Archive for the ‘Hertfordshire’ Tag
Since I was cutting the run short, anyway, I was pleased when I looked up from my fish treat and spotted what I reckoned to be another pub sign. Even better, this appeared to be a deviant bar so at last I might have an interesting write-up to do (no offense to the Tree, the Waterside, or the Coy Carp earlier this day). I eagerly approached the Carpet and Vinyl with thoughts of 70’s pubic hair and form-fitting/fluids resistance outfits.
Alas, it was non-euphemistically a carpet and vinyl shop. Sort of the old bait-and-switch (and, come to think of it, “The Bait & Switch” might make a good fetish bar name, too).
Although not as cold as it has been, I was fairly under-dressed for the damp, breezy day and while warm and sweaty I think the run from Uxbridge had depleted my breakfast. Very hungry, I popped into the first chippy I could find, the Sea Master. “It will be ten minutes,” which I accepted, deciding to cut the run short of the last mile and a half to Croxley and to just leave for home from Rickmansworth.
Well worth the wait … the fish was perfectly steamed inside the crisp batter envelope and not at all more salty than absolutely necessary. Why can’t EVERYONE do this?
Leaving the Waterside I wondered if all the pubs on this journey were going to be gastropubs (and posh ones, at that). The Tree was a proper boozer filled with proper pub citizens/denizens.
The Lounge bar was filled with the pub’s football club so I went to the Public bar and found a crowd watching F.A. Cup highlights and feeding a child (of about 6 years) candy. I sat with the kid’s family (also a part of the football squad) as the kid went into a full-blown Cornholio-like sugar rush. “You know what would calm him down,” I suggested to one of the old farts pushing gummy treats on the monster, “is a cup of black coffee.” The dad (or uncle) next to me said, solemnly, “we’ve tried that before but it ended in tears.”
I left but doubled back into the Lounge needing the bathroom. Ten footballers looked at me as I scanned the walls for the door. “What d’you need, mate?” “Pisser, please.”
“First door on the left,” one answered as all of them pointed to the two doors, one in the hallway and one in the room, on the right. I took the first of these and they all started shouting, “no! that’s the kitchen.” I tried the other door, looked back and one of the guys yelled over, “yeh, there, first door on the left.” Inside, the two bathroom doors were Gents on the right and Ladies on the left. I hope their sense of direction is better on the pitch than it is in their local.
Here’s a map.
The Waterside had a lot friendlier staff than the Coy Carp but I was still a sweaty and under-dressed mess so I took my Doom Bar out to the garden past the Sunday diners. The sunshine was fleeting but this shorter segment of the canal run (now off the canal and on the main drag into Rickmansworth) warmed me up considerably — nothing to do with the 10 pounds extra weight I’m carrying, surely.
Spotting the sign, I realised the garden continued on to a little island between some streams and I went out to inspect leaf buds on some of the trees in the marsh at the garden’s edge.
Looking back across the creek to the pub, you might not think it is as nice as it is but the interior has a grand old interior of timber and stone. When things start to green up, this will be really nice.
Forget the robin red breast…the first sign of spring is the snowdrops (followed in rapid succession by crocuses, hyacinths, daffodils, bluebells, and invasive weeds. Hooray!
Here’s a map.
Although dismissed by a former manager as just another fizzy beer bar, Druids had a fairly impressive line of cask pumps. I was knackered from the week, the cloying illness, and the lack of sustenance (save for a cup of coffee in the morning and pints at the Sportsman and the Halfway House earlier on the run) so I went for the sweet nourishment of Old Rosie cider and soon felt revived. My bartender had to keep asking for more seasoned help. “First day?” I asked as he handed me my change. “First hour,” he replied, nodding my way and adding, “you should count that until I get my feet under me.” I already had, but I am a suspicious/paranoid bastard.
There seemed to be a Two Tone set playing on the radio but it might just have been an 80’s station. A dog wandered through seeking — and getting — attention at every stool but, upon sniffing my shoes, she moved on abruptly. The cheek. I left on this insult to the strains of “Too Much Too Young.”
Spotted the Halfway House on a google map and shortlisted it for the name alone (please do watch the movie trailer for this one). Turned out to be a very nice roadside pub worth stopping for on the evening’s sunset run. I had a Whitstable Bay Pale Ale which was very Americanly hopped and divine, but the house appeared to be more lager bar than anything else on this visit which ended too soon but the road was already dark and I needed to find my way to the well hidden Rickmansworth station.
About a half mile from the Croxley Tube Station stands the Sportsman, an un-promising building from the outside but a wonderful pub within with a varied and enticing selection of real ales. The house glasses are marked with full, ½, and 1/3 pint measures in the event you want to try everything on offer and still walk to the taxi at the end of the effort.
I just went for a pint of the Rebellion Brewery’s Roasted Nuts which had the oily consistency and furniture polish back notes I hope for in a dark brown beer. One kid came up and couldn’t decide between two of the eight on the pumps so the barkeep pulled him tasters of each (about a third of a pint in total) … good trick to remember for my next visit.
There was steady traffic to the bar and everyone else seemed to know everyone else and, had I stayed for a second one they probably would remember my name as well (although they probably noted my oddities). Somehow we got into the Topic: Recent Celebrity Deaths and I thought Lord Snowdon, whose title always makes me think of a quote from Catch-22, would win the prize; but, the old guys at the corner seemed fixated on Larry Steinbeck from the Bronski Beat. This place is weird and wonderful. As Yossarian queried:
Ou sont les Neigedens d’antan?