Or: How to use £30 worth of rail ticket when your Football club forgets that you are real people with real lives, jobs and commitments.
We had several options when the Cambridge game was rearranged. The rail company offered on payment of an arrangement fee to change the times and include a journey home the next day. So why not book a hotel room and enjoy Cambridge? Oh and by the way the others would need to take a day off work to make that work.
Alternatively we could just ignore it and swallow the cost.
The third option had sub clauses. The Lord Powell and Marcus donned their Ground hopping hats, went on the original tickets to Cambridge and caught a bus to eventually watch;
St. Ives 0 Kettering Town 1
A few beers in Cambridge and back to join us for the trip home at 8.30. This was not for me though.
On arriving in London Geoff decided that a spot of dusting would be in order before meeting up with us to sample a pub or two. No trip to Cambridge but just spend the day in London. Good choice but record shops are not my idea of fun.
I had hoped the others would have determined something cultural for the two hours before pub opening. The discussions of last week and on the train included museums, libraries, vintage car rallies, HMS Belfast and the Tate gallery. Arriving at Paddington the usual collective indecision kicked in and I was buggered if I was going to play school teacher for the morning. I told them all I would be in the Seven Stars at 12 and slashed my way through the tube throngs to Westminster and the Embankment. I was prepared to duck and dive for a bit of relative isolation. The others had got the message and they went in search of HMS Belfast. In reality I knew they would end up having an early one or two in the Tower Bridge area. These others were Ron, Coventry Bob, Mumbles and Random Tim.
My preferred variance was to stroll the north side of the river from Westminster to Temple, arriving at 12 for opening time at the Seven Stars. It lies just behind the Law Courts and L.S.E. With a £2 cup of tea in hand it was pure solitary bliss. Walking at my pace, reminiscing of honeymoon walks, the weather was fine, the views stunning and my batteries were soon recharged.
The walk is best just shown by the photos below.
One bit of unfortunate mischief involved informing some tourists of the time that changing the guard took place. At 10.45 I looked up on the internet that the given time was 11.30. I advised them to get there by 11. That was somewhat fortunate as I scrolled down as they left to see that the time was now 11. So much for being the helpful one. I hope they got there in time. No I don’t. It is basic tourist stuff to plan properly and know the times of time dependent events. I knew the Seven Stars opened at 12 for goodness sake!
I had been here before with Ray. He knew it well from his Australian High Commotion (sic!) days. Geoff was predictably the first to arrive. No rare records but Dr Who C.D.s were in his bag. Phone calls came in from Andy. He is good at this sort of thing. Like some sort of Air Traffic controller Geoff guided them in, first to the right tube station and then, road by road, to the pub. He has the sort of patience that was once my proud strength. Not now though. Two pints later they arrived. The Cornish Coaster from Sharp’s made for an excellent 3.6% starting beer. Why, oh why, don’t pubs stock the better Sharps brews, of which this is one, rather than the dullard Doom Bar?
The Old Bank of England
This is something of a beer tickers institution but somehow it had bypassed the attentions of the rest of our team. I had wanted to show them around the various stately rooms. It took a while for them to make the connections with the Bank of England and Sweeney Todd. I thought perhaps they may have met some Dr Who alien who had dulled their collective minds. The pub was as grandiose as ever. The beer was Fullers good. The pub however has lost something. It is not helped by the overwhelming aroma of kippers when you arrive or that every feature room was booked for various groups throughout the coming day. Even the new garden area was being astroturfed!
A quick photo outside and down a set of steps to find this cellar bar totally Aussied out. O.K. there were a few token Kiwi’s but the Green and Gold won any flag waving contest. There were T.V. screens in all corners. The standing room was bearable as the pub home brewed stuff was really good. I settled for the Essex Street Dark Porter. We decided that after the first ten minutes we would leave them to what would well become a collective groan and move on. As Dan Carter pushed the Kiwi’s further ahead we set off around the corner to:-
The Cheshire Cheese
Geoff had led the way but he was upstairs as the Landlord directed us downstairs to a room with space to watch the match. The boss was very hospitable and the beer o.k. This pub was invoking collective tiredness and a change of location, i.e. a longish walk was needed. We could have hopped on the tube but the stroll up Kingsway to Holborn would surely revive energy levels. Twenty minutes without a beer was in my thoughts.
I have long promised myself a visit here. It has the hallmark taps in the wall now famed in the Tap Group Craft pubs. The young barman was versed in the mantra of “all our beer is real sir.” Chilled to within a degree of its taste the beer list is impressive but frankly unadventurous by modern day standards. I was expecting more, a lot more. I decided my penance for dragging my friends here should be a team pizza. That hit the spot, hot and spicy. We were revived of sorts but I needed to find something better. The Princess Louise just wouldn’t hack it now. The Lamb in Conduit Street just might.
Ronnie was in street play mode but mistakenly tried to play “hit the maul” as we walked up Lamb Conduit Street. A schoolboy error and I hope his ribs are o.k. as if he reads this. It was good to know my right shoulder can still lift 15 stone of opposition of its feet though.
What a find. It seemed much larger, and fuller, than I recalled in my guide writing days. We settled on a couple of available chairs and soon cleared more space. It was easy as by now Tim and Ron were making passable imitations of students on a care in the community field trip. Even Mumbles started to go into caring mode ordering Tim to forget another beer and come and sit quietly next to “Uncle Richard”.
It was time to head home.
Tube from Russell Square, Avoided the roller skating zombies, got food and last beers at Paddington and took a very orderly and civilised train home. Like clockwork, we arrived on time,
Rose was there to pick up the pieces and take me home. A great day was over and I needed sleep. Rumours were that Tim had found a second wind and was off to find another pub. Good luck Bristol Landlords with that one .
Pub of the day: The Temple Brewhouse
Beer of the day: Sharp’s Cornish Coaster