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.

Vertical Ordering, Seated Drinking.

Monday was Freedom Day in England, face masks were no longer mandatory and finally you could walk around a pub not looking like you were about to perform open heart surgery. So how did I mark this occasion? I went to the pub. A group that I’m in Friends Of Highgate Brewery were having their first meet up in around 18 months at the Black Country Arms and it had to be done. It was a beautiful stroll there in glorious sunshine and the bells of St Matthew’s Church were in full flow which doesn’t happen often these days. It really was an uplifting walk.

I walked in the pub, without signing in and headed up to the bar, and what sight was awaiting? The BCA has 20 handpulls but of late all the pump clips have been turned round. But now bar ordering is allowed they were all front facing. Begging for my attention. Enticing me to walk closer. So I did. A purchase of a pint of Ossett Brewery “Butterley” later and I was outside having great discussions with folks that I’ve not seen for what felt like decades. They had also put some food on. Which included red onion and cheese cobs. I shunned onions for pretty much 44 of my 47 years on this Earth and would always remove them from these cobs, then one day I just couldn’t be arsed and ate them. And I’ve done so ever since, but these red onions were the type that make you think you nose is going to explode. Absolutely amazing and a great gesture from the pub to provide munchies.

It’s good to be back on the pulls.

I stayed for a few more beers. I’m a disciple to Thornbridge Brewery and I saw a beer of theirs that I hadn’t had before “Brother Rabbit” so I went on that and it was excellent. Now that you can stand in pubs, I paused long enough to take a picture of my favourite part of the pub (other than the bar) which is of some framed Walsall FC shirts. And then I called it a night. The bells were ringing out for Freedom Day, and I didn’t get called a scumbag, maggot or cheap lousy faggot.

For the weekend my mate Craig was stopping over at mine and I was meeting him at Rock Steady Eddie’s. Unfortunately the buses weren’t playing nicely coming out of work so he, having got there earlier than planned was already on pint no 4 and had got me the same on the table so I could catch up. Now, I like a bit of a booze, you may have gathered that, but even I was a bit hesitant at catching up on 4 pints. So we haggled and he had one of them.

Upon arrival at Eddie’s my jukebox enemy was in the doorway but he moved to let me pass without acknowledgement, so I marched past. It’s a good job Craig was outside or Mr Enemy would have been walking back into the sounds of “The Beginning Of The Twist” by The Futureheads, the class tune that started our beef.

From there we had a pleasant pint in The Pretty Bricks, then onto The Oak Inn to bother the quiz machine, which inspired by the buses also wasn’t playing nicely. A couple of lemon and lime ciders in Katz followed and then we had to hit Flan O’Briens which was finally reopening that day. It shut before the November lockdown so it was good to have it back. It’s a vital pub for the town and we need it. It was a great time in the, the highlight being a bit of Cathy Dennis. From there we headed over the road to Blue Gingers for a much needed curry to end the night.

Saturday we popped over to Rushall to clean out the quizzer. £11 on Pointless? Thank you very much, then it was The Walsall Arms. The Salopian Lemon Dream was in good nick although an accident with the hand sanitiser left a bit of a blemish in an area of my shorts were you don’t need a sight like that. Fortunately we were not partaking in the now allowed standing and it quickly dried so no harm done.

From there we moved onto The Watering Trough, which is known as Walsall’s rock pub. We bought our pints, plonked ourselves down on the settee’s and what comes on? Red Red Wine. For once me and Mr Jukebox Enemy would have been on the same page. We supped up, didn’t make our apologies and left.

We moved onto The Lyndon house and had a pint in the back garden. The tent has now been removed so you can now enjoy all the flowers. It’s such a peaceful place and it’s instant serenity. Seated on the next table was a fellow Walsall FC fan. His opening gambit was “I’ve known you for years but I don’t know how to pronounce your name is it Evo? Or Evo? I confirmed that it is Evo and that the people behind the new Vodaphone advert have got it totally wrong. I then let it slip that our beloved team had won 5-0 today which he didn’t know. I apologised for the spoiler and ruining his watching of Match Of The Day on the night. He then revealed he hadn’t been to a game for two seasons due to work but had swapped shifts and could now attend again. He’s that impressed with the changes at the club this Summer that he’s bought his first season ticket since the days of Fellows Park (our wonderful home ground until 1990).

Some of the Lyndon flowers.
The toilet seat in the Lyndon looks very shocked at me having a wee without a mask on.

