk down to Tuebrook and get a bus home?  Good idea...

Pub of the day: Farmers Arms, for the imposing exterior.
Beer of the day: Guinness
Miles walked: 2.4
Maybe coming soon: No idea.

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Birthday Bash

In what is becoming an annual tradition I marked my birthday with a Wetherspoon's breakfast and a pint.  This year's venue was in Old Swan at The Navigator:

It was ticking over steadily at eleven on a Tuesday, with the occasional breakfast coming out from the kitchen, but most of the customers were drinkers.  My Wobbly Bob was lovely, a great accompaniment to a large fry-up.

"Celebrations" over, I headed out to see if I could visit a few other pubs, but which would be open on a Tuesday morning?

The Masons Arms for one:

It was quite quiet but ticking over with morning boozers in one large open room nicely decorated in this Greene King pub. More lunchtime customers arrived as I downed my Guinness and soon lots of food was emerging from the kitchen.

As a software engineer I was rather pleased to note that I was seated at table number zero (Computers usually count from zero whereas humans generally start at one.)

One more tick to round off the morning I think, actually it's after twelve now.  I haven't been in the Black Horse since 2017 so it's worth giving it a try:

I'd not really noticed before what a fine building this is, I wonder from when it dates?  Maybe 1920s??

Another Greene King place, this time with handpumps from which I had a mediocre pint of Abbot - Probably the first out of the pump today.  There were fewer customers than in the Masons, and no one eating as far as I could see, although the menu was identical.

The other customer wanted Sky Sports Racing on the telly, it took three members of staff and an extended discussion to achieve this.  Actually it's a mark of good service that they put the effort in rather than just saying "it's not working" - Well done.  Mind you, he was clearly a regular, perhaps there would have been a different outcome if I had asked?

Many more people came in over the next half an hour, although the pub was hardly busy even when I left for home.

Pub of the day: Wetherspoon's
Beer of the day: Wobbly Bob
Miles walked: About a half.
Maybe coming soon: Townsend Lane

Thursday 3 November 2022

New Ones In Town

I headed in to Liverpool for what was supposed to be a mini-survey, starting at the Red Lion on Slater Street:

What a great pub this is, a stark contrast to the late night drinking establishments I expect around here.  It has one large room plus a courtyard at the back.  The room is decorated with lots of bric-a-brac, stuffed birds in glass cases, teapots hanging from the ceiling, and so on.

The decor isn't the best thing, though; there are five handpumps on the counter with a selection of cask ales including my favourite White Rat.

The barman warned me that someone had broken the pump, and sure enough the ale came out very aerated, with the handle return sucking beer out of the glass.  Eventually he managed to produce a full pint which I treated with some trepidation.  It was perfect.  (Thinking about it, the "abuse" the beer received was similar to an economiser and this one comes from autovac country - See my previous blog on the subject.)

Music mixed with gentle chatter from the half dozen other customers as I enjoyed my favourite ale.

Ten out of ten for this newcomer to the Liverpool real ale scene, perhaps it will make next year's GBG?

As I walked up I had noticed a number of people with LFC scarfs. Had I slipped up and come out on a match day?  Fortunately a quick check on the internet said no.

As I got to the end of my pint a group of blokes came in, and sat with me because there were no other seats available.  We soon got chatting on subjects ranging from Pink Floyd to my former employer on Edge Lane.  Our main topic of conversation, however, was pubs, and they admired my book and agreed that collecting pubs was a great hobby.  I passed all the "have you been in ..." questions with flying colours.  If you find this blog, lads, it was great to meet all of you and I hope you had a good afternoon out.  Don't forget to buy the book!!

Next, down to Wolstenhulme Square, and another new one, Seven Bro7hers:

Very different from the previous tick, but none the worse for that.  Modern styling, cable trays above my head, and bare brick, rough wood and black tiling on the walls.

I got the trainee barmaid who had to be shown how to serve me, but she produced a fine pint of a very good stout.  If I'd spotted Neptune's On The Bounty on the guest list I probably would have enjoyed that even more.  (At the excellent Rainhill Beer Festival last week I ended up breaking the unwritten rules of beer festivals and having three of the very same ale - it was in cask there.)

There were two other drinkers in, and they soon left leaving just me and the two staff.  Is there another one in the kitchen?  I hope they get more customers later.

Where next?  I wandered towards Hanover Street without any real plan in mind, but wait, what's this?  Pins Social Club:

A bowling alley with eight lanes plus a substantial bar area with pool tables and a selection of craft ales.  They'd run out of Brewdog Punk so I had a pint of the always tasty Neck Oil.  Blimey!  £6.25!!

