Friday, 30 September 2016

28/09/16 - The Good Beer Guide Pubs of Soho

Distance - 2.5 Miles
Pubs - 6
Geocaches - 0
Walk Inspiration - Andrew Duncan's 50 Greatest Walks in London

I know that you are not going to believe it, but this is an official walk.  Detailed in one of the best waking guide books available for London.  Its a couple of miles from Goodge Street Station to Charing Cross Station and takes you on a meander through the fleshpots of Soho.

Where there are a high volume of Good Beer Guide pubs.  Fortunately, for future generations, I am here to record them for prosperity.  This keeps happening.

The Intrepid Fox is now a Burger Bar
Once an historic Soho Boozer - Now a Burger Bar

Newman Arms, Rathbones Street - London Pride

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "My one reservation would have to be the prevelance of 'beanie hats' behind the bar, very strange. It's cost them a point, 9/10"

Newman Arms
Proles at the Newman Arms
This isn't in the Good Beer Guide, but as I was so close, I couldn't resist a revisit for the first time in 10 years.   It was George Orwell's watering hole.  He used it a couple of times - once as the inspiration for the proles pub in 1984.  A second time, as the inspiration for his dream pub in the essay "Moon under the water".

George Orwell
George, keeping a watchful eye
I can report that it hasn't changed since my last visit, or probably George's.

Such finery as furniture is nearly totally dispensed with.   There's just the one chair available - an incongruous high stool that looked liked it was stolen from a 70's breakfast bar.

There's a sign pointing to a restaurant upstairs.  I venture up and find only a hipsters single gear racing bike.  A conversation with the barman points out that is was closed down a couple of weeks ago.  It seemed impolite to ask why.

For additional cultural references, I head out the side door and down the dingy alley - used to great effect and historical accuracy as the setting for a knocking shop in Michael Powell's 1960 film - Peeping Tom.

Peeping Tom Alley
Newman's Passage
Dog and Duck, Bateman Street - Peroni

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "The Orwell room upstairs is an oasis of calm in Soho"

Dog and Dog
The Dog and Duck - Soho
Straight in, straight up the stairs to the Orwell Dining Room.  I am starving and living on expenses.

I've eaten here before and it a great place to get an elevated view of Soho Craziness.

Dog and Duck
Soho from Above
The service is a bit hit and miss.  The food is Ok, that comes up in a little lift.  The upstairs bar only has one ale on - Nicholsons Pale Ale - and all the good stuff is downstairs.  My waitress was unkeen to go and fetch me any of the delights from below.

And down below is where all the beauty is.  Quite rightly, the Dog and Duck is lauded for its heritage interior.

The Grandeur
Downstairs Bar at the Dog and Duck

Star and Garter, Poland Street - London Pride

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "As someone mentioned before, it's a proper old school boozer and long may it continue."

Star and Garter
The Star and Garter - Soho
I have a real soft spot for Poland Street.  It was the basis for the fictional crime series by Derek Raymond (Patron of the Coach and Horses, Soho).  They are top books and I suggest you read them.

I wasn't intending on coming to this one, saving it for another day - but as my walking route took me right past the door, it would have been rude not to explore.

My favourite pub of the night.  A proper old school boozer in the heart of Soho.   Who knows how long it will be before its converted into a burger bar.

Its not all tradition, mind.  I receive my first plastic fiver in my change.

Star and Garter
Star and Garter
Old School, in the heart of Soho

The Old Coffee House, Beak Street - Bethnal Green Bitter

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "When I mentioned the taste of the beer and what the barman had done, he to told me to F*ck off!"

The Old Coffee House
Not quite Hogarth's Gin Lane
The Old Coffee House is a bit of a strange one.  I am faced with a huge choice of beers never seen before.  They are all named after areas of London and subsequent investigation reveals that this is now a tied house to London Brewer, Brodies.

The reviews on BITE are not 100% complimentary but I have to speak as I find - The bitter was in fine nick.

Sat at bar, looked at the famous autographs and determined that I am the only person in London who pays with cash - plastic or otherwise.

