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 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