Saturday 16 March 2024


Today I headed east to Earlestown where there are a number of pubs overdue for a revisit.  I began by walking past some good targets which I will get on the way back, to Vulcan Village and the Vulcan Inn:

I used up all my Star Trek jokes last time I was here so I won't do that today.  My pre flight checks had shown this as closed, and indeed it was.

Back the way I came and next is the Wargrave Hacienda:

Facebook says it opens at 12:30 but it didn't.  Google says 15:00 but I'll be well away by then.  So two fails out of two so far!

A little further on is the Victoria:

This one was a "closed when it should be open" failure last time I surveyed round here, so I haven't been in since 2010.  No such problem today, and I was soon drinking a Carling in this comfortable two sided pub.

I adjourned to the extension at the back, an empty dining area hopefully ready for lots of food later.

One barmaid was busy inflating green balloons in preparation for tonight and/or tomorrow's celebrations.

I know I seem to write this in almost every pub, but once again this one is nicely decorated, well maintained and spotlessly clean.  It really is a comfortable place, only needing cask ale to make it a favourite.

Next, another pub that, like the Victoria, I had seen open on my way down, the Sunbeam:

A classic down market two sided back street boozer this one, perhaps not as "nice" as the Victoria but still clean, pleasant and comfortable.

Just five regulars were watching the FA cup, the rest of the pub was empty apart from some children in the other side.  I had Guinness this time, it is after all Paddy's Day tomorrow although I was pleased to note there's no sign of it in here.

They've got one of those backwards clocks, so confusing after a few pints!

On to the Old Crow:

I was a little concerned as I approached to see some closed doors, but a closer look revealed an open one, thank goodness.  I seem to remember a similar moment of doubt last time I came here, it does look like it's shut doesn't it.

This large two bar pub was pretty quiet, I joined four or five regulars in the left hand side (No idea if there is a bar/lounge difference.)  There were two or three people in the other side as well.

Clean, well maintained and comfortable once again, and for the third time today a worrying lack of customers on a Saturday afternoon.  I've said it before and I'll probably say it again:  Use it or lose it, people, I can't save all the pubs on my own.

Now, a walk to the other side of Earlestown and the imposing building that is the Griffin:

There's something about this pub, not just the gorgeous building, that makes me rate it highly.  The two bar multi-room interior has slightly quirky and very attractive decor.  As usual, it's well maintained and spotless.

There were almost enough customers in here to create a hubbub of conversation, but the rugger (league) commentary was winning.

I looked at the telly briefly.  Hull 4 Leicester 22 and the stands are mostly empty.  (No, wait, LEI is Leigh)  If they can't fill the ground on a Saturday afternoon then the sport is doomed, I think - Another use it or lose it situation.  I was surprised to see the substitutes pedalling on exercise bikes on the touchline, they don't do that in footie.

The backwards clock salesman did well in Earlestown, here's another one and this time I've had enough beer to be momentarily confused by it.

Having run out of required targets, I think it is time to head for home.

Pub of the day: Griffin
Beer of the day: Guinness
Miles walked: 3.5
Maybe coming soon: Bebington, Canny Farm, Claughton

Saturday 9 March 2024


The direct bus doesn't seem to exist any more, so it was a train into town and the a bus out again that took me to Gillmoss where I started in the modern Marston's construction that is the Vikings Landing.  I had a moment of concern on checking Google maps to see where the bus stop was as I approached and finding the pub marked as "temporarily closed".  It wasn't.

In this standard modern chain dining place the young lady at the "Please wait to be seated" sign captured me before I could sneak past, but once I explained I only wanted a drink she suggested I order at the bar and then sit in the drinkers' area.

Five handpumps but only one beer is sometimes a bad sign but my Wainwright was spot on.  It came in a short fat colourfully decorated Wainwright glass.

A steady flow of customers came in to dine, no one joined me in the drinkers' corner.  I was going to write drinkers' ghetto there but that would be completely unfair as it was comfortable, warm and well appointed, and in no way was I treated like a second class citizen.  I don't know why the word popped into my mind.

