Proper Pubs

Kingsmere

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Today a trip to the local tip at Ardley turned into a shopping trip to Banbury followed by an affable lunch at The Fox at Souldern

https://www.thefoxatsouldern.co.uk/

I had been here before years ago when ticking Souldern FC, in those days it was a Walsall and Highgate(?) pub, these days it's a free house.

The very chatty landlord said he stocks
regular guest ales (typically Tribute, Proper Job, Otter, Black Sheep, Hooky) alongside Timothy Taylors Boltmaker.


II had a Boltmaker and Tribute as I was not driving.

He let on many pubs in the area get there ale from Dayla of Aylesbury. Talking of pubs in the area a list (getting longer by the day) of those not opening after lockdown is getting quite worrying.

The pub is an old fashioned village pub in a slightly up market village on the Oxfordshire - Northants border. Many of my grandmother's family came from Fritwell, Souldern and Somerton though they would not recognise them these days.

The pub serve food but good quality basic fayre, I had fish, chips and peas which were very good.
 

piehut

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This evening's Ludlow proper pub visit was to http://www.yeoldebullringtavern.co.uk/home.html

The beer (a couple of pints of HPA from the Wye Valley brewery) wasn't up to the very high standards of the Blue Boar last night but beggars can't be choosers.

I sampled the local delicacy of Shropshire Fagots served with mash, mushy peas and gravy...:)
 

oftenscore6

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Proper Pubs and Proper Railways - Day 1

Nottingham - Barrow, with planned stops at Keighley and Carnforth.

On the direct service to Carlisle (Sundays only) departure time came and went, not a lot happened apart from opening and closing of doors and revving of engines. Eventually guard told us they couldn't release the brakes. Couple of people got off, guard eventually announced people should cross over from platform 1 to platform 5 and get the EMR service towards Liverpool, no easy task with with two rucksacks and Little White Monster with only about 3 minutes notice and no one told the EMR guard what was happening. Me and LWM were on the train but she who must be obeyed occasionally was just coming off the stairs when the guard decided to shut the doors. Cue foot in door!

Changes at Sheffield and Leeds meant a 75 min late arrival at Keighley, cutting down drinking time by over a half. The Old Parcels Office, Station Bridge hadn't re-opened so it was down to the Boltmakers Arms, 117 East Parade. This is the TT brewery tap, had a pint of Boltmaker which was in reasonable condition, would have liked to have stayed for more but one of the relatively rare Leeds - Morecambe services was due.

Carnforth - no sign of life in the Station Heritage Centre, on Platform 1 and didn't want to risk trying to find the Snug, Unit 6 Carnforth Gateway Building in case it wasn't open and be stuck for an hour in the rain.

On to Barrow, by now the rain was heavy, only appeared to be one taxi serving the station. The Duke of Edinburgh, Abbey Road is close by but no garden/dog friendly details in Whatpub so we gave it a miss. A shame as it's owned by Lancaster Brewery. Nearest pub to the Travelodge was either a GK Hungry Horse or a Craft Union pub, which didn't look promising and it was still raining so we gave it a miss.

Hopefully, the rest of the week gets better...
The Snug was a bit more weather conscious about opening, but it is worth finding - different platform though. If it's closed, come out of the station and in the block in front of you is the Royal Station hotel, also in the GBG.

When heading to Barrow, Ulverston is much better and well worth a stop. There are 7 GBG pubs there, and the station is not far from the town. I visited one pub for each goal we conceded in the FA Trophy that afternoon, so didn't miss any of them.

I am intrigued by talk of pubs with good beer which do not make the Good Beer Guide. If people are CAMRA members, they can influence this by scoring the drinks they have in each pub, as consistently high scores do force the branch to consider a pub. They can still ignore it but it will prompt discussion and the default starting position in many branches is the top scorers on ratings.

I have been on my travels recently. So I'm interested in Oxpete's non-tourist winners. As well as the central GBG entries (except the Castle which seems to have remained closed), I also called in to the Teardop in the covered market; the Butchers, Masons, Tile Shop Alehouse and White Hart in Headington; the Cricketers and Sun in Wheatley (latter for convenience) and the Oxford (formerly Shotover) brewery. Anywhere else, I would like to know for a future visit.

