Monday, 17 December 2012

The Three Swans, Market Harborough., part 1

15th December 2012

Well, that's me outside The Three Swans in Market Harborough last Monday night. We made it at last! However, lack of preparation on our part meant that we had no-one turn up to meet us again, but we'll go into that later. But we still had a good night (even though my son couldn't have a drink as he was driving. More on that later too). Now back to the pub.

The Three Swans was one of five coaching inns in Market Harborough (the other four being The Hind Hotel, The Peacock, The Angel and The Talbot) and was first mentioned in a will in 1517. Originally known as The Swanne, it changed it's name in 1790 to The Three Swans, presumably because the original sign, with one Swan (described as "the finest in all England"), had two more added in 1780.
The story goes that, at some point in the 18th century, a gentlemen in red hunting dress climbed out of a window upstairs during a wild party and sat on one of the swans on the sign which promptly snapped and fell to the ground taking the poor unfortunate hunter with it where the beak, "reportedly" , pierced his heart and he died!

So, yeah, No drinking. On the mother of all pub crawls, I wasn't drinking... It was my dads birthday, and mum was due in hospital on the Wednesday for her second hip replacement. Things have been pretty hectic just lately. I've been working all hours for a promotion, and dad has been taking care of mum, so YOIS pub crawl had been pushed to the back of our minds/lives, so as a likkle birthday treat for dad, I offered to drive just so we could get in another pub before mums op, and it was his birthday, and I had to be up at sparrow fart the next day as I was on earlies, so driving did seem the obvious choice. I really wanted to visit the next pub, so if that meant being on the wagon, so be it, but, with Gambrinus, the patron saint of beer, as my witness, I vow, from this moment on, never to be sober on this pub crawl again. I have let you down, and I have let myself down, and for that, I am truly sorry....


ANYWAY!!! Moving on... we were on a limited time-scale  as we didn't get there til 8, so I got straight on with some photos and sightseeing, and the place is HUGE! we parked at the back of the pub, and had to walk past a restaurant, hotel, dining area, and down a drive way to get to the front door. It's a very well kept, attractive place. We arrived at night, and all the Christmas decs lit up the courtyard, all very picturesque. So far, so good...

Back to the history. Nah, screw that for a bit. As Clint said, the place looks pretty good, even if it was dark. To draw a comparison with the Bears Head, Brereton, these were both coaching inns (admittedly, one in the middle of nowhere and one in a busy town centre) which had now had hotels built on to them, but, where the owners had made a complete pigs ear of the Bears Head, this pub has been done skilfully and tastefully. 

The Restaurant, patio and general appearance of the building are very pleasing to the eye and fit in with the surrounding buildings very well. The upstairs has been modelled in keeping with the rest of the place, even showing a cut-out in the wall of the original wattle and daub plaster at the top of the stairs. (we both had a good look, and we had a good chat about it, however, we both neglected to get a picture) (what a pair of numpties! We've gone there to record stuff, seen something interesting, chatted about it and then NOT took a picture!)

Any road up! (local South Derbyshire saying). We went in, ordered a beer (a Coffee) and had a look round. What I liked about the place was that it was like a proper pub, not too many customers (it was Monday night) but it was warm, friendly and welcoming.There were about 5 or 6 people in, one being a chap stood at the bar on his own. After a few minutes I took the bull by the horns and introduced myself. Turned out to be a good move...........

 We got settled in for the night, propping up the bar, with a coffee, (a beer) and started to introduce ourselves to the locals. We had some good and bad luck, as the local history expert had stood us up, (which may be a recurring theme) but we were stood next to a local, lived there all his life, and knew a little bit of the life and times of the Three Swans. What did surprise me, was the knowledge of the two young bar staff, both twenty some-things, and both of them had picked up some tales from somewhere, and both proved to be interesting and knowledgeable. They told us of the ghost, Mr Jonathan Fothergill.

Spooky!!! Well, we've been doing this for four hours now, believe it or not, and we've consumed too much Stella to carry on tonight (it's four minutes past midnight) so we'll leave it at that and carry on in a day or two with more details of Mr Fothergill, more history and a couple of laughs. In the meantime we'll have yet another Stella. Cheers!!!!!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

About time too........

Tuesday 4th December

Hello everyone. Sorry you've not heard from us for a while but we've had a few problems, some with family health and some with places we wanted to go but couldn't yet (although we will get there). Still, I won't bore you with these minor details. Suffice to say that we have finally decided on our second visit and we are going to...........................The Three Swans at Market Harborough, Leicestershire. 

