For some unknown reason, Blogger is removing my blank lines between paragraphs today and I can't seem to fix it, so this is all a bit of a slab. - sorry.
Having considered and discussed our nominations for the Herbie Award 2008 for Most Scenic Day's Cruise, the winner is . . The Wey Navigation fron Send to Godalming. A really pretty stretch full of rustic charm, gentle meanders, lush countryside and variety too. I'm sure we'll be back before long.
Now we come to the agonising one, choosing Best Pub. Well, you can't say we haven't done some serious research in this department. A good pub should have character, friendly locals and staff, good beer, good food if they serve food, and preferably a bit of a buzz in the evening. A quiz gets it extra points. For a Herbie award I suppose the pub should also be close to the canal or river (say under 5 minutes walk).
So what do we have to choose from this year? Let's start with the long list.
1.The Fox at Hanwell (last year's winner) - great beer, great food, good moorings, quiz .
2. The Warwick Castle at Little Venice - a new find for us. One minute walk from Brownings Pool, this pub is busy, but you can generally get a table. The decor is Victorian or Edwardian I suppose - lots of decorated ground glass panels and carved woodwork. The beer is good - Doom Bar, Tongham TEA, Deuchars etc and the food is modestly priced and innovative. Quiz
3. The Grapes at Limehouse. Tiny, old Victorian pub, two minutes walk from the basin. Always packed, but people will move up to give you a seat. Good beer -Timothy Taylors. Good food - mostly fish. Efficient and helpful staff. Packed with history and character and mentioned by Charles Dickens in (I think) Our Mutual Friend. It has a tiny veranda at the back overlooking the river.
4. The Old Barge at Hertford. Biggish pub right on the riverside. Numerous well kept real ales always available, and even the young barmaids seem to know what each one is like so they can advise!! We have never eaten there but the bar manu looks OK. Their Sunday night quiz is excellent.
5. The Magpie and Crown at Brentford. A locals pub, very friendly and good for conversation. Interesting real ales all kept with care and enthusiasm. I don't know about food, as we've only been there mid afternoon. One minute walk from the gauging lock.
6. The Anchor and Hope - Tiny tiny pub alongside the Lee navigation at Clapton, south of Tottenham. Good beer, very friendly staff. A real gem. Sadly, we've only used it for a quick lunchtime pint in passing.
7. The Black Horse at Greenford - Right by the canal, this big pub has excellent Fuller's beers (the ESB was cause of us overstaying and having to cruise home in the dark recently), good food, newpapers, football on the TV, comfy seats, friendly staff, a big garden, an upstairs room with big windows overlooking the canal. Its just about half way between our moorings and Paddington. Very convenient.
Phew that's more than enough to choose from. Even then I have ommitted the excellent Star Inn at Godalming (CAMRA regional pub of the year -several real ales, 8 real ciders), because it's a ten minute walk from the river.
So how about a shortlist of nominees. I'll eliminate the Fox as they won it last year.
1. The Warwick Castle
2. The Grapes
3. The Anchor and Hope
4. The Black Horse
Stay tuned while we agonise for a few days.