Monday, February 17, 2020


The Who at Kingston

Banquet records are pulling of some major coups for their album releases.  Their venue is the nightclub Pryzm, a far from ideal venue for gigs but with a capacity of around 1000 or less.  One trend is for a band to do more than one show that evening.  Last year I saw Snow Patrol at the last of their three shows in a day for their re-recordings album.  In a bid to get their album to get to number one, the Who's management agreed for them to do four shows, two on Wednesday 12th Feb and two on the 14th.  Each one went on sale separately and sold out in 5-10 seconds.  I managed to get two tickets myself and through various contacts, (my brother and an ardent fan) a further two so I could attend all four shows.
I was not disappointed.  On the Wednesday it was the same 50 minute set each show, but each performance of each song was different in its own way.  Performing acoustically with a bassist and percussionist Daltrey and Townshend were on fine form, taking the advantage of the intimate nature of the venue to tell many fine anecdotes, including things about Bob Dylan, the local Bentall Centre and how the song Squeeze Box is viewed by both (PT "its a piece of ****!).  The Friday shows added Tattoo to the set, which incited more opinions of being a marked man.  The last show extended it to a hour and was the one we got closed to the front having worked out what to do at the switchover.
All gigs had very hardcore swearing which would surely rate an 18 certificate if it was released on a DVD and are going to rank highly at my year end review.
How do you follow that?  Well obviously go to a Who tribute band on the Saturday for some classic loudness.  Great stuff.

Saturday, February 08, 2020


Balham and Steel Panther

Friend suggested this gig, which I was already umming about as the support was Toby Jepson's band Wayward Sons.  Due to this, I decided to take the plunge and book.  Brixton is the nearest big venue to me and can always choose a decent area for pre-gig drinks.  This time we decide on Balham.
We meet in the Exhibit.  It has had a fish tank in here for over a decade which does not disappoint.  A bit pretentious (but it always was), it is a bar for the beautiful people of South London.

Next door (well just past Sainsburys on the opposite side of the crossroads) is the Bedford.  This was closed for a good while recently but the refurb has done no harm.  Lots of music posters around, a big dining area, a nice function room and a busy bar area where we ended up standing by the water dispenser.
The Balham Bowls Club is next.  No open to the public, and is a trendy place that serves a bingo brunch.  Nice clientele and a decent Estrella.
Final stop is a place called the cyclist.  This used to be a dire wetherspoons, but a dramatic refurb and change of ownership meant treble the prices, with a nice young crowd though veering food based.  We sit by the bar and admire the transformation though not sure what the cycle theme is about.
Wayward Sons were on at 8pm and play a ten song 45 minute set evenly split between their two excellent albums.  As always with Brixton it takes two songs before the sound is anything like good, but once it is sorted then you have a good show.
Nice to see a fairly busy crowd for the support and Toby does his normal stich of getting us all clapping and singing even though most don;t know the material.  Best song was from the new album called Jokes On You, which everyone should check out.
Not seen Steel Panther before, and I quite enjoy some of the non-PC songs.  However after a promising start and some inital jokes with the bass players hair spray and hand mirror, it got thin very quickly.  You do not want the guitarist speaking for 10 minutes between songs when people around are talking amongst them selves.  Towards the end, a part of their show was getting as many girls on stage with them for one of their hits (which was good) and the encore moved fairly swiftly afterwards,  However, for 90 minutes set, you could have been just as entertained in half that time.

