Swans and Bulls: Dipping Into The Black Country

We’ve long wanted to explore The Black Country and, with an unexpected free day on our hands, seized the opportunity to do so last week.

Our inter­est in this part of the world was raised pri­mar­i­ly by this mar­vel­lous 2014 arti­cle by Barm which deserves reg­u­lar resur­fac­ing and is a shoo-in for our imag­i­nary anthol­o­gy of great beer writ­ing. There was also a nag­ging sense that we’d screwed up by tast­ing The Batham’s in Wolver­hamp­ton rather than in or around Dud­ley.

We set our hearts upon vis­it­ing The Old Swan AKA Ma Par­doe’s AKA Mrs Par­doe’s at Nether­ton and The Vine Inn AKA The Bull and Blad­der at Brier­ley Hill. (All the pubs round here seem have at least two names.) The first we reached by train and bus. The weath­er was ter­ri­ble and every­thing looked a bit bleak through misty win­dows. The sight of the blunt­ly named Pork Shop in Cradley Heath was, it turned out, a por­tent of snacks to come.

Nether­ton in the rain, a group of blokes drink­ing cider out­side the con­ve­nience store, a road con­gest­ed with heavy goods vehi­cles, their grum­bling engines har­mon­is­ing with rum­bles of thun­der… Black Coun­try indeed we mut­tered, prob­a­bly not very orig­i­nal­ly. The pub had plen­ty of twee details but looked oth­er­wise like any oth­er small town booz­er, a bit down on its luck and chipped around the edges.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Swans and Bulls: Dip­ping Into The Black Coun­try”