I very kindly had a lift around Berkshire and south Oxfordshire current and former GBG pubs one day. The agenda was:
Baron Cadogan, Caversham
Loddon Brewery Tap, Dunsden
Catherine Wheel, Henley (as passing and before others opened)
Flower Pot, Aston - lovely interior
Crown, Benson (proposed brewery on hold due to Covid)
Royal Standard, Wallingford
George, Wallingford
Red Lion, Brightwell cum Sotwell
Fleur de Lys, East Hagbourne - excellent
Boars Head, Ardington
Lamb, Wantage
Bell, Aldworth - lovely place, inside still closed, but outside open
West Berkshire Taproom, Yattendon
Old Boot, Stanford Dingley

We hoped to get to Double Barrelled brewery tap on the edge of Reading but that was closed. I was very pleased with my innings though!
 

Ellisref

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The Snug was a bit more weather conscious about opening, but it is worth finding - different platform though. If it's closed, come out of the station and in the block in front of you is the Royal Station hotel, also in the GBG.

When heading to Barrow, Ulverston is much better and well worth a stop. There are 7 GBG pubs there, and the station is not far from the town. I visited one pub for each goal we conceded in the FA Trophy that afternoon, so didn't miss any of them.

I am intrigued by talk of pubs with good beer which do not make the Good Beer Guide. If people are CAMRA members, they can influence this by scoring the drinks they have in each pub, as consistently high scores do force the branch to consider a pub. They can still ignore it but it will prompt discussion and the default starting position in many branches is the top scorers on ratings.

I have been on my travels recently. So I'm interested in Oxpete's non-tourist winners. As well as the central GBG entries (except the Castle which seems to have remained closed), I also called in to the Teardop in the covered market; the Butchers, Masons, Tile Shop Alehouse and White Hart in Headington; the Cricketers and Sun in Wheatley (latter for convenience) and the Oxford (formerly Shotover) brewery. Anywhere else, I would like to know for a future visit.

I very kindly had a lift around Berkshire and south Oxfordshire current and former GBG pubs one day. The agenda was:
Baron Cadogan, Caversham
Loddon Brewery Tap, Dunsden
Catherine Wheel, Henley (as passing and before others opened)
Flower Pot, Aston - lovely interior
Crown, Benson (proposed brewery on hold due to Covid)
Royal Standard, Wallingford
George, Wallingford
Red Lion, Brightwell cum Sotwell
Fleur de Lys, East Hagbourne - excellent
Boars Head, Ardington
Lamb, Wantage
Bell, Aldworth - lovely place, inside still closed, but outside open
West Berkshire Taproom, Yattendon
Old Boot, Stanford Dingley

We hoped to get to Double Barrelled brewery tap on the edge of Reading but that was closed. I was very pleased with my innings though!
Totally agree the comments about beer scoring and how branches make their selections.

My previous branch had a default position that a pub must average 3.5 and urban pubs had to have had x number of visits, rural pubs less so.
Coupled with that some longstanding members used to add 1 to their local score to counter perceived low scoring by visiting holidaymaker members.
Being a traditionalist, I prefer established pubs to micros that have beer around for about a year and manage to get in the GBG.
 

johnr

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No grounds today, but a few pubs around Bristol harbour side. Arbour Mosaic Ale at Orchard Inn will take some beating!!
 

johnr

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Now Merchanst Arms, Church End Goats Milk
 

Ellisref

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Proper Pubs and Proper Railways - Day 5

Leeds - Attenborough, planned stop Beeston

After the outward journey the reverse bit couldn't be that bad could it? Departure time came and went and nothing happened. After a few minutes we were on our way - no explanation. All went well as far as Chesterfield, then unusually we came in on Platform 3 and sat there. Guard and driver walked up and down a few times, eventually we were told there was a failed train at Alfreton and we were going to run nonstop via Derby. Passengers for intermediate stations got off and still we sat there, I thought we were probably waiting for an EMR or XC to overtake. Then came the announcement 'The failed train is moving so we're going back to the normal route'. Missed connection at Nottingham but no big deal.

Beeston - the Victoria Hotel, Dovecote Lane for a couple of pints of Bass and some very welcome sandwiches. Currently the access gate from the platform is closed to facilitate Track & Trace. Suitably refreshed we went the one stop to drop off our bags and got the bus back into Beeston to do some shopping finishing at the Crown, Church Street for some Acorn Barnsley Bitter.

Tried to do Delay Repay on Northern online but it chucked me out after the first journey so did the rest by email, now the wait to see how much we get back and how long it takes!
 

Oxpete

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Another good place for beer in Gravesend, visited while journeying to Punjab United FC...

The Three Pillars micropub
25 Wrotham Road
Gravesend
Kent


...a few minutes walk south on the main road that heads uphill from the main railway station. A good range of beers on, including independent stuff from Kent and Essex.

