Day 9 cntd (18th July 2009)
The Horse (Lambeth North) ½ Bulmer’s, ½ Strongbow, ½ Young’s Bitter £5.00
Well thank God for that. Things were starting to look up slightly as the evening drew towards its end, because we found ourselves at The Horse, a mere hop, skip and stumble from Lambeth North. Immediately we could see that it was a vast improvement on any of the previous three dives.
It had clearly undergone a bit of modernization, although it admittedly had settled on a slightly dubious colour scheme – all oranges and reds that I’m sure were supposed to be warm and welcoming, but were actually just loud. However, apart from this, the place was charming; it had a nice atmosphere, pleasant staff, and plenty of people sitting down munching happily away on pizza.
“And it’s girl friendly” announced Sian confidently, “Look, they’ve got handbag clips at the bar” (something, let’s face it, me and Lewis would never have noticed).
It was something of a shame that we had arrived after ten, because they were closing the small outside area at the front, and it was after all a stunning, balmy summers evening. Still, never mind. We settled down at the bar with our drinks, having been served by the lovely Aiste (we had to ask her how to spell it), who was from Lithuania of all places. Clearly not quite full from the myriad of fried snacks we’d experienced at Waterloo, we decided to take advantage of the more exotic fare on offer in The Horse and bought ourselves some Wasabi Nuts (Sounds more like a painful medical condition, but they were delicious, and you get a big pot for £1.20).
There was an ornate spiral staircase in the corner of the room, but by this point it was far too late in the day to make the risky looking ascent – although we were suddenly tempted when Sian told us that it “Leads Up to the Lap Dancing Bar”. Can’t be true. But if it is, how did she know?
The Ring (Southwark) 2 x Pint Sharps Doom Bar, 1 x bt Magners Pear £10.00
Well, even after twenty minutes supping up our beers and munching on nuts, the evening was still firmly on the pleasant and balmy side, so we decided to take a gentle stroll back past Waterloo and on to our final destination at Southwark. A happy journey overall, but as we walked past numerous cracking pubs (The Windmill, The Cut Bar, The Anchor and Hope) it was all the more galling that we had ended up in such a Sheisseloch in Waterloo Station.
Luckily for us there was one more quality pub on The Cut, and that one was on the corner directly opposite Southwark station. The Ring was to be our final destination for the day, and having just walked possibly more than half a mile, we were overcome with renewed thirst – therefore the fast-becoming-traditional end of session pint was in order rather than the usual half. The Ring was still buzzing at this point, and unlike The Horse, no-one was going to dictate to them when they closed their outside area, which meant we would be able to finish alfresco. Nice.
Apparently a boxing club used to be on the site where the Ring now stands (hence the name), and as we stood at the bar we could see numerous boxing pictures around the walls keeping the ties to the past alive. We could also see some random quotes around the bar – some extremely highbrow: “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains” from Jean Jacques Cousteau; and some not quite so highbrow, but perhaps more fitting to myself and Lewis: “I drink, therefore I am” from WC Fields, or an episode of Happy Days, depending on who you ask.
We moved to our open air spot and ploughed into our Doom Bar – which was one of the best pints of the day, despite the late hour – and the Magners Pear Cider (didn’t we once upon a time used to call this “Perry”?), which was, frankly, sweet and nasty in comparison. And overpriced. Much fine conversation ensued between the three of us about much more highbrow stuff than you would expect at this time of night – we even had to make a record that “At 10.46pm, Mr Keith Lewis used the phrase ‘holistic approach’ in an actual sentence”.
The Ring is a very cool pub nowadays, with a relaxed atmosphere and some very decent beer. As such it was the perfect place to finish a slightly strange day: back and forward all over town, but as always with some excellent guest stars on the way – Kim and Mark earlier on, and Sian later, who had stayed the course like a trooper, and bought more than her fair share of rounds. We salute you all!