An Illuminating Snowy Day In Walsall.

I woke up on Saturday to a sprinkling of snow. Not quite the 3 foot deep efforts that we used to get in the 1970’s but still enough to raise a tut or two. Now don’t get me wrong, white is my favourite colour but not when it’s all over the pavement and reducing my usual power walk to an awkward trudge.

It was the last Saturday of the month and that meant one thing. AJ’s Ales was open for business, so snow or not it was going to be done.

First up though was a visit to my favourite cafe Jack & Ada’s. This was my first visit since they installed one of the displays from the long lost and sadly missed Walsall Illuminations. It is in full working order and looks amazing. You can read more about it here

This is just amazing.

Time to order came, and I’m not really one for dabbling with the 7 Deadly Sins but I must confess to being very envious of the lady in front who ordered a caramel latte. I was too scared to ask for it myself so opted for a mug of tea. Standard.

Whilst waiting for the food I casually perused the menu and noticed that they now do what they call “The Walsall Omelette” which boasts an additional egg and more ingredients that’s standard counterpart. These people clearly know the residents of this great town like their food, and it’s something for me to consider next time.

With the exceptional breakfast demolished, the tea downed in one, and the urge to sneak back up to the counter for a caramel latte suppressed it was time to head to AJ’s.

AJ’s Ales is a microbrewery opened in 2014 and it does excellent beer. It only opens once a month for drinking so it’s always good to head there. On arrival there were a few people I know already present including friend of the blog Ernie. I went straight for a Beertrice, a 4.8 pale hoppy beer named after the Walsall CAMRA logo. The beer was in excellent nick.

This was superb.

My mate Dave arrived, we had another couple of excellent pints, and I also had a ham cob despite having breakfast. The cobs are just a quid at AJ’s and they are good. Bargain price too without the need for any Black Friday nonsense.

I’m never likely to be able to afford to turn left on a plane, and I never turn left when leaving AJ’s but today we did. I wanted to go somewhere I hardly go, and the New Inn fitted that bill.

I like the new smoking shelter but the place still reminds me of the Amytiville House.

The wind chill cut us in half en route and I was praying the fire would be roaring but it wasn’t. Closed off with a solid metal guard. Rubbish. I loitered by the radiator but it had little effect so I sat down and enjoyed a bit of classic Chicago action on the Now 80’s tv channel. Unfortunately this was soon replaced by “Mickey” by Toni Basil, a song that was the absolute bane of my life at primary school and the main reason I still despise being called Mickey 40 years later.

Standard Saturday afternoon pub departure time.

We moved on and hit The Oak Inn, again I sought out the radiator, I was stood by it so long Dave thought I was hiding in the toilet. I joined him at the table but we were in the half of the pub with television showing horse racing, which attracted my attention only briefly when I saw a jockey wearing a top like the Walsall FC home kit of 97/98. My interest didn’t last long enough to see how he got on.

From there we went to The Red Lion. They sadly don’t allow people upstairs anymore so I sat at the back of the pub on a table behind the curtain where the artists appear from of a weekend. I considered pulling the curtain closed, then bursting through it to put on a turn but the potential audience wasn’t big and I only perform for paying audiences these day.

Due to the cold, we decided two out of three ain’t bad.

We went in the now renamed Bar Sports (complete with bonus letter s at the end unlike the old days), the highlight in here was finding out that the cheap beer offers in the week are also valid until 9pm of a weekend.

We went in The Watering Trough as I will still cold. This place had to have the fire on. They had it going one day in Summer so surely it would be tonight. We walked in. No fire. Rubbish. I’ve heard good things about Inch’s Cider and they have it on sale here so I tried it and it was good. The DJ set start and it was loud. Seriously loud, so we ventured outside. Just as we were leaving someone came out and turned on the massive heater and upon getting inside the fire was now roaring. The Heat God’s clearly were not on my side today.

A quick one for the road in Flans followed but I don’t think alcohol and icy pavements are a good mix so I called it a night. Cracking day. And I finally felt warm after about an hour in bed.

Thirsty Thursday In Brownhills.

Morning everyone. It’s been a while. Apologies for the lack of blogs of late, but here is one about a little wander around Brownhills.

On Thursday evening I was at a loose end, a bit thirsty and in dire need of some blog inspiration so at the third time of asking I jumped on the number 10 bus (I missed one by seconds and the next one just drove past the stop) and headed to Brownhills, the most northern point of the Walsall borough.

I hadn’t eaten properly and as the bus approached the Hussey Arms I remembered how good the food is in there, but I’ve been spending too much on takeaways and meals of late and I’m trying to cut this cost down. I had an R Kelly lyric pop into my head. “My mind’s telling me no, but my body, my body’s telling me yes”. But as it was now dark and I wasn’t overly convinced that I knew where my first pub to visit was, my mind won and I remained on the bus.

First point of call was The Waterside, which is very much tucked away up a side street, and I only learned of it’s existence when scrolling around maps on the pubsgalore website when trying to find places to visit on Pub 365 Challenge volume 3 back in 2017. My notes from that sole visit was “cracking bogs, very friendly staff”. I couldn’t remember what the toilets were like so I was eager to see why they had impressed me so much. I found the pub easily enough, which is good as I was worried that I would take a wrong turn and end up ambling down the A5 which is a bit of a long road, but there was a distraction opposite the pub. A fish and chip van. Now I have heard of these things but never actually seen one. I was very excited, still peckish but also still thirsty so pub won.

Good start to the night.

The barmaid was friendly but delivered the grave news that the chip van wouldn’t be outside for long. The quiz machine wouldn’t take my money so I sat down and watched a bit of tele. I don’t really have the time or inclination to watch tv, that fact that I am still half way through series 2 of True Blood probably speaks volumes for this.

I turned into Mavis from Open All Hours at this point.

The toilets were good although I can’t see why I rated them so highly on my previous visit. I did like the cubicle doors, and the floor space is probably just about big enough for a game of Twister.

A good pub visit, and I must pop back here again next time I’m in Brownhills. The chip van had done one though by the time I left.

