On a grey Saturday I made my way to Bootle for some overdue revisits. I started by walking north, passing two targets that I'll come back to later and on to the Queens:
The For Sale sign was concerning but the door was open and inside I found a plain traditional two-sided boozer, with no customers visible at one on a Saturday afternoon. Perhaps there were some in the other side.
The barmaid had to nip down to the cellar before pouring me a Carling, which cost £3.45 Two other customers joined me while I was waiting. "Do they sell Guinness" one enquired. I was about to tell him I hadn't been in here for over five years but I spotted a Guinness tap on the other counter so I was able to point that out.
I settled under the telly showing racing and took in my surroundings. Like all these "basic" boozers these days, it is nicely done out, clean and tidy. In the very grey weather it was quite dark until the barmaid turned the lights on. No Christmas decorations; good.
Was this the one with the disgusting gents with mould-covered walls last time I was here? I recall a regular saying "crackin', isn't it" when I came out of the gents last time. Let's see what it is like now...
Well the gents here is very good, in fact in a triumph of good taste they've even got the same tiles on the wall as in my bathroom at home! So am I remembering the wrong pub? On examining my records I find that my memory is correct, so they've done a very good upgrade.
Next I retraced my steps towards Bootle, and stopped at the Salisbury:
The large interior is plain, pleasant enough, and almost completely deserted with just two other customers.
My Carling (£3.20) came in a branded glass, but it wasn't the odd shaped one I'm used to (which I had in the Queens). I hope this is an older style and not a new one, as I really like the ones, I don't really know how to describe them, that have a "waist" half way up which has a ribbed surface for extra grip. I wonder if I can find a picture:
Maybe I should start collecting branded glassware, or at least pictures thereof. Come to think of it, my collection of beer festival glasses means I have no room for more, so perhaps just pictures.
Heating in here was provided by a couple of portable Calor Gas heaters, lucky the weather is warmer today than yesterday. I suspect it'll be very cold in here come some real winter weather.
A few more regulars turned up while I drank, but the place was hardly busy.
Next, a classic sixties building, the Alexandra:
Another perfectly fine interior, in fact I think this one is better than the previous two. At least a dozen regulars were creating a background of cheerful chatter.
My Carling (£3.20 again) came in my preferred glass this time.
OK, I am probably biased due to being three Carlings to the good, but this is a really great pub, a true classic. Perfectly clean, very tidy, cheerful regulars, warm and comfortable, what else could one ask for?
Regular readers are probably expecting a rant about Premier League point deductions at some time today but I don't really understand what Everton are accused of so I'll keep my own counsel for now. Except to say ... No No, must resist.
The jukebox moved on to someone's rendition of that wonderful song From A Distance. Bette Midler's version wasn't as good as Nancy Griffith's original, but it's still a great song.
Now here's something I've not spotted before: In amongst the greengrocers' apostrophes on the signs on the bar back is a notice stating that all spirits are sold in 50ml measures; so effectively everything is a double.
Next, through the centre of Bootle passing the post-Wetherspoon's Wild Rose which seemed from the outside to be doing very well, and the overdue for a visit Addison Arms and on to the even more overdue Beaky:
This is, or was, a social club of some sort, and still has the format of a small bar and a larger function room. No hint of any membership requirements as I headed into the bar for another Carling. (£2.30, non-preferred branded glass)
The bigger room was laid out for a do of some sort, but maybe it always is.
About a dozen regulars were in the bar chatting and one or two were watching the racing on just one telly.
Lovely and warm in here, so much so that I felt myself in danger of nodding off, which is not good at half three in the afternoon! I think it might be time to head for home.
I got back to Lime Street to find that the next three trains home have been cancelled. I suppose that's what you get for letting the government run the railways. Surprisingly, the train I eventually caught wasn't as jam-packed as I expected, clearly the majority of customers have already learned that there is no point relying on the train.
Beer of the day: Carling
Miles walked: 2.2
Maybe coming soon: Kirkdale, Fazakerley, Wavertree