Sunday, 11 March 2012




GREENWICH (08/03/12)

Our main focus this evening was to work our way through some of the pubs in Greenwich.  Beforehand though we headed back into Deptford Bridge to try and finish this station.  At this point of the challenge we have stuck closely to areas within walking distance of our flat and the plan here was to nip into the Star and Garter, each down a terrifying pint and then scurry on up the hill and hide out in any number of small village-like pubs that we’d be sure to find in the Greenwich Zone.  We’d decided that the Carlton Bar (the only other pub in the area on our list that we’d yet to visit) was in fact more of a restaurant than a drinking establishment, so ticking off this last venue would mean the completion of our third DLR stop.  We approached our target from the opposite direction on this occasion (Tindall had led us on a wild goose chase in search of another pub that we had missed first time around, only for it to turn out to be a pest control shop) and in doing so discovered a fantastic looking pub called the Royal Albert.  Here, drinkers relaxed both inside and out, sipping their drinks in what looked to be a warm and welcoming atmosphere.  With dismay we discovered this tranquil setting was situated just outside of our circle, so begrudgingly we trudged on and prepared to enter our intended target.  However, as we approached we could see the front of the pub was closed.  There were signs informing us that the back bar was open so we edged our way around the side of the building and could see light beyond the windows to indicate that this seemed to be the case.  Pushing to enter, the door jammed in the top of the frame.  Undeterred (it’s the kind of pub you’d expect a door to jam) I kept pushing, trying to force it open when a scruffy man suddenly appeared, muttered that the pub was closed due to them ‘decorating’, and slammed the door shut.  He didn’t much look like a decorator, he looked more like a shifty man with a beard to us, but who were we to argue.  Frustratingly then, this last pub remains elusive, meaning yet another trip back will be required.

We put our minor setback to the back of our minds and headed towards Greenwich.  (We’ve actually completed two of the pubs in this area already.  A few weeks ago Tindall’s brother Dave came and joined us for a small pub crawl where we took in four pubs, two in Greenwich and two in the Cutty Sark region.   On that particular evening we were able to first tick off Belushi’s – a pub situated beneath a hostel – and The Mitre (the first pub on our tour to feature at more than one station as it is within range of both Greenwich and Cutty Sark) and then heading onto The Gypsy Moth and The Gate Clock.  This latter pub being a Wetherspoons, will sadly most probably bring down the average rating for the area.   Fear not though, adding another Tindall to our ranks only served to enhance our rating skills, indeed facilities at each of our pubs were far more closely scrutinised than usual by Dave, who needed to use them more regularly than your average man would due to suffering from the side effects of winning a closely contested and nail biting pancake eating competition 11-8 the evening before.  It does beg the question why you’d keep devouring yet more pancakes when your rival has clearly long since given up, but ultimately that is neither here nor there and not a concern of this blog, so let us get back to focusing on the pub challenge in hand).
Our first stop then was at The North Pole.  This bar has an excellent reputation as being an alternative place to hang out on a weekend evening.  A shame then that we arrived fairly early on a Thursday night, long before many other revellers would choose to appear.  Because of this we didn’t really get a real sense of the atmosphere to be had there.  Further disappointment was immediately thrust upon us as we discovered that there was no beer whatsoever on tap.  The barmaid did very politely explain that this was due to a new selection of beers being added ready for the weekend, but it was still a let-down to find them carrying out this task at such a time.  Otherwise, selection was plentiful.  Being a bar you could order beers, cocktails, champagne (ranging from the ‘ridiculously cheap and most likely poor tasting’, to ‘overly expensive but some fool will still pay for it’ option), and the food menu was also delightfully varied.  The real treat came with the discovery of a ‘Shisha Lounge’ situated outside in an immaculate garden area.  With a restaurant situated upstairs, and a club (The South Pole) below, The North Pole has something for everyone.

