Wednesday 7 September 2022


Fresh from my Battersea double tick, it was back to Kennington and one stop down on the Northern line to Oval, as in that cricket place.  Oh cricket, what happened?  I was obsessed with it in the mid nineties, now I barely know when there's a Test Match on.   Well, unless I see a blackboard like this.

Fentiman Arms, South Lambeth (2359 / 3923) represented a slight upturn on fortunes from the Battersea double.  However, it didn't get off to a good start.  With a couple labouring over a food order, I decide to check out the loos.  Ugh, smelt atrocious and an unidentified trickle of liquid crept from Gents into the corridor, forming a puddle just outside the bar.  It all was enough to stop me from lingering to admire the humorous cricket prints of times gone by.  Worse was to follow as I confidently order a Young's Special, the only beer I had any intention of going for.  I'm told it is off due to the beer delivery not arriving!  Yet no one thought to turn the pump around?  I'll forgive our barman, London Lewie Coyle (LLC).  A very impressive people person, a charismatic team leader like the footballer he resembles.  At least I garnered sympathy from a pencil thin grey moustached villain.  "Oh, how unfair ... you spent all that time working up to the order, only to be denied at the last!" he announces rather too theatrically.  The Young's Bitter seems a poor substitute.  An old bloke with green cords barged in to order some keg Beavertown like he was saving beer. The sausage rolls on the bar nicely shielded from the elements look tempting, but I just about resist.

My progress south on the Northern line continued a couple of stops down at Clapham Common.  I was practically tripping over GBG ticks today.  Why can't Cornwall be more like this?  

Tucked down a side street, all sort of peaceful, King & Co. , Clapham (2360 / 3924) had a vibrant funky London fuelled interior, or maybe the local decorator was on an acid trip when he was invited to unleash himself here.  The sunny staff attitude matches, and it was a pleasant surprise because it looked like a real drab house from the outside. My Portobello pale red was lovely fresh and bubbly, but 'pale'?  No chance.  I sit on this impossibly low black seat, inches from the floor next to two candles in a fireplace, whilst a variety of plant life attacks me by swooping down from the mantelpiece.   Place needs a carpet, bench seating and punk to replace Dolly P. but you don't come ticking in south west London for the love of pubs.

A nine minute walk took me to today's fifth pub, already!  Not even 3pm.  Ooops. I'm waking up on a beach in Wick later aren't I?  Oh well, at least RetiredMartin will probably be in the vicinity to drive me back, via a submarine to Rothesay. 

Packed to the rafters in comparison to our last pub, Abbeville, Clapham (2361 / 3925) sees me fight my way through the outdoor massive and a throbbing main bar crowd of irritating yuppies, before a disinterested intellectual Tom Eaves serves me.  I'm in a Harvey's mood, even though I find it very erratic vis a vis what it does to my guts.  Absolutely fine here, and well kept.  Just when I'm thinking it is standing room only and I'd have to perch by a ledge, I discover that the pub has a tardis like effect, opening up into a huge back area - quiet and quite atmospheric too.  The feel good factor only intensifies when two barmaids take a shine to Colin (he always gets more attention off the ladies than me!)  The most curious, Krista, takes a zillion pics for her Tic Toc or Insta, I give her a BRAPA beermat and she highlights the GBG.  She goes rogue and signs it ... in Stabilo!  Last staffer to do that was at the George & Dragon in Gnosall, and that was inexplicably dropped from the Guide, so Abbeville, we'll see if the curse repeats itself in 2023.

Clapham South is now my nearest Tube station, so my Northern line progress continues one stop to Balham. Balham has a mainline station with direct services to Sutton so the plan is one more tick, and then check into my digs for the night! 

I might be starting to feel the beer a bit by now, but you'd have to be VERY drunk to miss this next pub, absolutely massive.

