Friday Night’s Alright For Drinking. And Eating.

On Friday night it was our annual quiz team night out. We’re not actually a team anymore since the last pub we did them in closed in 2012 but these lads are among my longest standing friends so I’m glad we kept this tradition going.

4.30pm finally arrived and I bolted out of the office. I had 20 minutes to get the bus outside work and then a connecting one to Bloxwich. As I exited the estate I was dismayed to see a bus at the stop as it’s a couple of minutes walk away and I really needed this early one. Fortune was on my side for once as the bus remained there and as I got on I realised it was being held up by one of those people that get on and then decide to start rummaging for their fare. Result.

The bus had none of its internal lights on and Mr Fare Fumbler was the only other passenger. A bit surreal. I wondered what he was thinking. I know my imagination runs wild at time but had this been a novel, would he have been plotting to kill me amongst the gloom? We’ll never know as the driver put the lights on a few minutes later and the bloke got off at the next stop.

So I got to the bus station and cast a glance up at the departure board. No sign of the number 60. Rubbish. I ambled round to the stand anyway and all was revealed. Every so often our local public transport overlords get a bit bored and decide to fanny around with the bus numbers. Since first using it a few years ago this service has gone from 560, to 60 and is now the no 9. Logical. Anyway the 9 turned up within 2 minutes, it had its lights on and there were plenty of fellow passengers to witness any killings.

I was soon in Bloxwich and headed straight for the Windsor Fish Bar. Okay, I was going for curry in a little while but there would be booze beforehand and I don’t like drinking or eating on an empty stomach so always try to keep my food levels topped up.

I like The Windsor Fish Bar as it is the only chip shop I know that sells booze. I don’t have much of a 2022 to do list but my aim in the Summer is to sit on the bench outside with fish and chips plus Thatchers Haze to wash it down with. After a brief discussion about the price in the window and the one I was being charged not quite matching up, I departed. I walked past the sites of the now demolished Bulls Head and the public toilets. Two venues I failed to visit which is strange given my fondness for visiting both of these kind of establishment.

Bloxwich is great for a pub crawl. I love going there, and once my snack was polished off it was Spotted Cow time. I could have picked any of the great pubs but this one is close to the number 60, sorry no 9 bus stop and The Windsor plus it’s a proper pub so win win.

It was busy but I had a quick glance around and couldn’t see Swill so settled in the back section. Woza walked in and asked if me and Swill were socially distancing as we were not sitting together. I’d somehow missed him but it was very busy. Swill and Woza are two of my absolute best friends so it was good to sit and have discussions with them. One of which was about dead childhood pets. Jovial.

From there we moved on to The Carra. This pub always fascinated me as a kid because the coach to away games would always stop outside and there would be nobody there. Then after a few minutes the door to this pub would fling open and around 30 people would pile out and onto the coach.

This pub was also busy but had a roaring fire too which was very much appreciated. Soon I needed the toilet. Now on occasion I have been known to walk into the toilets singing my head off or bursting into song whilst using said facilities. My new years resolution was to stop this as sometimes it does startle my fellow urineators and you don’t need that when you are in full flow. I lasted till day 7. Oh well, better than my attempt at Whamageddon. Red Light Spells Danger came on and there was no way I was staying silent.

We caught a cab to the One Man & His Dog. Again it was busy but I reckon it would draw a bigger crowd if called One Man & His Cat. We were soon joined by Dan, Mark and Alan. It was in here that Swill mentioned that the curry house is unlicensed. I have nothing but disdain for booze free curry houses. Having a pint of Cobra is part of the experience. I don’t take my own roast potatoes to a carvery.

To be fair, I’d had no input in the choice of curry houses. I was in the pub while it was being discussed in the group chat`but I refuse to take my own beer to these places and I was sticking to this rule. “I’ll drink water in there”. I’m a bit of a nob at times and very stubborn so I did stick to the water.

Absolute top lads. I reckon I’ve known these 5 guys for a total of over 150 years.

The food in Mirchi was excellent to be fair. I had a Nargis Kebab starter (think Indian style Scotch egg with an omelette on top. Main course was Golden Chicken Curry. Billed in the menu as “Cooked with cucumber, tomato & garnished with omelette”. I requested it sans cucumber and tomato for 3 reasons. (1) I don’t like cucumber and tomato. (2) I like my curry to be just meat and sauce. I can’t cope with it being busy. (3) I clearly hadn’t finished being awkward for the night. Both courses were really good. Swill had chosen well.

