Tuesday, 12 July 2011

By Dickens !! – It’s a Tale of Two Pubs

Monday 4th July to Sunday 10th July2011

11 Miles, 8 Locks – for this week

Totals: 634 Miles, 586 Locks, 19 Tunnels, 18 Lift Bridges, 11 Swing Bridges

This has been a unbelievably busy week and I have at least one more ahead of me – I can hear someone say that those figures above do not show that it has been very busy at all and you would be right.

Let me rephrase it – It has been unbelievably busy at work this week. With more than 300 documents to get written for a customer in less than 3 weeks – it has been a very busy week – hence the lack of miles and locks but not the lack of things interesting.

I moved on Monday down to Fazeley Junction and then locked myself away for a full two days to get this work started – only interrupting to watch le Tour and for meals.

After this it was further movement down to the Samuel Barlow pub and whilst work took an absolute priority, there was time to wander over to the pub and catch up with Paul and the boys, hearing about the Working Boat Rally to be held there on this weekend – sadly I would not be there – work was a priority and I removed myself from all temptation.

The pub has just got busier and busier and speaking to Paul he is not sure why, but all of the boys had no problems in explaining it – Paul is a very engaging guy (being an Aussie would it be any different) and his style has been very well received as well as his cooking.

But still the two days I was there was very good – catching up with Swifty and Robbie as well as Tim Davis (the Harbourmaster) – I will be back again soon.

Just a bit further down the cut and I moored again for a couple of days just above Lock 8.

My only problem, apart for the workload, was a diminishing space in the grey tank and therefore a need to find a place to have a pump out – this was achieved on Sunday morning at Barry Hawkins Boatyard where the lovely Jane (Barry’s wife) was able to help out – pumpout achieved and replacement gas battle in hand - I only needed to go up the one lock and moor up – afterall it was Sunday and the traditional roast beckoned – this is all under the general heading of research.

Whilst Diane is away I needed to keep the information going into the book containing knowledge of “all things Sunday and roasts”.

Of course I must say that I had a lovely phone call from the very wonderful “she who must be obeyed” to see how I was and I suspect to find out how the list of things to be done was progressing. Such a wonderful lady – always concerned about my health and well being (and how much I can get done).

I have been to and moored in Atherstone on 2 previous occasions and by pure coincidence both were Sundays – The Kings Head provided a very good meal (2 courses) on both occasions and one was extremely tempted to continue with the run of success, but in a town with 9 pubs it would be remiss of me not to seek out other establishments which could be of equal standing or maybe better.

To this end I was prepared to go further afield, and after purchasing a newspaper, I decided to try The Red Lion, based on no other fact than it was the closest pub to me after I bought The Sunday Times.

It was very well appointed inside and I bought a beer and sat down to contemplate the menu and the sport pages with equal attention. Soon enough the decision was made and the order placed.

I was engaged in relaxing, having a drink and reading the paper – glass emptied, another ordered, back to the paper – suddenly I realised that it had been an hour and a quarter and the starter had not appeared – I looked around and others who had not not long been there before me were finished. Second beer finished and my response to this was to vote with my feet – went up to the bar paid for the second beer and said that was all I was paying for – certainly not for the meal that hadn’t exited from the kitchen and then I was out of there.

Down the road was a less salubrious hostelry – The Clock - into which I entered; ordered a beer and 2 course meal (they apologised for not having the mashed potatoes – I was very “disappointed”) – sat down at the table, reopened the paper and within a few minutes a well endowed plate appeared with a well presented and extremely satisfying main course; a little longer for the dessert, but this really wasn’t a problem - no complaints with this at all – we can certainly add this to the “will visit again” list.

There is no doubt about it – pubs are certainly like books – you simply cannot judge them by their external appearance and like the Dickens classic these two certainly could have been in two entirely different cities.

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