Saturday 15 July 2023

Litherland and Bootle

Dodging heavy showers I headed for Litherland, starting in the Railway:

I stepped over the Threlfall's mosaic in the doorway and into an interior mostly knocked through but with a small side room (I could see a dartboard), plain, pleasant and well maintained.  Music mixed with cheerful conversations and the occasional click of pool balls.

About half a dozen customers, plus two smoking in the front yard, not bad for one on a Saturday nowadays.  There was a trickle of arrivals and departures, some of whom only came for a word with the landlady.

Next, the Red Lion:

This place can't have survived lockdown, I thought, but no, it's open.  A single room in one end of the massive building, very well done out with barrels supporting the high tables, and some rough wood on the counter face.

Sadly only three other customers, and one of those finished his pint and departed while i enjoyed my second Carling of the day.

The remainder of the large impressive building (Dating from 1906) is boarded up, as it was last time I was here if I recall correctly.  If only someone could come up with a use for it...  But what?

Next, a picture of the former Stockwell Mount:
This place had an absolutely fantastic collection of bric-a-brac when I visited in 2004, I recall a control desk from a tram and a Darth Vader helmet.

Has anyone stayed in the hotel?  I'm guessing they don't still have the collection?

On under the long closed (I travelled on it in 1981) Bootle to Aintree railway and to the Saltbox:

Inside the rather fine building is a good interior. Nothing special in the decor, perhaps, but it is really well maintained, no hints of worn seats or carpet, nor tired paintwork.  It's hard to put my finger on it, but everything just says "carefully looked after" in here.

The lounge side is mostly knocked through, and there's an equally well done bar side as well.

A dozen or more regulars were keeping the place going at half two, their chat drowning out the quiet music.

At least two different channels were visible on the tellies, as well a one displaying a plain blue screen.  The ones with pictures were golf and horses.  Speaking of golf, aren't they coming to Hoylake soon?  No trains to West Kirby!

As I enjoyed another Carling the room seemed to get a lot darker.  Am I going to get wet?

Happily no, and I strolled on to the Pacific which has retained its Threlies mural:
Now here's a geographical dilemma for the pub cataloguer:  The sign showing you're entering Litherland is right outside the door, halfway along the frontage!  I think I'll leave it in Bootle.

Another plain but very well maintained boozer, knocked through creating one large open space, occupied by a dozen or two regulars whose conversations were louder than the music.

I settled in a quiet corner of the room to enjoy yet another Carling.  I think I've asked before, can I get them to sponsor this blog?  Or Guinness?

A steady stream of customers aged from six to older than me were keeping this pub going.

Now it's time to head for home, but can I manage the long walk to Bootle and the train ride to Central without a toilet break?  Why don't I tick another pub near the station for a PNB?  [Railway terminology:  Personal Needs Break*]
Which pub?  The former Wetherspoon's is open again, or the Adison next door is overdue for a visit.

But wait!
Before I get to Bootle I have to pass the PSD Sports Lounge, last time I was here I decided it was just a snooker hall and not a pub - If I recall correctly there was a big sign saying members only.  But this time I wandered in and found I was welcome to buy a pint and sit in the bar area.

Of the substantial number of customers, only one plus I were drinkers, the rest were playing pool, snooker or darts.  (Hence the name)

So, my previous recording of this place as closed has to be rescinded.  Mind you, the sign from which I learned the new name says "1. Membership cards will be needed to enter the club."  so perhaps I shouldn't claim it as a tick?  On the other hand, I've had a drink so it's in.

I watched Sky Sports News on the giant telly.  Apparently an expensive transfer between football teams is more important than an unseeded woman winning Wimbledon.  I think that says something about the priorities of sports in the UK.  (But what do I know?)

I looked around. Lots of people playing pool, darts, and, in the large hall, snooker.  I feel a little guilty sitting here with no intention of participation!

It must be time for home now?  Yes.  Another survey covering traditional boozers, all surviving and in some cases doing well post COVID.  The media and all the chat says these places have had it and I must say it's good news that that's not the case.

* Just to be clear, no train driver would ever use a pub for a PNB, in fact that's probably a sackable offence.

Pub of the day: Salt Box
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 1.8
Maybe coming soon: Cronton

Saturday 8 July 2023


On an uncomfortably hot and humid day I headed to Garston.

