Archives for : May2013

Southampton pub survey – week seven

Friday 10 May 2013

Week 7 kicked off on a rainy night in Bevois Valley. Apart from the Dorchester, this was my first foray into this very fertile field of hostelry. As with last week’s excellent tour of South Freemantle, all three pubs visited were excellent and the only thing that spoiled it was the rain.

First up was the Shooting Star. This has won awards for being the best pub in Southampton and I wish I had visited it sooner. My previous (and only) visit in 2007 was when it was called ‘Kolebka’ and was a Polish jazz bar , although there wasn’t much Polish about it. It is very different now. It has an excellent selection of real ales and a very commendable real Weston’s cider and perry on draught. I’ve seen the cider before but this was the first time I have seen real perry and it was very nice.

There is a large garden at the rear with a big smoking shed as well. Inside is a pool table and jukebox. There is a DJ every Friday and they have different themes of music – punk, alternative, indie to name a few; these rotate each week. That’s a great idea and the first time I have came across that. I’ll definitely have to check out the punk night! There are also other events, including ale and cider festivals and family days where parents can inflict their badly-behaved offspring on the pub’s adult customers!

The Shooting Star

The Shooting Star

Next up was Inferno Bar. This was closed for the duration of my original pub survey so it is my first visit under this name. However, I had visited it when it was previously the New Inn; it was a Gales pub and had good food as well.
As of 2012, it became under new management and it was certainly good when I visited. It calls itself ‘Southampton’s sport and music bar’ and claims to be the only pub outside the city centre to have Sky Sports 3D. It screens all Saints games and apparently there is a great pre-match atmosphere. There is a pool table and ‘beer pong’ events – an unusual version of ping-pong featuring pints of beer.

It has a traditional food menu of simple meals (none of your pretentious gastro nonsense!)and breakfasts. There is a jukebox and karaoke night every Friday. This was in progress when I visited, although it appeared that nobody had volunteered to sing yet. While I was very tempted to inflict some Sex Pistols or Sham 69, it was an unknown audience and in any case, I had work to do.

Inferno Bar

Inferno Bar

By this time, it was raining quite heavily. Good job the next pub was only across the road. As with the previous two, this was under a different name last time I surveyed it. The Rockstone, formerly the Bevois Castle, has always been a very traditional pub and it has been sensitively refurbished in the last couple of years. It is famed for its excellent and plentiful food, and also its range of drinks – not just real ale but spirits as well. The food is fairly expensive but the portions are huge and it looked very appetising. I must try it some time, although there is a lot of demand and tables get booked quite quickly.

There are no TVs, pool tables or other such pub staples and it is a nice break from all that stuff. Inferno Bar is great for that side of things. The Rockstone has a Monday quiz night and occasional festivals with live music. Apparently, there is a garden, but I could not see how to access it. It was absolutely heaving when I visited so it’s another one for my list of good nights out.

The Rockstone in late 2011 – I need to take a newer photo!

The Rockstone in late 2011 – I need to take a newer photo!

Saturday 11 May 2013

I actually had a plan this time! My sister and her husband had offered to join me in checking out the Shirley area and trying some different venues so I made a map showing the 12 pubs that needed doing. Two of them (The Bellemoor and the Ice House were out on a limb so that whittled it down to ten. Obviously, doing all ten in one go would not be a good idea, so we decided to go for six, with a couple of shandies for me to prevent me getting too drunk!

First up was the Santo Lounge. Like its sister venue in Portswood, the Trago Lounge, this recently-opened pub was not there on my previous survey. A lot of pubs from my original survey have closed so it is rare to find some that have added to the total! Its laid-back cafe/lounge-style ambience is nice and there are no TVs or jukebox to distract people. It does get very noisy though when it is full. There was only one table free at the time of visit.

Santo Lounge

Santo Lounge

It serves food, although on the pricier side and has its house ale (Toga Man) on a handpump. It is family friendly (and has free colouring books) and has a quiz night, books and a selection of other games, such as chess.

