Thursday 23 March 2023

Forties Cromarty Forth Tyne Dogger Fisher

Just a few odds and ends in town today. I started in the Shipping Forecast:

Four handpumps but no clips, so I had a Guinness which came with a shamrock in the head.  I resisted the temptation to tell the barman that when I spent a week in Ireland last year this never happened.

Just a handful of customers in, most of them in a chatty (But not annoyingly noisy) group at one table.

Nothing much seems to have changed in here since my last visit which was in 2010, the industrial vibe remaining in the pleasant interior.  A bit lacking in atmosphere with so few customers, but I imagine it's more fun later.  I wonder if I ought to try the Hold, a music venue downstairs sometime?  I think I can use the excuse that it is "not a pub".

Now that most trying of ticks, the bar next door to a favourite!  By a great effort of will power I resisted the wonderful Red Lion and went in to the Spanish Caravan:

Quite a bit bigger than the branch in Prescot, and with a wider range of beers, I think.  I chose long term favourite Erdinger, which cost me £6.  Only after I sat down I noticed a pump for Delirium, I'm not sure I could handle a pint of their Tremens, or maybe it's Delirium Red?  I could see the appropriate glasses in the rack above the pump.

I suppose I should have chosen a Spanish beer really, they had Victoria Malaga and two more I couldn't read from my seat, but as I say, Erdinger has long been a favourite of mine, their Dunkel even more so but you don't see that very often (Ship and Mitre of course being one local outlet.)

The decor in here includes bare brick, wooden matchboarding, and a genuine tiled floor - I thought for a moment the floor might be vinyl with a tiled pattern but no.  I sat on a wooden bench seat, a church pew perhaps.  Is this Spanish style?  I've not done very many bars in Spain so I can't really say.  It's nice, anyway.

Two other customers, painters judging by their trousers, chatted with the barman, and then headed back to work leaving me as the only customer.

Later, a group of three came in, the barman knew them and soon provided a jug of sangria, to start their get together.

I called in at the gents on my way out and found a fiver on the floor.  Should I pocket it?  Oooh, a moral dilemma!  I "did the right thing" and handed it to the barman, who said he didn't know what to do with it. I said "if he comes back for it, give it to him, otherwise put it in your tips jar," which I think is probably the best answer!

Next, Fitzgeralds where I forgot to take a picture, here's one from last November:

Just a few minutes after opening (14:30 according to Google) there was no one in this one room Irish pub.  I was trying to remember what it was like in 2003 last time I was in here, when it was the Marlborough, a plain pub with no Irish styling, but I can't really recall that far back!

Now, it's very well decorated, not with "plastic Paddy" tat but with an impressive array of black and white photos of famous Irish people, ranging from James Joyce to Sinead O'Connor.  I could mostly recognise the actors and musicians, but not the sports stars.

No one came in while I enjoyed my Guinness, this rather fine place deserves to do better in my opinion.

Just next door is the Jacaranda, will it be open on a Thursday arvo? No.

Back down to Hanover Street, then, and the Empire:

"Only" five years since I visited this one, and it remains a plain comfortable one room corner house.  Just two other customers as I arrived, so not doing very well at half three on a Thursday.  Two more came in as I sank another Guinness.

The decor in here is rather busy, with every inch of wall covered with pictures, shipping signage, gig posters, and so on.  Gosh, An Evening with Pink Floyd at the Empire Theatre.  If only I could go back in time...

There's a small "stage" at the end of the room, so I guess live music must be on offer, I bet it's fun in here then.

I listened to the music:  "You're as smooth as Tennessee whiskey" went the song.  What an insult to the lady!  Their whiskey is about as smooth as sandpaper.  Ouch!!

Pub of the day: Fitzgeralds
Beer of the day: Erdinger
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Southport, Wavertree, Everton, Rice Lane, Edge Hill

Friday 17 March 2023


On a remarkably warm day I took a bus under the river to Moreton, where I first headed to the Grange:

With the exception of a surfeit of Irish decorations (Is it a special day today??) this pleasant friendly boozer hasn't changed since my visit five years ago.  

