Day 5 cntd (17th Jan 2009)
The Kilkenny (South Wimbledon) ½ Strongbow, ½ Guinness, ½ John Smiths £4.30
Ok, so we didn’t actually walk all the way to South Wimbledon. We actually got on the bus for the first time on the tour! Making full use of our travel cards, see. We must have been on the bus for, oh I don’t know, about 500 yards in total, but nevertheless it all adds to the experience.
And so, we hopped off again, walked a bit further and then found ourselves outside The Kilkenny about 100 yards away from South Wimbledon station, and, terrifyingly, almost next door to a gun shop. Surely that’s not a good idea – alcohol and firearms so close to each other?
Remarkably, we hadn’t been to any Irish bars at all today, so you can only imagine the withdrawal symptoms we had been having. Luckily, The Kilkenny was there to put all that right. At least it was a proper pub, rather than the usual Irish Bar template that we had been experiencing up to now. Cask ale was still just a bit too much to expect though. The place was rather amusingly decorated with Laurel and Hardy figurines around the bar, weird and wonderful musical instruments covering all the available wall space, and, brilliantly, boats hanging from the ceiling. Yes, boats.
“More Otis Redding” said our notes. This may have been because we’d heard some Otis in a previous pub today, or it may have just been a general plea for more pubs to give some jukebox space to the Love Man. Quite right too.
There was still rugby being played on one of the big TVs, and of course the temptation remained to settle in with a pint and watch some more. We couldn’t ignore the ticking of the clock, however, and the far away sound of destiny calling us onwards. That’s right, destiny was calling, and it was calling us to Morden.
Ganleys (Morden) 3 x ½ Abbott Ale £4.35
Ah, that’s more like it. A proper fake Irish bar with the usual shop front look. Actually that’s a tiny bit unfair – Ganleys has a genuine Irish owner, and actually has plenty of individual quirks about it the raise it above most of the dross we had seen so far.
Lots of green, lots of exposed brickwork and lots of Irish signage round the bar, plus plenty of quirky and individual bits of wooden furniture, and a large carvery station (apparently the Sunday Roasts are very good). They even had some cask ale on, which was a major surprise, and it was a perfectly reasonable drop of Abbot.
The other major feature of Ganleys seems to be sport. Wherever you look there seems to be a big screen TV, and apparently they will play everything from Rugby to Football to Golf to all the Gaelic Sports (no mention of cricket though, strangely). The website reviews seemed to vary in opinion on the number of screens the bar has – three, five, seven, nine and ten had been mentioned by various visitors. Apparently the official line is that there are seven, but today we only counted five (disturbing lack of observational skills from the authors!), only one of which was showing the Rugby, whilst the rest were on the ubiquitous Sky Sports News.
We drank our ales and contemplated the fact that we were at the southernmost point on our Grand Tube Challenge. A significant moment? Well, not really to be honest. In fact, I don’t think we noticed until we were looking at the tube map much later. Oh well, time to turn back northwards. Bring on Colliers Wood!
The Royal Standard (Colliers Wood) ½ Strongbow, 2 x ½ John Smiths £3.80
Choices, choices! As three brave, windswept souls stood at the entrance to Colliers Wood station, we had an important judgement call to make. There were 3 potentials for our drinking pleasure in very close proximity. Venus Bar was possibly closest to the station if you were determined not to cross the road, and The Colliers Tup was over the road but probably closer than Venus, but after lengthy deliberation (in all honesty wasting valuable drinking time) we concluded that The Royal Standard was definitely closest as the crow flies (or, more specifically “as the grumpy bloke clambers over a barrier and plays chicken in the traffic”).
Ok, so it’s not gonna win any pub of the year awards (Brian boldly stated that he was never coming here again. He was joking – we think). It seemed to be owned by Greene King, and also had a slightly Irish feel to it. See? You wait all day for an Irish bar and then three come along at once.
No real ales of course, but then we didn’t really expect any by this point. They got bonus points for having a very pleasant but slightly scatty barmaid (with refreshing honesty and accuracy, the first thing she told us was“I’m really scatty”) who accidentally poured an extra half of Kronenbourg, and gave it to us “so that it didn’t go to waste” (Note to Brian: Free Beer? Surely this alone is enough to make us go back again?) Other than that it was all pretty standard – a couple of big screens were still showing today’s chosen combination of rugby on one and Sky Sports News on the other.
So what else can you say about a pub so lacking in anything original? Well, I’d rather go back here than to most Wetherspoon’s, but that’s probably damning it with faint praise, since I’d usually rather go to a park bench near the local Spa than go to a Wetherspoon’s. Perhaps the Dictaphone sums it up best at this point, as I had recorded a slightly forlorn soliloquy along the lines of “The Royal Standard. Not Royal. Bog Standard, in fact. Er………I’ve run out of ways to describe Irish Pubs”.