As the clock struck 9pm at Aldgate East Underground on Friday night, I could already allow myself a slight smile of satisfaction of a 'job well done', having not departed York until well after 6, but now checked in at my Premier Inn and back out for some pubs before last orders bells pealed across the city.
And the City was where I was headed, in search of those awkward Good Beer Guide ticks that don't open on a Saturday or Sunday, relying as they do on daytime weekday footfall from 'the suits'.
Relieved to see that they stay open until 11pm on a Friday, it almost felt like I'd found a loophole in the rules!
I didn't have a second to waste if I was to get to the three pubs I was aiming for, with the slight hope of a fourth, thanks to one kind pub that seemed to open until midnight on a Friday. Too good to be true? It's not like Whatpub, Google and the pub website would ALL be lying to me would it? Would it? Would it?
More on that later. For now, a couple of stops took me to Moorgate, where I bounded off like an African gazelle in my Adidas Gazelles into the dark London night. Barely a soul about, as I tried to follow myself (the little blue dot) on Google Maps, which always goes insane in Central London.
After a few unlikely turns around mean looking grey buildings, passing shut barriers and little parking wardens in little huts, I found our first pub lurking:
Wood Street, Barbican (1920 / 3349) was probably the least desirable (to me at least) venue of all tonight's ticks, being a fairly modern bar, but with some surprisingly satisfying booths with etched snob screens, a satisfyingly Stabilo-tastic bright green colour scheme, though possibly a bit too Aqua for my liking, and some inverted 'ferny' wallpaper to compliment the plants in tubs outside to make you feel 'closer to nature'. A young tourist lad seemed to struggling to differentiate food and drink menus, so the bloke behind the bar looked relieved when I went "ey up, pint of that Bunny Purity Hop stuff pal, wi nowt taken owt". The ale was fabulous quality, the best of the night, and the atmosphere was hopping too, mainly unseen from me, a huge group seemed to have 'reserved' the back area of the pub either officially or unofficially, for their own amusement. One guy gave Colin an amused glance, but most were London twentysomethings so far too caught up in themselves to notice anything outside their immediate orbit. I drank my ale in closer to 22.5 minutes, than 27.5, but fear not, a special clause I've just invented for Friday nights in Central London allows this.
|Fabulously kept pint|
|Mate, it really isn't that hard to figure out!|
|Don't sit too close to the candle Col|
|Trying to get a view of all the punters , plenty here, I promise!|
Google Maps then was evil cos it tried to make me leave by the back of the pub, and cross this river, but there was no bridge so after avoiding a near drowning, I walked the long way around, seriously eating into my time. I was NOT happy.
|Look at the determination!|
|Hipster Martin Taylor blocks my entrance|
|Note the last orders bell, visible from the Ghost Ship!|