Next up was the King’s Arms. This is a very traditional Victorian pub and has fine stained-glass windows, decorative tiling and an attractive mural promising ‘Genuine ales and stout’. Inside, the public bar occupies the original building, with a smaller lounge bar in a newer extension. There is pool, darts, Sky Sports and a jukebox. There is also a large beer garden at the rear. There was London Pride on draught and a second handpump that was not in use.

King's Arms

King’s Arms

After a pit stop at the nearby Moby Dick chip shop (the best one in Southampton in my opinion (hmm, perhaps I should survey the chip shops of Southampton!), where everything was buy-one-get-one-free), the Shield and Dagger was the next pub on the list. This looks a bit dubious from the outside, as there are no windows on the main facade. It was opened in 1970 and so doesn’t offer much from an architectural perspective; however, as a pub it seems quite nice. Inside is a large bar area (which is slightly reminiscent of a working men’s club) and there is a large garden at the back. It does serve meals, although there wasn’t much evidence of that (menus for example).  There are two ales on draught though – London Pride and Bombardier.

There is a pool table, dartboards, newspapers and Sky Sports and also some poker tables – this being a popular event on Wednesday and Sunday nights. There is karaoke on Friday nights, occasional live music and a pinball machine. The only other thing of note was a sticky floor around the bar!

Shield and Dagger. The photo is somewhat spoiled by the large van in the way!

Shield and Dagger. The photo is somewhat spoiled by the large vans in the way!

Our next port of call was one of my favourite pubs in Shirley – the Park Inn. This, like many pubs in Shirley and Freemantle, is located on a back street, although very close to Shirley Precinct. It is a very traditional pub that is like being in somebody’s living room. It’s quite small and is comfortably-furnished in a traditional way. It is known for its fine selection of real ales, and as it is owned by Wadworth’s, this includes 6X and Henry’s IPA.

There is a dart board, weekly quiz night and traditional meat draw. While there’s no beer garden, there is an attractive patio at the front with outside seating.

Park Inn

Park Inn

The Salisbury Arms was the penultimate pub on the list. Back to Shirley’s main drag now, this traditional Greene King pub serves Greene King IPA on draught and has an unusual ‘island’ bar, where you can get served from all sides of it. There is a garden and smoking area at the rear.

The pub has a selection of books for sale (20p – bargain!), darts, Sky Sports, a jukebox and karaoke every Sunday afternoon/evening.

The Salisbury Arms in 2007. Again, I need to take a newer photo, although not much has changed.

The Salisbury Arms in 2007. Again, I need to take a newer photo, although not much has changed.

The final pub was the Bright Water Inn – a JD Wetherspoon Free House.  As can be expected with Wetherspoon pubs, the standard was very high, although I always think it’s a bit gloomy in there. There’s a superb variety of real ale, good value food and no music/TVs etc. There’s a small covered smoking patio out the front and a bus stop opposite, making it very easy to get to/from the city centre and railway station. There are some interesting historical photos and articles on the walls, making a great way of learning about local history.

In the evening, I was intending to go in Provenance but it doesn’t open until 10 and the weather was grim so I ended up in Revival again (at least you don’t have to pay to go in until 10) and despite the fact they had no cider (again), they played a much better choice of music from the 70s and 80s.

On Sunday, it had threatened to rain, and although there were already some rather ominous clouds looming, it was dry when I set out. The first pub was The Fox and Hounds, in Bitterne. This rather traditional pub is located in a back street and like many of the other pubs over that side of the river, has two bars. The public bar is very small and was quite empty. The lounge bar is also quite small but there is an extra seating area down a few steps, which is odd in that there are no windows.

There is Sky Sports and a jukebox, and karaoke is advertised. There is a Sunday roast, although it isn’t really advertised very much. At the rear is a smoking patio and large garden; the doors to which have another sign asking dog owners to dispose of their dog’s waste in a responsible way. There is Doom Bar on the real ale front.