I forgot to take a picture of Friday’s Nargis, so here’s one I demolished earlier.

Post curry myself, Swill, Mark and Alan went to The Bloxwich Showman the local Wetherspoons. Named in honour of local fun fair owner Pat Collins. My granddad came from France in 1921 to work for him, who made him redundant 18 months later. Cracking banter from Mr Collins and I have the notification letter framed in my Living Room.

Anyway despite it being January 7th, and thus the Christmas period officially finishing the day before Swill decide he wanted a festive beer and headed up the bar in search of one. Fair play to the barmaid she was great. Asking someone else if they had one then when Swill asked for a festive shot instead she patiently read out the list of all of them. He complimented her on knowing all the shots despite her reading them off the screen. I think we ended up with Fireballs which were suggested due to them being Cinnamony thus festive. Whatever it was it was good so we had a second to make sure. It was a great end to a cracking evening.

Hot Shots Part Deux.

It was said that we ought to do this more than once a year as three of the lads now live outside of Walsall so we don’t meet up as a group at any other time, so bring that on. Just remind me to stick a licensed curry house in the group chat yeah?

You Should Go To Walsall Wood.

A few weeks ago myself and a mate were going to do a Walsall Wood pub crawl but he cancelled so we said we’d do it in January. Then I saw on the Brownhills Bob Facebook page that The Black Cock Inn was closing for good on the 2nd of January. This bought a new sense of urgency to the mission so I mentioned it to another mate Sean and within 3 days we were jumping on the number 10 bus.

Walsall Wood is pretty much a straight road from Walsall Town Centre, the Romans must be very impressed and it’s about 15 minutes on the bus.
Sean had sorted out the route and times of pub openings, but I have been stung by the latter on Google before and as we we entered The Royal Exchange we were the first customers but glad it was open at just 20 minutes past midday on a Thursday afternoon.

The jukebox was off and the pub was very quiet but then my mate Madels turned up and his manic laugh broke the silence. We had a very pleasant pint in here and a good chat but then the jukebox kicked into life and it played UB40 so we moved on. Before we departed there was a toilet visit. Sean and I approached the hand driers at the same time and his kicked into life as mine remained dormant. After he walked away I realised I was trying to dry my hands beneath a paper towel dispenser. I must check if I still qualify for free eye tests when I’m back at work.

Next up was the Brickmakers Arms. I’m not sure if they were doing their bit for the planet but none of the main lights were on. The only sources of light came from festive ones running around the place, sporadic lamps and the spotlights embedded in the top of the bar. There were a few folk in along with one or two dogs (I couldn’t quite work out if it was the same dog or not but it did seem to be getting round the pub very quickly so it may been two of them). There were a few folk in and and a good atmosphere.

Pub 3 was The Drunken Duck. This is my favourite and most visited pub in the area, it’s always been a cracking time. We were letting fellow blogger Chris and his wife Mary. A great couple and Chris has really helped get my blog out to a wider and I’ll always be appreciative for that. His blog can be found here

The Drunken Duck. Always a joy to visit.

The car park was rammed, so it was no surprise to see the pub was busy inside. On a previous visit in 2015 with @blackpooljane, we walked unexpectedly into a full on Sunday afternoon rave complete with a smoke machine, lasers. l half expected Jane to walk straight back out but she loved it and it was her idea to break pub challenge rules and stay for a second drink. The free sausages and fire alarm going off added to that occasion but this visit was more low key but still enjoyable.

A sign in The Duck That I can certainly get on board with.

It was Black Cock time. Unfortunately the door was closed, a chain across the car park entrance didn’t offer much hope, but through a slightly open curtain we could see the drink signs still illuminated so we hoped it might be opening later on (it was still only 3.20pm).

We decided to head to The Horse & Jockey.
This had been planned as just a quick pint and move on kind of visit as to me it is a very foody pub and not quite my scene but when we walked in it was mostly people drinking and chatting. A good start.

The card machine was playing up so as Sean tried to pay for the round, I had a little mooch round. It’s certainly different to how I remember it. The decor is good and there is both Walsall Football and Rugby Clubs are represented. There was also a poster claiming that Christmas starts on November 22nd. Hmmm. Not for me. I get into the Christmas spirit around the 23rd of December and not a minute before. My big money making idea for this Christmas is Advent Calendars with just 2 or 3 doors on for miserable sods like me.

