A.J. Walker

writerer

August 2019

Eight Pubs

On Saturday, as I mentioned on my previous post, I decided in the absence of the North Wales CAMRA coach trip to go on a local jaunt around many of the Liverpool hostelries I enjoy. Here is how the afternoon transpired.

I got the infamous No. 17 into town and got off on London Road. My route for the day was undecided at that point, but it was best place to get off and get some cash out by the Tesco. I took out thirty quid and then made the happy mistake to go into Henry Bohn's - a wonderful second hand bookshop at the bottom of London Road by the Empire.

Twenty minutes later I came out with a much heavier bag (and eleven quid lighter) having bought two Terry Pratchett's: The Wee Free Men and Nation, and an Olaf Stapledon: Last and First Men. However the day transpired this would make it a good one.

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I was in the process of reading 'Moscow Drive' by a local guy, Mark Porter, who I'd met on the aforesaid infamous 17, in which he name checks lots of Liverpool hostelries I have been know to frequent, including the Raven at Walton Vale, and in town the White Star, Lion, and Ma Egertons (which I'd just got up to in the book). Ma Egerton's is behind the Empire so it seemed the obvious place to start in a way. Unfortunately it hadn't crossed my mind that it was only around an hour or so before kick-off and Everton had their first home game of the season at 3pm. Egerton's was an obvious meeting place, being next to Lime Street Station and a taxi rank. So it was packed. I walked in and then out. Ma, I'll catch you another time. Instead I went to the Crown. It too was busy with a fair few fans, but I'd timed it to perfection as far as service was concerned. Sizing up the selection I went for a beer (and brewery) I hadn't had before, a 'Sunshine IPA' from Wooha Brewing Company. A decent, hoppy, low abv pint for the start of a session. I drank it in the backroom, the only place I could find a seat, and perused my new old books surrounded by people eating massive coronary inducing platters (looked good).

Next up was only a hundred metres down the road and one of my regulars, The Sanctuary. Here I bumped into a Twitter friend I've never met before, but knew was a regular at the Sanctuary, Stephen Ackers aka @beefynets. He has got into doing VSS365, which - as well as liking ale - makes him mighty fine. Here I went for an Adnams 'Mosaic'. Whilst it is a bit of a large brewery for me I do like the single hop brews, and it was a nice (hoppy again) choice. After bidding farewell to Ackers, whose bags were heavier than mine thanks to Lidl's 'beer festival', I went on to number three. The area of attack was now clear - I couldn't be out for too long (having work on Sunday) and I never want to miss the Grapes, when I have the choice, so basically I knew I was bound to continue around the Hardman group of hostelries. Therefore next up was the Dispensary.

Say what you like about the Dizzy (and boy people do) the cellar is the best kept there is. They had White Rat and King Rat on from Rat Brewery. Whilst not ideal for a session I went for the stronger (5%) King Rat for the extra oomf. Was not a mistake. Gorgeous. Got into conversations with Dave, the landlord's husband, about things football and CAMRA related. We agreed to disagree on some and agreed to agree on others. Liverpool scored against the run of play whilst I was there (not on telly) whilst Archer was beating the daylights out of Steve Smith (also not on telly).

Next up was the Roscoe Head, one of only five (who knows, maybe fewer now) pubs in the entire country to have been in every edition of the Good Beer Guide. I'd bumped into Carol (the landlady) on Wednesday in the Fly and said I'd pop in soon. She wasn't in, but I bumped into a couple of people I knew. After the heavier abv. in the Dizzy I went for another light one and the Red Willow Brewery 'Effort Less', whilst I continued to read some more of Moscow Drive.
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(the Strawberries and Cream was from a different day - these images are from my @realeliverpool Instagram account)

Got a quick bite of something and nothing from the Co-op before heading on to The Grapes. It's a wonderful pub and one of the most improved over the last couple of years - just be careful if you are visiting Liverpool not to mistake it for the aberration (at least from a beer perspective) for the Grapes on Mathew Street. Here it was time for a local brew from Neptune Brewery (I think the best brewery on Merseyside, but there are lots of great ones these days) and another new beer for me, the Cabo Baja Sur. Sat in the bar on the right I got chatting to another reader (she was reading the Time Traveller's Wife, but was not over enamoured with it). Good beer, nice chat. Excellent. But I couldn't be resting up, as I'd intended to make eight different pubs and time and beer was of the essence.

