I headed under the river for my first Wirral survey of the year, starting just outside Bebington station in the Railway:
An always pleasant pub this, warm and comfortable. The lone handpump offered Mad Goose but the barmaid advised me it wasn't on yet, so I stuck to Carling.
Disappointingly there were only two other customers at one on a Friday, I hope they get many more later.
I moved on, taking pictures as I passed various targets (In case it's too dark later) eventually reaching the trigger for today's trip. Wetherspoon's John Masefield is on their "For Sale" list, so could close without warning if a buyer is found:
...or, experience has shown, it might survive indefinitely.
A pleasant smaller than average 'spoons this, offering a decent selection of cask, I chose Skyline from one of my favourite breweries, Peerless, and it was very good. They had the wonderful Full Whack in Blacklers on Wednesday but unfortunately it ran out before I could get a pint!
Custom was quite good on a Friday afternoon, some late lunches but the majority were just drinking.
I know some people, snobs perhaps, like to criticise Wetherspoon pubs but the warm friendly comfortable atmosphere and cheap food and drink in here are hard to beat. Customers from four to ninety-four were enjoying a visit to their local boozer. I wonder where they'll go if it closes?
After pub spotting on the way here I knew it was time to head homewards, as there are three ticks on the short walk back to the station.
Firstly, Charlies Bar:
Although I was too nice to say so in the blog, when I discovered this shop conversion four years ago I felt it was a triumph of optimism over reality and I didn't really expect it to survive. I'm happy to be wrong, here's a lively popular boozer filled with animated chatter from plenty of customers.
What can I say? Plain, pleasant, down market, very well maintained, friendly staff and customers, etc etc. One of the staff who was leaving offered an elderly regular a lift home, how's that for a community pub?
It's not really my sort of place, and I expect the karaoke later will be deafening, but this really is a fine pub, long may it continue.
I carried on, passing the Wirral Hotel which has closed since I was last in this area:
Next, to compensate for the loss of the Wirral Hotel, something that seems to be happening nearly every survey at the moment: A brand new tick, the Bulldog. What an impressive mural:
One large square room in this conversion of a former bank, once again a comfortable space filled with cheerful chatter at three on a Friday. There's a pool table in the middle of the room, and this was the trigger for much of the friendly banter.
As in the last pub, there were racks of betting slips on the walls, clearly the long running tradition of ale and the horses is alive in New Ferry. My mind goes back to smoke (and drunk) filled pubs on a Saturday afternoon where everyone else was concentrating on the racing on the TV to see if they'd won. Here, the races were on the telly on two different channels, fortunately silent.
There was something on the wireless the other day about the increasingly popularity of men's shorts in winter; there was one exponent in here.
I wonder how much it costs to set up a place like this. The wallpaper and paint will be cheap, the false ceiling with air conditioning units much more expensive. I imagine the alcohol industry will subsidise the fonts, optics, glasses and so on but in the end it's a question of whether the custom can pay for the staff wages, business rates, rent, and the actual beer and spirits. I keep reading about how hard it is for a pub to make enough money to survive, and yet I keep finding new ones.
Finally, the Good Beer Guide listed Cleveland Arms:
Only two handpumps, one clip turned away but the other provided a perfect pint of Trapper's Hat. I'm pleased to see CAMRA rating quality above breadth of range, this is the sort of real ale provider we need to encourage.
A plain boozer mostly knocked through but still with some separation between rooms, once again the main sound was cheerful chatter and banter amongst the friendly regulars.
It felt a little chilly in here despite my seat near the wood burning stove which seemed to be producing more light than heat. It had a pair of those "magic" fans on top, which are powered by the heat of the stove, but frankly it felt like they were blowing cold air towards me!
Judging by the notes on the blackboard, this pub still has a real darts team, next fixture is away to "Brom B" on 31st Jan.
Time for home...
Beer of the day: Peerless Skyline
Miles walked: Just one.
Maybe coming soon: Undecided.