Friday 27 May 2022

The Nether Regions

I can never fix in my mind the difference between Netherley and Netherton, but today, er, [Consults map] Netherton is where I headed.

I caught a train to Old Roan, for a short walk to Netherton...

But wait, first a visit to the Oldy Club:

A classic social club this, although no one asked me to sign in.  The large concert room was closed, I sat in one of the two or three bar rooms.  Plain rather well done decor with a preponderance of grey as is now fashionable.

Two locals sitting at the counter were the only other custom I could see at two on the afternoon, although there might be more in the other side.  Hopefully it's a lot busier in the evening.

Quiet or not, I was pleased to see this increasingly rare sort of place surviving.  This example was previously the British Legion, I believe.

Next, on towards Netherton...  But wait, what about the Park Hotel?

Now this is definitely a residential hotel, so it probably shouldn't be in my guide and I think if I discovered it today I wouldn't add it, but once you're in the database you can never leave, so it needs to be ticked.

Quite an impressive hotel, I as usual turned the wrong way at the door so I had a tour of the restaurant and function rooms, all very well done, before I found the bar, also very nicely decorated in contemporary style.  

Just three or four other customers at three, as I enjoyed my second Guinness of the day.

I wonder who the hotel customers are here.  Tourists would need a car or a taxi to get anywhere, except perhaps for a walk to the racecourse.  Business visitors would have a car.  Plus, of course, anyone attending a function here.

On towards Netherton...  But wait, first - Only kidding!  At last, into the Nether regions, to Marti's Sports Bar:

Not much to look at from the outside, is it?  This shop conversion in a parade of shops contains one plain square room rather nicely decorated and well cared for, and very popular at four on a Friday.  The music was mostly drowned out by lively chatter. (From the bits I overheard, yesterday's payout was nowhere near enough to save the Tories from future electoral defeat!)

Another new tick for me, three today!  No cask, of course, so another Guinness.  The friendly barmaid had some trouble pouring it, everyone else was on lager, but eventually she produced a good tasty pint.

A large sign refers to the Village Inn Group, is that related to the Village Inn in Formby I wonder?  Some internet research later revealed nothing.

Just a short distance down the road is the Eden Vale:

This classic 60s estate boozer has been remodelled on the inside, creating a large open lounge side and a slightly smaller bar side.  I took a 50/50 guess at the doorway and entered the lounge which was quite quiet with only a handful of customers.  The bar side was much busier, and the main noise in the lounge was the hubbub from the other side.  My notes from twelve years ago include the word grubby; not true now, the whole interior is nicely done.

The long counter was "protected" by a yellow and black hazard tape, I'm not sure what for as everyone, and I, just leaned across it to order.

I enjoyed a fourth Guinness in a secluded corner of the lounge.

I observed with interest the 2020s Jukebox protocol; you have to pay here, but at least one lad put money in and then didn't spend it all, leaving some credit for someone else to choose a track.  Later, another bloke selected Bob Dylan's Hurricane, but there was no credit left so we didn't get to hear it.  As I watched the display I was a little surprised to see that there isn't a bit of the screen allocated to "now playing", surely that would be of interest?

As an aside, I was disappointed but not very surprised to learn that the BBC has censored Hurricane, clearly they haven't actually listened to what it is saying.  Are they allowed to play Oliver's Army, which contains the same contentious word?

My original plan for today had assumed that some of the targets would be shut, so I'd mapped out a long walk through Litherland via a number of other ticks, finishing at Seaforth station, but having done four it's easier to go back to where I started, so I headed back to Old Roan.

Pub of the day: Eden Vale - Classic exterior, well cared for inside.
Miles walked: 3.3
Maybe coming soon: St Helens/Sutton

Saturday 21 May 2022

Two Breweries

Saturday lunchtime is possibly not the best time to go into Liverpool.  The first train was so full it didn't bother to stop, the second one was also wedged but I managed to squeeze on.  Compare and contrast:  In London the multi-billion pound Elizabeth Line is about to open, complete with gold decorations;  in Liverpool we are still squeezing onto half the pre-COVID service.  Levelling Up?

