Saturday, 30 May 2020

J is for Sporting Jester

The Sporting Jester

I'm cheating a bit here as this pub's name really begins with a S but I can't think of another pub beginning with a J.

Not a lot to tell you about this pub.

Until quite recently it was called the Volunteer Arms.

I've only been in the pub once, many years ago.

It was pretty rough and ready with crap beer but a decent juke box and pool table.

I've yet to venture inside under it's new persona.

So time to move on.

It may be a while until I post the next pub.

As yet I can't find a pub beginning with the letter K without venturing out of Southport.

Let's see what I can find.

Bye for now. 

Saturday, 16 May 2020

H is for Hesketh Arms and I is for Imperial

Hesketh Arms
The Hesketh Arms is a decent pub located in Churchtown village, a 20 minute walk from our cottage.

It's a popular pub, particularly on good days when outdoor seating is popular.

It went though a major refurbishment a few years ago and it's now open plan and able to cram more people inside.

I preferred the pub before the refit as it had numerous small spaces to drink in. Wednesday nights were Jazz Nights with a trad band. We used to go with our mate Tony Johnson for a carvery before the Jazz.

The beer now is OK but getting served can be a slow process as this is a pub where locals get served first. It's also an expensive place to drink.

Great location, so a good pub to park your sports car or motorbike outside for a posy picture(not done that yet).

Pub is also a popular spot for Southport Swords to perform at(inside and outside)

The Imperial

Another pub that's had a major refurbishment recently. I don't remember ever going in here before it was done up so I can't comment on whether the improvements improved.

This is also within walking distance of our cottage, but it's a good 40 minute walk, so better by push bike.

This is another pub that's very popular on good days due to a large outside drinking area.It's also huge inside and most people seem to eat here rather than just popping in for a pint.
Beer OK but nothing to shout about.

Our last visit was on Christmas Day for a quick pint on our way into town for Christmas dinner at an Indian. I've never seen sp many people crammed into every space all eating their Christmas dinners - kids everywhere!

Not on my pub crawl list, but I couldn't think of another pub beginning with the letter "I"!

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

G is for Guest House

I may change my mind, as I often do, but this is the best pub in Southport(when it's open).

What Pub describe it as:

Located close to station and Lord Street, listed building with an impressive frontage and interior with three separate wood panelled drinking areas.

There are eleven hand pumps with a wide variety of ales from breweries noted or other brewers, one of which serves a local micro brewery and there is a wide range of malt whiskies. 

Quiet traditional pub with outside seating at front and courtyard area to the rear. Mixed clientele with quiz night on Thursday and acoustic folk club nights on the first and third Mondays of each month.

I've been drinking here ever since we first found it when me moved here from Warrington.

It has only changed in minute details, such as there being less horse brasses on the walls.

When we got married in 2001 we met our friends from Wrigley head Morris Men here, walking to the pub from the Town Hall where we were wed.

I have enjoyed quiz nights, folk music nights, folk song nights, Southport Swords events(they beheaded me only once), pub crawls and generally meeting and drinking with my mates.

What do I like about the pub?

Good choice of beer
Well kept beer
Excellent landlady.
No jukebox.
Proper bogs(well Gents at least)
Rarely any children.
Until very food.

There's a hidden beer garden(yard) at the back and a couple of benches outside the door on the street to enjoy the beer and watch the world go by when the weather allows.

When the current plague ends, this is probably where I will sup my first pint)s).

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

F is for Fisherman's Rest

What we now know to be The Fishermens Rest (formerly the Birkdale Palace Coach House) is the only part of the Hotel to remain. The Birkdale Palace was an extravagant Hotel that in 1939 boasted of billiards, croquet on the lawns, dancing, evening concerts, Sunday afternoon orchestral teas and tennis, to name but a few activities available. The Birkdale Palace had 1,000 rooms and around 200 bedrooms and suites. By the late 1930’s, the hotel had become a successful holiday resort hotel and conference centre, with stars like Frank Sinatra and Clark Gable staying there.

The “Fish’ has it’s own story, and the brass mermaids that secure the bar’s handrails commemorate the lives of the 14 Lifeboat men who lost their lives in 1886.

The bodies of the unfortunate lifeboat men (who were fishermen by trade) were removed from the beaches and laid out in the coaching house of the nearby Birkdale Palace Hotel and is reputed to be haunted by the spirits of the dead men.
The disaster is the worst in the history of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, with 27-lifeboat crew lost. A public fund for relief of the sixteen widows and fifty orphans was opened with the RNLI contributing £2,000, the queen and the emperor of Germany also contributing to the fund. £30,000 was raised in total.
The Fish was also a temporary morgue for 14 sailors after the Eliza Fernley Lifeboat disaster of 1886. The brass mermaids that secure the bar’s handrail, commemorate them to this day.

My own associations with the pub go back to when we first moved to Southport. The Fish was the one of the few pubs that allowed dogs(it doesn't any more) and we often went there with our dog Ellie for beer and a decent plate of food. 

