Thursday, 30 April 2009

The Gunmakers, Clerkenwell

At last I managed to find the time and energy to go down to London to see my son's pub, The Gunmakers, and I certainly have no cause to regret it.
The atmospheric old premises exudes character and is all that a pub ought to be. Tucked away off the main roads, it is a haven of peace and tranquillity. No raucous music disturbs the free-flowing conversation in the cosy little front bar and there are two rooms further through the pub where seclusion can be had for those seeking it.
Ghosts of the thousands who have frequented the place over the century of its existence seem to fill the place too, so that it is possible to sit alone, contemplating the world, without feeling lonely in the least. In any case, there is always the much-travelled Peter, ensconsed in his corner, who radiates bonhomie, is willing to strike up a conversation with anyone and is full of anecdotes and wit.
My son being a connoisseur of real ale, it is not necessary to say how good the beer is, but I can certainly recommend the Bateman's XXXB, of which I imbibed many pints. Equally good is the food, Chef Sebastian's fiery peppered steak sandwiches taking the "cordon blue" as far as my palate was concerned.
Roll on the next time I visit the City, so that I can get back to The Gunmakers for another session.

Thursday, 23 April 2009


I was in Consett the other day (yes, actually voluntarily!) and was impressed by the number of pubs which still exist in that poor, Thatcher-ravaged township.
Just over 20 years ago, the steelworks was ruthlessly closed, throwing half the town out of work, but it appears that the community survived. As there is still very little employment in the area, and even less money, I wonder what their secret is. How do they keep their pubs open? Do the town council impose a local bylaw on the population that they must visit a different pub every day, for instance?
Whatever the circumstance, it was good to see that the "hillbillies" are keeping up the tradition of the good old English pub. Good luck to them.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

A waste of a good pub

Reading my son's blog (Stonch), I notice that he mentions certain sites and premises which would be ideal for a pub.
Actually, it often strikes me that there are some pubs which are a complete waste of a good building.

Take The Britannia in my home town of South Shields, for instance. What a beautiful building it is, but what a lousy pub! They serve no real ales and the notice board which invites you to "watch live sport here" is a con. I went in there last summer to watch the cricket and was told that they had discontinued Sky Sports, as it was too expensive.
It's a crying shame as the site is ideal too, directly opposite the magnificent Edwardian Town Hall in the centre of the town.
To celebrate the days when South Shields was a great sea port, a Great Lantern from the stern of a sailing ship adorns the entranceway.
Pubs like The Britannia will soon be as extinct as sailing ships.
And they deserve to be.