My first target was the Palatine, but it would appear to be closed:

Round the corner to the Derby Hotel, oh dear; no signs of life and a for sale sign:
I'm getting a bit thirsty now.  Hidden in the back streets is the Masonic:
Thank goodness, it is open!  This place used to be a source of cask ale of sometimes dubious quality, today there were two handpumps but no clips so I was spared the quandary of should I risk it, and I was soon cooling my hands on a nice pint of fizz.  

Custom in this compact multi-room classic pub was a little sparse when I arrived, but more people appeared as I enjoyed my lager.

The friendly barmaid had to guide me to the gents despite its location being obvious.

Down to the town's main road, to the Dealers Arms:
This pleasant two-sided boozer is beautifully decorated inside, and well maintained.  Nothing like the run down place I was expecting.  (Having written that I checked the notes in the guide from my 2017 visit and it says "pleasant decor" so clearly I should have known.)

Another cool Carling was soon refreshing me.

There were two other customers with me in the lounge side and a number in the bar as well, from where I could hear gentle conversation.

I looked around.  This really is a superior example of the "ordinary boozer", everything is just right, and there are a lot of places out there that could take lessons from the Dealers.

I headed along St Mary's Road to the Mariners:
This one is wonderfully busy, what a contrast to the Dealers.  The barmaid, serving two customers at once, apologised that it was cash only in here and quickly provided another Carling.  In fact, it was one she was already pouring, so I'm guessing I jumped ahead of one of the regulars who hadn't actually finished his previous pint yet.  Bar staff skills indeed.

I found a corner to sit in and enjoy the atmosphere of a true locals' boozer, loud cheerful chatter drowning out the muzac.

Some of the regulars were watching the racing on the telly, but most were just concentrating on a friendly Saturday afternoon booze up.

This place brought back memories of pub surveys in the 1990s, lots of cheerful people at various stages of inebriation.  One lad returned from the gents or a smoke break and couldn't find his drink.  "You're on that table" was the cry, and he was soon back in the correct seat.

I headed a few yards down the road to the George, one I expected to be closed and it was:
As I snapped the photo I was hit by a couple of raindrops and only seconds later I was in a torrential downpour complete with lightning and thunder.  I quickly hid in a bus shelter which was OK until some idiot drove at speed through the puddle in the gutter, soaking me up to the knees.  Technically that is "driving without due care and attention" but I doubt anyone has been punished for it in recent years, if ever.

Eventually the storm cell passed and I was able to walk a few yards to the next pub, the Swan:
This place retains the classic layout inside, the lounge room is served from a hatch in the bar back across a drinking corridor.

Again, it was busy with friendly regulars, I sat and dripped in a quiet corner.  The tellies were reporting loss of satellite signal, presumably due to the weather, so the only sound track was multiple conversations.

Another classic boozer, this one with an historic interior, well cared for and popular.

My limited view out of the window suggested it was throwing it down again, so I dawdled over my fourth Carling in the hope that things would dry up.  Someone put Wish You Were Here on the jukebox, enough to keep me here, and the satellite telly recovered.  Why are we watching formula one warm-ups instead of Ashes cricket?  The answer is that the cricket is rained off.  I had considered staying at home today and listening to Test Match Special, I'm glad I didn't.

There's one more pub in Garston so it would be foolish to leave just one behind.  The New Wellington:
A brief crisis when, having snapped a photo on leaving the Swan and then walked to the Welly, I found the camera had locked up.  Standing like an idiot in the street, thank goodness the rain had stopped, I fiddled to no avail and then changed the batteries.  With new cells it sprang into life and I got my picture.

I headed in to yet another busy lively locals' boozer, again nicely decorated and well cared for.  In the crowded interior I managed to find a table in a quiet-ish corner to drink my fifth Carling and make my notes.

I've got a recollection that last time I was in here, "only" four years ago, I was monitoring the progress of some cricket, so it is fitting that just after I arrived play finally started at Headingley.  The TVs I could see were showing horses and footie, so the internet was my source of updates.  D'oh, just one over and then rained off again!  Something caught my ear, "118 for 4" said someone, I wasn't the only one monitoring!

Soon, all the TVs had football on, don't they have a summer break?  England vs Spain.  I gradually realised that quite a few of the people in the pub were watching, with groans and cheers as appropriate.

Time for me to head for home, I think.  It's good to be wrong sometimes:  Last night I was telling some friends that I was going to do Garston tomorrow and how horrible the pubs would be.  Rubbish, of course, and I've enjoyed some classics here; the only negative of the day has been getting soaked, all the pubs have been great.

