Monday, 16 November 2015

The Bear, Esher. Part 1

Well, here we go at last. Sorry it's been so long but had another hip replacement and had problems getting access to our blog (had to wipe my laptop cos it was running like a bag of shite and afterwards Blogger said I had no blogs??) Still, all sorted now (fingers crossed).

    So, It's been a while since our last trip and I just hope we can remember what happened. We set off mid-morning for the M42, M40 and M25. Wasn't really looking forward to the drive as all three motorways can be a nightmare, but we had a fairly trouble free journey which was made all the better by the numerous classic Minis we passed on the way. There were some really beautiful cars. 

    As we approached the bottom of the M40 we decided to stop at the services for some food. The only reason I mention this is that, near us, in the Midlands, the services are pretty bog standard with a MacDonalds and a Costa Coffee or a KFC and a Starbucks and not much else. But Beaconsfield? Hell! I could live there!!
    
     For anyone who hasn't been to a services round the capital, let me explain........It has a MacDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, M & S simply food, Greggs, Carvery Express, El Mexicana, Mint Leaves Indian Restaurant, Nandos, Patisserie Valerie (cakes), Francesca Ristorante, Chozen Noodle and a Wetherspoons!!!!! Happy Days! So we sat in the car park, filling our faces and watching a pair of red kites scare the shit out of every bird around.


I didn't notice the birds... I did notice the brand spanking Audi R8. The driver was a slim, 6 foot handsome bastard, with a tasty wife... probably had a small dick. 
Minis were great, otherwise, an uneventful journey to the hotel in the picturesque setting of Junction 10 of the M25. Cheap and cheerful is how we roll! I gotta say, I do love a good hotel. Me and the Mrs stopped in a 5 star gig in Amsterdam, It had a plasma in the bath! (not in the bathroom, actually built into the bath). It was well worth the money, but now with kids, and having to visit 40 places, £100 a night wasn't an option any more, so we book hotels as cheap as we can, and central Esher hotels were well expensive. As it turns out, our hotel was the wrong side of the motorway, so after we'd checked in, we went for a walk to see where we could cross the motorway and call a taxi to take us the rest of the way. We couldn't cross. With our tail between our legs, we went back to the hotel and asked the receptionist for a local taxi firm. The taxi turned up and we had to drive 5 miles back the way we came just to get across the pissing motorway. After an eternity, we arrived in central Esher. And we were charged £22! I suddenly had this feeling that this was going to be an expensive weekend. 
    Esher is very nice, but that's what money brings I suppose. and there appeared to be plenty of money. We took a little walk around to take in the sights. There wasn't a Poundland, Aldi, Lidl, or even a Tesco Express! How do these people survive? There were some art studios... Antiques shops... All the essentials. We stumbled upon Sandown Horse Racing.... Circuit? Track?


Course!




Cheers pops.... Maybe you should take over....




There weren't many run of the mill cars either. Lots of Jags, big Audis, Porsches and a couple of Lambos. Very affluent area. I just hoped I'd bought enough money! It didn't help when we passed a beer and wine shop advertising craft beers. I was just about to go in when I noticed a bottle of Champagne in the window for £355. So I gave it a miss.

Nice Church
With strange graves
They are called Hogsback graves and are probably pushing 1000 years old

    After the walk round (nice place with some very nice buildings) we decided it was time for some refreshment so called in The Albert Arms which has a nice rooftop terrace, perfect for a summers day like today. Unfortunately, there was a wedding reception and the terrace was closed to the public. Hey Ho! So we stood at the bar and ordered a couple of pints. £10. Could have been worse I suppose. So we stood there people watching and after about 10 minutes  Clint turned to me and said "Do you know, I don't think I could talk to anyone in here. Do you?" "Maybe one" I replied, "this guy sat behind me". He was almost my age and sat on his own at a high table with bar stools. So I went over and asked if he minded if I sat down. 

So.. There I was... Stood at this bar, Wearing my Star Wars T-shirt, and there was a lot of toffs in Eton style suits, A Michael Winner wannabe, with Donald Trump's Love Child screeching in her american drawl. To say I felt out of place was an understatement. I did not have a good feeling about this place at all, so I did the one thing I knew how...

I ran to Daddy.

Dad was talking to a normal bloke! We had literally found the last bastion of the working man in Esher. We chatted about Footy, work, and he told us about his adventures as a travelling salesman. We had to end it on an awkward note, as he was a Palace fan and the Mighty Foxes had just kicked there ass over the weekend, Oh well, Its the price of success I suppose. About this time I had to go water the horse and the conveniences were also upmarket.

