Thursday 27 January 2022


Today, I headed to Toxteth, having noted a small number of targets overdue for a visit.  Once again I was a little worried that on a Thursday afternoon I would find some or all of them shut.

My first objective was the Herculaneum Bridge:

Drat!  The door was locked.  It's also known as Peglegs, which is written on the outside as well as the formal name.

Just round the corner was the Beresford Arms, now long gone and replaced by housing.  Here it is on the occasion of my last visit, in 2003, and today:

On to the Bleak House:

Like Peglegs, it looks operational, but not open at the moment.

Next, possibly the least likely target, as I've got Wilson's Tavern recorded as closed in my database:

As I approached it looked closed although the lights were on.  I took a photo and then walked onwards, but wait!  The side door is open.  I entered the porch but the inside door was locked.  So near and yet so far.  Disappointed, I walked on, but then an angel of mercy emerged from the paper shop across the road and hurried towards me.  "Are you waiting to go in?  Sorry, I had to nip out"

She soon unlocked the door and let me in.  Yippee!

Inside is a rather good two sided boozer, with walls and woodwork painted in the now popular shades of grey scheme.  One side has a rather unusual performance area with a stage and dance floor, under a low arched roof.  I can't remember much from my 2003 visit, but judging by the notes in my database it hasn't changed much.

Needless to say, I was the only customer, and I drank my Carling in splendid solitude, listening to Smooth Radio while the landlady read her newspaper.

Now, what's the name of this place?  The faded paintwork outside still says Wilson's Tavern, but Google has it as the Phoenix, which is the original name I think.  The NHS track and trace sign says Phoenix as well.

Next, a pub much more likely to be open, I think, the Britannia:

Last visited back in the last millennium (1999), when I described it as recently built, this comfortable food-oriented place in the Stonehouse chain hasn't changed much.  It offers great views across the river from a slightly higgledy-piggeldy open interior, or from the tables outside.  I stared longingly at the roasts available at the carvery, with help yourself vegetables.

Ticking over at three on a Thursday afternoon, I could see occasional meals emerging from the kitchen, I guess the sunny weather has brought out a number of people for a riverside walk.

Three handpumps but they didn't look like they had been used recently, so I chose Guinness.

The menu looks good value, fish and chips £8.29.

I wondered what to do next.  If all the pubs had been open I would have finished here, and then looked for a bus or taken the short route back to the train.  Perhaps I should take the longer way back to the station, retracing my steps to check if the Bleak House or the Herculaneum have opened.  There's not much chance, but I don't want to make a special evening trip later in the year just for those two.  It'll be four by the time I get back there, so maybe, just maybe...

Bleak House was still shut, although the lights and even the telly in the bar are on, so I'm fairly sure it's still operational.  On to Peglegs, and YES, it's now open.  Wonderfully, all the fantastic woodwork and tilework is just the same as last time I was here, back in 2012.  I'm not sure what the listing status of this place is, but it certainly ought to be protected.  Sadly, later researches show it's unlisted, but at least it's on CAMRA's list.  They report it as having been built in 1901-2 by Cains Brewery.

Two other customers were chatting with the barman, until they went out for a smoke, allowing me the opportunity for an interior photo:

The two handpumps are obviously just for show, so it was back to Carling for me.

I walked past the former Wellington Vaults where I last had a drink in 2012.  Here it is, then and now:

It achieved a brief period in the spotlight in May 2013 after Prince Charles, in the area to re-open the Florence Institute across the road, was invited in for an unscheduled drink.  It closed a year later and has now been converted into flats.

Now I've ticked three, why don't I re-visit the only other pub that might be available in this end of Toxteth.  Last visited in 2018, what's the chance that the Anglesey will be open?

It is.  No good for anyone looking for an historic interior, because this place has been beautifully modernised, just about retaining its two sided heritage.  Pretty much the same as when I was last here in 2018 but looking round it doesn't look four years old so I think good maintenance has occurred in the mean time.

Quite a few customers in at five, they all seemed to know each other and the staff, so presumably regulars.  The sound of the telly - snooker - was pretty much drowned out by chatter.  This is a great locals' boozer and I was glad to see it doing well.

