527 - HAND IN HAND, Wimbledon - One of the 12 best pubs in London according to my latest GBG, this was also an 11am opener so was high on the agenda and our designated pub. I wasn't disappointed. After a fairly arduous 0.9 mile walk from the tube station, I realised the pub was on the edge of Wimbledon Common, and after a few lame jokes about wombles (which Twitter strangely lapped up), I was ready for a pint. Although it was a one roomed pub, it made use of the space well with lots of alcoves and corners, nice and dark, it felt the olde worlde pub it was. This was only marred slightly by quite a high focus on food, which is said to be excellent. There was a little side room that looked recently built near the loos, and there seemed to be lots of travellers (not gypsies, far too upper class darling!) so I don't know if there is some accommodation built on. A "Man v Santa" mince pie eating challenge revealed a community side (all money went to Mencap charity). Our barmaid was less than engaging, maybe because Tom complained about the ridiculous price for a price of pint and a blackcurrant cordial, but the other staff were friendly - well when we were leaving! The ale range was great, lots of London micros and the first Twickenham ale of the day, cherry and muscavado was interesting to say the least!
|The proud history of the Hand in Hand alehouse|
528 - PIG & WHISTLE, Southfields - We could have settled quite comfortably in the H&H but getting nearer to Stamford Bridge was a good idea and we were feeling adventurous. One bus ride and "pre-emptive" tick later (the Gardeners in Southfields - a decent pub despite £7 crisps!) we finally made it to here with me panicking slightly about missing kick off - like I really cared! From the outside, we had our doubts as it looked like a busy, light modern bar, but inside it had a much nicer, almost dark pubby feel. The price of a blackcurrant and gorgeous pint of Milk Stout (my third Twickenham beer in a row) was finally under a fiver - hallelujah! Despite the bustling pre-Christmas feel, we found a seat in the more quiet side area but were promptly moved by the staff to a smaller table as 6 women were about to have a xmas knees-up. We saw this pub has a special menu just for dogs and won the 2013 Kennel Club Pub Award - prestigious! This was nice, one of those modern yet deceptively 'old school' feeling places (see Knott Bar, Stables etc).
|More pride in history, though Pig & Whistle was retail premises until 1974|
529 - DEFECTOR'S WELD, Shepherds Bush - Fast forward through another frustrating 90 minutes plus, and Tom and myself headed here for our post-match experience, too close to QPR's ground to be considered for a visit on a matchday at Loftus Road, I must have walked past this huge main road many times without noticing it. Ironically, it was just as busy on a Saturday evening non-QPR home game, again I'll blame the Christmas season. After worrying the barmaid didn't understand the concept of pint of Blackcurrant cordial (she did, but didn't inspire confidence), it soon became evident it was standing room only. This is a large one roomed pub, very typically London with a large horseshoe bar so I did an entire tour of the pub in a vain attempt to get us sat down. Reminded me a bit of the Falcon at Clapham Junction. On the plus side, this was my pint of the day - east London's famous Trueman's brewery 'Bold as Brass' in conjunction with the local colliery band, seems odd for the south but hey, what a lovely amber ale it was.
|Standing room only at the Defector's Weld but pint of the day.|
530 - UNION TAVERN, Westbourne Park - My final BRAPA tick of the day was further down the tbe line back towards King's Cross. this is a Fuller's pub with a twist on their normal traditions as it is (mainly) non branded and has ales on from smaller local breweries and lots of craft beers on keg too, plus strange international bottles and the like. I broke my non-London record with a Mandarin by Windsor and Eton, so still LocAle, despite some orangey hints, it wasn't a massive taste explosion. Maybe a good thing. It wasn't far from the tube station and had a canal-side location, which I could've probably more appreciated on a warm summer's afternoon, it was harder to picture on an increasingly freezing December night. All in all though, I'd recommend this and probably a contender for pub of the day.
|You'll have to just imagine the pretty canalside location, okay?|
So, it was time for a swift one back at the Parcel Yard in Kings Cross, a pasty and hide from a train full of Geordies all the way back to York which was very successfully done. I had to forgo a late York Tap pitstop as I missed last orders when, somewhere between Donny and York, a Newcastle fan 'helpfully' pulled some emergency cord and we had to stop for 15 mins while the staff flapped.
All in all though, a fine day and takes to pressure off the now highly anticipated trip to Darrington and Pontefract. It might happen this week, but I'm making no assurances after two midweeks off.