Anyway, stepping off my soapbox, I took a mile's walk from the station and soon reached Love Lane Brewery:

It was remarkably full, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised on a Saturday.  Standard warehouse conversion decor, bare bricks and steel beams.

The echoey double height main room was filled with chatter and many of the long tables were occupied by people who all seemed to be waiting for their dinner.  At the counter I was pleasantly surprised to see four handpumps; only one had beer on (Two idle, one cider) so I had a pint of some delicious murk, their New England IPA.  It came in a Higson's glass.

As my pint was being poured a waitress informed me that they couldn't do any food at the moment, fortunately not a problem for a pub research trip.  As I swigged my ale lots of food came out and soon the chatter was mixing with the clink of cutlery on plate, so I guess the difficulty was a temporary overload in the kitchen.  Perhaps the three full tables of ten or so each were all one party who had ordered at the same time.

Next a short stroll brought me to the second brewery of the day, the ex-brewery that is now "Cain's Brewery Village".  I wanted to tick some of the places here which I missed before, plus a number of new ones, and I started in Punch Tarmey's:

I entered by the smaller door on Grafton Street, not the entrance shown above.  Once inside it's a very well done atmospheric warehouse conversion with a barrel vaulted ceiling in the part I sat in.

No cask, of course, and the Guinness was an appalling £5.30, but who's counting.  The great interior almost makes it worth the price, they really have done a fine job here.

The place was quite busy although there was still plenty of room, and more and more arrived as I enjoyed my beer.

I exited via the gents, passing through two more bars.  Perhaps I should add Tarmey's Tunnels, Punch Tarmey's Courtyard and Tarmey's Tavern to my database?  Near the toilets you can walk on a glass floor over Higson's original well.

Out of the other entrance (pictured above) and on to another place that wasn't here last time I was; Hippie Chic:

Good grief, the places I go just to update the guide!  Rather cleverly decorated to look like tents filled with hanging flowers, very loud music, two bar staff and no customers at all.  My pint of Madri was only three quid.

This is where the pub surveyor needs a total lack of self-consciousness:  I'm sure the staff were wondering what that old bloke is doing in here, typing on a tablet.  Never mind them, they should be grateful that I've substantially increased their sales this afternoon!

Eventually two younger ladies tripled the custom, there was probably a bit more profit in their bottles of Corona or whatever it was.

Through a connecting corridor is my next destination, the Yellow Submarine Bar:

This one wins points for the exterior decor, a yellow submarine obvs.  Inside it's also well done, the tubular room decorated with old music posters, gold records and so on.  Not the first submarine I've been in, but certainly the first one I've drunk in.

As I arrived I was one of three customers, but there was a steady flow in and out here, some drinking outside in the intermittent sunshine.  A reasonable three quid for a pint again.

This pint of Madri came in a standard sleeve unlike the proper goblet next door.  It tastes the same, of course.

The soundtrack of sixties hits was rather good, I must say.

There are no toilets in here so I nipped back through the corridor to use the ones in Hippie Chic on my way out.

OK, room for one more, let's try the Black Pearl which I noted last time but didn't visit:

Doesn't look like much from the outside, does it, but once inside you find my idea of a nightclub vibe, and it reminded me somehow of the Rock Jungle in Pittsburgh.  Pretty deserted at three in the afternoon apart from a number of people drinking at the tables outside but I bet it does well in the evening.

Obviously no cask so I continued today's theme and had a pint of Madri, in a Madri goblet this time.  And three quid again.

As I sat in a booth (complete with candle) enjoying my lager I continued to think this place reminds me of American night clubs.  Since I haven't been there for twenty years I'm guessing that means it's "retro"!

The tellies were showing live footie, playoffs of some sort.  I stopped paying attention when Everton reached safety on Thursday; not that I was taking much interest before.

Five pints, five new ticks, who can argue with that?  My total progressed to 1,384.  How long until fourteen hundred?

Pub of the day: Love Lane Brewery for the ale, or Punch Tarmey's for the decor.
Miles walked: 2.7
Maybe coming soon: Undecided.