Next up was The Jiggers Whistle, a pub celebrating it’s 4th birthday this weekend. I walked in, was greeted by Colin the gaffer, and I’d barely go my coat on the back of the chair when a man approached and asked “what do you want mate?”. I didn’t know who he was but asked for the golden ale, thinking it was very nice of him to buy me a pint. It was only when he walked behind the bar and started pulling said pint that I clocked he was staff and just doing his job, I am very easily confused.

Great pub.

I had time for a second pint and as this pub is the current Walsall CAMRA Cider Pub Of The Year, I had a Raspberry Ripple cider which was ace, and whilst drinking this a lad at the next table came over for a chat. He supports Aston Villa but has gone to a few Walsall games of late and recognised me. I’m always up for talking about Walsall FC so this was a pleasant development.

The Shoulder Of Mutton was next up. I’ve only been in here twice before. First time I was stared at by several people which was unnerving, next time was Friday night disco, and before I’d even got through the door I’d been greeted by two of the locals and been given the nickname of Noddy by one of them and it was a superb visit. I wondered which version of The Mutton I was getting this time.

What a place.

Well, a gent outside gave me a friendly “hello”, and upon entering I was greeted by a very friendly lady and a dog. The barman was friendly and polite and it was busy with a good atmosphere. I’ve not noticed the decor on my previous visits but it is a mixture of humorous alcohol signs and lots of things about musicians. Next to the dart board is an array of blank betting slips, a takeaway menu and randomly a leaflet for a hotel in Blackpool but this sums up what a great down to earth boozer this is. Another cracking visit.

Next up was my first visit to the new Jack Jigger Taylor pub. I think it’s run by the same company that has the Tap And Tanner in Walsall Town Centre and it very much has that same feel. Service was quick and my beer was served in a proper jug style glass (it’s only that staff in the Black Country Arms that normally know I like this style) and I settled down and before I’d taken a sip of beer another person who recognised me from Walsall games joined me for a chat. He told some great stories of following The Mighty Saddlers from way back in the 60’s. Needless to say this was another enjoyable beer.

New pub alert. When could I last say that?

On the way to the final pub I spotted Mario’s Fish Bar. a chip shop that I’ve heard repeated good things about on the Brownhills Bob Facebook page. It had to be done. I ordered the £1.70 cone of chips. I paid the £1.70. What I got couldn’t have been further from a cone of chips. It was mossiv. A delightful mix of battered and plain chips, and despite it being a decent walk to The Anchor I still had some left upon arrival. I loitered outside trying to finish them, (while the chip van from earlier approached) but with the clock ticking to my intended 10pm bus back I had to admit defeat and leave a few. What an absolute bargain.

Final pub was The Anchor. On my last visit here with Mase and Goughy it was just us 3, the barmaid and DJ in the place. This time however it was very busy which is good to see. I had to search for the toilets and the barmaid stepped in as I was heading to the ladies. She diverted me to the other side of the pub and as I approached the gents a flustered looking lady exited them. We must have been on some kind of bizarre wrong toilet exchange visit.

It was a quick enjoyable pint, I made the 10 at 10. God that sounds like some kind of local radio feature. You can tell I still dream of being a dj even though my voice sounds like someone gargling with a couple of full ash trays.
Absolute superb night. Brownhills you were a blast. I can’t wait to go back.

Friday. Fried Chicken Day. And Pubs Night.

On Friday night it was the birthday drinks for friend of the blog Kate, in Wolverhampton. After an extremely busy day where I think I answered more phone calls than an minor celebrity on a television fundraiser, I think I’d earned a drink.

Kate’s birthday badge, made for her by Daz. Classic stuff.

Food was first on the agenda however, and it was a visit to a branch of my favourite chicken purveyor. I don’t really get to eat their food nowadays since they closed the Walsall town centre outlet, a decision that really makes me want to change the f in KFC.

As I walked off the Science Park where I work I was greeted by the sight of a man with a television camera and a younger lass being filmed in the middle of a road roundabout. I momentarily had the idea of running up being the lass and messing about like it’s the law to do behind reporters on Sky Sports News during transfer deadline day but I had chicken on my mind so the moment passed. Plus my agent would have been displeased at me being filmed without his permission.

The food was quickly demolished and it was beer time. Daz, Nat, Kate and Neil were already two pubs to the good as they had visited The Great Western and Moon Under Water but they’d moved on to the Hogshead by the time I was ready to meet them and the number 32 bus dropped me off right outside.

The Hogshead is a really cool bar although I was a bit miffed to see Halloween stuff all over the place. Far too early. For me Halloween decorations should have the same rule as Christmas ones. Put them up the day before and take them down 12 days afterwards.

I grabbed a pint of Robinson’s “Dizzy Blonde” (which was excellent) and settled down next to the others and beside a hand sanitiser station with a makeshift spiders web on it. Some bizarre discussions occurred, a lady was doing a live acoustic set and it was a really enjoyable visit. So we stopped for another.

Next up was The Posada. It was turning into a blonde evening as the beer choice in here was Ossett “Yorkshire Blonde” which was also in good nick. There is a beautiful old school jukebox in here which was blasting out “Drive” by R.E.M. Kate asked if I was putting any songs on but I said “nothing I put on can top this”. And none of the subsequent songs did either. As we left Kate made a reference to the Prince song “Raspberry Beret” about going out through the in door, and that was it. I was singing this all the way to the next pub. Which was by the fountain. Kate challenged me to dance in the fountain whilst singing said Prince song. I don’t often get the chance t impress the ladies so in I went. Not a great idea to get wet whilst the night is still young but it was a good laugh.

In The Posada.
I’m glad the words clarified hand dryer as my 1st glance at the picture I thought it was for drying something else.
Yeah, don’t dance in fountains kids. It’s not big or clever and you get wet. Fun though.

From there we went to The Lychgate Tavern and finally onto The Dog And Doublet. It was nice to visit this place as it’s one of my favourite Wolverhampton pubs. It bought back memories of my last visit where I was the only customer. I had a glance around and there was nobody in the vicinity so I let out a pretty decent fart thinking I would get away with it. Within 30 seconds the cute barmaid appeared to collect glasses. She didn’t comment on the smell but I still quickly supped up and left her to it. Said barmaid was not on duty on this visit.

Anyway there was another lady doing an acoustic set and she was really good, but we caught the end of her act and she was replaced by music through the speakers. I have theory that when I try to leave a pub they play a great song to try and make me stay and in this case it was “Hedonism” by Skunk Anansie. But I had a 529 bus to catch, so I said my goodbyes to the others and fled.

