Friday, 26 May 2023


Medical matters took me to Whiston for the second week running (Not the hospital this time) so once again a chance to get a couple of ticks.  I started at the Carrs Hotel:

What a great traditional two sided boozer.  Half a dozen or more in the bar side with me, and it sounded like there were a lot more than that in the other side.  Friendly chatter filled the pleasantly decorated room, while I swigged a Carling.

I know it is after four on a Friday, but I was still pleasantly surprised to see so many people in a pub.  More and more blokes came in, all greeted by name (and in one case a hug) by the staff.

Next, a quick photo of the former Horseshoe, which closed in 2011 according to my records:

... and on to excellent micro-pub Beer EnGin:

Six handpumps, I selected a truly gorgeous milkshake porter.

The main conversation in here was pubs and beer, so I was able to join in a little.

Micro-pubs are ten-a-penny nowadays, but this one seems to be one of the best.  I can't decide quite what are the magic ingredients but here they are.  The friendly landlady and regulars are certainly an important part of the recipe.

Pub of the day: Beer EnGin
Beer of the day: Hophurst Porteresque
Miles walked: 1.35
Maybe coming soon: Picton, Liverpool

Thursday, 25 May 2023


I started my tour of this excellent pubby area with a place that definitely isn't a pub, the Royal Hotel:

Most certainly a hotel lounge/restaurant, which would generally exclude it from the guide, but they have quality cask ale so I keep them in.  One good ale is enough choice, and my pint of Fab Four IPA from Rock The Boat was excellent.

I sat at a small table, surrounded by various dining groups.  The unnecessary muzac was mostly drowned by gentle conversations.

Not much to say about the decor, standard nicely done hotel lounge with a carpet Wetherspoon's would be proud of!

Next, a proper pub, the Victoria.  My pre-flight checks had failed to find any opening hours for this one so I feared it might have closed in the five years since I was last here, but happily not:

One handpump on the counter but the clip is turned round, so a Carling for me.

This a very large pub, I was in the big main room which has been knocked through around an L-shaped servery, there's another room on the other side of the entrance door, without a counter.

Three or four customers only, all of whom knew and chatted to the cheerful barmaid.  I hope they get more later.  I can't see the Royal Hotel diners nipping in here for a quick one on the way home.

I had noted Flanagan's was shut as I passed on the way from the station, but it looks like it might still be operational:

Now a longer walk back past the station, up to Crosby Road and along to a hoped for new tick, the Old Tap:

Oh yes, it's open, pub number 1,441!  A very pleasantly done shop conversion, with the majority of the drinkers enjoying the sunshine out front.

I stayed in the peaceful interior, and drank something from Oakham Brewery that I've never tried before.  Not as good as all time favourite Citra, more of a traditional bitter but still very tasty.

The menu on each table is just wine and cocktails, I ask once again doesn't anyone drink a bloody Mary any more?  They have got a fine selection of foreign and British bottles and cans in a large fridge - From my seat I could recognise three different Delirium brews and Orval.

Now where?  The Four Ashes isn't open yet (Not complaining, published hours say so.) so how about another one that my internet research had suggested might not have survived.  But it has, so in to the Ferndale.  I forgot to take a picture, so here's one from my last visit, nothing much has changed:

Down market, certainly, but the interior is spotless and well cared for, so any complaint would be pure snobbery.   This was one of the Oak Lodges chain back in the 1990s, and it has got the split level interior typical of that brand.

Naturally, I had to stick to Carling once again, the two handpumps on the counter were, I'm sure, only decorative.

A stream of customers kept the barmaid going, there were probably more people in here than in the Old Tap.

The audio in here was mainly animated chatter, with a music channel on the telly in the background.  It seemed to be stuck in the 70s, Chuck E's In Love, My Sweet Lord, You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet and so on.  I saw Bachman Turner Overdrive play a free show in Point State Park, Pittsburgh, back in 2001.

Time for home, although perhaps I should stay on for a few more hours, to see a Waterloo Sunset?

Pub of the day: The Old Tap
Beer of the day: Fab Four IPA
Miles walked: 1.6
Maybe coming soon: Picton, Wavertree, City Centre.

Saturday, 20 May 2023


This time on Pub Hunters:  Phil celebrates a brand new tick, and squeezes in to pubs full of excited footie fans.  [I think perhaps this joke has run its course, so I won't mention it again.  Unless I get a contract from the production company.]

