Friday, 27 July 2012

Chance? #1

Just as when I encountered the first Community Chest square, I was left slightly wondering what to do for Chance? There were some obvious suggestions, stick a pin in the tube map, or use Google's “I feel lucky” search to find somewhere, but it was Aussie Pete who came up with the pearling idea of visiting the National Lottery offices of Camelot.

Apparently they used to have offices just off Piccadilly Circus, but now seemed to have moved all their main functions to Watford, no doubt saving them millions of pounds in the process, but they have kept a small Corporate Affair presence in the capital, located in Brettenham House, just on the end of Waterloo Bridge. So it was on a glorious sunny Thursday evening that I confused tourists by having my portrait was taken for prosperity, clutching my lucky Euro Millions ticket for the following day.
"Who wants to be a millionaire?" - Well I have to replace a rail ticket now!

I was accompanied by the same group who had visited the Angel Islington, minus Spiky haired Ed who had decided to join a rival works outing. So we were without the youth but at least we wouldn’t either be delayed for hair styling reasons, or get knocked over by London transport.
First notable point of the visit was the amazingly attractive young lady on the tube whose short summer dress and gravity defying cleavage rendered us all into giggling schoolboys. The walk from Embankment tube through Victoria Embankment Gardens was no better with seemingly crowds of young nubile females descending on the capital for no other reason than to make 4 middle aged men question their moralities.
Once the photo op was captured outside the Camelot offices, it was just a short walk across The Strand into The Wellington, a well positioned Nicholson’s pub, right next door to the Lyceum Theatre for all those thirsty Lion King visitors.
The Wellington - Note lack of mash outside.

It’s certainly an attractive pub, with lovely original features, long wooden bar, moulded ceilings, and neo-gothic exterior. Ok, I got that from the website, but it’s all true! Alas the experience wasn’t up to the expectation. Firstly, there was no Cask Marque certificate to be found, the first barman I asked didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, I might as well have been asking for a barium enema and the second guy earnestly took me to the Cask Marque sign outside the pub. Once I’d explained that I needed the certificate with the QR code he fell into that last retreat of all bemused staff – “Oh, I’m not sure then. You’ll need to come back tomorrow and speak to the boss, she’ll know where it is.” Well, she might know where it is, but she should have it on the wall and she should have told you what it’s all about! 2/10, try harder and how about serving decent potions of mash with your sausage and mash?
Charlie demands more mash in his pint at the Wellington.

Leaving as soon as we could, it was a quick hop back across the Strand, into Savoy Street and the fantastically named Savoy Tup. This, from the exterior signage would seem to be an old Young’s pub but seems to be an independent free house now. The interior is light and fresh and alongside the selection of ales was quite a range of lagers, including one I’d certainly never heard of before, Brauhaus Riegele. The website calls it an “ale” but I’d suggest it’s a standard Bavarian Pilsner, but whatever, it came in a brilliant handled mug and was cool and refreshing on a hot evening. The jolly barmaid also seemed very chuffed that someone was scanning the Cask Marque code (note to the Wellington – there it was proudly displayed on the wall!) – “It never works for me” she commented, grinning when I showed her the pub now sitting in my list of pubs visited.
Savoy Tup, note handled glass resting on belly. Note rail pass falling out of pocket.

The pub was heaving with other drinkers and we stood outside to enjoy our drinks and it was at this point I innocently placed my suit jacket over the top of my man-bag to free up a hand and made the mistake of the evening which was only noticed when we reached the final pub, The Coal Hole a hundred yards further west down the Strand.
My rail pass was gone! I can only presume it had tumbled out of my inverted suit jacket pocket but however it had actually disappeared there was no sign of it even after retracing our steps a couple of times. This obviously brought somewhat of a dampener onto the evening, no matter how many times the boys tried to take my mind off it. Even a fine pint of Purity’s Mad Goose ale, another easy Cask Marque capture from the wall (Wellington, looking at you here!) and a bottle of Duvel failed to raise my spirits and I rather missed all the fine points of the Coal Hole in my depression.
The only photo of the Coal Hole. This was my depressed expression rendered impossible by the botox-ing property of the Duvel

There was a last minute stay of execution for “good times” when a chatty American girl in McDonald’s was tempted by my Hot Chilli Sauce (?) but this was soon snuffed out by the £4.20 charged to go from Embankment to Paddington (get a grip Boris!) and the rail replacement coach laid on by First Great Western.
So much for chance hey!
Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited  = 44

Rallying cry for the next visit = More Mash Now!
Did we miss Spiky haired Ed? = Too bloody right. None of this would have happened if he’d been there with his jack the lad attitude and devil may care trousers.

Next Stop = Euston Road
P.S. There is an obvious Post Script to this in that I now realise I’ve visted three pubs in The Strand when of course I have to visit The Strand later in the tour. Hopefully there’ll be another Cask Marque pub somewhere along the street!

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