Upon leaving I was approached by one of those flower sellers but I said “I have no-one to buy a rose for” and she quickly walked away in search of better customers.

The 529 is a service created by Satan himself, and he pulled his finger out a treat this time as the bus I’d missed Hedonism for didn’t turn up, leaving a 30 minute for the next one. I normally stop in a pub in Willenhall on the way home from Wolvo to use the toilet and bar facilities but with the now later departure this wasn’t an option, so I popped in The Sunbeam next to the station, bought a bottle of Coke (in a glass bottle – result) used their loo and then jumped on the bus.

The driver of this bus must have been on a promise as he didn’t mess about and I was soon back in Walsall so a visit to The Tap & Tanner was called for. A couple of very pleasant pints followed, a guy doing a very loose and freestyle version of Simply The Best on the karaoke was a highlight but soon the last bus home at 00.27 was calling so I ran for it. A great evening.

Living For The Weekend.

It had been a busy, stressful week with no time to myself but come Friday evening I had no plans, and although this blog was on hiatus until after the pantomime I thought I’d pop out on a little solo pub crawl and see if I could gather any material. I love a pub crawl on my own but try not to do it often but this one didn’t disappoint. I also needed to test the camera on my new phone so apologies in advance for all the pictures on this edition.

First up was The Lyndon Hotel. This has recently changed hands after being owned by the Towe family for 26 years. Disappointingly I didn’t manage to get in during the last week of the old ownership and this was my first chance to get in since the take over.

The Lyndon featuring some of the road works which have taken over the town recently.

Whilst waiting to be served a lady approached the bar putting a scarf around her neck. “I’m going to go” she announced to a man at the bar. He turned and handed her a large glass of wine. She accepted it without comment and sat back down at the table. Someone else so easily swayed by booze. What a lady.

Numerous real ales were still on, which was the main thing. A choice of two Enville ales were available so I went for Enville White as white is my favourite colour so it had to be done. The pub was very busy but I found a gap to sit down and relax a bit. A barmaid came round doing a collection for someone who was celebrating her birthday but also leaving her job at the pub. She went to the table next to me, ignored me, went to neighbouring table on the other side, then ignored the next one. Odd way to do things but I pledged to put the £2 I would have chucked in, into my end of night Baileys fund.

Next up was Black Country Arms. I went for Mallinsons Columbus. I’ve been to the Mallinsons brewery in Huddersfield so it was nice to have their beer even though it was on handpull number 13. Double bad whammy for me with it being an odd and unlucky number. I also opted for a pork and stuffing cob as I’d not really had tea. I’d just rustled up 2 crumpets, Salt Bae I most certainly am not. After ascending the stairs carefully so as not to spill beer and making notes from the previous pub with the cob winking at me my mouth was watering like I’d had 5 packs of Opal Fruits. The cob was ace and was quickly devoured.

David Bailey I’m not either.
Friday night dinner. Ace cob and beer in a proper glass.
The BCA toilet floor. I like to imagine that the baddy out of Terminator 2 is going to emerge out of it.

From there I went to The Victoria (Katz) where the amazing SeaCider Raspberry Ripple was on, so I grabbed a pint of that and dashed upstairs to have a blast on the free retro gaming machine. I had a fantastic half hour playing Metal Slug, a ridiculously good mid 90’s shoot em up where you are up against it all the time but can also take out enemies who are sunbathing, roasting chickens over a fire or just having a natter. I completed the game using just 28 continues.

Katz with traffic cone marking the start of the newest set of road works which started this week.

From there it was off to the Walsall Arms. The disco was in full flow and it was ace. During the playing of the amazing Billy Ocean song “Red Light Spells Danger” a lass beckoned me up to dance. My God, this never happens so I was up and throwing some shapes within seconds. I don’t have much history of dancing with the ladies as I am always too scared to ask due to my confidence levels fluctuating between “absolute zero” and the lofty heights of “negligible”. The last time I asked a lady she went immediately straight on full Eddy Grant mode “I Don’t Wanna Dance”. Anyway once up there was no stopping me and I carried on dancing, even staying for an additional pint than I had planned. I forgot the Baileys though. Oh well, the £2 can go into Saturday’s steak pie fund.

Wrap your Walsall Arms all around me.

Breakfast on Saturday came courtesy of St Matthews Hall, our town’s Wetherspoons. It was a bit Challenge Anneka to make the 11.30 cut off due to a much needed long lie in, general lethergy, a late mossive mug of tea, no show buses, diversions, one way systems and our old friend temporary traffic lights. I made it with 10 minutes to spare but felt really bad for the lad who arrived at 11.33 and was turned away for breakfast. He seemed generally gutted.

Two latte’s, breakfast, a wander around town and a Strawberry Slush Puppy later I headed to Katz again. My mate Pezza arrived and he gave me a lift to the match. I missed the first Walsall goal as I was still in the Bescot Bar but I was in the stand for our injury time winner and a beautiful moment it was too. Then it was back in the Bescot Bar for drinks with my niece Amber and a photo opportunity with legendary ex Walsall FC keeper Jimmy Walker.

Me and Super Jim.

From there we headed to Katz, then onto The Registry for the England match with lots of mates and then we ended up at Katz again. 3 visits in one day? My kind of hat-trick. I’m hoping for a signed ball off Jase and all the bar staff next time I go in.

So yeah, it’s been good. Amazing what good friends, booze and a late Walsall FC win can do to perk you up.

It’s Damn Worth Going To Tamworth.

Yesterday was a fuzzy start to the day. All my own fault having had far more drinks than I planned too on Friday night. It was with some reluctance that I got out of bed but it had to be done. While loads of my mates were off to Newport to watch the Walsall FC match, I was heading to Tamworth for beer festival and pub goodness along with a catch up with great mates Sean and Madels, with their respective partners Sammy and Pam.

First stop was the the Corner Cafe in Caldmore to line the stomach then it was into town for the train. I’m happy to report that this trip saw me take yet more steps into this century as I was travelling with my tickets on my phone courtesy of a QR code for the first time. How much better is this? No more pulling out your wallet and fumbling around for tickets. All you have to do now is pull out phone, unlock phone, find Outlook app, scroll through a weeks emails and download your ticket. So much more efficient. During the downtime at Birmingham New Street I took screen grabs of both tickets just to speed things up a tad.

