Sunday 26 April 2015

BRAPA - Carshalton & Holborn

It was one of those rare Saturday's that combined and very productive BRAPA ticking session (five new pubs visited in all) with a Hull City away win.  You could almost call it a 'one-off'! Easily the best football day of the 2014/15 season.

My decision to book us on the 05:48 train to London meant 'early openers' were the order of the day, luckily I've got my own "pubs that open in London before 11am" list.  Not everyone can boast one of them!

630 - Shakespeare's Head, Holborn - God bless Wetherspoons (well, kind of), so often the saviour at times like this.  I noted that the GBG stated this pub "opens 8am, serves alcohol from 9am".  Dad and myself were technically in at 08:59am, and although the staff overlooked the 1 minute (note to Greyhound in Ipswich and the now defunct Junction in York), the beer pumps hadn't read the script and our first two choices refused to produce real ale!  Luckily, the barmaid was a friendly lass, and it was third time lucky with a decent pint of Twickenham's 'Naked Ladies'.  Barmaid became the first African American girl I've heard use the phrase "lovely jubbly", are you watching Mr Farage?  The pub was nicely done, very Spoonsy but a homely, old feel despite it's vastness.  The clientele was pretty much a 50/50 split of excitable Middlesbrough fans travelling to Fulham, and stern looking Businessman having full English breakfasts.  As quotes from Macbeth loomed above, we sat in a booth and found the beer good quality, if not to our tastes.  Re the beer serving problems, Dad quipped "well, they said they start serving from 9am, didn't mean you get to drink it til 10!" Haha, well, I guess you had to be there.

Me arriving at our first pub, bang on 8:59am!  

631 - Penderel's Oak, Holborn - There was time to fit in another early morning 'Spoons before our train to Carshalton via Victoria, as the rain cleared into a warming sunny mist in Central London.  Dad has worked opposite here for his Pensions stuff on and off for years now, yet he'd never noticed this pub which says something about the low key exterior for a 'Spoons.  Mr Penderel hid Charles II in an oak tree from Cromwell, hence the name.  I can't say I approve of that, and I wasn't a fan of the interior either.  Despite being situated in a historic building, it was too light for a 'Spoons with roof light above the bar area, which felt a bit more like a coffee shop servery than a bar, despite huge displays celebrating the American 'craft' phase we are going through.  Staff weren't as impressive either, and though my Rudgate IPA was a contender for pint of the day, you had to go down the steps to just outside the loos to appreciate any kind of historic atmosphere.  A bit of a shame.

Dad arrives at the Penderel, does your Cromwell know you're here?

632 - Windsor Castle, Carshalton - An hour or so later, we were walking through the pretty suburb of Carshalton with the sun properly shining now and our day could really take off.  As he so often does, Tom appeared from nowhere across the road and we were soon in this pub, and how nice it was (novel almost) to be in a proper old fashioned boozer after two consecutive Wetherspoons.  "Not that there's anything wrong with that", to quote Seinfeld.  The very young barman who served us looked like he had his own opinions of Tom's view that Carshalton was spoilt by a busy main road running through it, but he didn't say anything out loud, and a St George's themed ale was decent, a bit of a southern taste.  We sat in a comfy raised area and the pub and it seemed a thriving community place with signs for live music, beer festivals and lots of food options.  A solid start to life in Carshalton.

Tom appears from nowhere like Dame N'Dioye to ram home the opener.  

633 - Sun, Carshalton - A real contender for pub of the day, and if I understood what Chris Douglas said to me later in the ground, Hull City fans helped to save this pub for the community when it was under threat of demolition.  The beer range was really impressive, lots of different styles like porters, stouts, fruit beers and more standard lighter ales.  My Gravesend Shrimpers was a traditional darker bitter, some might say bog standard in this day and age but perfectly kept, loved it.  We really could've stayed a long time.  The friendly, hard working staff half expected everyone who came in to order food, but obviously not in my case, my pub visiting to food ordering ratio must be one of the lowest in the UK!  (maybe),  Although it was on quite a busy street corner, the pub had a very serene atmosphere almost like it was down a backstreet, or even nearer to the countryside.  

Dad hitches his trousers up and crosses the road towards the Sun.

634 - Hope, Carshalton - This pub has won lots of awards recently, was nearer the station, so made sense for us to end our pre-match session here.  It had a darker interior (which I always prefer) and even though they did food, it felt more focused on the beer than any other pub today.  The beer range and quality were equally as impressive, and my Earl Grey flavoured IPA from Siren Craft (nice to see them doing cask) was heavenly.  Despite the fantastic atmosphere inside, the sun had really come out by now, we sat outside the back of the pub (there was even the remnants of a beer festival on, ala Swansea recently) and I conducted a Hull City themed quiz that went down well and with Ben having joined us in the last pub, we captured that Welly gang atmosphere of old before a quick dash for the train, we had become a bit too comfortable.  I can see why this pub is so highly regarded.

Ben and Dad arriving at the Hope, who is photobombing who?

So that was that, a great match experience with Allam Out protest followed.  I'd booked as on an early train back and just as well with these Donny-York engineering works slowing things down painfully.  We had popped into Parcel Yard for a quick one post-match due to getting from Selhurst to Kings Cross in excellent time.  After MOTD, I was in bed for midnight.  Job done.

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