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Sunday, 29 November 2020

#155 Eagle & Sun, Hanbury Wharf, Worcestershire : 1997 to 2020 (revisited)

Whilst the world of pubs enters a period of seeming decimation, I'm going to carry on with views of yesteryear in order to keep spirits up!

Considering how close the Eagle & Sun is to where we cruise most regularly you'd imagine that we'd visited a lot more often than we actually have done! Unfortunately, it sits alongside the Worcester & Birmingham Canal along a stretch that we don't visit quite as often as you'd expect...and when we do the Eagle & Sun is often between regular stopping points!

Our first visit to the Eagle & Sun was at lunchtime on Monday 26th May 1997 after an unexpectedly difficult morning cruise.

Tibberton had been our intended lunchtime destination, but the throttle cable on Emma Jane snapped and driving the boat became a two-man operation. I was winding locks and I wondered what the delay was; and then Emma Jane appeared with the steerer shouting orders down to the engine room for more (or less) power to allow the boat to keep on moving!

To add to the complications it was a Bank Holiday Monday so we were expecting to be delayed quite a while. However, we were in luck (as we so often have been throughout the years!). That stretch of canal is home to one of the Black Prince Narrowboats hire bases, so we pulled in to see if they could help. Just fifty minutes later we were on our way again with a newly fitted throttle cable for the princely sum of £22.30p!

I remember little about the pub other than it was well geared up for serving food and was on a busy road into Droitwich as well as being canalside.

Our next visit was a lunchtime stop on Thursday 29th May 2003 travelling up from Worcester.

This view is from the car park, but is enough to see that it had been completely redecorated externally and was, seemingly, no longer a Banks's pub. I think that it had been extended to make more restaurant room.

The next picture is from the canal as we cruised by on the afternoon of Sunday 15th May 2013, again on the way up from Worcester.

From here the 'new' extension is clearly visible and (with extreme magnification) the blue sign says that it was being run by the (now defunct) Number Works Pub Company.

Our most recent visit was at lunchtime on Wednesday 26th August 2020.

Fortunately it was a nice day as, with the new COVID-19 rules, there was no room inside the pub, but there was plenty of table space in the garden. I'm not 100% sure who runs the pub now, but all of the warning signs were similar in style to the Marston's ones we'd seen before (and the beer range was consistent with it being a Marston's pub).

At the time we were there, they hadn't really come up with a user friendly way of operating under the new restrictions. We had to wait outside before being allowed in (or directed to the garden if not having booked in advance). There was also a one way system in place which meant that once I'd been served our three pints I had to walk the long way round (through the rest of the pub and car park) to get back to the garden. (It would have made much more sense to have the route reversed!)

Despite the minor irritations, we had a pleasant lunch in the garden of the Eagle & Sun setting us up nicely for an afternoon's cruise into Droitwich for the first time for all of us!

Saturday, 21 November 2020

#281 Blue Lias Inn, Stockton, Warwickshire : 1998 to 2020

The Blue Lias Inn has hardly changed over the years which seems to be fairly standard practice for canalside pubs. It is a pub that we've visited occasionally over the years and it is very dependent upon the timing of our journeys as the Two Boats at Long Itchington (#100) is only five minutes away.

My first ever visit to the Blue Lias was on the evening of Tuesday 17th August 1982, but there is no pictorial record as this was before I started taking a photo of every pub we visited.

For the purposes of this blog, we begin at lunchtime on Thursday 10th September 1998.

I don't remember too much about it apart from the fact that it seemed to have changed little over the years and was still a comfortable, slightly up market country pub that did good food.

Our next visit was at lunchtime on Thursday 6th September 2001 as we journeyed back from a trip to Aylesbury. (We'd stopped at the Two Boats on the way to Aylesbury!)

No real external differences and this time we moored Emma Jane outside the pub - don't really like walking too far!

Less than 12 months later and we were back for another lunchtime stop on Thursday 30th May 2002.

Again we moored in the garden and, again, the pub was unchanged from previous visits.

It would be quite a few years before we stopped at the Blue Lias Inn again, this photo is from the afternoon of Sunday 24th May 2009 as we sailed by having had lunch in the Two Boats.

This next image is from the afternoon of Sunday 29th May 2011 as we again passed by following lunch in the Two Boats!


To continue the theme, the next photo is from the early afternoon of Saturday 27th September 2014, this time just before we stopped for lunch at the Two Boats!

It is the same story for the next image also, this time on the early afternoon of Wednesday 5th June 2019, again just before stopping at the Two Boats!

As you can see, the pub has remained largely unchanged over the 21 years apart from being repainted a few times (I assume!)
And so, we come to lunchtime on Friday 17th July 2020; this time we did stop at the Blue Lias for lunch.
The lockdown was over and this was our first pub visit of the trip with all the new social distancing rules! There was a long one-way system in operation and all food was served in polystyrene containers, but it worked very well and we were encouraged that the holiday would pass quite it did...see here!
So, it only took a worldwide pandemic (and the temporary closure of the Two Boats) to encourage us back into the Blue Lias after just 18 years of passing by!
One final note, the standing sign by the canal had finally been changed, albeit very subtly!

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

#280 The Flapper, Birmingham : 2002 to 2020 (RIP)

 After the longest break in my blogging history (even longer than LifeAfterFootball's short-lived 'retirement'!), I'm back with some new pubs.

The first time I visited The Flapper was in the early 1980's when it was called (if I remember correctly) The Longboat. Sometime after that it was renamed as the Flapper & Firkin. I don't have pictures of the pub in those incarnations except for this one from lunchtime on Wednesday 14th August 2002.

It was never a pub we visited often as it was a bit 'barn-like' for our tastes.

The next image was taken from our boat Emma Jane on the evening of Thursday 29th May 2008 as we'd turned around in Cambrian Basin which the pub overlooks.

By this time it had been renamed The Flapper and you can just see where the '& Firkin' used to be on the end wall!

I did visit the pub a year later for a gig by Lisa Knapp and Leafcutter John supposedly based on, and inspired by, the sounds of canals and the boats. This was on the evening of Sunday 27th September 2009. I didn't take a picture.

The next image is from the morning of Saturday 27th August 2011 as we waited for our third crew member to join us for a trip to Leek on the Caldon Canal.

By now it had been redecorated and the main sign now said The Flapper.

The next image isn't related to our canal trips, but I was out and about in Birmingham trying to get some decent sunset pictures and this was on the late afternoon/early evening ('Preevening' as Sheldon Cooper would call it!) of Saturday 17th November 2012.

A very serene scene!

Over the next few years we didn't pass by The Flapper very often and, when we did, I failed to take a picture! Except, here's one I took on the morning of Wednesday 1st April 2015 (that I've just found in my archives!)

...and then I found another picture from my archives. This one is from the afternoon of Tuesday 6th September 2016.

This next one is from a somewhat rainy morning of Saturday 8th June 2019, taken from the top lock on the Farmer's Bridge Flight.

Still an unchanging feature of Cambrian Wharf and a popular music venue, sadly not to my taste.

The next two images, both from the morning of Thursday 23rd July 2020, sadly show an ex-pub.

To look at those two images it is hard to believe that The Flapper had been closed for almost 8 months and is scheduled for demolition in the fairly near future. (Although, it appears to be in Planning 'Limbo' as the plans to build a 27 unit accommodation block were rejected!)

Although not to my taste, it is sad to see the demise of another pub and, by all accounts, a popular music venue!