61 - VICTORIA INN, Durham - Finally, a Durham pub I can picture in my mind! No surprise really, often regarded the jewel in the crown of the Durham real ale scene, it was John's most highly anticipated on my first ever 'tour' with him in the spring of what was probably 2002. I've been a couple of times since too, which helps. I think of a lovely, warm friendly two roomed pub with real fires, a great range of local ales from breweries like Durham, Jarrow and Big Lamp. Locals who like a joke, pub snacks but nothing pretentious, students but not too many, great staff .... hell, I feel like I'm describing my own 'Moon Under Water', Orwell style. The defining moment of the first visit was John's reluctance to push the door into the other room as we perched, almost pinned to the wall. My last visit 3 years ago, a bit worse for wear, some crazy wallpaper in a nice snug seat made the room spin. Pubwise, you can't do much better.
62. OLD CUSTOMS HOUSE, Portsmouth - 4th Feb 2012, I felt the man -flu coming on, it was a bitter cold, icy morning, Ben text me saying "I'm staying in bed" but no definite announcement that Hull City's game at Portsmouth had been postponed. So in agony, Dad and I travelled down and met Tom at Waterloo. As we trained it to Havant, the game was finally called off. Oh dear! Well, we were there now and determined to make a day of it (even in my state) so after the sun came out and a mosey around HMS Victory, we went for 'refreshments' at this vast Fullers eatery on Gunwharf Quays. I felt we stood out like a sore thumb as staff kept wheeling around, wondering if we'd ordered the latest plate of over-priced slop. Still, a Fullers Discovery sorted me out healthwise. Dad didn't like the atmosphere predictably and we left to carry on what proved to be a great day out, well until the snow really kicked in on the way home!
|Saturday lunchtime fun in Pompey, not snowing at this stage!|
63. PLATFORM TAVERN, Southampton - 15th Oct 2005 and my first ever trip to St Mary's, Dad and myself met our "newbie away friend" Ben in this pub on my only venture to the south west of the town, and what a clean, attractive part of Southampton it seems, even if there seemed to be plenty of old people's homes around. Before Kevin Ellison's incredibly satisfying late equaliser, I'd found this to be a good pub choice. Not the cosiest maybe, I think it had prints or decor in African style (I could be making this up completely), Dad left the pub to either find Ben, get food, or check on his car (it was a long time ago!) and in the one minute i left my seat to get us a round for when they returned, a couple came into the previously empty pub and scooted straight into my vacant seat. It was one in a million chance of that happening, and so shocked and ashamed I was, I told Dad and Ben I'd simply decided on a change of scenery.
64. OLD TOWN HALL TAVERN, Poulton-le-Fylde - Part of mine and Jig's letter "P" day out on 28th September 2013, a rare example of an A-Z outing which, for whatever reason, just didn't really do it for me. The entrance was quite narrow and wooden but opened up into a huge area with loads of depth (it used to be the Town Hall, hence the name) and the back room was very much dedicated to sport with big TV's and plenty of murals on the walls showing football club badges etc, similar to the first Ulverston pub we went in. We both went for a Saltaire Hopfen which was well over 5%, powerful but very tasty and at the time, my favourite ale from this brewery. I think we felt it was probably pub of the day (until Halifax at least), but the standard wasn't too high.
65. MARKET TAVERN, Preston - My main memory about this pub is trying to find it! Of course, back in 2003, I didn't have the benefit of a smartphone, with GBG and Untappd Apps so all I had to go on was that it was in the market place. I think I took this a bit too literally as a peered around the market stallls, even climbing some steps which took me into a boutique/gaming shop. When my sister finally showed me the way a year or two later, it was just literally there on the street! Lots of light came in through the windows, there were some quite ornate snugs and nice to see a range of beers that wasn't Robinson orientated. I also took Dad here several years later, before our only win I've ever seen here on Fri 12 Nov 2010 where we found quite a busy pub but despite my stool constantly being nudged by jolly locals, Dad really enjoyed it wondered why I'd not taken him here before.
|Very strong pints in the sporty OTH.|
66. ALE WAGON, Leicester - Another father/son pre-match effort as we went in search of an early opener before meeting up with the Welly gang. The date most probably 22/3/07 and we probably then went on the Everard's pub The Globe. I remember a nice early morning sunny glow, a very old looking green staircase, and some good ales, one of which by local brewery Hoskins who own the pub. I mentioned it to the local real ale aficionado "Uncle Richard" (not as dodgy as he sounds!) on a later trip but he turned his nose up at it which surprised me, because I was quite impressed.