Anyway the train was bustling, train beers were about with a group of young ladies already on the shots and a lad opposite getting stuck into bottles of Stella. I however had a bottle of Barr’s Limeade. It has been said that I need to up my train beer game and I think this proved it.

Soon I was in Tamworth and straight to the festival. The beers were good and the discussions ace as per usual, the highlight being the need to set up a festival in Walsall called “Death By Mead”. I think we could sell that out both in terms of tickets and Mead.

The beer festival bible.

Whilst the beers were good, the ciders were another level even Dane Bowers would have approved. I had toffee apple, raspberry ripple, black forest and another whose name escapes me, but they are so drinkable and can go down so quick so I thought it was best to slow down and go back on the ales.

Yes my glass is empty. I think it’s been photo shopped.

Despite the full English on the morning I soon had the munchies. Last time I did Tamworth Beer Festival the food was epic but this time it was things like pies, sausage rolls and bizarrely half Scotch Eggs. Seriously who buys half a Scotch egg? So I ran away. Fortunately there was a CO-OP round the corner so I headed there. I wanted to partake in the meal deal but I really couldn’t be arsed to work which things qualified as a side. So I had a cheese and ham sandwich with two scratch cards, the latter sadly not being part of the meal deal.

On my penultimate toilet trip I noticed three people huddled around a screen watching eagerly. I assumed it was showing Soccer Saturday but no. It was advertising upcoming shows. I should have hacked it and get my am dram group AMCS’s October panto of Cinderella on there, in which I’m playing Baron Hardup. Tickets still available.

With the clock ticking towards train time and my need to visit pubs in search of material I left the festival and arranged to meet up with the others when they had used up their beer tokens. After nearly being taken out by an opening car door I found Bond’s Bar. On our last trip to Tamworth @blackpooljane spotted this place as we walked past. It hadn’t turned up on any of my pub planning sites so we ventured in out of curiosity and it ended up being in the top 10 of the 407 pubs that I visited on Pub 365 Challenge volume 3.

The pub was cool as it was last time, it has a telephone box in side, the long lamented Brewery Stores in Walsall being the only other example of this that I know of. The barmaid was class. I ordered Coors and her fellow barman made a crap joke along the lines of “of Coors you can. She admitted to not getting the joke to start with and concluding with “I’m such a twat”. A line I often use about myself. I think we could get on.

999? This is an emergency. I’m out of beer.

From there I headed to The White Lion. On mine and Jane’s first trip to Tamworth I spotted this pub from across the road. The big Sky Sports banners put me off slightly but the 4 boarded up windows really enticed me. Jane was reluctant but she appreciates that I like a rough looking pub so we went in. And it was class. The following year the windows were repaired and they had Skittles Vodka which really won Jane over. None of said vodka was available on this visit but I liked some of the events. They do “Skint Mondays” where certain drinks are £1.50 and for the karaoke on Wednesdays it’s a free shot for every singer. I meant to clarify if it’s just one shot per person or one for each song sang. If it’s the latter I’m booking a couple of days off and going there to recreate the Live Aid concert. If it’s the former they might just get the 36 second Jonny Trunk & Wisbey song The Ladies’ Bras (the shortest song to make the UK top 40) out of me. With permission from my agent of course.

Upon leaving The White Lion I met up with the others and we headed to The Coven. This is another cool place with a double bass in the corner and assembled jigsaw puzzles laminated onto the tables. Our table had a super heroes jigsaw on it. I was invited to name some of them but being one of life’s miserable sods I declined. Now if it had been a Prisoner Cell Block H puzzle I’d have been all over it.

I’m all about that double bass, no treble.

There was time for one more pub so we headed to The Kings Ditch. A class pub which will soon have to expand into a neighbouring building as they are now short of room for any more CAMRA PUB Of The Year certificates.

I popped to the chip shop for a snack and after being shocked and querying the price of £4.60 for sausage and chips (I’m from a poor area where it’s £2 max) I took my food and headed for the railway station. Whilst on the platform a very fast moving train came along and deposited some of it’s load as it passed. I don’t recall ordering a full facial sand blasting but hey it took years off me. I’m just glad I covered up my food as it approached.

I was soon back at New Street where a big group of Walsall fans were waiting for the train. Mates of mine including Dan Gilbert, Coxy, Kimob, Zece, and Lee Stanley were amongst them. I accidentally headbutted Coxy whilst giving him a hug and his night wasn’t going to get any better as when we arrived at Bescot Stadium Station after a quick selfie Coxy announced his departure. Dan started singing the James Blunt classic “Goodbye My Lover” which I certainly don’t need any invitation to start singing so I joined in and before long we were all joining in. Coxy however was having trouble getting the doors to open and it all felt a bit Crystal Maze. His time ran out and he was locked in. To be fair we didn’t laugh much.

I also need to up my train selfie game.

From there a couple of us hit the Tap And Tanner including Coxy who should have been at home by now but made the most of the situation with more booze. As you do. I had just a quick one in there along with Scampi Fries and then walked home via The Black Country Arms for an Ice Cream Cider.

If you want a nice snack and smelly fingers to boot, this is your man.

What a magnificent day.

A Piri Good Weekend.

On Friday evening I took my lifelong best friend Swill out for food for his recent birthday and we headed to Piri Fino, Walsall’s best chicken establishment. We were told upon arrival the grave news that they had no mash. Shocking stuff but not that troublesome as Tesco is round the corner and I can whip up a portion of Smash like a diva but it was chicken we wanted so we proceeded and were shown to a table right in the middle of the place between the food station and all the other tables. I like a prime spot so all good. The place was doing a roaring trade for early evening but our food arrived quickly and was as excellent as ever.

Me with Piri Fino in the background. Love the reflections in the water. Makes it look like the old Thames TV logo.

From there we went to the Brewers Fayre. This is a place I only ever visit to play the quiz machine with Craig or to pig out at the all you can eat buffet, which I used to do very regularly. No wonder I ended up the size of a double wardrobe with Narnia thrown in for good measure.

