Monday 12 September 2022


My South West London Sunday Special continued apace, and following on from the impressive Nightingale, I walk to Balham station and make my way back to my furthest point south, Carshalton.

I'd ticked the wonderful Hope, and the Sun, back here in 2015 along with somewhere called the Windsor Castle not currently in the GBG.  Tom 'Clag Monster' Irvin terrified a wet eyed 18 year old barman by declaring "Carshalton could be a very nice village if it wasn't for the rubbish one way system!"  

Tom, seconds before upsetting the barman

My next pub wasn't in the GBG back then, but it is hard to believe it would ever be left out.

My last three ticks had all been 'good', but the Railway Tavern, Carshalton (2365 / 3929) finally put us into 'very good' territory.  Like all great boozers, it didn't look particularly open, but once I located the side door and gave it a firm push, all life was here.  A hi-vis man in a paper turns, looking startled as I say 'hello', and the landlady is one of those ultra impressive types who knows everything that is happening in every square inch of her pub.  A railway theme is apparent as I sit on a delicious repurposed train carriage seat, but even more striking is the vintage London decor - mods and the swinging sixties, it made me feel all Austin Powers like 'yeah, baby yeah!'  I thought the landlady has spied Colin, but it is my GBG highlighting that draws her into conversation.  "Doin' a bit of study?" she asks, so I go into full BRAPA mode.  Hi-vis man doesn't flinch.  I tell her the £4.20 I've paid for the London Pride here is easily the cheapest this weekend, and what a well drinkin' Pride it is.  She appreciates that and tells me that any price rises have been carefully considered and the lowest in the area.  Special place this, a must visit if your daaarn in London taaarn. 

A couple of stops north on the same train line was a place I'd never been to before, mainly because (a) they don't have a football team that have played Hull City and (b) I've not seen a GBG pub here before.  Mitcham is the name, like my favourite roll-on deodorant.  My pub was a fragrant ten minute walk from Junction station located along a main road.  

It wasn't on a hill, I took a deliberately jaunty angled shot as a nod to my Sheffield Utd supporting friend Krzbi.  He is famed for such angles.  His football team were playing mine in two hours, and if I thought I did this dedication to him, they wouldn't beat us too heavily!

Windmill, Mitcham (2366 / 3930) was t'rific.  Even more boozery than the Railway.  I'll get my one major gripe out of the way first.  The horrid stifling dark metallic grey walls.  It just didn't fit the ethos. You can see the unique shape, it had some beautiful stained glass windows, and the customers, wow well they were proper characters.  More 10pm than Sunday lunch.  A lively place without ever crossing the line into seedy, intimidating or rough arse.  Volunteer, Bexleyheath, take note.  Pride is the only ale on, but this time, the pump clip has no red on it.  A grey Pride pump clip to match the walls!  Sadly, I couldn't photograph it for bar blockers.  But even bar blockers felt acceptable and proper in here!  Free bar snacks are one of my favourite reasons for visiting pubs on Sunday's which don't make a meal of making meals .... but the bowls were already empty.  No more free food for me this weekend.  A bloke shouts to his elderly mate, who is walking past my table, but he throws his voice so the elderly bloke thinks Colin is talking to him!  For a second, he looks terrified.  I mean, you would, wouldn't you?  Well, we all have a laugh about it.  A talking cauliflower.   If it happened anywhere, it'd most likely be in a pub like the Windmill.

A bit of impromptu research told me that the bus outside stopped at Tooting, which I've ticked previously, took me to Wimbledon quite easily for today's fourth tick.  The bus is delayed by 10 mins, and just when I'm starting to think it has been diverted due to a road closure, it appears in my eyeline.

Not since 2014 have I strayed to Wimbledon when myself and the afore mentioned Tom (who loves SW London because his favourite aunt is a Streatham lass) ticked off the Hand in Hand.  I'd been waiting for Hull City to play there, but when they finally did, Covid meant we couldn't go! And now we're in very different divisions again, boo!