The Fox and Hounds, Bitterne

The Fox and Hounds, Bitterne

By the time I left, it had started raining, albeit fairly lightly. The next pub was just around the corner (or so I thought) – The Humble Plumb. This pub, located in Commercial Street, Bitterne (another back street really) is what is left of the Bitterne of old. You’d never guess that there were no less than three pubs there (as of my last visit in 2008). Going back even further there were more than that. This part of Bitterne has been amputated by its modern centre by the 1970s/80s bypass cutting a swathe through Bitterne.

Percy Arms, Bitterne. This has been closed for a few years but was in my original pub survey.

Percy Arms, Bitterne. This has been closed for a few years but was in my original pub survey.

Enough history! It seemed a lot further to the pub than I remembered. Had I taken a wrong turn or was it just the rain making time go slow? Never mind; I found it. This pub was formerly the Commercial Inn but has had its current name for the last decade or two. It is owned by Wadworths and has no less than TEN different real ales! Undoubtedly the best selection that side of the Itchen, although the Hop inn is also a contender.

The Humble Plumb is fairly traditional and has an upmarket food menu. Unfortunately, the tranquility was spoiled by a massive table full of screaming brats running round in circles. Their kids were pretty bad too. There is a small garden/smoke area and a real fire; it must make a cosy place to escape the cold and bitter Bitterne winters. Karaoke and quiz nights were advertised.

Having visited those two pubs meant that the only two pubs left in the North-East are the Fleming Arms and White Swan – both of which were too far to walk in the rain so my sights turned South – all that are left are in Woolston (or Newtown, which is even further) so I first tried the Swift Tavern, which was about to close for the day (closing at 4 pm?) and then The Obelisk. This was packed solid with football supporters avidly watching the TVs. It was packed so tightly that there was no way of getting to the bar. Luckily, the lounge bar was much quieter and made a welcome refuge from the inclement weather.

The Obelisk had a surprisingly-good range of ales, with regulars Ringwood Best, Doom Bar and Bass (wow, not seen that for years!) There was also a guest beer, which was Ballard’s Midhurst Mild. It was apparent that this pub was a champion of real ale as there were even CAMRA beer festival fliers on the tables. As nice as it was, a resurvey will be necessary as the public bar needs checking out too.

My final stop was intended to be The Bridge but that was scuppered by another impenetrable wall of football supporters.

 

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Southampton pub survey – week six

Friday 3 May 2013

Week six got off to a slow start. After some deliberation about which direction to head, I thought I’d go South and tackle the High Street group of venues. This includes the Standing Order, Elements, Oasis Bar and FYEO. Is the last one a pub? Surely I don’t have to evaluate such a den of iniquity? Oasis Bar was closed due to a private party but the doorman was helpful unlike some of them and he said that it will open as usual tomorrow. However, I’ll come back to that one. Elements, formerly Walkabout and more recently Wahoo, was very closed; its large ornate wooden doors evoking a sense of closure. FYEO wasn’t open either; that is probably a good thing! So, with the Standing Order being the only pub open in that group, and as I intend to go there on a less busy night, it was time to rethink things. The hotels nearby probably have bars that are open to non-residents but; again, I decided to stick to ‘proper’ pubs for the time being. Should I start on the Old Town group (Red Lion, Juniper Berry, The Titanic and the Duke of Wellington)? No; again, a quieter night would be better for them.

So, I headed East towards the Oxford Street group. It was absolutely heaving. With uncertainty about whether some of the venues were pubs or restaurants, I decided to postpone the complex job of making such decisions. First up were the two definite pubs there – The Grapes and the London Hotel. The Grapes is always a good pub, although rather expensive, but I was surprised to see no less than FOUR real ales! It was a great mix as well, unlike the frequently-encountered trio of Greene King ales. They had Greene King IPA, Ringwood Best, London Pride and Old Hooky. The latter is a guest beer, as they often have Doom Bar as well.