Friday, February 07, 2020


The Railway pt 2

The quickest route from Lower Sydenham to my next stop, The Railway Telegraph in Forest Hill was to change at Catford Bridge and get a 185 bus.  This saved ten minutes off my planned train only route.  This pub is a large Shepherd Neame pub on the corner of a very busy A205.  Fantastically it still serves Hurlimann at £4.40 a pint.  Another dartboard (not for use before 7pm on Thursdays due to club use) the third of my three legs is another 27 darter.  I underestimate the walk to the station (it is nine minutes!) and rushing for the 18.12 train at halfway I believe that I have left my scarf in the pub.  Deciding to abandon it, i get to the station on time, and despite all barriers being exit only, the station master sees me and reverses the large gate to allow me to jump on the train.
It takes 17 minutes to get to Gypsy Hill.  The Railway Bell is a bit of walk up hill (not quite as long as previously) and unfortunately the Estrella is off.  Annoyed that I had to go for a Fosters the £3.60 price cheered me up.  The bar was horseshoe shaped and round to the left is another dartboard, though the throwing line is less than a foot from a step behind.  Taking my coat off to play, out falls my scarf I thought I had lost.  This raises my mood further.   Unimpeeded by the step behind, my third darts leg again is my best this time being 26 darts.
I get the 19.25 train which takes seven minutes to get to Tulse Hill.  This pub was right next door to the station (at last) but had clear signs saying they do not accept cash.  I was charged £5.60 for my Estrella and managed to get a seat in this crowded and surprisingly trendy place.  Definitely female friendly, one girl was a 8/10 for a young Gwyneth Paltrow,
Certainly a nice place to people watch....
Or pole dance maybe....
The 20.04 was on time and seven mintutes later I am at the Railway at Streatham Common.  The Railway here had lots of beardy weird beers on and I could not see a lager i recognised.  I went for a Purity craft lager at £5.20 which was ok.  This had a pub dog, a lovely Shitzu and a clientele as you would imagine for such a place.  It's ok, better than some on the crawl but not one I would make a special effort for.  I did spend some time here as I then got the 20.50
arriving at Thornton Heath at 2105 (fifteen minutes).  The Railway Telegraph had lots of TVs showing Sky Sports but did not feel like a sports bar.  A bargain £4.10 for an Estrella, I wonder round its large area and see a dartboard in the corner.  This was against a large mirror which was distracting at first but then does allow for some artistic photo opportunities.

The 21.40 gets to Sutton at 22.03 and the plan was to get the 22.12 to Carshalton or 22.13 to Cheam (all taking a couple of minutes) and then get one half an hour later to the other one.  However, this is where tiredness and hunger got the better of me.  As I was effectively home and have done the two local railways tons of times, I decide to get something to eat and then head home.
11 Railway pubs during the day I am happy with, but a little regretful I did not do the thirteen in one day.  Had I planned to start there and end further away no doubt I would have done them all.
In the planning I had to ditch the Railway in Bromley North as that took too much traveling time too so not all is lost.  Also there are plenty of Railways north of the river that need to be done on another day. (yes - technically my first two here that were north, but as they were also west heading out is a southwesterly direction from London city they don't count as such)
Need to start planning on another crawl soon so watch this space....


The Railway pt 1

Inspired by a book my brother got me for Christmas, South London South London by the Deserter blog, I decide to have one in the Railway.  Or in fact use my days off in visiting many pubs with Railway in the title.  After four drafts I devize a nice route which i can start at opening time, allow 30mins+ per pub and end up near home at last orders minimizing Public Transport traveling time. 

The first stop is in Hampton called the Railway Bell.  I arrive at 11.05 and there are already two customers and a dog in the pub.  It is a small pub playing smooth radio.  It is also part of the community toilet scheme meaning non customers can make use of it.  Here my £5.40 pint of Estrella is consumed leisurely and checking the phone a couple of minutes before the 11.59 to Teddington is on time.

When I get to the station a minute before it is due, the board says it is still on time.  I tap in, and suddenly boom - delayed 10 minutes.  SWR are a joke!  Still it is 8 minutes to Teddington and the Railway is right next door.   You could see it being a traditional boozer once, but now is a bar and kitchen.   A hot buffett is on the bar as you enter, so I walk round to the right hand side and order a £5.50 Moretti.  Having got here at 12.10 I can still make the 12.32 drinking reasonably quickly.  This is surprisingly busy but everyone is eating.  Looking at their website the express lunch at £5 does look good.  Train is on time so after stroking a lovely Golden Retriever on the way out, I get to the station and get the 12.35 to Richmond.
I arrive on time at Richmond at 12.49.  The Railway Tavern, is something I used to know as an O'Neills.  A spacious sports bar with a rugby emphasis, little has changed from inside since I was last here about a decade ago.  They may have increased the ale selection somewhat but with BT Sports on the TV I plump for a £5.60 Peroni from one of the two young bar ladies.  A nice enough pub with a few people, though as it is large it still felt a bit empty.  Rugby fans would probably like it when showing a game as I would imagine the atmosphere would get a bit rowdy.

The 1.34 train is the best option to get to the next Railway, this time at Clapham High Street. This is slightly later than planned due to the first Overground connection at Clapham Junction being cancelled.  This allows some lunch to be bought at the Sainsburys local next to Richmond station.
Making the change at the junction with lots of time to spare, I arrive at Clapham High Street at 14.08.  The pub next to the exit, looks out onto the high road and i get a nice window seat to view the traffic and pedestrians with a £5.65 Estrella.  There were four other customers in here and a bearded barman in a checked shirt.  A decent list of cocktails were advertised too after consulting my pictures to upload. Onwards, I decided it was best to get the Northern Line to London Bridge to make the next destination.