Five minutes of fiddling in the cellar failed to fix the Carling supply, eventually I gave up and had a more flavoursome lager instead.  I did wonder if this would come at the Carling price, but sadly not.

The pub was very quiet considering it is two on a Friday afternoon, one group finishing their lunch were the only other people in the "lounge" side where I sat.  I could hear some chatter from the other end of the building, but the five bar staff were hardly stretched, even with two of them busy working on the Carling pipework.

Next, to the centre of Moreton and the Vineyard:

Not much sign of the bistro I recorded five years ago, and I think they've knocked down some walls, maybe?  Anyway, a pleasant open room with a counter on one side, the decor is plain and not over the top.  Any fool can add lots of decorations, it takes taste and skill to produce plain attractive styling.

The landlord disappeared to change his baby's nappy, asking me to field any customers.  Meanwhile, the bloke fixing the light over the door finished his free drink, "that's the easiest pint I've ever earned".

So, I was the only customer until two younger blokes came in wanting to watch something on the telly.  Cheltenham I guess.  The landlord turned down the music and up the commentary, but to a quiet non-irritating level - Well done.

Now, just across the roundabout is the Coach and Horses:

The traffic makes it really hard to get a good photograph of this pub!

It was very busy in here and I toured the whole pub with my pint before squeezing in a corner.  "Got any tips?" asked the lads at the next table.  Apparently they'd spotted me as I came in and I look a bit like a famous tipster.  We soon established that I'm not him!

Ordinary pub decor in here, unchanged since my visit five years ago although clearly well maintained in the mean time.

This place is really doing well at three o'clock, so much busier than the previous two pubs.  Racing commentary was drowned out by the happy chatter of dozens of customers, despite the 'speaker being just above my head.

The Irish decorations were fairly muted here, just a few balloons, although the barmaid was wearing St Patrick's Day deely-boppers.  Is that the right word for those springy things on your head?

I looked around the room as the 2.50 at Cheltenham was run.  Clearly the majority of the people were here to watch the racing, but by no means all of them.

Next, off down a side street or two to a pub which might not be open, let's see...

I was looking for the Sandbrook, but now it's the Clipper:

So it has switched back to the original name, but nothing else has changed in this classic 60s estate boozer.

Just as last time (2018) the lounge is closed off and the happy team of regulars are clustered at the counter chatting with the landlord and landlady.

I waited patiently for one of the regulars to go to the toilet, so I could find out where it was.  No one did so I had to guess.  While on my way there I glanced through the lounge doors, it would appear to be ready and waiting for use perhaps at busy times or for functions.

Lots of banter and shouting as the Gold Cup was run, one of the regulars had a bet on, and his horse fell, I think. I worried that everyone was staring at me until I realised one of the tellies was right above my head and that was what they were watching.  

Finally, I returned to the middle of Moreton, to Greene King's Farmers Arms:

Gosh!  Even busier than the Coach and Horses, with a massive throng at the counter being served fairly well by the bar staff.  It has been said that "who's next" is an admission of failure by bar staff, they ought to be keeping an eye on the crowd and should know who comes next.  Nonetheless, I was soon served with a decent Greene King IPA, I didn't see any other pints of cask sold while I was waiting.

I was given a "buy five get one free" card with my pint, I don't think I'll manage to fill it, at one visit every five years my free pint comes in 2048, age 87!

Quiet commentary from Cheltenham was drowned out by umpteen animated conversations; as I had commented to the gentleman next to me at the counter, it's good to see a busy pub nowadays.  The customers ranged from boozing blokes to dining families - appealing to both is the secret of success nowadays, I think.

My table was reserved for "entertainment" from 7.30, I wonder what that means. Does the performer sit here or do they move this table away to make some space?  In any case, I'll be home before then.  

I watched another race on the telly in my eye line.  One fall, I hope neither horse nor jockey were hurt.

Time for home, I think, so I strolled up to the station.

