Day 9 (18th July 2009)
The summer dragged on, a seemingly endless parade of hazy hot days, beautiful sunshine, occasional cool breezes, the smell of barbecues every afternoon. That was the summer in our heads of course, the real summer continued on in a distinctly British fashion, with high winds and torrential downpours occasionally interspersed with half an hour’s sunshine. Still, so far we had been immensely lucky with our days out and had managed to avoid most of the rain. We were also starting to look at the long game, realising that if we were to finish this excellent adventure in as few days as possible we needed to plan a few outings in advance, and try and tie up a few loose ends as we went.
The pain of day four on the Northern Line, although all the way back in January, was still fresh in our minds – going to the wrong pub in Belsize Park, missing Mill Hill East altogether, and of course the horror of failing to get a lock-in at High Barnet. We decided that today was the day to put all this right, to eradicate our mistakes and indeed rewrite part of the history of our marathon. We then thought, once we’d done all of this we might as well go and do a load of the South London sections of the Jubilee and Bakerloo lines. A truly mixed day then, covering at least three lines and crossing the river at least three times.
There were rumours of potential guest stars arriving later, but for the moment we set off in our original, streamlined, two person format. We were ready to move quickly, but also conscious of the fact that we would need to keep our eyes open. Mainly because there was Ashes Cricket and the Open Championship going on today, so we needed a good proportion of pub TVs to keep us up to date with essential sporting events.
The Haverstock Arms (Belsize Park) 2 x Sambrook’s Wandle £3.00
Due to the eccentricity and varied nature of British opening hours from pub to pub, we started in Belsize Park – ie The Haverstock Arms was the only pub that we knew was open at 11am. We mused on just how much closer it really was than the George that we had gone to last time – how could we have missed this place? Especially since it is famous…..
Yep, that’s right – famous. Folk of a certain age during the nineties would have found it difficult to ignore the all conquering ginger machine that was Chris Evans at that time. Such was Evans’ rampart egotism and croney-ism, he felt that he needed to get the real life landlord of his local pub to appear on his show TFI Friday. That chap was called Andrew, and his pub was The Haverstock Arms.
Nowadays it offers rooms for £60 a night and Full English Breakfasts for a fiver a pop, but it is still something of a shrine to its illustrious recent history. Andrew wasn’t there when we arrived, but just in case the average punter was in any doubt, there were about a million photos along one wall showing the good landlord with various hugely famous guests from the show. The rest of the walls (and it really was every square inch of space) were covered with a wideranging collection of bits of sporting pictures and memorabilia. Don’t let that put you off, however, because it’s actually a pretty good pub. It also had 3 big screen TVs, all of which were at that point showing the glorious site of an Australian batting collapse as England tried to force the follow-on.
They had an interesting mix of beers, including Adnams Bitter, Seafarer and Fullers London Pride, but in the spirit of adventure and supporting locally produced goods, we plumped for the Sambrook’s Wandle, “Brewed in the Heart of London!” Which means Battersea. It was actually pretty good – not the most outstanding beer we had tried, but perfectly good quaffing ale nonetheless.
There was also an oven in the middle of the floor. A big industrial type microwave type thing – literally in the middle of the floor. I asked the lady behind the bar if they were trying out a new self service restaurant idea but she inexplicably failed to see the funny side. That’s marks off for lacking in sense of humour. Maybe she was just concentrating on the cricket – and quite right to, because as we walked out the door Collingwood took a fine catch off the bowling of Graham Onions and Australia slumped to 196 for 9. Come on! It was clearly going to be a good day.