Splashback to protect your shoes and troos

Dave said he'd moved into Esher in the last few weeks. He also said it was the worst mistake he'd ever made because, like us, he didn't think they were the kind of people he could mix with, which is why he was sat alone. He was glad he hadn't sold his old house cos he was gonna move back and rent out the one in Esher. This isn't to say they were bad people. Just not our kind of people. Maybe I'm too working class. Anyway we said farewell to Dave and headed to the main event, The Bear.

Anyway, that's all for now. More soon. Cheers!!

PS... If you look at and read this PLEASE PLEASE leave a comment, even if it's "What a load o' shite". Thanks









Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Kings Head, Shrewsbury, Summary and Not Seeking this week...

Well, we proper fucked this week up...

As I type this, sat opposite the old man in our local, Ye Olde Cock in Cider (have a look here at  https://www.facebook.com/yeoldecockincider ), we are both off for a week, as we had made some grandiose plans to tour the south west of England, with the purpose of knocking off a few pubs on the list...

   But due to our impeccable ability to fuck up a good c.... anyway, lets just say, if you need a piss up in a brewery, don't ask me, Pops, or the national health to help organize it....  

Yeah, proper pissed off about what happened and how it happened, and I'm gonna whinge about it, but we really ought to finish off our bit about the Kings Head first. 

    We finished last time with the band wrapping up and the pub crowd thinning out. We'd had a reasonable night (even with my miserable fizzog) but hadn't really had the chat with the locals as we like to.

    While we'd still got a full pint and there were still people in, I went out the back for a fag and got talking to a lad in his early twenties. The conversation turned to why we were there and he was really interested, and he also new quite a bit of local history. So I took him back inside and introduced him to Clint.

I got a shaky selfie with the lead singer of The Endings, (I love meeting bands after gigs. Me and pops went to see a blues band in Notts, and the support group, a metal band, blew the fucking roof off! I went to say hello after they finished their set, only to find the lead singer was a gamer like me, {after he recognized my Videogame t-shirt} and he seemed genuinely impressed that we were happy with them) then  Dad appeared with some young lad in tow, and this lad proved to be quite the font on local knowledge....

"DAD!!! what did that lad tell us?" 

Buggered if I can remember! It had been a long day and we had a good chat but I don't recall him telling us anything we hadn't already heard, but it was nice to meet a young man who had a genuine interest in local history.

    Anyway, we also had another chat with the landlord and he was a bit more forthcoming this time, although, again, he didn't really tell us anything we didn't know. But it was a nice end to the night and I cheekily asked the landlord for a memento of the evening, and I talked him into giving me an optic bracket. Which sits behind me on the shelf of Ye Olde Cock in Cider with a bottle of (nearly empty) Jack Daniels in it. Happy Days!!

I remember now! He was a nice bloke.... And that's all I remember... (sorry random nice bloke in Shrewsbury) . Anyway, with Pete, Medieval Graffiti, Dinnertime Drunk Dad, Miserable "wanttoslaphismiserablechops" night-time Dad, foot-tapping bands, and random bouncy head-butting the ceiling Irish jig music fans, it was another stellar YOIS night out...

    Oh, something I do remember, random Shrewsbury nice guy told me that part of the 1980's version of Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" was filmed in Shrewsbury, and arguably the most famous part of the story was when Ebeneezer visits his own grave, and the film crew got permission to engrave Ebeneezer Scrooges name into an unidentifiable gravestone in the churchyard of one of the many places of worship in Shrewsbury, that had lain there for decades and where it still resides to this day, and me not wanting to miss a photo op, went straight there the next day... 
The Prettier side of House Gardner posing by the Scrooge Grave
All in all, it was a good trip and we highly recommend Shrewsbury.

So, back to why I'm pissed off. Me and my son had planned to have a week away, taking in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall doing three pubs on our list. We'd booked the time off work and booked some of the accommodation. The rest was going to be camping.
   
    Two or three weeks before we were due to go (On the 27th of July) I had a letter from the hospital which said my hip replacement was going to be carried out on the 20th of July. I immediately rang Clint and told him I wouldn't be able to go on the trip. He suggested I cancel my op, but I said, if I'd gotta have three months off, I'd prefer to have the summer off than the autumn or winter.

