Saturday 27 August 2022

Getting Cross (-ens)

A bright sunny Saturday saw me on two trains and a bus to the most northerly extremity of my purview, at Crossens.  I started in the Marsh Harrier:

It's hard to put a date on this building.  It could be 70s or even 2010s but I'm going to guess 80s.

Indoors is a two sided layout, very well decorated in restrained modern style, I really like it.

I eyed up the three handpumps and dithered.  "I'll make it easy for you", said the friendly barman, "I've only got this one on."   So, a pint of Theakston Light Foot, and very good it was too.  The barmaid suggested turning the clips round on the other pumps, but apparently "he doesn't like it".  I advised that "he" was wrong!

I relaxed on a comfortable bench seat to enjoy a good pint.  Only a few customers in to keep the place ticking over at two on a Saturday, with more gradually coming in, including dining families.

Just a short walk through suburban streets is my other Crossens target, Beer Den 2.  Oh!

Colour me grumpy, but if a pub can't be bothered to open at half two on a Saturday, when the internet says they are, then I don't see why I should bother to spend any money there.

I considered going round and banging on the back door to see if anyone was setting up, but decided not to bother, so I caught a bus back towards Southport, jumping off early for another new tick, the Imperial:

This is a rather well done dining pub in an old house.  It is run by Holt's and the real ale offer is two of their brews, my Two Hoots was spot on.

The quiet background music was mostly obscured by cheerful conversation and the rattle of cutlery.  I looked at the menu, a good selection and reasonably priced.  What's "Wexford Chicken", I wondered - I passed through there two days ago, but didn't stop to check out the local cuisine.  Google tells me it's in a creamy mushroom sauce.

England seem to be slowing to a halt in the test match, while both local footie teams are winning, according to the large, thankfully silent, screen above the fireplace.

I looked around.  This seems to be an above average chain dining pub, for some reason I can't put my finger on I really like it.  A little voice in my head says "That's because it's open!"

Next, can I get a third new tick?  I headed for Coopers:

I hadn't researched this one much so I didn't know what to expect.  What I found was a very nicely done shop conversion with a small counter in one corner offering three real ales.  At first swig I didn't much like the one I chose, called Hubble, but that was purely a matter of personal taste, there certainly wasn't anything wrong with it.

Live music is obviously an important part of this pub, judging by the guitars, amps, mic stands and so on on the stage area.

No live music at four on a Saturday, and only two or three customers.

I noticed in Dublin this week that all the "tourist" bars had live music, the quality varying from good to excellent, although I wish they wouldn't all murder Beatles numbers.

The ale was growing on me as I drank it, actually I quite like it.  My handled mug came from IKEA, surely the wholesaler is cheaper than that?

Next, just round the corner used to be the Bottle Room, is it still there with a different name?  Yes, Beer Inn.

I seem to have forgotten to take a picture.

From my vague recollections of 2014 this place hasn't changed at all apart from the name, it's a very narrow corridor bar.  Unfortunately the handpumps were not in use, but my pint of Beavertown Neck Oil was great.  One of my favourite keg beers, I think.

Not many customers in, I'm afraid, this place deserves to do better than two of us inside and two out in the street.

I scanned the impressive selection of bottles on shelves and in fridges.  From Titanic Plum Porter to Oude Geuze Boon via Hacker Pschorr Hefe Weisse, what a fantastic range.

Gosh, LFC are 9-0 up, Everton now drawing, and in the cricket England are slowly grinding on towards a win, I think.

I looked around.  I'm the only customer now!  Two came in as I was finishing my pint.

Time for home.

Pub of the day: Marsh Harrier
Miles walked: 2.2
Maybe coming soon: Heswall

Friday 12 August 2022

A Few More in the City Centre

Today's trip was supposed to be a number of overdue visited to pubs at the river end of Liverpool city centre.  However, having learned that they had my favourite ale on, I started with a non-overdue tick in Wetherspoon's Captain Alexander:

Especially suited to today's warm weather, the Oakham Citra went down very easily.  The place was pretty busy (why are my shares still down?) but there were plenty of free tables so I wouldn't call it full, which perhaps it ought to be on a Friday lunch time.  I suppose now that many office workers don't bother on a Friday the traditional pub visit no longer happens.

