And so on to one of the premier and most important awards. Best Pub 2010. This is of course the subject of diligent research and frequent sample visits, and I have to say it is a very difficult choice. So what do you have to do to be nominated?
1. Be close to the waterway. The closer the better.
2. Be friendly and welcoming
3. Serve very good real ale, preferably an interesting selection
4. Have atmosphere
5. Have locals that will talk interestingly to you
That rules out quite a few I can tell you.
So here is the shortlist
1. The Grapes at Limehouse - last year's winner, seen here from rear as the little balcony overlooks the Thames
2. The Rising Sun at Berkhamsted.
3. The Old Barge at Hertford
4. The Anchor and Hope on the Lee Navigation at Upper Clapton. What can I say? A little gem that has somehow survived through the years whilst the surrounding area has been rebuilt. I took this photo from the train as we passed bound for London on a day off.
Regular readers will recall our tale of being helped over the fence by the barman as we tied up outside. It has a tiny bar and usually three real ales and no food. Sadly we've never been there in the evening, but at lunchtime it seems to have people popping in and out for a quick pint and a chat. Good conversation can always be had here. This is a real old fashioned local. Totally unspoilt.
5. The Black Horse at Greenford
Here we are moored outside.
The Black Horse is a big pub, but still friendly and, I have to say, often really helpful. A friend of ours with an allergy had her meal specially tweaked by them at no notice. At the end of a very cold day on the boat we called in for a nice hot dinner and were dismayed to find that kitchen staff had called in sick and they couldn't do food for us. We did manage to get fish and chips up the road, but returned for a pint. The landlady came over to apologise about the lack of food and gave us a voucher for a free Sunday lunch next day. The Black Horse has comfy sofas, newspapers, a balcony overlooking the garden and the canal, and unfailingly superb beer. It has served the best pint of Fullers ESB I have ever tasted. In fact one of the best glasses of beer I have ever had. It is also just about half way between our home moorings and Paddington , so a perfect stop for us.
6. Lastly, the lovely old Globe Inn at Old Linslade on the Grand Union.
You can moor right outside the door, and on summer nights the outside tables are a good place to chat with other boaters. The staff are friendly, the food very good, and they always have a couple of interesting ales. This is a picture postcard pub, and very popular. I can't ever remember passing without an overnight stop.
What a great selection, every one a winner, but not this time. I have to choose just one. Results tomorrow.