    On the Monday morning I went to work and told the powers that be that I would be having my op in two weeks and all was good.

   Until the site manager said " You wanna check to see if you're entitled to sick pay"

   To cut a long story short, I'm not.

   Not until the middle of September. Cos I had three months off last year.

    So, I rang the hospital and cancelled the operation (I can't afford three months off on just statuary sick pay). I then rang my son, Clint, and said that I could go after all.

   He'd just got off the phone after cancelling the accommodation.

   Bollocks.

  Which is why we are sitting in Ye Olde Cock in Cider on a Tuesday night. Still, could be worse. We could be sat in the front room watching whatever shite is on the telly. 

   Couldn't we????

Right.... time for a beer.... Cheers!!!

Friday, 26 June 2015

The Kings Head, Shrewsbury, Part 3


So... We left it where Dad, Pete and I had been out for a few beers at dinner, then the inevitable beer munchies kicked in, and I wanted to head back and freshen up, so we arranged to meet Pete later, said our farewells and headed into the nearest Kebab house, Dad got his snap first and headed straight back to the hotel. I, on the other hand, was dealing with the most inept twat whoever had the misfortune to man a till, and for reasons I can't remember, was waiting for ages, and didn't leave the chippy for about half an hour after pops,..... and the food were shit...


I eventually got back, got fed, watered and scrubbed up. It'd been about an hour back at the hotel, and our next rendezvous with Pete at the Pub was fast approaching, time to fetch pops...




 I was fecking starving, So I ordered myself a double cheeseburger and cheesy chips. I dunno what Clint ordered but the muppet behind the counter screwed it up and, whatever it was, he had to bin it and start again. I'd got mine and it was going cold so I left him to it. The hotel was only  two minutes walk away so I hurried back, went up to my room, made myself comfy on the bed, put the telly on and set about my meal. Clint's right. It were shit! I reflected on the days events so far and thought about the coming evening, which I was really looking forward to. And a sense of well-being overcame me................



So, I splashed on the brut, Gave the Mrs and kids a kiss goodbye, and thought "I'll ring Pops, he can meet me in reception"


Ring, Ring..... Ring, Ring.... Ring, Ring....



Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz..........





No answer... So time to bring out the big guns...

"come on kids, lets go and get Grandad up!"
I frog marched the kids down to his room, and knocked loudly, and the kids starting shouting for grandad, to the point people in adjacent rooms were checking to see what was going on, 


Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............





Took the kids back to our room, tried ringing again, no answer, so there was nothing else for it....





The receptionist was really helpful and understanding, and proceeded to phone the room phone for my Dad, for a good 5 minutes, during the wait, we were discussing the possibility of someone opening the door for me, (which they were not enthused about) but eventually...  It arose!

The phones ringing. Bollocks. Time for work. zzzzz Phones still ringing. Suppose I'd better get up. zzzzz BLOODY PHONE!! Then it suddenly dawned on me where I was. Grabbed the phone and it was the hotel receptionist. I mumbled something and got out of bed. Quick wash, brush my teeth and dressed in about 5 minutes. Then headed out to meet my very irate son. I was only an hour late.

Now, Obviously, being related, I have witnessed my Dad in the mornings, and regardless of soberness, time, weather, or any other factor, Dad is one miserable bastard in the mornings. But normally, that's fine, as I'm not a morning person, and I could sort of ignore his persistent grumpiness due to my own disdain for the first hours. Today, however, was different. I was up, been awake all day, full belly, and ready for a night out. my miserable git of a Dad on the other hand... not so much...

You see, I'm at an age where dinner-time drinking takes a toll and I wasn't now, as ready for a night out as my son was. I'm also at an age where I should've known better so I only have myself to blame. However, I wasn't "a miserable git" as my son so eloquently put it. Just wasn't really in the mood. But, Hey Ho! Off we went to the Kings Head to meet Pete..................if he was still there......

Pete was there, waiting patiently. We grabbed a pint and grabbed a table. The pub was really beginning to fill up. The majority of the dining area was now occupied by the evening entertainment, an Irish folk band called "The Endings" It was real good toe tapping stuff. I was really enjoying the band, and I reverted to my "go-to" state of people-watching, and soon discovered the audience was far more entertaining than the band. Its hard to talk to each other, let alone locals, when a 5 piece band is in full swing with violins and guitars not 5 foot away, so chat was at a minimum. However... Dad assumed his default position of "bulldog chewing a wasp" face. I couldn't get anything out of the old git. I tell you how miserable he looked... a complete stranger walked up to him and shouted "cheer up mate!" into his face...