An added benefit was that our neighbour's boyfriend was the landlord at the time.

Unfortunately, as he told us, someone complained to the brewery about dogs being present in the lounge. There wasn't a separate public bar so he had to ban dogs.

Since then we've only made the occasional visit so I can't really comment on the quality of the beer or food; but the number of cars in the car park give an indication of how popular it still is. 

Whilst working at Rufford Old Hall(National Trust) I often meet visitors who are staying at the caravan site close to the pub.

The pub isn't visible from the site so I often give directions for the 5 minute walk to the pub.

I should be on commission, or at least be offered a discount on my beer!

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Virtual Pub Crawl C, D & E

C is for Cheshire Lines

The Cheshire Lines Pub in Southport is an interesting place. It's tucked away behind the Prince of Wales Hotel on King St. 

When we first moved to Southport we discovered a bar called The Falstaff, also on King St, that is now closed down. The beer was OK but the food was good and excellent value for money. The pub used to be full of pensioners and we joined them on many occasions when we couldn't be bothered to cook anything.

The Cheshire Lines must have realised that good cheap food would fill their pub and take custom away from their competitor The Falstaff. Therefore, a couple of years later the Cheshire Lines was full of the same pensioners and The Falstaff closed.

Following the appeal of good cheap food we ventured in.

Apart from the strange welcome we liked it. It was a bit of a "tardis" with a huge room at the back with walls full of interesting railway themed photos. The food was good, if you like Sunday roasts etc and the beer was good with a fair choice including a mild.

The welcome was strange as it reminded me of The Slaughtered Lamb in the film American Werewolf in London. As soon as you enter everyone seems to go quiet and stare at you.

Things have changed slightly over the years. The photos seem to have mainly disappeared but the strange welcome and the decent beer remain.

It's a pub always worth including in a pub crawl if only for its hidden location.

D is for Dukes Folly

The Dukes Folly is included as I can't think of another pub or bar beginning with the letter D.

I've yet to go in it, so there's not much I can tell you about it other than that it has a large beer garden at the front.

This is the second pub/hotel to carry this name.

The original hotel was on the other side of Lord St and it was the first hotel in the town. If you want to know about the history of the town Google The Dukes Folly and you will learn all about the "Duke" that created Southport.

E is for El Rincon

Once again I struggled to find somewhere beginning with the letter E, so I include this as the only bar I could find.

I have been in this one, but only once to see what it was like a few years ago when it first opened.
The bar's claim to fame is that it is located in a former public toilets.

It's very small and it serves expensive drinks and expensive Tapas.

At the moment it is closed(not due to the virus) for refurbishment.

I've always referred to this bar as the Bogs Bar.

Rant update

In my last post I have a minor rant about not being allowed to drive to exercise.

I put a post on a local Facebook page to seek clarification on where we stand, locally, on this.

To date it got 200 replies!

The outcome is that, it would appear, I am allowed to drive short distances to exercise.

Therefore we have done so for the last 2 days.

Life is now much better and we feel safer not having to negotiate our way around: people chatting on phones as they walk, mothers with prams and small children and dog walkers with several dogs attached to washing lines.

Letters F and G next - to include my favourite pub in Southport.

PS  I'm struggling with entries for letters K, Q, X and Y. 

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Virtual Pub Crawl

Blue Anchor

I don't know about everyone else but being in lockdown is finally getting to me.

Surprisingly(going from the title of this post) I'm not really missing the pubs that much. Neither am I missing the shops and restaurant etc.

What I'm missing the most is the freedom to go where I want, locally, by car(within reason).

I may have a rant about this later.

Fortunately Claire has a couple of decent push-bikes in the garage and one of them is electric!

I have therefore decided to begin a virtual pub crawl around the bars and pubs in the Southport area.

They must be within pedalling distance as I may use my old Brompton when I'm feeling the need for extra exercise. They should also ideally be pubs that I would frequent when open. However, I have decided to do this crawl in alphabetical order; so the odd crap pub will inevitable be included to fill un the gaps(I can't find a Q, X or Y pub yet).

I will appreciate any comments and corrections offered to my opinions posted.

A is for the Blue Anchor

Not a good pub to start with as I don't think I've ever been in it. I don't think it's in the beer guide so I don't know anything about it and I can't really offer an opinion. It was chosen simply because we past it on our way out to see the B pub.

Beer Den
B is for the Beer Den

This is a pub I have been in and I like it...a lot.

It's a new micro-pub that occupies what used to be a computer shop.

It's only small but it sells excellent beer from Parker's Brewery. The beer is well kept and very cheap compared to other pubs in town.

My mate David is a regular, so it must be good!

I have no humorous tales to tell of riotous times spent here, but it is definitely on my list of the first 6 pubs I'll visit when the"All Clear" is rung in Southport.

There are lots of other pubs/bars beginning with the letter "B" including(one of my favourites) the Bottle Room on Lord St; but for it's cheap beer and for looking after David during a difficult year The Beer Den gets selected for "B".

I'll be off pedalling to my C and D pubs soon.