Only one lot of bowlers were in action, with more people playing pool, and I wasn't the only person who'd come in just for a drink.

A very high ceiling with the usual exposed air conditioning ducts and cable trays combined with some rather fine lighting fixtures and even an enormous glitter ball to create a pleasant modern ambience.

I noted a small stage area in one corner, presumably they have live music sometimes.

Next I wandered randomly, noting quite a selection of bars I've never heard of so a few more surveys round here are definitely called for.  

After careful consideration (yeah, right) I selected Hatch on Slater Street for my final call of the day:

Many years ago most of my pub surveys were with one or more friends.  Before the tablet era my notes were scribbled in a notebook and we had a rule that if I'd made my notes before we were served we were allowed to walk out.  When this place was called DOM-1's we visited on a Thursday evening to find deafening music, no customers, and bar staff too busy chatting to serve us.  I completed my jottings and we departed.  So, depending on how you set the rules I may have never ticked this place!

Two name changes later and it's still deserted but the barmaid, despite being in mid chat with a colleague immediately broke off to serve me a pint, so no complaints this time.

A rather odd place inside, a long narrow low-ceilinged room with skylights leading to a counter area with a much higher ceiling.  A distinct "sweaty mop" odour filled the room, and no other customers came in while I enjoyed a decent pint of the black stuff.  It's probably very popular at midnight on a Friday, when I'm usually tucked up in bed.  (Actually, tomorrow is poker night so I'm unlikely to be home before two.)

Four is enough on a so-called mini survey, so I think it's time to head for home.  Three brand new ticks is a fine result.

Pub of the day: Red Lion
Beer of the day: Ossett White Rat
Miles walked: 1.6
Maybe coming soon: Townsend Lane

Thursday 27 October 2022

Good Beer Guide New Entries

Contrary to what I wrote on Sunday, here's a list of Merseyside's new entries to this year's Good Beer Guide for those who haven't received their copy yet, now that the embargo has expired.  The chosen eighteen are

There are some brand new places in that list and also some old friends.  I must say I was pleased to discover I've already ticked all of them.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Good Beer Guide 2023

I've got mine, and I can reveal that in Merseyside nineteen pubs have been removed and eighteen added.

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 week.

Saturday 15 October 2022

The Last Pub On Scottie Road

In my collection of books is The Pubs of Scottie Road by Terry Cooke (Bluecoat Press, 1999), a fascinating study of the pubs and people of the area.  Having been advised last weekend that the Throstle's Nest, one of the last surviving pubs on Scotland Road, had been put up for sale and is therefore under threat of closure, I thought I ought to pay the famous thoroughfare a visit before I'm too late.  The last time was 2003.

I commenced my researches just north of Scottie Road, at the Crown Vaults:

This place seems to have slipped down the cracks between surveys before, because I've never been in.  I would never expect to get a new tick in an area like this, but here we are.

I found a slightly tatty interior knocked through to form one open room.  On looking round more closely I decided that tatty was unfair: Everything was well cared for except for some tired upholstery; the floor, walls, and decor being in fine nick.

No cask, needless to say, so I enjoyed a pint of Carling.

Two other customers were in, one vaping in a cloud of smoke.  There was footie on the telly but only the barman was watching it.

I wandered around the area, photographing the derelict Cunard and Parrot, last visited in 1999 and 2003 respectively:

Next, the trigger for today's trip, the Throstles Nest:

The revolving door at the front remains, you don't see those on pubs very often.  Inside I found a nicely done room with a group of six regulars plus the barmaid at one table enjoying pleasant chit-chat.  She quickly jumped up to serve me a Guinness (I really hate it when the staff pause to finish their conversation before deigning to serve me.  No such problem here.)

For some reason I was offered an extra third of a pint or so to go with my pint.  Usually this is when the pint is mostly froth, but not today.  I didn't catch what she said, but thanked her for the free bonus.

There's a small notice affixed to the wall "England is going Smoke Free".  How old is that!

The barmaid departed, for a ciggie probably, leaving the counter unstaffed.  I wonder what would have happened if I'd wanted another drink?  I guess one of the regulars had been left "in charge" and would have served me.

Outside it got darker and I could see the wipers operating on the cars, so it looked like I was going to get wet.