Yeah, he did. Cheeky bastard! Nobody believes me but I was feeling okay. Not in a great drinking mood, but watching the band and thinking my own thoughts. I have to admit though, the dinner time session had spoiled it for me. The trouble is, I've got a miserable face. And I can't help that. That's just the way I look. And I've spent 60 years developing this face, so I'm not changing it for him or any bugger else!

Speaking of watching the band, we did have a lighter moment. There was a little fella who appeared to know all the bands songs and sang along and danced to every one of them. Well, when I say dance, what I really mean is pogo. He bounced up and down the front of the stage to every song, singing into the back end of the mikes and thoroughly enjoying himself. 

It wasn't until he twatted his head on a beam that I realised just how low the ceilings, and in particular the beams, were. The whole pub burst out laughing, even though he was obviously a local, and it got worse when, after rubbing his head, he stuck two fingers up at the ceiling.

Anyway, I wasn't particularly up for partying and was almost ready for calling it a night, The band had finished, but as it turned out, we weren't.... We had a bit of a surprise coming. but more on that next time.

Til then, Cheers

The "not miserable" half of YOIS selfie with the lead singer of The Endings





Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Kings Head Shrewsbury Part 2

So... this is getting hard....

The last few times we arranged a get together to type up some more blog, Dads new pub-shed has got in the way. We have been consistently drunk and merry, and the last thing on our mind has been to sit down and type. So please excuse me while I read the last post to refresh my memory...

..............

OK, too long, didn't read...

But its all coming back to me now, (go Celine...) We had left the Kings Head with our personal Shrewsbury tour guide, Pete, who proceeded to give us a step by step guide to Shrewsbury, and I don't remember anything. Sorry Pete....

We took a nice walk round and, risking sounding repetitive, I was taking in the sights, cos it really is a nice place to be. We stopped off at one of Pete old watering holes. A classic, untouched 70's decor, pure drinking hole, The Loggerheads. Had a quick pint while Pete and Dad explained to me why there was Turtle pictures everywhere... (didn't ever hear of a loggerhead turtle) We then moved on to the Lion Hotel, a massive place, where we were informed to check out the "Amazing Curved Staircase" 






Well... It was a staircase.... and curved.... I don't know what else to say... Apparently, A curved wooden staircase was quite the achievement back in the day, calling on the latest techniques and talents of the most accomplished chippies of the time. But it was anti-climatic...

At the top of said stairs, there was a ballroom, with a Piano, where I knocked out a broken version of "With a little help of my Friends" (as if Ringo didn't break it enough) to an audience of one (dad) which put a smile on me face...




Back downstairs, Pops was talking to the receptionist, who said the place was in receivership and was soon to change hands, which is never a good thing, as it could mean some things are up for the chop. Anyway, its another nice place, although the bar was shit, and we sat at a lovely ornate carved bench, which looked awesome, but was horrible to sit on. 




What I should point out is, this pub (The Lion Hotel) is important to us (well me anyway). This list of pubs is (as you know if you've been following our blog) from an old set of cigarette cards. But this set is actually the second set of cards issued by W. D. and H. O. Wills in 1939, and since we started this odyssey I've acquired the first set as well (issued 1936) and, providing I live long enough and the finances allow, eventually I hope to do the first set too. Well, The Lion Hotel is on the first set of cards, so I'm glad we called in, as you never know when these places are going to disappear. We normally pave the way for our visits by ringing the landlord and trying to arrange to meet locals, etc., but we called in here just because it was there, so I haven't researched any history about the place. All being well we will come back to this one at some time in the future. It would be worth going back just to sit and read the paper in front of a roaring fire in the awesome fireplace!




Anyway... we spent most of the day drinking at various other pubs around Shrewsbury town, each one had its own little character and tale to tell. The main part of the day so far, was the drinking, which played a major part on the rest of the days activities....

Yeah, it did. And not in a good way. Anyway, that's all for now. We'll post again soon, Cheers!! 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Kings Head Shrewsbury, Part 1

Sunday 22nd February

So, yesterday we went to Shrewsbury. Me, my son Clint, his wife Sue and their two lovely children Joseph and Chloe squeezed into Clint's Subaru and headed for the A5. It's been around 15 years since I  travelled that way and, bloody hell, ain't the roads changed? Didn't recognise much at Cannock, but we eventually made it onto the M54. All plain sailing now, I thought. Wrong! Around Telford there was about 7 miles of roadworks, down to 40 miles an hour all the way and average speed cameras to make sure you don't disobey!! But eventually we were approaching Shrewsbury and I started the GPS on my phone to direct us the best way to our hotel. 

