Archive for the ‘Public Houses’ 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.
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.
Five miles into a run up the Grand Union Canal from Uxbridge, I took a break at the Coy Carp. I got the feeling from the cool reception that I was probably a lot less welcome than the polished and posh families flowing in for lunch so I headed out by the weir to watch ducks.
A family came out and the little boy — perhaps 3 years old –got excited when he saw the terriers the couple near me were tending. “Duggie! Duggie! Wuff-wuff!” he said then immediately lost interest when he saw the ducks floating around. The adults chatted a moment then the parental units headed across the bridge followed by the toddler; “bye-bye, duggies,” he said as he passed waving to no one and nothing in particular.
The other side of the pub, by the canal, features some kayak slalom gates and there were tons of fisherman despite a huge sewage treatment facility having an outfall not a mile away. It was breezy and cool but my short stop wasn’t long enough to let the chill set in.
The sun started to come through the cloud cover and I drank up and returned my glass to the bar (someone needed to show the staff some class). I headed toward the bridge waving aimlessly as I passed saying, “goodbye, doggies.” The couple wished me well.
Here’s a map.
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).