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Saturday, 23 March 2019

#256 The Poacher's Pocket, Gledrid, Shropshire : 1996 to 2018

Our first boating trip all the way up the Llangollen Canal was in 1996, although we'd gone as far as Whitchurch in 1981. Our first visit to The Poacher's Pocket was at lunchtime on Monday 26th August 1996.
This was the view from the canal side entrance to the pub. As I recall it was a pleasant pub and the first we'd come across in quite a few miles resulting in a very late lunch (we moored up at 2:25 pm!).

On our next trip along the Llangollen Canal, The Poacher's Pocket provided the ideal spot to rendezvous with our third crew member Andrew.
This was on the evening of Thursday 30th August 2007 and the pub was, remarkably, unchanged.

Our next visit was an Easter trip when we'd hired a boat from Chirk Marina and this was our final stop before handing the boat back in the morning.
This was on the evening of Monday 21st April 2014 and, for some reason, I'd decided to take a photo of the more attractive front of the pub (rather than provide a consistent view through the years!). Despite the change of perspective, there's no hiding the wholesale redevelopment and expansion of the pub into a substantial Marston's pub/restaurant. Even the name has been changed! After eating and a couple of pints we chose to leave and finish the session in the Bridge Inn, just a short(ish) stroll away.

Our most recent visit was a lunchtime stop on Friday 31st August 2018 on our way to Llangollen.

Pretty much unchanged from the previous visit, but this time I did take a shot from the canal side entrance which properly shows just how much the pub has been expanded.

Monday, 11 March 2019

#255 Bridge Inn, Audlem, Cheshire : 2002 to 2018

Anyone who has cruised along the Shropshire Union Canal will be aware of Audlem, with it's flight of 15 locks and the attractive Shroppie Fly pub right beside the canal. For many years we never ventured beyond that classic canalside pub.

However, over the years, as the Shroppie Fly has gone through difficult times, we've tried the other pubs in the village. As befits the name, the Bridge Inn is the nearest to the canal, but is not visible from the cut, even though it is next to the bridge!

So, despite first visiting Audlem in 1981, the first recorded visit to the Bridge Inn was at lunchtime on Wednesday 11th September 2002.
A reasonably comfortable Marston's pub that did food - just what we needed.

Our next visit was another lunchtime stop on Monday 29th August 2005.
 I don't think that it had been redecorated, the colour difference is due to the vagaries of photos in bright and overcast conditions (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)

Although we visited Audlem several more times it wasn't until Monday 8th August 2016 that we revisited the Bridge Inn (again for lunch).
This is the rear approach to the pub from the canal showing the (fairly recent, but don't know when) extension. Still the same character as previously.

Our most recent visit was on Tuesday 4th September 2018 for yet another lunchtime stop.
The pub was largely unchanged and as pleasant as ever.

Monday, 25 February 2019

#254 Barge & Bridge, Atherstone, Warwickshire : 1995 to 2018 RIP

Although we'd stopped at Atherstone on a fairly frequent basis it wasn't until the evening of Monday 4th September 1995 that we ventured into the Barge & Bridge which was situated by the canal bridge just before the Atherstone flight of locks begins its descent.
This was the first time that I'd had a proper chance to explore Atherstone as our previous visits had been quite short. I have no recollection as to what the interior of the pub was like. As I recall, we had a pint and moved on to the numerous other pubs in the town.

There are so many pubs in Atherstone that we didn't revisit the Bridge & Barge until the evening of Tuesday 26th May 2009.
I have a feeling that we didn't go inside because it was closed and up for sale. It had obviously been quite extensively refurbished since 1995, but seemingly to no avail.

On our most recent visit to Atherstone, on the evening of Saturday 29th September 2018, this was the scene that we found.
This was to be our last pub stop for the night as it was on the way back to our boat...but there was no trace! Fortunately the street light is still there as the lone sentinel for a long deceased pub.

I'm actually quite surprised that more of the Atherstone pubs haven't bitten the dust in recent years because it is one of those small towns with far more pubs than you'd expect. Always worth a stop!

Thursday, 14 February 2019

A Passage from The Indian Brewery

As part of my desire to branch out (a bit) from my normal blogging, here's another attempt to show my Saturday escapades in and around Birmingham.

We'd decided to have a Saturday evening in Birmingham city centre to meet with some friends from out of town. The plan was to start at the Indian Brewery at Snow Hill and have an Italian meal just around the corner. What could possibly go wrong?

