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Monday, 30 December 2013

#135 Red Lion, Crick, Northamptonshire : 1986 to 2013

Crick is a small village in Northamptonshire, but in the 'canal' world it is a significant place, being the site of the annual Crick Boat Show. I've reported on the village before in post #126.

The first time I visited the Red Lion was on the evening of Monday 21st July 1986.
This is the most upmarket of the pubs in Crick and, at this time was the only one that did food. The crew on that trip (all pictured here) were Matt, Martin, Andrew and William (plus me taking the photo!). Considering that Emma Jane was only 35ft long I'm always amazed that we managed to accommodate five of us in such a small space (and cook on most days as well!). However, looking at the photo offers some explanation...namely we were all somewhat smaller in those days (well, most of us!).

Next time we visited Crick was a lunchtime stop on Thursday 27th August 1997.
At first glance, it looks exactly the same as eleven years earlier, but in fact all of the signage has been renewed and, most significantly, the Red Lion has acquired a thatched roof! Also, and some may think this is more significant, it was no longer a Mann's pub!

We returned on the evening of Monday 18th August 2003.
In the intervening six years, very little had changed apart from a new sign by the entrance to what probably used to be the stables.

Our next visit was on the evening of Wednesday 9th September 2009.
The signage had completely changed, but everything else remained the same. This visit was somewhat of a disaster and I vowed never to visit again unless the management changed. I reviewed my experience on Qype which you can see here. That review details my complaint and represents one of the worst examples of customer service that I've ever experienced!

I still haven't returned as a customer, but as I was in Crick for the Boat Show I took this picture on Monday 27th May 2013.
It would appear that there have been no changes in the four years since my last visit and judging from the reviews on Yelp (was Qype when I submitted mine) it would appear that management hasn't changed and they still offer a 'wonderful' brand of customer service - review here from four months AFTER this photo was taken! Looks like I won't be returning anytime soon!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

#134 Old Swan (Ma Pardoe's), Netherton, West Midlands : 2004 to 2013

I'm fairly sure that I'd been to Ma Pardoe's before our first canal visit, but I can't remember when! The centre of Netherton is built on a bit of a hill and so it is a bit of a walk from the canal. Our first visit was on Sunday 30th May 2004 on a short trip around the West Midlands.
Ma Pardoe's
We'd moored up at Windmill End Junction expecting to spend the evening in the Dry Dock (#125), but as it was a Bank Holiday Sunday it was closed! So we set off in search of sustenance and after three basic boozers we finally found the Old Swan (but we failed to find any food!). As any real beer drinker will know, this is one of the famous real ale pubs that brews on the premises and inside is unspoilt by progress. It has been known as Ma Pardoe's since the interwar years after the long term landlady Doris Pardoe who owned and ran the Old Swan until her death in 1984.

We were back again in 2013 when again the Dry Dock let us it is closed for good. This time we weren't distracted by any pubs on the way (both of them were just for lunch and one more permanently!)
Ma Pardoe's
This was a lunchtime stop on Tuesday 14th May 2013 and this time we were able to get food as well as drink. Unsurprisingly it was completely unchanged outside and in! As I've got older it has been  a choice not to drink at lunchtimes (I just can't cope any more!), but I was faced with a serious dilemma. My lunchtime drink of choice is a pint of Blackcurrant & Soda, but being a traditional place there was no soda water on tap. The only logical choice left to me was to have a pint of Old Swan Ale instead...and then another...and another! As a 'confirmed' lager drinker, I can confirm that it was very good and there were no ill effects!

The Old Swan is well worth a visit and here is the CAMRA write up of it outlining its status as a Real Heritage Pub.

Monday, 9 December 2013

#133 The Boat and Railway, Stoke Prior, Worcestershire : 1999 to 2013

Sadly, I don't have a picture from the first time I visited The Boat and Railway. That was on Saturday 26th August 1984. We moored up right outside this pub that has a canalside terrace and we spent a very pleasant lunchtime before a very strenuous afternoon. It has an ideal location on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal just before the Stoke Locks and the daunting Tardebigge flight.

It was a long time before we returned, this time on the evening of Sunday 30th May 1999. We'd passed by several times on the way to/from Worcester, but hadn't revisited for 15 years.
As I recall, we only had one pint on this occasion, probably because there was no food on and it was a Bank Holiday Sunday evening! In those days there were two other pubs within walking distance.

It wasn't too long before we were back again.
This was on Sunday 11th August 2002 and there didn't appear to me much in the way of changes. Again we had just the one and moved on. This time there was only one other pub within walking distance (The Bakers Arms having closed in the interim), which also wasn't doing food so we actually ended up in Bromsgrove!

The final picture is taken from the canal as we passed by on the afternoon of Sunday 12th May 2013.
This picture shows the canalside terrace - an ideal spot on a warm summer afternoon/evening! Although we didn't stop on this occasion...we still ended up drinking/eating in Bromsgrove as the Queen's Head was temporarily closed for refurbishment!