Onto a South Eastern train at London Bridge at 14.58, it takes just under twenty minutes to get to Blackheath and the pub called The Railway.  A nice long thin bar, with a barman in a Wheres Wally outfit I get a £5.40 Estrella and again perch myself a window seat overlooking the road outside.
The next train is due at 15.58 which I make perfect timing for to get to.....
Lewisham where I changed trains for.... (below view of some brutalist architecture and moon from Lewisham Station)
The Railway Tavern in Lower Sydenham.  This is a rough & ready pub about a five-sic minute walk from the station.  I get to the pub at 16.30 where the locals are watching Tipping Point on a big screen.  However, the first dartboard of the day is found and out of three legs my best is 27 darts whilst supping my bargain £4.20 San Miguel. 
Planning how to get to the next venue I leave as The Chase's opening titles start, to get the 17.08 train away.  As this is last of the daylight pubs, we will meet again in part two.

Thursday, February 06, 2020


Cup fever at Spurs

Saints drew their 4th round cup tie with Spurs meaning a replay on Wednesday 5th Feb.  Saints charged a nice £10 for that game and Spurs showed exactly the sort of club they are by charging 250% more.  Greedy ****s.
I was underwhelmed when I went to the league game.  Very shallow view and basic facilities in the away end with no ledges to put your drink down.  Still as they opened the upper tier for this one, and some friends were in the home end, I decided to follow Saints on the road here once more.

I decided pre-match to check out the Green Lanes area of North London.  A multi-cultural area with lots of restaurants, shisha places etc.  This meant some of the traditional pubs in the area are no more and even out of my plan to go to three, one had recently closed.

I started off in the Beaconsfield.  A large traditional pub and hotel.   No premium lager on offer so a very cheap £3.30 pinto of Fosters.  Not a lot going for it, pool table at back, Sky Sports news on Tvs,  Seen a lot worse, seen a lot better.
Next stop was the Old Ale Emporium.  This had lots of lager and cider to choose from though nothing unusual, but only two real ales, so did not live up to its name.  A saving grace of the pub was a dartboard at the back where with the house darts i managed a 26 dart leg on the first attempt finishing on the double top.  Nice.
A twenty minute walk towards the ground followed as the Salisbury (with promised imported Czech lager) was closed and seems to have been for a while.
Next stop was by South Tottenham overground, the Old Station House.  The Chase was on the TV and some Jamaican guys playing reggae loudly on their laptop vaping away.
Despite this, the place was definitely an Irish pub and served a nice Moretti.

I met my friends at The High Cross, a converted public lavatory.  Went here before the home game and it is nice and cosy.  Too cosy on this occasion, my friend is waiting outside with an unusual imported lager whose name he cannot remember. Friend number 2 then arrives and we walk down the high road to the Beehive.  A lively side street pub with a big garden accommodating both home and away fans.  This is how a football pub should be.  Decent crowd, music being played, Sky on the TV/
With time pressing on, I split with my friends and head to the away end.  After several flights of stairs, and as it is only ten minutes before kick off I head to an empty bar.  Amstel is off, so i have one of the local brewery beers which is quite nice.  There is a ledge overlooking outside and a nice pun on Tottenhams motto on the bins.
I am front row of the upper tier and the only complaint of the view was, as I am at the end of an aisle, a glass panel is half blocking the goal (unless i lean forward).  This is there to prevent people falling over the edge if they fall down the stairs but still.   Despite going behind Shane Long equalses and its level at half time.  I head back to the concourse and it is back.  It seems for four blocks of away fans there is only one toilet area for men (and one for women) and one bar.  Very uncomfortable.  Again I appreciate this area is normally for home fans who can walk round to better facilities but seems very poor planning and shows the contempt for away fans big clubs seem to have.

Saints dominate the next 30 minutes and Danny Ings scores a fantastic breakaway goal.  Then with 15 minutes left spurs change their system to dramatic effect and score immediately.  A few minutes later Spurs forward Son is beaten to the ball by the Saints keeper yet bizarrely throws himself to the ground.  Unbelievably, a penalty is given.  Even more shocking is VAR review and do not over-rule.