Although we knew that the Indian Brewery also did street food as part of its offering there would surely be a separate bar area just for drinkers...there wasn't! When we arrived at just before 7pm there was a queue of about 15 people waiting for drinks and nowhere to sit as all the tables were occupied or reserved! It was laid out in typically modern brewery tap style with lots of bench seating...but it isn't a is a GASTROPUB masquerading as a brewery tap house. We left without sampling any of the (seemingly) fine beers that were on offer.
We decided to move on to the Queens Arms in Newhall least that's a proper boozer!
At this early hour (just after 7pm) it wasn't very busy apart from a very noisy table of people. They weren't obnoxious, they weren't even that rowdy, but every so often they'd become really LOUD, not helped by the very echoing sound of an almost empty pub. So, after a pint (Foster's for me!), we moved on. ("Miserable old gits"?...Us?...How very dare you!!)

Our next port of call was Saint Paul's House which is on St Paul's Square and used to be known as The Rope Walk.
This is more of an eatery than a pub, but at least there is plenty of space if you just want a drink and, with a bit of shuffling and rearangement of already seated drinkers, we could all sit together. After another pint of lager (Carling, I think!) it was time for the restaurant.

Cucina Rustica is an upmarket Italian that we'd not been to for a good number of years. The food was good, the Peroni cold and the red wine quaffable (and the bill was less than I was expecting!), all was finally right with the world again.
Back out into the drizzly night, passing the obligatory Brummie beggar, we headed back to the Queens Arms for a final pint. The noisy crowd had gone and the pub was fairly busy (for 11:30pm!). This time I eschewed the lager and had a pint of Wye Valley IPA served in a proper beer glass - the first time that has happened to me in many a long year!
A Proper Beer Glass
So, the evening ended well...apart from our taxi initially being despatched to the Queens Arms in Macdonald Street (which is on the other side of the city centre...and has been closed for at least five years!) but we got home safe and sound which is all that really matters!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

#253 Royal Oak, Polesworth, Warwickshire : 1998 to 2018

Our first ever canal visit to Polesworth was back in 1982, but I wasn't taking pictures of every pub back then, so you have to wait until the evening of Monday 22nd June 1998 for the first picture of the Royal Oak.
It is a small, proper boozer, close to one of the canal bridges in the village, so ideal for a quick pint as I don't think we've ever eaten in there (not sure if they've ever done food!)

We returned a couple of years later on the evening of Wednesday 31st May 2000.
In the space of those two years it had gone from being a Bass pub to a Banks's 'Free House'. It had been redecorated and re-signed on the outside, but I've no recollection of the inside.

It was a little longer between visits, but the next time we popped into the Royal Oak was on the evening of Monday 30th August 2004.
Again, the signage had been changed and any mention of Banks's removed.

Another five years passed by and, when we returned at lunchtime on Wednesday 27th May 2009, the exterior was remarkably unchanged.
There was a board advertising some food, but I have a feeling that there wasn't any!

We did visit Polesworth at lunchtime on Wednesday 1st June 2011 and, although we didn't go into the Royal Oak, I still managed to get a picture as we passed by.
Apart from the addition of an England flag (possibly left over from the 2010 World Cup?) nothing had changed.

Our next visit was four years later on the evening of Sunday 24th May 2015.
This time the signage had changed with what appears to be the return of the original hanging sign, although in a slightly different position to accommodate the new sign on the front of the pub.

Our most recent visit to the Royal Oak was at lunchtime on Saturday 29th September 2018 as we moved Peggy Ellen to her new mooring at Wigram's Turn Marina, Napton.
No changes to the outside and, inside, it s still the same, small proper pub...but no food. So after a pint we moved on to Foster's Yard for our lunch.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

#252 The Narrow Boat, Whittington, Shropshire : 1996 to 2018

Back to the usual theme of this blog and this time it is a pub we've only visited twice.

Our first encounter was on our very first trip along the Llangollen Canal and we stopped for lunch at the Narrow Boat Inn on Wednesday 28th August 1996.
I remember very little about it other than it is right beside the canal and, back then, it was associated with Maestermyn Cruisers and was part of their boatyard. (So called because of the proximity to Maestermyn Bridge.)

Although we ventured along the Llangollen Canal a couple more times we didn't stop here again until 2018, but on the morning of Monday 21st April 2014 I took this shot as we sailed by (it was way too early for a stop!)
From this view you can see what a lovely location it is and on a nice sunny day I can imagine it being packed...but we passed by!

On our most recent trip up the Llangollen Canal we stopped here on the evening of Saturday 1st September 2018 after the realisation that we would not make it to Ellesmere in time.

This was the view of the pub from our mooring. The hire boats and boatyard are still there, now named Whittington Wharf Narrowboats.

On the 'long' walk to the pub I took these shots to give you the all-round exterior view of The Narrow Boat.
From the towpath.

From Maestermyn Bridge

As we entered the pub it was obvious that the crews of all the boats that were moored near to us had also chosen to come here for their evening meal. Fortunately, there was plenty of room for us all and we had a decent meal.

