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 souffl√© 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

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