Today, I directed my attention to the Everton area where I might get some limited opening hours ticks on an LFC match day.  I took a train to Sandhills and then joined the throng walking up the hill towards the ground.

The first pub we came to is the rather spectacular Phoenix:

This impressive building has been abandoned and derelict for at least twenty years and possibly longer than I've been collecting pubs, so for me it is a brand new tick.  I think it was last year that someone took on the Herculean task of rescuing and refurbishing it.  I think it is mainly a residential hotel now but the bar is available to passing drinkers and a large number of football fans were taking the opportunity.

After queueing at the counter for a couple of minutes I got a surprisingly cheap (£3.60 - I was expecting "match day pricing".) Carling in a plastic glass and managed to find a tiny high table with one stool, the last free seat I think.

The decor inside is rather good, dark grey patterned wallpaper, large mirrors, padded counter front etc.

The queue got longer until it was out of the door, looks like I got here just in time!

Next, a little closer to the ground is the Valley:

Inside the splendid building is a plain boozer, with a front room with an L-shaped servery, and a back room with none.  Plain clean and tidy, with the odd historical feature, especially some fine stained glass window panels.

Every seat was taken, so I stood at the end of the counter until two lads departed giving me half a table in a corner which was unpopular because there was no easy view of the early kickoff on the tellies, which everyone else was watching.  Perhaps one of the teams involved is near Liverpool in the league so the result is "important".  Who knows?  Who cares?

What a time to get a beer delivery!  The crowd parted as a keg was rolled through the room.

The toilets were in the process of being rebuilt, so no urinals and no signage.  Of course, I went in the wrong one much to the amusement of the women sitting by the doors who soon pointed me in the right direction.

Just a short distance down Saint Domingo Road is Olivia's Bar:

Last visited in 2000, when it was a standard 60s boozer called the Devonshire Arms, this place hasn't changed very much, although obviously it has been redecorated, probably more than once, in the intervening years.

Again packed with football fans although at a quarter past two they were beginning to depart for the ground.

My Carling came in a San Miguel glass - Don't tell the brewery.

In a large group at a nearby table, one of them managed to smash a glass.  It must have been empty because there's was no flood of beer, but he had to put up with the inevitable jokey abuse as he borrowed a dustpan and brush and swept up the debris.  I was surprised it had broken in to so many small pieces.

Thinking back, I don't think I've ever smashed a glass in a pub, although I have to own up to knocking one over spilling ale everywhere.  Many years ago I had a friend whose party trick was to pick up a pint glass in his teeth and drink the beer, until one day he bit down too hard and was left with a small piece of glass in his mouth and a lot of ale in his lap.  He was lucky to be uninjured, I think.

By the time I had finished my pint the place was almost completely empty.

Next, a chance to photograph the former Clock, which after some time boarded up has become a community centre:

I headed further down the road to the wonderful building that is the Mere Bank:

The spectacular building dating from 1881 has been well maintained, and I note that the two statues above the main doorway have been coloured since I was last here when they were plain white.  I was going to write "brewers Tudor" here but it isn't really, is it?  Too old for start.

I fear the inside may be all 1960s or even more recent, fake beams and all, but the outside is well deserving of its listing.

Hundreds of glasses were being cleared away and loaded in the dishwasher, but at five minutes to kickoff only a handful of customers were left.

After some fiddling with the remote it was decided that they wouldn't have the Liverpool match on.  I thought this might result in further departures but it didn't.

It was pleasant to sit in a peaceful boozer after the previous three, the audio here being quiet conversations and Jeff Stelling.

Stockport and Salford moved on to a penalty shootout to get promoted from the fourth division.  I won't bore you again, dear reader, with my theories on how football should improve the way they deal with a draw.  Except to say that a replay is still the best answer.  Stockport won, but apparently there's another match before they go up.  

The four staff tucked in to their chippy dinners during the peaceful pause between the pre-match and post-match rushes.

Poor old Everton went a goal down.

Finally, further down Everton Road is May Duncan's:

It's quite busy in here, at half time.  There was some kind of party in the rear of the lounge side, can I sneak in and steal some sarnies?  I probably could, but I won't.  Actually I see it is a "boy or girl" party.  Someone knew the answer before they came, and brought an "it's a girl" balloon.

This is a rather impressive pub, with loads of people in both the lounge where I was and the bar side.  They are obviously doing something right, with plenty of custom even during the match, which is not on the tellies.  The decor is nothing to write home about, but very well done and well maintained.  Especially the mural on a roller shutter showing the three graces with a ferry in front.

