scribbles tagged ‘pub’

3mph between daydreams

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Stroll route around Aldermaston wharf The Butt Inn Guide book for the strollsWalk 14: The Butt Inn at Aldermaston Wharf

A Sunday morning stroll is a sociable stroll.

A wizard disguised as an elderly gentleman stopped to give me advice on the best position to see the Kingfishers on the river Kennet. Sitting with your hand over your mouth works best.  He also explained that local Geese are the top of the local food chain and they are maliciously breeding and pooping-up the place. Pests and hygiene hazards.

The wizard advocated a ‘bash their eggs in‘ approach to flock-size control. With a little persuasion we managed to compromise on a strategy of collecting then selling the eggs for outstanding breakfast omelettes.

Silver Speedy Ramblers Old man Inbetween stories and advice the wizard would pootle-on ahead at about 6mph. Gradually making up the ground between myself and the other silver-haired speedy ramblers who blazened past while I pondered the emotional commitment of copulating dragonflies.

Sunday morning strolls are full of these speedy silver strollers. I met them coming the other way and was overtaken by at least 7 of them per mile of my walk. They are a healthy, plucky, lot. I prefer them to the dressy ramblers. Silver strollers’ casual outfits look like they are pulled together from stuff anyone might have around their house rather than using a small overdraft in a specialist ‘Outdoors’ store.

Even without go-faster gear they still outpace my meagre 3 mph between daydreams.

As expected, despite valiant efforts, I went off-track

Both off and ontrack revealed all sorts of countryside goings-on, animals galore – Goats, Cattle, Lambs, Alpaca, Chickens, Horses, Kingfishers, Geese etc, meadow flowers, avenues of ancient trees, ponds, rivers, canals, faerie grottos and Indian hide-outs. Who would have guessed that wandering through Berkshire would take me to all these magical places? Can you see the magic?:
Tent  Canal boatsSwings  through the trees

3mph between daydreams
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Stroll from the Horse and Groom around Mortimer (walk 13)

Sunday, June 17th, 2012 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Guide book for strolls A very refreshing saturday stroll around Mortimer tackling gusts of 40 mile an hour winds. Thank goodness for fitted hats!

It seems that a ‘Stroll’ is a walk that doesn’t involve any:Horse and Groom

  1. severe inclines
  2. special equipment other than a stout pair of shoes and a drink and some snacks
  3. unfit people such as myself breaking out in a sweat, huffing and puffing…

By contrast, a ‘Ramble’ requires a bright Goretext jacket, Hiking boots, thick wool socks, a walking pole, gloves and all sorts of fancy accessories.  I know this becuase I turned up at the head of a ramble arranged by the Berkshire ramblers association where a flock of brightly Goretexed people were circling a style at the trail head.

I looked at my lack of Goretex and all terrain hiking boots. This equipment has been hibernating in my cupboard since leaving the mountain ranges of the NW USA.  Temporarily downhearted, I decided to work my way up to releasing my rambling gear with a few less imposing, walks.  The idea of some morning strolls with the help of Nick Channers book of Pub Strolls in Berkshire raised my spirits.

Walk 13: Mortimer from the Horse and GroomWalk 13: Horse and Groom

If the stroller can follow the instructions provided, “Walk 13” is a 3 1/4 mile stoll that starts and ends at the Horse and Groom in Mortimer. It’s a problem solving challenge to follow a map that is not to scale and omits a lot of key landmarks.

Very quickly I discovered that my walk was actually likely to be 6 miles, the extra distance caused by going the wrong way, realising it, and retracing my steps and trying another option. This could me more healthy than I’d anticipates!

I never managed to get to the 3rd marker point, several unmarked junctions near the “N” north sign proved too distracting.

The latter part of my walk turned from problem solving into a creative fiction.

It all ended well, at lunch time in the Horse and Groom. A substantial Victorian pub with a classic 1970’s decor, decent real ales and a rather good chef.