Swill had announced earlier in the week that he wanted a mention in this blog and had been wondering how to obtain it. He opted for a bike ride as these are now available to hire in the town centre and he suggested we did this for the trip to the next pub. I like this. People coming up with ideas for material or trying to earn mentions. This I am certainly encouraging.

Anyway we got our bikes, I initially struggled to get my leg over – story of my life eh? We set off and it was great fun. Absolutely superb. My bike had a flat tyre which didn’t help and it was a tough slog going up Freer Street but I soldiered on on the off chance that Victoria Pendleton might be watching. She probably wasn’t.

Bring on the Commonwealth Games.

The bike people had conveniently put a docking station opposite the Black Country Arms so we parked up and ventured in there very much needing a pint. Kim the landlady had played a blinder and the amazing ice cream cider was on. I drank it in minutes. I might not have set a pb for the bike ride but the pint drinking time was surely worthy of a gold medal.

This is amazing.

We ended the night in Flan O’Briens. The highlight here being the very loud rendition of Sweet Caroline. A guy at the bar turned round very slowly as we did the “so good so good so good” part with arms aloft. As he finally looked at us arms were down and we’d gone full deadpan expressions. He looked confused and turned back to his pint – quicker than he’d turned to look at us I might add..

Swill had to be up early on the Saturday so he headed off and I went to the Walsall Arms. The DJ Gaz was on and he is just the best entertainment around so I knew it was going to be a good visit. And it was.

Saturday was very lazy start to the day. I popped to a new cafe in town then caught the chuff chuff to Bescot Stadium accompanied by a large group of Mansfield Town fans who were in good voice. I had announced on Twitter to @dazfellows that I wasn’t drinking before the match for once. But I was at the ground 20 minutes before kick off and the door to the bar is right there when you walk through the turnstiles. It’s almost like they want you to go in. So I did. It was very busy in there including a group of 15 lads on a stag do that were all dressed as cricketers. Not a sight you see at Bescot very often.

Hands, touching hands, reaching out
touching me, not touching windows.

The match was ace. We played very well but at full time it was another trip to the train station as I was going with 2 fellow Walsall FC fans for drinks in Birmingham. Unfortunately they missed the train by seconds, but I was joined by my long time friend Paul Mitchell and his entourage so I joined them for a pint in Brum whilst waiting for Gaz and Daz to arrive. Upon arrival it was all kicking off outside The Shakespeare with police in full force.

It was just me, Paul and Simon that went to The Colmore which is a Thornbridge pub, a brewery which I absolutely adore. The building is magnificent. I had a pint of Crackendale which is 5.2% pale ale and it was superb. Then it was toilet time. I didn’t know where it was but I saw a stairwell and this lad approached and we asked each other at the same “where is the toilet?” He suggested we go down the stairs and we were rewarded. He did a celebratory point at the toilet sign dance whilst I did the arms out front and bowing up and down gesture at the sign. Oooo toilet finding friend and all that.

From there I left and went to meet Daz and Gaz in The Trocadero. But I got a bit lost. It wasn’t where I thought it was and to be fair as I walked past the street I should have turned up I was distracted by someone being arrested and the ranting of an onlooker.

Anyway after a quick phone call I found the place and 4 of the cricket lads where in. Turns out this stag do was postponed 2 years ago so this time they decided to pick a random match, and enticed by the cheap tickets they headed to Bescot. They had a great time and said they might come again. I opted not to warn them that it’s not always this good.

Top lads.

From there we headed to The Windsor, a pub I don’t think I’ve ever been in. After ascending the stairs at Bescot Stadium railway station twice in one day I was glad to find a table and chair in this place. After this I wanted to visit the Shakespeare to see what state it was in after the earlier trouble. It was fine. You wouldn’t have know anything had gone on. Beer was in plastic glasses which is just about okay with lager but not for a pint of Wainwrights. Although with the earlier aggro it was a good call to use them.


I bid Daz and Gaz goodnight and ran for the 8.10 train. Which was cancelled. So I ran for the 8.15 McDonalds and I made it back to New Street for the next train. McDonalds Monopoly update, I still haven’t won the hot tub which is a shame as it would look ace in my now clear back garden. I’ll keep trying. Garcon more chicken selects.

Double boooo.

From there it was a beer in town with Dave then I headed up to the Walsall Arms where I met fellow Saddlers Goughy and Andy. Baileys made an appearance then I ventured home to fall asleep on the settee.

The absolute top lad that is Goughy.

International Duty In Walsall And A Bit Of A Haze In Willenhall.

On Thursday both Craig and myself were off work. This could only mean one thing. An early start on the beer. With the England football team playing on the night it meant that we were on international duty and thus early drinking is allowed. There is probably only so many times that I can write about Walsall Town Centre pubs but I headed to town with material hopefulness. This is something in my head, not a new single by Manic Street Preachers.

First mission was a visit to McDonald’s to line the stomach. I’ve really tried to cut down on the visits to this place but it’s McDonald’s Monopoly time now and that just sends me crazy. I’m doing really well so far. Just Park Lane and Mayfair away from winning the top prize. I’m only missing The Strand to win a hot tub. Imagine how hot that tub would be once I’m in it.

Then it was off to Rock Steady Eddie’s. I was no where near finishing my McDonald’s so Craig went in through the front door to distract the staff by ordering beers, and I snook round the back to the outdoor benches with my contraband still full Sprite Zero and 1/4 pounder. Someone on the opposite bench commented “you look like you’ve had a busy day”. Not sure why demolishing a McDonald’s gives off this impression but if a day can be spent busily doing this, then I’m all in.

We ventured inside. No sign of the jukebox enemy and someone had taken advantage of this by loading the machine with Linkin Park songs, which was good of them. The quiz machine was in a bad mood so we sat down. I ventured for my second toilet visit (I have a weak bladder so when I’m out on the piss I literally am out on the piss). I returned and I still had about a 5th of my pint left which I finished quickly but we were able to see the England Cricket Team take the last 3 Indian wickets in that time.

Next up was The Oak Inn and the controversial point of the day. The Pointless final on the quiz machine. The question was teams in the English Football League system. Craig opted for Canvey Island. “They’re not in The Football League. Don’t pick that”. Craig over ruled me and he was right. £4.00 jackpot won. Craig was happy. I wanted to chuck the machine in the nearby canal to give the shopping trolleys some company.

