Friday, 12 October 2012

Community Chest #2

The second Community Chest square landed us in a bit of a conundrum, just where should we go? It would be far too easy to just Google “Community Chest” and “London” again, which is what I did last time, and pick the next result on the list. There were suggestions of a trip to Soho as apparently you can find “chests” for the “community” there, but leaving aside the erotic implications, on a practical level we’d be travelling too near areas we need to keep for later in the tour.

It was Charlie I think who had the idea of selecting an area we weren’t going to visit anyway and then try to mangle a reason for going there into a connection with Community Chest. I can’t quite remember why Camden got chosen other than it certainly wasn’t going to be an area that we’d be covering on the Monopoly Board and it has a reputation of good drinking places.
So how to mangle a reason into going there……..
But in fact it turned out that inspiration for the reason wasn’t too far away. When I researched the nearby Cask Marque pubs from the Cask Marque site there were basically two pubs at the Camden Town tube station end of Camden High Street, and two pubs at the Mornington Crescent end. Mmmmm………Mornington Crescent……..mmmmm……little bells were beginning to ring and that wasn’t just down to Aussie Pete’s incessantly ringing phone!
Mornington Crescent - Note Michael taking the panoramic picture. Note BGC getting wet.
Fans of the Radio 4 show “I’m Sorry I haven’t a clue” will know the game of “Mornington Crescent” that the panel plays. I’m not going to claim I’m familiar with the rules (in fact isn’t that the “joke” about it all, that no-one really knows the rules? Is that a joke? Is it funny?) but the main point is that on the 24th of June 2002 Tim Brooke-Taylor said “……Community Chest. “Go to Mornington Crescent”. And the audience cheered. Look here’s the proof!
Tenuous? Feeble? Weak? You betcha! But that’s a good as it’s going to get, and anyway the boys were happy with the link and also it’s my bloody Monopoly Game so I guess I can do what I like!
Because of some weekend work we’d had to schedule the tour for a Thursday night but this also clashed with a meeting of company “old boys” which meant that Charlie, Buddy Rob and other potential attendees would not be able to make it. So it was left to the “new boys” of New-Boy Aussie Pete, New-Boy Spiky haired Ed, New-Boy No-Nickname Michael, and New-Boy New guy Mickey and New-Boy BGC to keep the tour on its weekly schedule.
Another thing which seems to be scheduled weekly is the appalling weather as it was teaming down with rain again which made the posing for the snap outside of Mornington Crescent interesting especially when No-Nickname Michael tried to take a panoramic shot which seemed to take an age. Luckily the first pub, The Lyttelton Arms (Lyttelton……Humphrey Lyttelton…….I’m Sorry I haven’t a clue……..this isn’t all done by accident you know!) was just across from the station so we weren’t in a too bad a wet and soggy state when we entered.  The Lyttelton is a smart and trendy place with a vast open plan bar, lots of high tables and stools and sofas and arm chairs by the windows. The beer selection was similarly very smart with 3 real ales and a vast array of interesting and not so common stuff on keg. Erdinger Weissbier seemed like a likely place to start and the other four were more than happy to take part in this classic brew. The barman slightly struggled to get 5 pints poured and it didn’t look quite right in plain pint pots rather than proper glasses but the taste was spot on.
“So what should be the correct glass?” asked Spiky haired Ed as he pouted in a sultry manner. “Well, sort of tall with a bulbous end” I replied only for No-Nickname Michael to chip in with perfect comic timing, “and what did the doctor say to that?” – It doesn’t quite work on paper but we’re more than willing to travel and act it out if you like.
Aussie Pete had asked the punky red-haired barmaid with a bumble bee skirt that was also doubling as a belt where the certificate was and she disappeared “to the office” only to return moments later saying the boss didn’t know where it was. So it would be photo time and a call on Trevor’s good nature to prove the visit. Unfortunately as the nights are closing in it was already too dark to take an outside photo, so I was forced to pose with Spiky haired Ed and a Lyttelton Arms menu. If you’re wondering what I’m doing, it’s my attempt at a sultry pout.
This reminds me of Brucie's Dolly Dealers from Play Your Cards Right
So with a belly full of Erdinger we ventured back out into the rain to find the next pub, the colloquially named Edinboro Castle. Now I was looking forward to this visit as when planning the pubs and the route I always try to tweet the pubs that do Twitter to say that we’re visiting that evening. Well the Edinboro Castle had re-tweeted my tweet so I was fully expecting a brass band fanfare as we entered or perhaps everyone hiding behind the furniture with only whispers of “they’re here, they’re here!”
But first things first, we needed to find the place. I’m afraid the Cask Finder app was a little misleading here as it had the pub right down by Morning Crescent whereas in fact the pub is located on Mornington Terrace which is much further up near to Regents Park. I’m sure Alastair will sort that out though.