From there we headed back to Katz for more lemon and lime cider. The barman who calls me Andy was behind the decks in the new outdoor disco set up, then it was back to Blue Gingers for more curry goodness and we dashed up to the Walsall Arms to round the night off. There was an Abba tribute act and then a bit of a disco and it was superb in there. Craig decided we need Baileys and enjoyed his so much we stayed for another. We had a great time and they didn’t need to bring out the huge inflatable Unicorn water sprinkler which had been the highlight of the previous Sunday’s entertainment. If you ever want to pretend that you’re in the 5ive video for “Let’s Dance” just simply dance around while a giant inflatable Unicorn sprays water over you from above.

What a week it’s been.

Rushing To Rushall.

So yesterday I did something I’ve not done since February 2020 and attended a football match. It was Rushall Olympic versus a very youthful Walsall team, a fixture that happens pretty much every year and as it’s a great set up at Rushall Olympic it has to be done.

First though was breakfast. During recent months my favourite cafe Jack & Ada’s has acquired an alcohol licence, and as I’ve not been in since the joyous days of Eat Out To Help Out it was time to make a long awaited return.

Having booze with your breakfast gives it a Wetherspoons in an airport feel as commented by my colleague Lindsey on Friday when I told and this mission.

I opted for Brew Dog Punk IPA and with the strength of it (5.4 %) was pleased it was only in a normal sized can. My problem with eating breakfast in public is having to fight the urge to stick a fork in a sausage and launch it like in the opening credits to Grange Hill. 10 more of those cans and I’d have probably done it.

Breakfast arrived quickly and was duly polished off whilst enjoying songs by ELO and The Who. On Friday I read an article on restaurant etiquette which suggested you should leave some of the food on the plate as a compliment and to say the meal has filled you up. I left some bacon rind as a nod to this. As much as I enjoyed a booze with the brekkie it was just for investigative journalist purposes and I won’t be making a habit of it.

Inject this into me.

Then it was 997 bus time and I headed to The Manor Arms. There are two places in the borough of Walsall that are referred to as The Manor, (1) a 18th century real ale pub in Rushall which you must visit or (2) the town’s main hospital which you should try and stay out of.

Class place this, with no bar and you are served in a kind of hatch, well you will be once again when Boris gives the nod. I had a pleasant pint of Wainwrights, then Kimbo arrived and we headed outside. The sun made a welcome appearance although it was subbed off quicker than Grealish the other night. Let’s hope he figures more tonight.

Beautiful building.

We had a relaxed time outside talking football and watching as a Labrador tried to instigate some dog on dog aggresion with a very relaxed bull dog who was just trying to chill out in the marquee.

We moved onto The Boathouse and met Jay and we sat outside alongside the canal. I don’t know what it is but I just love a pint next to a body of water. I’ve done it by an ocean, river, canal, and Walsall pot hole full of water. Just need a stream, lake and reservoir to tick off all on that front.

England flags in pub windows always makes me smile.

I went to order the next round and couldn’t quite work out which way to get past the barriers so the barmaid “come this way or we’ll think you are staff”. Now I’m needing to earn some extra cash at the mo so I replied “oooh, what’s the hourly rate?” She dodged the question like a contestant on 1 Versus 100 so I just ordered the beer and headed to the loo. Upon leaving the beers were already waiting outside. Epic service.

Then it was match time, well sort of. It was already 15 minutes in as I got to the turnstiles. I don’t do kick offs to be fair. Then inside to fetch beer as you can take it outside to watch the game and finally to the food kiosk for an excellent £4 cheeseburger and chips. So it was 3.25 before I actually set eyes on the game. Rushall ran out comfortable 4-0 winners, I think I saw one of the goals, and before then end it was back in the excellent club house to catch up with some friends.

After a couple more pints it was time to head back into Walsall and to the Black Country Arms as they had announced the day before that they had on Vanilla Milkshake IPA by new(ish) Walsall based New Invention Brewery. I text my order to the bar as instructed. After a little while I still hadn’t received my beer. Then one of the bar staff queried if I’d placed my order. Turns out I’d got a digit wrong, so someone out there got my order of a pint of number 21 and a black pudding Scotch egg. And they still haven’t delivered it. So I reordered and I’d just missed out on the IPA. I really must work on my timings.

After that I had a gentle stroll home. Decent day and I saw so many people that I’ve not seen for ages so it really was a great occasion.

Right, I’ll leave you in peace. Enjoy tonight and come on England.

It Ad To Be Done.