67. GENEROUS BRITON, Loughborough - Ah, the final A-Z day having been to Zouch on 15th March 2014 and with my heart by now in BRAPA, I was very much seeing this as much as a pub ticking day (not that A-Z was much more than a glorified BRAPA anyway, but I'd already had two 'trial' runs). Zouch's pub had been lame but me and travel companion Krzb found a high standard of pubbing in Loughborough, We went to 4 and voted this the weakest. It had a nice old wooden boarded feel but i did not appreciate a large group of plastic Man City fans cheering on their team against poor old Hull City. Perhaps sensing my frustration, or most probably to be contrary, Krzb felt it was warm enough to sit out so we sat in a non-convincing "beer garden" at the back of the pub. I had a pint of Nottingham Legend which has never been a classic ale, average I'd say, but as a bustling indoor wintery pub, I could imagine this could be very good. It had only re-opened in 2011 as a free house, you'd not have guessed that.
(at this point of the archiving, I had to break off to take a phone call from Mark 'Beefy' Bainton about what the best Wetherspoons was in York!)
68. BOAT, Melton Mowbray - Remembered most probably for "hand-dryer-gate", this was a fine pub experience which was overshadowed by events beyond it's control. It was quite a small one roomed pub, with a long thin bar area and although the beer range was poor and mainly from nationals, quality and staff were good and it felt like a proper locals pub, on the old canal, and we sat in a kind of side area with a selection of old annuals, quiz books etc to rival the Fulford Arms before it became 'York's premier gig venue .. pfffftt'. Had we performed "scottish voting", it would have won the 'comfort' category all ends up and I was loathe to go for my earlier train and leave my travel companions Krzb and JW2. I was later amazed to learn they'd missed their train all because JW2 spent too long at the hand dryer - the station is less than a 5 minute walk. Ridiculous. This was on the otherwise highly successful A-Z day letter "M" 6th April 2013.
69. EAGLE, Boston - Saturday 12th April 2003 (10 years prior to Melton Mowbray) and Hull City's first and only Saturday kick off at this aggressive little Lincolnshire town. Having had a wander around and visited the 'stump', we visited a couple of decent pubs (the New England hotel bar was one) but this was the stand out pub of the day with a fine selection of guest ales, an interesting mix of shoppers and locals, and with quite a few eating, we sat on the back wall and had my last ever tuna mayo sandwich before I couldn't stomach these any more! Nowt to do with the pub, the food was good. These days, it is a Castle Rock pub so may be it is even better but the chances of seeing Boston v Hull City/Tigers in the next year is pretty slim. Boston v FC Allam Out however is a possibility, and good.
70. VICTORIA, Lincoln - Lincoln is a town I've never liked, despite everyone saying how pretty and lovely it is. All I can see in my mind's eye are hooligans, riot police, small minded club chairmen, inbreds and having the flu but going to game anyway on a freezing January day where we played the least successful 4-3-3 in the history of football and I got constantly punched in a jokey way by a weird friend of my Dad's who was almost certainly Todd Unctious from Father Ted. (phew, long sentence). Therefore, the advent of using the real ale guide and our decision to visit this 'jewel in the crown' is undoubtedly the happiest I have been in Lincoln. This pub has two bars, was very friendly even when it filled up, great beer range, and had one of the nicest pub cooked breakfasts I have ever had. Dad still remembers it as the time "I just kept eating and eating" (rare for me!) We saw our 'new football friends' Chris and Tom in the opposite bar and think they joined us, or maybe stayed where they were. 28/2/04 where we lost 2-0 was probably the date though it could have been the season before.
More to follow, I might need a bottle of ale. A dry Saturday is confusing my liver.