It was very busy around the bar but the service was quick. I went round the back and found a nice quiet corner with comfy chairs and a table! Bliss! While I would quite happily stay there all night and have a pint of each of the ales, I had work to do so I moved onto the next pub – The London Hotel. This was surprisingly quiet, although it was only about 9:30. Things don’t start there until 10.00 usually – like their karaoke. It’s great but when you have to go to work the next day, and having to walk the 15 minutes or so there, it just doesn’t work very well for me. I had a pint of Hobgoblin and, although there was a cosy nook with some free tables, which was very useful for me to do the paperwork, I stood near the stage.

The London Hotel, Oxford Street

The London Hotel, Oxford Street

The next venue, which was the last of the night, was Antico. This was originally on my list of exclusions (due to it being a Restaurant rather than a pub, although it used to be a Greene King pub called the Court Jester). However, I had to walk right past it anyway. I was partly right – there is a large formal restaurant area but at the front is a bar with no table service or wine glasses on the tables (a sure sign of being a restaurant instead of a pub) so I went in. It was fairly quiet and has a nice romantic ambience to it. It’s quite dark and candle-lit.

Antico is remarkable as it has its own iPhone/Android app! It also has hotel rooms and very well-designed promotional material – including a slick video on the TV in the bar. However, the romantic stuff had clearly intoxicated some of the other customers and I was very tempted to say “Get a room!”.  Apparently they have occasional live music/DJs – however, there was no evidence of that at all.

Antico Hotel

Antico Hotel

Saturday 4 May 2013

This afternoon’s session was my first foray into the West side pubs of Southampton. I was contemplating going there or St Denys, but decide to Go West. As I’m being helped with the pubs in Shirley itself, I thought I’d start right at the bottom – the South Freemantle area. This is centred around Waterloo Road – an area I know well. I used to frequent the Star and Garter, and indeed used to DJ in there every Saturday night, but sadly the fine Victorian building  was destroyed and replaced by modern flats that show no consideration to the surrounding area’s architecture.

The site of the former Star and Garter

The site of the former Star and Garter

First up was the Key and Anchor – a backstreet boozer virtually spitting distance from the Star and Garter – although I think that the road it’s on was originally the main road West from Southampton. I forgot how good it was. The Victorian building has a rustic style, with a bare wooden floor and real fire. It has Ringwood Best and 49er and my pint of the latter was superb. The barman certainly knew what he was doing; that was evident. It has newspapers, a jukebox and a garden as well.

The Key and Anchor regularly has karaoke on Saturday nights with the long-running karaoke show by Steve and Penny, established over 10 years ago. There is also other live music.

Key and Anchor, Millbrook Road

Key and Anchor, Millbrook Road

Next up was the Waterloo Arms. I am not going to pay too much attention to writing a good description of this as it has already been done countless times by various CAMRA folk. I will have a go but only because it is a great application of my newly-acquired copywriting skills.

The Waterloo Arms is a mock-tudor 1920s building that is owned by the local Hopback Brewery; it’s the only pub in Southampton they own. As would be expected, the Hopback portfolio of ales are the flagship of the pub’s offering; however, there are other guest beers and even real cider on draught. I would quite happily have drunk that stuff all afternoon but getting drunk would be unprofessional.

It has a dart board, back garden and the bar area is ‘L’ shaped.

Waterloo Arms, Waterloo Road

Waterloo Arms, Waterloo Road

The Wellington Arms is well-hidden on a back street and looks intimidating from outside because the windows have bars in front! However, that is just a Victorian design feature, and is complemented by a lot of wrought iron detail inside the pub, as well as the famous bar embedded with coins. There is always a good selection of ales on offer.

The pub has made the news for trying to get around the smoking ban by becoming an official embassy for the tiny Island of Redonda – however, that ruse didn’t work!

