Saturday, 18 August 2012

Pentonville Road and Go To Jail!

Returning after 10 days enforced chilled lager drinking I was keen to take up the reins of the Monopoly Challenge once more, especially as I was also hanging on at 49 Cask Marque certificate scans and desperate to reach the half century.

I actually thought I might make the magical 50 on my departure from the UK, but although Weatherspoons’s Windmill at Stansted Airport is Cask Marque accredited it only has the old style certificate without the QR code. So it wasn’t until my return and a meeting with fellow West Berks CAMRA member @timofnewbury that I claimed my 50th scan at The Hatchet in Newbury town centre. I’d previously attempted to scan this pub but the certificate has been hung so high on the wall I needed to stand on a chair in order to get it! The barmaid made a feeble attempt to warn me off by quoting Health and Safety but luckily Tim was on hand to record the event and make sure I didn’t fall. So Alastair -@caskmarque it’s over to you now to get me my T-Shirt – I’m still waiting for the bottle opener BTW!! J
50 not out! Here's to the next 50!

After leaving Tim, it was off to London to continue the Monopoly Odyssey, picking up the trail at Pentonville Road, and those familiar with the Monopoly Board will know it’s the last of the light blue properties. Whilst watching the excellent BBC series of programs about London Streets (The Secret History of our Streets) I’d noticed that Pentonville Road is relatively near to Pentonville Jail (it’s all the name) being joined by the focus of program 3,the Caledonian Road. This meant that I should be able to do a double-square visit and hence complete the first side of the board.
The junction of Pentonville Road and Caledonian Road

Pentonville Road itself runs between Kings Cross Station and The Angel Islington and look to have no Cask Marque accredited pubs along it, but I then noticed via the Cask Marque mobile phone app that there was a new pub actually in Kings Cross station itself. But surely you would have done this one when doing the Kings Cross square I hear you ask? Well actually no, because Fuller’s The Parcel Yard has literally just opened!

Taking station boozers to new hights

Located above Platform 9 (just by the queue of idiots lining up to take photos of Platform 9 ¾ - yes seriously, there was a queue, and all of them adults!) The Parcel Yard is a truly wonderful pub. Leaving aside that there’s the full range of Fuller’s beers on draught they also stock other well regarded brews from Meantime Brewery, Veltins Lager and lots of other bottled goodies. The design is excellent with a mix of railway memorabilia, classic Fuller’s advertisements and an almost school science laboratory look with white tiles and lab stools. The only downside was that the management couldn’t find the Cask Marque certificate as it was seemingly lost during the opening panic. This of course gives me the excellent excuse to revisit at some point and just to say that Fuller’s really have raised the bar in terms of station pubs. I thought the Doric Arch was great (and it still is) but this place is superb and I’d recommend any thirsty traveller to try it.
From there it was a nice stroll up the Caledonian Road in the warm summer’s sunshine to the back of Pentonville Jail where I took a quick photo and then scurried away down Wheelwright Street just case someone thought I was planning a break out.
I turned right!

The thing that stuck me as I made my way to the HemingfordArms was that not more than a couple of hundred metres away from the jail you enter the sort of residential area where a basement flat probably costs nearly a million quid. If the genteel people where I live knew they were living anywhere near a jail, they’d flee into the hills but yet in this part of Islington there are some seriously nice houses!
Hemingford Arms - The windows don't need cleaning!

The Hemingford Arms itself is an impressive ivy frontaged building located on the corner of a mini roundabout. As I say the front of the pub looks staggering with the ivy interspersed with colourful hanging baskets and the inside is no less impressive with an arrangement of oddities and articles that really does have to be seen to be believed. Please check out some of the pictures on the pub’s website to see the sort of things they have there, it’s quite possibly the best location for a game of i-spy ever! Talking of i-spy, what’s this I see, the Cask Marque certificate proudly displayed behind the bar but oh no, it’s another old one without the QR code! The landlady assured me that she has got accreditation for next year, but they “just haven’t sent me the certificate yet” – but this put me a bit of a quandary as I’d now visited the two locations I wanted to, but hadn’t achieved a single scan.
I-Spy an accordian and a miner's lamp

So it was then detour time as I wandered past some more seriously nice houses in trendy Islington feeling more out of place than a pensioner with a mobile phone (one bloke out walking his dogs gave me such a dirty look as I walked down Barnsbury Street I almost felt I was burgling his house already) until I reached The Barnsbury on Liverpool Road. The first thing I couldn’t work out is why the place was so empty when all the other pubs I’d either been in or walked past were heaving with Friday night drinkers, in most cases spilling out onto the pavements to enjoy the nice weather.
The Barnsbury

It couldn’t be the beer as the pint of RCH Old Slug Porter was superb and looking around at the range of other beers, both on draught and in bottles this was a rear beer drinkers’ paradise. The only thing I couldn’t spot whilst looking around was the Cask Marque certificate and even the new bar manager Peter couldn’t seem to find it. “I know it’s here somewhere” he said whilst rummaging through a drawer full of old pump clips. Even though I was dreading “striking out” for the third time that evening, I couldn’t fault his enthusiasm to try to help me, and joy upon joy, it was eventually rewarded when he found the certificate hiding on a pin-board behind another poster. I also have to report on one of the most erotic scenes I’ve ever experienced in a pub when the pretty punky barmaid with pink and blue hair and Doc Martins explained to the new pretty perky barmaid with gold trainers which beer glasses to use with which beer. She then topped this advice when warning her colleague as she poured a pint of Brew Dog’s Punk IPA to “make sure you brim it, and don’t spill a spot – it’s expensive stuff!” – I reckon a better motto to live you life by would be hard to find and I think I’ll adopt it as my motto!
So with the first scan of the evening under my belt I was on a roll and decided to cut through Cloudesley Square past some more seriously nice houses and past the seriously nice Celestial Church of Christ to the seriously nice Crown, another pub from that seriously nice brewer, Fuller’s.
The Seriously Nice Crown

The pint of London Porter was seriously nic……….yeah ok you get the picture, but perhaps not as seriously nice as the lovely bar manager lady who had to fetch the Cask Marque certificate from the upstairs office. One thing I’ve noticed with the Cask Marque app, is that it needs a good 3G connection to register any scans and this can mean once you’ve scanned a certificate you then need to wander out of the pub before the scan registers. This happen at the Crown and I almost needed to wander back down Liverpool Road to The Angelic before I managed to secure the visit.
The Angelic

The Angelic is definitely a young person’s pub. The evening was wearing on now and I was starting to feel my age, surrounded by the young beautiful and trendy just beginning their Friday night’s fun, it was lucky that the Cask Marque certificate was freely available on the wall where it’s meant to be and I didn’t have to ask anyone else to jump through any hoops.
From there I found I’d come full circle as I was back at The Angel tube station just by the place Spiky haired Ed nearly met his demise at the hands of the Red London Bus. And with 53 scans and still going strong, it’s onto the next “side” of the Monopoly board. Cheers!
Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited  = 53
Remember! = Brim it! And don’t spill a drop!
Want to record your beer drinking exploits? = (and add me as a friend!)
Next Stop = Pall Mall

1 comment:

  1. Another awesome post, Rich! I need to discover some of these other areas of London!