The Old Coffee House
Happy in his work
The Old Coffee House
Famous Faces

The Queens Head - Denman Street - London Pride

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "It is like a small miracle or an oasis in the desert of shite that is Piccadilly"
The Queen Head
Into Picadilly and The Queens Head 
Unspectacular on the outside, this was another top pub and home of the best pint of the evening.

Normally, I have problem finding the cask marque certificate in pubs.  Here, they are that proud of their achievements over the years, they are all on display.

This is a pub to seek out.

The Queen Head
Justifiably Proud of their wares

The Lyric, Great Windmill Street - Harbour Brewing Amber Ale

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Was drawn inside by the board outside. "Try an Olde Tart for only £2"
You have to be careful, taking photos in these parts.  Derek Raymonds bouncers will hunt you down from the Windmill over the road.

The Lyric
The Lyric

This independent pub is another for beer lovers to seek out.  Especially if you like to try new brews.

The Lyric
Even spotted the chalk board first to make a decison
A fine conclusion to the Good Beer Guide entries for 2017.   There's a lot of choice around these parts but these are all worthy of inclusion.

Just time for a bit of sightseeing before disappearing into the tube.

Walk, Beer, Food, The Sights

Sunday, 25 September 2016

25/09/16 - Wormington Geocaching

Distance - 5.65 Miles
Geocaches - 16
First Cache

After a night on the Cheltenham tiles, we needed some fresh air and exercise.  The Geocaching numbers for September were also pretty low.

Wormington is not far from Cheltenham.  At least not when the half marathon is not running.  It took us roughly 50% more miles to arrive in the village, struggling with the many road closures.

I know the area well, having walked this part of the Cotswolds frequently.  However, I haven't been to Wormington.  Maybe its because there is no pub.

The cache trail is just short of 6 miles and is along decent tracks in fine countryside.  No climbs or descents and decent views of the nearby hills.

We only had trouble with a couple of caches - one, where we were bothered by cows - even after Mrs Mappiman armed herself with a stick - and one where there's been a number of DNF and we Did Not Look.  Just the one cache had a unsignable log - photo evidence provided.

Thanks to Stretchy123 for setting up a caching trail that was perfect for our needs.

Wormington Farm
Wormington Church - Near to Cache 1

Soggy Log
The Cache that Could not be Signed

Cows Stop Caching
Bovine Issues - They Followed.  We abandoned the Hunt.

Aston Summerville Church
Inside of Aston Somerville Church - Where the bells struck noon as we entered

Aston Summerville Church
A Crusaders Tomb

More Cows.  And a Bull
Field contains a "beware the bull sign"

Broadway Views
Broadway Towers Views
Fine Cotswold Views

24/09/16 - Cheltenham Pub Crawl

Distance - 3 Miles
Pubs - 4
Geocaches - 1

An emotional day.  We drop our youngest off at Bath University.  To celebrate our new found freedom and delaying the return to an empty nest, we decide an overnight stay is in order.  Nothing can be found in Bath or its environs.

Armed with the 2017 CAMRA Good Beer Guide, we choose to stop in Cheltenham.  Home of the 2015 National Pub of the Year.  There are 7 others in the Town.  We aim to hit 4.

A suitable route is created in  A very pleasant evenings walk through Regency Cheltenham, admiring the crescent, the gardens, some fine looking restaurants and two theatres.  It's a lovely place.

And the district of Montpeiller looks an especially fine place to live.

The Jolly Brewmaster, 39 Painswick Road, Betty Stoggs

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Six constantly changing ales, and four ciders.Great ales, friendly staff, top atmosphere."
Tucked away down a residential side street, we've had to go out your way to find it.  But its worth it.

Jolly Brewmaster
Lit up to guide you in
The curved central bar has as many ciders on offer as ales - around 7 of each.  I make a grab for the last table and Sonia goes and checks out which cider she would prefer.  She hasn't heard of any - so sends me with the instruction to get a pint of something dry.  Kingstone Press sounds a bit like Stowford Press and I know she likes that.

