Saturday, 27 April 2013

Chance #3

I'm starting to think that no-one likes me anymore. Well, I say "anymore" but it could be of course that no-one has ever liked me and their attendance on some of the evenings  out during the tour were just excuses to discover new and exciting drinking holes in London. But at least it made me feel like I was popular and needed and not like a sad old man who keeps pestering people with emails.  

The arrangements for this square however seemed to show a positive effort to avoid the tour at any costs and I have to say that some of the excuses that were made showed a huge amount of ingenuity if not a large slice of imagination. If these people put as much effort into arranging their lives around the tour, everyone would be much happier. But on no, these folk seem to think they can have a life outside of the Monopoly Board! The cheek of it! 

That said though I do have to give credit to Big-J who not only put in a welcome return to the fold, actually made up excuses to attend and pulled off some marvellous bargaining with his nearest and dearest to wangle a night out. The only other attendee was my ever faithful Tonto otherwise known as Spikey Haired Ed......perhaps he just has a worse social diary than me! 

And whilst we're on the subject of Ed, I must give much kudos for his idea of where to go for the evening in the first place. The actual square was the third and final Chance square and when I asked if he had any good ideas for it, quick as greasy flash of lightening he replied, "How about Chancery Lane?" - I couldn't have put it better myself! 

Ed caused a massive pile up stopping commuters entering the station to take this photo. And was it worth it..............?

So like a very boring version of the Three Stooges (Doh, Gary & Shirley perhaps?) we made the convoluted tube journey to Chancery Lane which seemed to involve more walking around the endless corridors of the train stations themselves than actually travelling any meaningful distance toward our destination.  

The first pub was the Melton Mowbray which is on the main road of Holborn itself. It's a very smart Fuller Pie & Ale house (normal pies I think, not special pork ones) and seeing as it was probably the first tour we've done this year in the recent good weather, nicely full with no problems to get to the bar.

And not a pie in sight.

The cheeky eastern European barmaid asked what I wanted and using my usual skill of picking an ale at random I went for the Spring Sprinter, Fuller's seasonal beer for the season. Big-J followed suit and when Ed started umming and arring the barmaid pinged an imaginary bell and told him he'd ran out of time and that she wouldn't serve him. But she did, especially when he made it easy for her and went with the Spring Sprinter as well. 

We retired to a nice seat in the bay window and finally puzzled out the latest series of adverts that have started to appear on the tube. Dara O'Briain, in the way that Brian Cox has made science sexy, seems set to become the prime time entertainment voice of maths and has started posing some arithmetic questions which presumably help people while away their tube journey whilst also promoting his UKTV show School Of Hard Sums. Well good on you Dara, better looking than Carol Vorderman and an improvement on the version I had as a kid, Magnus Pyke. The puzzle we'd spent most of the time chewing over whilst traipsing around Bank Station went something like this. If you have five mice and the first one weighs 16grames and the average weight of the mice goes up by 1g each time you add a mouse (i.e. when you weigh the first two the average increases to 17g) what's the weight of the fifth and final mouse?  

If you can work out the answer before you've read the rest of the blog there's a prize! 

If left the two brainiacs to their puzzling and went to find the certificate. The pub, in the same way as The Chamberlain, had put an outdoors plaque on the inside of the pub but of the actual certificate there was no sign. Risking another run in wit the the barmaid I asked and in what is a rare occurrence she knew exactly what I wanted, and pulled a rather crumply looking certificate from a stack of papers behind the bar. Still a scan is a scan.

No dancing here for Chris

One final point about the Melton Mowbray if you ever go there; check out the brass ashtrays screwed to the sides of the bar. Obviously not used now but somewhere to plonk your loose change I guess. 

It was a quick dice with death as we crossed back over Holborn (remember how Ed is with buses) and popped down Leather Lane to the next pub, the Sir ChristopherHatton, a rather scruffy looking Nicholsons where the drinking crowd had definitely heard about the good weather as they were sprawled all in front of the pub. The inside was much less crowed so we had no problem getting served, three pints of Sticklebract from Itchen Valley Brewery my good man, and finding a table inside.

A huge area of the pub had been cordoned off with signs reading "Reserved, Alex, 5PM) but it was a rather stroppy annoyed looking barmaid who was tearing the signs down a little past 7 o clock, which means I guess that Alex wasn't coming.Well Alex may not have been there, but the certificate was, stuck on the underside of the bar hatch, which meant that Ed and I were two up for the night.

The entrance in Hatton Garden

The final Cask Marque pub of the night was just around the corner in Hatton Garden. Well when I say the pub is in Hatton Garden what I really mean is that the entrance to the pub is in Hatton Garden as the pub itself is down a little alley making it one of London's hidden gems. Almost any pub book that features the capital's pubs will mention Ye Olde Mitre and well they might because it's an absolute gem. Built in 1546 and with stories of Queen Elizabeth I dancing round with SirChristopher Hatton (remember him?) it is like stepping back in time. All the guide books say how hard it is to find but obviously the information is filtering through to some people as there was a healthy crowd teaming both inside and outside the pub. But that said there was a team of eager to serve bar-people and we got served in double quick time, 2 pints of Dragon Slayer from York Brewery and 1 pint of Honey Dew (2 packets of nuts), and still managed to get a free upturned barrel table outside.

If you do decide to visit this place don't leave without visiting the toilets. For a start its one of the few remaining gents where the actual loos are outside (a wee in the evening air is somehow much more satisfying don't you think?) and the positioning of the hand basin must make for the friendliest toilets in the land. "Oh, excuse me. Did I spray on you?" (That could be the washer or the wee-er talking)

Oops, excuse me sir.

Both Ed and I located the certificate, hanging on the wall by the Snug. Alas even after moving the rather arrogant Rodney bloke out of the way we still couldn't get a scan as the pub was too dark.

Can you see the certificate? No, neither could the app.

So we'd completed our three Cask Marque pubs for the night but if you're in this part of town another classic pub you must visit is the Cittie of York. Part of the Sam Smith's stable, who seem to shun any sort of publicity or PR focus, its not Cask Marque accredited but still well worth a visit, and like Ye Olde Mitre seems to feature in each and every London pub guide worth its salt.

Big-J, with an hour's worth of bike riding still ahead of him switched to coke and Ed in an amazing show of self discipline chose just a half of the Taddy Lager. Idiot BGC went with a pint of Sam's Wheat Beer, which proved to be a struggle as perhaps the last remaining vestiges of his latest illness were still around and had decided to show themselves during the 4th pint.

Still a good solid tour night and to all those who missed it, I hope the sock drawer tidying and hair washing was worth it! But, like that horrible cheesy old advert used to say, like the Murphy’s, I'm bitter.

Number of Cask Marque Pubs visited = 188

Did you get the answer = Well it’s 24g.Your prize? Take the weekend off

You want more quizzes? = Name the 30 teams of the NBA in under 6 minutes? Ed got 29.

Next Stop = Park Lane

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