I observed operations:  Tables were carefully allocated by the computer and the lady at the door, probably a good idea as it looks like the pub will soon be full.  If you want a meal here on a Saturday afternoon I'd recommend booking.  Having said that, the tables in "my" corner are available as overflow.

By doing their job carefully and efficiently the friendly staff here seem to have created a good successful operation, and they deserve praise.  I contributed, perhaps, by submitting corrections to Google.

On into Croxteth now, and the Lobster.  My internet researches had found multiple reports of a fire last September so I was expecting to photograph a blackened ruin but I was wrong:

Inside I found a pleasant two bar plain boozer, full of locals of all ages, some watching Everton being beaten in the early kickoff, others playing darts, and many just enjoying a drink and a chat in their beautiful local.

The decor in here is the now popular shades of grey, very well done and excellently maintained.

Carling for me, various lagers and Guinness were being sold at a steady rate.

Next, the Abbey Road Wine Bar:

This well done shop conversion hasn't changed much since I was here five years ago, but it's not as busy as it was then.  Nonetheless, seven or eight cheerful regulars were keeping the noise level up, drowning out the football commentary.

Everton lost and the main TV was immediately switched to a music channel - No interest in the post-match punditry.

What a great locals' boozer.

Next I headed for the long closed Sefton Arms:

Oddly, despite having been closed as a pub for many years it has been maintained and cared for and is well fenced off from the street, so someone is looking after it and using it for some purpose, sadly not its original function.  Mind you, I seem to recall it was a bit of a dump when I had a drink here in 1998.

Next, the Western Approaches:

Last time I was here there was a baby celebration of some sort and coincidentally today part of one side was reserved for a function with chair covers, table cloths and balloons.  The entrance into that side was locked and I had to go in the other way.

No staff were visible so I nipped through the corridor to the function half where there were more customers but still no staff.  After a short pause the barmaid appeared and soon served me another Carling, she had been in the cellar changing a keg, I think.

As I always seem to say now, this is a clean tidy well maintained plain boozer.  Perhaps a little plainer than the Lobster, but no less tidy.

A member of staff was inflating bronze coloured balloons, presumably for the upcoming function.  I wonder if the regulars (and I, if I'm still here) will be chivied into the other room when the time comes.

There's just one more open pub near here so it would be daft not to finish in the Lingmell Inn:

The interior of this one is knocked through into one very pleasant room.  It feels perhaps a little up market compared with the previous three ticks but I'm not sure I can actually justify that suggestion.

Decorations were being put up for Mother's Day which, in the UK, is tomorrow.  (I learned to my intense irritation many years ago that in America where I was living, Mother's Day is on a different date.)

Another comfortable pub doing fairly well on a Saturday afternoon.  I couldn't see many eating, but the menu looks good and good value.

A bloke joined his friends at a table with a bag of food from the local chippy which I thought was a bit cheeky in a dining pub.  Ah - wait, they're staff or friends thereof, so perhaps OK.  One of the group collected food from the kitchen.

The decoration team got closer to where I was sitting but erected their ladder without needing me to move.

Time to head for home, I think.  Five pubs all doing a good trade is great to see in 2024.

Pub of the day: Lobster, I had feared finding a burnt out wreck.
Beer of the day: Wainwright
Miles walked: 3.3
Maybe coming soon: Bebington

Friday 1 March 2024

Woolton and Halewood

A chilly damp Friday with no trains saw me on the bus to Woolton from where I soon walked to the CookHouse:

This unusual curved building used to be the English Rose, a two sided pub which still had many original features inside when I was first here twenty-six years ago.  More recently it was refurbished out of all recognition in a pleasant modern style.  The CookHouse is definitely food-oriented but still welcomes drinkers.  It still has the uncommon curved shape to the main room.