Minor Rant

When will I be "allowed" to drive 10 minutes down the road to walk my dogs?

For 3 weeks we have diligently obeyed the rules and taken our dogs for a walk without using our van. This means that we have to walk for 10 minutes along narrow pavements, having to cross over several times to avoid people who refuse to cross over for us, so that we can finally let the dogs off the leads only to have to put the leads on again because they are small children kicking footballs about in the centre of the field!

My friends on Facebook, on the other hand, are able to drive to local country paths to enjoy a daily walk in peace and tranquil locations without having to the run the gauntlet on local pavements.

When will Boris and his mates get a nationwide ruling broadcast on whose rules we are following?  

If we can drive for 10 minutes from our cottage we can enjoy a walk without  having to avoid people on bikes or people glued to their phones. The dogs will be able to have a good run without tugging constantly on their leads and we will be able to look out for swallows and swifts(expected at any time) rather than looking out for people's manic dogs that are "only saying hello" and pram drivers who roam the streets like Ben Hur out for a drive with his mates!

Minor rant concluded....for now. 

Friday, 10 April 2020

Sands of Time

Me at The Isle of Man

Whenever we go for a walk on the beach with the dogs, I'm often reminded of my childhood.

The earliest holidays I can remember were spent at a caravan site just outside Blackpool. My mum's parents and brother often joined us; as did friends of mine and my sisters. In the case of Blackpool this usually meant two caravans; with no hot water or toilets and gas lamps. We had to catch a bus into the centre of Blackpool; which we did every day. Most days were spent on the sands with me digging in the sand or pestering the adults for a go on the donkeys.

Sheila(Wendy's friend) me and our kid. (Mum said I'd grow into my cardigan that she'd knitted.)

These were always holidays on the cheap and a ride on a donkey was a "once a week" affair...if we were good.

Blackpool was blessed with at least two Punch and Judy shows and I was always desperate to be allowed to see one. I did manage to see quite a few but I never managed to see the end of a show. My grandad would keep one eye on me and Wendy(my sister) and the other eye on the man collecting money in his hat. As soon as the hat appeared we were dragged back to base to avoid having to pay. Base was always the same. A group of hired deck chairs facing the sea with the remnants of sandcastles scattered around. Gran and grandad wrapped up against the weather watching us; mum fussing over cups of tea from a large flask and dad helping with the sandcastles and rubbing us down with damp sand encrusted towels. Sandwiches were always either potted meat or sandwich spread.

Base Camp on Blackpool beach.
Grandma, grandad and dad with Uncle David our kid and me on the airbed.

Dad must have gained a promotion at work, because we progressed from caravans in Blackpool to chalets on a holiday camp in Douglas, Isle of Man. The Island is my second favourite place I've ever visited; New Zealand being the first. This warrants a posting devoted entirely to my memories of this special island at a later date. The same crowd usually went and I remember my cousins and aunt and uncle joining us from Newcastle one year.

My earliest memories of these holidays were that the policemen wore white helmets, there were lots of motorbikes around and it rained most of the time...but I loved it!

Further promotions at work led to us holidaying "down south" when we stayed in B & Bs in Torquay on at least 2 occasions. Same gang(plus further aunts uncles and cousins), same base camp on the beach and same weather.

Later on we hit the heady heights of holidays at 3 Butlin's holiday camps; which I loved. On one occasion the gang expanded to include a couple of families living on our street and dad hired a coach to take us all there. Butlin's was a great experience with loads of things to do. I suppose that these were my first holidays where a bucket and spade weren't needed.

As we got older our family holidays got a bit posh as we travelled abroad to several of Spain's most popular resorts including Benidorm and Calella. By now beer was my main motivator and sand was something you lay on, plastered with lemon and oil until you turned painfully red.

I could go on, as holidays have always played an important part in my life; but I'll stop there.

As a footnote I'd like to finish with a story of something that happened to me at a very early age, that I have no memory of, that could have put me off sand for life; but gladly it didn't!

When I was born we lived at No 29 Grange Drive in Backley, Manchester. When I was 2 years old me moved to a larger house, not that far away, at No 35 Grange Drive.

As this move was to a house 3 doors away my mum and dad managed to rope in help from neighbours and family.

It took all day but eventually everything, including my dad's precious piano, were home and dry and, of course, mum put the kettle on for a brew.

Sandwiches were eaten and tea drank and, as it was getting dark, people were saying their goodbyes and mum and dad were thanking everyone for their efforts when mum realised something was missing. When I say something it was really a someone....ME!

"Where's our Michael?" House and garden searched and thoughts were turning to searching the fields at the back and the surrounding streets when my dad found me. I was still playing in the sand-pit at No 29 where they'd left me happily digging that morning! Imagine getting away with that today.

So sand has played quite a role in my life at times. People born in Southport are known as "Sandgrounders". I suppose I could class myself as a "Sand-digger".

J is for Sporting Jester

The Sporting Jester I'm cheating a bit here as this pub's name really begins with a S but I can't think of another pub beg...