Islington to Hoxton

19/08/2012 at 11:09 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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During the break between the Olympic and Paralympic games in August 2012, Dimo took us on a crawl from Islington to Hoxton.

The meeting point this month was the Prince of Wales, close to Angel tube station. It’s a very unpretentious pub for the area; it sits alongside the canal in a lovely part of Islington, and just a stone’s throw from the home of one Boris Johnson, but managed to be compared to the Queen Vic by Rich! It’s a perfectly decent pub with Doom Bar amongst the ale options, but it remains largely unadulterated and has not (yet at least) succumbed to a radical refurbishment.

It was a hot evening so we stood outside, and watched as Radio 1’s Chris Moyles arrived and stood outside chatting to the other guys also outside. By chance one of my wife’s friends happened to be at the pub, and identified Moyles’s companions as 1990s Britpop group Shed Seven.

Once Phil arrived we headed just round the corner to pub no. 2, the Earl of Essex. This is a lovely traditional pub building from the outside, but with a clean, bright, modern gastro-style interior. However, a glance at the bar shows that the focus is on quality beer, with several interesting ales on the handpumps, and an even larger range if craft beers on tap. I went for a Harbour Brewing Amber ale, which was very nice, although I think I preferred Phil’s Merlin’s Magic from Moor, which were enjoyed out back in the sizeable (for inner London) beer garden.

We made another very short hop to the next pub, the Island Queen. This is a well known pub which I’d not made it to before, so I was pleaed to give it a go. Plenty of other people had had the same idea, with quite a large crowd out the front of the pub, almost hiding the lovely pub architecture on display, including large curved panes of glass. There were fewer beers on the bar than at the last pub, but that’s hardly surprising given the Essex’s range; and what they did have was fairly good, with a nice guest ale in the form of Sunny Republic’s Beach Blonde. We took a table inside, as most of the punters were enjoying the warm weather outside, which allowed us to marvel in the interior design, a great piece of Victorian pub heritage.

Another very short walk brought us back to the canal we started on, only this time the pub was right on the canal, and aptly called The Narrow Boat. Alongside the Pride and Doom Bar were two London brews, Wandle from Sambrooks, and East London Brewery’s Nightwatchman. With some of the latter pair in hand we joined the people enjoying the canal, and dodging the occasional speeding cyclist!

From here we headed east along the canal, part of the Regent’s Canal, which provided a route around London between the Thames at Limehouse and the Grand Union Canal, the M1 of the canal era. I feel I should say that while this is a nice walk by day, the canal is not well lit and should probably be avoided after dark, especially if you’re not familiar with the area.

The next pub, slightly north of the canal, was the Baring. This feels much more like a community pub than the last couple, with adverts for the pub cricket team etc., but it’s a nice little corner pub with a friendly landlady and some nice ales on, including Harvey’s Best, Tim Taylor’s Landlord, and Brains SA.

Still heading eastwards, we came next to the Rosemary Branch, a large corner pub with a theatre upstairs. There were no shows on when we visited, but the pub itself is nice, with some decent ales on, and some bizarre nick knacks, including quite large German and British model planes hanging from the ceiling!

We headed east once more, along a less than glamourous route as the charming townhouses which have been such a featured to date are replaced by a large housing estate. We eventually came to the Stag’s Head, once a Truman’s pub, as evidenced by the original (if now painted) exterior. Sadly while real ales were advertised none were on offer, and even half the lagers weren’t available – so it was Becks all round, surely a first for us! Even the glasses weren’t sure about their contents, as Artie’s somehow managed to slip off the table and onto the floor without being touched. Fair play to the barmaid, who offered and gave a fresh pint without us even asking for it.

We would have ended it there, and we would have been within a short walk of Hoxton station (on the very edge of zone 1), but we fancied ending the night on a high, or at least on a higher quality beer than Becks, so we turned north along Kingsland Road and headed for the Fox, close to Haggerston station. Although this took us into zone 2, we knew that the Fox would be a reliable source of good beers; and I’m sure it didn’t escape Dimo’s attention that he would be home within a few seconds of leaving, while some others had a rather longer journey back home to south and west London! Anyway it was a fine pub to end on, and I’m pleased to say that we managed to make the last southbound Overground train and make our connections to get home without resort to the night bus!

Sloane Square

16/08/2012 at 15:42 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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For Sloane Square (17 April 2009):

The Duke of Wellington

Fox and Hounds

The Antelope

The Star Tavern

The Talbot

Horse and Groom

Artie was in the chair for this one as we navigated some of the finest streets in the capital.  A small group headed towards Belgravia and stumbled accross a few favourites that would appear on later crawls.  The cool Young’s pub “The Antelope”‘s wooden appeal so different to the white mansions and the sequestered Star Tavern in its mews setting are both hidden gems, dwarfed by the edifices around these parts.  These pubs criss-cross a later crawl – see Belgravia to Chelsea

As Artie would contend, only six boozers in one night was a bit paltry, given recent escapades.  Back in those days we started a bit later and hung around for more than 1 beer at some pubs…. but nevertheless, one of the finest mews pubs in deepest London, the Horse and Groom, allegedly an old Beatles hang out, was a great way to round off the night.   He does like his hard to find mews pubs and the cobbled street and olde worlde frontage gives this pub a real “local” feel. 

