Saturday 7 October 2023

Smithdown Road

I arrived home at midnight last night after a week or so in Spain, so I was in great need of a decent pint to start today's research.  Where better than the Willow Bank?

And what better than perennial favourite White Rat?  Delicious.  Welcome home!

This pub just goes on being great, and it was doing a fine trade at half one on a sunny Saturday, with quite a lot of people eating.  Fish, chips and peas, £8.79 looks good.

Next, Black Cat:

I must be out of practice, as I walked straight past the handpumps offering two Big Bog brews.  Instead I ordered a lovely pint of Clwb Tropica from Tiny Rebel, from the excellent range of known and unknown craft brews offered here.

It's always good to get a new tick, and this is a great pub to boot.  Two former shops knocked into one creating quite a large multi roomed place, plywood and bare brick seem to be the themes of the rather attractive decor.

Football was on the telly, as it had been in the Willow Bank.  No one was watching here, despite it being on a very high quality giant telly.  That really is a good picture, I feel I can see each blade of grass!

Gradually more customers wandered in, and a girl with a guitar began to set up for an afternoon set.  Should I wait to see if she's good?  So many alehouses, so little time!  She joined her friends at a large table, so maybe it's not time yet.

Hang on, What's this?  Thirty seconds off the pitch for taking a dive?  Is that some new rule or did I misunderstand?  Sounds good, that'll curb the histrionics.

The place was filling up, chatter drowning the commentary as Tottenham won the early match.

Kelly's Dispensary is next:

This place has completed its transmogrification into an Irish bar, and what a great job they've done.  A proper Irish style Guinness font and the correct pour;wait;top-up sequence.  (And no shamrock, thank goodness)

As I arrived there was rugger on the tellies. Whether anyone was interested I couldn't tell.

A feature of this pub is the opening front windows, I sat on a table with pedestrians on the street passing my shoulder.  I made sure not to leave my mobile on the table in grabbing range!  Only twelve days ago I was sitting in the Head of Steam in Leeds, at a table by an open window onto the street.  Of course, on my Spanish holiday I spent some time sitting in the street with people walking past as I enjoyed my tapes.  A dining type to which I am now a convert, having learned that ham egg and chips is a staple!

Sadly, rather quiet in here, from my seat I couldn't see any other customers although I'm sure there were some in the other side I didn't know about.

On to Frank's Bar:

This one eschews the new up market styling of Smithdown Road and remains a proper boozer, and it's none the worse for that.  I had a Carling.  Only three other customers in which is a shame.  This is not just a plain boozer, it's a classic of the type and I hope it continues for ever.

Drat!  There's "Frank's Laaager" for £2.30 on the counter, I should have had that instead.  

Now, there's one more place on this stretch of Smithdown, can I squeeze one more pint in?  Why not!  The Beeswing, formerly Evil Eye:

At four in the afternoon on pint number five it's always pleasing to discover I'm not the drunkest one in the pub!  Two lads were singing along with the music.  Loudly.

A narrow corridor bar with a selection of kegs, I had Staropramen to finish off my survey.  No trace of the former burrito bar, it's just a boozer now, I think.  The Czech beer came in a proper Staropramen mug, as it should.  Very good.

The gents is signed Fir, suggesting an Irish leaning, but nothing else seems to be Irish style?  

Painted on the wall is a Richard Thompson quote perhaps showing where the name of the place comes from. A truly great song.

Oddly, loads of people went out and came in, and then suddenly the place was empty with just one other customer in the indoor part.  I could still hear chatter from the back yard, though.

Time for home.

Pub of the day: Willow Bank
Beer of the day: Ossett White Rat
Miles walked: 1.3
Maybe coming soon: Bold Heath, Clock Face, Sutton.

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