Pub of the day: The Clipper, a classic.
Beer of the day: Greene King IPA
Miles walked: 2.6
Maybe coming soon: Southport, Edge Hill, Wavertree, Rice Lane

Thursday 9 March 2023

New Ticks In Town

On a cold snowy day I started my researches in a new one to me, Alberts Schloss:

Actually not completely new, I came here last Saturday afternoon with a friend for lunch, but we were turned away at the door, no tables for eaters available.  We took our custom elsewhere.

The door guard was off duty so I could wander straight to the counter today, and anyway I was only here for a drink this time.

A waitress had to chivy the barman away from his chat before I could be served, he then redeemed himself by offering a napkin to wipe my misted up and wet spectacles while he poured me a lovely pint of Budvar Dark.  I suspected this might be one of those card only places, but no, cash is also taken.

The large open room is decorated in, I suppose, bierkeller style.  There are some long benches in the middle, plus booths and other smaller tables scattered around.

All very pleasant, bright and cheerful and comfortably warm.  (I notice Northern Rail, having tired of cancelling trains, are running them without heating now. I know the price of electricity has gone up, but even so...)

Background music mixed with cheerful conversations as I enjoyed my pint and perused the menu.  Pretzels, wursts (sic) and burgers.  Er, isn't the plural of würst würste?  Not sure I approve of this Deutschglish or whatever you call it.

I wanted to dislike this totally fake pastiche but actually it's rather good and I look forward to trying the food some time.

With one new tick under my belt it's time to try for another, the Duke Street Market:

Much bigger than the small frontage suggests, this is a classic warehouse conversion with the usual rough brickwork and exposed steel joists.  There are six kitchens along one wall offering various food styles, and I must say it smells good.

I was pleased to learn from the "greeter" that if I didn't want to bother with the QR code and internet ordering I could just go up to the kitchens and order directly.  I wonder if she only says that to "older" customers?

The place was doing OK, I guess, for a Thursday afternoon at the end of lunchtime, but a number of cooks and waitresses seemed to be idle.  Having said that, it seemed to get busier as I sank my pint.  The slightly too loud music mixed with chatter.  

Time for a proper pub, I think, or at least something in that general direction.  McCartneys Bar:

Goodness, is it really eleven years since I was last here.  I have to admit I don't recognise the pleasant interior at all, has it been remodelled or is my memory failing?  In any case, a plain pub with one long main room plus one or two side areas. Decorated with a Beatles theme, nicely understated.

Sadly the hand pump had gone since my last call, so it was Guinness for me.

Just a few customers were creating a quiet background of conversation to mix with the music.  There was also the occasional click of pool balls.

I noticed an area of the main room with no tables, surrounded by various disco lights, so I assume this place is party central on a Friday night.

Can I get another new tick?  What about Lounge 69 across the road?  Is it within my purview?  I don't think I can be bothered if there's no draft beer.

No worries, I could see a dozen keg fonts on the counter, so in I went.  The greeter wanted to know if I was eating, and then she transformed into a barmaid when I said no.  My first choice was off, but I was soon served with a pint of Stella.

I looked at the cocktail menu.  Given that this claims to be a cocktail bar, only having nine options seems a bit limited.  My favourite, bloody mary, isn't on the list.  When was the last time I had one?  Twenty years ago an ordinary airport bar in America would do a bloody mary, complete with a stick of celery, for "breakfast".  And I seem to recall having one on the plane as well.

The decor in here is rather wonderful in my opinion, I don't know how to categorise it - Lots of mosaics and ceramics, and a fun use of brass pipework fittings as table legs and handrails.  

Good decoration notwithstanding, the place is not doing very well at three on a wintery Thursday, I might be the only customer or perhaps there's one or two out of my eyeline?  I hope they do better at busy times, as I really do like the styling.  Mind you, they could do with turning the heating up a bit, there was no way I was going to take my coat off in here.

Three new ticks should be enough for anyone, so I think I'll head for home before the snow gets too deep (joking).

Pub of the day: Alberts Schloss
Beer of the day: Budvar Dark
Miles walked: 1.2
Maybe coming soon: Rice Lane, Southport, Edge Hill