I don’t watch television much nowadays but back when I did I used to love the adverts as much as the programmes. Obviously this was in the days before the infuriating meerkats so I thought for a laugh it would be good to recreate some of the old ones.

My favourite advert ever is the VW one from the early 90’s where the guy is driving along and hears a squeaking noise, goes to the garage and it’s his missus’s earring that is squeaking, causing the mechanic to laugh, and again at the squeaky overhead sign. However, I’m short of a car, desert like surroundings and a missus so I can’t do this one.

Just so good.

So I’ve looked elsewhere for adverts to recreate and as much as I’d love to be in the back of a van with a load of mates heading off somewhere singing “we hope it’s chips, it’s chips”, that’s currently not allowed, and my local launderette doesn’t get many visitors so I’m not stripping to my white boxer shorts in there (if I’m getting my pants out I demand a decent audience).
If Scott and Amy still had their bookshop in Walsall Town Centre then they would have had a couple of phone calls asking for Fly Fishing by J R Hartley. One from me and another in the style of Princess Stéphanie of Monaco
Here’s what I’ve come up with instead.

Shake n’ vac
So when I asked friends for ad suggestions, one of the most popular was Shake n’ vac. So after finally finding it in B&M I got to work. I watched the advert and reminded myself of the lyrics and after a vocal warm up with a rendition of Billy Ocean’s amazing song Red Light Spells Danger I got to work. It took a while, I’m not sure I got the dance right and because I did the Living Room, Hall and Porch on a nice March day whist wearing a fleece it got a bit hot and I finished the job topless. Something the nice lady in the video didn’t do. I also tripped over the vacuum and went flying. Again something the lady didn’t do. A good start but my one gripe was that the product was “fresh lemon” yet there was limes on the label and I simply couldn’t cope with this.

You do the Shake n Vac and get your moobs out fast.

Cadbury’s Flake
I watched the advert of the lady in the bath eating a Flake several times, I take my research very seriously. I got my adverts mixed up though as I was sure she ignored the telephone whilst eating the Flake. This was a different ad though for the same bar. The lady ignoring the phone is sat on a window sill in a silky negligee whilst chomping on a Flake. Nobody wants to see a picture of me doing that. So I went for the bath one. I asked a good lady friend if she would be up for this recreation. I offered to social distance (a bit) while she was in the bath, and a couple of extra Flake’s to take home, but it was a no.
So I did it myself. It wasn’t a totally like for like recreation as I didn’t let the bath over flow, and the lady in the ad didn’t inspect her chest upon finishing like I did (I only had 4 bits of chocolate land there so I think I did well). Not the mess I was expecting and more successful than the time I took a glass of wine in the shower. And I still have 3 bars left for next time.

Not for resale. Not really for eating in the bath either.

R White’s Lemonade.
This one was also suggested several times so after eventually finding a bottle of it (3 litres for a quid – absolute bargain) I got Daz round to be official photographer and witness. I don’t own pyjamas so just opted for my old dressing gown instead. It’s a garment I never wear but have held onto in case I get cast in a bedroom scene in a 1990’s period drama.
I absolutely nailed the vocals as I emerged down the stairs and I think Daz secretly really enjoyed it. He’s lucky as I only perform for paying audiences these days. I then helped him carry something to his car, almost forgetting to take the dressing gown off. There were neighbours about and that would have given them something to ponder.

O ar White’s lemonade. Goes well with gin.

So that’s it for now. there will be an edition 2 of this. Daz and myself are already working on another recreation but if there is any advert you’d like me to have a go at – not the ones from the 70’s with kids flying kites underneath pylons though, then please shout up. Cheers.

Oh no. More Pub Talk.

So this fortnights blog was going to be something different but I didn’t quite manage to glean the material to finish it, so guess what? It’s another one about pubs.

I was recently invited out for drinks by Liquid Len (what a name), friend of the blog and one of the few people off Twitter that I have subsequently met up with in real life. We went in The Pretty Bricks and had a pleasant couple of beers, along with a chat with Mark the landlord who was departing the pub after around 10 years.

Before departing I nipped to the toilet, which is standard for me. I was surprised to see a urinal marked as “out of order”. I’m a big fan of something that you just piss into being out of order but fortunately it wasn’t urinal number 2 so I could proceed with my mission. I always go to urinal number two regardless of which pub I’m in. Not a problem usually, only when I’m in the Moon Under Water in Wolverhampton as it’s a long hike to it from the door in there.

I need a piss. That’s bang out of order.

