Thursday, 16 February 2012
OUT & ABOUT : LONDON CALLING.
Laugh all you like but my trusty London pub walks book and premeditated scribbles saved me from a wealth of shit chain bars.
London; pubs and drinking. Doesn't get any better than that really does it? OK, if you're not that way inclined then this'll sound really 'Real Ale Twats', but that's what I like and if you do too, great! Let's get sloshed. Down in the big city for what we'll call a business trip, you've got to plan your weekend around these things, so we did. Visiting some of the good pubs we've been to before and some newer ones to tick off the list.
'Oh, look, they've got a Ben Kingsley statue in Tavistock Square...'
When it's my round I take you to a Sam Smiths pub, cheap date me. The Duke of Argyll on Brewer St, I'd just watched Bob Hoskins' finest hour - Mona Lisa on telly late on Friday night so had to have a pint in sleazy Soho, cool round here anyway, some cool shops to visit, and I don't mean all the porny ones.
Beer tastes better with a handle on it. Not sure if it's the time of year but the more goldeny pale ales I prefer - usually in abundance up north, seemed to be missing this time. I'm not complaining as every pint seemed spot on, like that of a beer festival even, well kept, no head, good choice, too easy to sup. One or two pubs were a bit generic in choice, but that's just me being a snob, at four quid a pint on average, I ought to be.
I dunno, I just found a lot of stuff was too samey, i.e. Greene King, Bombardier and London Pride, all fine on their day, but you get this in the shit pubs around here. I was expecting a bit more. Y'know the drill, seasonals, microbrewery stuff, in house brews, specials and one off's with crazy, zany pumpclips.
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest coming soon to the Gate cinny, Notting Hill.
In The Cock and Bottle I drank tea, Hogsback TEA, one of my fave pints ever and they actually had this on last time I was in there, the Christmas before last, maybe that's why I got the squitters, ooer! Nah, I'm just joshing, it was defo the salmon mousse what done that. Hey, I didn't even eat the mousse...
Hang Out! yes...or get momentarily stuck in them mental Victorian hobbit like entrance doors. The Windsor Castle, a rare example of old school snobbery and class warfare in one of the few remaining pubs of the era. Built in the 1800s and named after it's Castle Street counterpart on Edgeley, RIP. I'm not complaining though, this was a great pub and like The Uxbridge Arms around the corner not what you'd expect if you know what Notting Hill is like on a Saturday afternoon. These are like proper 'locals pubs', locals pubs out in the sticks. In a place where millions of tourists pass through, always Americans and Italians around here, you can tell by the Refrigiwear and Belstaff on show, and the eccentric Yank couples who are pecking a beggars head all about Paddidilyboing, Idaho back home.
One personal highlight of this weekend was on Saturday afternoon when one of our 'party' said how it'd be cool if we spotted someone in a Connoisseur garment as we passed through Notting Hill Gate tube, which is probably one of the busiest you'll see at that time, lo and behold just seconds later, what did I spot coming over the top on the escalator? a finely attired Italian gent with his lady friend wearing our white Weirflake, it wasn't the done thing to shout and wave at a passing stranger but it kind of made my day. Just fifty of those were made in that one colour, going all over the world, this was just crazy when you think of the chances, typically my lottery numbers didn't come up though, pph.
One for all the hardcore pub fans, The Duke of York in Bloomsbury. Having got me helpful little book out and not found this one last year, I had to find this bastard! Oddly all the locals around the area and those I asked in the equally excellent The Lamb on Lamb's Conduit Street funnily enough, bizarrely said they hadn't heard of it, plus most people I asked - despite working/living around the area didn't seem to have a clue about anything. Frustrating, but I like a bit of a chase and this kind of pub speaks to me so much more than some of the poncier bars in the area and the GPS thing on the old blower was being a bit of an unhelpful little mother too.
Listed in CAMRA's national pub inventories, this is like walking into a 1930's timewarp, the interior looks untouched, unspoiled, there was even a bit of an Amy Winehouse beatnik type behind the bar, yeah I know wrong era, but you get my drift. I was waiting for Nicholas Lyndhurst to walk in humming. The booths, old piano, the mirrors, the stench from the toilets...such romanticism, everything was spot on. Even the old windows and the long gone brews etched into them, like Double Diamond and Ind Coope which put me in mind of Carry On films, Sid James and big bouncing tits just carelessly falling out of a blouse, great.
Onto the next pub, formerly The Kings Arms, I'm normally way too polite to get into toilet talk, but when you've checked out of your hotel, wandered endlessly around for hours, had breakfast and tea, then sank eight pints on top of the previous nights drinking, you eventually get a bowel movement, when you'd normally have to make do with a reluctant McShit or somewhere a little bit like that one in Trainspotting where the only lock on the door is your size nines wedged firmly against it - this was the most welcoming throne I've ever seen, so much so I even took some pics.
Gay mirror self portrait part II.
'Do you take that fucking Subbuteo man everywhere you sad cunt?' Yes. Yes I do.
The Euston tap was pretty cool too, up until now I'd never bothered with this, station pubs are usually swerve material, but this was decent. Hard to find despite being right outside erm, Euston, it's in a kind of monument setting, and pretty tiny too. Perfect if you've got a late train or meeting someone, actually one of the best pints of the weekend in here too, Rooster Wild Mule I think it was, get me? remembering shit like that well into my Wednesday comedown. Jumped onto the last train home with heavy feet and well and truly shattered, jibbing the First Class* in comfort with a complimentary brew. *I upgraded for fifteen pounds.
Connoisseur, the capital and beyond. CD