No it doesn’t.

Anyway we found a table next to a family who were the only ones dining in the building. I told Sean an anecdote about a time about 10 years ago that Madels and myself made a pact that we would finish work and head straight to The Wharf Bar for outside drinks. We got there and it was tipping down, but stuck to our plan as it was what we’d agreed.

As I finished this tale the lady on the next table mentioned that her daughter had asked if we were The 3 Wise Men but having heard about us sitting in the rain drinking she’d had to conclude that we were not wise men (bit harsh that Sean got tarred with this same brush). My mind immediately flashed to a 90’s copy of Viz in which Roger Irrelevant was playing one of the Wise Men in a Nativity but turned up with a roll of lino instead of Myrrh. I do have a roll of lino that I bought in 2019 for my kitchen that I haven’t laid yet so I could have pulled this off, and anyone who knows would say I’m more Roger Irrelevant than Wise Man so it would have been good.

Anyway we had a laugh at her comment and a nice chat and then her partner returned to the table and said he recognised me from Walsall FC matches years ago so it was a nice interlude. A really good visit.

Then it was Boatmans Rest. Good to see this open as it was earmarked for demolition a few years ago but the plans were turned down. It’s now a Desi pub and this was confirmed as soon as we opened the car door as the amazing smell emanating from the place hit me straight away. My nose was in the air like a 1980’s Bisto advert.

There is a plaque by the front door with an emergency contact number. I made a note of it for future reference. “Hello, I know it’s 4am and you’re closed but this is an emergency. I need a pint and some chicken wings please”. We headed inside. It’s very smartly decked out and the roaring fire was very welcoming.

We 3 Kings followed yonder star to The Boatmans Rest.

Sean tried to call The Black Cock as it was now after 4 but the number was unavailable. A gent on the next table heard our conversation and gave the grave news that it had already closed down. Sad to lose such a great iconic pub.

Me and my polystyrene parrot Carl outside the Black Cock in 2015, which would turn out to be my final visit.

After a few more silly discussions we bid Madels farewell. Sean and I decided to have one more pint before the bus and as English Cricket fans we thought The Duck was topical so we headed back there. It was still very busy but now there were free mince pies and a kind of Ferrero Rocher selection box on the bar. Nobody had touched them. I find mince pies evil but I happily grabbed a chocolate. Ambassador you are spoiling us and all that.

We grabbed a table and had a another pleasant pint. I like all kind of pubs but this place is very much a me pub. I’d use it all the time if I lived nearer but I have promised Chris and Mary another and hopefully longer visit soon.

We were still in a topical mood and with the PDSA darts on at the moment we opted for the 5.01pm bus back. We had a visit to The Tap & Tanner to round off a splendid day.

Last pic and pint of the day with Sean in The Ta[ & Tanner.

Walsall Wood, I’ll be back.

Spending A Fortune To Save A Fiver.

*Written in 2019*.

As a CAMRA member you get 50p off a pint vouchers for Wetherspoons pubs. I don’t use them very often, and they used to come in blocks of £5 worth that you had to use in 3 months. For once I opted to try and use all 10. To make things interesting I decided to use them in pubs that I’d not visited previously. Not easy as during the course of 3 pub challenges I’d visited over 1100 pubs ticking off most of the easily accessible Wetherspoons around the West Midlands. I like exploring though so off we went.

The old style CAMRA vouchers.

1. The Pear Tree – Kings Heath.

It was St George’s Day, so I was off work as per normal. By a bizarre twist it was also National Asparagus Day. Daz and I jumped on the excellent no 50 bus service from Moor Street and were soon in Kings Heath. I’d done some research but not where to get off. So we alighted and ambled down the main street only to discover a stop right outside the pub. Had we stayed on the driver could only have got us closer had he drove into the building and ordered us a pint.

The pub was busy for a Tuesday afternoon, there was red and white bunting all over the place which I assumed was for St George’s Day. Turns out it was advertising pizzas. We approached the bar and I was expecting a plethora of asparagus ales but alas no. I opted for a Slater’s Pale which was in good nick.

The pub was smart, we sat by the impressive fire pit and enjoyed our visit.

2. Elizabeth Of York – Moseley.

It was still St George’s Day and the 50 bus back into Birmingham was passing another Wetherspoons. We dived in. This one was also adorned with non St George’s Day bunting. As mentioned in the last edition, when I see Walsall ale outside of our fine borough I have to have it. This time it was Backyard’s Hoard. Also on good form. We sat by a very futuristic looking fire. I went upstairs to explore. The toilets are on the second floor by the stairs up to another level. I wanted to continue to the summit but a couple sat up there eyed me with suspicion so I ran off back to my pint. Another good pub.