Yummy. I might be back to see if I can find the real route on another day…
Trees on the horizon Trees in the valley Iron style

Stroll from the Horse and Groom around Mortimer (walk 13)
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old local

Sunday, October 9th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

The clientelle of a real ale pub in a midlands town

The pants of the khaki Cargo make an appearance

I wandered in without realising this was a women-free zone. A couple of the locals appear a bit overexcited by the novelty of a woman in the place. They remind me of those small dogs that attach themselves to your ankles.  Kind of cute, if a bit random and inappropriate. Shift workers at a local factory, some ex-students, they boast of thier prison histories, mention that I’ve got  “great pins” and slur other stuff I could barely understand

I’m more than glad when my companions saunter in…

Swan In The Rushes

old local
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imaginary friends

Sunday, September 25th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

Smoking and drinking alone outside a pub
Grey overcast skies and a chilling September breeze
Between taking long drags on her cigarette, she talks
As-if to another person
Her brow furrows, she leans towards her imaginary friend
It doesn’t look like a happy conversation

Luckily, I can be very selective with my imaginary friends, they’re a fabulous crew who are more likely to draw laughter than a frown

Imaginary Friend

imaginary friends
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worx disco

Sunday, March 6th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Captain Howey Hotel PubThe entrance guarded by portly middle-aged men, avoiding the wind while they dragged on their cigarettes

hello love
a cheerful greeting as I wove between them in search of the hotel reception. The hotel reception was the bar. Two women sat on a sofa Half a dozen toddlers cahorted around and over them. Several men lacking in cranial hair perched on bar stools watching the largescreen 6 nations play. Not an enticing first impression. A blackboard by the bar announced tonight’s Worx disco. The Worx? Dungeness power station workers, these people were dependent of the power station for their livelihood

The Romney and Hythe steam train trundled under my bedroom window. Heaven! It toot-tooted as it trundled by. I went to stand by the track and the driver smiled and waved and tooted when he drove by. At that moment I wanted to be part of a well practiced cheerleading team waving pompoms, synchronised high-kicking and singing the praise of the train line.

Over breakfast the  landlady whispered her concerns. These guys drank so much the night before a full days work at a Nuclear plant. We watched one stumble through the dining area on his way out of the building for his first fag of the day.  He grunted at the Landlady’s cheery greeting. After he’d gone

See what I mean?


worx disco
1 vote rating 4

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up and coming

Thursday, October 21st, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Abbot Cook The Abbot Cook is a Mitchell and Butler pub at Cemetery junction in Reading town. You can see the Arthur Hill swimming baths through the window in the night-time picture. In this decade it Abbot Cookhas changed to the Abbot Cook from the Upin Arms and before that from the  ‘Jack of both sides’. The pub appears to reflect and redefine the character of the area, charting social change.

The Upin Arms used to court the custom of Reading town’s many students being placed half way between  Thames Valley University buildings and the Reading University campus. It had the feel of a vampires lair where the vampires drank shorts and Lager. Only one ale available and it was not hand pulled. Dark, and possibly a bit dank, with a sticky carpet, loud music, TV screens playing sport or music videos, cheap microwaved food and long opening hours.  Service was slow and surly. Recent Government cuts will inevitably lead to fewer and poorer students, their target customers are disappearing.  The pub re-invented itself as the Abbot Cook targeting an altogether different customer. Hopefully it will appeal to my friends and family.

The name ‘Jack of both sides’ refers to a proverb ‘jack of both sides, is before long, trusted by nobody, and abused by both parties.’  and to its physical location with entrances on two sides, towards two roads. According to some pub reviews it used to have trouble with drugs and violence.

As the pub has moved to serve different segments of the community so the character of its location, Cemetery Junction, is gradually changing. It’s definitiely calmed down in its most recent incarnation.   Abbot Cook Abbot Cook

The Abbot Cook incarnation is named after a 16th century local Catholic Martyr, the Abbot of the now-rubble Reading Abby,  Hugh Cook Farringdon. The pub serves overpriced average food (£9 for a chicken breast and some potatoes in a mushroom sauce)  including some vegetarian options. There is a friendly, bare-parquet-flooring with authentic victorian furniture, church-candle riddled, warmth to it’s atmosphere.