My choice is simpler.  Skinners Betty Stoggs.  Because it reminds me a wonderful Cornish holidays. When we had children.

This is a fine pub.  If I was a Montpeiller local, it would be my local.

The Beehive, 1-3 Montpeiller Villas, Timothy Taylor Landlord

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "do they pump the smell of sheep shit in? Only the Beehive knows..."

I have no idea what this reviewer was getting at, but a) it made me laugh and b) it reminds me that as much as I like pubs, I really don't want to run one.

A short walk from the Brewmaster and again, tucked down a residential street.  A sign says that outdoor drinking and smoking is not allowed after 9pm.  I don't know if this means you can smoke inside.

Seating available outside until 9pm
This was pub of the night for me.  I loved the layout of the pub - which seemed to be built from 3 terraced houses, with the bar, lounge and restaurant all separated from each other.

It was also the best pint of Timothy Taylor Landlord I think I have had.  And I include my weeks long walk around the Yorkshire Dales earlier in the year in this comparison.

We sat outside.  Along with a group of other pub tickers.   They leave.  I know where they are going.

A real gem of a pub and the Good Beer Guide has already paid for itself in the first week of ownership.

The Strand, 40-42 The High Street, Otter Bitter

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Very disappointing after visiting the nearby Stanford Ale House"
This is weird.  A GBG Pub and yet it has only one review on BITE.  And an average score of only 5.5.

Maybe its because it looks like a shop rather than a pub.  And its ironic that we past several fine pub examples that have not been deemed worthy of inclusion.

The Strand
Not how I imagine a pub to look
This may sound obvious, but its saving grace is the beer.  I'm a big fan of Otter and for the first time, I am presented with more than just the delightful Otter Bitter.  Otter Amber and Otter Ale are also available.  Unfortunately Otter Head was not, although it stopped someone calling the RSPCA, should I have ordered it.

Like a man who stars at the menu in a fish and chip shop for 10 minutes before ordering fish and chips, I revert to type and stick with the Bitter.

Damn good pint but we stare wistfully out the window at the Vine over the road.  Now, that looks like a proper pub.

The Vine
Transpires its a Thai restaurant and I highly recommend it
Sandford Park Ale House, 20 High Street, Purity UBU

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "This is clearly the best place for beer in Cheltenham"
A bold claim from a town where we have had some quality beer.  Even if it is Pub of the Year.

Sandford Park Alehouse
Beware Drink Riders
Its busy.  The other pub tickers are here, along with some impressive beards.  The extra revenue of being a destination pub must help with paying the electricity bill.  I don't think I have ever been anywhere so bright.  Advice, take sunglasses.

Despite the new fangledness of spouts coming out of tiled back walls and electronic boards proclaiming the beers, its rather traditional inside.

Sandford Park Alehouse
Pumps Front.  Pumps Rear.

Sandford Park Alehouse
Spend your prize money on dimmer switches
My Purity Ubu was as spectacular as it looks in the photo.

We had planned on going to the Kemble Brewery Inn as well, but Match of the Day was about to start.

Is there anything finer but crueler in life than lying on a Premier Inn hypnos bed, trying to keep your eyes open but knowing that the Albion will be on last?

Thank god for the Sunday omnibus.

Friday, 23 September 2016

20/09/16 - Marble Arch Pub Crawl

Distance - Negligible
Geocaches - 0
Pubs - 3

Once again, the Worcestershire innocent finds himself in the Smoke.

Its 9:30pm by the time the Cumberland Hotel Reception has been navigated and the bags have been dropped off at the surprisingly spacious room.

Armed with Des De Moor's London Pubs book and the Cask Marque App, I will hit the nearby streets and squeeze the maximum adventure out of the 90 minutes available before "time gentlemen please" is called.

The Carpenter's Arms, 12 Seymour Place, Adnams Bitter

Random BeerInTheEvening Quote - "The Carps is a great little local for office workers and residents."

Off to the Good Beer Guide Entry first.  It looks like a proper pub.  Not sure where the residents are coming from - this is moments from Oxford Street.  Do normal people live around here?

