Well that was the intermission (I’ve been a little bit poorly and out of energy), but now back to one of the traditional type Herbie awards. Yes of course it’s a pub one. This is a bit strange this year ‘cos we haven’t cruised any new waters and our old favourites remain, mostly, old favourites. However we have made one or two discoveries and rediscoveries and that has given us some best nights out for a pint. So lets call it the Herbie Award for Best Pub for a Drink with Friends. I’m not judging this on the beer this time, although it would have to be OK wouldn’t it, but on the ambience (or ambulance as we sometimes call it).
Let’s take these in chronological order of our visit this year
1. Prince Alfred. Formosa Street London W9
Simon and Carrie led us to this wonder when we were moored in Paddington in February. It takes about five minutes to walk there from Little Venice, and it’s worth the trip even if you don’t want a drink. To say this place is odd is an understatement. Here is Simon about to move from one of the bars into a little snug.
Yes that really is the doorway. Alright for the likes of Warwick Davies I suppose, but most people will have to bow gracefully or practice their limbo dancing to move around this pub. It has more doors like this! The woodcarving and etched glasswork in this pub is fantastic. See Google images of this pub and be amazed. The little nooks and crannies in this pub make it ideal for a quiet drink and a natter and if you run out of things to talk about you only have to gaze about to be quietly entertained. They do a decent but not spectacular pint of ale.
2. Cowroast Inn at (funnily enough) Cowroast on the Grand Union
If you are hacking up or down the Grand Union, Cowroast is a good stopover point. You can get a quick bus into Tring for shopping, the Marina has a chandlery and CRT has a service point. It’s a reasonably safe place to leave a boat unattended for a few days too. Just over the road is the Cowroast Inn, a strange mix of village pub and Thai restaurant. It features in this shortlist because if you get there early enough to grab one of the fireside sofas you will be as comfortable as you could be anywhere. If it’s winter and the fire is lit, you might get set on fire by the shower of sparks as the landlord heaves another mighty log on the fire, but it’s worth it. The general chit chat in the bar area is convivial and the landlord likes his little jokes and the beer is good. Just settle in with a very nice pint and enjoy. You won’t want to leave. Lovely.
3. Bridge 61 at Foxton Locks
If you can’t find a conversation in this quirky little pub, you’re just not trying. Once again if you are lucky you can find a sofa to relax in. Lots to look at around the walls and lots of stuff to read on the shelves. You might even get a game of chess some nights. Here’s one of my weird panoramic shots of one of the two rooms in the pub.
If you want to know where the sofa is, I’m sitting on it. And why is the pub empty? Can’t remember but I suspect it was early or late. This little room can get full believe me. The beer is excellent and the locals friendly. Here’s Kath sitting under the saw of Damocles sipping what looks dangerously like a pint of Old Rosie.
If you just want to sit and chat and sup and don’t need fancy food then this is a great little pub. The drinks are served from a tiny hatch in the other room.
4. The Wheatsheaf at Crick
We’ve known about this pub since we took up Herbie’s Crick mooring a few years ago, but until very recently we’ve never been in there for a pint. Well that was very silly, ‘cos it turns out we like it a lot. They have a good selection of well kept interesting ales and the locals and staff are friendly and the bar which is not all that big but being extended just now, is comfy. We’ll definitely use it in future. They have a weekly quiz too. The more well known Crick pub is the Red Lion which gets very full of diners most of the time, but the Wheatsheaf, just fifty yards further keeps its diners and its drinkers in separate rooms. For a quiet pint in good company, it’s just what you want.
Which of these do we feel like giving the award too? Hmm. I’ll ponder and report back.
Meanwhile what about that picture quiz last time? I wasn’t surprised to get a text from Adam (he of Briar Rose fame) at twenty past seven in the morning with all the right answers. Other than that no –one has sent in a guess. That’s either because of my warning about giving away the answers or because the scenes were too hard to identify. Either way just send in a guess and I’ll reveal all next time , and to make it easier here are some clues. Picture one was taken on the GU near a large supermarket, picture 2 - the clue is in the bubbles, picture 3 looks down an arm of the southern GU.
Now then I’m tempted to see if I can give a really hard one for Adam. I have to beat him sometime. Here is a handsome chap taking a nice boat out of a lock this summer. Which lock is it? Can anyone beat Adam to it?