I woke up on Friday to a text informing me that my plans for the evening, a pub crawl of Darlaston were off. I didn’t really have time to give it a thought during those all too brief 20 minutes that I allow myself between getting up and leaving the house. During the day though, Josh who was going to join us for one pint in Darlaston announced that he was coming out earlier and would be in touch after dropping his missus off at 7.

The working day flew by, partially because there was lots to do, things to discuss and my post work treat of a pizza to focus on. There is now another company that operates the dreadful 529 service that gets me back to Walsall and as the long queue for the usual one slowly shuffled forward, the new operators service pulled up at the next stand. It was departing 5 minutes later than the usual one but I opted for it anyway. Going from a rammed bus to one with just two other passengers on was fine by me. As an added bonus the driver was not messing around, he was either on a promise or knew that I was going for pizza but he put his foot down. The bus barely stopped, we soon caught up and overtook the other 529 and I was back in Walsall before 5.30 for the first time. A beautiful journey.

I had the pizza, more on that at a later date and then I had an hour to kill before Josh would call. I walked to Bradford Place bus station with two options in mind. Go to The Globe half way between Walsall and Darlaston (next bus in 22 minutes according to the departure board) or the Queens Head in Wednesbury (with new management as of Monday just gone) but the bus to there wasn’t even on the departure board, so I turned and headed back to the main bus station with The Romping Cat in Bloxwich now firmly on my mind. However on the bus to Bloxwich I suddenly decided I’d had enough public transport for one day and got off by The Pretty Bricks.

The Pretty Bricks. Great pub, crap picture.

Sat in The Bricks was all round top lad and friend of the blog Elliot with a group of his mates. Elliot introduced me with the line “this bloke, he goes out gets pissed and then writes about it”. I can’t disagree with any of that. One of his mates then asked “are you a vegetarian?” “No” I replied. “You will be tomorrow”. There was then an awkward silence as he awaited my response and I desperately tried to work out what he was on about. Did he know something about the pizza I’d just had? Was the barmaid going to serve me but then do a bit of brainwashing starting with how good the McDonalds McPlant is? No, it turns out he was on about the Walsall FC trip to vegan club Forest Green Rovers, which is actually still a week away. I’m easily confused at the best of times though.

Also with Elliot was a dog who quickly befriended me but then a couple arrived with two dogs and a fair bit of barking broke out between the factions. Dogs can kick off in pub and everyone is like “it’s just nature” yet when humans do it the bar staff stop serving. Typical.

Anyway the dogs made friends and settled down, then Josh rang to see where I was and he came to the pub giving me time to get a second drink. My 1st, a Lilley’s lemon and lime cider had gone in minutes so I tried another Backyard beer for the first time. I had no idea that they do a Citra but it was amazing.

Backyard Citra. Yum yum yum.

When Josh arrived I told him what my original options were so he said he’d drive to two of the pubs I’d considered earlier. First up The Globe.

The Globe Inn. Nearest tree used to hide people loitering in the doorway.

I’ve not been in The Globe for a decade so it was nice to be back. Well so I thought until we walked in and they were playing UB40. There is no real ale in this place, and I soon found out that the Magners Dark Berries was off so I had an unusual cocktail of normal Strongbow with blackcurrant in. I wasn’t convinced at first but it worked. Madness replaced UB40 and everyone’s mood lifted.

The Globe has the widest corridor to the toilets I’ve ever seen. Not sure of the one way system though.

We stayed for one in The Globe then moved onto The Queen’s Head in Wednesbury. I was eager to see what it was like under new management as reports from the previous ones were not favourable. We walked in and Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” was playing and I need no persuading to get in touch with my camp side so I joined in very happily. We got served quickly, with the the bar staff having a mid pull con-flab about the look of my pint of Holden’s Golden Glow. No need as it was bang on. Wham finished and was replaced by the Chaka Demus & Pliers version of Twist & Shout which is always welcome. This place serves Inchs cider so the obligatory joke about me wanting to get some inches inside me had to be made.

In The Queens.

We noticed that there was a Madness tribute act on that evening, but he was just getting changed. We pondered getting the barstaff to drag him out just to perform “One Step Beyond” a Walsall FC fans anthem, and we’d then go very quietly and happily and let him go back to finish getting changed but the moment passed.

There was time for one more visit before Josh had to go so it was off to The Flying Tiger Bar. No idea why the tiger is flying. Hopefully it hasn’t been kicked by an arsehole of a football player. This place was quite quiet but Josh reported about 8 people eating in the dining room. The former landlord of the Fullbrook was in here and it was nice to see him and have a chat. The place serves Madri so I dived on that.

I had the usual trip to the toilet and when I got back to the table Josh was brandishing a menu. “Do you want some food?” he asked. I swear this lad is on a permanent mission to feed me and I have absolutely no problem with this. I wasn’t really hungry but opted for a chicken wings starter just to keep him happy.

More yum yum.

A sign of a good night as I have no recollection about what the music was like or what was showing on the television screens, but the food quickly arrived and it was really good. Josh had to go and left me to finish the chips and poppadums. I manged the former with aplomb and had a token effort at the latter.

I finished my drink and pondered. The nearest pub was 10 minutes walk away in one direction and my house is 12 minutes in another. I decided to call it a night, but what a good one it was.

I was home, in bed and listening to Nick Abbot on LBC by 10.30.

I woke the following morning and found my glasses in the bath. Another sign of a good night.