Thursday 19 May 2022

Southport Variety

Yes, I'm back!  I apologise for the break in blog entries, which was caused by a number of trips away followed by building work at home.  Time for a jaunt to Southport, where I started in the Tap & Bottles:

They seem to have expanded into the unit next door since I was last here, back in 2015, so it's no longer the tiny place I visited then.  Nothing else seems to have changed and, most importantly, the quality of the ales remains excellent.

No need for the expansion when I visited, at twelve thirty I was the only customer as I enjoyed my pint of White Rat - One of my all-time favourite beers.

A delivery of kegs and casks kept the barman busy, and then finally another customer arrived.  I hope it's busier later.

Next, somewhere completely different:  Hidden in a back alley is Enelle's Glass House, never before visited:

Definitely at the down market end of the scale, but none the worse for that.  The higledy-piggeldy interior is well decorated and well cared for.  At one on a Thursday there was quite a crowd of what I suspect are locals, enjoying the lager at £2.50 a pint.  Some were watching the silent racing on the TVs but the majority were laughing and chatting in a throng around the counter.

The part of the pub in front of the counter is a glazed extension to the building, hence the name, I guess.

Now, unusually for a research trip, I need to visit a Wetherspoon's - I suspect it's an error, but my database says I haven't been in the Sir Henry Segrave since 2014, so let's correct that omission:

On a sunny Thursday in term time we know what to expect here, and it is full of mainly older people enjoying a cheap lunch.  They had about ten real ales on but I didn't look further than the wonderful Titanic Plum Porter, another of my all-time favourites.  (I had a couple of their Chocolate Vanilla Stout in Blackler's yesterday, also gorgeous.)

I seemed to be the only person not dining, they were doing a roaring trade in curries, fish and chips, and so on.  I don't understand why my shares aren't going up!

I noticed that Carling is £3.10 in here, a full 60p more than Enelle's is charging.

As I savoured my Plum Porter the lunchtime crowd began to thin out, and the staff were able to clear the debris from many of the tables.  I was amused by one lad playing a game like Tetris, trying to carry as many glasses, mugs, and so on in one journey, his puzzle made more complex by the fact that some of them weren't empty.

By the way, I'm told the new 'spoons in Heswall is now due to open on 28 June.

A quick deviation before the next destination to confirm that the Falstaff and the Cheshire Lines are both closed, a sad loss in the case of the latter.

Next, why not try for yet another very different type of pub and another new tick - Southport Market:

This is one of those places where a large room full of tables is surrounded by various food counters and you order whatever you want and your buzzer goes off when it's ready for collection.  In the middle of the room is an island bar with six handpumps.  Only one had a clip which can be a bad sign but my pint of something pale from local brewery Parker's was excellent.

The wafting odours were very tempting but I resisted.  As I looked around I realised that the down side of this format, from the owners' point of view, was the number of staff idle, poised waiting for an order.  Customers were thin on the ground at three on a Thursday.

I wonder how many places like this are in my area; the only one I can call to mind is the Baltic Market in the Brewery Quarter.  By coincidence, I'm planning a visit to that area soon.

Finally, a more traditional boozer:  I need to tick the Southport Tavern which I last visited in 2006 when it was the Albert Hotel, and had real ale.  I wonder what it's like now?

My notes from '06 include the word grubby, but as I expected this is no longer the case.  A well looked after spotless boozer is what I found this time.  I have said a number of times that the scruffy ones have either tidied up or closed, and in this case they have tidied rather well.

At three the place was mostly empty, with just a few customers creating a background chatter to mix with the music.

Two handpumps but no clips so I finished my survey with a Guinness.  I was impressed to note a shamrock in the head.  (I know it doesn't improve the flavour, but it surely indicates care by the server.)

More customers arrived as I drank my pint, and the conversation began to drown out the music.

So, in conclusion, five pubs all very different and all, I think, surviving well post pandemic.  Two never before visited bringing my total to 1,379.

Pub of the day: Tap & Bottles for the great ale.
Miles walked: 1.3
Maybe coming soon: Baltic Quarter