       I thought there was something wrong with it because it said 7 miles to go, estimated time 16 minutes. Surely that couldn't be right? Then, when we got into town my phone said 1 mile to go, estimated time 7 minutes. That had got to be wrong. And it was. It took nearly FIFTEEN minutes to travel that last mile. Shrewsbury's a nightmare to get into, but it's worth it. It's a lovely town with narrow winding streets and fantastic old buildings including 11 (I think) churches within the confines of the river loop which can't be much more than a square mile.

      At last we pulled into the multistorey car park right behind our hotel. It wasn't even 12 o'clock yet and we couldn't check in til 2 so we just poked our noses in and had a quick butchers at the place (It was a Premier Inn and I know they all look the same but it was a first for me). I asked the receptionist about the town, where the oldest part was etc., and she started telling me where all the churches were! I quickly explained that I do most of my worshiping at the altar of Marston, Thompson and Evershed and which was the quickest way to the pub?

      So after consulting a free map, courtesy of Premier Inns, we headed out the door. Then we walked about 200 yards and there we were!! 
Me and Clint outside The Kings Head


       Mind you, for any one who suffers from vertigo, be warned....


      It looks like it's falling into the street!!

Dad's right, Shrewsbury is very picturesque, everywhere you turn there's a photo op. I'd done a bit of research about Shrewsbury and found out it was the birthplace and residence of Charles Darwin (for those who don't know, he was the author of The Origin of Species, which details the theory of evolution). Dunno why, as I'm not very clever, but I was chuffed to bits about this, (I do love watching The Big Bang Theory, if that counts) and I found out there is a honking great statue of him in the town centre, so was looking forward to getting a photo there. Unfortunately, when I got there some insurance company had a massive garish red marquee in front of the statue, with an Aston Martin DB5 parked there too. Loads of folk were taking pictures of the car, but ignoring one of the greatest contributors to modern science......makes me sad....

   The Olde Worlde buildings are ace, owing much of their existence to the adjacent buildings, cos without them, they'd fall over. Everything is on a mad angle, and it really makes you wonder how they are still standing...

     After an hour or so in the pub the kids were getting bored so I went for a quick walk around the town centre with my missus and kids, and its a genuinely nice place to be. I recommend a visit. After a while we went back to the hotel and settled the kids in the room.

  So, after the obligatory photo outside, in we went. It wasn't quite what I expected inside, not as olde worlde as outside, but still nice. I went to the bar to get drinks while Clint settled Sue and the kids. I started chatting to the barman and asked if the licensee was in. He was and would be down shortly so I started "grilling" the bar staff. Unfortunately, I didn't write any of the bar staffs names down and now I can't bloody remember them (apologies to the bar staff, maybe I'm going senile, or maybe you shouldn't have served me so much falling down water).



      Dave, the licensee, made an appearance and we had a little chat but he was obviously very busy and didn't say much more than to read the stuff on the walls, but we did have another chat later that night. 

      Anyway,  I knew that the pub had moved but I didn't know it had moved twice. The original pub had been a guard house on the Welsh Bridge but at some point was moved onto the street where it is now, called Mardol, but further up the street on the opposite side of the road. On the site where the pub is now used to be a chapel or a house belonging to a deeply religious family, but this building was destroyed by fire in the late 1300s. The present pub was built in 1404 on the site of the old chapel/home as a single storey building with two more storeys being added at a later date and was originally called the Last as it was the last pub in the town before you crossed the bridge and headed for Wales. 

      In 1987 the pub was completely refurbished and workmen were removing an old chimney breast when, behind it they found an even older chimney breast with this on it, 




      This wall painting appears to show The Last Supper and The Annunciation and is thought to date from the late 14th to early 15th centuries.

        I was so engrossed in stuff I was being told, I hadn't noticed that an hour had passed and the kids were getting restless. Clint decided they were going for a walk and to get some food and just as they were leaving Pete Brown arrived. Pete is a Facebook friend who we've never met but follows our blog and had decided to come and meet us as he had family in the area and was visiting.