3. The Wallace Hartley – Colne, Lancashire.

Named after the band member on the Titanic who kept playing as the ship sank, who hailed from the town. I expected it to be wall to wall Titanic beers in lieu of this but there wasn’t a single one. Instead I had a Worsthorne “Blonde Violin”. It’s a Smart pub with oak panelling and shiny black tiles. Lots of people were indulging in the Tuesday steak offer. I enjoyed my pint and catch up with a great friend who hails from that part of the world, Sarah the lovely lady who introduced me to the concept of visiting pubs as part of a challenge. I have much to thank her for.

4. The Pump House – Shirley.

My journey from Colne to Walsall went via Solihull. Directions have never been my strong point. Upon leaving Solihull station I spotted a taxi, and knowing that another Wetherspoons was lurking just two miles away it had to be done. I asked the driver “can you take me to The Pump House, Shirley?” “Yes”, came the response “and don’t call me Shirley”. Sadly, he didn’t actually say that. I put that in to keep you interested. The pub was very smart and arty with a big enclosed fire pit in the

middle. I had the Sihil “Blonde Star” which was on offer at £1.49, down to 99p with the voucher. I’d met my mate Dave in Birmingham who was wearing a mildly offensive t-shirt which nearly caused the glass collector to drop her load as she read it. Cracking pub. I liked it a lot.

5. The White Swan – Solihull.

Another smart Spoons. “Blonde Star” appeared to be the beer of the day so I had it again, although not on offer this time. Dave’s t-shirt was received better in here with the barmaid laughing her head off at it. We opted to soak up some sun and sat outside. Another pleasant visit.

6. The Butler’s Bell – Stafford.

There is a tradition in my family that dates back centuries which states on payday you must go to the pub. Payday in May saw me in no mood to break this cycle so straight from work via the metro and train I headed to Stafford. This town currently boasts two Wetherspoons so naturally I opted for the one that was included in the 16 put up for sale by the company in March. On entry the ales were listed on a board which at the bottom had a little poignant message saying “To our lovely customers, thank you for everything” furnished with a little heart. A nice touch.

I was served by a friendly barmaid who apologised for the delay even though I hadn’t been waiting long. As I was in Stafford I opted for a Slater’s ale. This one called Refresher which I hadn’t seen before. It was very good. I was ravenous so opted for the Tuesday steak deal – large of course, which arrived in no time and I had another Refresher to act as a chaser.

Smart pub, some of the booths had bars round them, no doubt as a nod to the nearby prison but they looked cool. The whole place had a really good feel. Lots of decorations around. A large, wide floor to ceiling case full of ladies shoes in the colour white really caught my eye.

I really enjoyed my visit here. The other Wetherspoons in town must be outstanding if this is the one to be axed.

7. The Lord Keeper Of The Great Seal – Oadby.

When I decided to do this article I Googled Wetherspoons pubs within 50 miles and right on the cusp was this place. When I saw the name it had to be done. So on a gloomy and damp June morning, when the trains in Walsall were not behaving I set off. Upon eventually leaving good ole DH the journey went smoothly and I arrived in Leicestershire wet but on time.

There is a sizable family area to the right, so I opted to sit on the other side of the pub. There was a cider named after one of my favourite singers Katy Perry so I opted for that even though 5.5% is quite lively for the first pint of the day. No trek upstairs for the loo here either, it’s a gentle downward slope.

Nice visit this one but with having to bus back into Leicester I made it a brief one. As I was finishing Katy off a barmaid put down a fish Friday leaflet on my table to try and entice me to stay, but the bus was calling so off I went.

8. The Last Plantagenet – Leicester.

There were 3 options available in Leicester for a visit so again like Stafford I opted for the one that was put up for sale in March. I was peckish upon arrival and with fish Friday still in my mind from Oadby I had it here along with a Gordon’s gin. The cod was massive and the gin was pleasant. All for about £7.20. Result. I still had the voucher lurking in my wallet so I went for an Oakham Citra. It was back to heading upstairs again for the loo but I figured I’d got some calories to burn off after the fish. Another pleasant visit with lots of Friday afternoon drinkers also enjoying themselves.