So from there we went to the Walsall Arms. A wonderful pub but one I’d kinda given a wide berth too after getting very drunk in there on my birthday. Fortunately the landlady Jaz was her usual welcoming self so I was reassured that I hadn’t done anything silly whilst a bit out of it.

Whilst in there the full idiocy of the table service rule was laid bare. I ordered two pints, the barmaid popped them on the bar right in front of me but she then had to leave the bar, walk halfway round the pub to hand them to me. I could have been down off my Wimbledon umpire style chair, grabbed them, climbed back up, had a swig and shouted “new balls please” in 5 seconds. Better still if I had a Bo Selecta Mick Hucknall style long arm I could have just reached for them. The beer was good so it was well worth her effort.

On Wednesday I had a little pub crawl and the plan was to visit pubs I’ve not made it to since they reopened. Starting with The Victoria (Katz) which I have been in but not as much as I’d like. Unfortunately they had an issue in the cellar and weren’t opening for another hour so I moved onto The Crown. This is probably the most traditional of pubs within walking distance of Walsall Town Centre and known locally as The Funny House due to the pictures of comedians dotted around the walls. It’s so traditional that when I took a work colleague in last year, when he asked if he could pay by card he got a totally bemused look as if he’d asked if he could shit on the pool table. Well that could be asked in Winter I suppose as this is the only pub in Walsall town centre that still has outside toilets.

The pub has had a makeover during lockdown with new carpet, upholstery, paint job and sadly jukebox. I liked the old style one where you had to press a button and the flappy flappy things (don’t know how else to describe them) rotate and show the song choices.

The outside toilets complete with new hanging baskets and signage.

Anyway upon leaving there I was well ahead of time but behind on pints so I popped into Rock Steady Eddies. My usual port of call when I lived that side of town. Although I hadn’t planned on going in there I had jukebox money on me to appease the B-52’s and also to hopefully give my jukebox nemesis something to whinge about. Unfortunately he wasn’t about, possibly slagging off other peoples musical choices to the bar staff in another pub. So I put the money in a quiz machine for the first time since November. However in my excitement in doing this I suggested as one answer that elephants don’t have tusks. I didn’t win any money.

From there I popped back into The Pretty Bricks as it has now been taken over by Bar (his nickname) who moved on a Bosman from The Black Country Arms to take up this role. It was nice to wish him well, the beer was good, barmaid friendly and the out of order urinal now functional.

Next up was the Butts Tavern. After being asked if had the check in app, and explaining that I don’t as I’m from the 1970’s, then a quick year of birth off with the very friendly barmaid which revealed that she was older than me but still had the app, I found something called a pen, signed in in the more traditional way and took a seat. The pub was beautifully decked out with England flags everywhere, with a lone Wales one for balance. The Butty Bach and cob came to £4.30. Absolute bargain. Where do I sign? Oh yeah, by the door with a pen. I then won £4.30 on a game called Pixel It for just a 50p investment so everyone was happy. Great pub this and it used to be part of a cracking mini pub crawl but now somewhat isolated so I don’t venture there often but it’s always a good visit. Makes note to self. Always go up The Butts when possible.

£4.30 for that. The tomato was removed on government/SAGE advice.

So onto Friday and I hadn’t any plans for the match so was just going to head into town and have a mooch about but then my mate Dan announced there was room on his table in The Registry so I dived on that.

I didn’t take to Yates’s really but since it changed to The Registry I like it much more, even though it’s the same place. There is now some Walsall FC representation so that may have helped swing it, plus I’ve got to know some of the staff of late so all good. Disco Bingo on a Monday afternoon is a must when off work.

Disco Bingo. So addictive. Jumpin’ Jack Flash didn’t come out but I prefer She’s A Rainbow anyway.

On the way to The Registry I was delayed by a cat, Blackpool Jane would be very proud, so I opted to jump on the bus to make up time. Whilst studying the timetable, which was far more entertaining than the match my wonderful neighbours Zoe, Stewart and Ben spotted me as they drove past and gave me a lift. More drinking time and to be fair I was going to need it.

So I joined the table with fellow Walsall FC fans Dan, Josh, Zane, & Coxy and it was epic just to be drinking laughing and singing again with fellow footie fans. Due to the angle of seat and television I kept moving forward and blocking Dan’s view with my mossiv head. He was fine with it but it may have been a different story had the match been a tad more intriguing.

