Which pubs did you really miss?

When you haven’t been able to go to the pub for a while, which pubs you choose to visit first says something about what you really want, deep down.

The Marble Arch in Manchester came first, almost by accident, but not unreasonably. It’s an eternal, all-time-great national treasure.

Next, of course, came The Drapers Arms here in Bristol – our favourite and our former local, 228 visits to date. It was followed closely by the nearby Annexe, with its convenient pizza.

Then, rather to our surprise, it was The Portcullis – a pub we didn’t think we’d had time to develop a fondness for.

A potential new local, The Old Stillage, came next. Perhaps we’re craving the thrill of the new? It’s not an #EveryPubInBristol candidate because we’ve already ticked it, but that was back in September 2018.

Then, in London, we couldn’t resist Cask, a pub we perhaps thought we were slightly over. It can feel soulless, hectic, bad-tempered and expensive but… That beer selection. Those big windows. That collection of enamel advertising signs. Visiting last weekend, it couldn’t have been more delightful: as friendly and peaceful as an inn on the village green.

Next, we schlepped seven miles on foot, along the Thames and the barely-there River Wandle, to The Sultan in Wimbledon. We’ve only been once, and it’s hardly convenient, but something about it lodged in our minds. It’s not merely a good pub but, maybe, close to the ideal: on a back street; unpretentious; fully worn-in without being grotty; and with great, great beer.

Where next? Well, we’ve actually drawn up a hit list:

  • The Good Measure
  • The Merchant’s Arms
  • The Orchard

And, of course, all of Sheffield.

2 replies on “Which pubs did you really miss?”

Not sure I missed any pub in particular, certainly none more than my local, which is also the county CAMRA pub of the year. Lots of pubs I would have liked to have gone to, but none calling any more loudly than any other. Possibly the Dove in Hammersmith, but as much for the fact that I associate it with having been to watch rugby at Twickenham as to the pub itself. And any pub in Manchester – wasn’t able to visit any of them (including the wonderful Marble Arch) in the year that my daughter spent doing a PGCE at Manchester University, beyond a couple of AF beers at the Brewdog on campus as we helped her move out. That feels like a missed opportunity, but in reality, we get to Manchester for a few beers most years, one way or another.

What I DO want to do is visit much-loved pubs I’ve not been to in years for reasons totally separate to COVID, particularly several Black Country boozers – The Bull and Bladder, The Beacon, Ma Pardoes, The Park Inn and The Great Western, for example.

“And, of course, all of Sheffield.”

Well, not surprisingly that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing. Actually, not all: just the ones I’d been missing!

In recent weeks I’ve also been away a few times, and I expect that to pick up in future, because I look forward to exploring places and pubs I’ve not been to before. But one trip had a lesson for me: I went to Manchester and visited two or three pubs I’d not been to before, each of which was disappointing in one way or another; and the Hare & Hounds on Shude Hill, which was so good that I really regretted the time wasted in the others. So the lesson is: go to the pubs you know are good, and then go there again. And again…

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