Wellington Arms

Wellington Arms

The penultimate pub of the afternoon, The Pig ‘n’ Whistle, was of a good standard, but was still  the least good compared with the very high standard of the first three. It is a local-style pub, with Doom Bar on offer and the requisite pool table, Sky Sports and jukebox, the latter of which is free on Friday/Saturday/Sunday afternoons. It also has a garden at the rear and regular karaoke nights.

Pig 'n' Whistle, Shirley Road

Pig ‘n’ Whistle, Shirley Road

Nearby is the Park Hotel, a pub I used to frequent twice a week for karaoke on Sundays and I used to DJ in there on Saturday nights. It is in a pretty sorry state and has been boarded up for several years.

Park Hotel

Park Hotel

'Dean's Park Hotel' – it has never been called that by anyone except the former landlord – Matt Dean, who was a councillor as well.

‘Dean’s Park Hotel’ – it has never been called that by anyone except the former landlord – Matt Dean, who was a councillor as well.

 

On the way home, I paid a brief visit to Encore, by the Mayflower Theatre. While I found out there is a good food menu, pool table, Sky Sports and Wi-Fi, and regular karaoke nights, I did not record any details of the range of beers, so a partial resurvey is needed there.

The Encore

The Encore

In the evening, having recovered from an exhausting afternoon schedule, I decided to tackle another nightclub but I am being somewhat selective about which ones I try. Pop World, formerly the Reflex 80s-themed venue,  seemed attractive, as it promised to play pop music. Now as much as I like ‘proper music’, I do have a soft spot for cheese at parties. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the choice of music, although it wasn’t as bad as Revival.

Pop World's colourful intrerior

Pop World’s colourful intrerior

Like Revival, Pop World has an old-school dance floor with coloured light-up tiles. It’s a huge double-height metal shed type of building with a mezzanine floor containing another bar and some very prominent ventilation ducts. It is also the only bar I have ever seen a photo booth in before. As would be expected, it was full of hen parties.

After that, I was intending to go next door to 90 Degrees at Carlton but the snobbish bouncers refused me entry for the heinous crime of wearing trainers. I’ll give it another try at a time less likely to be subject to antiquated dress codes but if there is still no luck then the venue will be marked as ‘Access failed”. I am not changing what I wear just so I can get admitted to some pretentious yah yah bar!

Sunday 5 May 2013

The regular trip East on Sunday afternoon this week aimed to deal with some of the Eastern outlying pubs.  Fortunately, all four were proper pubs and not pretentious wine bars. First up was the Hare and Hounds, Harefield. This pub, built in the 1950s or 60s at the same time as the surrounding estate, is a vital community asset (particularly now the next nearest pub, the Exford Arms has been destroyed in its entirety by the council). When I visited on a rare sunny Bank Holiday Sunday, preparations were underway for a barbecue.

The pub has an outside patio at the front and two bars inside – a public bar and lounge bar. The latter was empty but the public bar was busier and features pool, darts, Sky Sports , a jukebox and hosts regular live music. It also benefits from free parking outside and there is a bus stop adjacent to the pub offering buses every 15 minutes during the week and every 30 minutes on Sundays.

The Hare and Hounds, Cheriton Avenue

The Hare and Hounds, Cheriton Avenue

Next up was The Bittern, named after the wading bird and not the nearby suburb of Bitterne. This huge Art Deco pub is sadly threatened, with rumours about both McDonalds and Tesco eying it up. The locals have started a campaign to save it, with its own Facebook page and T-shirts made.

Inside The Bittern

Inside The Bittern

The largest part of the pub is the L-shaped public bar, with there being a smaller but comfortably-furnished lounge bar adjacent to it. The 1930s Crittall windows are something of an endangered species nowadays and there are also some fine cast iron radiators. From the outside, the pub bears a low profile; it is only single-storey apart from an area in the middle, which is probably the landlord’s accommodation. At the back is a large beer garden and covered smoking area.

The Bittern

The Bittern

The pub has a monthly karaoke, bingo and bikers’ nights, and miscellaneous events; many photos of which are displayed on one of the walls.