I headed next back over Hardman Street and up to the Hard Times & Misery, which is now called the Dicken's and King. I was happy to see they had another Mosaic on and, even better, it was from Neptune. It was lovely. Probably my Beer of the Day, if I was handing out awards. Again bumped into a couple of people for chats about things beer, football and writing related.

The late kick off was Man City v Spurs and as a Liverpool fan I had a little interest in it, even if it is so bloody early in the season (Liverpool had beaten Southampton in the 3 o'clock kick off, after apparently playing pretty poorly). Anyway, it made sense to head next to the Fly in the Loaf and catch a beer and the end of the game there. It was 2-2, then Man City scored in injury time to get the winner. A big cheer went up as there were Evertonians in the house post their game and they already want City to win the league - can't think why. Thankfully VAR stepped in (ridiculously) and disappointed blue noses of several persuasions. I enjoyed it muchly with an Ilkley Brewery 'Summer Golden Ale'.

That was pub number seven. So where for eight? There were plenty of good local options including the Pen Factory, the Belvedere, even the Phil, but I went for the Caledonia. They've had an Americana festival on all month, and there was a chance I could catch some music. As it happened I did catch a couple of tunes from Alex Gavaghan all accompanied with another local brew a 'Session IPA' (words that really shouldn't go together in my view) from Liverpool Brewing Company.

Good beer, fine music, interesting conversations and reading. All in all a damn good crawl.

AlexGavaghan
Alex Gavaghan in the Caledonia
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Pub Crawl

Time has been a bit short this week, with the new routes in Wales I've been given one of the short straws with Llanwrst and Trefriw. Bugger of a route with narrow roads, one ways, wrong geocodes, named houses and some very isolated properties – even deeper into Snowdonia, past old lead mines, deep in forest and into hiking territories. With up to 80 drops a day a single drop that takes 30 minutes is very frustrating - however beautiful the locality. I was lucky to just get back in time to watch the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday, which has been the highlight of the week.

Isolated
Isolated walking territory, Snowdonia

Hafna
Hafna Lead Mine, Snowdonia

Maenan
Maenan Hall Folly

Gwydir
Gwydir Castle, Llanwrst

Was originally hoping to be on a real ale trip to Conwy and Colwyn Bay today with the Wirral Branch of CAMRA, but the coach was booked up. Meanwhile my usual couple of cohorts went on a last minute holiday up to the Isle of Bute, which looked lovely. So I have been left to my own devices. Um'd and ah'd about going to Manchester, or doing the Southport Run or maybe Chester or a Wirral trip. But hell I've opted for closer to home and a go-with-the-flow wander around Liverpool hostelries. Will try to get to a few more than usual, which means shorter stops and quicker drinks. Unfortunately I'm working tomorrow, which means I can't be out this evening.

Will see how it goes. Will try and take some photos and make a few notes to turn into a blog - partly because I haven't done any blogs this week. I'll also try and do my
Seedling Challenge.

Have a good weekend folks.
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Tony's Bus Pass Party

Of out later to go to my mate Tony's Bus Pass Party. Should be a blast with all his mates and the beer flowing.

Thought I'd dig out some photos of the lovely lad. Not many without a beer in hand, or Steve, or a rye smile.

Happy Birthday Fella!

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Cheers!
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Bite Marks

One of the nicest parts of delivering stuff all over the place is the lovely scenery and nice places I get to see. Also lots of lovely dogs and animals (not cats). Of course though not all dogs are lovely, often due to their owners and the way they are or have been treated. Sometimes they are just doing their job as they see it - guarding the property and/or owner, albeit it over zealously.