We are going next Monday, 10th December, (my birthday as it happens) and expect to be there around 8:00 pm. Anyone who lives in that area and reads this is most welcome to come along and have a chat, a couple of beers and, hopefully, a few laughs. 

After the visit we will post our thoughts pretty quickly as I'm going to be spending some time at home for the next few weeks.

It's nice to see we've had over 1000 views of our blog now but a little disappointing that we've only had THREE comments (all good) so we'd like to see a few more, even if you think we're a pair of numpties.

Anyway, if you can make it on Monday, come along. If you can't, unlucky. Maybe we'll be in your neck of the woods next time. Cheers!

Monday, 29 October 2012



Monday 29th October

Hi everyone, I thought I’d better let you know what’s happening and why there’s been no info from us for a couple of weeks.

We decided on a pub for our next visit and contacted them with a view to going on the 28th October but the pub was in a bit of a transition. The manager had left and the place was being run by agency staff with a new manager starting on 27th October, the day before our planned visit. In view of this we decided to postpone this pub for a while to let the new  guvnor settle in etc..

So we picked another pub to visit. I called but could not speak to the manager, so left a message. I also e-mailed but, up to now, have received no reply. Tonight I spoke to the secretary of the local Historical society and now we seem to be getting somewhere. Nothing has been firmly decided as to when we go, as yet, but as soon as we have plans in place you can be sure we will let you all know.

Thanks for your patience and speak to you soon,


Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Wednesday 17th October

Hello again. Just a quick word. It has been brought to our attention that, in order to post a comment on our blog, people have to register with the Blogger website and I can understand how many folk can't be arsed with that (which may explain why we are not getting many comments) (or folks just think we're crap) so we are thinking of maybe also posting on Facebook where readers can comment as often as they like.

The only trouble with this is that Facebook doesn't offer us the same facilities. We won't get a count of how many people are viewing the blog nor any idea where they are from. On Blogger we can see how many people are looking and from which countries. For instance, as I write there are a couple of people in the UK and one in Argentina reading our last post and we've had our first views from Spain and Italy this week. I'd hate to lose this aspect of it.

So while we discuss how we are going to proceed I've set up an e-mail address that you can write your comments on If  I get a few mails I'll try to answer them, time permitting. Anyway, thanks for listening,



Friday, 12 October 2012

The Bears Head Brereton, Summary...

Friday 12th October

Well it's been a few days (sorry about the delay but it's sometimes hard for us to get together due to work commitments) and no sign of the ghost so we'll have to just wrap up this episode of our mission.

While in Brereton we went a walk around the village to get a feel of the place. We'd been told about the totem pole in the village and headed in that direction but, we'd only gone about 50 metres (bloody metres..... I wanted to put YARDS but, being an old fart, my son reckons nobody will know what I'm talking about) when we came to an old gatehouse that had been converted into a pretty cool looking house. There was a sign saying CHURCH pointing through the gateway so I told Clint I was just going to have a quick look up the lane. So, off I went, thinking Clint was following....

But I wasn't! I could see the park was 50 feet away, and through e-mail correspondence I had heard that there was a totem pole (?) carved with all the local highlights, so I took a walk over and got some good pictures. (I would like to add, that as a tourist, I felt obliged to take pictures for this blog, but I got loads of funny looks from the locals) (I don't think that was anything to do with taking pictures, you get funny looks everywhere........ha ha!!). Check out the pics of the totem pole, and if you can see it, the bears head is on there.

I then took the path to the church, bumped into a local who told me that the old Brereton hall, which was up until recently a school, has just had a wealthy banker move in who spent a fortune on the hall and it is now a magnificent stately home, unfortunately, it's closed to the public, so no pics from us, so I have stolen one from another site.

Above: Stolen Brereton Hall Pic

Left: Guess what? Totem Pole!

Below: Totem Close up showing The Bears Head

 I soon realised Clint wasn't following but carried on regardless. I mean, The Church couldn't be far, could it? (I should point out that I live quite a sedentary life, I sit down all day at work and my idea of exercise is fetching a beer from the fridge). After about 10 minutes, (it seemed like half an hour) I came to a fork in the road with a sign saying CHURCH pointing right. I thought "how much bloody further?" But it wasn't far. I came upon a lovely church, very quiet, very picturesque and nowhere near any roads. I walked round the churchyard looking at the gravestones and some were dated early 16th century and some were that old they had weathered to just plain stones. I walked all the way around the church and as I came back to the front I met Clint who had eventually caught me up......