It has about 4 real ales on tap, they pull pints into jugs and have oversized stemmed glasses for half pints. Oh! I felt all girly drinking a half pint, never again. The staff don’t know what a slieve glass is, but they are phenomenally polite, cheerful and helpful. One bar man spent nigh-on half an hour talking to be about Mitchell and Butler and the different chains of pubs they own. I’m guessing he’s on the management trainee track.  It has a supportive and friendly atmosphere. Like me it’s pleasantly quirky – succulent plants in teacups decorate each table. There are also some double sockets for the cupboard and her companions.

My local pub has become somewhere I want to go.

up and coming
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good company

Sunday, July 18th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

wendy: 4 pints of Ringwood and a bottle of Chianti

bar staff: how many wine glasses would you like

I look at the smiling person next to me

smiler to bar staff: just one glass please

smiler to me: it’s cheaper to buy a bottle of wine and then leave some than it is to get 1 glass then refill it later.  They know me here, they’ll understand.I’m a sot

barstaff: are you sure you dont want a long straw instead of the glass? It will save us on the washing up

smiler: (sudden squeaky scream) I can’t believe he just said that!

wendy: what’s a sot? acronym, slang or real word?

good company
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librarian bypass

Sunday, September 20th, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

Book ExchangeSeveral pubs I’ve visited recently have bookshelves labeled ‘book exchange’.   Unlike a library, you do not get a wide range of choice, helpful advice, and an occassional dose of ‘shushing’.  This  can be a  bonus  for noisey, decisionally-challenged, me.

Until now I’d treated the bookshelves of friends and family as book exchanges,  now my net has widened to include pubs….   …some people are releasing their books into the wild then remotely tracking their progress via websites like bookcrossing.

librarian bypass
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Eldon Arms

Friday, July 4th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Nestled in a quiet backstreet on the traffic island that is created  downtown by the  (A4) one-way system (London and Kings Roads) is this pleasant suprise.   The Eldon Arms.

Midweek the inside the Eldon Arms was packed with the Ladies darts teams.   The garden also looked pretty busy judging by the glasses returned to the bar by the very polite  Reading University Agricultural students who  had graduated earlier that day.     I didn’t notice any music,   there was a quiz (gambling) machine near the bar but no-one using it.

I tried the Henry’s Original IPA (3.6 ABV).   Well kept,  tasty and sufficiently weak for me to quoff 2 pints after work midweek.   Result!    Certainly an improvement on the more shop-purchasable ubiquitous, similar strength,  Boddingtons.

Upon hearing of my expedition to this hostelry a local celebrity wrote:

hear you are paying a visit to the Eldon Arms. Good choice! It’s a lovely little old-fashioned backstreet pub, traditional and with friendly staff. I’m told that Anne and Brian are Reading’s longest-serving landlady and landlord, although I’m sure Bernie and Jane at The Retreat (a short stroll from The Eldon) are also hot contenders for this title.

The Eldon Arms is a Wadworth tied pub, so the selection of beers is mostly restricted to this brewery, but the choice is fine within this range and well kept. My favourite is Bishop’s Tipple, but at 5.5% ABV it’s not to be chugged too quickly! If you’re after something lighter and more summery, try the Horizon. Avoid Pint-Size Mild, if they have it, unless you like mild; personally, I don’t get on with it and this West Berks brew is a good reminder of why

