Day 2 cntd (25th Oct 2008)
The Brogue (Boston Manor) ½ San Miguel, ½ Strongbow £3.00
It was only a 200 yard walk to this one – virtually next door by the usual standards of the day so far. It seemed like we had been going for ever today, but were still in the thrall of Heathrow:
“We really just need to be somewhere we can’t see or hear any low flying planes” was my observation at this point.
Well, The Brogue certainly wasn’t going to entice us to stay in the area longer.
It’s a very inoffensive but almost completely characterless Irish Pub built in what seems to be the standard format – shop frontage, long and thin with the bar down one side, toilets toward the back and a small area to accommodate darts/live music/pool. The Saturday afternoon custom consisted of half a dozen people watching the horses on Sky Sports. Everyone was politely disinterested in our presence in the pub, and the barman served us as quickly and efficiently as possible so as not to be parted from his Racing Post for too long. Whenever someone spoke (which wasn’t often), it was in a very low mumble – at the sort of volume you usually reserve for a library or a funeral parlour.
I daresay we’ll see a few Irish pubs in the course of this mission, and I only hope there is more fun to be had in some of the others.
The Spinning Wheel (Northfields) ½ San Miguel, ½ Guinness £3.20
Well, this is probably an Irish Pub at heart, but it has definitely evolved into much more in recent times.
Turn right out of the station, and you can immediately see the side wall of the pub, which due to a missing “P”, rather brazenly advertises “The Sinning Wheel”. Sounds promising.
Kieran is the landlord, and he seemed to be a thoroughly pleasant chap, as were his numerous members of staff (they did seem to outnumber the customers though). The pub has definitely had a bit of TLC in recent years – refurbished to give it a more modern feel. It now has several big screens for Sporting action, and advertises live bands on Friday and Saturday nights, seemingly from across the musical spectrum.
There is also a full on 70’s disco situated in a separate room downstairs, but alas at this time on a Saturday afternoon it was still a bit too early for it to be open. Which was a shame, because it meant that Lewis and I were denied the chance to nip down and have a look, and possibly to bust some moves Travolta style. Oh well.
The New Inn (South Ealing) ½ Bombardier, ½ Spitfire £3.20
The Rose and Crown (South Ealing) ½ Seafarer, ½ Red Fox £3.20
And so we got it wrong again. Following our research, we turned left out of the station and followed the road three or four hundred yards, round some corners and found The New Inn. Then on the way back from here we almost immediately spotted the Rose and Crown on a side road, blatantly closer to the Tube. If we do this too regularly the trip could actually take forever.
We liked both of these pubs, but for different reasons.
The New Inn is a big old managed pub, which could be completely soulless, but is saved by a range of well kept ales (6 hand were pumps being used, and the two we tried were very good), a decent food offering, and charming staff. We were looked after by the lovely Aggie, who had a very simple explanation for why she smiled all the time: “If I go to a pub and the barmaid is miserable, I just won’t go there again”, she said. With a smile. Fair enough really. Some scruffy but comfortable seating in front of big screen rugby completed the picture nicely.
The Rose and Crown, on the other hand, is a fairly cosy Fullers pub, stocking the full range of their ales, and is blessed with the most efficient barmaid either of us had ever seen.
Xanithe, I think her name was, and she was a whirlwind of activity, constantly moving, serving 3 customers at once, filling the glasswasher, taking food orders, clearing tables, and still being pleasant to the pub bore (it wasn’t either of us, I don’t think). It doesn’t seem that incredible on paper, but trust us, it was poetry in motion, and something of a relief to realise that there are still people that efficient out there.
Having to do the detour was much less of a hardship given that both pubs were pretty good, and it was with renewed vigour that we strode back to the station and on to the tube.
As we boarded the next service going east, it seems that a mystery fruit/litter obsessed note writer must have grabbed my pad – “Banana skins on the train” was cheerfully written in large lettering. Fairly self explanatory in hindsight, but I’m not sure why we felt the need to put it down on paper. For the record, it was a potential banana skin we managed to avoid….