Certainly one of the most impressive pubs of my weekend, the Bedford, Balham (2362 / 3926) might be named after a shithole town, but wow, a 1931 Art Deco Grade II listed effort certainly deserves to be explored.  I grab a Tim Taylor Landlord and start wandering around in a circle, former saloon bar, behind a silk curtain, beside a grand looking staircase, finally settling in this huge space which seems to host live music nowadays.  A twild has taken a shine to me, and no matter how many times I tell him "I'm not your Daddy" he keeps pestering me til he finally ends up putting some soggy regurgitated food in my hand.  It is only now that Twummy pays any attention and apologises!  My attitude in these situations is "summat for the blog, innit?" and I tell her it's no bother.  Time I got myself to Sutton, before my senses take leave of me completely.  Great place though, well worth a visit. 

Once checked in, I figure that if I sit down and 'rest' now, I'm endanger of falling asleep and waking up at midnight, thus missing last orders.  So I stay upright, have a quick five minute freshen up, unpack a few things, and head back out into the mean streets of Sutton for a seventh and final tick.

Twice denied here before, once by a later opening than expected, and then during those Coviddy times, it took its sweet ole' time reopening when most other places already had.  So this tick was satisfying.

Ah, Antic pubs, it has been a while.  I even did an Antic bingo card back in the day, I'll have to dig that out again if I keep on my recent BRAPA South London trend.  HANG ON A SECOND .....  Shinner & Sudtone, Sutton (2363 / 3927) ain't Antic any more, it is Portobello!   That explains the dearth of mis-matched furniture, vintage telephones and staff that crumble under pressure.  And no range of 50 insipid pales. It still has that unmistakeable shabby chic interior and enough quirk to keep first timers amused, but this was a quality place from the moment I enter.  I'd been half expecting a smattering of very yellow post-match Sutton/Harrogate fans, but instead it's a rather bookish, demure selection of board game players, frustrated rock musicians and part-time detectorists to win the day.  The cherry on the top of the cake was when my 'reserved in 20 mins' table became 'unreserved' and I was offered the AWOL diner's chicken burger and chips.  Perfect timing.  I'm in need of sustenance to soak up the seven pints. And for once, I had nowhere to go, no more pubs to see.  Winner winner chicken burger dinner.  I take a big bite.  Ow, hot & spicy!  Chef appears "I'll just warn you it is quite spicy".  "Yeah I've just realised!"  I dissect it, and there's this crazy red paste on the bun.  Oh well, I'm sure the AWOL diners meant well.  How many ticks til my next free feed?  

Okay, I won't deny that my mouth was a bit dry, my head a bit sore when I woke on Sunday morning.  But it is amazing what the wonders of much coffee, an apricot pastry, two boiled eggs, orange and coconut juices can do, and I was feeling right as rain when my train pulled into Wandsworth Common station just shy of 11am.

London was greening up nicely, and I was hoping for 4 or 5 more before the last Grand Central back to York at 6pm.  Important I push myself hard this September.

A ten minute walk takes me to a rare Sunday 11am opener .... so I'm a bit nervous as to whether this is actually the case, but no worries, a light is on and a man's shadow is at home!

Saturday had started in mediocre pub fashion, but built to a quality crescendo with the Bedford and Shinner & S. ticks, and the good run of form continues here at Nightingale, Balham (2364 / 3928) - an understated, no frills boozer, and you can't say that in SW London too often.  Etched windows and a nice traditional layout have not been ruined by what the GBG tells me is a recent refurb.  The guv'nor looks like he was born to work here - gentle, friendly, low key, respectful.  I'm unsurprisingly the only customer throughout my half hour here. I order a Sambrook's Wandle because I saw it so many times yesterday, it has finally worn me down!  Decent drop.  As I admire the old pub photos, the phone keeps ringing enquiring about lunchtime bookings.  He tells me they have a major event on later (wedding from what I could overhear) and the place will be heaving by mid afternoon.  I always consider London to be the one place in the UK where you'll benefit from visiting pubs empty rather than full, and this was a good example.

I will be back on Friday for Part 6, where I'll tell you about the other SW London pub ticks, plus some of my Thirsty Thursday ticks which I'm doing tomorrow.

Thanks for reading as always, Si 

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