The North Pole Ratings

Facilities – 4.5
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 2.5

Entertainment – 4

Selection – 4 (would have been a perfect 5 were it not for the beer situation)

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.6/5

The rest of our evening would involve brief visits to a number of quiet, village pubs.  Hidden away from the main road and escaping the clutches of tourists these pubs were great for the local who wanted some quiet respite from daily life.  This couldn’t have been more apt than with our next pub – Asburnham Arms.  Even we were surprised to stumble across it, as it was discreetly tucked away along a residential street.  We entered to the sound of quiet, sophisticated chatter from the customers inside.  Sitting at the bar we were able to eavesdrop on conversations that the barman would have with each regular that entered for the evening.  One guy when asked about his day replied ‘My day?  My day…. is not bad!’  Amazing!  A pub where people are positive.  Here, people don’t have bad days, people don’t make negative comments.  I bet they even like the weather when it rains.  This is my kind of place.  And you know for sure of the type of company you’re in when someone leaves announcing in a posh voice that they ‘better not stay for another, must get back to feed Max’.  Assuming that Max was that man’s pet dog and not a starved child that he’d neglected whilst he’d nipped out to chat about current affairs over a pint of Theakston’s Old Peculiar, then I’m all for it.  Even the board games on offer (yes, they had board games!) were sophisticated.  Games with names such as ‘Compendium’ and ‘Perudo’ were available.  There’d be no ‘Ker-plunk!’ here that’s for sure.  There was also a quiz night on a Tuesday, albeit one in which we felt we’d most probably not even understand the questions let alone the answers.

As we sat there sipping our pints and wishing we could talk with a larger range of vocabulary as well, we were introduced to our first DLR Challenge cat, which took an instant dislike to Tindall as he attempted to befriend it. 

Ashburnham Arms Ratings

Facilities – 5 (our first maximum score)
Atmosphere – 4

Cost – 3
Entertainment – 2.5

Selection – 4.5 (excellent food menu of which they were still serving from when we left at 9.30pm)

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.8/5

Mindful of the time and with a cluster of pubs to try and get to, we ventured quickly on.  Our next three pubs were situated on the same road, in fact two of them are placed next door to each other.  First up was The Prince of Greenwich.  On entering it was clear that this was another gay pub.  I should’ve picked up on that notion as a man apologised for blocking the door on the way in by saying ‘ooh, sorry darling’ to Tindall.  Inside seemed to be a pleasant atmosphere, but there were instant teething problems.  Rob’s requested pint of Aspall appeared instead in the form of an Amstel, and my Becks Vier tasted off (although in true British style I didn’t want to offend anybody so kept quiet and struggled through for half a pint until I eventually plucked up the courage to switch drinks).  But once we’d ironed out these issues and found a table that didn’t wobble when you as much as breathed on it, we settled down to enjoy our time there.

The Prince of Greenwich
It was soon time to move on though. Neglecting the offer of ‘Free-doms’ (free condoms for those who are unsure) at the bar, we wandered a few paces to our next pub, The Greenwich Union.  We were in a bit of a hurry by now, time constraints meaning we only had about 20 minutes per pint if we were to tick off the remaining two pubs before close.  So we were not helped by terribly poor service in our penultimate pub of the night, at first there was nobody at all behind the bar, and shortly after there was just a grumpy looking guy who came and stood next to a tip jar (that surely on this performance takes quite a while to fill up).  Still, the pub itself had a positive vibe, filled with a mixture of students (some of which were having some serious relationship issues) and older people (some of whom decided to bring their pet dogs along for a night out with them).  Greenwich Union also comes complete with two beer gardens, a small one at the front and a huge one at the rear.

We just about managed to stumble into our last planned pub for the evening (Richard I), grabbing a pint minutes before the last bell and negotiating yet more small dogs at our feet and a confusing pub layout to eventually find a spot by a huge curved window.  As we sipped our pints and tried to decipher whether or not the lavender on our table was real or not (with a heavy cold I couldn’t smell anything but we concluded that it wasn’t - is this even relevant?  Perhaps there was a lull in conversation between us at this point), our eyes stumbled upon one of the most fantastic food menus ever seen.  Maybe that is an over-exaggeration, but this was most certainly the first pub we’d been in where you could order such delights as a baked cheese soufflĂ© or even a vegetarian higgledy pie.  It certainly makes a pleasant change from Hunters Chicken with curly fries that’s for sure.  Refreshingly too, after the last bell, although we were informed to drink up, there was no real pressure placed upon us to leave which resulted in us being the last customers present, eventually departing long after the weird Geordie guy and the awkward ‘first date that clearly wasn’t going very well’ couple. 

The evening had been a bit rushed, but ultimately a success.  At this point now we only need to visit The Modern Arms and The Auctioneer (the latter of which also encompasses the Cutty Sark region).  And with just one pub left at Deptford Bridge and a maximum of two at Cutty Sark, we can hopefully very shortly tick off three more stations, and must soon look to branch out to locations slightly further afield.

