Tuesday 6 September 2022


The South East London quest continued apace on August Bank Holiday Monday.  Gotta scrutinise those opening hours extra carefully.

Experience tells me that it is 50/50 whether pubs that don't normally open Monday but do open Sunday, choose to open on a Bank Holiday Monday.

The situation wasn't looking as bad as it probably would in say, Cornwall or Cumbria, and I had the added bonus of discovering via 'social media' that my first pub was hosting a keg & cider beer festival, and it doesn't normally open Monday at all, so that was a barry bonus.

Nunhead was perhaps the most London place I'd visited since I walked down Leytonstone High Road with Daddy BRAPA in '98, and this striking corner bar and propped up bicycle seemed representative of the area.

There is already a gaggle of wide-eyed beer enthusiasts when I arrive at Beer Shop London, Nunhead (2352 / 3916) cranking up their Untappd to 11.  They turn and greet me.  'How untypically South London, they MUST be in a good mood!' I think, shouting 'Hi!' but not realising one of their mates is stood behind me and they are actually addressing him! Knew it was too good to be true.  We all then avoid eye contact and pretend my 'Hi!' didn't happen.  A damp-nosed young lad appears from the back & serves me the one cask ale from a hatch, which he later climbs through for a giggle.  Or to do important pub work. You can tell there's a festival on because there are mini balloons up spelling the word 'CHEERS!'  I spy a pack of Top Trumps I had in my youth, vintage trains of the world.  Engrossing. When I next look up, the place is filling up, the crowd entirely male and in the 30-60 age bracket.  A chap on Twitter tells me this place is closing for good soon.  I wonder if I'll have a return to Nunhead in 2023?
BRAPA Beer Verdict : Peckham Pale, Brick.  Very fresh, lots of the blokes were on it when I arrived even though this was a keg/cider fest.  Proof that cask rules (when the weather drops below 30 degrees anyway!) B+

Next stop was Blackheath, which had a beautiful but very dehydrated common with church in the centre, the pub beautifully situated across the way, which probably accounted for the busy lunchtime crowd.  It stirred some wistful past life 'memories' of an imagined perfect England inside me.  That last pint must've been stronger than I thought.

My abiding memory of Hare & Billet, Blackheath (2353 / 3917) was that amidst all this dining mayhem, the barman with the tight trousers and W10 tattooed on his elbow (no GBG pubs there, sorry mate) not only engaged with me like we were the forgotten sons of Bolton and Bury market, but took the time to find me a seat even though he knew I had no intention of eating, and diners kept rolling in.  Give that man a medal.  Or a decent TripAdvisor review at least.  The aura around me was a bubble of calm, as dogs with funnels on their heads, pashminas, buggies, man buns and Baddielesque facial hair all jostled for relevance and recognition.  London.

BBV - We finally went over £5 a pint, it had been coming, but at least the By The Horns Hopadelic was an excellent drop. B

Greenwich up next, I think via Lewisham which might have no GBG pubs but seems to be my transport interchange of the weekend.  Surely a micro revolution is due there?  

Oh wow, slight awestruck and totally taken aback by the imposing Morden Arms, Greenwich (2354 / 3918) after a weekend of micros and dining joints.  A frail but spirited old crone steps forward and with some effort, pulls a pint of the ale I've not heard of before!  I'm sure a couple of the blokes, especially Ebeneezer Marley and his non Dickensian Scottish mate are deliberately staring at me in an intimidating manner, as I'm asked to pay cash, but I'm too in love with the surroundings to feel at all threatened.  The interior is a delight, and as London pubs go, I was put slightly in mind of the Commercial at Spitalfields and the Cock Tavern at Hackney.  Could've just done with a few more folk, and shiny friendly types at that, but you can't have it all.  At least we had a scary looking mutt recovering from a recent tumour removal - exactly the type of pub in which you could imagine a dog splitting open and bleeding out.  Marvellous.  
BBV - Forest Road, Ride - perfectly decent but perhaps not quite as fresh n well kept as the previous two.  C+

A 25 minute walk east followed, where I had my only real 'Bank Holiday Question Mark' (BHQM) of the day.  This pub opens 1pm Sunday, 4pm Monday. So which approach was it going to take?  I arrived at 15:24, and it was immediately obvious!

I cross the road to sit in the local cafe for 30 minutes, but the bloke tells me 'sorry, we are closing in five minutes!'  East Greenwich was starting to annoy me. 

I need a wee by now, so I walk down to Sainsbury's but they don't have a bog, but Costa next door does.  So I buy one of their dreadful coffees (always disagrees with me) to pass the time.

I'd barely had a sip when a lady comes over and says 'we are closing at 4pm'.  Jeez East Greenwich, what is wrong with you?  

Back at the pub, bang on 4pm and the sun has come out.  Three people are waiting.  They ask me if I know when he's opening, but then they reveal they are the locals.  The bald man is the one I bond with most, he seems most pissed off by pubs potentially not sticking to opening times.  The other pair are an overly chilled couple, she puts her shades on to avoid having to make eye contact in the most South London move ever. 

Bald man cries 'there he is!' and points into the middle distance and this bloke saunters up, opens the shutters automatically, no words, just goes in, locks the door back behind him whilst he 'sets up'.    A couple more folk arrive in this intervening period, so we explain we're hopeful it won't be much longer.

16:14 and we're finally in!  Greenwich MEANtime?  

