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!

Thursday 1 September 2022

Too Early in Heswall - All My Own Fault

A visit by a friend who collects Wetherspoon's was a good excuse for a trip out to Heswall to see the new one, last visited by me in 2019 when it was the Exchange.  It is now Wetherspoon's Prense Well:

They have done a very good job of the refurbishment, the pleasant decor includes pale wood panelling.  The layout is pretty much as I remember it in the Exchange.  It was surprisingly quiet at one on a Thursday, ticking over gently as we enjoyed our quality ale and curry.

Next, the Jug and Bottle:

The interior of this food-oriented pub is beautiful, spread over a number of rooms.  Again, not busy, just ticking over quietly, mostly with dining families.  I had an excellent pint of Peerless Triple Blond.

Next, we headed for the Black Horse, failing to read my notes which say it opens at three:

Needless to say it wasn't open yet, and I can't even complain about unreliable opening hours, it was all my own fault this time.  And it would have been a brand new tick as well!

So, a long slog back up the steep hill to the Dee View:

No change in here, a pleasant open room, and a selection of quality ales.  The White Rat was beautiful as always.  No other customers, perhaps it has only just opened.

One or two more came in, some choosing to drink outside in the lovely sunshine.

It's after three now, should we re-try the Black Horse?  I don't think I could face that climb again!

Back towards the centre of Heswall, hello, what's this?  A new one called the Blind Pig:

It's not open now (too early again!) but I'll add it to the database.

As I turned away from the Blind Pig I noticed this shop two doors down with the builders in, and I could see a counter with beer fonts:

So another new one coming soon, I think.

On to the Johnny Pye:

I have had a mediocre pint in here before and it certainly doesn't look like a cask sort of place, but my pint of Directors was spot on, served by a friendly landlady.

A pleasant enough modern construction this one with a decent number of customers.  It was filled with background chatter along with the piped music.

Pub of the day: They were all very good.
Miles walked: 1.3
Maybe coming soon: To be decided.