I headed north in rain and sleet (Why didn't I go in yesterday's sunshine?) to Ainsdale aiming for just one new tick; the Golden Monkey:
I entered what appeared to be a small shop conversion, and soon got a pint of Cunning Stunt. Then I found that there is a larger back room. Both parts are nicely decorated, the back room a little more restrained.
I sat on a very comfortable leather sofa in the back and I had the room to myself while there were only one or two customers in the front. Not a good trade but probably OK for half one, hopefully it'll do better later.
There are plenty of other pubs in Ainsdale, but my objectives were elsewhere so I headed back to the station for a short run to today's main target area, Birkdale.
I arrived during a lull in the precipitation so decided to risk the furthest target, the Fishermens Rest:
Oooh. Naming confusion! It says Fishermens outside, but Fishermans on the mirror behind the counter. All the other signage I could see and the menu vote for ~mens.
Anyway, this pleasant food-oriented pub was very busy. I soon got a fine pint of Landlord, but no chance of a table so I leaned on a pillar which had a shelf for my pint.
With the exception of two or three regulars propping up the counter, everyone seemed to be dining, and there was a delicious fishy food smell.
I spotted a newly vacated table which was reserved from 3pm, I should be going by then, so I was able to sit down.
The soundscape here was almost entirely formed of cheerful chatter as the happy dinners finished their lunches. To see this place at half two on a cold wet Friday, one would think the hospitality industry is on a high. Sadly, one would be wrong, I fear.
The menu looks very good in here, pub classics plus some more unusual items such as chicken and black pudding stack, or rainbow trout fillets.
The cluster of regulars at the end of the counter had expanded to five by the time I was ready to leave, presumably they are allowed proper seats when it's quieter!
Part of this place's secret, I decided, is a team of landlady and staff who kept everyone fed and watered and organised in a efficient and at the same time friendly manner. What a great pub.
Would I get soaked and/or frozen on the walk back? No, the weather had improved, it was much brighter than when I came. I did notice, however, that some of the rain had frozen on the pavement, making it somewhat slippy.
I made it safely back to the middle of Birkdale and to the Park, another one not visited since 2012:
Another food-oriented place perhaps more "cookie-cutter" in style, being a Greene King chain pub, but very pleasant anyway. Nowhere near as busy as the Fishermens, but still ticking over at three on a wet Friday.
World cup footie was on the tellies, but it wasn't obtrusive. I wonder what the work reunion tomorrow evening will be like once England kick off?
My pint of Morland Bitter was good, the other handpump offered Greene King IPA.
Next, across the level crossing and in to the Barrel House:
A tiny shop conversion here, offering two cask ales including my favourite Titanic Plum Porter, of which I enjoyed a gorgeous pint.
The small room has an impressive array of Belgian bottled beers on offer, including Rochfort 10, Delerium Red, Delerium Nocturnum, Kwak, Oude Geuze Boon and so on. I was tempted by the presentation box of Rochfort 8, Rochfort 10 and a glass, but I resisted. If anyone wants to buy me a Christmas present, you need look no further!!!
A wonderful micro this, ticking over with regulars who all know the barman, it's doing well.
As a pub researcher with a database, I must say I don't like places with odd names like this one, 'cos it tends to mess up the sequence. Does @ slot in around At? The computer says it comes before A.
Anyway, I entered yet another shop conversion to a moment of concern - No fonts at all. But wait; there are six taps on the bar back, I forget what I chose but it was a tasty craft ale. Not as good as the preceding four casks, of course.
Almost as soon as I sat down the lights were dimmed and the musician in the corner started tuning up. This could be rubbish or great, I thought. Aha, any performer who has a pint of ale on a special clip on his mic stand has got to be good!! And he was.
In my experience, we don't seem to get that many live musicians in Merseyside pubs; in other places I've been to, especially Australia, almost every bar seemed to have a singer or a band. You Can't Always Get What You Want, gosh I've never heard that one acoustic before - Excellent. And Wichita Lineman as well!
I peered out of the window, it's pitch black of course, lucky I got a picture earlier. Time to go home.
The train back to Liverpool was busy but on time, and I emerged from Central to find a decent covering of snow to slow my march to Lime Street for my train home. Considering Liverpool can go a whole winter without any snow, this is quite bad for mid December. Will I get to my home without falling over?
Beer of the day: Titanic Plum Porter
Miles walked: 1.3
Maybe coming soon: Everton / Anfield