My notes from 2004 describe this as having "an enormous open knocked through room" so I suspect at some time in the intervening years it has been re-divided into two sides, with the roller shutter between.

Irritatingly I'd got no mobile signal here so I had to use a large screen drowned out by the sunshine to try and see how the football was going.

Time for home, I think, one new tick and four overdue ones is an excellent result.  I realise it's only once a week for part of the year but it is still pleasing to see pubs packed with happy drinkers.  And it was brilliant to visit the Phoenix, which I had thought was long gone.

Pub of the day: Phoenix
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 2.2
Maybe coming soon: Picton, Birkenhead Park

Thursday, 18 May 2023


Medical matters took me to Whiston Hospital, presenting a golden opportunity for some overdue ticks nearby.

I started in the Holt:

The comfortable unexceptional interior here has had many walls knocked through over the years, but still retains two halves and two counters.

A handful of locals were chatting but the loudest sound was racing commentary, and from where I sat in the lounge side I could see five screens.  The regulars were mostly ignoring them but as it was punditry between races I don't blame them.  Later, racing gave way to lobster fishing.  No, really!  I noticed they call it lobster hunting to make it more dramatic.  A quick channel change moved us to the equally uninteresting golf.

How about a Pub Hunters programme?  There's plenty of the false drama loved by these shows available:  Will it be open?  Will the cask ale be drinkable?  Will the locals take exception to someone taking notes?  Can our hero make his target number of ticks before closing time.  And still have time for a chippy stop on the way home.  I'm available if any production companies fancy it.  If they don't want me as the star, I could be the pub consultant.

That's it for Whiston (for today) so it's on to the Coach & Horses in Rainhill:

It was only after I had ordered my second Guinness of the day that I spotted the back of a handpump on the other counter, so maybe I could have had cask?  (Obviously in Pub Hunters I would be dramatically upset by this error.  "I must put this disaster behind me and keep on with my journey")

The main soundtrack in here was The Chase on the telly, I got most of the questions right, honest.  Again a handful of regulars were creating a background of conversation.

The decor is rather tastefully done, you don't often see flock wallpaper nowadays!

My next target was the Bar Next Door:

But, and not for the first time, it is apparently shut.

So, on to the Skew Bridge but hang on a mo, in the same little shopping precinct I can see the Hop House:

It's always good to find a bar I've never heard of, and this one is a cracker.  No handpumps but a selection of interesting craft ales (and as far as I could see, no "ordinary" ones.)  I selected a rather wonderful "pastry sour" (whatever that means) from Brew York.

Looking out of the front window of the converted shop I could see a wine bar over the road, I made a snap decision that it was outside the purview of this guide, so I didn't do it.  It's my guide so I decide where to draw the line!  (Coming up on Pub Hunters:  Disaster for the owners as Phil snubs their bar.)

Continuing today's theme, everyone else in the pub knows everyone, and the chat was beating the very quiet background music.

Next, the Skew Bridge Alehouse:

Exactly as I reported in 2017, a pleasant shop conversion with six handpumps serving excellent ale.  Once again the regulars were enjoying their chat, this time I was able to butt in when they couldn't remember the name of the pub at the bottom of James Street on the left.  It was, of course, the long demolished Coopers Emporium.

I had a great pint of Oatmeal Stout from Burton Town Brewery, I think it was.

Next time on Pub Hunters, there's trouble as Phil returns a pint of vinegar, and then a crisis as he gets lost in the back streets of Everton.

Pub of the day: Skew Bridge Alehouse
Beer of the day: Brew York Colour Of Your Life
Miles walked: 1.6
Maybe coming soon: Everton, Picton. 

Saturday, 13 May 2023


In lovely sunshine I headed on the bus to Picton. I intended to start at the Coffee House, but unfortunately it wasn't open at one on a Saturday:

It certainly looks like an operational pub, perhaps a two o'clock opener?

Round the corner and my next objective was a picture of the closed Clock, but my database is wrong and it's open:

This plain clean and tidy one room boozer was certainly a welcome sight after the disappointment of the Coffee House.  Inside one group of regulars/staff were keeping the chatter level up, the other sounds being racing commentary.  

Two or three other customers came in as I enjoyed my refreshing Carling, and then a pool game started.  Everyone knew everyone else and all were greeted as they came in (One got "F-ing hell, here comes trouble", his response was to laugh.)  "Where everyone knows your name" indeed.