Then it was The Brewers Fayre where not much occurred and then it was onto The Old Bailey. One of my favourite places in town but certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. I approached the bar and the three people sat at it looked at me like I’d got two heads. Okay guys, calm down. It’s just one mossive head, not two. Beers were ordered and we sat down. It was certainly a bit more sedate than my last visit where after a long day of Walsall FC related drinking myself and Dan Gilbert were up on the seats dancing around vigorously to Baltimora’s “Tarzan Boy”.

The plan was to watch the first half of the England match in The Pitch which reopened last weekend having been closed during the Euro’s but the shutters were down so we headed to Katz. We were entertained by the punditry of the guy behind us who spent the whole game making Hungary sound as good as Brazil.

We headed to Blue Gingers for some much needed goodness and after this excellent meal we called it a night.

On Friday as the clocks struck 18 I left my house and headed to Willenhall to meet former work mate and top lad Liam. First up was The County. This is probably my most visited Willenhall pub as it is my piss/pint/piss pit stop of choice when returning from Wolverhampton on the 529. Liam arrived and we moved across the road to The Crown.

Me and Liam in The Crown. I think I was in a very rare short mood.

There was a friendly face behind the bar in Laura, a fellow Walsall FC fan. We grabbed drinks and settled down. This pub was to be the musical highlight of the night with songs that I absolutely adore like Stand By Me, Build Me Up Buttercup and Twist And Shout all playing. We stayed for another and I had my first ever pint of Thatchers Haze. Until recently I had no knowledge of this particular product of the Thatchers range, but then my mate Josh mentioned it in a message and my Facebook feed has been full of adverts for it ever since. So I dived in and it was really good.

Thatchers Haze. It certainly does what it says on the tin.

With Liam working yesterday and needing to head off early we moved onto The Royal George. Bit of history as this is the first pub that I ever fell asleep in. Not through booze, a secondary school friend lived here and I stayed over a few times back in the 80’s. Nice cool pint here, sat outside in the impressive seating area with Euro 2020 bunting flags still in position flapping around merrily. And there is a Dyson Airblade in the toilet so it’s win win here.

The Malthouse which is Willenhall’s Wetherspoons was our next port of call. Another fellow Walsall fan was behind the bar in the form of Adam Ellison who I’ve not seen in a long time. He’s one of life’s top blokes so it was good to chat with him while the pleasant barmaid poured our very reasonable £4.74 for two Strongbow Dark Fruits round.

Before we knew it, it was time for my 529 back to town so one last toilet visit was due. Now I have this thing where when a song pops in my head I sing it out loud. I’d had the Scarlet classic “Independent Love Song” in my head all week and it decided to re-emerge just as I pushed through the door, I forgot where I was heading and sang out load “I’ll show you how to take me”. Yeah not the best thing to sing in an environment where men are standing there with their willies out. Nothing was said though although I did get one odd look.

We scurried across the road with a couple of minutes to spare for the 21.08 bus. After a while I checked my phone and it was now 21.15. “Well this bus isn’t coming” I declared. “Pint?” I concluded. “When’s the next bus?” asks Liam. “21.28” I reply. “Can you drink a pint in 12 minutes?” he replies. “Yes” and with no time to waste it was back into The Royal George thankfully getting served straight away. The next bus was on time and I was ready although I did feel sorry for the lad who had been sitting waiting even longer than us who hadn’t had the idea to grab a beer. I bade Liam good night and climbed aboard.

I was soon back in Walsall, well I say soon there was a bit of a diversion due to the fannying around going on at Junction 10 of the M6 but before long I was in The Tap And Tanner. Then the odd incident of the night occurred. A couple that I don’t know decided to join me at my table despite there being a good few vacant ones nearby. I said “hello” but this was ignored and they plonked themselves and their drinks down. Then another couple joined the table. So I left them to it and went to one of the vacant ones.

My drink, and the ones along with a hand and phone of the new arrivals.

From there I went to The Pitch. I was told it was having a major refurbishment whilst closed but they’ve just decorated it, sexed up the back of the bar area and got rid of the quizzer and replaced it with a fruit machine. This is no good to me. I stopped playing these things years ago when on a noughts & crosses machine I skilfully used my nudges to line up 3 noughts on the win line. I stood back and waited for my winnings to register. Some guy walking by clocked what was happening and laughingly informed me that you don’t get anything for 3 noughts. What is the point of having things on the reels if you can’t win with them? So I went all Major Misunderstanding from Viz and did a “they’ll not be getting a penny out of me” and they barely have since.

Last up it was the Walsall Arms for a quick pint and even quicker bit of dancing then it was time for home and bed as I was knackered. I can’t hack this drinking malarky like I used to.

Giving Rugby Another Try.

Walsall FC played Hartlepool away yesterday. A lot of my friends made a weekend in Newcastle Upon Tyne out of it, which normally I’d be all over but I didn’t get round to organising it so yesterday while they were all waking up hungover on Tyneside, I did the same, but not hungover and in my own bedroom. But after an extremely busy 3 weeks where I’d barely had time to fart I’d got this Saturday to do as I pleased.

The main extremely loose plan for the day was to try a new eaterie in the town centre that does pork shoulder and chips for under a fiver, then maybe a couple of pints. Then I saw a tweet from Walsall Rugby Club @WalsallRFC advising of a home friendly versus Spartans at 3pm. I thought ‘something different. I’ll have me a bit of that’. So off I went.

Now I’ve only been to watch Walsall Rugby Club twice previously and the last time must have been about 15 years ago but I have visited the site 4 times recently. In November 2019 me and my mates went to a quiz that ended somewhat controversially. We came second by a point but in the last round had an answer marked wrong. The question was which country beginning with the letter C comes first alphabetically. We put Cambodia but were marked wrong as apparently it’s called Kingdom Of Cambodia. The winning team put the “correct” answer of Cameroon. We should have gone outside and thrown shoes over the clubhouse like that scene in The Office, although would we have got more points for throwing them over the horizontal bar of the H goalposts?

After that I went twice when they appealed for volunteers to paint the perimeter fence and clubhouse even though I have the painting skills of a 5 year old at their first art class. In fact a bit of the grey paint that I spilt on the club house step is still visible. If you know it’s there and actively seek it out like I did yesterday.