The Prince of Greenwich Ratings

Facilities – 3.5

Atmosphere – 3.5

Cost – 3.5

Entertainment – 2.5

Selection – 3 (not the most varied but the only place so far where you can just order a ‘pint of chips’)

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.2/5

Greenwich Union Ratings

Facilities – 4

Atmosphere – 3

Cost – 3.5

Entertainment – 2

Selection – 4
Two pubs, side by side

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.3/5

Richard I Ratings

Facilities – 3.5

Atmosphere – 3

Cost – 3.5

Entertainment – 2

Selection – 4

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.2/5
From our previous Greenwich visits:

Belushi's Ratings
Facilities - 2.5
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 4

Entertainment – 4.5
Selection – 4

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.6/5


The Mitre Ratings
Facilities - 4
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 3

Entertainment – 2.5
Selection – 4.5

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.4/5

Monday, 5 March 2012




DEPTFORD BRIDGE (04/03/12)

After an almost two week break on the DLR Challenge due to conflicting schedules (Tindall – spending time with his girlfriend, going to nice restaurants and weekend trips away; Me – learning how to play computer games again, doing a big shop and having a go at using the hoover), we finally found ourselves sitting at home on a wet and windy Sunday evening with nothing much to do.  So we set out to conquer Deptford Bridge.  I’d researched the area previously and found only 3 pubs so we figured it’d just be a case of popping out for a cheeky pint or 3, jotting down some figures and then heading home nice and early for a cup of tea.  However, prior to leaving I decided to check one more time for any pubs I may have missed, and somehow came up with potentially as many as 13 places of interest.  We knew then that this would be another case of just ticking off a few tonight and leaving the rest for a later date.  The venues on our list then, were as follows;

1)      Live Bar

2)      Star and Garter

Our first pub of the night - The Cranbrook
3)      The Hoy

4)      The Birds Nest

5)      Little Crown

6)      Carlton Wine Bar

7)      Deptford Arms

8)      Bar Sonic

9)      London Greenwich West Hostel

10)   RED

11)   Greenwich Inn

12)   57 Bar

13)   The Cranbrook

As is often the case, once we get out on the road we realise that many of these places are either no longer open, or we decide that some venues do not match our criteria of being a pub or a bar.  Happily, we could immediately cross off a few; Live Bar as it didn’t actually exist, The Hoy as it had long since closed down, The Deptford Arms was no longer a pub, Greenwich Inn was in fact a Premier Inn Hotel and Bar Sonic was nowhere to be found.  This still left us with 6 locations to get through that evening if we could.

We began at The Cranbrook.  Situated on the border of our Deptford Bridge radius it was the first pub we came across as we made our way over by foot from Elverson Road.  At first glance the pub looked closed.  Indeed the doors when pushed were locked.  This didn’t look promising.  But as we edged our way around the side of the building we spotted a back entrance with a guy standing in it.  Asking him if they were open he replied yes and as we entered, warned us to ‘watch out for that one’ referring to the barmaid.  I did indeed watch out for her for the first 5 minutes or so but she just spent the whole time reading a newspaper so I’m not entirely sure what the man was going on about.  It was probably something to do with the fact that he was very drunk, (as was his pool playing partner) that caused him to make this ‘hilarious’ quip as we walked past.  The two drunken Irishmen and the barmaid were the only people in the pub.  By entering the premises Tindall and I had increased the amount of paying customers in The Cranbrook by a staggering 100%! 

The bar itself was situated in the middle of the room and we chose to sit at it on one side so that we could ably survey the facilities.  They were pretty awful in truth.  Firstly there were hardly any seats or tables in the whole pub, and those that were present were looking more than a little worse for wear, as proven by Tindall as the top of his seat came off as we stood up to leave.  The whole pub was rundown save for a half decent pool table in the corner, and it was freezing in there as the barmaid kept opening the door so that she could stand by it and smoke.  She was friendly however, and had the inclination to notice when we were close to the end of our pints, quickly offering us another one.  The atmosphere was terrific only if you want to go to a place with two drunken people shouting and making fun of each other as they miss shot after shot on the pool table.  After drinking up we politely declined another, decided to pass on the opportunity to play on probably the world’s oldest quiz machine and walked out, leaving the two bickering pool players behind us.
The pub we were too scared to enter

Next up was the Star and Garter.  As we approached it though, for the first time on this tour we felt a little intimidated.  There was a huge black guy standing on the door, loud African music was blaring out from within, and managing to sneak a quick peek through the gap in the blinds I quickly became aware that this was a drinking place solely for African people.  I panicked somewhat as we approached the entrance, changed my mind at the last minute and continued on up the road.  This was not good.  We had to enter this pub, it’s in our radius therefore we need to rate it.  We decided it would be best to discuss tactics over a beer, and fortunately enough the ‘Little Crown’ was immediately opposite. 