Actually, I found only very light rain as I crossed the road to get a good shot of the closed Eagle Vaults next door:

That's it for Scotland Road I'm afraid, so I headed off into the back streets to the Britannia, a great example of late 60s pub design, I think.  It looks like it is no longer operational, a sad loss:

On to Vauxhall Road, the next parallel main road into town, and to the Castle:

A surprise as I entered this compact two room boozer - It was really busy.  My Guinness was quickly poured by one of the two barmaids who were the only women in the crowded pub.  I found a chair and table on one side of the room, everywhere else was occupied.

The noisy chatter in here was unusually lacking in swear words, I noticed.

It's wonderful to find a plain boozer doing a roaring trade nowadays, the previous two ticks could do with a share of this custom, I think.  I was possibly the youngest person in the pub, not something I expect to find nowadays!

Something else you don't see very often nowadays, a tray of sandwiches appeared and was left on a table for anyone to eat.  The regulars soon tucked in.

On towards the city centre along Vauxhall Road, the next blob on my map is the Glass House, and, exactly as it was last time I was here in 2018, there's no signage on the outside but it's still open:

Not quite as busy as the Castle but still doing good business at three in the afternoon,  I wondered what the name of this pub actually is, it hasn't had a sign on the outside on my last two visits.

Inside is one shallow wide room across the frontage with the counter in the middle.  At one end is a partitioned off "snug"; I think this might be some historic 1950s or even 1930s architecture.

As I looked around I spotted the writing above the darts blackboard.  That says the Glass House Darts Club, so in the absence of anything more trustworthy I'll take that as the name of the pub.  Alternatively, I could christen it "The Anonymous Arms"!

As usual in places like this, I was the only person who didn't know the staff, everyone else who came in immediately had a chat with one or both of the barmaids.  What a wonderful friendly pub this is.

One more place to look at, just a little further towards town is the Eagle:

This tiny corner house was so busy I had to stand at the end of the counter and make my notes, there were no seats available.

Racing was on the tellies but not many of the exclusively male customers were paying attention.

A group departed and I was able to bag a seat in the corner.  I've got a vague recollection that I tripped on the step up to this corner last time I was here, but I'm not sure.  Anyway, I made it safely this time.

For the third time today, I was pleased to find myself in a busy boozer full of cheerful drinkers, it's almost like the fifteen years of decline since the smoking ban hadn't happened! (Apart from the lack of smoke, of course)

OK, five pints to the good, it's time to go home.  What a great pub crawl this has been, so many places similar to those I drank in back in the 1990s, it's really good to discover that some of them survive.

Pub of the day: The Anonymous Arms
Beer of the day:  None
Miles walked: 2.5
Maybe coming soon: Undecided.

Thursday 15 September 2022


I headed out on a largely unplanned excursion into town today and on a whim I started at old favourite the Lord Warden, which is now called Sketch:

I used to be a regular in here, friends and I competing in the quiz every week when it was the Lord Warden, which was a traditional boozer which for some of its history served good real ale.  Now it's received a spectacular redecoration inside and out and become Sketch.

The transformation didn't involve anything structural, the old layout remains almost unchanged except you can't get round the back between the two sides any more.  The decor inside matches the outside, bright colours and rough wooden planks on the walls.

Not many customers in at two on a Thursday, the barman eventually dragged himself away from his pals to serve me a Guinness.

While it is always a shame to lose a traditional boozer, I must say the new styling is bright and cheerful and rather attractive.  Sacrilege?

Where next?  How about a brand new tick, number 1,411?  The GPO Market:

I thought the entrance would be outside but in fact it is in the Met Quarter shopping centre. A number of food counters plus a large bar area at one end.  I ignored the app ordering system, I wasn't alone in that, and walked up to the counter where I ordered a half of something 7% from Carnival, whose taproom I visited last week.

The barman, presumably new, poured it and then fiddled with the till for ages, eventually asking his colleague how to sell a half, the answer was that the draft beers only come in schooners, so he had to pour the half into a goblet and add some more.  Seems daft, especially as the goblet has a half pint line.  It cost £4.50 by the way.

Eventually I was able to sit down and taste this peculiar chocolate beer which I have to say I didn't like very much.  Usually I like sours, but that taste didn't seem to go with chocolate milkshake.  Actually, I did grow to like it more as it went down, but certainly not a favourite.  I'm left with the worry that they sell so little that it has gone sour in the keg and the tang is not intentional.  Oh well, I've got my tick and I don't need to come here again for a few years!  Having said that, the food options looked very tempting in here, so maybe I'll come back for dinner some time.

Just along from the front entrance of Met Quarter is the Beehive, not visited since 2012, so let's move away from modern places to something more traditional and try that one next:

Well well!  If there was one place I would have predicted had lost its cask in the ten years since I was last here it would have been this splendid traditional boozer, but no, three handpumps on the counter and my Landlord was excellent.