Yeah... So he was milling about the church, I thought, "sod this", tried the door, it opened, stuck my head in, then went all trigger happy...


Then a polite little "hello?" replied, it was a very nice lady named Alison who helped out in the church, I explained what we were doing in Brereton and she very enthusiastically gave us a tour of the church, which dated back to 1297!

So my son barged into the church and accosted the lovely Alison. Actually she was very helpful and told us all about the history of the church and the village, and a bit about the Breretons. She showed us around the church and we had a chat, at one point bemoaning the fact that the village no longer had a Post Office or shop, and that all they had now was the pub, the Church and a school. I pointed out that that was all a community needed, somewhere to sin, somewhere to repent and somewhere to learn the difference!


I want to mention a couple of things, very briefly, I am saddened how the the Bears Head is now just "generic eatery of Brereton", but also, I am very excited that we have actually done it! Back when we had this idea, drunk, in the back of my dads garden, we were wondering about the state of pubs today. My dad thinks that the one of the reasons that's hastened the  decline of the British pub is because of the smoking ban, Me, I have a different view...

While we were walking back from the church to the pub, we bumped into a couple of people, walking the dog, some girls on horses, etc, and as they passed, they kept themselves to themselves, one elderly couple passed us walking their dog, and they remained silent like all others we passed. I politely and cheerfully said "Hello!", and they, almost surprisingly, replied politely and we had a nice chat about the local area. What struck me, and what my original argument was about the decline of the British pub, is that people don't socialise any more.  With the advent of Facebook and Twitter, and the world in our pockets on apples, blackberries, or any other fruit, we don't need the meeting place of the pub any more. We are completely connected, 24 hours a day, so catching up with yer mates on Friday after work is not how its done any more. a persons social calender can be organised on-line for the foreseeable future without ever actually talking to anyone. Maybe the very thing that I am connecting with you now is the very reason I'm not enjoying a pint of mild with you at the bar....

So that's the first of forty. I have mixed feelings about it really. It's nice to get under way but it was disappointing in some respects. And then again I really enjoyed the experience. We met some new people, most of whom were nice (I have one niggle about one of the people we met but I'll keep that to myself, we're not doing this to slag people off), learned some interesting stuff and had too much to drink, which all adds up to a good night out.

The biggest disappointment was The Bears Head itself, not because the place was rubbish, but because it's not the place I wanted it to be. I, foolishly as it turned out, expected it be full of interesting old guys with stories to tell, but it seems the pub has moved more with the times than I have! I've not been disheartened by this and I shall be full of the same expectations on our next visit which we shall announce within the next few days. In the meantime keep your glasses filled and give a toast to our ancestors who invested the time and energy to develop the nectar that we all enjoy today (and wouldn't the world be a poorer place without it)!!!!!!!!!! 


Please leave your thoughts as either comments, friend requests, or whichever way you can....

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Bears Head Brereton part 2

Thursday 4th September

So we had had a pretty poor show at the Bears Head, and started to think forward to the next visit. I was browsing the web on my laptop, in the pub (how times have changed eh? When I started visiting my local, you were given earache for watching the telly!), I was glued to the screen, and hadn’t noticed my dad had gone outside for a fag. 

When I finally tore myself away from the screen, I glanced around, and happened to look toward the adjacent table. I gave a polite nod, and in turn received a polite reply in the form of a chat. As all at the table were elderly (ish), I thought they might find the old cards interesting and, as it turned out, the elderly couple were local to the area for 60 years! We had struck local-knowledge-and-pub-going-history gold!

I’d gone outside for a smoke and when I came back Clint was pestering some nice people at the next. I went to rescue them and drag my son away but we had a bit of a chat and that’s how me met Dick Heyhoe, his wife Wendy, his nephew Jonathan and Jonathans wife, Florence. Dick and Wendy have lived in the village for 60 years or so and his nephew and niece-in-law live in Ireland but were over for a visit.  They told us the previous landlord had been a man called Roberto Tarquini, of Italian descent, (who married Margaret, one of two daughters of Arthur Whiteley, the landlord before that), and who had been an excellent host with many a convivial evening being had there, including one New Years Eve when Mr Tarquini (who, sadly, had had a leg amputated) danced a little too vigorously with the end result being he went one way and his false leg went the other which caused much hilarity but all taken in good spirit!

