Day 2 (Oct 25th)
Well, we knew that this would be a marathon effort, but we didn’t quite expect to be walking such marathon distances. The memory of our pleasant jaunt on day one had vanished by the middle of our second outing. This was to be the day that we realised that our Grand Tube Challenge was actually going to be hard work. Hard work punctuated regularly by beer, but hard work nevertheless.
Admittedly, we don’t really expect to elicit much sympathy with a statement like that, but it was hard work!
Day two dawned fresh and autumnal, and luckily for us, with another offer of a lift from our good ladies. We had decided to tackle the airport stations before taking on more of Southwest London on the Piccadilly Line, so some help in getting round to Heathrow is clearly what we needed. Liz and Sue duly obliged, and so we even managed to start this one roughly on time……
JD Wetherspoons (Heathrow Terminal 4) 2 x ½ Bishops Finger £2.60
Quite frankly Terminal 4 doesn’t look very inviting at this point in time – there is some major rebuilding work going on, and given that all the BA flights are now settling in at T5, the whole place seemed fairly quiet, untidy, and altogether unloved.
We strolled into the Wetherspoons there at 11.02am and ordered our beers which were perfectly pleasant and cheaper than anything we’d ordered on Day 1. Obviously not quite awake, we forgot to a) take a photo, and b) get the name of the smiley lady that served us.
Posters in the windows proclaimed that JDW is having a Real Ale Festival in their sites throughout November and December. I dare say we’ll be seeing a good deal more of this on the tour, since they seem to hold such festivals about six times a year.
This being an airport bar, of course, we were never going to be the first ones in to have a drink. True to form there were a couple of other punters in there, surrounded by half drunk pints, the newspaper crossword and a slightly forlorn air.
Right next door to the Wetherspoons is a “Yotel!”. Fresh from the triumph of running a nationwide chain of Sushi Bars, Yo have branched out into airport capsule hotels. Logical move really.
Honestly, what else can you say? Is there anything duller than a JD Wetherspoons at 11am? Unless it is a JD Wetherspoons at 11am on the land side of an airport terminal. And this was the first of three Heathrow stations……
The Skylark (Heathrow T123) 2 x ½ GK IPA £2.60
So, on to terminals 1,2,3 and another Wetherspoons. Abeerintheevening.com had the Skylark down as the nearest to the tube, but we did have a slightly uncertain moment when we were faced with the three different travelators going off to the three different terminals. It was like having a choice of three tunnels in a mystery maze, with the only thing certain being that there was a crappy pub at the end of each. We decided that we had to trust our research at this point (because its proved SO reliable so far), and so Terminal 1 it was. Off we marched down seemingly endless corridors and up escalators to find our destination. It was a long way.
And then another dilemma. So early in the day! We found ourselves faced with a Cafe Rouge, clearly closer to the station than the Skylark (by a whole twenty yards). It had two signs outside: One said Restaurant-Bar (disqualified according to our stringent rules) but the other one said Bar-Restaurant (actually allowed – under Appendix 3, Rule 7, Footnote 1). Upon closer inspection it was table service only and there was no seating at the bar so the judges (ie us) ruled that The Skylark was the correct venue. Phew.
Let’s face it airports aren’t the most exciting places to spend time, and this is only amplified if you haven’t got a flight somewhere to look forward too. As mentioned above, it’s no great secret that JDW is not our favourite pub operator, so all in all this doesn’t make for Happy Times at Heathrow. Luckily for us the time we spent there went extremely quickly as we were mesmerized by the spectacularly bad carpet. Picture a sort of magic eye puzzle that never comes in to focus – it was a carpet that had one purpose only: to make it impossible to see vomit stains unless you are specifically searching for them.
Still, to The Skylark’s credit, the beer was in decent condition, the service was polite, and it was, of course, cheap.
Not cheap enough to make us linger though.
The Five Tuns (Heathrow T5) 2 x ½ Sharps Doom Bar £3.20
It’s not a Wetherspoons! This was the delightful surprise that awaited us at Terminal 5.
Although it’s had a fair amount of bad press since it first opened, we both thought that the terminal as a whole was pretty
impressive, and The Five Tuns has a very nice, if slightly chainey, atmosphere to it. Its run by Geronimo Inns apparently, and the Sharps Doom bar we had was fresh and tasty, served by Myla with a big smile.
“Slightly industrial feel.” Observed Mr Lewis, and he was right – lots of dark surfaces and exposed pipework, which probably would look passé in the centre of town. Here, it was still just a relief not to see the “JDW” logo anywhere.
We supped up our beers, took a quick photo and contemplated all the flights we weren’t taking. Everybody else seemed to look ever so slightly smug as they passed us on their way to the security gates. We bid farewell to the Terminal, – which, although spectacular, does look just a little bit like Stansted on steroids – and headed back to the Piccadilly Line, full of hope for some normal pubs…..