Yesterday I was joined by my mate Craig and we had a gentle amble round town, chatting our usual nonsense and culminating in a couple of beautiful pints of Duck Blonde in a very busy Katz, which was good to see. Followed by an epic curry at Blue Ginger. Rounded off nicely a cracking week off, but back to work and normality tomorrow.

Cheers for reading.

A Cob, Cheeseburger And Some Pubs.

So I’m slowly getting back into this going inside pubs lark. And very pleasant it has been too. Here’s some of the things I’ve been up to the past week.

Last Saturday was a free day but then Dave text saying that he was going to The Chuckery Club and did I want to join him? Now I have a bit of history with this place as I booked it for my 30th birthday party and when I went to pay for the room 2 weeks before the big day I found out that they’d given it to someone else. I then had to find a new venue, which I did, that ran out of lager at 9.30 on the night causing a chunk of my guests to walk out.

So I’ve had a grievance with the place for a while but new people have it now and after nearly 20 years maybe it’s time to let go of that grudge. They want to have a beer festival at the club and have sought assistance from myself and another member of the Walsall CAMRA committee so I thought it was time to go in and introduce myself. I also had to point out that whilst I’ve worked many beer festivals I’ve never actually organised one so I wasn’t going to be much help. But I know people who can.

Anyway there was no ale on and when asked what I wanted I panicked and said Carling. Three of these later we found out that that Strongbow Dark Fruit was being sold off at £2.20 a pint. So we stayed “a bit” longer. Anyway the new landlady was very welcoming, telling us about upcoming singers and also the soon to be launched mid week carvery, which you can have at £2.95 if you buy a drink. Well there’s going to be no problem on that score for me. I really should have asked how much the carvery is after 8 drinks. The talk of food got me hungry so I had a £1 ham cob, which was one of the best ever.

A quid for that? Amazing. (The finger hole in the top was caused by my eagerness).

On the Sunday I was meeting a group of mates at Wetherspoons for a few beers before meeting up again with Dave to visit more pubs in the name of blog material hunting. I was one of the last to arrive at the Spoons so all the seats on the lads tables were full. I stood in between the two tables looking a bit awkward. Mase suggested that I sit on the wall, a suggestion that I politely declined. I may look like Humpty Dumpty, doesn’t mean I want to recreate his work.

I like the ale in St Matthews Hall but in these strange times it feels naughty to go and look at what’s on offer. Back on the Dark Fruits then. Certainly getting my five a day in of late. The lads on one table were worried about the gathering of pigeons up above and possible deposits from them so when another table became available we dived on it. Mase took up his offer of wall sitting himself and I plonked myself down on the bench. Everyone’s happy. Apart from the member of staff who then came and told him off. After another couple of pints, it was time to go and meet Dave.

Alcohol (not rare) in the sun (very rare).

Dave was in The Tap & Tanner. Decent pub this and I always enjoy going. The music was good and mixed until they decided on a bit of banter and played Red Red Wine by UB40, a truly dreadful song that only normally gets played at last orders when the staff want to clear the room and go home. I wondered if I’d missed an announcement from Boris that a new Sunday evening 18.41 curfew was happening. After this I think they staff knew they’d gone too far so they played some Katy Perry to make up for it. and it went down a storm.

Next up was The Watering Trough where a warning about using the garden was in effect. We risked it. A pleasant pint was had here but the it was time for a last one.

All capitals. They mean it.

Last call was the The Wheatsheaf. This has new new people running it after the old new people left after about a month. A very pleasant pint was had in here along with a great cheeseburger. There was a live music in the garden and a real buzz about the place. This is good as it’s the closest pub to my house and I really should use it more. Which funnily enough, I will be doing later.

This was demolished very quickly.

On Friday I met my mate Andrew in Bilston after work so we could get a taxi to Walsall in search of liquid goodness. We opted for a pint before ordering the taxi so we headed to the The Trumpet. I thought it didn’t open until 7pm but as we approached, the door was reassuringly open. This was a false dawn though as the door inside had a sign on it telling us to go round the back. So we wandered round the back and settled in the garden, which I had no idea existed. We had a Guinness and a Golden Glow and it was mentioned how we had the same style of drinks as Duffy and Joe in Early Doors. We spent a few minutes discussing that great show until being interrupted by an eager raffle ticket seller. I tried telling her that we weren’t staying long but it was like pissing in the wind while it’s blowing a gale so I accepted defeat and handed over a pound. It’s very much a live jazz pub and instruments were being set up but we left before they started. It would have been nice to hear some as jazz to me only comes in magazine form.