The cask ale I enjoyed in 2018 has gone and there was no Carling visible (It's surprising how few pubs don't sell it, only Guinness is more ubiquitous, I think) so I treated myself to a pint of the delicious Neck Oil.  Having written that it occurred to me that I didn't see any Guinness taps either.  I checked on the way out and yes, they only have Murphy's.

Only a smattering of customers at one thirty on a Friday, some eating others drinking.  No one visited the carvery while I was there, I always think this will result in chewy dried out meat.  The menu of pub standards looks good and occasionally a waiter emerged from the kitchen with food for elsewhere in the pub.

Next, how about another unusual building; Will the Grenadier be open?

Yes it is.  Inside this wonderful piece of sixties whimsy is a classic estate boozer.  There has been some knocking through inside but it still has three rooms and two counters in what I assume is close to the original layout.

Carling this time (and Guinness was available), a scan round the room showed almost everyone had a Carling glass, as did I.

Here we had that irritating arrangement of a silent music channel on the TVs and different music on the speakers.  Why do they do that?

Six regulars plus me were the custom at two fifteen, that's poor for a Friday but I guess it's the norm nowadays.

As usual in the 2020s, the furniture, carpet and walls were all immaculate.  When was the last time I visited a truly scruffy pub?

Next, let's tick the Hillfoot.  I thought I was being smart when Google Maps offered me a short cut, but it turned out I was too clever for my own good as I headed across a rather squelchy golf course and then along a narrow overgrown path between houses.  I managed to avoid being cut to shreds by the brambles in the jungle and eventually reached civilisation and my destination, the Hillfoot:

A bog standard chain dining pub, this, nicely decorated.  I entered to a lot of lively chatter, it was very loud in here, but by the time I had drunk an inch of my Carling the big group had departed and it was suddenly much more peaceful.  The music, perhaps turned up while it was busy, was now a little on the loud side but not too bad.  

I wonder if a microphone could be used with a control system to adjust the music level according to the noise in the room?  That sounds like the sort of thing a big pub chain would be interested in, much of their modus operandi seems to involve removing from the local staff any kind of decision making or initiative, so why not take away their volume controls.  Perhaps I've just invented something that could be a lucrative product - Dragons' Den here I come!

I looked out of the rear windows, the beer garden looks good, I bet it is popular in warmer weather.  They've got plenty of tables on the grass and also a number of wooden shelters to keep the sun (or rain) off.  Needless to say there was no one out there today, despite the late afternoon sunshine.

As I reached the end of my pint I looked around again, they are really doing well with most tables occupied as we headed towards Friday evening.  It's only four o'clock but the rush is getting started.

Now on to Hunts Cross station and the Waiting Room:

Good grief, busy or what?  I took my Carling (In a Fosters glass, tut tut) on a tour of the pub, eventually finding a high table to sit at.

So, how to describe this pub, located in the original station buildings?  Pleasant, comfortable, plain, well done are all comments that come to mind.  Whatever it looks like, it is certainly a successful boozer, you'd be hard put to find a seat at four on a Friday.

The music was at the right level, audible but mostly beaten by the hubbub of cheerful chatter.

Now the 89 bus has a weird timetable in which they get less frequent in rush hour so I had to drink slowly and wait for the next bus home.  In the increased traffic due to the train strike they were not managing to keep to time anyway, luckily the live bus map kept me updated.

The big screen was showing horse racing.  One horse had decided he or she didn't want to race, the jockey kicked his heels in and the horse just stood still.  Eventually the jockey dismounted and a groom walked the horse, still unwilling, away from the start.  Horse one, humans nil.

The staff of a local Home Bargains, six or more of them, turned up.  Presumably the unlucky ones had to run the shop until closing time.

The map said my bus was approaching, so time for home.  I did another complete tour of the pub before realising the gents is upstairs.

Pub of the day: The Grenadier, for the interesting building
Beer of the day: Neck Oil
Miles walked: 3.1
Maybe coming soon: Bebington