I’d like to butt in here, Wendy told us she remembered when present owners first took over and took down the old Muzzled Bear pub sign hanging outside and replaced it with a picture of  a more “friendly bear”, Yogi Bear! The locals campaigned against the sign, and after 6 months, they took the friendly sign down, and just put up the words, “The Bears Head.” Very politically correct…

Which brings me on to a good tale. We spoke about how the pub came to be called The Bears Head as it had originally been The Boars Head.

We had heard a story which goes as follows:-

An un-named Brereton had been eating his evening meal in Brereton Hall when he was interrupted by one of his servants. The Master was so enraged by this that he ran after the servant who fled upstairs. The fact that the servant ran from him enraged the Master even more, so much so that, when he eventually caught the poor fellow, he beat him to death!!

The rest of the household staff and the villagers were so incensed by this it appeared to the Master of the hall he was in danger of being strung up! So the fearful man fled to London to confess to the King and ask his pardon. The King, however, was not in a forgiving mood and ordered the Master to be confined to the Tower for three days where he was to design and manufacture a muzzle for a bear.

After the said three days the man was brought before the King with his muzzle and was then thrown into a pit with a bear on the understanding that if he could attach the muzzle to the bear before he was killed the King would let him go which, fortunately for the Brereton, he managed to do and was released. Since that time the pub became the Bears Head and a muzzled bear features on the Brereton coat of arms.

We asked the Heyhoes if this was the correct story and they said it was pretty much what they had heard too.


There are other theories. One is that a member of the Brereton family was too outspoken and the King ordered him muzzled, another is that Henry VIII ordered the bear muzzled after a William Brereton, Kt., Chamberlain of Chester and Groom of the Chamber to the King, was executed on 17th May 1536 (along with 4 other men including George Boleyn, Annes’ brother) for “adulterous association” with Anne Boleyn. Two days later Anne herself was executed.

The third is that it was just a play on words. Any name that remotely looked or sounded like “bear” (Barnard, Baring, Barnes, Beardsley e.g.) became associated with the bear and Brereton was close enough to Bear for the association to be formed. According to The Art of Heraldry by A. C. Fox-Davies, heraldic bears were normally muzzled. As there are no pictures or descriptions of the Brereton bear without a muzzle it may have always had one, but I prefer to believe the murder story!

I went outside for yet another fag and met a guy called Tom.

Dad came back from a fag break and said he’d been talking to a guy outside called Tom. Dad had asked him if he knew any tales about the place and he’d mentioned a ghost. I immediately asked Dick and Wendy if they had heard about it and Wendy said yes. It was the ghost of a little girl who had appeared in the pub numerous times in the past but the local vicar, Charlie Shepherd had carried out an exorcism in c. 1961 and the phantom had not been seen since.

Tom also said that he had a photograph allegedly depicting the ghost in the pub and he would mail me a copy. Unfortunately this has not arrived but if it does in the future I will share it with you.

So hopefully, we’ll be able to bust this ghost, and we’ll have some more on the village of Brereton, some of the sights, and wrap up our visit, all next time….

By the way, we're really chuffed that so many people have looked at this, and from all over the world (Western Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia, Canada and the USA) but it would be even better if we had a few comments. Tell us what you think, good or bad, where you're from etc., and share with your friends. Cheers!!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Bears Head Brereton Part I

Wednesday 26th September

Hi Everyone, Steve here…

Well, we’ve started. After all the expectation we finally made our first visit to one of the pubs on our list. It turned out to be a strange day really.

We arrived at the pub in Brereton (apparently it’s pronounced Bree-aton) around 3.30 and went straight into the bar and ordered a pint, Clint had spoken to the “assistant manager” about our visit a couple of weeks before, and asked if she could speak to some locals, gather a bit of interest, ready for our arrival. Turns out, the “assistant manager” hadn’t said a word, to the locals, or the bar manager. No one knew we were coming…

This was a bit of a disappointment to say the least. The “Bar Manager” was obviously very busy but we did our best to extract any info out of him, with little success. He’d only been there for about a year and came from Stockport so wasn’t local and couldn’t really tell us much. He was polite and pleasant but not too interested.