After a pint in Bilston Wetherspoons we grabbed an Uber to Walsall and headed for Bar 10. After being shouted at a couple of times by the barman we signed in and sat down. We had an expensive round served in flimsy plastic glasses so moved on to The Oak Inn, now accompanied by our mutual friend Comedy Dave. I like this pub but the last time I went in it was a very rare bad pub visit. I was with Craig that time and we were told we couldn’t both go on the quiz machine, they didn’t give the usual friendly welcome and everyone was sitting there in total silence. We opted not to go on quizzer as a soloists, although had one of us gone on it, it would have been Craig. He went on 15 To 1 and got to the grand final whilst I got Barnsley and Burnley mixed up on short lived ITV Sport Channel quiz show Do I Not Know That?

Anyway this time the pub was back on form. Good music on the juke box and a sing song of Remember You’re A Womble from one corner (not ours).

From there we went to The Tap And Tanner. This pub usually has bouncers on of a weekend but it’s usually just a nod and an “alright”. This time it was proper football ground style security checks. It was like Brighton away in 2009 when my mate John-Paul got his balls squeezed during a very vigorous frisking from a steward. Still it inspired a new style Prince lyric. “Tonight were getting frisked like it’s Brighton 2009”.

We rounded the night off with a couple of hours in St Matthews Hall, the highlight of which was a bizarre telling off for sitting at an empty table. We opted not to contest our eviction from the table so there was no need for the lads from Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away to get involved.

So a good few pub visits. Let’s hope June 21st happens and we can get rid of these bizarre regulations that continue to hold pubs back. Death figures are right down and when did you last hear of the Annie Nightingale hospitals on the news? Come on Boris. Let’s get ordering at the bar and mask free pissing back in our lives.

When You Wish Upon One Star.

Hygiene ratings in takeaways. Some people study them religiously where as I’m more of a “if the food’s good, what the hell?” kinda guy. Not sure if it’s the same elsewhere but here in Walsall our takeaways are scored between 0 and 5 on how hygienic/clean they are. 1 star places don’t bother me but bizarrely if I’m in a 4 star I wonder what cost them that point and I will always glance around for any evidence.

I know it’s really not the case but it does cross my mind that whether the inspector has had a shag the night before could make the difference between a 3 or a 4 rating. So I do take these ratings with a pinch of salt or pinch of mouse droppings in some cases. I’m also aware that just because a place is a one star it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s covered in shit. They can lose points for things not being stored correctly in the fridge, poor hand washing facilities, cross contamination between chopping boards, or the place being covered in shit. Each venue has details on the website about the visit and what needs to improve but I didn’t bother looking at these. I don’t do details unless I’m telling a grim anecdote.

So where’s this leading? Well a couple of years ago I was going to visit all the 0 rated takeaways and do an article . As per usual though friends forced me to go to the pub on numerous occasions and I didn’t get round to it. But now I have a blog page and minimal content I thought I’d give it a whirl. I’m pleased to say that currently on the council website there isn’t a single place with a zero rating in Walsall. Well done everyone. So I’m doing the 1 star places instead. Bit healthier and I’ve enough zero’s in my life with some of the Walsall FC scores this season.

There are 50 or so places on the site with a 1 star rating. Not all takeaways, cafes or pubs. There are a couple of newsagents too. I can only assume the jazz mags have poor hygiene.

When I decided to do this it was poorly timed on my behalf as it was during Lent and I’d given up chip shops for the duration. What kind of writer does crap planning like this? I bet J K Rowling isn’t this disorganised. Anyway after convincing myself that some of these places are takeaways not chip shops so I could sneak a couple in. My Lent and I’m allowed to tweak the rules. So I bought Imodium and stocked up on toilet rolls (just a 9 pack, I don’t panic buy unless it’s booze or samosas).

All places were listed as 1* on the website at the time of visiting. Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (

Visit 1. Dixy Chicken, Bradford Street, Walsall. Last inspection 24/11/20.
The place looked clean enough from where I observed at the counter although it’s fair to say that a good sprinkling of dust could have settled over the place during the time it took the lady in front of me to decide what she wanted. I opted for a chicken fillet burger and wings. I wasn’t really paying attention at the list of quantities of wings available but 6 seemed to be the only even number amongst the stream of evil odd ones so I opted for those. The food came quickly and I dashed off to visit Dave – he was my support bubble at the time so it was allowed.