I jump off at Haydons Road, and like so many brilliant pubs, this one is not only tucked away in the backstreets, but has a man on a mobility scooter lurking under a tree.  He sees me taking the photo and says 'well worth a visit!' so I tell him 'don't worry .... I'm going in!' and wonder why he's out here instead of in there. 

Can you spot him?
And my weekend, which really had been building to fabulous crescendo from the moment I got out of the Battersea/Clapham area yesterday, finally stepped into 'excellent' territory at the Sultan, South Wimbledon (2367 / 3931).  I don't get to many Hopback pubs, but when I do, I tend to love them. Carpetted, basic and calm, the only other bloke at this side of the bar must've thrown about 1,000 darts during my time here.  Relentless.  Must be on a mission to be a professional.  Takes the landlord a while to spot me, as most of the action seems to be in the other room.  I get myself a 'Golden Harvest' as it looks pale, not too strong, and a new one on me.  But then I notice a blackboard showing they've got the full range!  Oh well, I'd probably have chosen it anyway.  Did I pay for my drink?  That's a big question mark in my mind.  I can't remember, I keep my wallet out for the duration, and linger at the end, in case the pub has a weird 'pay on the way out' system.  Or perhaps I did and my mind went blank?  Hull City are losing, but this pub has softened the blow in full.  A glorious boozer, best of the weekend despite some stiff competition.

Ideally, I'd have ticked off my other two Wimbledon pubs at this point, but they are a bit spaced out, and what with my last Grand Central being about 6pm, I thought it best to err on the side of caution and start making my way back towards Kings Cross (you never know, I might want an ESB).

I did have one last tick in me though, en route via this station.  Joke time, adapted from an old classic.  'What do you call a pub ticker's wife who has swallowed a trumpet?'

It's niche humour but at least one person in the world will get it.

I changed onto the Victoria line at Stockwell, and almost under a railway arch came my last tick of a successful weekend.

Craft Beer Co, Brixton (2368 / 3932) is the place in question, and my simplistic view of Craft Beer Co houses would be 'been to one, been to them all'.  Solid, reliable, good ale, basic unmemorable slightly dull surroundings.  A chatty man (not Alan Carr) who reminds me of all of my male cousins and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall in a blender, is chewing the ear off the barmaid, not even pausing for breath when myself or any of the other smattering of customers want a drink.  She seems a quirky personality herself, but I can tell she's met her match here and seems increasingly exhausted and worn down as my allotted 27.5 minutes ticks around.  If it isn't buying an air fryer, it is defrosting disappointing frozen Quorn sausages.  All I can do is admire the mirrored Blockbusters style ceiling, I'm hoping there's a glass floor upstairs by the loos but sadly not.  I have to go on a much more predictable 'gold run'.  THANKS!   I sup my lovely 'What Gives?' by Burning Sky, and hope the Parcel Yard hasn't run out of ESB. 

It hadn't, although it was a corridor only session and I'd probably have to admit that my most frequented of all GBG pubs wasn't at the absolute peak of its powers tonight.

Fast forward to the following Thursday and it was time for my first stand alone 'Thirsty Thursday' since July 21st.  Today's aim was to complete Greater Manchester for the first time ever.  I'd been working on it since 2017, but it was only this year that I said 'right, let's get it fully green, no more messing around!'  

Four pubs to go.

A new midweek mascot made his debut, Oscar the Owl, named after Hull City's new star striker Oscar Esputinan.  As a snowy owl, he might get a bit mucky.  That's the only drawback.  Should've gone Tawny.   But he's got an expression which screams #PubOwl attitude.  

His first act was to help navigate me on the Metrolink from Rochdale to Shaw & Crompton.

The news dominating the headlines today was that the Queen was gravely ill, and her family were all rushing to her bedside.  A few #PubMen were already speculating on the impact of potential pub closures as a result of her death.  But my attitude at 2pm, was very much 'she's basically immortal, nothing to see here, couple of Lemsips and she'll pull through'.

Talking of royalty who commands respect, I'd invited Tandleman to join me today, having had a great pub tour of the Middleton area with him a few years back.  But he thought I'd meant NEXT Thursday, and in any case, he too was laid up on Lemsips today to make it as far as Oldham.  Rose of Lancaster probably. 

