Day 4 (10th Jan 2009)
Once we had got the madness of Christmas out of the way, we knew we would have a chance to get out on the road again fairly soon. That day came on 10th January, a fresh crisp and bright winter morning…….ok, let’s be honest here, the temperature was arctic, and the sky looked thoroughly bloody miserable. We knew that lesser men would have been tempted to stay at home in front of the fire – but lesser men wouldn’t step up and take their place in history either.
And so we planned a meticulous route around the top end of the Northern Line – relatively short distances to pubs, we thought, hopefully ruling out the possibility of frostbite. We also had the added bonus of Light Comic Relief being provided by Mr Liam Waugh, a noble Scotsman keen to join us on our quest. We also once more requested the help of Mrs West, who agreed to drop us at our first station in Edgeware, and even more fantastically, had suggested she was happy to come and get us from our expected destination – High Barnet – at the end of the night. Marvellous!
The Edge of Town (Edgeware) 2 x ½ Magners, ½ Sam Smiths, £4.25
And so we stood, shuffling our feet and turning our collars up against the cold, in front of the sign boldly offering “Karaoke, Disco and Ladies Night!” (all on the same night?), as we waited for the doors at The Edge of Town to open. You heard it right – for the first time on the tour so far we actually started early, and had to wait to get into a pub!
And what a pub The Edge of Town is. At first glance, it seemed to be another standard Irish bar, albeit one with a bit of a football fixation. In fact, there seemed to be an awful lot of Arsenal scarves/shirts/pictures around the room. There were at least 5 TVs positioned around the room, and one huge pull-down projector screen as well. There were also lots of European football flags arranged around a strange little glass cupola in the ceiling, so perhaps it wasn’t just Arsenal then. There was a pool table towards the back of the room, and then behind that – oh my God, what the hell is that?
Definitely not just Arsenal then. It appears that the whole back area has been given over to the worship of Celtic, and in particular Henrik Larrson. A little shrine in the corner seemed to have every square inch of wall space covered in framed shirts, photos or pictures of the team and its various players, topped off with a sign proudly proclaiming “Hoops Bar, North West London Celtic Supporters”. It was all very nicely laid out, but certainly not what we expected
Phil, it was, who served us, and a perfectly reasonable chap he was, too. The Magners went down surprisingly easily, whilst slightly less surprisingly we discovered the Sam Smith’s (from keg) was average, if we are being generous. Right then, another day has begun, time to tear Liam away from his heroes in the corner and get on our way.
Blarney’s (Burnt Oak) 2 x ½ John Smiths, ½ Websters £3.50
Well, as we came out of Burnt Oak, it would have been a very pleasant walk up the hill through the bustling shops/market stalls, had it not been so bloody cold. We got to the top of the road and turned the corner and encountered an immediate sense of Déjà-vu. Blarney’s definitely looked familiar.
It was in fact another shop-fronted long thin Irish bar with a pleasant but disinterested landlord. In fact it was a bit of a Tardis inside, as it seemed to go back a very long way. As usual, there was a reasonable amount of Sport orientation – 4 TV screens around the bar, the flags of the Rugby Six Nations pinned on the ceiling, 2 dartboards at the back of the room, and, of course, a couple of chaps sitting at the bar with a pint of Guinness and The Racing Post. I kid you not. They also presumably knew the guys at the Edge of Town as well, because there was lots more Celtic memorabilia scattered around the room.
There were also some signs around showing details of the Darts League that Blarney’s was clearly in, but the boards themselves were positioned at what also seemed to serve as the stage – a bit of live music on offer for the punters as well. Apparently the chap playing the next day was called David White and was playing from 6 till 9. That’s a long set for one bloke. I hope he was good. And full of stamina.
As also seems to be the norm with these sort of sites, there was no real ale on, and even the landlord couldn’t tell us where the kegged Webster’s came from. In the spirit of adventure I plumped for this anyway, and for probably the first time in my life I felt jealous of people who were drinking John Smiths. Oh well.
Mr Waugh – clearly keen to contribute to the reviews, popped off and did a toilet report for us. Small but clean was the verdict, since you ask, and apparently the loo roll dispensers were all freshly stocked, which, Liam told us “is a very good sign for a Saturday”. Fair enough really.
The New Chandos (Colindale) 2 x ½ Deuchars, ½ Strongbow £4.20
And so we moved on to Colindale, and found ourselves undertaking another fairly short walk, which still felt like longer than most of the distances we had covered on day 2, mainly due to the extreme wind chill factor.
“Of course it gets much colder than this in Scotland” was Liam’s sage offering at this point, as he strode along smug in the knowledge that not only was he accompanied by two Southern pansies who would never cope with the conditions as well as him, and also smug in the knowledge that he had had the foresight to wrap his head up in a giant woolly hat before coming out.
We gritted our chattering teeth (if that’s possible), and made our way in to The New Chandos, a big old corner pub, with a large A-Board outside inviting us to join them for Karaoke later that evening. Inside was just as large as the outside suggested it would be – a large main bar area, dotted with more TVs for live sports, and with another raised area doubling as a darts oche and/or music stage whenever required. Another large area stretched out in the back room, complete with another bit of bar and too big pool tables.
The beer was pretty good, much better than expected to be fair, and we politely declined the option of getting involved with the various “House Double” offers on the optics rack.
Every day is a school day when you are in the pub with Keith Lewis. We saw that all the banisters around the pub were topped with big carved wooden acorns, and KL imparted his theory that this was because the acorn was considered lucky in pagan times, and so even now would ward evil spirits away from the pub…….
Pool tables and Pagan symbols aside, by far and away the best feature of The New Chandos, however, was the decoration on the wall to one side of the bar – they had a glorious sort of “Mate in a State” montage going on, with dozen of photos of regulars in various stages of possibly alcohol induced stupor. At least I hope they were of regulars and not of the pub staff.