Well it took me longer to figure out how to open the paper wrapper of the delicious burger than to devour the contents within it. The wings were good too, although I offered Dave one which he accepted but I mentioned the hygiene rating and he went very odd claiming the wing was spicy and he couldn’t eat it. It really wasn’t. I’ve had spicier korma’s. Actually that’s fake news. I’ve never had a korma in my life. Anyway, a decent first mission.

Visit 2. One Big Bite, Milton Street, Walsall. Last inspection 28/10/19.
I need to throw a line in here, a month after my visit it had another inspection and this is now rated 3. Well done to them. It was still a one when I visited though so I’m leaving it in.

Friendly and welcoming guy was a good start as I headed in just after midday on a bright Sunday. There is a bit of a television theme as they do a Naga Doner, presumably after Naga Munchetty and also a Nigella Panini. Missed a trick here though as surely Nigella’s Baps would have people queuing out of the door. I scoured the menu for any thing named in honour of Lucy Verasamy but was left disappointed so I went with Naga. They guy told me it was spicy twice and I accepted the same number of times.

The place was clean, the Coca-Cola fridge was the best I’ve ever seen, and if space in my kitchen was sufficient I’d have had it away.

The kebab meat came with a freshly cooked naan and interestingly two forks, one red and one black (I used the Walsall red one). I like how he thought I must be sharing the food but If 2016 14 stone me had turned up I’m sure it would have just been the one fork provided. Anyway, he wasn’t lying about the spice. It was throat warming, nose running spicy and this I approved of. I have had kebab meat on a Sunday before but usually at around 2am, certainly not mid dayish and it felt strange eating it at a time people would still be heading home from mass. It was really good though. Another great visit.

Naga Doner, Palfrey style.

Visit 3. Dixy Chicken, High Street, Brownhills. Last inspection 14/01/21.
New kid on the block this one as it only opened in January. I knew it was a 1 star rated place before I’d even checked the website as it had been flagged up on the excellent Brownhills Bob group on Facebook, having been inspected shortly after it opened. I love it when my research is done for me.

This was an after work visit but I wanted to be home for 7 so I could watch Tenable on ITV4, so military style precision was needed. I nibbled a sausage roll whilst walking through Bilston to keep me ticking over as I don’t like eating on an empty stomach. I met Dave in Walsall and we jumped on the bus to Brownhills. I calculated that we had 15 minutes to find the place, get food and jump on the vital 18.15 bus back. Challenge Anneka food style. We arrived in Brownhills and it started to fall apart. My research had suggested it was opposite the job centre. It wasn’t and we’d gone in the wrong direction. We finally found the place, there was already 2 customers in the shop and we had 8 minutes remaining.

We got served, and I went for the same as in the Walsall store so I could compere. The place was clean, the decor was nice including a heart made up of foody words. To my surprise the lad serving, who seemed like a decent bloke asked what drink I wanted, so I pounced on the Apple Tango as I’d not had it for years. Dave had 2 pieces of chicken and chips. We needed fast food and we got it. We were at the bus stop with two minutes to spare. Turned out I’d got an actual burger meal and wings at a cost of 2p less than I paid in the Walsall branch, which hadn’t been a meal. The burger was good, the chicken wings, big, crispy and generally amazing. A superb visit and I was back home 7 minutes before Tenable started. And I got all the answers in the money round which was about the board game Cluedo. This was a seriously good visit. No wonder Elvis was always singing “oh I wish I was in Dixy, away away.”

Visit 4. Peri Peri Takeout. Prince Street, Pleck. Last inspection 15/12/20.
Bumped up the agenda of this article after myself and Dave’s original target was closed. A discussion, and the arrival of the 34 bus swung things and we were off to Pleck.

There were no customers in front of us so I got no chance to peruse the offerings so just went for the normal chicken burger and hot wings. Now I’m not a fan of meal packages in takeaways that include a drink as I want just pure food for my cash, but in this place items are sold individually but you can add chips and a drink for £1.20 extra. So I opted to do that. He then asked if I wanted fries and drink with the wings as well. Jesus. Old me would have been all over that but I declined this time.

Whilst waiting I did get to study the menu. They do a burger party bucket. This visit was straight after a crap day at work so I wasn’t in the mood to party. They also do a treat bucket, and boy did I deserve a treat as this was my first takeaway after Lent, but I wouldn’t have been arsed to carry the 1.5 litre bottle of Coke on the bus so I’m glad I stuck with what I got.

The burger was really nice, and the hot wings were perfectly spiced and they came in a box which said “enjoy chicken”. Not sure if this was an instruction or just a reminder of one of my favourite hobbies. Another really good visit.