Literally three doors along the road is the Barley Mow:

Oh dear, the picture is rather on the huh[1], and I've only had one pint!

Another pleasantly done "ordinary" boozer, again with a small group of regulars, all male this time so the chatter sound level was a bit quieter but no less cheerful or friendly.

Someone has put some effort into the pictures, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, the Beatles, and a little too much LFC.  Very pleasant, anyway.  I sat alone in the back area.

Just across the road is the Cock and Bottle:

A third ordinary pub, this one much bigger than the previous two, and with sightly odd very well done decor.

Rather busier than the other boozers with at least two dozen customers in, and the cheerful chatter, mostly about the racing, filled the rooms.  A steady stream of people carrying betting slips went in and out of the door.

The back room, which was reserved for a private function last time I was here, was open for anyone today.  I seem to recollect that last time I was here an important Liverpool match was on the telly but only for people with tickets for the back room.

It always seems to be lively in here, I remember on a previous visit a very drunk woman was being firmly but carefully ejected by the barman.  Nothing like that today, but constant movement in and out and excited chatter brought back memories of proper pubs twenty-five years ago.

There seemed to be at least three different channels shown on the TVs, causing many of the racing fans to move around the room to watch the next race.  The ones enjoying the sunshine outside were peering in through the windows at the critical moments.

Now, another one I thought was closed, just next door to the Cock and Bottle is the Town Hall:

In contrast to the previous ticks, this is a beautifully decorated up market looking place.  I assume it's aimed at diners but at half three on a Saturday it was pretty empty and I was welcome to come in for a drink, carefully poured by a friendly waitress.

The decor here is really well done, not historical but very good; the bar room where I sat had deep red walls enlivened with multiple gold framed mirrors.  I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about this place is really pleasant.  On the down side, my Guinness was over a fiver.

A group came in, they had a booking for ten people.  As I enjoyed my drink, various foods came out, from my distance they looked like nibbles rather than meals, but the two or three groups in the other rooms seemed to be well fed.  They were certainly keeping the two serving staff busy, I would guess there was another person in the kitchen.

So, one pub unexpectedly shut, and two unexpectedly open, I think that's a good result, let's head for home.

[1] On the huh is East Anglian for askew or crooked.

Pub of the day: Cock and Bottle
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: About a half.
Maybe coming soon: Picton again, Birkenhead Park, Everton

Tuesday, 9 May 2023


I headed down to the Pier Head to see all the Eurovision shenanigans.  I must say I was disappointed to find a lack of Ukrainian beer, which I would have liked to try.

The area was full of thousands of children who were on organised school outings.  I don't remember getting any jaunts to this sort of thing when I was at school all those years ago, but we did get a trip to the dress rehearsal for the famous Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols in King College Chapel which, looking back, I think is better.  When they start Once In Royal David's City the hairs on the back of my neck still stand up.

Where can I survey nearby?  How about the Bierkeller:

A very nicely done bar serving a range of European keg beers from which I chose Erdinger as usual. £6.95!

With it being Eurovision week I expected the place to be packed, but it was surprisingly quiet.

The menu looks good but twelve quid for Bratwurst and chips is a bit much.

I quite like the interior, long benches being the only obviously Germanic aspect of what is otherwise a standard "modern" bar with naked air ducts.  I noted a small stage at one end of the room so I imagine live music is part of the evening's entertainment here.

My journey upstairs to the gents revealed a larger sports bar called Shooters.

Next, the Club House:

What on earth is this?  How does it relate to the Tavern that I visited some years ago in this area?  Chevasse Park was occupied by a live stage and surrounded by a security cordon, you can see some of the barriers in the picture, so I couldn't wander at will to work out what is and was here.

Anyway, an odd but very pleasant place on two floors, I don't know how to describe the decor, you'll just have to visit and find out.  I think it's supposed to be Cape Cod, whatever that means.

This time I had a pint of proper Budweiser.  Again, Eurovision has not filled this bar up, in fact most customers were enjoying the sunshine outside so I sat on my own indoors.

Further exploration (Keeping outside the security barriers.) resolved my doubts about what was where and I soon found Aether which used to be the Tavern on the Green.  No picture I'm afraid.

Completely deserted in here, another room with naked cable trays and air conditioning, looking pretty much the same as last time I was here, I think.  The fonts on the counter each had two taps but no labels, so I had to ask what was on offer, perhaps I was supposed to order from the waitresses.  Anyway, one of the beers was Pravha which was pretty tasty.