Little Crown is an Irish Bar.  Another Irish bar.  There certainly seems to be a lot of them in the area.  As if to hammer home how Irish it was, we were greeted with ‘Galway Girl’ being played on the overly loud speakers as we entered.  Still, after our near miss just moments before it was all rather welcoming to find ourselves in more familiar surroundings.  We grabbed our pints for a more than reasonable price and found some empty seats.  The pub was open-planned, with a dartboard and TV screen at one end, and a jukebox that you couldn’t actually get to at the other.  The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly enough but we soon noticed that everybody in there was at least twice our age, and at least twice as drunk as we were.  So we just cowered in the corner sipping our pints and, keeping ourselves to ourselves, discussed tactics about how we were going to go about entering the Star and Garter.  After finishing our drinks we suddenly felt a little more confident.  I announced that we’d just walk straight over there, enter the pub and order a beer.  So up we got, deciding against the apparent tradition here of hugging everyone else in the bar before leaving, (as so many other customers seemed to be doing), left the premises and crossed back over the road.

As we once again approached the Star and Garter, I swear the music had become louder and the people had become more African.  We figured it best to leave this pub for now; we’ll come back on a quiet Saturday afternoon before all the singing begins.

Next up should have been Carlton Wine Bar but this place too looked a little less than desirable and our confidence had been knocked so we walked straight past.  Hoping to bounce back at a more familiar venue we were disappointed to discover that The Deptford Arms had now become a Paddy Power.  So we pushed on and eventually came across 57 Bar (ingeniously named, 57 Bar is a bar that can be found at number 57 on the street it is situated on).  Up until this point we have only rated pubs.  This was to be our first bar so it was perhaps a little unfair to be reviewing it on a cold wet Sunday evening when nobody would be going there.  Bars like this are probably packed on a Friday and Saturday night, but we quickly decided that we wouldn’t much care for the sort of people that go there anyway and felt a little more at ease when rating it.  There were only a handful of other people drinking there as we arrived, including what appeared at first glance to be one of the gangsters of Deptford.  I’m not entirely sure what a gangster looks like, but this guy did look like how I imagined one would look, and he was on the phone telling about how he needed to ‘sort something out’.  It turned out later though that he was merely discussing how he had to get some work done on an extension back home.  Still, even gangsters have chores to do.

Despite not really liking the place, 57 Bar could not be faulted for its facilities.  It was exceptionally clean, had 3 floors for people to go to and listen to bad music, and had two pool tables and even a cloakroom, handy for anybody out there that still wears a cloak.  The toilets were also immaculate, although I did notice a chair in the corner implying that on busier nights there’d be a guy there who would turn the water on for you and hand you not quite enough paper towel to properly dry your hands before making you pay him a pound. 

We drank up and intended on one more stop for the evening – The Birds Nest.  I immediately liked The Birds Nest.  It had real character.  And bats.  The entire ceiling on one side of the pub was covered in paper bats.  Very gothic.  As was the barmaid who poured two pints without smiling but it’s ok as that’s to be expected, it’s all probably just part of her look.  As we sat down at the bar we noticed from the posters on the wall that they have a live band here almost every night of the week.  We were actually a little saddened to discover that we’d just missed ‘Psychoyogi’ who were playing here for Tom’s birthday just the night before.  I bet Tom had a great night, one of his best birthdays ever.  We were rewarded though with a different band that were just jamming, playing around with different tracks and instruments.  It didn’t always sound great, but the energy and enthusiasm put into it by those taking part was infectious.  As we sat there astounded to find out that there are more than 6 types of harmonica even though they do all sound the same, we were beginning to commend the pub for its excellent facilities when Tindall noticed loads of discarded chewing gum that had been stuck to the posts on the bar in various places.  There were also a few Chocolate Santa’s sitting on the counter, it now being March suggesting that this place wasn’t cleaned too often after all.  To top all this, the barmaid disappeared for a full 10 minutes at one point.  Still, these are all minor quibbles, it was a friendly place, had a great selection of beers, and a wide range of live music.  In short The Birds Nest is probably our favourite pub at Deptford Bridge.