Someone has done a cracking job of painting that door.

My most recent visit was in May when friend of the blog Ralph Graw treated me to food and drink at the very popular Steaks By Heather night which happens on a Thursday evening (and on Wednesdays at Katz), this was a very successful and enjoyable visit.

So I ventured into the club and was warmly welcomed by Kenny formerly of The Wheatsheaf who now runs the club. Then it was beer time. I stopped to admire the framed rugby shirts all around the club and a gentleman struck up conversion. “You look anxious. Are you after someone?”. “No, I’m just after beer”. “Well stand up the bar and you’ll get served”. So I tried that and it worked, and I was served a very pleasant HPA by a nice barmaid although she did try to give my change to someone else but the beer was so good this was quickly forgiven.

I love this.

I went to get food and opted for a cheeseburger, I then panicked and ordered chips as well and it was cooked fresh and delivered to my table a few minutes later. And it was really good.

Cheeseburger, chips and HPA. Talk about winning at life.

Then it was kick off time but I still had beer left so I missed it and as I did on the club house sound system came the Milli Vanilli classic “Girl I’m Gonna Miss You”. ‘Yep’ I thought, ‘your gonna miss that girl. I’ve missed kick off and will also do the same with trys, drop goals and conversions very soon’.

I soon discovered that you can take beer outside here so I got another HPA and ventured outside just in time to see Spartans take the lead with a penalty. Now I don’t really understand the rules of rugby and John Inverdale I most certainly am not but I’ll try and give you a brief match report. The first action came when the ball landed right by me and bounced away behind. Thankfully someone else ran for it and as he booted the ball back into play, one of his flip flops flew off and went further than I probably would have kicked the ball. Perhaps he was also trying to win a quiz.

My commentary begins just after I’d gone for my half time pint. I thought rugby matches were 40 minutes a half so I went for my beer at 3.35 but by 3.45 nobody had come in so I went to see why and I timed it nicely. From my angle all I could see was lots of men pushing and shoving down the other end but a cheer went up and Walsall had a try. 5 nice points. The conversion was missed and at 4.53 the ref finally blew for half time with Walsall 5-3 up. I went back in the club house to escape the incessant drizzle. I hadn’t thought to put a coat on, snd the covered stand was somewhat busy.

When I reappeared for the second half Spartans had gone 11-5 up but towards the end a Walsall player hoofed the ball forward, ran onto his own kick and darted over the goal line right on the opposite side of the pitch, but then got to do the cool thing of running along and plonking the ball down between the goal posts. I always like that. The conversion was completed and Walsall were 12-11 up and the ref blew for full time straight away.

Whilst waiting for the players to leave the pitch, Martin who had been in charge of the volounteer days spotted me and came over. I was pleased he remembered me as it’s been over a year. He was really pleased to see me at a game and offered me a beer which I duly accepted which he then went and fetched. A really nice touch.

I stayed for a pint of Boltmaker which was excellent then it was taxi to Katz time. The man on the phone said 10 minutes but I went out a bit early just as an ice cream van was pulling up. The driver greeted me like a long lost friend. Turns out someone had asked him to stop by the club and he thought that was me. I assured him it wasn’t but as I had time while waiting for my taxi I’d have a 99. “That taxi there has just turned up. Sure that’s not yours?” he said “No, it can’t be mine”. Of course it was mine so I sat in the back of a taxi with a 99 ice cream. Odd but enjoyable.

Walsall Football Club have Matthew Taylor. Walsall Rugby Club have Timothy Taylor.

My Green Duck beer of choice had just gone back on in Katz so that was more good timing on my behalf and I had a nightcap in The Walsall Arms to break up the arduous 25 minute walk home.

What a cracking day. I’m going down to Delves Road for some more rugby soon.

My God, He’s Been To Pubs Outside Of Walsall.

I was off work on Friday so I went to have a little booze in Birmingham with a former colleague and good friend who I’ve not had a drink with since last August. I alighted at New Street and the first mission was to grab essentials in the form of energy drink, scratchcard and peppermint Aero. These may not sound like essentials but I needed a boost as I still wasn’t feeling very lively after Craig had forced me to drink copius ammounts of Baileys in the Walsall Arms the previous evening. I also need to win some money and I’d been craving an Aero since they came up in conversation in the pub earlier in the week.

With these items sourced it was off to meet Madels (Mad Les as he is affectionately known). We were meeting up in The Wellington but I bumped into him outside The Briar Rose so we dived in there. They had Backyard Blonde on and my rule is if you ever see Walsall beer on sale outside of the great place it has to be ordered so we had one each and it was in excellent form.

We moved onto The Wellington and were greeted in the doorway by one of the pub cats. After initiating a quick fuss we moved inside and for a pint of Phoenix Brewery “Midsummer Madness” I’d never heard of this brewery or beer but as I was drinking with the maddest person I know it seemed quite apt. We moved to the upper level outside terrace and had a pleasant hour, disrupted only by a psychotic wasp who made a beeline sorry, waspline straight to me forcing me into an unplanned out break of my I don’t like wasps dance. Once it had gone I glanced round and I was getting some strange looks from the other customers. No change there though.

I like a sign giving permission.
I appreciate that you want a pint, but I’m not sitting here for the fun of it. Fuss me.
Someone has started the civil disobedience in The Wellington

From there we moved onto The Canal House where it was a gasp inducing £11.50 for two Budvars. Once I’d recovered from that it was sitting outside surrounded by lots of nice looking ladies in the glorious Friday afternoon sunshine. This place had also got a built in photo booth which I’ve not seen in a pub before, only portable ones. If I’d have been recreating adverts still, I’d have grabbed a cigar and gone for the classic 80’s Hamlet one.

Photobooth in a pub. Ideal if you need a pint on your way to get a passport.

We had a Oakham JHB in The Figure Of 8 and then moved on towards The Bulls Head which was the main reason for the visit. We passed Coyote Ugly which was blasting out Oasis. A decent visit to the Bulls Head followed, although that research is going into another blog so I won’t mention it now. We approached Coyote Ugly again and it was still blasting out the hits of Oasis. So Madels suggested we go in. I like Oasis, but I was very much in the Blur camp back in the day, although I welcomed the time that the window opened and you were allowed to like both.