I caught myself nodding off in my comfortable seat so definitely time to go home; only a short walk to Park Road and a suitable bus.  Quite a successful day after a shaky start, I think, but I'll have to go back for the Bleak House.

Pub of the day: Wilson's, because I thought it had closed years ago.  Or Peglegs, for its magnificent interior.
Miles walked: 3
Maybe coming soon: Garswood

Thursday 20 January 2022

Sunny Southport

I set off in glorious sunshine on Thursday morning and headed for Southport with some trepidation.  Today's plan included a number of outlying Southport pubs, and the effects of COVID and dryanuary might cause some of them to be shut, resulting in a long walk to no avail.  Oh well, the weather's lovely, let's see what happens...

My first target was the Cock and Rabbit, and as I feared, the door was locked:

Not a good start.  At least one source, my own database in fact, reports this is closed so I wasn't very surprised.  So is it closed permanently or just shut on a Thursday afternoon?  Who knows?

Only a short distance further, and I reached the Mount Pleasant:

Would my luck improve?  Oh yes.  A rather fine multi-roomed place, aiming at the dining market but with a large "bar side" for drinkers.  Two handpumps were in operation, and I had a great pint of Landlord, served in a Timothy Taylor's glass, as it should be.

I relaxed in comfort on a leather sofa, quickly moving to a second one because the sun was in my eyes.  Too many cushions, I think.  (In my opinion one is too many!)

Quiet background music mixed with chatter here, plus the occasional bang as the landlady hung up some decorations in one of the side rooms.  No offence is intended but I felt she was a little too old to be climbing up ladders.  Perhaps I'm just being sexist and ageist?

While I'm being ageist, I noted that all of the customers I could see were older than me.

Just a short walk to my next target.  In this quiet empty suburban street it can't possibly be open, can it?  The Zetland:

It's open!  I last drank here in 2002 and I have to say it hasn't changed much since then, when I wrote "a nicely looked after traditional free standing pub with two bars".  I was very pleased to see the place has survived through the intervening years, including the recent crisis.

Twenty years ago I enjoyed Burtonwood Bitter, a favourite of mine going back to the 1980s.  No chance of that fondly remembered brew now, but the Jennings Cumberland was good, if perhaps a touch overchilled.

The music was a little too loud, maybe, but not overpowering.

The real fire under the dartboard wasn't lit.  I wonder if any darts ever fall in the flames, could be an interesting extra hazard if you hit the wires.

I relaxed on a traditional bench seat along the wall, one of those with a gap between squab and back, a classic place to lose one's mobile phone (White Horse, Woolton last year.)  I've often wondered why seats are made this way.  Could it just be because it makes a great place to put the heating?  Certainly there was a comfortable warmth emerging from the gap.  Actually, I should note at this point that both this and the previous place were comfortably warm, something you can't always rely on on cold January days.

I continued to look round.  There's a double mains socket on the skirting board that is upside down.  Perhaps because it's so low that there's no room for flex to enter the plugs from below.  I wonder how that rates in the 18th Edition[1]?

What a great pub.  If this was my local I'd have to give up pub researches and just come here every day!

I dawdled over my pint because the next target only opens at three, according to Facebook; the Rabbit being closed had put me ahead of schedule.

On to the Blue Anchor:

Aha, this one's open as well.  What a wonderful building, I wonder when it was built.  1920s??  Great stained glass, anyway.

No cask I'm afraid (I must update whatpub) so I asked for Guinness.  This came from a can with the use of a surger, I haven't seen one of these for years.  The procedure seems to involve a shot glass of water poured onto the machine, presumably to couple the vibrations to the glass.  I must say it does provide a creamier pint than a plain can, or am I just fooled by the theatre.

No other customers I could see, just the fruit machine repair man who was replacing a circuit board.  I was rather amused to hear him borrow a pound from the barmaid to test the machine, surely his toolkit includes such an essential!

There was a rattle of pool balls from the other bar, so I guess there are other customers, but probably not many.

So, three out of four targets ticked, not too bad.  Should I retrace my steps and try the Rabbit again?  I think not.  I headed back towards central Southport...

Despite it being located less than 100 yards from the station, I've never actually been in the Monument, so now is the time:

A plain but very well done boozer, one l-shaped room with a long l-shaped counter.  No cask, but the Guinness is real keg this time.  It has more body than the surged can version, I reckon.