The bus driver had no idea what the Puckersley Inn was, but luckily a helpful pink lady (not from Grease, but dressed as a RetiredMartin Stabilo) interjected, gave him the coordinates and he ends up selling me an incredibly vague day ticket.  When I press the bell, he looks bewildered as though no one has ever stopped here in history. 

The air is fresh, the clouds are gathering, and the views are stunning from the beer garden high above Royton looking out onto t'hills.  I was more than ready for a pint.

Unimpressed with the lackadaisical service is my first impression of the Puckersley Inn, Royton (2369 / 3933) .  One member of staff who is responsbile for both bringing food out and for drinks service?  Didn't work.  I even have time to buy a £1 RSPB Grey Wagtail badge for my Mum.  Not once did she even scan the bar, she doesn't look up, asking with her back turned who is next!  By now, there are five thirsty folk behind me.  But my mood soon softens when I'm presented with a glorious pint of JW Lees dark guest ale Barrel Thunder, at £3.25 a pint.  A culture shock after That London I tell thee.  And for all the hidden diners, there are more folk just here for drinks.  Some even have flat caps, hearing aids and moustaches.  Plenty of space too, modern upholstered seating.  A pleasant place to sit and sup.  Two ladies opposite me are on gin & coffee.  One spills coffee on her hand, and massages it thoughtfully into her chin in one natural movement.  Keeps the wrinkles at bay, I hear.  

One more pub to tell you about today as I made my way into Oldham.  Bus is delayed by ten minutes, I then miss a tram by seconds, gah!   15:30 when I finally arrived at Oldham's Tommyfield Market Hall, after a pleasant public piss with an old chap who reminded me of Max from the Tweenies.

North western market place pubs have done me pretty well in recent years.  Chorley's Bob Inn stood out, and my trip to Bolton's One for the Road was astonishing, even if the ale quality wasn't the best.  Sure I've been to a couple of other corkers too but cannot recall off the top of my head.  Those Jack in a Box places don't do it for me at all, but you might adore them.

This market pub was my favourite so far .....

Tiny, enclosed and cosy with a huge personality, Cob & Coal Tap, Oldham (2370 / 3934) would stand up well against any opposition.  Tandleman has told me to send his regards to both Oldham pubs I'm ticking.  I'd been thinking 'that might not be easy' but the hearty welcome from Mine Host and Smiling Bar Fly mean I don't hesitate to mention him and of course it gets a good reaction.  Never thought I'd drink a beer called Lucy, my sister's name, but the chap explains Strawberry Fields brewery give all their beers a Beatles theme.  I'm not a fan of the band, but the ale is stunning and fresh  And although I settle myself on benches away from the bar, the close interior means I never feel isolated.  The walls and shelves are festooned with bric-a-brac, ornaments, plenty of nods to sport, and plenty of owls to help Oscar feel at home!  In fact, I'm worried they might think he belongs to them and I'm nicking him .... which would've made him a very short lived mascot.   One sign says 'no tinkers are allowed' but in the same breath, the Oldham Tinkers 1979 Christmas show is advertised!  The loos are just outside, with an inventive button system which would make Dartford Working Men's Club blush.  A quality place this, I'd settle here pre-match if Hull City draw them in the FA Cup.

Right, I've waffled long enough.  Join me tomorrow to finish off Oldham and tackle Stalybridge where we have a massive twist (as Stalybridge so often provides) and then we can get stuck into a rare Welsh bit!

Take care, Si 


  1. That's the flaw in your GBG completion strategy, Simon, you count pubs where you run out before you've paid for your beer. Mr Protz will rule out that tick, you know.

  2. Yes, sorry about the confusion with what was meant by "next". To be clear, if it occurs in this week it is "this", if it occurs in next week it is "next". Simples really, so none of your next Thursday on Monday meaning this Thursday etc.

    Anyway it was my fault either way.

    Glad as always to see top notch reports on ROB beer quality. It helps that we actually select the best pubs for beer of course. Other CAMRA Branches might want to adopt this mad principle.

    As for the lass in the Puckersley, I'll get my Vice Chairman, who is a regular, to have a word.