Crawling along

Trip Start Jan 01, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Sunday, February 15, 2009

Before the trip, I checked out a book, "Memorable Walks in London" from the public library.  So far I have not been able to enjoy any of these walks.  It did not take much arm twisting, but I was able to convince Jim to go on the Historic Pub Walk on Chapter 3.  Actually, we did not really follow the published route for this walk, but used the Chapter as a guide for our Saturday night bar/pub crawl around the Covent Garden area.

Our adventures begin at the Westminster Underground station.  Our destination was north of Trafalgar Square, unfortunately I was disoriented coming out the subway and lead Jim west across the southern end of St. James Park.  We knew we went the wrong way when we arrived at Buckingham Palace, our destination for tomorrow morning.  Turning around, we walked along the Mall, passed St. James Palace towards Trafalgar Square.  Finally we arrived at the first stop, the Marquis.  This place has been around since the reign of Charles II, but the decorum was surprisingly modern...even more of a surprise was the quality of the pub grub.  Jim ordered the salmon dinner and I had roast beef with Yorkshire pudding.  I downed the meal with a pint of London Pride.  We had a pleasant political conversation with the owner, Dennis, a young man from Australia.  The Marquis would have made a good place for people watching with huge windows providing the view of pedestrians along Chandos and Bedfordbury street, but we had more places to see.

The next stop was The Salisbury, a tavern founded in 1852 and famous for the bare-knuckle fights that used to take place here.  The Salisbury also touted itself as the "archetype of actors' pubs".  I did not see any actors I recognized but there were plenty of theater goers because just further up the street was a theater currently putting on a production of "Q Avenue", adult parody of Sesame Street.  We talked to one of the theater goers, who stopped by for a pint before the show, Enya.  Enya was a fascinating person; she is German but talks with an Irish brogue.  She is a lecturer at Oxford University in the engineering department.  Jim was working hard to convince Enya to join him on a ski trip to the Alps, but she politely refused his advances.  I enjoyed sampling two of the The Salisbury guest ales, Doom Bar (I can't remember the name of the other one) while watching Jim crash and burn.  We said good-bye to Enya, crossed the line of people queued up for the evening performance and went to our next pub.

The next pub, Lamb and Flag, met my mental image of an English pub.  It was a wooden structure built in 1623, which has remarkably survived not only the Great Fire of 1666 but also London's other fires, bombings from two world war etc.  A favorite of Dickens...I would not be surprised if this place was haunted by past patrons, who may have met a untimely death in the scary alley leading to the entrance.  Inside is a warm, inviting place were every stranger was welcomed.  A friendly chap recommended one of the guest ales, Harvey.  Jim and I struck up a conversation with a couple from Essex in town for Valentines Day.  I think the different ales are having an affect because I do not remember the lady's name but the guy was Matthew.  We talked about how popular Facebook is in England and other non-sensical matters.  Jim was able to find a companion for his ski trip, partly.  Matt's lady friend had a friend, who she thought would be a perfect travel companion for Jim.  I will have to check back with Jim whether he followed through and contacted the woman.  Another pint (this time it was a good bitter ale, Discovery) and off to the next, pub.

The final stop in the Historic Pub Walk was the Coal Hole; however we decided to cut the walk short and stopped in at a pub, Punch and Judy.  The pub was located in a lovely public square of restaurants, pubs and shops.  They did not have any special guest ales, so I got a pint of the London Pride.  Jim stopped drinking beer and was downing Gin and Tonics.  I hope I do not have to babysit him, before liquor ever sicker...liquor before beer in the clear.  We met a couple from Newcastle, Tom and Anna.  They were out celebrating Valentines Day and their new engagement.  We spent a good deal talking about America.  Tom and Anna wanted to go to Disney World for their Honeymoon and were interested in what I had to say because I recently visited Mickey.

Tom, Anna, Jim and I decided to move to a quieter pub, so we could converse without having to yell at each other.  When I looked at the Cove Bar, I thought it was one of the shops in the square.  Apparently the bar was upstairs.  Another quirky thing about the pub was the unisex bathrooms.  I was a little bashful until the urge overcame my shyness.  This time I was drinking, Courage, a brew I had the night before.  Around 11:30 the pub announced last call.  At first I was outraged, bu eventually I realized that it would have been a long and expensive taxi ride to the hotel if we were not forced to leave at that point.  At the underground station, Jim and I said our goodbyes to Tom and Anna and wished them a happy life together.  Tom and Anna were impressed that in this inebriated state I knew the way back to the Underground station based on my memory of the walk.  Jim was kind enough not to mention our original trek around St. James Park. 
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