The bar in Coyote Ugly is very long and has no hand pulls on it as the beers are dispensed from the back wall. They must do dancing on the bar like in the film and I clocked a sign warning people not to touch the dancers. I was tempted to put the Cathy Dennis classic “Touch Me All Night Long” on the jukebox just to see how things stood legally while that was on but I opted not to. Good job really as we got talking to two lads outside who had put £20 in the jukebox and had picked just Oasis songs. My number 2 hit of their’s “Stand By Me” came on and it was all very pleasant. My fave song “Acquiesce” didn’t make an appearance though. I should have told them to get another £20 out. I’m playing it now though as I type this so it’s all good.

Stand By Me. Madels (on the left) with the Oasis fans.
I’m fully booked for the next hour. Go and have some Cigarettes & Alcohol and come back to me yeah?

From there we ventured to The Soloman Cutler and finished up in The Post Office Vaults. The last pint/piss pub of the night in Birmingham is an important title and was held by The Yard Of Ale until that place’s sad closure. The Shakespeare then took on this vital role until being usurped by The Post Office Vaults. We both had heard it hadn’t reopened after lockdown but as we approached the door was open. Deep joy. I had a Green Duck ZPA (Zesty Pale Ale) which was first class. And then it was train time, and the POV is excellently located by New Street.

Absolutely superb day. And I won £2 on the scratchcard.

Big Fun In Bloxwich. Massive Fun In Walsall.

So a week yesterday was the last Saturday before the football season. The final Saturday for 9 months waking up without Walsall FC on my mind. The last chance to do things before boozy pre matches, or catching up on sleep before following games on Twitter. So how did I spend this Saturday? Tour of a National Trust property? A game of tennis followed by a relaxing sauna? Afternoon tea in a nice restaurant or spending the day in bed with a bevvy of beauties? None of the above, surprisingly so I went on the booze. Not surprisingly.

First mission was to visit The Corner Cafe in Caldmore to line the stomach and also to pretend that I’m in the Jorja Smith video for Blue Lights as this establishment is featured in it along with other places by my house. I am available to appear in music videos if anyone is interested. I’m very cheap.

Then it was onto The Wheatsheaf in Bloxwich to book in a Friends Of Highgate Brewery social. I could have made a call to do this but I don’t like talking on the phone despite spending much of my 40 hour working week doing this. Ooops. Hope none of my colleagues clock this. So I jumped on the bus from town, unbeknown to me that a diversion was in place. And what a tour it was. At some point I genuinely had no idea where I was and a bit further on I expected to see a sign advising that Cirencester was about a mile away. I became concerned that the bus was going to rejoin it’s route well past my stop, but it eventually came out by The Railway pub near Leamore. Just up the road from where it turned off. Five minutes later and I was alighting in the right spot.

I walked in the pub and they had some 80’s music channel on and Adam Ant was blasting out. Decent. I asked for a pint and the landlord and got the former. Landlord was due back in an hour. I settled down in the back part of the pub by myself which was a relief as Blame It On The Boogie by Big Fun came on. A song that I just have to give portions to (and some arm moving actions). It was followed by The Cure with The Lovecats, an epic song with a video featuring people in cat outfits playing trumpets. Well you have to stop and watch that don’t you?

All pubs should play Big Fun. The world would be a happier place.

When that song finished it was bus back towards Walsall time, even though I hadn’t booked the meeting which was the whole point of the visit. Thankfully the diversion wasn’t in action southbound and I was soon at AJ’s Ales. This wonderful family run micro brewery was opening for drinking for the first time since before the lockdowns. The beer was bang on, the ham cobs divine at a quid a go (I had two to make sure) and I had good discussions with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. And some I hadn’t seen for a week.

AJ’s Ales. What a place.

Whilst sitting there one of my best friends Woza turned up. This guy is legend and gets me out of self induced crisis after self induced crisis although thankfully these have become less frequent over recent years.

From there we popped to Rock Steady Eddies, passing a sign outside a random shop saying water bar featuring bottles of beer which nearly enticed me in. Eddies was rammed. Probably the busiest I have ever seen it. Practically every one in wedding attire. I checked the clock. 14.20. I thought it was decent of the happy couple to have the wedding early so everyone could start supping. Five minutes later there was a mass exodus. It was actually wedding pre drinks. There were just three other people left apart from us. Neither of them were my jukebox enemy though so Woza found a quid and treated us all to Either Way by The Twang for starters. I’d like to think that the bride was walking down the aisle as we listened to that great song.

I pay £50 a month to South Staffs Water but don’t get this kind of stuff out my pipes.

From there we popped to The Pretty Bricks, the birthplace of Walsall CAMRA in 1972 and we then went our separate ways. I went to renew my bus pass which I couldn’t remember doing by the following morning. Alcohol induced memory loss? Blame It on The Boogie? Blame It On The Breweries more like. I then went home via a two star hygiene rated takeaway, noticed that my local bus stop had vanished, grabbed a power nap, changed my t-shirt and ventured back out.

Woza and me in The Bricks
Bus stop theft. It was here yesterday guv.

I had been invited out on the night by mates Sean Harris and Matt Whelan and they happened to be in Katz, my favourite pub. I am a disciple to Green Duck brewery so it was good to see that the beer board was over run with it. Some of our other friends were also out so we had a great time listening to music, talking football and other general stuff. After a couple of Green Ducks I tried a Seacider passion fruit. This stuff is so drinkable. It can go down in seconds. As I approached the bar Avril Lavigne was playing. I forget the tune but the pint finished just after the song. I felt a bit sheepish heading straight back up the bar with my empty glass and I’m sure the barmaid was still serving the person who had been behind me. I played it safer this time. To quote the mighty fine band Embrace “come back to what you know” and I switched to Wainwrights which is like nectar in Katz.

Decent line up in Katz that.

From there we headed to Flans and had great chats in the very intimate outside smoking area. I remember dancing around to Blurred Lines and putting my style on it. I’d need heavy choreographing to attempt twerking.

Yeah, I really can’t twerk.

The Tap & Tanner, then The Registry followed for more good times but I can’t recall much anecdotal evidence from those places but it was a super Saturday, and I phoned The Wheatsheaf on the Tuesday and spoke to the landlord so it all ended well.