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Thursday, 19 October 2017

#233 Gunmakers Arms, Birmingham : 2004 to 2017

We 'discovered' the Gunmakers Arms at lunchtime on Wednesday 1st September 2004. We popped in after lunch and a couple of pints in The Bull (#073).
I remember it as a typical backstreet boozer with a very 'old school' gaffer who wasn't best pleased with my suggestion that £2 for a pint of Blackcurrant & Soda was a bit excessive!

After such a 'warm' welcome we didn't venture back until many years later when the pub had been taken over by Two Towers Brewery. So, our next visit was at lunchtime on Sunday 14th June 2015.
Unfortunately it was closed as refurbishment was still underway. Even more disappointingly, The Bull was also closed which meant that we ended up having lunch in the Gosta Green (#156) via the Sacks of Potatoes (#205).

We were back again this year and the Gunmakers Arms was open!
This was at lunchtime on Tuesday 15th August 2017 and I had mixed feelings about it. It is great to see an old pub resurrected by an up-and-coming new brewery, but when we visited it was obviously still a work in-progress and had the air of being done on a shoestring. I even sampled the local ale which was OK (but as I'm not a connoisseur, that rating should be taken with a pinch of salt!) The pub also hosts numerous arts events and I feel a little guilty that I didn't like it more.

For anyone who wants to form their own opinion (and I recommend that you do) the website is here.

Usually, that would be the end of the story as this was the last canal trip of the year, for me...but no...there's more. With the advent of the 2018 Good Beer Guide, I discovered that there were new entries in Birmingham and one very local to me. I contacted Martin Taylor and offered to join him for a pint (or three) when he next came to Brum.

His visit coincided with a separately organised Birmingham pub crawl arranged by Pub Curmudgeon. What could be better, a Saturday afternoon pub crawl with two of the bloggers who've consistently promoted my meagre blogging attempts on both of their excellent blogs.

Martin met me, lurking outside the Rose Villa Tavern with my camera (11 o'clock opening). We then strolled into town to meet up with the main band of drinkers in the Post Office Vaults (formerly the Royal Mail). We then visited The Wellington (surprisingly quiet for a Saturday lunchtime!). Next stop was The Old Contemptibles, where Martin left us for some more pub ticking and the rest of us had a pleasant lunch.

Then it was on to the Gunmakers Arms for my second visit of the year - Saturday 7th October 2017.
I'm pleased to say that I liked it more second time around, but the interior d├ęcor isn't completely to my taste...a bit modern and arty for me! Externally, the pub has changed little over the years.

This was where I left the crawl as Martin and I headed for his final tick of the day and the rest of the gang continued on to the Old Joint Stock and Craven Arms. I had a very enjoyable time and I hope that the others enjoyed Birmingham enough to want to return for some more great pubs.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

#232 The Woolpack, Weston, Staffordshire : 2002 to 2016

Weston is a small village in Staffordshire that stands on the Trent & Mersey Canal and for many years, whenever we stopped there, we never ventured beyond the Saracen's Head (#039) which is as close to the canal as you can get without being a canalside pub!

I'm not entirely sure what happened on the evening of Monday 16th September 2002, but I do know that we paid our first ever visit to The Woolpack.
I suspect that there was no food on at the Saracen's Head forcing us to further investigate the village. I do recall that The Woolpack was a very pleasant, comfortable village pub that also did food.

We returned a few years later.
This was on the evening of Monday 4th September 2006 and very little appeared to have changed, outside or inside.

Our most recent visit was at lunchtime on Monday 28th March 2016.
Not surprisingly it had undergone a complete external makeover, but inside it was still as pleasant and welcoming as before.

The Woolpack is a Marston's pub and worth a visit if you're passing by for good food and a pleasing pub experience.