Another short walk brought me to The Hinkler. The immediate surroundings are very different to my last visit, as the tired 1960s shopping precinct that was previously there has been demolished and replaced with some new flats and shops, although being a Sunday, these were all closed. The Hinkler itself was saved though; and it has won an award from its owner, Marston’s, for the ‘Best Community Pub of the Year’. As such, it has Marston’s Pedigree served from a handpump.

The Hinkler

The Hinkler

The interior is quite large and furnished in a contemporary style, featuring lots of Saints pictures and Elvis memorabilia, and there is a lounge bar that is even more contemporary, and very attractive. This can be closed off as a separate function room or opened out into a part of the main bar area. There is a small garden/smoking patio at the rear, which has barbecues sometimes. Hungry visitors can also order an all-day breakfast.

Inside The Hinkler

Inside The Hinkler

The Hinkler regularly hosts  live music and also has quiz nights, Sky Sports, a jukebox and pool table.

The Miller’s Pond was the last pub on the list for that day and this is always an odd one. From outside, it appears that all the windows have been boarded up and there is no door; however, a closer look reveals a staircase that goes down into the garden (the pub is located on quite a steep slope). The actual bar area is in the basement, and although it has a fairly low ceiling, it’s actually quite large. Owned by Wadworth, this pub unsurprisingly sells a selection of Wadworth ales, including Henry’s and 6X.

There is occasional live music, a pool table, Sky Sports and quiz nights. The garden is very large and sloping and there is an adjacent car park. The number 3 bus also goes right past and it is a stone’s throw from Sholing railways station. This pub always seems like it’s out in the middle of nowhere whereas it’s actually in a city!

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Southampton pub survey – week five

I can’t believe we’re into the fifth week already! I have visited over 30 pubs in the last month and that is good progress. To those who ask how soon I intend to complete the job; well I don’t have a specific target in place. Just as and when really. Over the course of the summer, this will help me get out and about rather than staying at home and being miserable.

Week five started on Friday night (26 April) in Revolution. As it’s a specialist vodka bar then there was not much hope of any ale, and that assumption turned out to be true. They had the usual selection of mass-produced lagers and Strongbow but beer drinkers were definitely in the minority. It has a promising menu but it is somewhat expensive. The furniture is straight out of an Ikea catalogue and I like that, along with the exposed ventilation ducts that are ubiquitous! The only other thing of interest was the floor, which reminded me of supermarkets. Sorry, I have a thing about flooring.

 

Revolution Vodka Bar

Revolution Vodka Bar

My next stop was Avondale House. This looks more like an office building than a pub, and the name certainly evokes images of offices. Last time I visited here there was no beer on draught (due to technical issues of some kind). There were also several bars on different levels but I could only see two levels this time. There was nothing to dislike but nothing to like either. I think a return visit is necessary to try and understand this complex venue a bit better.

Avondale House

Avondale House

My final stop was Kelly’s. This is stretching the definition of a ‘pub’ a bit. It’s really a nightclub that doesn’t open until 9.00 pm. However, as it has free entry before 10.00 pm, and was included in my previous pub survey then I had no grounds for excluding it.

It got off on a bit of a bad note, as I was asked to remove my hat! Luckily I could fold it up and put it in my pocket. The venue is in the basement and has a large dance floor with a few small areas with tables and chairs at the side. There were virtually no men in there though. The barmaids were all female and scantily-clad (I’ve never seen a male barmaid!) and most of the customers were too. What a shame I’m not straight. But as I’m not completely gay either then my blood pressure started rising like that sketch in one of the Carry On films.

