Monday 22 October 2018

BRAPA - Hard Grafton & A Highgate Bonus : More London Calypso Fun

Craftie sees that Doom Bar is the only beer on? Or upstairs pub theatre rehearsals? See pub 1332  (photo courtesy K.Coull)

It had been an incredibly gruelling Wednesday on Project Calypso, I'd worked 10 hours, and I was sure not going to let tiredness get in the way of BRAPA.  Cathie needed wine, so we did the most logical thing and stayed on the Northern line, where our new Angel home is, this time going north to Kentish Town.

I'd always kind of paired Kentish with Camden, so after last week's fairly crap Camden experience, I was keeping my expectations low.  Having said that, I'd been to some good pubs here pre-BRAPA.  I thought the Tapping the Admiral was fantastic, the Pineapple above average, and the Southampton was quite good too in a slightly more annoying way.

Today's first pub looked suitably London to score a bingo card tick (not that I've done an official London Pub Bingo card yet, just Antic, Ember and Micropubs but gimme time!)

1331 / 2305.  Grafton, Kentish Town

With the project stress levels ramped up this week, Cathie was under instructions from the boss man to put our drinks on the bank tab as well as our food, so 'whoop whoop poop-a-scoop' as the youth of today (like me) probably say.  Service was typical of London (three minutes slower than the rest of the UK .... apart from Dorset but I'll get to that) which gave me time to 'admire' the now fairly common London bar sight of 'free jug of water' and 'glasses' like you're at a gig.  And Southerners wonder why Northerners consider them soft?  Well let's just say I've never seen a jug of water in a Stalybridge real ale pub (and if I did, I wouldn't touch it for fear of Cholera but that is beside the point).  This was the poshest one yet, with sliced cucumber in it!  I joked it was 'green eels' just as the barmaid came into ear shot, so she thought I was being deadly serious so I had to follow through on it which made me look like a simpleton.  A jovial 'character' overheard Cathie asking for the receipt so we could claim expenses, and he asked if he could have a drink on our tab so she laughed in his face.  We got sat in the bowels of the pub after I'd guzzled down two small glasses of eel juice, quite a warming soothing deep brown, green and red atmosphere, though you fear the famed Victorian features have been diluted by the 'contemporary' ones somewhat.  There was an empty cage which should've contained a weird pub creature, but apart from that, there wasn't much interesting going on.  I got a Purity ale which was ranked B on the Si Ale Scale which means above average.

Green eels (not jellied)

A barmaid (but not the eel believer) and some good bar tiling

Cathie does the honours

On the way to the next pub, at the traffic lights, I saw a sign which I'm not sure I whole hearterdly concurred with from my BRAPA past:

Cathie asked if she was becoming the top BRAPA guest apart from my Dad?  Well, I confessed Tom Irvin was easily ahead of her too, told her she was now in 3rd place, but now I think about it, she's actually about 14th but don't tell her that!

Our next pub was surprisingly down a leafy side street, with loads of posh houses one of which happened to be a pub.  This is my fave type of pub location, but everything was so grand, it wasn't quite Foresters Arms, Reading or Wellington, York in the pub 'romance' stakes.

We spent ages trying to getting a picture which wasn't pitch black and this was the best!

1332 / 2306.  Lion & Unicorn, Kentish Town

Brighter, airier and full of bald egg men cracking jokes (cracking yolks? sorry), Cathie spied Doom Bar and said "oooh, I know that's a good one!" so a good job she isn't on beer twitter or she'd have been lynched by now!  Out of deference, I ordered it, something about putting a Doom Bar on YB expenses that felt wholly liberating.  More controversially than the time BritainBeerMat said he didn't think Ember Inns were that bad, I think that apart from a slight sweetness, I actually quite like Doom Bar when well kept.   You best block me now!  Cathie preferred this pub to the first one, but a little bit overly smart gastro for me, upstairs theatre for added London bingo card points, lots of clipboard menus, you know the kind!  One of the bald blokes got overly excited about wet concrete so I told a very depressing story about a wet concrete incident on a stag do.   Everyone who wasn't bald wore scarves and said 'yah' and someone even mentioned skiing in France at one point yet it still had a pleasing  'community' feel about it, which was 'totally adorbs', as they say around here.

"So I've got this wet concrete...."

Eel wallpaper now?  These Londoners are obsessed.  