9. George Hotel – Bewdley.

Named after our patron saint and his picture adorns the sign outside. We initially struggled to work out how to get in. Glancing up a side alley, then working out the entrance is through what looks like a shop front next door. Enville White was the beer of choice here. My friends Matt and Ben hadn’t eaten so we opted to indulge in the 3 small plates for £10.25 between us. A small pizza was an option and I’d been wanting to try one since Kings Heath so opted for pepperoni. Matt tried to order on the app but gave up citing it was a ball ache. The barmaid had already said that Bewdley “didn’t really do wi-fi” so off he went to the bar to order. The traditional way. I approved.

We sat in a conservatory style extension and whilst doing so the sun finally decided to put his hat on. Hip hip hip and numerous hoorays. It suddenly became red hot. We didn’t mind. It was a Monday afternoon and we were all off work. The food arrived quickly. The pizza was unsliced so it took me longer to work out how to eat it than to actually do so but it was really good.

I didn’t get to explore this place as much as usual due to the distractions of ale, food and good conversation but it was still an enjoyable visit, rounded off nicely by Ben getting up out of his chair and walking into a drain pipe.

10 – The Britannia – Blackheath.

This one nearly didn’t happen. Another straight from work payday jobbie but I was lured into The Wellington in Birmingham en route by a colleague and after a few pints in there I just wanted to get back to Walsall to resume supping but with just two days left to use my final voucher if I didn’t do it that day then it wasn’t happening.

This place is unusual for Wetherspoons in that it was already a pub when being added to Tim’s empire. Good friendly place too. Three blokes all said “alright” to me as they left the toilet when I paused to let them pass. Backyard Hoard was again the ale of choice. Whilst mooching around I saw a side door, with a bus stop in sight and in view was a bus with one of my favourite words “Walsall” on it. I hadn’t been feeling the walk back to the train station, so I asked two gents to watch my pint and nipped out. Another bus back to the promised land was in 9 minutes. Perfect. I necked my pint, said and received back cheerful goodbyes from my beer minders and jumped on the next bus. I liked this one so much I went again the following week for a proper visit.

So that’s it. Lots of new pubs visited whilst doing this, all vouchers used, a fiver saved on beer costs and good times enjoyed. I still haven’t had any asparagus though.

I Love It When A Pub Needs A Revisit.

I have two main reasons for re-ticking pubs. If it’s had a name change or gone through a major refurb. Some folk re-tick a pub if it has new gaffers but I’m less arsed by that, plus I have enough contacts who let me know if a pub goes downhill after a change of hands. So here’s some words of pubs that I have re-ticked of late.

The Bulls Head, 38 Bishopsgate Street, Birmingham.
So I visited this pub with Madels as since my previous visit in 2010 on Pub 365 Challenge (volume 1) it had changed from the Highgate Brewery operated “City Tavern” to the Davenports “Bulls Head”.

This a bit of a walk from New Street Station but well worth it. The staff were all decked out in Peaky Blinders attire, but as I’ve not seen said programme this was wasted on me. If they’d been dressed as Early Doors characters I’d have been all over it.

There were candles all round the place but none of them were lit which was a shame as it would have bought a bit of a Boyzone “Love Me For A Reason” video feel to the proceedings. We used to have Friends Of Highgate Brewery socials in the room upstairs back in the day and I’d do a short quiz. This didn’t happen this time so at least I was spared being asked “what’s with all these shit questions?” like during our final gathering there after I’d posed “which motorway forms a ring road around Manchester?”

The beer was good, pub busy for a midweek afternoon, good atmosphere and a really good visit.

The Glassy Junction, 131 Willenhall Road, Wolverhampton.
Another midweek afternoon visit, this time with Dave. Again another visit for the first time since Pub Challenge 1 when the pub was known as The Malt Shovel. My notes for that visit was I got a smile from the barmaid (this doesn’t happen often hence it getting minuted) and the pool table taking up too much room in the small front room. Thankfully the table had gone and the barmaid on duty was smiley and welcoming.

Me and Dave outside the Glassy Junction.

After a road work delayed journey from hell on the 529 which took well over an hour we agreed to break strict pub blog/challenge rules and have a second pint regardless of how good the first one was. We’d more than earned it.
We got our drinks and surveyed the scene. There was only one table available next to one with a very serious looking man sat at it. I was hesitant but desperate to start supping so we marched over and sat down. He didn’t greet us. If I ever get my arse into gear and finish editing my novels, send them off and they get made into films, he is already on the shortlist to play Mr Serious.