Now, I could stay here drinking Citra until it runs out, or I could drag myself reluctantly away and get on with my researches.  I chose the latter, and crossed the road to the Liverpool:

Two surprises on entering here:  It was very quiet inside, only seven other customers; and the air conditioning was working really well.  It was wonderfully cool, much more comfortable than the 'spoons across the road.  I had a lovely cold Guinness here.

Some of the other customers were eating, the menu of pub classics looks good.

The decor has changed somewhat since I was here in 2017, it has been modernised rather well, but the historic pictures of various HMS Liverpools seem to have gone.  There's still a stage for live music.

The background music here was a rather fine selection of old stuff, Dean Martin and the like.  The moment I'd written that, the next track was Message In A Bottle by the Police, now that's what I call a wide variety.  Sounds like my "jukebox" at home which plays randomly from an even wider range of genres. Beethoven, Artie Shaw, Pink Floyd, Pink, and so on.

Next, I headed to Castle Street, where I found Bobo, a wine bar not in my database.  I think the heat must have been getting to me, as my picture of this one was too blurry to be of any use.

I could see draft pumps on the counter so I went in to this very well done shop conversion for a pint of Sagres.

My beer was delivered to my table without me paying anything, which perhaps puts this place on the wrong side of the bar/restaurant line?  Never mind, another one added to the total.  I hope I remember, and don't try to walk out without paying!

Once again the air conditioning was doing a good job, and it was comfortably cool in here.  The decor, with patches of plaster missing to expose rough brickwork, and dark green ceramics below the dado, looks very good to me.

According to their web site this place is Spanish/Portuguese.  I'm not sure exactly what that means, especially as in my admittedly limited experience the two cultures are quite distinct.  A pleasant place for a pint, anyway.

I remembered to pay!  Now we're doing never visited bars, how about Manhattan:

This is a tiny "bar and grill" in a half basement, plus lots of tables on the pavement outside.  The friendly barmaid apologised that they'd run out of Love Lane, so I had Carling.

Two staff were hardly stretched by the handful of customers, in fact I think two would be plenty even if the tiny room was packed.

I eyed up the decor.  Someone much better at design than I (Hardly setting the bar very high) has turned cheap wallpaper and bog standard ceiling tiles into something rather attractive.

An apparently drunk fella came in, worryingly he seemed to have car keys in his hands.  He chatted to the barmaid and tried to get me to join in, but I resisted.  Moments later, he's serving behind the counter, so clearly my assumptions were well wide of the mark.

I studied the drinks menu on my table.  Oh dear, under the Whiskey (sic) heading they've got "Jonny (sic again) Walker Blue Label, Black Label, Red Label."  Actually, I've never tried Blue, I wonder if they've really got it?  "Johnny Black" was a favourite of mine when I lived in Pittsburgh.

I decided to go home, and here I hit a major snag:  The next three trains were cancelled.  Under these circumstances I would normally take a bus instead, but they're all on strike, so I had to join the taxi queue, which unsurprisingly under these circumstances was rather long.

Pub of the day: Captain Alexander, for the lovely beer.
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Southport, Crossens, Heswall

Thursday 4 August 2022

A Few in the City Centre

I headed out aiming for a few overdue ticks around Lime Street station, plus one new one, the Dough Bar:

It looked a bit deserted as I approached and I wondered if perhaps it was shut out of term time, but I climbed the steps and pushed on the door and it opened.  The large interior was deserted, and I startled the barmaid who probably wasn't expecting to see anyone.

A good selection of about a dozen craft beers on tap, I chose Paulaner for a change.  Irritatingly, I only spotted the Clwb Tropica tap after I'd ordered.

I'm not sure how to define the style in here.  The wooden tables are almost rustic, whereas the metal chairs are more industrial.  And at one end there are some leather sofas.  Well done, anyway, I really like it.