The front part of the place was quite busy so I headed to the back, only later spotting the notice informing me that this area is reserved for food service only until five.  Oh well, no one complained, and there were plenty of empty tables.

The pub was ticking over nicely at four on a Thursday, the music mixing with gentle chatter from the regulars.

Where to after the Beehive?  I had an idea:  How about the other Beehive, last visited in 2013 so long overdue for a tick just like its namesake:

This place is completely unchanged, I'm pleased to report, and it remains a classic town centre boozer.  When I say it hasn't changed, it has obviously been redecorated a few times in the intervening years because it's immaculate in here.

The walls are covered with pictures of film stars and movie posters.

The music was mostly drowned by chatter in the somewhat echoey room.  In between serving, the barmaid joined in the animated conversations.

My Guinness came with a shamrock drawn in the head.  I can report that in the dozen or so pubs I visited on my recent visit to Ireland I saw this exactly zero times, and that included three or four of the main tourist pubs around Temple Bar in Dublin.  

I checked my trains home.  Four of the next five are cancelled and the remaining one is late, what kind of service is that?  I said some time ago that if we re-nationalised the railways it would all fall apart, and it looks like I was right.  I keep seeing adverts for Northern Rail (who are controlled by the DfT, so effectively nationalised), surely if they put more effort into actually running trains and less into advertising things would be better.

Opposite where I was sitting was a Wurlitzer Jukebox.  How do those bubble tubes work, I wondered?  Good old Google to the rescue, the tubes are filled with an organic liquid which boils when warmed at the bottom, so the bubbles are actually vapour and they gradually condense as they rise and cool.

Having done the Beehive it would be rude not to tick Riley's next door - See picture above.

Another place that I'm happy to report hasn't changed significantly since I was here in 2013, although it has had a good refurbishment.  As I observed last time it is popular with racing fans.

Again a beautifully maintained traditional interior, I hope this pub and next door continue for eternity.

Perhaps not as many people in as in the Beehive, but still ticking over with a high proportion of the customers watching the horses.  I wonder where the nearest bookie's is, presumably they have to nip out to put their bets on.  Oh, of course, it's next door to the Beehive, so two doors down from here.

I rechecked the trains, after the cancellations the next few services are all apparently running, so I think my extra Guinness (I was originally intending to go home after the Beehive.) has worked out OK.  Although an hour's worth of passengers on one train might be a bit crowded!  Perhaps I should drink slowly and get the second train out, which is also shown as running.

I dawdled over my beer and the second train was not overcrowded and soon took me home in relative comfort.

Pub of the day: Beehive, the first one, for the quality ale.
Beer of the day: Landlord
Miles walked: 1.75
Maybe coming soon: To be decided.

Saturday 10 September 2022

Along Regent Road

I decided that for a change I'd do a survey of the (mostly) closed pubs along the Docks before everything changes with the opening of the new stadium.

I headed to Bootle to commence my tour, starting at the long closed and never ticked Clarence:

Next, down to Regent Road which was to be my main route today.  On the corner stands Kerries Bar, another one I never got to.  I think it was also called Shenanigans at some time in its history:

A quick dodge back up to Derby Road for a picture of the Woodhouse, last visited in 1998:

Back on Regent Road, next came the Atlantic, which has been flattened I'm afraid, along with the Iron Horse concert room next door:

As I photographed the site of the Atlantic, a large gaggle of blokes appeared out of a side road and started walking along Regent Road ahead of me.  What could they be up to?  I guessed an organised party of Everton fans on a visit to look at their new home.

I carried on, to the long closed Sandon Lion which is still standing, perhaps poised for future football traffic:

But what's this a couple of doors further along?  What used to be Coast, and before that Sherlock's and before that the Convivial Hotel, is now the Royal Crest Hotel, and the gang are going in.

I followed, half expecting to be told it was a private function, but I was allowed to share the pub with what turned out to be a stag party.

I was very pleased to get a tick here as I had recorded Coast as closed as long ago as 2011.  A well done very recent refurbishment in modern style has created a very pleasant one roomed boozer.  It looks so different inside compared to my visits to Sherlock's in 1999 and 2004 that I initially concluded I'd got the wrong place, but later internet research revealed it was the same building.

The massive quantity of customers all at once caused a bit of chaos, especially when the Stella turned out to be sour!  The lone barmaid efficiently sorted things out, the stags were served and I got a Guinness.

