Day 7 cntd (April 25th 2009)
The Springfield Park Tavern (Bounds Green) ½ Carling, 2 x ½ Courage Best, and a dribble of Kronenbourg Blanc £3.25
Good God, I reckon you could see this place from space. It is an absolutely huge building a couple of hundred yards up the road from Bounds Green station and it has a splendid green paint job just to make it stand out even more.
We had a moment of doubt when we got closer, as we couldn’t see through any of the windows and weren’t sure it was open. When we got inside however, we realised that it was just that all the curtains were shut so that everyone could watch the football on the giant screen at the back of the room. And my, what curtains they were – spectacular garish patterns with no basis in sanity. “They make the carpets look tame” said Keith, and he had a point.
We turned away from Liverpool vs Hull and meandered up to the bar. They only had one ale on which is usually enough to make us nervous, but in fact the Courage Best was in pretty good condition. Hazel braved the Carling, but got an added bonus when the barman started to pour a Kronenbourg Blanc by mistake and donated the half-half pint to her. Lucky girl.
The room itself was huge as expected, but fairly nondescript. There is a definite sporting bias here with lots of art and photos around the walls taken from all forms of sport – football to boxing to cricket to horse racing. In fact when I wandered off to find the loo I discovered that they had two other TVs, both of which were showing the nags. I then discovered that I had gone to the wrong end of the pub for the loo and had to walk back and across the front of the football, crouching in an embarrassed fashion so as not to disturb anyone from the action. When I reached the loo itself I found the jewel in the crown that the Springfield had to offer – another one of those fantastically odd vending machines, this one selling “Wipe On Sex Appeal! Instant Sexual Attraction for Men!” Priceless. And no, I didn’t buy any.
The Goose (Wood Green) 3 x ½ Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted £2.85
We found ourselves blinking in the sunshine outside Wood Green station, and quickly consulted our notes, which confirmed that we were indeed heading to The Goose, that we could see a little way off down the road.
Aah, The Goose. It’s part of a chain that is just about as close Wetherspoons as you can get without actually being a Wetherspoons. You know what I mean – cheap furniture, even cheaper beer, and a distinct lack of atmosphere. That’s not to say that the cheap beer was rubbish though, in fact our Bitter and Twisted was pretty good, and only a fraction more expensive than the current head of the cheap leaderboard at Ye Olde Swiss Cottage. Good stuff.
At this point Keith and Hazel each discovered that the other was also a motorbike enthusiast and launched into a detailed conversation about all things two-wheeled. I leant back, took in the (non)atmosphere, and pretended I knew what was going on. Although, if I’m honest, my sole real experience with bikes was when a mate of my brother’s let me sit on his giant Honda CBX when I was about ten. I promptly fell over and trapped myself under it because I was too weak to hold the bloody thing up. Still, Keith is a massive Norton fan and owner (one of the many things he has in common with Keanu Reeves), and Hazel had just started riding (and possibly rebuilding by the sound of it) a new bike, so there was plenty of knowledge to go round without me.
In truth the place isn’t all that bad, but we wouldn’t recommend booking it for your Christmas Party. We noticed that they had a giant board behind the bar with a sort of Blue Peter Appeal bottle on it the legend “Mystery Cust-o-meter!” adorning it, presumably as a staff incentive. However it was either brand new, or a rubbish incentive because it was completely and utterly empty.
Catch 22 (Turnpike Lane) 2 x ½ Strongbow, ½ San Miguel £5.10
We arrived at Turnpike Lane we thought we were either heading to the Catch 22 Bar or a pub called The Tollgate, but in truth we got majorly confused because there seemed to be more entrances to the station than were strictly necessary and we had no idea which side of the road we had come out on. After a bit of pathetic wandering about looking daft we eventually found some locals who pointed us in the direction of Catch 22 which was indeed just over the road.
Catch 22 is a small but perfectly pleasant gay bar. Pleasant, but certainly not understated – it’s not a place where you could spend any amount of time wondering. Firstly, the familiar rainbow sign is just outside the front door, then there are the number of gay and lesbian flyers and newspapers distributed around the bar (this is definitely the place to pick up your Gay Buddy Map of London, and Hazel spent a lot of time reading Boyz magazine), and finally there is the fact that they had a fridge full of tequila drinks that were packaged in the shape of willies. Not just a vague phallic shape either, they were proper pink and veiny. Sorry.
Anyway, the atmosphere was pretty relaxed, the landlady was most pleasant, and we sat back and cast our eyes around the rest of the room – they had a pool table towards the back, next door to a Dj booth festooned with rope lights. The music was pretty good too – by the way can anyone remember who did that 80s song about “I hear your footsteps in the street/it won’t be long before we meet/It’s ooobvious!” because we were humming it for the next three hours. Hazel thought it was Aztec Camera – she’s probably right.
We finished off our drinks, declined the opportunity to do a round of “tequila cocks” (I’m sure that’s not what they are called) and bade the landlady a fond farewell before moving back off into the North London sunshine.