The George and Dragon
BONUS PUB – We decided to head home after this but en-route stumbled across The George and Dragon.  The George and Dragon isn’t actually in range of any of our DLR stations so we didn’t need to rate it, but we’d noticed it before and decided to have one last cheeky pint.  The George and Dragon is a gay pub.  We entered halfway through a man performing in drag on stage.  I’ve since made it a personal ambition of mine to never again enter a gay pub in the sole company of another man halfway through a cabaret performance from a man in drag.  We were of course immediately picked on, so scurried off to the right and ducked for cover in a different section of the pub.  As we ordered and sipped our pints we suddenly started to worry.  They say that gay men can spot other gay men through their Gaydar.  What if then, they can also spot frauds?  What if they were to realise that we were not gay?  I do not of course have any problem with homosexuality.  I do however have a problem with being in a homosexual bar when there is a gay man on stage picking on people in the crowd.  Minutes later things got worse.  I needed to use the toilet.  The toilets were on the other side of the pub, on the other side of the large audience of gay men and gay performer.  We were going to have to walk across them all.  Having seen how the guy in drag performed (he made bad jokes, picked on people in the crowd and said ‘cunt’ a lot) we knew our best chance would be to make a dash for it only once he had begun to sing.  That way he wouldn’t be able to stop and pick on us.  So, once he was into full swing on the chorus to his song ‘Wash Your Bollocks’ we made our move.  Relief was short lived though as this seemingly intelligent decision had led us deeper into the pub, further away from the exit.  We finished our pints, trying not to stare at men that were sitting on other men’s laps and made a run for it once the guy had finished a routine about fisting and was well into his next hit entitled ‘Cunt Song’. 

Deptford Bridge has certainly been one of the more interesting stations so far, we need to return at some point to finally get that pint in the Star and Garter, as well as visit Carlton Wine Bar and Red.

The Cranbrook Rating

Facilities – 2
Atmosphere – 2
Cost – 3.5
Entertainment – 3
Selection – 1 (nothing to eat except peanuts)

An ironic street name in Deptford Bridge
OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.3/5

 Little Crown Ratings

Facilities – 2
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 4

Entertainment – 3

Selection – 1.5

OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.7/5

 Bar 57 Ratings

Facilities – 4.5

Atmosphere – 2
Cost – 3

Entertainment – 3
Selection – 4 (a whole separate bar for cocktails and a decent food menu)

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.3/5

 The Birds Nest Ratings

Facilities – 2
Atmosphere – 3

Cost – 2.5

Entertainment – 4.5
Selection – 3

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3/5




What was once The Hoy (we think!)





















LEWISHAM (18/02/12)
Sporting a ferocious hangover from our Cutty Sark adventure, we decided the next evening to nevertheless press on and try to tackle Lewisham.  It would be quite simple we argued as Lewisham is within walking distance of our flat, and as far as we could tell there were only 4 pubs to visit.  I’d located these pubs on google the day before.  It turns out that one of the ‘pubs’ is in fact merely a Chinese pharmaceutical store.  Why I didn’t realise earlier that no landlord in a healthy state of mind would choose to call their pub ‘The Herbal Inn’ is beyond me.  Still, a result, only 3 pubs to visit and our second DLR station could then be ticked off. 