Saturday 27 April 2013

The weather threatened to be a bit unpredictable and so I decided not to stray too far from a bus route. The north section of Southampton (well, anywhere north of the city centre falls into that category) needed doing nearly as much as the West section so Portswood was my first destination. Apologies for the lack of photos of these pubs, I forgot to take the camera! There was a weirdo on the bus but at least it stopped straight outside the Trago Lounge, which was my first target of the day. There was a Saints match about to begin when I visited so I made a conscious decision to avoid anywhere with Sky sports. The hustle and bustle outside where I live on match days can make me quite weary so the Trago Lounge, which has no TVs was a very welcome haven. It has a kind of café atmosphere and that’s a nice change. It was fairly quiet and chilled out when I visited and has a nice but expensive menu. I was very pleased to be served the Loungers’ house ale, Toga Man, in a proper dimpled pint mug! Very rare in pubs now.

Varsity was my next destination and I was surprised at how much the venue has changed. It was called ‘The Terminal’ when I previously visited and was a dark hovel but now a rooflight and opened up back windows have made it far more attractive. I was surprised to find a barmaid who hadn’t heard of a bitter top. It was very cheap for both food and drink though and has a pool table and dartboard for those who are that way inclined.

The Richmond Inn is a proper old-fashioned pub. It smells like someone’s front room and I don’t mean that in a negative way; it seems very homely compared to the anonymous nature of a lot of pubs these days.
It has a jukebox, which was playing ‘The Bear Necessities’ when I visited. Random. There are speakers set up, a mixing desk and bingo machine and I imagine they have a great pub quiz here! There are no TVs so it is another haven from the hustle and bustle of football match days. Four handpumps, selling Greene King/Morland ales. I will definitely be adding this to my shortlist of decent pubs!
Tartan carpet and woodblock parquet floor are an interesting combo in the flooring department.

Literally just across the road is the Gordon Arms,  another pub I enjoyed visiting. It serves food, two real ales and has a smoking area/garden at the rear. Finding the toilets is a huge mystery, as they’re hidden behind a door that is disguised as part of a bookcase! It has a jukebox and quiz night, which I imagine is good. The pub has also won awards for being one of the best pubs in Southampton, as voted for by the public. It’s also right next to a  bus stop so it’s well worth a trip to visit both the Gordon and the Richmond.

That evening’s pub-spotting was less enjoyable. The first venue was Chambers, which wasn’t too bad really, although it is difficult to write too much about these city centre bars that all seem much of a muchness. It’s a modern building (well 60s actually) and has an outside (but on-street) smoking area and DJs on a Saturday night (and probably other nights too). It has what appears to be a fairly good value food menu, although not on weekend evenings. It also has sport on the TV on a regular basis.

Chambers in 1967...it hasn't changed much!

Chambers (top centre) in 1967…it hasn’t changed much!

 

Chambers. A fairly old photo but little has changed.

Chambers. A fairly old photo but little has changed.

After that was The Edge. Another nightclub. I’d like to make it clear that I’m not victimising The Edge or any other nightclub for that matter; it’s just the case that I prefer more traditional pubs. I’m not one for late nights and these places are never much fun on your own…plus the chart/dance music  doesn’t do anything for me.  So yes, while there were three bars, I was looking forward to ‘The Box’ which featured ‘Camp classics’ instead but by the time they opened that, I’d gone home with frustration!

There are three bars – the downstairs one, which is famous for its wall of rainbow c oloured flashing lights (and it is a pretty sight!) and has a dance floor and (unusually for a nightclub) has a pool table, the upstairs one, which is quieter and has a much bigger bar, and ‘The Box’ which is sort of on a level between the other two but it’s only been open once when I have visited in the past. At first, only the ground floor bar is open. Then it takes a long time before the first floor bar is open. Finally, about two hours later, The Box is opened. The only other point of interest really is that there’s a nice garden/smoking area.

The Edge

The Edge

 Sunday 28 April 2013

First up was the Two Brothers, one of the furthest outlying pubs on my survey of Southampton. Fortunately, a bus to there goes straight past where I live so that part was easy.

The Two Brothers is predominantly a food-led pub and part of the Sizzling Pubs chain. I actually tried the food and it was apart from the fact that the steak I ordered was smaller than I was expecting a bit too incinerated. It has a garden, parking and WiFi. It’s definitely family friendly for those who have that to consider #brats

There is also sport on the TVs, a twice-weekly quiz night and occasional live music.