In fact, well done for finding both mews pubs first time around with no doubling back – not easy

 

Spitalfields

16/08/2012 at 14:24 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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Archie admits his memory is very hazy now but the pubs as best he could remember for Liverpool street/Spitalfields (3 August 2007) were as follows:

Shooting Star

The Gun

Ten Bells

Pride of Spitalfields

The Archers

White Hart

It was hot that day and first time it didn’t rain. In fact the Pride of Spitalfields was the stand out pub – er, especially because we stood outside – where there is always to pleasant smell of the tandoori ovens at the back of Brick Lane on a summer’s evening.

By the end of the evening we had walked outside of zone 1 to find a pub, and who’s to say we wouldn’t do that again in the future. There was one more pub/bar that we went to on Whitechapel Road, but by then the short term memory had gone as well as our collective long term ones, so I’m afraid we can’t confirm which pub this was!

Belgravia – Pimlico

15/08/2012 at 19:58 | Posted in Crawls | Leave a comment
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In July 2012 it was Tim’s turn to sneak in a quick crawl before the Olympics started, and for his first crawl he found a gap in our coverage on the Belgravia/Pimlico borders just to the south of Victoria station.

This month’s meeting point was a pub visited once before, the Duke of Wellington, fairly close to Sloane Square station. The Duke is a fairly traditional Shepherd Neame corner pub, with a single room around a central servery. The first few of us to arrived sampled the nice Whitstable Bay, and improvement I think on the Spitfire and Kent’s Best.

We headed east from here, past Noel Coward’s house on Gerald Road, to Elizabeth Street. Walking downhill on Elizabeth Street took us through two worlds, with the first section gorgeous, with a gorgeous looking street, and lots of affluent people patronising expensive looking restaurants. East of Ebury Street the street turned to shabby tarmac, the people turned into backpackers, and the food offer changed from smart restaurants to a chip & kekab shop!

Why the sudden downhill turn? The smart money’s on the presence of the coach station, offering buses to all parts of Europe for a few pounds or euros, and a magnet for the budget conscious traveller. Their presence was certainly felt at the Travellers Tavern, a large Taylor Walker pub right next to the arrivals section. We mainly settled for Doom Bar with the odd London Gold as we settled into an outside table adjoining the path from Arrivals. After what seemed like a long time listening to wheely cases being hauled along the alley, the stragglers arrived from the rain-delayed Oval, and we pressed on to pub three.

We headed south, passing the 1938 former Empire Terminal of Imperial Airways, and then turning back of the main road past (fortunately without stopping) a large branch of Rileys, before arriving at The Belgravia. While the name conjures up an image of enormous stuccoed villas, the Belgravia is actually tucked under a block of council flats, but they have made a good job of the space available, offering an unpretentious pub with some decent ales and a sheltered beer garden which includes an outdoor TV for watching sports – very unusual touch for London.

After this we headed west along Ebury Street, which changes its name briefly to Mozart Terrace after its most famous past inhabitant, to Orange Square, where a statue to its composer can be found. This is also very close to the spot where the Bun House stood (note Bunhouse Lane just off the Square), home of the Chelsea Buns until it closed its doors for the last time in 1839.

Across the street is the next pub, The Orange. Now somewhat gastroed, it nevertheless has a pleasant (if busy) bar with some nice ales on, though there is no longer a microbrewery on site.

After these we headed east, over the busy railway lines into London Victoria at Ebury Bridge and crossing over from Belgravia to Pimlico in the process. The next pub was the White Ferry House, another with a backpacker link, serving as it does as a hostel. Downstairs though remains a lovely traditional two-bar pub.  The first beer drawn was actually off, but to be fair to the staff it was changed with an apology and no fuss.

After these drinks we began to move back towards Victoria station, calling next at The Greyhound, a pub which has been closed for 10 years but thankfully has recently been fully refurbished and reopened, with a nice bright interior with white walls and interesting paraphernalia and some nice beers. I had the Bateman’s Summer Swallow while I’m told the Tim Taylor’s Landlord slipped down very nicely.

Final stop of the evening was just along Hugh Street, the St George’s Tavern, a large Nicholson’s pub which was already beginning to empty by the time we arrived, though luckily we were just in time to catch last orders before being ushered out into the summer evening and (for some) a late curry.

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