      Having only ever spoke on facebook we made our proper introductions, then I got Pete a drink and replenished my own. Then we parked ourselves at a table in the corner and Pete had a look through the famed set of cigarette cards. Having worked all over the country over the years, he knew quite a lot of the pubs and had drank in several of them.

       After half an hour or so another guest arrived. Dave Brown (no relation to Pete), a member of Shrewsbury civic society, had agreed to meet us to give us a bit more of the history of the pub and here he was with his wife. Introductions all round and I got the pair of them a drink (and replenished my own, again), then they joined us at our table.

      Dave's passion is the history of pubs and in particular the pub's signs and any like minded people in the area would be most welcome to contact the Civic Society in Shrewsbury to join with Dave in helping to preserve this important part of our heritage.

      Dave was a mine of information and had a lot of old books regarding the hostelries of Shrewsbury (for some strange reason he didn't want to let me have them. Said he wanted to keep them???) and he told me some interesting stuff about The Kings Head (for instance, it was Dave that told me about the pub moving twice). 

       The best stories for me though were the two concerning the naming of the pub and the alley that runs down the side of it, known as The Kings Head Passage.


      In 1485 Harri Tudur arrived at the Welsh bridge with an army 5000 strong, wishing to enter Shrewsbury. The Sheriff of Shropshire, Thomas Mytton, stood on the bridge and refused him entry saying that "only over my body will you enter". By morning, persuaded by either the townsfolk or the size of Harri Tudurs' army, Mr Mytton had changed his mind but did not want to appear weak, so he lay on the bridge, face up, and Harri Tudur stepped over him. This way neither man would lose face.

       Harri Tudur later proceeded to Bosworth field in Leicestershire where he defeated Richard III and he became better known as Henry VII and so his picture adorns the Kings Head sign to this day.



       The other story is a little more involved.

       The crusades were over for most and the city of Jerusalem was won. People flocked to Jerusalem on pilgrimage but the Moslems still controlled Palestine and the roads were dangerous for the pilgrims. A few of the crusaders saw what was happening and banded together to form a group of warrior monks to protect the travellers. They were given quarters on Mount Moriah, thought to once be the stables of the Temple of Solomon. And so they called themselves the Knights Templar.

      The order grew and became more powerful and influential outside their quarters....... but inside they were working too, digging down beneath the Holy Temple searching the catacombs below. There had been rumours about holy relics buried beneath for years and they, indeed, found six sacred treasures there including the head of King Solomon, so holy that it was perfectly preserved, the skin still soft and the hair silky.

      But Jerusalem was still a dangerous place and a meeting of the Knights was held to arrange safe passage of the relics to Christian lands,.... but where? They discussed and argued all day but could not reach an agreement. Eventually they retired for the night and would carry on their deliberations the next day.

      That night one of the Knights dreamed that he woke to find his room bathed in light and a silvery figure standing by his bed.

      "Bring them to me" the ghostly figure cried and the Knight woke up.

      The next day he told the rest of the order about his dream. " Of course" cried one. "St Alkmund, the temple protector! He has six churches back in England. We will take one relic to each of his churches and he will guard them".

      Six of the best, handpicked, Knights travelled for many days until they reached the shores of England when they travelled into the heart of the country. One by one the nights peeled off to their destinations until there was just one left, heading for Shrewsbury. This night was carrying King Solomon's Head.

      The night entered the town a couple of hours after dark. He was tired, hungry and dirty so went to an inn for sleep, food and a bath. He would go to St Alkmunds in the morning, clean and refreshed. However, during his meal he heard many disturbing things and called the innkeeper for more information. He was told of many strange happenings, a black bull rampaging through the town, bowling over people on their way to church, bricks and roof tiles falling on people for no apparent reason, strange, inhuman laughter at night. " It's as if the Devil himself were walking the streets" said the innkeeper.

       What was the Knight going to do? Shrewsbury didn't sound much like a place suitable for the safekeeping of  a holy relic. But if he didn't leave it at the church, what would he do with it? After much tossing and turning that night, he finally fell asleep. But he didn't have the good nights sleep he was hoping for.

       In the middle of the night he woke to find his room bathed in a soft silver glow. It appeared to be coming from the bag containing King Solomon's head. The Knight cautiously climbed out of bed and crept over to the bag. He pulled out the head and the eyes snapped open and focused on the knight.