Two Brothers

Two Brothers

Mis-timing the half-hourly bus back, I thought I’d walk along the route until the bus was due but I got to the Big Cheese roundabout before I saw a bus. My intention was to do the last two North Bitterne pubs (Fox and Hounds; Humble Plumb) but a bus heading southwards was exciting and instead I started on the main pubs of Woolston. I got off the bus in Radstock Road, near the Manor House pub. However, I had no intelligence as to whether it was still open. The building is certainly still there but it’s been converted into housing. While it’s always sad to lose another pub, my suspicion of its closure was correct and it wasn’t a particularly nice pub anyway.

Manor House, Woolston: now flats.

Manor House, Woolston: now flats.

I then walked South along Victoria Road, Woolston’s main drag and was amazed to see how down-at-heel it looks. The other odd thing is the place was like a ghost town. Completely dead. Even the large Co-Op furhter down had the shutters down, mid-afternoon on a Sunday. I then became very disorientated, as the road layout has completely changed (Victoria Road has been partly pedestrianised and the main through route  diverted onto a new road on the old Vosper Thorncycroft (VT) site. One thing that hasn’t changed was the very derelict cafe opposite the Victoria pub; an iconic symbol of Woolston!

I had a look at the Ship Inn down Victoria Road. I’ve never managed to have a drink in here as it always seems closed (since 2007!). However, apart from the pile of post inside the front door, it appears to be in good order. Yet another visit will be necessary. Perhaps all-day trading on Sundays hasn’t made it that far South.

The next pub was The Victoria, formerly on the main gate to the VT site but now on its own. It was a bit intimidating in there, I have to say, not least because of all the dogs. There were at least five of them, and thus a sign was needed saying something along the lines of ‘Dogs – if you do a poo in our garden, please ask your mummies and daddies to put it in the dust bin’. There was also a man  trying to get the football on TV to run off his laptop.

There were also numereous signs on the doors to the garden at the rear saying ‘Please DO NOT use this door’ then one underneath saying ‘Yes, THIS DOOR!’. The carpet was quite worn but there was a brand new pool table and some men playing cards (not something you see that much these days).

The decor was rather patriotic – as well as the front facade of the pub being painted with the flag of St George, there was bunting etc inside as well. There’s also a jukebox.

Victoria

Victoria

Next up was a pub something off the beaten track – The Yacht Tavern. Located in a  mainly-industrial area adjacent to Woolston beach (if you were thinking of taking your bucket and spade then don’t bother), this fairly large 1950s-built pub has two bars, and, generally seems nice.

I first went into the lounge bar, which seemed fairly sumptuous but was completely empty of drinkers. I went outside and into the public bar, which was fairly quiet but had a few drinkers in. This is a large bar with a pool table, dartboard and jukebox.  It also has sport on the TVs and regular live bands from the local pub circuit. Smokers can find solace in the covered shed outside the public bar.

The Yacht Tavern let itself down very badly though, as the pint of ale I ordered was disgusting. It was supposed to have Doom Bar but had ran out. Instead I opted for Bombardier but the pint was horrible and had a lot of sediment suspended in the liquid. I suspect this is down to poor procedure in caring for the beer, as Bombardier is normally fine.

Yacht Tavern

Yacht Tavern

Finally, to close an epic afternoon, was the Peartree Inn. Another 1950s-built pub, this has two bars – a lounge bar and a ‘games bar’. Once again, I first entered the lounge bar, which was very plush but; again, there was no-one in there. After hearing the dulcit tones of The Stranglers from the jukebox in the public bar (sorry, games bar!), I went in there and it was pleasant enough, with pool table, jukebox and the usual trimmings that go with them. I witnessed another meat draw, shame I didn’t enter it!

The Peartree Inn

The Peartree Inn

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