These were needed after that bus journey.

When myself and Dave are in an unfamiliar pub, other than the magic tricks we are very much like Penn & Teller. He’ll talk to everyone in the vicinity in the loudest voice possible and I’ll just sit there silent and looking glum. I’m one of life’s miserable sods and I take this role very seriously. Anyway a conversion was never going to spark up between myself and Mr Serious so Dave sparked one up with the people in the middle of room. A lady called Kath was to prove to be the high-point of the visit. Friendly, funny, not afraid to stick a quid or two in the jukebox (during one such visit she asked “does anyone want any Billy Ocean?” and I had no hesitation in suggesting Red Light Spells Danger, which was the answer she wanted to hear.

The pub earned bonus points by providing free hot samosas which were amazing. We moved onto Kath’s table, and even I relaxed enough to join in the conversations. Turns out a few pints of Carling Dark Fruit cider does wonders for banishing my shyness. This was a superb visit and the highest accolade I can give this place is I really want to go back for a Friday night visit.

The Flying Tiger Bar, 49 Bradford Street, Walsall.
Launched in 2005 as BAR NV “Walsall’s Champagne Bar”, I’ve been in this place numerous times but not seen much champagne occurring. Craig was joining me on this re-tick after it had a refurb and change of name to The Flying Tiger.

Decor in The Flying Tiger. When I saw this I had the urge to send an email.

Located conveniently just a short walk from the town centre and on the edge of Walsall’s popular red light district this now smart bar is worth a visit. I do have fond memories of the old bar though, two of which were Swill vowing never to set foot in the place again after the barmaid called him a boring fart for saying he was going home (I’m pretty sure he kept to this pledge) and another time my mate Mark Parton being asked by the barmaid what he wanted and he replying “a pint of Carling and your phone number please”. And he got both. I barely have the guts to order my beer. He got to take her out as well. What a bloke.

Anyway, onto this visit. We walked in and the barman enquired to Craig as to why he was sweating. He wasn’t really, it was hardly Prince Andrew in Pizza Express so that was an odd start. We then had an old lady on the next table tell us 3 times that if we wanted the darts turning over in favour of Soccer Saturday then just ask the barman. We don’t mind the darts. If you want it turning over love ask him yourself.

I have a reputation for missing Walsall FC goals when I’m at matches, and I was soon to transfer this skill to darts as I returned from the toilet to see a man complete a 170 finish and I’d only missed the first 120 of it.

We had a pleasant pint, the desi pub arrangement mean the place smelt amazing, and a quick glance at the menu saw that they do a salmon curry, which I’ve never heard off at £13. Good luck with that in Walsall. Nice place this but due to it’s location I never walk past it but it will be included in the town to Bescot Stadium pilgrimage when we finally get round to doing that before a home game.

Bankfield Inn, Bankfield Road, Bilston.
This pub is only about 3-4 years old but was called White Rabbit previously and both of my visits occurred under that name. The latter being an office trip for food. I’d been looking forward to my carvery for hours but upon walking in all the meat looked tired and dried out. They’d clearly had a harder day than me so I ordered off the menu instead. A couple of families then called in and demolished the lot. They came in like a wrecking ball if you like.

Crap picture of The Bankfield but I wanted to get pub, moon and white stripes in.

So like I say, this is a new build, family orientated foody place. If your Friday night of choice involves a few lagers, a game of darts followed by a good punch up, this probably isn’t the place for you.

This was a straight from work jobbie, delayed slightly by the 79 bus being behind a car who’s occupant was clearly practising for a new career driving a hearse, and then further held up by a visit to Majors chip shop but I was soon in the pub with Andrew Rollason one of the very few former work colleagues that I still meet up with.

It was dark when I arrived and there was a bouncy castle outside, which I didn’t expect on a cold November evening, and it was still being used. 10 year old me would have been straight on it even with the cold and dark, but 47 year old me wanted booze, and the latter won.

Inside is a sign saying “Bar, this way to happiness” a sentiment I can certainly get onboard with. The toilets are pristine and it has a vending machine where for just three of your hard earned English pound coins you can purchase 3 condoms, 1 stimulator ring or 2 x 850mg sexual stamina tablets. No Lion Bars though. All good vending machines should stock Lion Bars.

We had a couple of quick pints, but as a food place there were lots of kids running around so we departed in the direction of Cafe Metro.

