2005: Pub Crawls in the name of research

Saturday 26th February 2005

A Road trip researching pubs for the guides.

This entry will cover several days as  I was often away from home for days at a time .It was part of my attempt to busy myself fully that I would plan, field trip style, trips to games around tours of towns and their real ale pubs. The plan was loosely made on the days before by identifying one pub that would definitely be in the guide and then going from there to find two more. The aim was to find pubs and they would have to meet the criteria for entry.  The criteria being:-

  • Friendly to away fans
  • Good Real Ale
  • Either close to the station, ground or main road into the ground.

These were my diary notes for those days with some entry notes that were eventually written into the guides.

Saturday 26th February 2005

Drive to Macclesfield from home, staying in the Chadwick House Hotel. Weather pretty grim, wet and cold, not good for walking around. Walked to Waters Green Tavern

Waters Green Tavern – Good selection of beers, Brian the landlord was too busy to really talk. Will need to remember not to do this on match days. Popular for food and real fire. Landlord doesn’t want me to say what beers are on. IN

Railway View– Not impressed. Not as good as reputation. Different landlord to when I was there before.Beer nor good enough but busy with home fans who were of the chavvy persuasion.

Macclesfield A 1-2 Lost 2-1 Grim

The Sun – Called in after the game. Basic pub with quirky rooms. Not very busy at all. Lot of finished beers.  Not sure about this one. IN

Back to hotel and change of clothes. Cold.

Porters Prince of Wales – Crowded with Rugby types. Fish tank in wall between loos and bar! Friendly but beer not great.

British Flag – Very busy, loud and friendly. Talked to landlord for a while then went through quite a few beers IN

Food in town centre and hotel.

Curry in town and back to hotel Write up notes.

This was the first day of a four day trip around the game at Macclesfield. The notes for those other days are given here in brief. IN means it made the grade to be in the guide.

guided-cover

The first guide

Sunday 27th February

Finish writing up notes on pubs of yesterday. Decent breakfast.

Drive to Wrexham A day of halves due to driving

Into town

Checked out the Turf at 12. No real ale, used to do Marston’s beers.

Old Swan Brewery. No other customers. Loud music on a Sunday lunchtime. Beer good. Not sure it’s good enough. IN

Horse and Jockey – Closed on Sunday!

Nags Head – Very foody and quite dull

Albion Vaults Very basic but friendly IN

Struggling to get three pubs so I drove to the

Crown in Summerhill. Had a half and looked out across valley from back room. Only Hyde’s beer but was good and location would be good for those who like country pub.IN

Drive to Chester late afternoon

Book in at Mill Hotel

Mill Hotel Bar not open

Telford’s Warehouse – good beers, manager not overly friendly to guide idea. Not in

Old Harkers Arms Excellent, busy and definitely in. IN

Union Vaults Good but may be a bit small for guide.IN

Ship Victory – Great evening with Joe who wouldn’t let me leave. Far too many beers and writing will have to wait ‘til tomorrow.IN

Too late to do writing

 chester-map

Monday 28th February

Wrote up Wrexham. Drove to Birkenhead.

Travellers Rest   Had lunch here, sampled a half but didn’t drink. Good friendly place. A bit out of town but good for those coming on motorway.IN

Crown Ale House Impressive looking pub – good choice, Run down, IN

Stork- Long chat with landlady Lots of interest in wallpaper, tiles and rooms.IN

Dispensary – Closed

Crown and Cushion. Not a big selection but pub is good. Landlord doesn’t get idea of football fans and real ale.,

Parking fine from warden who said it would be ok to park and nip in to the Crown and Cushion then gave me a ticket anyway. Lost a couple of hours going to the council office and registering my complaint. I eventually had the money refunded but no apology.

Drove to Ibis hotel in Liverpool

Long afternoon. /evening crawl

Baltic Fleet – IN

White Star Long chat with Alfie IN

Ship and Mitre – Beer festival going on so not a normal day. Very friendly locals. Difficult to leave IN

Dr Duncan’s Good, but not great choice, good location. IN

Fly in the Loaf – Excellent friendly IN

Philharmonic – Visited loos and given guided tour. IN

Late night kebab and back to hotel. No chance of any writing.

 

Tuesday 1st March

Wrote up Chester in hotel.