The One That Got Away. Beacon Fish Bar, Beacon Road, Pheasey.
This didn’t make the initial list, but when a couple of my targets closed I had to do another search and I discovered that this place was by The Cat & Fiddle, a great boozer discovered on Pub Challenge 1 (and where Barmaid Of The Challenge from that year worked) so this place got penciled in. I put money aside, planned bus times, booked a table at the pub to wash down the chippy goodness and invited friends. Then during the week before I checked the hygiene website again and it said that place had been recently inspected and the new score would be announced soon. Why the delay? Stop building up suspense. You’re not revealing the bad guy on Line Of Thrones or whatever it’s called. Anyway, the chippy impressed the inspectors as it got promoted to a 3, and I got a call from the pub on the Friday saying that they wouldn’t be opening due to the weather. So I spent that Saturday eating Beef Space Raiders and fannying around on Twitter instead.

Just tell us, eh?

Visit 5. Fountain Cafe. Longwood Lane, Walsall. Last inspection 05/06/18
Now this is what I’m talking about. An eaterie in a static van by the side of a road. I’ve not eaten at anything like this since a midnight visit on a Tuesday night, in Cirencester on the way back from an away win at Bournemouth in 1992. All vans visited since have been mobile. I’m guessing this van hasn’t moved in years.

Yet again I’d done my research beforehand. Yet again I’d got it wrong, resulting in getting off the bus a stop early. This did allow me to have a stroll down a nice scenic road while Monday morning traffic thundered past. It felt like that scene where Alan Partridge walks along a dual carriageway to go and buy windscreen washer fluid. I should have sang Goldfinger to complete the look.

So by the time I arrived at the van I reckoned I’d burned off the calories of a slice of bread, so I had that slice along with another one with sausage, bacon and egg thrown in for good measure. It felt a bit odd waiting for a sandwich in a glorified clearing surrounded by trees at the terminus of dead end bit of road. Then another man arrived and ordered his food and we both stood there in silence. It felt awkward. Especially when his cup of tea arrived in the hatch and I got jealous.

After a little wait my sammo arrived, I bade farewell to my new friend, pulled my breakfast out and started walking back. The bus stop I should have got off at was 1 minute walk away so I stood there eating looking at my slobbiest for sometime. I am quite uncouth and sometimes it doesn’t hurt to reiterate this to traffic on a busy A road.

Anyway, the food was okay. You can’t go wrong with BSE, and she certainly wasn’t shy with the ketchup. Another tick, one that I’d done purely because I was off work but with a day left on my bus pass and I wanted to get some use out of it just on principle.

Visit 6. Chick’n Bites, Walsall. Last inspection 08/04/21.
One of my slight bug bears is when someone gets to a takeaway just ahead of me, and this was the case here but I’ve come to like it now as it gives me chance to study decor and menu. Firstly I really wanted the cool looking red table but then I noticed the door to the side which lets people from behind the counter out. Seriously it is the smallest door that I’ve ever seen in use. I know that I’m unlikely to ever win a Mr Tall contest but I think even I’d have to bend down to get through that one.

As it was the last review I decided to let my minimal hair down and order a bit more so I went for the 3 chicken wings meal with a side salad of kebab burger (no salad). The service was quick and I was soon making the short walk home.

Again it was unusual to be eating kebab stone cold sober but as the doner was landing in my stomach I’m sure said organ was screaming out”Oi George? Where’s the boozy hors d’oeuvre?”. Not sure why my stomach calls me George though.

Anyway I digress. The kebab meat was juicy, succulent and like it had been freshly shaved rather than plucked out of those nasty metal storage boxes. The chicken wings were great and had a nice bit of spice and the chips went down well after being doused in newly opened mayonnaise. The can of Pepsi (no choice in drink but I love this cola so all good) was also enjoyed. I’m deffo going here on the way back from The White Lion if that reopens. A great visit and a nice way to end this blog.

There are plenty of 2 star rated takeaways in Caldmore so there maybe a sequel to this article somewhere down the line as I’ve enjoyed reviewing food again for the first time since mine and Swill’s aborted Walsall Curry House Monopoly Challenge. Walsall Monopoly Curry Challenge | Monopoly-inspired curry challenge around Walsall. Visit the best Walsall Indian restaurants, eat curries, rate them and then place them on the board. Get a genuine insight into the restaurants of Walsall, with photos, stories and videos of what are sure to be some eventful nights. (

Cheers for reading again.