Despite the grubby entrance down a flight of steps into a cellar, the place is spacious inside - four distinct drinking rooms makes a good change from the usual cramped single room of most micropubs. And the Three Pillars had the best range of beers on tap that I've been lucky enough to see since the end of lockdown, so well done to them for getting the choice back up so quickly. Welcoming staff and friendly locals, too.

This was my only stop-off in Gravesend on this visit, but previous trips here have always come up trumps. Also well worth digging out are the historic Ship & Lobster in Mark Lane (on the town's eastern fringe on the banks of the Thames, and the location for a scene in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations), the ale choice at The Three Daws on Town Pier near the Tilbury ferry, The Jolly Drayman on Wellington Street for the quality of its jukebox, and also Gravesend's original micropub at Compass Alehouse on Manor Road close to the station.
 

Oxpete

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Unfortunately, not all is good in the world of Gravesend pubs...

After a fine session at the Three Pillars micropub, it was then time to start heading up the hill towards Punjab United FC. However, within just a few streets there was the depressing sight of several pubs in various stages of closure.

Almost immediately across from The Three Pillars was the closed Prince Albert on Wrotham Road, in a dilapidated state that makes me worry that it won't be re-opening any time soon.

Just a little further south was The Man Of Kent on Wrotham Road, another looking a long way from serving again, quickly followed by The Bat & Ball.

At least The Prince Of Orange on Old Road East was still open, complete with a young entertainer crooning away on the mike in the pub-garden when I walked past at 2.30pm, and still going strong in front of a jolly audience when I returned past again at about 5pm. If I'd had the time, I'd have stopped off myself.

However, the saddest sight was further into Gravesend's southern housing estates. The Ascot on Central Avenue was probably at one time a focus for the surrounding residential streets, but is now one of those large suburban pubs that look so depressing when closed and boarded up, destined to become a Tesco Express if it isn't burnt down in an arson attack first. Historic write-ups seem to suggest that the place had a good landlord and was worth visiting not so long ago, but quickly went downhill despite a £250,000 makeover as recently as summer 2015. It was boarded up by spring 2018.

On returning to the railway station, I then also spotted a couple more shuttered pubs, notably the Bridge Bar & Club and The Manor Shades. All very sad.

1623360159229.png
 

Oxpete

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Better news from Hatfield, where I found myself on Sunday afternoon, allowing me to visit a pub that I have long wanted to go to ever since I first saw an old photograph of it...

The Comet Hotel
St.Albans Road West
Hatfield
Hertfordshire


...which has received a good makeover both inside and out, and is now back to looking close to its handsome art-deco self. A shame about the new block hotel built to the back, but still a beautiful urban pub that deserves the recent fuss it has received.

Nothing particularly exciting on tap, but the good news is that they stock the range of bottle ales from the local independent 3 Brewers Of St.Albans brewery.

1623361257060.png
 

Oxpete

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I have been on my travels recently. So I'm interested in Oxpete's non-tourist winners. As well as the central GBG entries (except the Castle which seems to have remained closed), I also called in to the Teardop in the covered market; the Butchers, Masons, Tile Shop Alehouse and White Hart in Headington; the Cricketers and Sun in Wheatley (latter for convenience) and the Oxford (formerly Shotover) brewery. Anywhere else, I would like to know for a future visit.
I managed an Oxford pub-crawl recently, too - as usual trying to keep away from the tourist honeypots.

The newest pub in town is...

The Tile Shop Alehouse
10 Windmill Road
Headington
Oxford

TileShopAlehouse

...which is Oxford's first micropub, opening (as the name suggests) in an old tile shop, complete with colourful display of tiles across the front wall. Only a couple of ales on from Tring Brewery on this visit, but they promise that the range will grow.

Next up were The Up In Arms on Marston Road (formerly The Somerset) and The Rickety Press on Cranham Street in Jericho (formerly The Radcliffe Arms). Both of these are reinventions of traditional pubs that might otherwise have closed for good - owned by Arkells and managed by the DoDo Company, they're now definitely aimed at the student market. I'm not a fan of pubs with groovy new names, but there's no denying that what these two pubs do they do very well. And DoDo's cream stout is very enjoyable. In fact The Rickety Press was possibly the most properly welcoming pub of the entire day. The Up In Arms also has the advantage of being exactly halfway between the city centre and Oxford City FC's ground for a convenient match-day stop-off.

Into the city centre, we had to fight our way through the tourist crowds and buskers to get a seat outside The Plough At 38 on Cornmarket, which is on Oxford's main pedestrian shopping street. This is another new pub, opening in 2019 and making its home in the old Austin Reed shop, though the building was originally a pub some 250 years ago. I've been in here a few times, and feel it can be a bit smug and poncy for my tastes - but there is no denying that they know how to look after and serve their XT. Best pint of the day without doubt was their pint of XT London Stout.