We queue in the order we've arrived, which shows civilisation isn't dead yet.  River Ale House, East Greenwich (2355 / 3919) has a warmth and character about it, a still and calming woody atmosphere.  I like it in spite of my slightly spiky mood.  AND it got a lot of love on my Twitter.  A lot more than the Morden.  And the guy in charge seems a sound dude, CAMRA discount too, a bit of compensation!  And I guess that his response re the opening would be "I'll do what I want, I'll dooo what I waaaant, this is my Micro, I'll do what I want" but a pet hate of mine tardy timekeeping (in life in general).   And if this was in say, Bolton or Bury (got those places on the brain today), some camaraderie would've surely developed between the waiting few.  But here, everyone just got their little beers and sat in their little places, supped their little ales, tapped on their little smart phones, and that was that.   Though I did get a cheery goodbye off our bald mate which was nice.

BBV - Mad Cat Green n Gold.  Excellent drop, top condition B+

Despite being out of Westcombe Park a little bit later than I'd hoped, I calculated that if I drank 25 minute pints from hereon in, and had a bit of luck with the Tube, both a 5th tick AND an ESB might be on. 

And I needed a pub near Borough, which is on the Northern line,   Which was handy because I was changing at London Bridge anyway.  Bring in on!

Pretty green tiled exterior, double ESB interior, I cannot complain as I enter the surprisingly quiet Ship, Borough (2356 / 3920) where only two dithering Toadfish Rebecchi's and a sleeping Larry David are here to keep me company.  The barman, with a hearty Irish burr, says "foive pound, on da nose" when he charges me for the ESB, I feel like I'm at the races putting a bet on a very drunk horse.  And when the two Toadie's and a now awake L.D. leave, I'm suddenly the only customer - which kinda explains why so many pubs this close to Central London only open on work days - and is part of the reason I've still not done Temple's Deveraux or Marylebone's Jackalope, grrr.    Still, a smart Fullers pub, just a tad depressing, if you can ever be depressed drinking ESB.  Which you can't.
BBV - ESB.  Say no more, and I can drink it much more easily than even a 3% pale (especially that Redemption stuff of Tottenham urgh) which is good when you are against the clock. A*

I was on an Extra Special mission now, and was in Parcel Yard less than half an hour after leaving the Ship, comfortable for a pint and the last Grand Central back to York.  I even got into my favourite room, another bloke fell asleep, fellow ticker Eddie Fogden who'd been down in Sussex joined me for a quick jolly cameo, and I made the train with five mins to spare. Hic!  Jobs a good 'un. 

Fast forward five days to the following Saturday, and once again I was down in London on a Grand Central.  No First Class this time, I just had to slum it with the Hartlepool fans who if you remember, followed me around the country in 2021/22.  Obsessed with BRAPA, those crazed monkey hangers. 

Oh, and about 4 Harrogate fans were on the train too.  The Grasshopper Warblers of football fans, you just wouldn't know they were there from sight alone.

A quick look at the BRAP map showed me SW London is my most neglected area now so I booked myself in for the night in Sutton, and decided to make my way there gradually as I couldn't check in til 3pm.  

Yes, after an average August ticking, I'm determined to put as much distance between my final GBG 2022 figure and 2250 (50%) as I can.  The aim after October's cross-ticking is to remain at over 50% completion.  I went into this weekend on 2356 so every chance.

First stop Kennington.  Colin was in optimistic mood.  He's been having it his own way recently, but with Oscar the Owl about to make his debut, he'll soon be 'rested' for a bit. 

I had an early opener in Battersea, plus it gave me an excuse to have a first ever trip on the Battersea Power Station bit of Tube.  Win win.

11:13am at my first pub, lights were on and people were at home. 

Mason's Arms, Battersea Park (2357 / 3921) was as close to a slice of 2022 London pub life as you could wish for, or dread.  My first sign that SW London beer prices were eclipsing those in  SE were here.  Dark Star Hophead at £5.80, oooof!  I'd have gone for one of the more plentiful keg offerings but many of these were pushing £7.  Luckily, the pub gave amazing Hophead.  Been declining recently, this was vintage 2002, almost.  Barmaid kept yawning, she'd had a late night and was struggling to focus.  Not much was happening until a bag lady got trapped in the door next to me.  I'd have stood up and helped if I'd chance, but when she wrestled free of the door, a stool tripped her up.  We agreed it shouldn't be so difficult to get inside a pub.  Wonder if she's ever been to East Greenwich? (let it go Si!)  Two American kids then sat next to me despite having the entirety of this large pub to aim at.  Perhaps they approved of my body warmth and Calvin Klein?  They kept blinking at the bar, until they were told they'd have to stand up if they wanted serving.  London at its 11am opening finest.  C+

One more pub to end part four of this epic, which might extend to seven parts yet.
A short walk towards the Power Station and river, everyone became very young and hipstery as some railway arches came into view.

I leant on one, peering accusingly at the pub with a glinting eye, very much like Transfer did at Willy Fog for those eighties kids amongst you. 

The staff smoked and laughed outside and the clock struck noon.  A boss man came over, pointed at his watch, and told them to look lively.  

Good set of lads at the Battersea Brewery Taproom (2358 / 3922), they pretended not to notice me knocking over at least two ashtrays on the way in.  It was dimly lit and dingy and smelt of toast and soot and moths.  Not one cushion or soft surface in sight.  This was a place for eating and drinking, not getting physically comfortable.  But I didn't resent that today.  Little touches like the only hand-pulled beer being a proper dark brown standard bitter, the staff worrying if it'd been pulled through this morning, and a bit of mad dancing to Erasure kept me smiling.  One lad even put his graduation hat on to serve a specific drink.  Col wants something dank and I worry I should be sticking around for at least half a pint of ASS or an FFS.   The outdoor benches soon fill up, and they pull back the shutters so the whole pub front is suddenly open and streaming with (limited) sunlight.  It isn't the Black Horse in Preston, but probably worth a go if you find yourself lost under Battersea's railway arches.  C+

See ya tomorrow, pre-Shetland, for a Part 5 where the SW London ticks come thicker and faster than a Barry Bethell shake (so to speak), 


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