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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!)

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

#251 King's Head, Napton-on-the-Hill, Warwickshire : 1994 to 2018

If you're a canal enthusiast, you will have heard of Napton, but if not you almost certainly won't...until someone mentions that it's that place in the Warwickshire countryside with a prominent windmill on top of a hill that you can see for miles around.

Fortunately for us, the canal goes around the hill, so it is a flat walk to the pub. The Kings Head has never been one of our 'go to' pubs in Napton, but we may become more frequent visitors now that the good ship Peggy Ellen is moored near by and The Bridge Inn is now closed!

The first time we visited the King's Head was on the evening of Thursday 1st September 1994.
The reason that we ended up here was because we'd stopped quite early and had eaten in The Bridge Inn we decided to explore Napton for the first time. We walked into the village...up the hill...had a pint (or two) in the Crown and then headed back down the hill where we found the King's Head. As I recall, it was a typical (for the time) country pub that also did food.

It made such an impression on us that we didn't visit again for 20 years! This time we'd hired a boat from Wigrams Turn Marina and this was our destination on the last evening - Thursday 9th October 2014.
Amazingly, it was no longer an Ansell's pub, but had transformed into a fully fledged gastropub. It was what you'd expect in the Warwickshire countryside - somewhat upmarket with prices to reflect this.

We returned with the new boat Peggy Ellen for her new permanent mooring at Wigrams Turn Marina and so we ended the journey with another visit to the King's Head.

This was on Thursday 1st October 2018 and the pub had hardly changed in the intervening four years. It still is a place where you could just have a drink...but it is a restaurant, really! Just for those who like this sort of thing - they now serve Hook Norton ales, a guest ale and craft brews such as Carling, Estrella and San Miguel...bring your cheque book! We did enjoy the food and the evening so it worked on both levels!