     The knight almost dropped the head! His eyes widened and he gulped a deep breath. Then the mouth of the head opened and began to speak.

       "This is where I am destined to be. What better place could I be than here to protect the town from the Devil? For I believe the Devil himself is loose in Shrewsbury, but he is not difficult to beat. He's as vain as a peacock, as greedy as an alchemist and stupid enough to believe that he's clever. You must challenge him to a competition tomorrow...............a riddle competition!

      "B..b..but I'm no good at riddles" stuttered the knight.

      "Ah, but I am" said the head.

      And so they made their plans. The knight spent the next day wandering the streets of Shrewsbury, dreading the coming of night. Eventually the sun began to sink in the west. The knight plucked up his courage and found a dark, deserted alleyway. He took a deep breath and addressed the darkness.

      "Lord Lucifer, I challenge you to a battle of wits!"

      "Oh really? said a voice. The knight turned to find himself face to face with a tall elegant man twirling the end of his moustache between thumb and forefinger and looking him over with coal-black soul-less eyes.

     "Er..yes. I challenge you to a riddle dual. If I win, you will have to leave Shrewsbury forever, but if you win, you can have m..m..my soul."

      The Devil's eyes gleamed at the mention of the knight's soul. The Devil never could resist a gamble.

     "Very well, I will go first", said the Devil and his eyes glittered.


"What man loves more than life,
Fears more than death or mortal strife.
The poor possess, the rich require.
A contented man desires
The miser spends, the spendthrift saves
And all men carry to their graves."


      The knight fell to the ground, his head in his hands and the Devil smiled. But the knight pulled the bag containing King Solomon's head close to him and whispered into it.

      "Tell me the answer."

      "Don't you know it?"

      "No, tell me the answer."

      "But it's easy."

      "TELL ME THE ANSWER!"

      The head relented. The knight stood up, faced the Devil and said,

      "The answer is nothing."

    "Very well", said the Devil, "it looks as though we have a competition on our hands!"

      It was the knight's turn to ask a riddle:


"He'll speak to you from beyond the grave
Innocent souls of Shrewsbury to save
Saintly and wise, but not canonised
He will guard the river gate
Drawing the Devil into stalemate"


     The Devil thought about it. He thought a bit longer. His complexion slowly grew even redder than usual. Steam began to escape in wisps from his ears and his eyes began to bulge until he at last turned to the knight.

       "There Is No Such Person!"

    "Oh, but there is", smiled the knight as he brought King Solomon's head out of the bag.

      Solomon's eyes snapped open and bored into those of the Devil's.

    The Devil began to howl as a wind sprang into life, swirling around the Devil, matching his howls and bearing him up, up into the air until at last his howls disappeared into the distance. The knight and King Solomon watched as the Devil was borne over the river, into Wales and at last faded out of view between the Welsh mountains - and that's where some say that he remained. The knight dug down into the ground near the river, facing towards the Welsh Bridge. He gently lifted the head into the hole, facing towards the river and Wales and packed the soil over the top.

Since that time the passage overhead has been called the King's Head Passage and the Inn followed suit. The road that led into town from the Welsh bridge was named Mardol, which means the Devil's Limit, for as long as Solomon's head rests in Shrewsbury, keeping his watch and guarding the gate, the Devil will never again be able to cross the bridge or enter into Shrewsbury.

      Now that's what you call a story. Again my thanks to Dave Brown and to Mythstories Museum who enlarged on what Dave told me. Their Shut Stories web page is well worth a look (a shut being an alley or passage in the town).

      Well, sadly Dave and his wife had to leave as they had other commitments and, also sadly, just as Clint got back having settled his wife and children in the hotel. So Clint, Pete Brown and myself decided to take a short tour of the town of Shrewsbury, no doubt we would try other establishments on the way. Ho Hum!!

     Sorry if it seems like I'm hogging the blog, but unfortunately Clint missed most of this. However he will be putting in his sixpenn'orth.


  After booking in, I went back to me Dad, who I found in full swing with a bunch of folk. One bloke was the member of the local civic society, accompanied by his partner. Also, Pete Brown, a Facebook friend who had been true to his word and showed up to join us for a beer. My deodorant must've been off that day, 'cos as I walked in, the civic society people left -_-.

    Turns out, Shrewsbury is Pete's old stomping ground, and he took us for our own personal (and free) tour of Shrewsbury. And we got to see the sights, hear some tales, and drink at some of Shrewsbury's finest. More on the sights later on....Cheers!!