The room was decorated with pink heart-shaped balloons, not really what I would expect for stags, perhaps left over from a function last night?

Was it specially open for the stags?  Without them it would only have been me in here.  On second thoughts there were two other blokes who weren't joining in, so actually three customers.

The party departed, to where I don't know, leaving the pub peaceful.

On a little further, looking at the new stadium, which is well on its way, to the only pub I had expected to be open along here, the Bramley Moore:

Would it be full of stags?  No, just a dozen or more regulars.  One has a new smart phone and was taking pictures of his pals and the landlady.

I wonder where the stags went, and why they were in this area in the first place.  Why not do this pub as well?

Pretty much no change since the last time I was here, in 2004, but clearly it has had a couple of redecorations in the intervening years, because it's very well cared for and tidy.

Was this the pub where a regular once said to me "That's the first time anyone's ever done the Times crossword in here", I'm fairly sure it was somewhere around here.  I used to sit quietly in a corner and attempt said crossword on my early surveys.

I must say I was surprised just how well this pub was doing, I had the area down as being totally dead, with the remaining pub(s) hanging on for the football fans, but no, there were seventeen customers at three on a Saturday.  Hardly busy, but the room was filled with cheerful chatter.

The racing channel was showing somewhere in Ireland, I guess all local meetings are cancelled.

I continued my trek along Regent Road.  Now here's two places I've never heard of.  Murphy's Distillery was only open for a private party according to the sign at the entrance, so I didn't push my luck:

Next door is Ten Streets Social:

My goodness, this is a big room, full of bench seats and tables.  A stage at the far end and a long bar counter along one side.  Bare brick walls and a cement floor complete the industrial vibe.

No Guinness as far as I could see, I selected Staropramen for a change, two or three pints of froth came out before a pint of lager, but it tasted good in the end.

I could see food and drinks disappearing through a side door, there must be another room (Or could that be Murphy's?)

I rather like this place, I bet it would be good with music on.  I have resolved to see more live music in future, let's see if I actually do...  I studied the what's on listing.  Most events seem to finish about 3 or 4 in the morning; I'm afraid that's well past my bed time.

Now here's an annoying feature of the decor.  They've got no less than eighty of those fake retro lightbulbs, but these have got an extra feature whereby every now and then one will flicker and go out, recovering a moment later.  I wondered if they were individually random but I think they are in a fixed sequence.  Rather irritating anyway, there's always one flickering in my peripheral vision.

Carrying on towards the city, there are a couple of brewery taps hidden in the last bit of industry before you get to the commercial centre.  First, Azvex Taproom:

A medium sized warehouse this, half brewery and half bar.

I briefly studied the list of twelve beers, and soon ordered some Vantablack Creatures which claimed to be an imperial stout with peanut butter brownie.  At 11% it's lucky I only had a third of a pint;  Oh wow, it was gorgeous, extremely sweet and sticky and I could taste the PB.  Beer of the month, possibly of the year.

I counted fourteen customers inside, plus more than that in the sunshine outside.

For those who don't like "strong and/or strange" beers I should report that one of the twelve beers on tap was Cruise Liner at 3.8% which I would guess is very quaff-able.  There were a few other slightly stronger pales as well.  On the other hand, if you want dark beers I think mine was the only one.

The food in here, currywurst and hot dogs, looked very tempting.

Just across the road is Carnival Tasting Room:

This is another warehouse which is half brewery half bar, perhaps a bit more colourful than the last one, and it seems a bit busier.

My first choice, a blood orange IPA at 9.3% was not on (Can't they amend the blackboard?  Surely that's why it's a blackboard!)  so I had a rather fine, if weaker (5.2%), pale with Citra hops.  To be fair, while I enjoyed my second choice beer, someone crossed the blood orange one off the board.  Perhaps they read my mind?

I was half way down my drink before I noticed the cask blackboard.  If they had had pump clips I would have had some but I had assumed the two pumps weren't in use.  Oh well, I probably would have enjoyed the pale or even the pina collada haze, but it's too late now.  I didn't see any use of the handpumps while I was drinking my very tasty "Dreaming of Twinships ".

In here, the food was tacos, but I didn't see any served, unlike in Azvex where quite a few sausages came out.

Time to head for home...  As I walked past a modern warehouse building I could hear quite a lot of crashing banging noises.  I looked at the sign, it's "Hatchet Harry's Indoor Axe Throwing". What the ****????

Pub of the day: Royal Crest Hotel, because I thought it had been closed for years.
Beer of the day: Azvex's Vantablack Creatures
Miles walked: 4.1
Maybe coming soon: No idea!