One last pub was another re-invention - this time the newly reopened White House on Abingdon Road, which is just around the corner from where I live. This is the pub that shared its name with Oxford City FC's old White House Ground, which sat next-door until closed in 1988 and demolished in 1992. Formerly run by the Wadworth Brewery of Devizes, the pub had been slowly fading away until finally closed just before the first lockdown. It was quickly taken over by the local Tap Social Brewery, who have done a good job doing the place up (admittedly aimed at the student market, but again they've done it well), and has only just recently reopened in its bright new colours. Perhaps a bit youthful for me, but it'd be wrong of me to moan about a pub that has been so re-invigorated in this manner.

As for a recommendation for a non-tourist pub in central Oxford, I'd plump for The Royal Blenheim at 13 St.Ebbe's Street. This is tied to the independent family-owned Everards Brewery of Leicester, in partnership with White Horse Brewery of Stanford-In-The-Vale, and always a good showing from Titanic of Burslem who I think have a say in the running, too. Certainly the best range of ale in town without making the long slog three miles east to The Masons Arms at Headington Quarry.

Elsewhere in central Oxford, The Chequers on High Street has improved over the past few years, and can be worthwhile on a good day. And the ale in The St.Aldates Tavern on St.Aldates always seems to punch above its weight in terms of choice and quality (though the pub itself suffers from being sandwiched between a Ladbrokes betting shop and a dodgy minicab office). Hopefully, the Hook Norton-tied The Castle on Castle Street will open again sometime in the future.


1623365185749.png
 

Lord Lucan

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I am not a great fan of the 'converted from a small shop' genre of pub, but alighting from a bus the other day in Oakwood, Leeds the Preston was opposite at 468 Roundhay Rd so I popped in.
P.jpg

Perhaps because it is either run by or associated with the North Brewing Company it featured more comfortable seating inside than that usually favoured by micropub owners. The service was efficient and friendly and the beers reasonably priced for the area - £3.70 for the Session Pale.

Outside seating also available for those who like to drink with a constant stream of traffic for company.
 

Oxpete

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Last week, I got down to Wantage and visited the much improved...

The Kings Arms
39 Wallingford Street
Wantage
Oxfordshire

KingsWantage

...which sits on the main road that runs east of the town square. Last time I'd drunk in here was six years ago, when the place was, to put it mildly, a tip - overgrown garden, rowdy locals and an atmosphere with a noticeable undercurrent of menace. Fortunately, the place has now received a decent make-over, and on this visit was showing off a good range of ales, including taps from Siren, Thornbridge, Indigenous and Little Ox.

Hopefully it won't be long until the other two best pubs in Wantage open up - namely The Shoulder Of Mutton immediately across the road, and The Royal Oak Inn on the road south towards WTFC's Alfedian Park.

1624060270885.png
 

Oxpete

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Prior to attending the match at Chatham Town FC last Saturday, I jumped off the train a stop early for a mooch around Rochester, mainly with the hope of visiting The Man Of Kent on John Street, a short distance to the south of Rochester town centre. Unfortunately, it seems The Man Of Kent is keeping to evening hours at the moment, so I'll give it another go once next season is underway.

Instead, I managed pints of Shepherd Neame first in...

The Crown
2 High Street
Rochester
Kent


...which has an impressive location on the approach to Rochester's bridges that carry the railway and the A2 road across the Medway. However, I much preferred...

The Two Brewers
113 High Street
Rochester
Kent


...a smaller pub further down the high street and pretty close to the railway station.

1624060847176.png
 

Oxpete

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And a couple of pubs visited midweek in London, while watching some of the Euros football on the telly. First up was...

Mabel's Tavern
9 Mabledon Place
Euston
London


...which I've mentioned a couple of times previously on the old forum, and is a decent place for anyone with time to kill before a train out of Euston, St.Pancras or Kings Cross, as it lies just south of the main Euston Road.

Tied to Shepherd Neame, it benefits from decent ale, good cheap food and a screen showing the football, but is just far enough away from the main road as to not drag in too much of a crowd. Even for the Scotland v. Czech Republic match, it all remained peaceful enough.

1624066035511.png
 
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Oxpete

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And another re-visit not too far away around the corner and a little to the east near Grays Inn Road...

The Harrison
28 Harrison Street
Clerkenwell
London


For trivia fans, this was one of the childhood homes of shock-jock radio presenter James Whale, whose parents ran the pub in the sixties.

1624066769745.png
 

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