Mood ticking

All ready for the magical time of year?
Whilst on the Tube earlier, I'd noticed 'Highgate' was just a couple of stops north on the same line, and I needed a tick there, so despite the lateness of the hour, I told Cathie I was off to tackle it.  To my surprise, she said she'd come with (though it later transpired she was just worried about getting lost trying to get back to Angel!) 

It was a further walk than I'd anticipated, and uphill, I always expect Tube stations to be right slap bang in the middle of a place, but not sure that is the case here.  Been to a 'Spoons here once before, but can't remember much about Highgate.  The pub FINALLY appeared out of the gloom. 

We're still standing!  Just.
1333 / 2307.  Duke's Head, Highgate

A quite long thin pub, surprisingly busy at this time, especially when trying to squeeze in and out of the bogs.  Definitely the most 'real' pub we'd been to tonight, even had their own beermats (one of which I took as a 'souvenir' but accidentally left in a Northants pub on Saturday, also called Duke!)  Got a very good Magic Rock pint cos you can't go wrong with them, no Doom Bar of course, haha (am I even joking, I don't know) and I honestly can't remember anything weird happening which is wrong itself but at least it means I can finish this blog and go to bed.  Hurray! 

So three more ticked off, the London adventure was coming to an end, but I'd be back tomorrow for three even posher ticks.



  1. "Cathie was under instructions from the boss man to put our drinks on the bank tab as well as our food"

    Crikey. But good on him for understanding the need to help relieve the stress.

    "Green eels (not jellied)"

    Ok, now I understand your comment. I thought they would have sliced them crosswise instead.

    "We spent ages trying to getting a picture which wasn't pitch black and this was the best!"

    Spent ages did you? Pfft. If you'd really spent ages you'd still be there when the sun came up and it would've been much easier. :)

    "(cracking yolks? sorry),"

    Tsk, tsk. You crack the shells not the yolks... you urban fellow you. ;)

    "Everyone who wasn't bald wore scarves"

    A bit odd that. You'd think those with no 'natural' head covering would opt to keep their neck warm to mitigate that.

    "Eel wallpaper now? These Londoners are obsessed."

    Actually that's cucumber slices wallpaper. (LOL)

    "All ready for the magical time of year?"

    For goodness sake, get Remembrance Day over with first!

    "Whilst on the Tube earlier,"

    For a second there I thought you'd been watching videos on your phone. ;)

    "(though it later transpired she was just worried about getting lost trying to get back to Angel!) "

    Surely she has a smart phone?

    "Duke's Head, Highgate"

    Ah. That explains it being uphill. "Head" and shoulders above everything else.

    "especially when trying to squeeze in and out of the bogs. "

    I first read that as 'squeeze one out in the bogs".

    "but I'd be back tomorrow for three even posher ticks."

    Be sure to wear your bright orange ensemble.


    (And with that I'm off to try and read a few of the other regulars. I haven't posted in a week due to all sorts of 'stuff' going on at home!)

    1. Welcome back Russ! Hope all is okay, we've missed your witty observations. Too much to comment on, but once in a weird Coventry pub which I think is now closed but was GBG, the barman asked if I wanted my eggs cracked or smashed (or something) and I've still never understood what he meant.

    2. "Hope all is okay, we've missed your witty observations. "

      (shuffles feet and says 'aw, shucks') :)

      Thanks Si. All is well, just busy as hell and a few minor annoyances that have piled up. ;)


  2. Pub ticking on expenses and an assistant to do the highlighting - does it get any better than that - almost rock star status...

    Top photo - I'll have to go for the Doombar option - never seen a bloke so inconsolable (can't be acting surely...)

    Spotted a similar water dispenser with tap in a lost island of Wight pub at the weekend (just ice - no eels). Those posh London folk coming to Cowes Week have no doubt brought that trendy water on the bar craze with them... :)

    Tom may be second - but does he get to use your green highlighter...? :)

    1. Cheers GH, yeah I try to make pub highlighting sound like a privilege for my 'assistants' and it normally works, apart from in Aberdeen Wetherspoons when 2 old blokes thought I was just being lazy asking them to do it!

      I will be on the look out for water dispensers in the north now, an intriguing new pub trend like being forced to pay by card or queuing at the bar! But less upsetting than both of those.

      When I give Tom the highlighter, he has his own crazed signature way of highlighting which no one can imitate. Typical of the lad!