I used to visit this pub frequently on a Wednesday night for their pub quiz, in the days when I worked at the Prudential and had the luxury of rolling in at 10 the next morning. Now I have to drive to south Oxfordshire for 8:30am I don’t go so often! Their quiz is quite a different experience from The Lyndhurst one as it is set and presented by the person who won it last week! It’s a bit like the Eurovision Song Contest in that respect. I’ve won it a couple of times and it’s quite fun to set it, as long as you have a fairly clear week and plenty of time to put it together! I’ve also deliberately pulled back to second place at least once to avoid having to set it when I knew I hadn’t the time! I really must go again soon

Well, that’s all I have. Feel free to ignore all of the above if you want to enjoy the experience of visiting with no preconceptions. However, if you’re reading this sentence then it’s probably too late

Happy pubbing



Eldon Arms
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Nag’s head worth a walk in

Friday, February 22nd, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

I’ve taken to treating myself to a full roast  Sunday lunch in the Nags head with Yorkshire pudding and everything for a bargain £6 with a choice of 12 real ales on tap.   Luxury.   The music is normally very good,   um,   meaning classics from my teens,   last Sunday they played the whole of Dark Side of the Moon over lunch.

For the full experience of Sunday beer, food, friendly people and music,   I really recommend the Nags Head just off Oxford Road on Russel Street.   The only down-side was the Broccoli but I’ve learned to live with this personal handicap.

Nag’s head worth a walk in
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Friday, January 11th, 2008 | tags: ,  |

Overheard in the Hogshead:

Its housing for the morally deprived

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the local

Saturday, December 8th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

Midweek I’m doing the laundry and making other homesy stuff which is not half as much fun as when the kitties are trying to make things not run smoothly.   So I toddled off to check-out one of the local pubs

Wendy:   do you have and dark ales?

Barboy:   Just Newcastle brown and that comes in a bottle.

I’m disturbed.   Every self-respecting British beer drinker knows that Newcastle brown comes in a bottle.   The barboy felt he had to tell me.   Is this because my not quite English accent shows with just the one phrase above?


There’s me thinking I’d maintained my Englishness through and through and now people are telling me that Newcastle brown comes in a bottle.   I scan the electric taps and pick an ale over a larger

Wendy:   John Smith’s please

Barboy:   that will be two pounds thirty.

I wander off to read my book,   drink my pint,   wonder if I’m geographically unplaceable.

Barboy:   Same again?

Wendy:   I’ll have an Abbots Ale (yummy, I don’t know why he didnt sell this to me first time around)

Barboy:   how did you find us?

Wendy:   I’ve just moved in nearby

Barboy:   where do you live?

Is my luck in?   What’s this all about?   Is knowing that Abbots Ale is the right beer to drink the key to conversational success?

Wendy: Number 13 (blah) road

Barboy:   I live at number 26,   welcome…   …don’t go into the (blah)

BLOODY BLASPHEMY a boy all of half my age just told me his home address,   smiled at me and is being downright friendly.   Gosh,   I remember that happening when I was in my 20’s and 30’s but not in my 40’s.   I think I need to calm down or have a reality check or something.

Wendy:   Oh yeah,   I looked through the windows, it looked rough

Barboy:   I worked there for 2 evenings,   it was EMBARRESSING

at this point I’ll censor the conversation.   Surfice to say it did continue and I do know a little more about my neighborhoood and will be going back to that pub… …which pressumably was the barboys intention…   Should I take flat-eric?   What do you think?

the local
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either dont know or 7 or 8

Sunday, November 18th, 2007 | tags: , , , ,  |

Wendy:   “is it 7 or 8pm here?”   (in the UK implied)

Lady In Pub (LIP): “that’s alright,   don’t worry,   I forget too,   it could be either”

LIP bobbed down at the knees while she said this ducking her head then throwing a swathe of thick black hair away from her face.     As if this action might clear her mind.   It was almost like a curtsey and made me feel like a princess.

Her polite engaging  way left me smiling.   I thanked her for the advice and wondered whether she meant:

– either time is ok

– she, like me,   doesn’t know which time it is

I adjusted my local-time phone settings to  7pm, hoping to spin-out the pleasant evening.

either dont know or 7 or 8
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