Wednesday, 7 November 2012


OK, let’s get something straight. It’s not “The” Strand, or Strand “Street” or Strand “Road” or any other combination of road related words, it’s simply “Strand”.
See - Strand. Now move on.

OK, clear enough? That does mean of course the composers of “Let’s all go down The Strand”, a certain Harry Castling and C. W. Murphy no less, have a lot to answer for but maybe we should forgive them their poetic license. Perhaps the “ ‘ave a banana!” chorus didn’t scan right without the all-important “the”.
Anyway we digress much too much and we should concentrate on the beginnings of the red topped squares and the start of our third side of the board.
For those of you who are glued to every episode of this famous saga you’ll remember that when we did the first of the Chance squares we inadvertently encroached onto Strand (sounds weird with the “the” doesn’t it?) already but luckily for the tour there are lots of possibilities along this street and a nice conglomerate of three pubs at the east end of the street seemed to excuse us the necessity of any repetitions.
But before we slake our thirst at the first of these hostelries we need a quick word about why we were out on a Tuesday night which in anyone’s book is hardly the party night of the week. In short other engagements between me and Aussie Pete (that’s engagements we each had, not an engagement between the two of us!) meant no other day this week could be arranged and it was either go on Tuesday or miss the tour for the week. As we hadn’t had a “proper” tour last week I was keen to ensure we didn’t miss a week and although at first the lads all moaned and groaned it was a still a very well respectable if not understandable but definitely comfortable 4 of us who set off for the legal district of Temple and the three pubs which I'd arranged for tonight's sojourn.
First on the list was the ancient George on the actual Strand itself. Currently run by the Capital Pub Company, a smallish chain of 35 pubs across London. This is a marvellous "ye olde world" half-timbered building which looks to have been here since the great fire but was actually built much more recently give or take a couple of years.
Outside the George - Rubbish photo doesn't do it justice.

The inside is just as amazing as the exterior with low black beams, stained glass partitions and an amazing selection of 9 or so gleaming real ale pumps. The purple legginged barmaid quickly served Aussie Pete and me a lovely dark pint of Dark Star Stout, whilst New Guy Micky ducked out of my recommendation circle and plumped for a pretty average pint of Fosters. At least Spiky haired Ed pushed the boat out somewhat by choosing a pint of Meantime London Lager which he declared to be "very nice". A compliment of the highest order no less, especially from someone who thinks fine dining is picking up a rotisserie chicken from Waitrose! The Cask Marque certificate was easily spotted on the wall just next to the doorway and in terms of scans we were off to a flying start.
Although the pub is an amazing building, unfortunately it does have a slight tourist feel about the place, as if it's almost theme parked to look like an “ye olde world” English pub rather than being the authentic thing. That's a shame because it's much more than that and shouldn’t need to play on this sort of thing.
By George! The range of pumps inside the George

As previously attempted with other pubs, I'd tweeted the pub yesterday that I would be in with the tour, hoping for a red carpet welcome, but unfortunately it wasn't until we were long gone down the lane to pub number three that I saw they had actually re-tweeted the tweet and, high five glasses in the air, actually "favoured" my tweet also. So although we've still not achieved the accolade of being welcomed into a pub by the power of the Tweet, this was at least a step in the right direction. (Quick postscript on this factor – when looking at the George’s website when arriving home it was my Untappd Tweet that was featured on their page!)

Fame at last!
We moved on and slipped silently down the next door passage of Devereux Court into The Devereux itself. This is a secret and silent Taylor Walker pub, tucked round the end of a side street so unobtrusively that almost no-one would know it's there. Which is a shame because it's a little quiet oasis only a couple of hundred metres away from the West End but yet has a local feel about it that The George would probably give its right arm for. That said of course, if everyone knew where it was it wouldn't be a quiet oasis, but leaving stating the obvious aside, it's still a nice tidy place. Unfortunately for all the merits of it's quietness and speed of service, the Hispanic barman couldn't lead us to the certificate and although he threw us a line of "ah, yes, there was someone yesterday looking for it but we don't know where it is", it smacked more of desperation that actual customer concern. Aussie Pete managed to record my bar pump pose for posterity so once again we'll have to rely on Magical Trevor to add to the scans, which also is a shame because Spiky haired Ed was on course for his 25th scan and that would mean celebrating his Cask Marque bottle opener!
Feel pity for Trevor - This is going to land on his desk sometime today!

One beer did for us at the Devereux and it was only a short hop down Little Essex Street to the oddly named Cheshire Cheese for our third and final visit of the night. Now I say "oddly" but in reality it seems that this is a not uncommon name for a pub. Firstly, not too far away in Fleet Street there is a much more well know pub called the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, a Sam Smith's emporium which boasts such historical luminaries as Samuel Johnson and Charles Dickens having drank, played dominos, arm-wrestled and flicked dry roasted peanuts at each other in times past. Also there's another pub called Cheshire Cheese just further along to the east in Crutched Friars, not a million miles away from our work place (which we'll be visiting on the Fenchurch Street Station stop in a couple of weeks time – so stay tuned!). So quite why we have plenty of pubs named after this particular brand of fermented curds and not after Cheddar, Gloucester or Leicester I'm not too sure……..answers on a postcard please.


Anyway this particular Cheshire Cheese is a lovely little boozer (with a ceiling full of chamber pots) again seemingly tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Theatre Land. Obviously it was a Tuesday night so perhaps fearing crowds of swilling drinkers was a wrong assumption but the local type feel to the place was a lovely difference to some of the pubs we've been in lately. The Cask Marque certificate was on display right next to where we chose to sit (well actually there was no choice, it was the only free table) but it allowed Aussie Pete and I to pull a classic pose for the  tour and showed off Aussie Pete's bright yellow jumper to the best of its garish and  gaudy ability.
Note manly difference in Movember 'taches

One pint led into two and two led into three, especially as New Guy Micky kept the salt and vinegar crisps flowing and charging each new round to his credit card, which certainly was generous if not a little misguided.
It was perhaps one of the more sedate evenings on the tour and certainly I was able to put my new tablet to good use typing the story up on the train home rather than the last time I tried to use it and it looked like a cross between a Tourettes sufferer and Stephen Hawkins had tried to type up the adventure.
A final postscript – Those of an observant nature will see that the appearance of the blog has changed somewhat – This new styling is all down to the design skill of New Guy Micky and my skill at wheedling this marvellous work for free. Micky is available for all types of design work and can be contacted at his cousin’s strip club……………..
Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited = 108 (with one to come)
Fashion Advice = Yellow isn’t always mellow
Relationship Advice = Don’t play ‘Indecent Proposal’ with Spiky haired Ed
Next Stop = Chance #2

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