The Lazy Hill, 196 Walsall Wood Road, Aldridge.
This pub went through a major renovation during lockdown and reopened in May so it needed a re-tick. After an arduous 529 journey which had me wondering if Jane Wiedlin would have been quite so enthusiastic about Rush Hour had she spent one of them on this service, I arrived at Walsall Bus Station, met Dave and we jumped on the number 7.

A good looking pub.

We were soon in the pub and I needed a good beer as a consolation to being knocked out of Whamageddon in the office earlier (on day 3) and Backyard Blonde was on and that fitted the bill nicely. We were stood back from the bar but the barmaid must have read Dave’s lips as he requested Stowford Press as she was already pouring it as I approached. Whilst being served around I glanced around. I had seen a video during the renovation and was worried some of the internal walls had gone making the pub open plan but no. The same partitions were still there keeping the pub with it’s different sections.

The pub has been transformed inside. Other reviewers have referred to it’s previous decor as old fashioned and tired but that is certainly not the case now. It looks really smart inside. It also has televisions dotted around the place now but these were showing two men in waistcoats hitting balls around a table with sticks so nobody (apart from Dave) was paying attention to them, instead chatting, drinking and having a good time.

It was Dave’s turn for the second round and he was gone for what seemed like a few seconds. The service is really good in here.

We had a seat right by a roaring fire which was very welcome, this itself was accompanied by a bottle with loose change in it . I have seen a much bigger and fuller one of these being swung around during a fight in The Fullbrook but there was no danger of that being repeated in here.

As is standard procedure I popped to the loo in search of additional material. The gents were clean, pristine and not much to report but then I spotted it. The mossiv radiator. It was taller than me and had me pondering do all pub toilets have radiators? I made a vow to now check every toilet for radiators. Sad, but you have to have these noble ambitions in life. Anyway, a great pub visit. Loved it.

It’s mossiv.

King George V, Forge Road, Darlaston.
Formally Herberts Park Tavern, then Gabba’s Bar and now George V this pub has had so many different names that Cheryl Cole is a bit jealous. The George V was opposite the former home of Walsall FC, Fellows Park but lost it’s licence so they took the pub name, signs and staff uniforms to a new site in Darlaston. A move just a bit less controversial than Wimbledon FC being moved out of SW19. The move has hit the Walsall FC matchday experience a bit as the former King George is now being turned into flats, but it was time to visit the new site.

The new George.

My sole visit to this place was in 2016 and it was venue number 5 on Pub Challenge 2, and my notes said that it was busy for a Monday night and Vintage TV was showing videos from 1988 and I only left because I had a Walsall CAMRA meeting to go to.

This revisit happened on Friday night. The pub is smartly decorated with lots of glittery effects on the walls and it was totally in the festive mood with decorations everywhere, including a miniature post box on the fire place for Santa wish lists. The slot wasn’t big but you don’t need an A4 sheet to ask for gin and some points for Walsall FC.

Loved this bit of decor.

The bar was completely behind a big plastic screen with gaps cut out of the bottom for the exchange of cash and drinks, which made it feel a bit like a visit to Santander but that bank doesn’t have a big jug with £2 bottles of vodka shots behind the plastic. They could learn from this.

The screens were showing modern music videos but the jukebox was over ruling them and playing great songs like Love Really Hurts With You and Tragedy.

Josh arrived and went straight up the bar and ordered drinks and food, I wasn’t expecting him to share the food but the tandoori chicken and onion bhajis went down a storm.

Me and Josh with Marilyn looking on longingly.

Someone else went up the jukebox and soon we had Black Lace Superman playing but disappointingly only two people did the moves. I wondered if she’d but on “We’re Having A Gang Bang” by the same group would more people have joined in. This was followed by Gangnam Style which I haven’t heard since a Christmas do years a go when a metal loving colleague Steve Tonks did the dance after being pressured into it all week at work. So I did a low key version of it too. Knife and fork in one hand, lassoing with the other. Josh is normally cool with all my antics but even looked away at this point.

Josh had to shoot off so I savoured the rest of my pint. The pub was busy for early evening, the atmosphere was really good and it was a great visit. I left just in time for the bus to arrive and the start of Indie Night on Radio X so it was a good trip back to town. It was only as we came through Pleck I realised that I had forgotten to check the toilet for a radiator.

Anyway so it’s been 6 good pub visits and big thanks to everyone who came along.

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.