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Monday, 25 February 2019

#254 Barge & Bridge, Atherstone, Warwickshire : 1995 to 2018 RIP

Although we'd stopped at Atherstone on a fairly frequent basis it wasn't until the evening of Monday 4th September 1995 that we ventured into the Barge & Bridge which was situated by the canal bridge just before the Atherstone flight of locks begins its descent.
This was the first time that I'd had a proper chance to explore Atherstone as our previous visits had been quite short. I have no recollection as to what the interior of the pub was like. As I recall, we had a pint and moved on to the numerous other pubs in the town.

There are so many pubs in Atherstone that we didn't revisit the Bridge & Barge until the evening of Tuesday 26th May 2009.
I have a feeling that we didn't go inside because it was closed and up for sale. It had obviously been quite extensively refurbished since 1995, but seemingly to no avail.

On our most recent visit to Atherstone, on the evening of Saturday 29th September 2018, this was the scene that we found.
This was to be our last pub stop for the night as it was on the way back to our boat...but there was no trace! Fortunately the street light is still there as the lone sentinel for a long deceased pub.

I'm actually quite surprised that more of the Atherstone pubs haven't bitten the dust in recent years because it is one of those small towns with far more pubs than you'd expect. Always worth a stop!

Thursday, 14 February 2019

A Passage from The Indian Brewery

As part of my desire to branch out (a bit) from my normal blogging, here's another attempt to show my Saturday escapades in and around Birmingham.

We'd decided to have a Saturday evening in Birmingham city centre to meet with some friends from out of town. The plan was to start at the Indian Brewery at Snow Hill and have an Italian meal just around the corner. What could possibly go wrong?

Although we knew that the Indian Brewery also did street food as part of its offering there would surely be a separate bar area just for drinkers...there wasn't! When we arrived at just before 7pm there was a queue of about 15 people waiting for drinks and nowhere to sit as all the tables were occupied or reserved! It was laid out in typically modern brewery tap style with lots of bench seating...but it isn't a is a GASTROPUB masquerading as a brewery tap house. We left without sampling any of the (seemingly) fine beers that were on offer.
We decided to move on to the Queens Arms in Newhall least that's a proper boozer!
At this early hour (just after 7pm) it wasn't very busy apart from a very noisy table of people. They weren't obnoxious, they weren't even that rowdy, but every so often they'd become really LOUD, not helped by the very echoing sound of an almost empty pub. So, after a pint (Foster's for me!), we moved on. ("Miserable old gits"?...Us?...How very dare you!!)

Our next port of call was Saint Paul's House which is on St Paul's Square and used to be known as The Rope Walk.
This is more of an eatery than a pub, but at least there is plenty of space if you just want a drink and, with a bit of shuffling and rearangement of already seated drinkers, we could all sit together. After another pint of lager (Carling, I think!) it was time for the restaurant.

Cucina Rustica is an upmarket Italian that we'd not been to for a good number of years. The food was good, the Peroni cold and the red wine quaffable (and the bill was less than I was expecting!), all was finally right with the world again.
Back out into the drizzly night, passing the obligatory Brummie beggar, we headed back to the Queens Arms for a final pint. The noisy crowd had gone and the pub was fairly busy (for 11:30pm!). This time I eschewed the lager and had a pint of Wye Valley IPA served in a proper beer glass - the first time that has happened to me in many a long year!
A Proper Beer Glass
So, the evening ended well...apart from our taxi initially being despatched to the Queens Arms in Macdonald Street (which is on the other side of the city centre...and has been closed for at least five years!) but we got home safe and sound which is all that really matters!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

#253 Royal Oak, Polesworth, Warwickshire : 1998 to 2018

Our first ever canal visit to Polesworth was back in 1982, but I wasn't taking pictures of every pub back then, so you have to wait until the evening of Monday 22nd June 1998 for the first picture of the Royal Oak.
It is a small, proper boozer, close to one of the canal bridges in the village, so ideal for a quick pint as I don't think we've ever eaten in there (not sure if they've ever done food!)

We returned a couple of years later on the evening of Wednesday 31st May 2000.
In the space of those two years it had gone from being a Bass pub to a Banks's 'Free House'. It had been redecorated and re-signed on the outside, but I've no recollection of the inside.

It was a little longer between visits, but the next time we popped into the Royal Oak was on the evening of Monday 30th August 2004.
Again, the signage had been changed and any mention of Banks's removed.

Another five years passed by and, when we returned at lunchtime on Wednesday 27th May 2009, the exterior was remarkably unchanged.
There was a board advertising some food, but I have a feeling that there wasn't any!

We did visit Polesworth at lunchtime on Wednesday 1st June 2011 and, although we didn't go into the Royal Oak, I still managed to get a picture as we passed by.
Apart from the addition of an England flag (possibly left over from the 2010 World Cup?) nothing had changed.

Our next visit was four years later on the evening of Sunday 24th May 2015.
This time the signage had changed with what appears to be the return of the original hanging sign, although in a slightly different position to accommodate the new sign on the front of the pub.

Our most recent visit to the Royal Oak was at lunchtime on Saturday 29th September 2018 as we moved Peggy Ellen to her new mooring at Wigram's Turn Marina, Napton.
No changes to the outside and, inside, it s still the same, small proper pub...but no food. So after a pint we moved on to Foster's Yard for our lunch.