Wednesday, 26 September 2012
As previously reported here, on our annual canal trips to Stratford-upon-Avon, we regularly make a drinking detour to the village of Henley-in-Arden as there are several pubs and eating establishments to choose from. The Nag's Head isn't the best pub in Henley and is often our last port of call in the village, so the following pictures aren't my finest works because of the lighting and the fact that I'd had a few!!
This was Friday 13th April 2001. The Nag's Head is a pretty basic village local pub.
Friday 9th April 2004.
Friday 25th March 2005.
Friday 2nd April 2010 and a bench has appeared outside, presumably for the smokers!
Finally, a daylight shot of The Nag's Head! This was our last visit on Friday 29th April 2011. Over the ten years we've been visiting this pub it has hardly changed. It is a Grade II Listed Building so that explains why the outside is unchanged, aside from a few minor tweaks, but it doesn't explain why the inside is still so basic after all these years!
Wednesday, 19 September 2012
The Wharf Tavern in Hockley Heath has been a regular watering hole on our canal trips ever since the first time Emma Jane was moored in the Midlands. Our first visit was in August 1981 and we were there again in August 1984, but I don't have the photographic evidence as it wasn't until 1986 that I started to take a picture of every pub we visited on our canal trips.
I took this photo of the Wharf Tavern, from the canal, on our next visit on Friday 18th July 1986 at the start of a trip that took us to Leicester and Nottingham.
In those days it was a Chef & Brewer, so we knew that we could get food which was a relative rarity 26 years ago.
In 1987 we visited the Wharf Tavern both on the way out and on the way back from our trip that took us along the River Severn from Worcester and then up the Shropshire Union Canal and back to the mooring at Lapworth vis the Trent & Mersey Canal. This photo was taken on our last night on that trip on Friday 17th July 1987.
Still a Chef & Brewer pub and still pink!
Over the next few years Emma Jane was based near Wigan and I was living in Melbourne, but on my first trip on my return to 'Blighty' we again stopped at the Wharf Tavern.
This was on Friday 2nd August 1991 towards the end of the first leg of the trip that took Emma Jane from Wigan to her new mooring at Cowley Peachey near Uxbridge. Still no apparent change to the pub.
We didn't stop at the Wharf for another eight years...and we visited twice! The first visit was on Saturday 29th May 1999 for a lunchtime stop.
Now it had become (returned to?) a proper pub (and no longer pink!), but the good news was that they still did food. We visited again on Saturday 28th August 1999, but I don't have a photo from that visit (presumably I didn't bother as I'd already taken one earlier in the year!).
We were back again at lunchtime on Saturday 26th August 2000 at the start of a trip to Manchester.
A slightly damp start to our journey!
Our next visit was on Saturday 29th May 2004 (lunchtime) at the start of a one week trip spent pottering around the Birmingham Canal network.
This s the view from the canalside and is a repeat of the original 1986 photo.
Our next time was on Friday 24th August 2007 at the start of our trip to Llangollen and Chester.
The exterior signage had been changed and the pub completely repainted, but inside it was essentially unchanged.
Our most recent visit was on Friday 4th November 2011 at lunchtime (again!). This was before we'd even started our journey that was to become our last ever trip on Emma Jane. We'd tried both the Tom 'o' the Wood at Rowington and The Peacock at Lapworth only to find expensive 'messed up' food, so we went to the Wharf as we knew that we could get good, simple lunchtime food (Hot Pork or Beef baguettes!)
Even though it had been four years the Wharf Tavern was unchanged. They are part of the Spirit Group and their website is here.
Wednesday, 12 September 2012
The first time we visited The Queen's Head in Stratford was on Good Friday 28th March 1997. We only stumbled across the pub late on in the evening, hence the dubious quality of this first photo!
We visited Stratford almost every year after this, but it wasn't until Easter Sunday 11th April 2004 that we returned to The Queen's Head.
The Queen's Head is not easy to find if you don't know Stratford and I think that's why it took us seven years to rediscover it. In those seven years the pub sign had changed, but not much else.
We were back there the very next year.
Easter Sunday (again!) 27th March 2005. No changes to the pub.
We were back again on Easter Sunday 8th April 2007.
And again on Easter Sunday 23rd March 2008!
These were all lunchtime visits and we often ate in The Queen's Head as it offered very good pub grub at a reasonable price. As it's just off the beaten track in Stratford it has retained it's 'local' status.
Next visit was Easter Sunday 4th April 2010.
And our final visit was on Sunday 1st May 2011. This time we'd taken our trip a few weeks later than normal to coincide with the Royal Wedding.
As these photos show, The Queen's Head has remained virtually unchanged throughout our visits to Stratford. If you are visiting Stratford and want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist throngs, I'd suggest a visit to The Queen's Head as it still feels like a proper local pub.
Thursday, 6 September 2012
The Black Swan in Henley-in-Arden is one of those pubs that I'd visited quite a few times in the 1980's, but not as a part of any of our canal trips. I always remembered it as a pleasant, traditional country pub that did food and served Davenports beers.
It was Easter Sunday and as I recall they weren't doing food, but this was more likely because it was between owners/tenants.
We were back again the next year when we visited the Black Swan twice! the first time was on the evening of Friday 29th March 2002. We'd moored at Lowsonford for the evening after filling up with water, but we didn't fancy a night in the Fleur-de-Lys (#026 in this series), mainly because it was more like a restaurant, so we got a taxi to Henley.
The pub was largely unchanged on the outside, except that the To Let sign had gone and the blackboard was advertising food. I'm fairly sure we didn't eat there, opting instead for a curry later on.
We were back again, somewhat unexpectedly, on the lunchtime of Monday 1st April 2002. We'd moored at Lowsonford, opposite the Fleur-de-Lys where we'd intended to have lunch. We only wanted a sandwich, but they'd run out of bread!! Even taking into account that it was Easter Monday this was still a piss poor performance from such a highly rated establishment. So, we upped sticks and caught a cab to Henley where we found ourselves outside the Black Swan yet again.
Our next visit to the Black Swan wasn't until the evening of Friday 21st March 2008 (Good Friday). Most years we pay a visit to Henley-in-Arden, on our way to Stratford-upon-Avon, but we'd neglected the Black Swan for a few years for no particular reason.
Although this isn't a great photo, you can still make out that there is little change in the exterior decoration of the pub apart from the hanging sign which is new. Again this was the first stop of the night and we didn't eat there.
The next visit was on the evening of Friday 2nd April 2010 (Good Friday again!).
Still no real change and we didn't eat here...again!
Our last visit was on the evening of Friday 29th April 2011.
Finally, some changes - both the wall sign and hanging sign have changed. Inside was largely the same, but I'm fairly sure that it had been refurbished whilst maintaining the overall style as before. Pictures of how it looks now can be seen here.)