Archive for the ‘London’ Tag
The Old Packhorse is a massive Edwardian/Late-Victorian house with 5 beers on 8 pumps and a Thai restaurant in the back. I don’t know that I could ask for more. It DOES seem a bit youth oriented at 5:30 pm, but that’s the neighbourhood for you; I suspect that later in the evening — if it isn’t also hosting a musician — it will be awash in young suburban professionals on the pull so a rush-hour pint might have been the best of all options for walking around and admiring the details. And, the beer was cheaper than expected and, from the evidence gathered later in the evening, cheaper than elsewhere in the buurt.
The big, ugly glass structure next to the pub (looming behind it in the photo, below) sits on the site of the Chiswick Empire, a nearly 2000 seat theatre that opened a few years after the pub. I was sitting in some of those very seats when I took the photo of the “Empire Bar;” on the next wall left and over the doorway to the Lounge Bar there are posters from the 1920s to the 1950s of the Empire’s shows (the last of which was a 7-day sold-out run of Liberace, a scant month before the theatre was demolished). Must’ve been grand in the day.
The overpriced beer at the Draper’s Arms wasn’t a problem.
There were five tables to the side with clipboards bearing notes that read:
This table reserved from 7:30 PM,
But, it is yours until then.
Grand. I sat down at the empty one at 5:15 and settled in to read a few work documents.
At 5:30, a woman arrived alone and told the bartender that she was there as part of the 7:30 group whereupon the bartender told us all that we had to leave. I pointed at the “7:30 PM” on the note in front of me and he said, “I told her she was 2 hours early but she was having none of it.”
“Okay. Where’s your bathroom?” See the entry for the Red Lion in Chesham to discern what happened next.
As I walked past the windows where a dozen of us recently socialized or relaxed, I immaturely (as is my modus and in keeping with the theme) shot the bitch — who was sitting alone at one and surrounded by four other empty tables, mind — a bird. Fuck her and fuck this place.
Map linked here.
On my way to the Ealing High Street, I wandered into the King’s Arms hidden away a few corners down a side street.
Gorgeous pub, great beer selection, cute little dogs trotting around, friendly customers and staff, and absolute shit taste in music.
Here’s a map if you want to see if they play something less Radio 1-ish. At least it’s better than the Draper’s Arms.
I ran up the hilly roads from JJ Moon’s in Wembley to the JJ Moon’s in Kingsbury only to be greeted by another cheery bartender (at 10 am, what…the…fuck?) watched over by a stern and sharply dressed bouncer/security guy (at 10 am, what…the…fuck?). Maybe that’s why Wetherspoon’s names some of their pubs “JJ Moon’s” instead of something related to the building or the area: staff on Prozac and a dangerous customer base. This one used to be a furniture store for decades before the bar took over and the block of storefronts went up in the post-war rebuilding-and-expansion boom of the 1950’s so there was plenty of fodder for a more imaginative name.
Still, it is hard to complain about drinking a pint in each of two pubs for less than £4 all in. While working on my porter here, a guy sat across from me with a slightly better order, though: a large whiskey and a cup of coffee. I should consider that combo for the rest of the winter.
Looking back at the other JJ Moon’s encounters, I didn’t notice anything odd in the one in Ruislp and the one in Tooting seemed connected to some underground fellows. Here’s a map if you fancy trying this one out (you can find the others there, too).
Sunday came around with snow flurries and blisteringly cold wind; the ground was too warm for the snow to stick so I couldn’t even use that as an excuse not to do the planned long run for the day. I left the house just after 8 and weaved my way over to Wembley to the Wetherspoons there — the disappointingly named “JJ Moon’s;” I think they could easily have come up with a name related to the dairy industry or Barham’s history but either they got lazy or the JJ Moon’s label designates something in particular in the Wetherspoon’s Universe (the Spooniverse?).
The inset tells the story of George Barham starting a dairy nearby, sending milk to the city, obtaining a Royal Warrant for same, and his eventual knighthood.
I bought my breakfast beer — a stout — from the cheeriest bartender I’ve met in a while. He spotted my coin carrier and remarked, “that’s one of those…those old…”
“Film canisters,” I helped out.
“YES! I haven’t seen one of those in ages!”
“Yeah, I bet you used to carry your weed in there.” He glanced quickly at one of the besuited bouncers (at 9 am they had bouncers).
“I used to do photography back when those were still around,” he corrected me. “What a flash back,” he added. “Get it?”
“Yeah, yeah. That actually works for both our stories.”
Later, he wished me well as I layered back up for the damp, windy run.
Here’s a map.
I ended the day’s run at the Castle because it was near the Holland Park Tube stop. It is a lovely old house made of ceramic tile and a wood interior and for the most part it’s welcoming.
For the most part. I asked where the gents’ was and got a frown. “The loo.”
Another frown and a cursory shake of the head, “sorry?”
“The head. The crapper. The lav? Pissoir? Restroom?”
He shook his lapel pinched between his thumb and forefinger, “a uniform?” How bad is may English, I thought.
“Washroom? Potty? W.C.? The can?”
“Can I help?” one of his colleagues offered.
“I want to change into these dry clothes,” I said holding up my backpack. “Is there a bathroom?” They both pointed to the Smallest Room In The House. At last.
In my big boy clothes, I returned and ordered an Elvis Juice because of the grapefruit infusion. Had I noticed it was a Brew Dog, I would have gotten anything else but instead I fucked myself out of £5.50. And, it isn’t even a full measure; one of the bartenders lied to another customer by saying that they aren’t allowed to sell it as a pint because it is so high in alcohol but at 6.5% it isn’t even 2/3 the volatility of some ciders I regularly quaff.
But, this isn’t a real pub. It is a yuppie impression of a real pub despite the enormous dog. They have the old school hooks mounted under the bar but they seem to be for show. This style is known as the Belligerent Drunken Octopus Picks A Fight, but if it was meant to carry a load the screws (eyes) would be tightened to the bar.
If you’ve just hit the lottery, here’s a map. The shitter is through a door on the far north wall.
Back on the towpath after a quick refreshment break at the Grand Junction, I set my course toward the Lonsdale, a pub — on my running map — on Lonsdale Road near the intersection with Colville. A rent-boy* emerged from the flats across from the former pub and I deduced from our conversation and the state of the hoarding and structural materials that the Lonsdale was going residential.
Unperturbed, I moved on toward the Earl of Lonsdale (also on my trail map) and noticed the expensive residential neighbourhood transforming to an expensive residential neighbourhood with pavements clogged by a bunch of yuppies and Chinese tourists. But, there it was and I was about to go in despite my reservations about the atmosphere when I realised I was on Portobello Road and I had already ticked this one off the list in my first year.
Fair enough, I wanted a quieter venue and moved on with the Ladbroke Arms in my sights. I eventually found it near the Notting Hill Police Station and went in to find yet another pretentious dining-based pub. So pretentious in fact that a tall blond appeared by my side while I was taking in the stifling atmosphere and proceeded to — without irony or self-awareness at all — do a perfect impression of Edina from Absolutely Fabulous. “I have a reservation, darling, but not until 2 so I’ll just take some bubbles oh hello darling <<kiss kiss hesitate kiss>> oh are you working today? dreadful weather it’s been yes it is a table for two but I think I’ll just wait at this table over here .” Crikey.
The beer was good. I suspect the food is lovely and served in very small portions. Here’s a map.
*Okay, that wasn’t just me being smarmy; the guy bounded down the steps of the building and I pointed and asked if the pub was no more. “Oh, I don’t live here,” he chirped. “I was just, um, working here last night.”