The staff provided entertainment by erecting a new screen, presumably for Eurovision, at the end of the room.  I think my choice of table might have impeded their efforts but no one asked me to move, so I just joined in with the fun.  They hadn't decided where to put the projector yet, which seems to me to be putting the cart before the horse.

Suddenly a large group turned up, changing the ambience from peaceful to cheerful.

Where next?  I initially decided to head for home, but I got distracted en route by the Celtic Corner, not visited for over five years.

Not one of my best pictures, but short of standing in the middle of Lime Street it's the best I could do.

A well done Irish style bar, not over the top in its Irishness.  The place was pretty empty at half four on a Tuesday, despite a rather good young lady with a guitar providing live music.  Will You Go, Lassie, Go?  Superb!  Followed by The Only Living Boy in New York.

Pub of the day: Celtic Corner
Beer of the day: Erdinger
Miles walked: 2
Maybe coming soon: Picton

Friday, 21 April 2023


An out-of-area pub crawl for a change: Finding myself in Chester I thought I'd tick a couple of Good Beer Guide pubs not previously visited, so I started in Artichoke:

Another converted warehouse on the canal side, this one is nicely done inside, although the plastic chairs look a little uncomfortable.  I sat on a luxurious leather sofa instead.

Up to four cask ales are served, the Osset Butterley was excellent.

I must say it was very quiet in here at one on a Friday.

There is an off licence attached, I learned from the blackboard that if you buy your drink in there the "corkage" is £2.50 for beer and £12 for wine.  Ouch!

I perused the drink menu.  The scotch ranged in price from £5.50 to £75.00.  It didn't say but I'm guessing that is for a single!

Next, off the towpath and up to street level, to Cellar:

A somewhat quirky place decor wise, this one.  And it's not in a cellar.  Very pleasant anyway.

Six handpumps, I chose Thornbridge Kipling which was very good.  They've got an array of craft taps as well.

The menu looks rather good; a small selection of pizzas, nibbles, pates, sharing platters and the like.  Perhaps not for you if you're after a bog standard fish and chips.

Once again, very quiet at two on a Friday afternoon, surely it's near enough the weekend for the denizens of Deva to come out?  Maybe later.

Now here's a typographical note:  On the food blackboard, the zeros in the prices have a line through them, as I was taught to do back in the 1970s when programming computers.  Imagine my annoyance when I got to university and they wanted a line through the letter O.  I still "slash" my zeros when necessary for clarity.

By the time I had finished my pint I was the only customer, a shame for such a good bar.

Number three is really hidden:  You start on the upper level of the famous Rows then you go in to a wine bar, snub the friendly welcome from behind the counter and proceed up the stairs to find the Cavern of the Curious Gnome:

A wonderfully decorated room with a very high ceiling, the peculiar decor includes toadstools to sit at the counter, church pews, and a truly enormous gnome.

Four handpumps on the counter, and I chose long time favourite White Rat.  An impressive array of fonts includes Chimay Rouge and Geuze Boon.  Is this the first time I've ever seen a Geuze on tap outside Belgium?  I see they've got some Kwak flasks behind the bar, I must try that some time.  (I've drunk the beer, but never in the novelty glassware.  Is it just for "tourists", like Scotland's deep fried mars bar?)

I noticed the draught beer list, including the cask, was painted on the wall.  Do they never change it, or does someone have to climb a ladder and repaint every time a cask runs out?

Unlike the previous calls it was by no means empty in here, and the echoey room was filled with chatter.  

Much later, in fact well past my bedtime, I headed for Telford's Warehouse.  No picture I'm afraid.

This is a large converted warehouse split into a number of areas.  The somewhat eccentric decor is very good.  There were six handpumps on the counter and I had another White Rat, quality once again spot on.

For ten thirty on a Friday evening it was not quite as packed as I might have expected, but certainly busier than all the other pubs I had visited today.  A lively band were doing an excellent job of standards such as River Deep Mountain High for an appreciative audience.

So, four pubs new to me, four quality pints, a great result.  And Kate Rusby, the actual reason I was in Chester, was brilliant.

Saturday, 15 April 2023

Another Junction

I headed away from the inevitable overcrowding in Liverpool on Grand National day and took the train to St Helens Junction where there are a number of pubs overdue for a call.  I started in the Boilermaker's Arms:

Outside, the previous red colour scheme has been replaced by a less conspicuous green.  The closed door gave me a moment of concern, but the entrance round the corner was more inviting and I was soon inside this pleasant plain two room pub.