Pub of the day: The Swan, for the architecture.
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 1.75
Maybe coming soon: Haydock

Saturday 1 July 2023

Allerton and Mossley Hill

I'm aiming for some overdue ticks in Allerton and Mossley Hill today but first, how about a new one?  The Heath Hall Sports and Social Club:

The front door of the 60s building was locked but a sign pointed round the side to the bar, located at the rear of the building, so I headed in and was soon enjoying a Carling.

The bar is plainly decorated and well looked after.  Only three other drinkers in the room at half one on a Saturday, later joined by one more.  Racing from Newcastle, not too loud, was on the three TVs.

The other side of the servery faced a larger room, presumably the function room.

Next, the Greenhills:
My only previous visit to this rather imposing building was in 2017 and it doesn't seem to have changed much, with a large restaurant area and a smaller bar room where I headed.

I think the plainness of the styling dates this building to the early 1950s - Or am I, as usual, demonstrating my ignorance of architectural matters.

One handpump offering Doom Bar failed to tempt me, and I had another Carling.  Solo handpumps in dining pubs are always a bit risky, although I must admit it is some time since I had an off pint, so really I should have risked it.  (How prophetic these words would be!)  No cask was served while I was here, so perhaps I was right.

No beer mats on my table, so I ended up with a couple of embarrassing drips of condensation on my trousers.

Last time I was here I commented that they don't try and tempt drinkers by putting out food menus in the drinkers' room, and it's the same today so I can't comment on the menu choices.  Stonehouse is Stonehouse, though, so I'm sure you know what to expect.

Gentle conversation mixed with the quiet muzac and there was a steady stream of customers coming in for more drinks and to order food.

Another food order elicited the warning that it's 45 minutes wait, so they are either incompetent or exceptionally busy in the restaurant.

On to a true classic, the Storrsdale:
I entered the deserted bar side and moved through to the lounge.  A friendly dog on a long lead came towards me so I patted it on the head and said "Hello dog" as I usually do.  A voice said "Hello Phil" and my eyes followed the lead to find a former work colleague at the other end.  Pub notes took a break as we chatted.  As neither of us had attended the Woolton pub crawl reunion this year it was a good chance to catch up.

What a beautiful pub this is, inside and out.  I'll once again stick my architectural neck out and say this is a late 1930s construction.  The two sided interior has been well maintained and retains historic leaded windows and woodwork.  A perfect pint of White Rat added to the pleasure.

My next target was the Rose, but pencilled in on the plan was a look at Pi to see what had happened to it.  Unexpectedly, it is now Haul:
I'm trying to match this place with my memory of Pi, I think that was two shops wide and this is only one.

In any case, a very pleasant shop conversion in which all the other customers were exploiting the intermittent sunshine in the back yard while I sat alone in the main room.  Three handpumps offered three ales I'd never heard of, the one from Abbeydale I chose was beautiful.

The barman/landlord, in between serving quality ales, washed the front windows; no need to pay for a window cleaner!

He disappeared out of the back door for a moment, and then a cardboard bottle carrier leapt from the top of the fridge onto the floor.  Must be a poltergeist, I think.  Made me jump, anyway.

A couple came in with a very young child.  "I want a yellow one" she said, choosing something crafty from the fridge.  Mum and dad added it to their own selections for a large take away order of cans and bottles.  I wonder if the little one gets to drink anything from her yellow can!

Finally, the Rose of Mossley is a more traditional pub, also last visited in 2017:
A knocked through pub welcoming diners and drinkers.

Following my comments in the Greenhills about risking the only cask ale I gambled here, and lost, with a pint of Old Speckled Vinegar.  Yeugh!

A nice pub architecturally, this one, the pleasant interior retains some woodwork and some stained glass partitions.  At five on a Saturday it was nicely busy with drinkers and diners, mainly the former, I think.  As time moved on the throng at the counter increased, keeping the bar staff busy with food and drink orders.

As this was pint number five I decided I couldn't be bothered to complain, I just abandoned my vinegar un-drunk.  I can only hope that head office read this blog and tell them off.  I will add a comment about poor quality cask in the guide database, of course.

Time to head for home.

Pub of the day: The Storrsdale
Beer of the day: White Rat
Miles walked: 2.6
Maybe coming soon: Haydock, Newton-le-Willows, city centre.