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Ye Olde White Horse, Spalding. Summary

Well, It's been a while since our last post and I'll explain why later. But first, our final thoughts on Ye Olde White Horse.

 It was fantastic!! What a refreshing change to find a pub, and a busy pub at that, which isn't full of one-armed bandits, quiz machines, televisions and a jukebox, and no piped music. There are no gimmicks,.... just people,.... talking,.... without shouting,.... over crappy music.... or the telly,.... It's brilliant! Why aren't there more pubs like this? Proper traditional pubs? It's the first Sam Smiths house I've been in but it certainly won't be the last (I've found out that there's one about 6 or 7 miles away, I'm gonna try it out and see how it compares).

On top of that the people were great too. Everyone we met was nice and seemed genuinely interested in what we were doing. I wish it was my local. I wouldn't have to be trying to build my own in the garden.

Couldn't agree more, brilliant pub, brilliant atmosphere, and if it was our local, I'd defo want to go pub more often. Problem is, if I'm brutally honest, 3 of my locals are good drinking pubs (one has the now obligatory dining room, but it is separate from the bar) and I don't go that often. Thing is, the minute we entered the pub, it felt welcoming. It was a good place to be. a real highlight in our ongoing adventure. This, of course, is testament to the staff and patrons of Ye Olde White Horse. 

Here's hoping our next pub is just as good....


So, our thanks to Sam, Martin, Terri, Squeak and all the people we met. We had a great time and, with the visit to Stamford on the way there, it was one of the best trips we've made so far.

Now, I've recently found out that I have to go into hospital for a hip replacement (been struggling a bit and this little project has kinda took a back seat). Not sure when. I'm waiting for a date. We hope to pull another trip in before the surgery but then I'll be laid up for a couple of months so please bear with us. We did get one of the locals at Spalding, Ray, to pick our next pub to visit but whether we will get to that one next, we're not sure (because of it's location, we plan on camping, so we are at the mercy of the good old British summer). If we have to, we can go to one really local to us (about 30 miles) but we were saving that one for when we are skint!! As soon as we decide, we'll let you know.

Anyway, more from us soon, Cheers

Postscript


I was on the verge, almost, of publishing this episode of our blog when I received an e-mail from a reader, Dale Ingram. Dale is an architectural historian who specialises in pubs and she discovered a book, entitled;


NOTICES

OF

REMARKABLE EVENTS

AND

CURIOUS FACTS,

WITH

VARIOUS AND INTERESTING SCRAPS,

CONNECTED WITH

THE HISTORY

AND

ANTIQUITIES OF SPALDING,

IN THE COUNTY OF LINCOLN,

 AND THE PLACES ADJACENT

                                                          

COLLECTED AND TREASURED IN MEMORY

BY

"OLD ROBIN HARMSTONE"

Now, there's a mouthful. I wouldn't have thought this got checked out of the library very often, nobody could remember the bloody title!

Anyway, today  you can read this book (for free) on Googlebooks and on page 33 you will find the following passage:-

In the Abbey-yard formerly stood a large brewery, occupied by Mr. George Burrell, on ground where a large granary is erected, and where the Hearse and Mourning Coach stands; near to it stood a public house, called the Elephant and Castle, kept by Mr. Bennett; but both have been pulled down long since.

I know there still is a place called Abbey Yard but I'd be very surprised if it's the same place. This book was published in 1846 and if the Elephant and Castle was "pulled down long since" that would mean possibly late 1700s or early 1800s, which would tie in nicely with the transportation to the colonies of the unfortunate woman in the story. And, can anyone tell me what the "Hearse and Mourning Coach" was? Was it another (oddly named) pub? If not, what could it have been?


Hi, still me. I thought I'd better expand on our "excuses" for not posting for ages. 
Well, I've had my operation. Got a nice new shiny hip (still bloody painful yet). 
My date came through quicker than I expected so we didn't have time to arrange anything before my op. We then planned to go somewhere about a month ago but, as I couldn't drive for 6 weeks, we were depending on someone else to drive (as we were taking two cars to accommodate all the family) but they had to pull out at the last moment. So we had to cancel that. On top of that my son was made redundant from his job, so he faced some uncertainty, but he's sorted out now with an even better position, so as soon as we can make arrangements we will get moving again. 

Hope I'm not boring you but I didn't want you to think we were losing interest.

So, hopefully we'll have some news soon, Cheers!!