A handful of locals were enjoying the early footie, we had a choice of two matches.  On the screen near me I noticed there were two beer glass logos bottom right.  For those who don't know, the beer glass indicates that the pub price, much higher than domestic prices, has been paid to Sky.  An investigator only has to look in the door to see if the pub is cheating.  The glass varies between full, half full, and empty from day to day so the landlord can't paint it on the screen!  However, I've never seen two glasses before.  BT Sport have a red box top right for the same purpose.

I resisted the free curry on offer, there was a pile of nans beside the heated pot, but I didn't see anyone eating.

It is good to once again be sitting in a classic boozer, I keep saying they are a dying breed but I keep finding them, thank goodness.  Hopefully another one next...

The Little Pig:

This two sided corner house is beautiful, comfortable, tidy and well maintained.  It really is a little gem. 

A dozen or so customers were keeping the place alive, commentary from Aintree mixing with gentle conversations.

Unlike in the Boilermaker's, the TVs were showing the racing here with some of the regulars watching.

Next, the Red Lion:

This classic sixties building contains a rather fine two sided pub in which I'm not sure which is lounge and which is bar.  I walked through the corridor to the other side because that's where the landlady was, and soon had an excellent, and cheap, pint of cask Holt's Bitter to enjoy.

I returned through the corridor to the quieter side where I could sit in peace and quiet and write this.  There's a stage at the end of this room with a DJ booth and lots of disco lights set up so I imagine it will be noisy later.  Shortly after I sat down, the other two occupants of the room finished their drinks and departed, leaving me alone.  I seem to recall sitting in solitude on the same seat in this room last time I was here five and a half years ago.  Occasionally a local passed through to have a smoke outside, one said "Orright bud".

I looked at the counter, this is a Holt's house so almost all of the fonts are for their own products, Crystal Lager, Crystal Gold, Trailblazer Stout and so on.  But they don't make a cider so Strongbow and Strongbow Dark Fruits are allowed in as the only non-Holt taps.  An opportunity missed there, they should be making a cider as well.  (Business management advice available, only £100 an hour, enquire within.)

Finally, back towards the station and the second Junction of the month:

As you can see, it's really hard to get a good photo of this place, the busy car park thwarting my attempts.

Gosh, this place is busy.  The garden has a bouncy castle and lots of kids, the lounge side has some kind of buffet going on, and I managed to grab the last table in the bar.

A rather fine and obviously very successful pub this, I can only assume skilful management gets everyone in when the other three pubs I visited were fairly quiet.

I reached into my bag for my tablet, to make some notes, and panicked when it wasn't there.  I searched through the bag twice and then decided to abandon my lager and head back to the Red Lion to find it.  Then I noticed I'd already got it out and put it on the table beside me.  What an idiot.

No racng here, Sky Sports News forming the soundtrack in the bar side, mixing with the animated hubbub from the lounge.  Actually I'm wrong, a smaller telly was showing Aintree for those who wanted it - No one that I could see.

Mindful of the sparse post-COVID service I was checking the timetable for a train home, fortunately there was one at a convenient time.

People familiar with the pubs in the area may be wondering why I missed out some.  I even had to walk past the Vulcan.  No slight was intended to the Bowling Green and the Vulcan, it's just that I ticked both of them last year, so priority went to pubs not visited for over five years.

Pub of the day: Little Pig, by a narrow margin.
Beer of the day: Holt's Bitter
Miles walked: 1.8
Maybe coming soon: Everton, Wavertree

Thursday, 13 April 2023

Two Reboots

A trip into town for shopping provided an opportunity to tick a couple of places that have enjoyed recent refurbishments.

First, the former Beehive on Paradise Street is now called Futurist:

I found a very good refurbishment of a formerly slightly careworn pub.  It's hard to judge how much of the well done interior is original, the ceramics I saw last time I was here seem to have gone.  The stained glass windows look genuine although the rather fine seating booths are definitely new.

No real ale any more, sadly.  The new girl was in charge of the counter and she took ages to make a cocktail which went wrong, so her boss poured it away and made another.  Then the girl served someone who'd arrived after me, something that always irritates me.  Finally I got a decent pint of Guinness.  Over a fiver!  Minutes later there were three staff, obviously I was unlucky.