Anyway, we eventually did find the place although a huge cloudburst drenched us just as we were getting near the door. Well there were no brass bands and the evening crowd certainly weren’t hiding as we had to push our way through the crush to the bar. Again this place was very similar to the Lyttelton Arms; open plan, funky and trendy and a vast range of beer both on cask and on keg. I stuck a pin the array of taps and picked out Bernard Dark, a black lager from the Czech Republic. This was amazing stuff; strong but sweet and a taste of liquorice and boiled sweets. The other thing was, if you licked your lips after drinking you got a secondary taste all over again – two for your money almost. We asked the blonde “girl next door” barmaid if the certificate was around but again drew a blank as they couldn’t locate it – disappointing, you’d have thought they would have had it framed in gold seeing as they knew we were coming!
Next we're going to start collecting menus
So there we were just hanging and drinking (trying to look funky and trendy) when I did a double-take at who had just walked through the door. No, not someone famous but someone I hadn’t seen since 1998. Well, not exactly true as we had met earlier in the year at a reunion, but it was still a bit of a shock to see former army colleague and the best looking Sgt Major in the world Lovely Heike looking straight back at me. With cries of “what the heck are you doing here!” we fell into each others arms – which was a very cool thing to do as it looked to the boys as if I’d just pulled a stunner in 5 seconds!
Ah......Lovely Heike.
Unfortunately the Monopoly Tour can’t be derailed even for beautiful squaddies so it was with a slight feeling of regret that we said goodbye to Lovely Heike and marched on towards the next pub. The next pub was The Earl ofCamden, down in Parkway towards Camden Town tube station. Are all pubs in Camden open plan trendy hang-outs? Well certainly the Earl was another one but at least this time they had the certificate on display, screwed to the wall behind the bar. As the barman was pouring the 4 pints of Crazy Ox from Oxfordshire Ales and the 1 pint of Cobra for Spiky haired Ed we asked whether we could get a scan. He didn’t seem impressed by my suggestion that he let us behind the bar to scan it, but he was happy enough to take Pete and my phones to do the scan.
We were just settling down to the drinks when another barman came over, “Don’t stand by the bar please.” He said shooing us away. Eh? Why not, the place wasn’t packed and we weren’t blocking the way for anyone, but like good little boys we moved off only to find all the tables were taken so were left to stand by the emergency exit. Surely much more a problem than standing by the bar…………………..
One swift pint later we were stood outside the pub trying to ensure we were on the right track to the final pub when who should walk past but the blonde “girl next door” barmaid from the Edinboro Castle. Well if anyone was going to know where the pub was, surely she would. And sure enough she did, so in only a couple of moments we were back on Camden High Street and entering the Bucks Head.
Old Brewery sign outside the Bucks Head
So, are all pubs in Camden open plan trendy hang-outs? Well no, because the Bucks Head isn’t like that at all, much more traditional, slightly scruffy, dodgy looking clientele and certainly no laws about not standing and drinking at the bar. The exotic barmaids were also more than happy that we could stand slightly behind the bar to get the scan. “What’s that you’re up to” asked the gap toothed Irish fellow perched on a stool at the end of the bar. “Oh, collecting scans” I answered “you get a free T-Shirt.” I added. “Oh, T-Shirts is it” he sagely nodded “I do them for all the shops round here, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Armani, I do them all.”
Leaving Camden’s answer to both Marks and Spencer before he could offer me knock-off after shave and designer handbags, I surveyed the selection of beers and even though the Bucks Head didn’t look as trendy as the others we’d been in this night it still had a vast selection of beers with some really uncommon ones there. I saw the tap for Krombacher and presumed it was their Pils but it turned out to be their Weizen, which was a lovely surprise!
The evening started to spin as pints of Grolsch Blond and Brains IPA were swiftly quaffed and then someone had the bright idea of some shorts. I vaguely remember being presented with a shot of Jägermeister whilst the boys all had Jäger-Bombs, but the main talking point seemed more focused around the can of Red Bull Blueberry which we all approached like cavemen to a fire. “You never seen that flavour before?” piped up a voice from the next table, “we’ve had it for ages.”
Well that’s because the owner of the voice turned out to be a young IT engineer from Austria, which as everyone knows, is the home of Red Bull. “Austria?” squeaked Aussie Pete “I’m from Austria as well!” but Aussie Pete’s geographical idiocies aside we soon made pub-friends with the Austrian and his Spanish colleague – (Yes, I’ve forgotten their names, well that’s if we ever asked them anyway) – who were over for an IT course and returning to Austria tomorrow.
But all good things have to come to an end as I noticed that it was time for me to leave if I was going to give myself a fighting chance of getting a train before the last one home. So whilst the boys all trooped out of the pub and across the road to KFC, I trooped off to Camden Town Tube and some awful timing on my half which saw me indeed have to settle for the last train home!
Imagine how proud of the boys I was this morning when during the night-out post-mortem I discovered that after visiting KFC they’d all gone back in the pub for whisky nightcaps!
Fall Out!
This was after KFC apparently. Mickey, Michael and Ed surround our new friends from Austria and Spain. Aussie Pete has left for Vienna.
Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited = 95 (Goodness, I’m getting close!)
Things to remember = Don’t forget your key.
The next challenge = We’ve had the re-tweet, now we’ve got to get a pub to recognise us.
Next Stop = Marlborough Street

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