I've been quite lucky really as getting bitten by a dog kinda goes with the territory of the job. Whilst we are not paid to take risks we can't hide every time a chihuahua
barks at us. Sometimes the issue can be unforeseen other times all too obvious.

The other day I arrived at a farm and two border collies circled the van whilst I sat in it. One going clockwise, one anticlockwise. Meanwhile a third dog sat impassive, watching. What do you do? You have a delivery to make. Are the dogs going to be okay when you get out of the van? Are they ALL okay or is one a bit of a nutter? You can see these three, are there more around the corner? In the first instance I beeped my horn to see if anyone was about. No one was. Then I tried ringing the customer to see if I could ask them about the dogs. No answer. In the end I risked it with a bit of trepidation. They were okay. Although as soon as I got back in the van two of them tried to bite my rear tyres and it made manoeuvring risky: 'You're parcel's in the shed–beside the run-over dog. Sorry…'

This kinda thing happens every day. I got bitten over a year ago on a hot day when the customer had left his front door open to cool the house. The customer was on the sofa and as I opened the gate I saw him let his dog run out. It ran straight out and bit me on my thigh. He asked if it bit me, whilst I walked around in circles crying out 'It bit me, it bit me. Fuck, it bit me.' – which I thought should have been a giveaway. The man shooed the dog (a border collie) into the house, asked if I was okay and whether I needed any water or antiseptic etc. I said yes please, at which point he realised that he'd closed the door after the dog and of course after being sat on the sofa who wears their keys on them? Yep, he'd locked himself out of the house. I limped away, leaving him to is and sorted wound cleaning in the local co-op car park.

There but for the grace and all that, it could happen every day. But it doesn't. And most dogs are great–If you follow my Twitter feed or Instagram you'll know I regularly put up pics of dogs I see whilst I'm out. I didn't take one today. Yup, I got bit.

It was a strange one. I went up to the house and they didn't use to have a dog (I've delivered there before). The dog was on a long leash (basically the length of the garden) and was sat by the door. I hardly noticed it until I got near the door. The dog (another border collie) lay down disinterested. I knocked on the door. It is sometimes then, when you go to the door, that they do get bothered - protecting their entrance and all that - but no, the dog remained disinterested. The customer came to the door. I chatted with him. The dog stayed lying down. I even said I'd managed to get past his guard dog and he laughed. It was sometime after this that the dog darted up (perhaps he was offended by my 'guard dog' jibe) and bashed into my knee. It came out of nowhere, the speed was rapid. I swore a bit and felt my knee bashed and bitten. As it happened he'd at least gone high enough that it went through my shorts, which would have afforded a little protection. Only one tooth got through and pierced the skin. It could have been worse - there was no clamping of jaws! The customer had only had the dog three weeks, it was a rescue dog and they were 'just getting to know it' – I guess they learned a little more today. All I got for my troubles was a baby wipe to clean the wound and a bit shook up.

Needless to say for the rest of the day when this happens you remain a bit more concerned around dogs than you are normally. At one farm a dog which does have an attitude was being a bit too close at one point - I'd mentioned the incident to the farmer and he said the only one he worries about if that one - it then snapped at my arse. I could feel the nose against me. Luckily the teeth missed thought they gnashing together audibly. The farmer shouted at the dog. Personally I think maybe if he worries about it, then maybe he should, at the very least, hold on to him whilst visitors are there doing him a favour! No? In future I will bring the parcel into the front at this farm and stay in the van.

Then on my last delivery a house with an open door. When I was half way up the garden a black dog came careering down the stairs outside and straight at me. I used the parcel as a defence between me and his snarling mouth before backing out of the gate. I'm not sure whether that one was going to bite me or not. But I wasn't going to take a chance. The woman said 'don't worry he doesn't bite' but they all say that before they follow up with 'well, he hasn't done that before' or 'it's the hi-vis' (not sure how they see that from upstairs).

Hopefully I won't get bitten for another year - or, even better, ever again. Maybe #DailyDeliveryDog will be back tomorrow. Fingers crossed (whilst I still have all ten of them).
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