It isn't a particularly 'pubby' place with tables being laid out in a regimented, canteen style suiting a space which is long and narrow. The bar is at one end and there is room for standing and a couple of high chairs for people to sit at the bar if you just want to drink.

For more information visit the WhatPub site.

Monday, 21 January 2019

From Attic to Infimary (via Alicia's and the Oak)

I'd thought about doing blog posts away from the usual theme and detail some of my other 'adventures' in pub land like proper pub bloggers know who you are...and our trip to Stirchley's newest microbrewery Attic Brew Co seemed to fit the bill perfectly. (...and I even managed a punny title!!)

As I strolled there to meet my friends I couldn't quite work out whether it was closer to me than the British Oak. (It's about 100 yards further, I reckon) The opening hours are typical micro...4 - 10pm on Fridays and 1 - 10pm on Saturdays.

So, on a cool, damp Saturday at 7:30pm this is the scene I came across.
The place was packed and it was standing room only. So, what beers (all craft keg!) did they have on offer...cue picture of typical micropub beer list!
I had the Session IPA, followed by River Street Czech Pilsener and finished off with a pint of the Munich Wheat. I think that between us we had a pint of everything apart from the Confused Brummie. I enjoyed my three pints although I probably wouldn't go for the wheat beer again!

I like the fact that they're not afraid to sell beers from other local microbreweries like Dig Brew and Birmingham Brewing (also in Stirchley!)

It's a family friendly place as there were lots of children there when we arrived and, remarkably for the new micropub on an industrial estate, there were two toilets.
One final shot of the multiplicity of beards on offer and a young Frankie Boyle!

So, then it was off to Alicia's Micro Bakehouse for our evening repast. Before we went inside there was just time to get a shot of the new, larger premises for the Wildcat Tap which is moving to be almost next-door to Alicia's and opposite the British Oak.

Here in Stirchley, we don't bother with mobility scooters when you can have the real thing!

Inside it is quite cosy and was full again (this being our second visit). It is a quirky place in that you have to go to the counter to order both food and drinks which included taking your own beer from the glass fronted fridges. I chose a bottle of Ichnusa, a Sardinian beer that I'd never heard of previously. And very nice it was too.

I know that, at this stage, I should have a picture of at least one of the pizzas...but I don't! Three out of the four of us enjoyed our pizzas (which isn't a bad average, really!) and so we headed out into the damp Stirchley night for the trek to the British Oak. (Actually, we just crossed the Pershore Road!)
 I hadn't noticed how much drizzle had got onto the lens until I downloaded the photos (but this was the best I managed - couldn't possibly have anything to do with the drink, surely!).

Anyway, after taking a cloudy pint of Wainwright back (it tasted OK, but I didn't want to risk it) it was changed without demur for a pint of Wye Valley HPA. I then asked for a pint of something else (don't remember what) which I only managed to down half before I started to feel unwell.

A visit to the loo to release some of the pressure had a temporary effect, but within a few minutes I realised that I didn't have the strength/energy to walk the ¼ mile home. Whilst waiting for the taxi, my friends grew more concerned about my condition, particularly Julie who is a nurse. (I thought I'd be fine after a good sleep and a dump...not necessarily in that order!)

So, an ambulance was called and after being checked over the crew thought it best to take me into the Queen Elizabeth Hospital A&E. At least I got my first ever ride in an ambulance as a patient!

Fortunately, and somewhat amazingly for a Saturday night the A&E wasn't particularly packed out, but it was still going to be a 2½ - 3 hour wait to get assessed. If I'd been on my own, I would probably have checked myself out and gone home, but my friend Tim who accompanied me in the ambulance was adamant that I should stay and get checked out (especially at "my age"!).

I hung around, trying to doze off, but it isn't the most comfoprtable seating. Waking from one of my brief, micro dozes, I looked up to see a nurse standing over me at first not recognising Helen (Julie's daughter) who works in the QE. We had a chat as she was on her break and apparently, the night before there'd been over 100 people there (there are only about 40 seats!) so I was thankful that it was a quiet night.

I was finally seen by a doctor after 3 hours, they couldn't find anything seriously wrong with me and so I was discharged and finally got home at 6:50 am, not quite 12 hours since I'd set out.

At least there weren't the dramas of Citra's heart attack(s) (blogpost here), but it does highlight the perils of getting old.

After a good long sleep (till 4:30 pm) I let everyone know that I was still here and discovered that Julie had also felt quite unwell. The only thing that we'd consumed in common (that was different to our other friends) was the Wheat Beer and she'd only had a half.

So, a slightly more eventful than normal Saturday night out...I'm just hoping that I'll be 'fit' enough for a lunchtime pint (or two) at The Wellington in town on Monday (Today in fact!)