Another shop, and then into the Vines:

WOW!  A major refurbishment throughout has resulted in a truly wonderful pub, really a match for the more famous Philharmonic.  And it's gained real ale as well.

They've done up the billiard room as well with a second bar counter and there was even a real fire.  One of the "stag's heads" on the wall is actually half the animal, complete with front legs.

With reference to this blog passim I did note two missing glass shades on the electrolier nearest me in the billiard room.

For some reason every table, mantelpiece, and flat surface had a lighted candle.  Are they expecting a power cut?

There's a booby trap for real ale fans here:  Four handpumps on the counter, I had a fine pint of Jarl, and four different ales on the billiard room counter, so I could have had Plum Porter.

Pub of the day: The Vines really is glorious.
Beer of the day: Jarl
Miles walked: 2.6 (Mainly shopping)
Maybe coming soon: Sutton, Picton, Everton

Saturday, 8 April 2023

Two Steps Forward, Four Steps Back

On a pleasant sunny April Saturday I travelled to Rice Lane, hoping for some new ticks and some overdue ones.  I started in the back streets at the Breeze:

How did that happen?  This pub has been in my list for twenty-three years, it's only a couple of hundred yards from other pubs I have drunk in, and yet I've never been here.  It seems so unlikely that I'm wondering if I came in twenty something years ago and then the record got lost in the pre-database days.

Anyway, this is a typical backstreet boozer, knocked through to create an L-shaped room, plainly decorated and fairly tidy.  Apart from the bench seats being due for a recovering the interior is in good nick, as all pubs seem to be nowadays.  I was amused to note one place where the painter doing the what do you call it, the moulding between wall and ceiling, (Checks Google - crown moulding, no wait, that's American, it is of course coving.) had run out of paint half way along and never returned to finish it.

Just a handful of regulars were watching Everton lose on the telly.  Oddly the caption on the screen was labelled home and away with no indication of the team names.  Perhaps some dodgy foreign channel? 

Now, on to Rice Lane itself for a quick picture of the Queen Victoria which my pre-flight checks had shown was closed:

Next, probably the least well known architectural gem in Liverpool, the Prince Arthur:

I'm pleased to see they've improved the outside by taking down the excess of Sky banners, but it is the inside that is most important and, wow, it's all still here.  The lounge side is served via hatches in the bar back, across a drinking corridor.  The bar back itself is filled with wonderful leaded glass, and the arches between the lounge rooms and the corridor are also crowned with leaded glasswork.  

I relaxed and enjoyed my pint of fizz, admiring the interior.

Quite a lot of people were in here, the pub was filled with lively chatter.  Most were watching Everton lose on a channel which has the team names in the caption.  As soon as the football was over the TV switched to racing, and there was a flurry of newspapers and betting slips.  I was interested to note modernity creeping in, a significant proportion of the racing fans were betting on their phones rather than nipping out to the bookies.

Just across the road from the Arthur is the former Raffles/Shamrock/Northcote which has turned into a shop since I was last here in 2018:

My next target, again for purely photographic purposes, is the former Plough, last visited in 2003 and now a nursery.  At least the rather good building has survived, it was proposed for demolition in 2017 I believe.

Now, a few steps up a side road is Dunny's:

I always had this down as a social club and the only time I tried to get in, back in 2000, it was shut, but it's certainly welcoming drinkers today so I gained another brand new tick.

Behind the small frontage is a large social club style L-shaped bar room and a function room laid out for a "do" later, or perhaps it always looks like that.

The bar room was quite busy, although there were plenty of free tables and I selected one in a secluded corner.  BT sports news completed with racing on various TVs, but the main sound I could hear was the chatter of the regulars.

I noticed a small area divided from the main room by a glass partition and signed "smoker room".  I assume that dates from before the smoking ban.

Continuing northwards up Rice Lane we reach the former Bakery Inn, now an Indian restaurant.  Another one lost:

Just across the road is the Prince Leopold:

The outside has been well looked after since I was last here, and inside I found a very well cared for two sided boozer in which everyone, including me, was in the bar side.  A bit of a classic, this one, with a small amount of leaded glasswork surviving, and the lounge side served from a small opening in the bar back.

Five years ago I was startled to find decent cask ale here, no sign of any handpumps this time, so I stuck with my usual Canadian fizz.

Just four regulars keeping the place going at four on a Saturday, MTV providing the soundtrack.

Time for home, I think.  Two new ticks is excellent, but four closures is less welcome.