Ticking over slowly at four on a Thursday, the music mixed with intermittent chat in here.

I guess I'm not the first person to wait for their train here, there is a departure screen provided, although I couldn't read it from my seat and had to use the app instead.  The current offering of half service seems to be working OK, although I'm not sure how it fits with the return to work announced yesterday.  Luckily I'll be travelling against the peak.

A check of my database shows I've got umpteen more targets to aim for in Southport, so I think I'll be back before too long.  For today, four ticks, three never done before, is a good score, giving me a grand total of 1,367 visited.

[1] BS7671 Wiring Regulations.  I've done some research (Thanks Google) and it seems an upside down outlet is not a fail.  I am not an electrician, so this information is worth exactly what you paid for it.

Pub of the day: Zetland, by a narrow margin.
Miles walked: 2.6
Maybe coming soon: Garswood

Thursday 13 January 2022

Sunshine on Smithdown

Oh dear.  Thirteen days in to the year and I haven't done any ticks yet.  Dryanuary?  Oh no, I've enjoyed plenty of good ale this year already, just not in target pubs.  Five pints, all excellent, in Birkenhead yesterday for example - Wetherspoon's, Swinging Arm, Gallagher's if you're interested.  Actually, that day out with friends reminded me I need to do a Birkenhead trip to tick some pubs I wouldn't want to drag my pals to!

Anyway, I can't waste today's sunshine, so a train and a bus took me to the far end of Smithdown Road and I was soon in my first target, the Richmond Tavern:

This has always been a chain dining pub, but since my last visit way back in '06 it has been refurbished nicely and is now an Ember Inn.  The pleasant interior is in their usual style.

Eight handpumps on the counter with only about three operational; my pint of London Pride was excellent.

Not exactly busy at two on a Thursday afternoon, but ticking over, mainly diners finishing a late lunch I think.

I recall a visit here with friends many years ago on a wet and stormy night, where additional drama was provided by the occasional roof tile crashing into the car park.  We were glad we didn't come by car!

Now, down a side street to the never visited Fogherty's:

The style of the interior suggests the place has been here for a long time.  Has it?  Why have I never been here before?  Researches on Streetview show it back to the first picture in 2008, and checking my archives reveals it has been in my database for at least twenty-two years, so there's really no excuse for my failure to tick.

Anyway, a traditionally done boozer in a large L-shaped room, very clean and tidy, and ticking over mid afternoon with blokes of my age and older enjoying ale and chat.

No handpumps, of course, so I enjoyed a pint of Guinness.

They've still got plastic screens between customer and bar staff here, let's hope this nonsense is finished before too long.  I was pleased to see Aussie White on an optic behind the bar, it's getting harder to find nowadays.

Now, on to a place i didn't even know existed until I walked past it on the way to the Richmond, so it's a great bonus tick in 21st Amendment:

I don't know how to describe the decor in this large pub, but I like it.  Umpteen "Tiffany" lampshades, dark green tile work on some walls, dark wood flooring, comfortable bench seats along the walls.  It's all a bit eccentric and, to my mind, rather fine.

No real ale so it was Guinness again for me.

The large TV screen opposite me was showing a wood fire, but it didn't have the warmth of a real one!

Only a handful of customers, some gentle chatter mixed with the music.

In 1933, the twenty-first amendment to the US Constitution repealed the eighteenth amendment, and marked the end of prohibition.

Finally, just round the corner is the Dog House:

Big windows into the street on two sides of this rather fine bar with fun contemporary decor.  Too big to be called a "micro" but it's in that mould.

Two handpumps were operating, offering a hazy brew from local Black Lodge, and Doom Bar.  I've commented in the past that places like this should have an "ordinary" real ale for the customers who are scared of peculiar murky stuff.  This place has nailed it!  (I chose the hazy one, it was gorgeous.)

Not many customers at four, but gently ticking over.  It deserves to be busy later.

OK, time for home, I think.  There are enough bars around here to justify another trip, including Leaf, never visited, and the Tavern Company, last ticked in 1999.  Four ticks, three never done before and one of those never even heard of; a good result.

Pub of the day: Dog House
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Garswood