Day 1 cntd (Oct 4th 2008)
Henrys (Green Park): 2 x ½ Kirin £4.20
How we reminisced about the days when we could get two halves of beer for less than three quid, “Seems like at least four hours ago.”
Henrys is a bit of an institution as far as I’m concerned – Green Park is a very busy station, and it’s very close by, and therefore a logical step for a couple of beers before tackling the scrum of Piccadilly. There are no real surprises to be had here, but it is a lovely old room, ornate and stylish, and they also serve Kirin, which is a fab drop of Japanese lager.
We seemed to miss out on the “English” beer option here, but that’s almost certainly because it was getting late, fatigue was setting in, and, er, we just forgot. Anyway, Fabiano served us with cheerful efficiency. It didn’t seem that busy for a Saturday night, which may have been due to the rubbish weather, the economic climate, or possibly just down to the fact that scaffolding surrounded the outside of the building and almost completely obscured the bar entrance.
We didn’t linger, partly because the beer was still going down surprisingly well, but mainly because the finish line for day one was almost in site. Onwards!
The White Lion (Covent Garden) 2 x ½ TT Landlord £2.95
And so to Covent Garden. Based on dubious reasoning that both Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square were on intersections with other tube lines and could be picked up another day, we decided to give them a miss and move straight on (the fact that it was getting late may also have had an influence…). This is how we came to a quiet and undiscovered part of London, as beautiful and peaceful as its name suggests.
Sorry, my mistake. We actually arrived in the absolute heart of tourist London, resplendent with people asking for directions, bicycle rickshaws tooting for business, half price theatre ticket sales, and grown men pretending to be statues for money.
There is a huge range of places to get a beer and/or a bite around here, ranging from the truly excellent to the absolutely shocking, usually depending on how close to the Piazza you are.
There are two pubs very close to the station, The White Lion, part of the Nicholsons chain, and The Nags Head owned by McMullens. A brief pause to observe from the station entrance confirmed that The White Lion was ever so slightly nearer.
I think its fair to say that the pub is about as good as you could hope for when catering to such a touristy crowd – fairly traditional inside, but with good solid exterior window sills that just demand that you rest your pint there whilst you light a fag/check your change/swear at the rickshaw drivers/give money to the buskers.
The beer was ok too, Landlord in pretty good condition, tasting fresh. Most enjoyable, despite the fact that our halves were served in those mini jug glasses that always seem somehow slightly wrong.
The Ship Tavern (Holborn): 2 x Pints Bombardier, £5.90
Having checked the tube station message board and realised that Russell Square was closed for the weekend (more holes in our research), we decided that Holborn would be the last station for our first day, and therefore we allowed ourselves the luxury of finishing with a pint.
Okay lets be honest here. Our notes for The Old Ship are fairly scarce, and what there is, is not hugely legible (my handwriting isn’t great at the best of times, but this looked something like a Jackson Pollock abstract). We remarked that it had a great atmosphere and five good ales on, and what looked like a nice wine selection.
The only other thing we had written, rather cryptically, was “Steve + hot girls” (I’m assuming that Steve was the landlord). It is however equally possibly that the uncouth scrawl actually says “Steve + hot grills”. So I’m not sure whether we should be apologising to our respective wives for ogling attractive ladies across the bar, or remonstrating with ourselves for not having taken advantage of the barbecue food that may have been on offer.
Unless we go back there another Saturday night and ask for two pints and two burgers, we may never know.
Weary but triumphant, we finished our beers and headed for home. Day one was complete, with no injuries or arrests. It was almost looking too easy…..