Pub of the day: Prince Arthur
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 1.9
Maybe coming soon: Everton, Southport, Smithdown Road.

Thursday, 6 April 2023

The Junction

Not a pub survey today, I travelled to Rainford to ride on the last ever trains between there and Kirkby.  Those of you interested in railways will know the details and those who are not won't care, so I will not describe this further.

However, finding myself at Rainford (Formerly Rainford Junction) station I took the opportunity to nip in to the Junction pub:

It's always good to visit a quality pub such as this, and I have long forgiven the incident many years ago when I came all the way here by train only to find the place closed when the signs said it should be open.

At six there were plenty of drinkers in the place, with gentle chatter mostly drowning the background music.

My pint of a rum porter from Wily Fox was excellent.  The menu looks good but I was surprised that I couldn't see anyone eating.

It is lucky they've got free WiFi because I had no mobile signal, and I needed to check the progress of my train.  As soon as I typed that, all the lights went out, along with the internet!  Someone said the pub is powered by a generator.  I know this is the middle of nowhere, but surely they have mains electricity by now!  Perhaps diesel is cheaper, although I don't think you can use the red stuff nowadays.

Anyway, brief power outage notwithstanding, this is truly a great pub, deservedly popular, and well worth a visit if you're passing - Or even if you're not.

Tuesday, 4 April 2023

Closer To Home

I headed out on a sunny Tuesday afternoon for a short walk to a new bar.

Soon I reached Bowring Park Golf Course, and their new nineteenth hole, the Coach House:

Apparently this has been open since last November but I only learned of its existence yesterday.  Inside the ancient building I found a very pleasant bar, pretty busy with only one or two free tables.  The attractive interior has a stone floor, bare brick walls and, above, naked beams.

My Guinness was slightly delayed by a problem with the contactless machine, soon resolved by the barmaid wiggling the wire.

Many of the customers were enjoying food, and the slightly echoey room was filled with happy chatter.  I can't quite put my finger on why but the whole place had the feel of a well run successful establishment.  Long may it continue.

I noticed the food from the kitchen seemed to come via outside.  Don't order if it's raining unless you like soggy chips!

Next, just a short distance back towards home is the Derby Lodge:

Nothing much has changed since the last time I was in here, fifteen years ago.  There's really no excuse for a gap that long on a pub an easy walk from my home!

The handpumps on the counter looked to be long out of use, last time I tried cask in here it was awful so probably just as well.

The decor, pleasant and well cared for, is, what do you call it, er, Ember Inns style, you know what I mean.  (It's not an Ember Inn, being a Table Table location.)

Just a few customers at two on a Tuesday, although I didn't check the restaurant end of the building.

Part of the same complex was a regular haunt of mine back in the 1990s.  Natterjacks is still there, looking like it only closed last week rather than 25 years ago:

Next on my walk homewards is the Stanley Arms, the eagle and child resplendent on top of the sign:

Unchanged since my last call three years ago, immaculately maintained and I think that might be a new carpet.

A disappointing lack of customers here, I suppose half two on a Tuesday is not a peak time.  I had the large back room to myself.

My Guinness followed today's trend of getting cheaper, £5 in the Coach House, £4.55 in the Derby and then £4.10 here if I remember right.

I noticed if you park here you have to enter your reg number on a computer, otherwise I guess you get a nasty bill.  I suppose pubs like this have to get their income where they can, but it seems a bit unfriendly.  It would be interesting to find out the ratio of 'customers who've failed to register' to 'non customers exploiting the car park' in this revenue stream.

Finally, the walk home passes the Crofters, it would be rude not to go in:

In the same Sizzling chain as the Stanley, this one was also quiet but not deserted, with just a few customers scattered around the well maintained interior.

A bloke at the bar had the biggest dog I've ever seen, no idea what breed but it was enormous.  Luckily it was well behaved and spent most of the time relaxed on the floor.  The owner said he weighed nine and a half stone.  (Er, that's he, the dog, not he, the owner.)

There seemed to be more locals that know each other in here than in the Stanley, I could hear quite a lot of chit-chat despite the place being mostly empty.  Many of the regulars said hello to the giant dog, before he led his owner out.

It was good to do an impromptu survey without having to worry about buses or trains: Rather relaxing, and it was also helped by the splendid weather.  I guess cutting the grass will have to wait another day!

Pub of the day: Coach House
Beer of the day: Guinness
Miles walked: 1.9
Maybe coming soon: Rainford, Rice Lane, Southport, Everton