First up was The Bridge House.  We walked in and joined the 11 other customers that were already there.  After being served by possibly the friendliest and most Irish sounding man I’ve ever encountered (and I’ve been to Ireland) we sat down to take in our surroundings.  It was immediately obvious that we were probably the only people present to be born this side of 1960.  In fact, take away the two HD televisions and it was almost like going back in time.  The pub consisted of one large room, had a fire in one corner and looked like it probably hadn’t changed in 40 years.  But it was friendly.  People were quietly chatting in an unassuming manner; a guy at the bar would occasionally break into a little Irish jig for no apparent reason, then return to his manlier pose of leaning against the bar.  It felt like a proper pub, a pub with a sense of community.  They even had a lotto syndicate running which to me is another sign of a good reliable local.  It didn’t seem to matter that the poster for it was dreadfully misspelt.  ‘You have to paid up pay to win it’ it said.  I loved this little pub.  Negatives though were the lack of food on offer.  No food in fact, unless you wanted a bag of crisps from Ireland, you’d have to go hungry.  And for a worrying moment there was the misleading sensation of everyone piling into the men’s toilets at the same time, until we realised that the ‘Gentlemen’s’ door was also an escape route to outside for those that smoked.  After drinking our pints, we moved on and were told on departure to ‘come again soon’ by the barman. 
From here we faced a short walk into a now deserted town centre in search of the next bar, ‘One’.  On arriving we didn’t need words to tell each other that we’d only be having one in One.  It wasn’t the most welcoming of pubs.  In fact, I’m not quite sure this place knew what it was trying to be.  It had a hollow set up, strange lighting and lacked atmosphere.  Indeed, whilst sitting watching a group of Eastern Europeans playing pool, we were briefly joined by a roaming dog that also seemed less than enthusiastic about its surroundings.

Lewisham’s only other pub in our radius was The Joiners Arms.  Another Irish pub, and an Irish pub that was proud to be so too, painted bright green and looking like you’d imagine a stereotypical Irish pub would look like.  It was impossible to be unhappy inside The Joiners Arms. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time I was there although not necessarily for the right reasons.  This pub was truly awful.  On entry we were greeted by a grossly overweight DJ, who too was truly awful.  We bought 2 pints from a barmaid that was – you’ve guessed it – truly awful.  It took her 4 attempts to pour a pint of Fosters, which is no mean feat.  Nothing seemed to fit in this pub, and yet bizarrely it was an enjoyable experience.  The DJ was playing 60’s party classics that overlapped with the TV’s they had neglected to turn down.  He persevered though urging the aging crowd to ‘come on now, lets all have a sing along’ as he poorly mixed yet another track.  His enthusiasm was accompanied by disco lights, although they’d decided to leave the pub lights on at the same time.  It was a mess.  Unbelievably though, people were loving it.  According to the DJ one man displayed some excellent Michael Jackson moves on the dance floor (there was no dance floor), this despite no Michael Jackson music being played at any time.  To be fair though, the enthusiasm of the locals was infectious, everyone there was just there for a good time.  As good a time that can be had at a disco night in an Irish Bar in Lewisham anyway. 

The Bridge House Ratings

Facilities - 3
Atmosphere - 4
Cost - 4
Entertainment - 3
Selection - 1.5

OVERALL AVERAGE - 3.1/5


One Ratings

Facilities - 2
Atmosphere - 2
Cost - 3.5
Entertainment - 4
Selection - 3

OVERALL AVERAGE 2.9/5

Joiners Arms Ratings

Facilities - 2
Atmosphere - 4
Cost - 4
Entertainment - 3
Selection - 3.5

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.3/5

Lewisham DLR then despite it being quite a major hub with great connections to the rest of London, really lacks in places to go out and drink in the immediate area.  Incredibly though, we’ve found that by applying our rating system it ranks more highly than Elverson Road.  Still, you live by the FACES system, you die by the FACES system, and as long as we continue to treat each station equally and measure each pub on the same scale then we should have a clear and fair winner at the end of proceedings.  Two down, 43 to go!

Area – 3/5
LEWISHAM OVERALL RATING – 6.6/10








CUTTY SARK for maritime Greenwich – Part 1 (17/02/12)

Friday evening saw us get our teeth into one of the larger stations on the DLR.  We invited a couple of friends in the form of Chambers and Clam to join us for a pub crawl of sorts around Cutty Sark.  Having lived in the area before, I was aware of some of the drinking establishments to be found and knew that we’d probably quite comfortably be nudging double figures in terms of places to visit.  For this reason we knew we’d have to return once, maybe even twice more in order to wrap the area up. 
We ended up visiting 5 pubs that evening, a number that probably should have been higher but by the time we staggered over to the Admiral Hardy, a mixture of all the alcohol already consumed and the fact they had a fantastic live band playing, caused us to skew our judgement and fail to move on. 