Carpenters Arms
This adds nice degree of serendipity to the adventure.  On Saturday, I was in the sister pub of the Carpenters - The Market Porter.  This has a completely different vibe.  Less people and more real pub pursuits.  There are people actually playing darts.

Quite incredible.

I burst through the door, to be greeted by a friendly Scot who is making his escape for a fag.  With little perusal, I go for the first real ale that I can see - a decent pint of Adnams Bitter, served in a Wainwright ale glass.

Later I notice the beer board.  Things would have a been different.  I am getting a taste for Harveys.

Carpenters Arms
Note to Self - Pay more attention in future
I take my pint and sit under the TV showing Chelsea scoring two in extra time.  Start to feel paranoid, feeling that everyone is staring at me.  They are more interested in Fabregas.  Especially the Scot, who has returned from his fag to keep his eye on his two pints at the bar.

Having knocked off the Good Beer Guide entry in the area, I look to see if there are any Cask Marques to attack.

But not before taking a photo of the rather nice tile work.

Carpenters Arms
Survived the refit
The Three Tuns, 1 Portman Mews, Tribute

Random BeerintheEvening Quote "There was a roaring fire and a generally comfortable feel to the place"
Indeed.  The roaring fire was the first thing I noticed.  And we are not officially into Autumn yet, are we?

The Three Tuns
Three Tuns Return
I have been here before - having lunch several years ago with a work colleague.  It is no hardship to come back.  A lovely, homely pub.  Full of low lighting and nick nacks.  And the chance to laugh at the many Americans who came in after 10pm, asked if they did food and then walked straight back out muttering about customer service.

The Times super fiendish sadoku knocked off whilst enjoying the Tribute.  First time I've had it for a while and it was excellent - if not exactly LocALE.

The Three Tuns
Wait for the hungry Americans to appear.

Find the CM Certificate in the corner of the pub.  A successful scan.  10:45 - and a choice.  Should I have another pint here or head to the next Cask Marque Pub around the corner?

I'm only two off the bottle opener, so off I head into the night.

The City of Quebec, 12 Old Quebec Street, Peroni

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Yes,its cruisy but it makes it exciting / interesting"
I read the above quote without my glasses.  Old age means that I thought is said "Crusty".  There is nothing I like more than a good earthy pub.

The Cask Marque App has a map and it leads me to the door of this unassuming, typically city centre looking pub.

I would have taken a photo, but there was a bouncer outside and I didn't think he would appreciate it.

Maybe bouncers are required because its open after 11pm, I thought.  Certainly the bright lights and loud disco music gave the appearance that the party wasn't stopping anytime soon.

Disappointed with the underwhelming choice of ale, with most clips turned around, I go for a Peroni (not even in the ceremonial glass that announces to the world you have spent more than a fiver) and take it to the end of the bar - where the certificate is ironically displayed.

City of Quebec
49 - I promise a better pint for the prize winning 50th
Several men come and sit next to me.  There must be more Cask Marque tickers in the capital than I thought.

After 15 minutes of the music, I decide to tweet my disappointment that a fun pub with shite beer is part of the Ale Trail.

Head back to hotel for a great night sleep.

I awake to be informed by the Internet that I have done it again.
Mrs Mappiman is beginning to disbelieve my ever more convoluted excuses as to how I end up in these sorts of places.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

17/09/16 - The Jubilee Walkway Summary

This is a jumble of 5 separate walks that take you sightseeing across the best that London has to offer. The official website is here.  The lengthiest is only six miles, the shortest can be done in a lunch break.

Endlessly fascinating and photogenic

You simply leap off the tube and follow these.