Before this season I thought VAR would level the playing field somewhat preventing the big sides getting iffy decisions, but as the people running it are also Refs, it is corrupt as it can be.   If it is kept modern football will die.

Anyway game ends with Saints knocked out, meaning a home game with Norwich is off my list of things to do. We make Victoria with just about time to get an M&S beer, and despite result and again poor facilities at the ground, it was a good afternoon/evening out.

Friday, January 31, 2020


Surrey Senior Cup

An offer of a Tuesday night in Leatherhead and some cup action football was strangely turned down by my friends who I invited to join me.  Can't think why?  I have not been to Leatherhead for years and certainly not the football ground since a similar cup tie in 1991 which i think ended 5-1 to Sutton.  Those were the days the Surrey Senior Cup was taken seriously whereas I knew it would be mostly Sutton United's academy with a small number of senior players 29 years later.
I had planned three pubs before the game which started at the Dukes Head.  However, this has just been turned into an Indian restaurant so I decide to go to the Edmund Tylney wetherspoons instead which was not on my list.
This place is a typical spoons, do similar to others and lacking such interest the only photo opportunity was a selfie by the stairs to the toilets.  At least cheaper than £3 for a Kronenberg.
Anyway onwards to the Penny Black.  This has two friendly bar staff serving (one called Ellie) and they were lovely as i paid an expensive £5.50 for an Estrella.  Could easily spend more time here.  It was a Youngs place with a Burger Shack if you are inclined that way!
Final stop before the game was the Running Horses.  Here was choc full of the Amber Army and I could not get a seat.  The poor news was only two lagers to choose from which were Fosters or Whitstable Gold.  I chose the latter.  Onto the game and the ground in only five minutes from here near the leisure centre.
The admission price was £12, two pounds more expensive than the all Premier League FA cup tie three days ago.  Drinking in sight of the pitch is allowed here and in the competition so with a £4.50 Moretti I watch a relatively dull football match with a strong Leatherhead side running out 3-0 winners.  The evening out would have been certainly better without the football, though without it I would not have been here!

Sunday, January 26, 2020


FA Cup

A home draw in the cup saw Saints home to Spurs and with a bargain ticket price of £10 it made it an incentive to go, with the added bonus of my Spurs supporting friend getting a ticket in the away end.
A delayed train journey meant SWR got a delay repay claim from me for the second time in a week and meant we could only do a couple of pubs beforehand.
After the rock pub, I decided to try the Angel which until recently had been closed for a good few years.  This had a decent atmosphere with Britpop tunes and pre-match goers.  The Menabrea ran out after a half pint was pulled so we got this free alongside our replacement Kronenbergs.  This proved too exciting for my friend who dropped his nearly finished pint over his lap and sofa we were sitting on! 

The game ended one all with Boufal getting a late equaliser meaning a replay in ten days which Spurs will charge £25 for.  We met up after the game and went to the Giddy Bridge where I was able to see the Wetherspoons app in action and working for the first time.  A nice Halloumi wrap for me and after a couple of speedy pints we were able to make the 18.30 train home to Clapham without incident or delays this time.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Blues in Chelsea

Gig number 3 of the year and this time it is at Under The Bridge located under Chelseas west stand.  A very good venue too, though it has recently gone cashless!
We meet at West Brompton and a place called the Pembroke.  A nice pint of Estrella had in an unremarkable gastropub.
Next stop was the Bolton, a large pub I dont ever recall visiting.  An expensive Paulenar in here and some Earls Court memorabilia on the walls.
I couldn't recall it by seeing the name, but I have been to the Finborough before.  It is an unsual triangular shape with a downstairs theatre.
Our final stop before the show was the Hollywood Arms.  A very glamorous crowd was in here and a very antique-esque decor made it a good place to be.
At the venue we catch the end of Debroah Bonham, but no songs we recognise.

Bernie Marsden was in Whitesnake and this being a blues festival, he mixed their stuff well with some more classic blues, like Walking By Myself and Oh Well.   Joe Bonnamasa turned up for a few songs too and made it into a great evening.
A word on the toilets which are fairly unique here as you can see below.

On the way out my brother mistakes Deborah Bonhams guitarist sister on the merch stand for Deborah herself despite looking nothing like her.  After this embarrassing error,we get a district line to Wimbledon, and a final drink in the Prince of Wales.  Our normal spot was annoyingly taken but we could sit nearby looking at the bus app for a convenient 164 which I made with seconds to spare.

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