Sunday, 19 October 2014

BRAPA - North London (Arsenal away day)

Five new pubs ticked off yesterday - a new record for a non-official BRAPA day as Hull City were slightly unlucky not to hold on for a win at the Hemorrhoids Stadium.

We were in early and with Dad booking himself a ticket for a Turner exhibition at the Tate, I was at a loose end so took advantage using my new pub list, "London pre 11am openers".

480 - Argyll Arms, Soho - I left Dad on the Victoria line and alighted at Oxford Circus, Exit 8 Argyll Street which took me straight to this splendid old ornate Nicholson's House.  Ah Nicholson's, the higher class version of a Wetherspoons.  I have quite a love-hate relationship with them but love the fact they all seem to try and recreate a pub style and ambiance of centuries past.  There can't be many better examples than this, I sat in the saloon area but the pub was full of partitions and etched mirrors, chandeliers etc.  I had a high quality ale from Truemans, the historic Brick Lane brewery which closed, reopened and moved.  Staff weren't the warmest, friendliest bunch but it was early and I think my early arrival distracted them from stock-taking or whatever hard working pub people get up to at 10am on a Saturday.

Argyll Arms - A splendid Nicholson's and you can't always say that!

481 - Royal George, Euston - I was soon back at Euston despite a pointless change at Warren St and a traumatic top up of my Oyster card and had been intrigued to see a new Euston pub in the guide, just to the right of the station.  My main London pub aficionado Chris Douglas had displayed surprise at this pub's inclusion in the 2015 GBG but with a good range of quality ales, my London fields ale was lovely indeed and more proof that southern beer seems to be less flat and errm Southern, than it used to.  The pub was typical commuter fare, one room full of noisy people passing through as I found when I got chatting to some Wolves fans on their way to Millwall at the MOTD quiz machine.  The colourful haired barmaid was friendly, as I commented on the scary Hallowe'en decor, and Tom arrived to 'save' me from the Wolves lot.  We sat outside which only added to the 'commuter pub' air.  Still, better than the Doric Arch and Euston Flyer in my opinion.

One of the regulars in the Royal George

482 - Tapping the Admiral, Camden Town - With Dad's Turner exhibition ongoing and the movements of our other pub gang unknown, Tom came up with the genius idea to fit this much needed pub tick in, and what a pub it is!  After a short march from the station, we arrived at this unassuming proper old style boozer near some railway arches to find Ben propping up the bar.  The barman (a Villa fan) initially annoyed me with his anti-Hull City comments but I saw it was just Villa style banter (I hate that word) and he grew on me like a nice fungus, there was a friendly, self effacing Arsenal fan in too which is a rarity.  The pub was simple, bare boarding, one roomed (I'd been expecting something bohemian and hipsterish, couldn't have been further from the truth).  My Franklin's Stout, very peppery left quite an impression on me too.  Pub of the day?  I think it was.

Tapping the Admiral - unassuming in it's brilliance.

483 - Southampton Arms, Kentish Town -  ,This was our official pre-match pub which hilariously won our 2013/14 away pub of the season award despite only Chris D having set foot in it!  I could see why he was impressed, what an incredible range of ales, I counted 16 and didn't really take it all in.  Our gang were there tucked into a snug corner by the door.  This was more along the hipster lines in terms of staff and clientele, with some interesting food options on as Tom got a delicious looking Scotch Egg.  I like simple in my pub food.  However, circumstances stopped this from being as good as it should have been.  Ben's heart was still at the Admiral, Christine and Chris D were already thinking 'Pineapple', and with Dad worried about a repeat of QPR (walking the wrong way out of the pub didn't help), it felt disjointed and rushed.  Still, another pub I'd go back to if in the vicinity with nothing else to do!  Good stuff.

Southampton Arms : It does exactly what it says on the tin!

484 - Three Compasses, Hornsey - Our post match pub and credit must go to Tom for seeing this plan through in the midst of the post match crush, alternative suggestions and busy trains.  This pub was what I'd describe as a traditional London street corner one, big windows, lots of room despite being single roomed, had a sense of community but probably gets it's fair share of visitors like ourselves, being a shortish walk from the station.  Had another new wave London real ale, the now established Redemption Pale Ale is a really nice one when you've had a heavy day already.

Three Compasses : Post match fun in Hornsey

Overall, a really successful day in almost every way, further drinks enjoyed at Kings Cross in Parcel Yard and Queen's Head, back in time for our MOTD appearance and the Football League Show, so no wonder I didn't get up til half twelve.  16 pubs done for the month is a result I'd have taken when we started.  Of course, with Spain very much on the horizon, I've only got one more pub ticking opportunity in October, a week on Wednesday in Baildon, Bingley and maybe also Keighley  See you there!


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