Thursday, 17 March 2022

North of St Helens

St Helens Bus Station was in chaos due to a bus breaking down right in the middle and blocking half the stops.  The "where to catch your bus" board didn't list my intended route, so I had to ask at the enquiry desk, "it's the stop round the corner".

Anyway, soon enough I reached my first target, the Moss Bank:

As I approached it didn't look open, and circling round for a better photo (see above) I found another closed door.  Not a good start, but wait a moment, I can see lights inside.  I headed round the other side of the pub and found two open doors:

What a well done pub this is.  It has clearly been heavily refurbished recently, and it's a very good job they've done.  Knocked through around a three sided counter, it retains two distinct areas, lounge and bar, both of which are well done out, with pleasant understated decor.  

Doing good business at two on a Thursday, and the background music was mostly drowned by animated chatter.  One or two customers were dressed up for St Patrick's Day.  I celebrated with a pint of Guinness.  The two handpumps on the counter were not in use.

I must say this is a beautifully done pub, everything inside well cared for and spotless, and it deserves to do well. 

Next, a mile or so of residential streets.  They were all named after Lake District locations, which is perhaps why they were all up or down hill.  Phew.

Eventually, I reached my next objective, the Toby Carvery Waterside:

You know what to expect in a Toby, and this one didn't hold any surprises.  Pleasant chain pub decor, well maintained and very clean and tidy.  Oh, and an all pervading smell of stewed cabbage.  Not many customers in at three, and I couldn't see anyone eating.

The three handpumps looked more ornamental than functional, so I had another Guinness.

There is a nice view from some of the windows of the reservoir, on which I could see mallard and moorhens.  I learned from Wikipedia that this is the largest body of water in Merseyside, and strangely it is called Carr Mill Dam, which I had always assumed was the name of the dam.

Not too far away, across the perennially busy East Lancs Road, is the Carr Mill:

I was previously here in 2018, and I don't recognise the interior.  Has it been refurbished?  Last time it was at the end of a survey, so it's more likely I've forgotten.  Very nice, anyway.

What I did remember from last time was vinegar masquerading as Abbot, so it was with some trepidation that I ordered Greene King IPA.  It was again well past its best, with a tang of vinegar, but not as bad as last time.

The large open pub was not very busy, just a few drinkers and diners scattered around the pleasant interior.

There's a proper bowling green at the back, which probably marks this as having been a Greenhall's pub when it was built, they were particularly keen on bowling greens.

The cricket was on the tellies, England seem to be doing well for a change.  I waited for Root's 150 to come up and then headed off, leaving some of my vinegary pint undrunk.

Next, another one new to me, the Woodlands:

A rather good, very large pub, all knocked through inside with plain well done decor on a sporting theme.  A few quirky touches make the place rather attractive.  

Only one available of three handpumps, should I risk it again?  I did, and my Sharp's something-or-other (I think it was Sea Fury) was spot on.

This pub belongs to Blackrose, not a chain I've noticed before.  

Unfortunately all the TVs were showing Cheltenham so I didn't get to see any more cricket.

In the enormous interior there were a lot of empty tables, but still a gentle ticking over of custom as afternoon faded into evening.

I looked around:  In a raised area near where I was sitting there were three dartboards.  I wonder if they all get used at once?  Each had a scoring machine, I always used to struggle subtracting treble seventeen from 501, but no such trouble nowadays.  (I originally wrote dartsboards, but the auto correct changed it, is that wrong?  Surely there's more than one dart involved?)

Anyway, linguistics notwithstanding, another excellent survey, three pubs never before visited taking my total to 1,376.  I keep thinking there can't be many more to do, but clearly I haven't exhausted the supply yet.

Pub of the day: Difficult.  Moss Bank for being a great pub, or Woodlands for quality cask.
Miles walked: 1.8
Maybe coming soon: Back to Southport, where there are dozens of targets just waiting for a visit.

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