London - Jubilee Walkway
Embedded in the Pavement
I've completed them over the last 18 months.  Find the blogs below;

The City Loop - St Pauls, the Guidhall and the Roman walls
The Western Loop - Trafalgar Square, Admiralty Arch and the Houses of Parliament
The Jubilee Loop - London Eye and Buckingham Palace
The Camden Loop - British Museum and Piccadilly Circus
The Eastern Loop - HMS Belfast, Tower Bridge, Tower of London and the Globe

17/09/16 - Southwark Pub Crawl

Distance - Less than a Mile
Pubs - 3 - The Market Porter, The Royal Oak, The George

Walking the Eastern Loop of the Jubilee Way has delivered me in Southwark, with the afternoon to myself.

There is much work to do in the area.  The CAMRA guide to London's Best Beer Pubs & Bars has Des De Moor pointing out around 20 items of interest.  I would check the 2017 Good Beer Guide, if it wasn't for Amazon's Tardiness.

The Market Porter, Stoney Street - Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter

Random BeerintheEvening Quote "a must-visit London pub with historic associations adjacent to gorgeous (but horrifically pricey) Borough Market"

Market Porter
Classic Market Pub
I've been here in the week before.  I couldn't even get on the pavement.  Midday on a Saturday is the time to come - the bolt on the door is pulled back and I am the first to enter.  I ask if this makes me an alcoholic and they remind me of their weekday opening hours.

Market Porter
Midday is perfectly acceptable
There's a wide choice of ever changing ales.  I always seem to go for Harvey's Sussex Bitter. Found it in fine fettle today - which I haven't always been able to say with much conviction.

Without the scrums at the bar, I am able to look at what I could've won in more detail, whilst serenaded by the best of Bowie.

I leave when "Dancing in the Street" comes on.

Market Porter
Weekday Workers - This is what the bar looks like in the Market Porter
The Royal Oak, Tabard Street, Harvey's Sussex Bitter

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "What an absolutely wonderful place this is."
It wasn't straight there.  I visited the Shard Viewing platform first.  I could have had champagne and had my photo taken, but that would have been weird.

Once on terra firma, there is a short walk to this classic and unspoilt Victorian boozer.  Despite working in the area for 11 years, I may be losing my Royal Oak virginity.  This is why I love the CAMRA guide books.

Take a couple of photos outside - without realising the bar staff are watching over the net curtains. Here comes another tourist with his guidebook, they undoubtedly mutter.

The Royal Oak
Wish I could have pushed the Vauxhall out the way
The door in the picture is the one I enter.  Into the unfurnished bar.  Apparently the saloon has more soft furnishings.  I don't want to be that much of a tourist that I go mooching.

The Royal Oak
Unchanged Interior
The Royal Oak
All Wood

Instead, I sit on wood and take another very good pint of Harveys.  There's no music, which is not normally a complaint - but when the only other punter is a lady with breathing problems, it can be a bit claustrophobic.

Still, they are a friendly bunch and the bar man lends his inhaler and we are all ready for a good old chat.  The lady is very polite, asking nicely if "I am a tourist".

The rucksack, camera and guide book may give that away.

Chat floodgates open, I learn a lot about the area.

As I leave, two more come in.  With guide books.

The George, Borough High Street - Old Nutty Hen

Random BeerintheEvening Quote - "Packed out (more so out than in)"
Here's a conundrum.  If you are doing a pub crawl in the area, you have to visit the most unique one in the whole of London.

This was built in 1676, replacing the pub that was here in 1598.  Its the last of the galleried coaching houses of London.  Dickens wrote about it.  Shakespeare supped here.  Its a wonderfully evocative location.

And the beer is nearly always awful.

Still, in the name of research, I'll put myself out for you - blogfans.

The George
Swear the Shard wasn't here last time I came
The George
One of a Kind

To be fair on today's visit - an Autumn Green King variant on speckled hen was in pretty decent condition.

The George
Nutty Hen.  Shite Name.  Decent Beer.
Sit outside with everyone else and let the history of the place flood over me.  Imagine what it would have been like when all three sides were remaining?  Still, one side gives us a good feel.

I cast aside my tourist shyness and go for a mooch.  Even ignoring the rules of only going on the gallery if I am a diner.

The George
History Today
The George
From the Galleried Tier

So that's it for today's Southwark visit.

I'll be back for the rest.  Over several visits.