A true photographer would have waited for a London Black
 Cab to get in shot first
First up though was the Spanish Gallion.  At the start of the evening we agreed to just do a whip in which Chambers took control of.  Due to this our ‘Cost’ rating was difficult to ascertain, although Chambers insists that to the best of his memory the prices were always reasonable, and no more than you’d pay in the City itself.  The main problem with our first destination was perhaps self-imposed.  We simply went there too early meaning the place was unsurprisingly almost empty and very quiet.  Strangely too they had an indoor fish and chip counter that although we agreed was a novel idea, made the pub smell… well, of fish and chips.  Add this to the fact that the owners seemed oblivious to the notion that it’s no longer -5c outside, therefore failing to adjust the heating accordingly, it was all a little too warm and uncomfortable.  Entertainment too was thin on the ground, unless one is able to find cheap thrills in reading leaflets regarding the local attractions to be found in and around Greenwich.  We weren’t, so quickly drank up and eagerly moved on to target our next pub.
Spanish Gallion Ratings

Facilities – 3.5
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 3
Entertainment – 1
Selection – 4

OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.9/5

‘The Coach’ was situated just around the corner, backing onto the courtyard that hosts the market of a weekend.  The main positive of this pub was the fact it had a roaring fire in one corner, as everyone knows that fires in pubs (roaring or otherwise) always tend to add to the atmosphere.  It was just as well really because aside from this feature there was very little worth writing about.  Despite the best efforts of friendly bar-staff, the pub was rather dowdy and a lack of entertainment here only heightened our desire to move on quickly.

The Coach, complete with indoor outdoor beer garden
The Coach Ratings

Facilities – 3.5
Atmosphere – 2.5
Cost – 3
Entertainment – 1
Selection – 2.5

OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.5/5

Which we did, and getting into our stride now we headed for The Kings Arms.  This was more like it.  The facilities instantly impressed, the bar-staff were more than happy to recommend different beers to us, and successfully passed the challenge of being able to name a beer that they stock with an animal in its title (this new game was devised after Clam stated that when it came to drinking ales he felt you could walk into any old fashioned pub in England and order something such as ‘a pint of Badgers Bumhole please’ and more often than not, actually get what you ask for).














We could quite easily have stayed here for the rest of the evening and put the world to rights, but the focus was on conquering as many pubs as possible.  So before long it was onto our fourth pub of the evening, just a few feet further up the same road – The Greenwich Tavern.  By this point I was starting to feel the effects of the alcohol and so my ability to judge a pub on our FACES system was beginning to become a challenge in itself.  I remember the pub was large, that’s pretty much all I have written down for ‘Facilities’, and the atmosphere – although not unfriendly – was a little on the strange side.  To cement this view, you only had to glance at the guy drinking at the bar who appeared to be wearing his own curtains from home, such was the flowery nature of what I’m still convinced was actually a dress.  Feeling slightly out of place amongst these more eccentric types, we headed back towards the DLR station and into the Admiral Hardy.  The Hardy has previously always been one of my favourite pubs, purely because of the live bands they have on.  What’s refreshing also is that the bands are always young students, not journeymen guitar players who have a set list of about 5 songs, one of which is always ‘Sultans of Swing’.  Not here, tonight we had a young band, playing cover versions of modern Indie tracks.  Such was the quality of the music, and the uncanny nature in which the drummer (who was celebrating his birthday no less) looked like our friend PJ, we couldn’t resist but stay here for the rest of the evening.  We even met a few Eastern Europeans to chat to (during which time I learnt that Slovakians don’t like to be mistaken for Polish – but trust me, their accents are almost exactly the same).  As is often the case on evenings like this I came out with three friends, and yet somehow ended up returning home alone to find Tindall repeatedly burning bread in his drunken efforts to make a cheese toastie.  I rejected any offer of food, preferring instead to sleep by the toilet seat, waking on occasion to vomit briefly.  Part 1 of Cutty Sark was over, but I don’t think we’re even halfway finished yet. 
The Greenwich Tavern

The Kings Arms Ratings
Facilities – 4
Admiral Hardy
Atmosphere – 4
Cost – 3
Entertainment – 3
Selection – 4.5

OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.7/5

The Greenwich Tavern Ratings
Facilities – 4
Atmosphere – 3
Cost – 3
Entertainment – 1
Selection – 3.5

OVERALL AVERAGE – 2.9/5

Admiral Hardy Ratings
Facilities – 3.5
Atmosphere – 4.5
Cost – 3
Entertainment – 5
Selection – 3
OVERALL AVERAGE – 3.8/5



