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Friday, 19 October 2018

#248 Wynnstay Arms, Llangollen, Denbighshire : 2007 to 2018 (RIP?) And A Flock of Seagulls Member!

Our boating trips to Llangollen are quite infrequent, but is is a great section of canal to travel along. The town of Llangollen has some interesting pubs (see previous entries) and I'm surprised that the Wynnstay Arms hadn't featured before.

We didn't go into the pub on our first visit in 1996, but we did venture in on the evening of Friday 31st August 2007.
As I recall, despite appearances from outside, it was quite a small, intimate local boozer on the inside (a sort of reverse Tardis effect!)

Our next visit to Llangollen was at Easter in 2014 when we hired a boat from Chirk Marina.
This visit was on the evening of Saturday 19th April 2014 and, as far as I could tell, the Wynnstay Arms was unchanged (outside or in).

On our most recent visit to Llangollen, on the evening of Friday 31st August 2018, this was the scene.
We'd already had a couple of pints, a meal and approx a bootle of wine (each) and were looking forward to seeing whether it was still a proper little boozer. At first glance it looked remarkably unchanged...but the closed front door is a bit of a giveaway (this was 10:40pm). Somewhat disappointed, my friends headed off to the Bridge End Hotel (where we'd started our evening) and this is where my evening turned into a somewhat bizarre experience.

As I was taking my pictures I got into conversation with a scouse gentleman who was having a fag outside the wine bar next door to the Wynnstay Arms. I think he started the conversation (but I'd had a lot to drink so don't really remember much detail!) by telling me his name and that he was a member of the band A Flock of Seagulls. I didn't recognise him and, quite frankly, I didn't really believe him, but I carried on chatting with him because...well, I'll talk to anyone! (And I quite liked A Flock of Seagulls, back in the day.) It was his idea that I take the picture.
Later, after a quick check on the internet, it looked as though I might have been talking with Mike Score who was the lead singer with the band. Subsequent research, back home proved that it wasn't him as he now has an American twang to his voice. I finally found a recent interview with the whole band and there he was...Frank Maudsley...in the same shades, wearing the same watch and crucially with exactly the same voice. Don't ask me what he was doing in Llangollen, because in my pissed state I couldn't remember!

Anyway, back to the Wynnstay Arms. Subsequent research shows that it is to be refurbished "to transform it into a destination bar, restaurant and cocktail bar" as outlined on the Welsh Government website. Whether this actually goes ahead is anybody's guess, but hopefully it will continue as a drinking establishment in some form. 

Monday, 8 October 2018

#247 Horse & Jockey, Grindley Brook, Shropshire : 1996 to 2018

Grindley Brook is a small village on the Llangollen Canal just outside Whitchurch. The only pub in the village is the Horse & Jockey which we've visited on the few occasions that we've stopped there.
 
Our first visit was at lunchtime on Sunday 25th August 1996 and this was the welcoming sight. As usual, I have little recollection of the interior, but as the sign says Food was served from 12 - 2 pm and 7 - 10 pm Every Day so we obviously were well fed. (as an aside, whatever happened to those sorts of food serving times? Admittedly, 2 pm is a bit early to stop. Definitely shows the changing times and eating out habits over 22 years.)
 
The Llangollen canal isn't one we take on too often and so we didn't return to the Horse & Jockey until another lunchtime on Sunday 2nd September 2007.
In the passing 11 years, the Horse & Jockey appears to have changed hands and was no longer a Banks's pub. Interestingly, aside from the complete redecoration, a 'porch' has appeared around the front door and a chimney has sprouted from the low roof on the right.
 
Coincidentally, it took us another 11 years to return and on this trip, we paid it two visits.
Firstly on the evening of Wednesday 29th August 2018 and then again - 
 on the evening of Sunday 2nd September 2018 (exactly 11 years to the day from the previous visit!). It has undergone yet further refurbishments both outside and in. One thing that hasn't changed is the civilised food times on a Sunday (til 9 pm).
 
The d├ęcor is what I would call, modern rustic, a style many food led country pubs have now adopted. The food was good with an interesting menu that changes monthly, but I have one quibble - why is it a modern trend to serve a meal with the various components piled on top of each other?
 
My fish and chips arrived with the battered cod on top of a stack of chips (piled Jenga style) meaning that the fat from the batter inevitably softens what were crisp chips! On the second visit, the roast beef (and Yorkshire Pudding) were on top of a pile of assorted vegetables which hid the abomination that is cauliflower cheese. The manner in which this was rectified was exemplary, which is the sign of a well-run establishment.