I don't think my one pint will sort out the pay of one bar staff and one kitchen staff.  Come on folks, I can't save the hospitality industry on my own!  The moment I'd written that, two more customers came in.  They sat down and perused the menus, so probably a lot more profit than I provided.  Tourists perhaps, they seemed to be waiting for a non-existent waitress.  No; one went up and ordered.

As I left my 1,401st pub, two more customers entered.

Next, inside the famous Adelphi Hotel is Wave:

Not very impressive looking at the side entrance, this is a very well done hotel bar once you get in.  The decor in the large split level room is rather fine, with lots of polished brass railings.

A least a dozen customers were in here, so it's doing a lot better than the Dough Bar, but still very empty and the two or three staff were hardly stretched.  Much quieter than on my 2013 visit, but all the customers were older than me, same as last time.

My Guinness was only £2.45, it being happy hour.  In a few week's time I'll be enjoying "proper" Guinness, in Ireland.  Does it really taste better there, or is it all in my head?  I bet it's more than £2.45!

Next, along Ranelagh Street are a number of bars.  I have ticked all of them this year except for Ranelagh's Tavern:

Sadly, the unexpected choice of cask ales I enjoyed back in 2017 has gone, so it was another Guinness for me in this rather fun shop conversion.  Plenty of customers, all my age or older, were maintaining a hubbub of chatter, competing with the background music.

The decor here differs from my notes from '17, the floor is now dark, not sure if it's real wood or vinyl, whereas it was pale wood before.  The counter is built of rough timber, as is the bar back.  

I read the Carling beer mat on my table; it boasts of being brewed in Burton-on-Trent using 100% British barley.  I'll have to stop referring to it as Canadian, I suppose.  Shouldn't it say Burton Upon Trent?  Wikipedia research was inconclusive, both names seem acceptable, so I'll have to allow it.

Electronics aside:  On the wall are three "lanterns" with flickering LED lamps in them.  That's simple, you can buy flickering LEDs easily.  But wait, they are all three flickering in synchrony, how's that done I wonder?  Must be a special feed just to those lamps I guess.

On to Charlotte Street now, and once again there are many pubs recently ticked (Including Wetherspoon's last night - The Wobbly Bob was great) and just one overdue, Nelly Foley's:

No real change to the appearance here since 2017, it remains a well done Irish bar.

The rather objectionable music, including a song about joining the IRA and blowing up the British, that I noted last time I was here has been replaced by silence, although the live music from further down the street was clearly audible.

Quite a few customers were keeping the place busy but on a Thursday afternoon there was plenty of room for more.

I wondered, as it's not even four o'clock yet, should I tick another one?  Obviously, the answer is yes:  Can it really be five years since I drank in the "new" McHale's after they'd moved across Lime Street?  According to the database, it is five years to the day, so I headed to McHales Irish American Bar:

This really is a tiny boozer, pretty busy with older customers, the majority of the dozen tables were occupied.

The barmaid made a bit of a palaver out of pouring my Guinness, she announced that it has to settle for 90 seconds before topping up.  "It'll be great when you finally get it", opined a bar fly at the far end of the counter.  She asked if I wanted a shamrock in it, I said yes but she failed to produce one.  Never mind, it was a good pint.  Will I get a shamrock in Dublin?

I remember the older McHale's, along with the Shamrock next door, they were classic boozers.  I think they shared gents out back so maybe technically only one pub?  They closed when that side of Lime Street was redeveloped, with McHale's being granted a space on the other side of the road.

Certainly the most lively pub of the day, with a constant stream of people in and out, and chatter mostly beating the background music.

There's a tap on the counter offering "Caines Lager", what on earth is that?  It's not Cain's, is it?

In conclusion, four ticks five years old and one new one is a good score which I will hope to match in future trips.  The really desirable targets are dependent on the bus strike ending.

It only occurred to me when I got home that today was a case of very bad planning:  I should save a cluster of ticks close to the station for a wet winter day, and walk further afield in nice weather like today's.  Oh well, too late now.

Pub of the day: Too difficult to choose one.
Miles walked: 0.8
Maybe coming soon: Heswall, Crossens, Southport, Liverpool.