Drive to Wigan and booked in to Bellingham Hotel

Train to Bolton

Howcroft – Good chat with Clive Nightingale, very informative.IN

Hen and Chickens – Good football pictures. IN

Sweet Green Tavern Brilliant pub and long time talking with Kevin who had loads of stories.IN

Train back to Wigan

Swan and Railway Not sure if good enough but landlord keen to be in. Might be too close to station. IN

Last Post – Not good enough.

Anvil- Definitely in, a good long chat with Ian IN

Bowling Green – Landlord very keen but average pub. Handy for back route to ground.IN

Wrote up Liverpool

 

Wednesday 2nd March

Drive home after breakfast.

Wrote up Bolton and Wigan.

This was a very busy few days and unusually I tried to find pubs on a Monday. I came to realise this was a bad idea because that is the day,, if there is one, where the landlord will not be in the pub or it will be closed. I stayed in comfortable rooms in hotels having an overall guide price in my mind of a £50 average room rate over a trip. My kit for every trip included the lap top which I learned to not take to the pub but was used back at the hotel to write up notes. I always took my own tea bags and milk I had a set of forms to complete notes pre prepared with a set of basic questions. I started each trip with one definite pub in mind that would get in the guide. I always grilled the landlords for the best other pubs and then went to the regulars to confirm which would be the best pubs to write about.

The best bits about 2005 were the new skills I learned about myself and things that were quite good fun.

  1. Finding a publisher- Read all the guff about agents and getting to publishers. It is a racket and not for me. I soon decided I would publish the guides myself so set up Stedders Guides. I then had to get my head around VAT and accounting methods for a small business.
  2. Setting up a printer of the guides. TL Visuals in Yate became my choice to do so. The guides cost at a set price per 1000 guides. I had a relatively small run of 12000 guides in 4 editions of, 3000 of each.
  3. Publishing the guides. This involved meeting with the book wholesaler at Gardners in Eastbourne and selling bthem the concept.
  4. Sort out ISBN numbers.
  5. Talking to the major bookshops, WH Smiths, Waterstones and Amazon.
  6. Setting up stands to sell the guides at book fairs and beer festivals.
  7. Getting comments for the guide by asking people to send in quotes about their pub on a postcard to me.
  8. Practice publishing templates and mail merges on word, excel, access and publisher.

6235623422

Book signing at the Great British Beer Festival at Olympia

My new Risborough life of 2005 had the following routines.

  • Beers in the Bird in Hand. Most evenings from 6 to 8 I would be found in the Bird. A couple of beers with friends as they came in off their respective trains back from London. The friendship circle grew as Chris and Kate, Helen and Mark, then Larissa and Alan then Geoff and Kate came in to the gang. Tom came along a bit later. Good evenings often ended up at Woody’s house talking nonsense that was totally therapeutic. My contribution to the conversation was mostly very boring recollections of the tours I had been on in the previous week.
  • Monday Nights – Crib and Dominoes League games. I would play Cribbage for the Bird Team. We won more than we lost and got to know the country pubs of the Chilterns.
  • Thursdays in the Bird became the new Fridays.
  • Once a month I had a trip to London to meet with the London gas at a pub of their choice.
  • At least one morning a week I tried to get a newspaper interview or radio exposure. This got better in the next year when Glyn got involved in publicity but for now the press releases and handouts had to be written and distributed.
  • Most days had a routine of gardening (50 weeds a day), telephone calls to pubs and sorting post orders in the morning (mostly fact checking and filling envelopes with guides), writing in the afternoon, and going down the pub in the evening. Saturdays would involve the Rovers. Three days a week on average I was away from home.
  • A round of golf at least once a month, usually with Jeremy Yelland but at other times with old friends who came to visit.
  • Beers, every so often, with the Shefford crowd.
  • One day a month with MIL in Tunbridge Wells,
  • One day a month with my Mum in Bristol.
  • Occasional days in MK with Ray and the folk in Bradwell.

The biggest events of the year involved me sitting at a desk and flogging the first editions. In July I spent a weekend in Newcastle at the Tall Ships race. I set up a stall in the garden of the Free Trade and hardly sold a copy. In contrast at the Peterborough Beer Festival I sold my four boxes of guides well within the day I was there. The Great British Beer Festival at Olympia was also pretty good fun although signing copies was a bit odd.

ON  THIS DAY:-

1978       Southampton V Sheffield United 2-1

1984       2nds Luton A L 15-13

1989       2nds Northampton BBOB I H W 23-4

1997       Plymouth H 2-0

2006       Peterborough A 2-1

2012       Rotherham A 1-0

2014       Scunthorpe A 1-1

 

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