ELVERSON ROAD

Where better to start than on our own doorstep.  It would be easy to be biased towards our first pub, The Rising Sun.  Mainly because I’m writing this up three days since we first frequented the place, and already in that time we’ve enjoyed a beer or two on no fewer than 5 separate occasions.  I think it’s fair to say that no other pub will be given so much dedication on this challenge; otherwise we’ll still be traipsing around the DLR for years to come.  Still, at first glance it appears that The Rising Sun may well be the only place to grab a beer in this area – that’s if rumours (well, google) are to be believed that the only other pub in the vicinity (The Sydney Arms) has long since been boarded up – so the pressure is on, and maybe, just maybe it deserved all these multiple visits to determine what rating to give it.  More importantly though, there was a hell of a lot of football on that weekend and we don’t yet have sky in our flat.
Sydney Arms now boarded up
So, the first pub on our long journey and a promising start.  The Rising Sun scores highly in almost all categories.  The pub is clean, spacious, and has a welcoming feel to it.  During our many visits we always felt at ease, it’s the kind of place where you can leave your things at your table whilst you nip off to lose £5 on the fruit machine (as Tindall proved) and they’ll still be there when you get back.  In terms of entertainment there are 3 screens situated in strategic places meaning no matter where you are sitting, you can get a good view.  Aside from the football there’s also a pool table and a chart on the wall showed the pub is currently ranked 3rd in a local pool league.  Its real pride though seemed to be darts.  There were 3 dart boards placed around the pub, with trophies galore representing former tournaments won.  And with promises of ‘DJ Jason’ coming down on a Friday evening too, it’s fair to say that entertainment is The Rising Sun’s strong point. 

There appears too, to be a decent sized beer garden out the back, although in truth this was spotted only by peering through the window into the dark.  The cost of beer was reasonable although they did have notices up informing you that the price was soon to be increased slightly, but even that felt ok as it was something they said that they regretted.

The only real negative aspect in our eyes was that of selection.  Food is not an option here (although it seems you are allowed to bring a takeaway in as some people were doing), unless you just fancy a snack, and most of the beers on tap were pretty standard.  All in all though, an excellent start to our quest, and in The Rising Sun, we’ve certainly found our local.
So what of the area as a whole?  Well, admittedly one pub plus another pub that is now boarded up doesn’t leave the drinker with many options, and it’s a long way to come from the City just for a cheeky pint, but the area seems fairly safe and surely an extra mark must be given just for the fact that the road opposite the pub won ‘Recycling Road of the Year in Lewisham, 2008’.  Perhaps that’ll be our next challenge – to hunt down the last 3 years winners of this quite obviously prestigious award!

Rising Sun Ratings

Facilities - 3.5
Atmosphere - 4
Cost - 4
Entertainment - 4.5
Selection - 1.5
OVERALL AVERAGE - 3.5/5

Area 2/5

ELVERSON ROAD OVERALL RATING - 5.5/10




There are 45 stops on the Docklands Light Railway Service in London.  On moving to one of these stops (Elverson Road) in February 2012, myself and Tindall decided to have a beer at every station.  Initially the plan was simple; visit each destination, find a pub as nearby as possible, sit in it and drink a beer.  Move on and repeat.  But this was too simple.  This method was lacking something.  It was lacking a purpose.  All we’d be doing is ticking boxes.  No, for this to work, and to be worth our while spending time on, we needed to come up with a system.  Why just visit every station?  Why not grade each destination?   So before long the challenge had evolved:  The aim?  To decide which station on the DLR is the best place to go for a pint.

To do this, we’d need strict criteria to follow.  This way each new station would be treated as equally as the last. 

After much deliberation (it took about 20 minutes to work out) the rules were agreed as follows:

-          For a pub to qualify it must be situated within a 5 minute walk from the DLR station (as demonstrated on the official DLR map)

-          Pubs that overlap into more than 1 radius will be entered into the statistics for each station

-          Each pub is rated out of 5, under 5 categories (FACES), before an average score is taken

-          Each station is then rated out of a further 5 marks based on the number of pubs in its designated area, and the surrounding area it inhabits.

The winner will be the station with the highest overall score out of 10.

The Scoring System (FACES)

Facilities – (includes toilets, general pub cleanliness and conditions, size of beer garden)

Atmosphere – (friendliness of bar-staff and clientele)

Cost – (price of alcohol/food)

Entertainment – (includes TV’s, pub games, quizzes, jukebox, fruit machines etc)

Selection – (variety of food and beer on offer)