The pub itself is a very picturesque Olde Worlde building, set in beautiful country surroundings. It is part of a chain of pubs called Vintage Inns, which run some 200 old pubs around the country. Vintage inns must have picked this place because of its excellent character and beautiful Tudor exterior, which then begs the question why some bright spark has added a barracks, sorry, hotel, on the side of it. Personally, I think the hotel plugged on looks shocking, ruining a brilliant old building. The pub has a build date and lords initials over the door; 1615, WMB for William Brereton. So seeing the extension does take the shine away. Inside, it’s a lovely, comfortable eatery; plenty of tables, all expertly laid out so one table doesn’t interfere with another. Very little bar space due to mock (?) timbers separating bar from seating, just enough room to order your food, then bugger off back to your seat. All things considered, it’s a nice place to be.

Yeah, it’s a nice place, The only problem is, apart from buggering off back to your seat, I got the impression that, once you’d finished your meal (which was quite good),  the staff weren’t bothered if you buggered off altogether!!!!

So, there are a couple of things I want to mention before we go on, I’ve just read this back, and it does seem pretty negative. Thing is, I enjoyed starting our adventure, and overall, had a good night, it’s just me personally. I wanted to see a line of old boys, lined up at the bar, each with a tale to tell, and then listen to his mates call him a bare faced liar, watch the beer flow, tell my own tales, make new friends, and toasts to good health. The issue I have with our first visit, while enjoyable, was that it was all very clinical, very professional, no warmth, no soul… maybe a by-product of big business moving in, removing the bar stools, and drafting in a hotel manager to run a pub. Either way, this “Olde Inn” could’ve been a new city centre pub anywhere in the country, faceless, cold… But I enjoyed it!

Yet, we understand why it has to be like that. Brereton village consists of a couple of streets and a few rural houses. If the pub had to depend on the locals to keep the place open as a proper drinking den, it would have closed years ago. There are just not enough people in the area. Shame…

Anyway, after a less than encouraging start we remained positive as we were due to meet Alistair, a member of the Parish Council, at the pub between 6 and 7pm. So we ate around 5 on our isolated table, were finished for 6 and sat waiting full of expectation!!

Then another disappointment. At around 7.30 we had a mail from him explaining that he wouldn’t be able to join us as his daughter had given birth that afternoon and he was at the hospital. (Our congratulations and best wishes to him, his daughter and new grandchild)

So there we sat. Nobody drinking at the bar. No interest from the manager. Now no local historian (although he did have a good excuse). We sort of resigned ourselves to just drinking ourselves into a stupor.

I had my laptop with me, so we proceeded to map out the rest of our adventure, writing off the evening as a bit of an anti-climax. During the evening I had had a couple of polite interactions with the people on the adjacent table, So, feeling brave, I just stood up, grabbed my dad’s collection of cards, walked over to their table, and introduced myself. Turns out, this was the best move of the night, as one of the couples had lived in Brereton for 60 years, and have been regulars to the Bears Head in the past.

 More on that in the next blog…

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Sunday 16th September.

I thought I'd let you all know a bit more about me and why we're doing this.

Firstly I should tell you that the photo fronting the blog was taken at least 10 years ago (I'm even better looking now). I'm 57, short, fat, four-eyed and bald with my own dentures (what a catch, eh, girls?). I've been married for 39 years and surprised my better half while on holiday in Cornwall this year by arranging for us to renew our wedding vows without her finding out until the vicar asked us to step forward (you wouldn't believe how many brownie points that earned me).

I work at a concrete products factory at a quarry driving a glorified fork truck (with a clamp but no forks). I've got two sons and a daughter and four grandchildren which I adore.

Anyway, about 30 years ago I had to wait almost an hour for a bus and it was persistently raining, so I took shelter in the library as it was next to the bus station. I was browsing the restricted section (this means the books are rare or valuable or both and you can't take them out, not full of porn) and I came across an old book entitled A History of Ashby de la Zouch (the town where I was born) by Sir Walter Scott (this fits in as Sir Walter Scott wrote Ivanhoe which was set in and around Ashby). 

One of the chapters was The Pubs and Inns of the Town and there was loads of interesting stuff in it like Dick Turpin using the pubs (although, it would seem, nearly every town claims this), the landlord who kept a bear in a pit in his bar and another who bought a lion from a travelling circus and kept it in his cellar, then let it out at closing time to get rid of the hangers-on.  But the most interesting one was about Timothy Dunn.

As I've said, this was about 30 years ago so I'm unclear on the dates but I remember the details of the tale very well.

I think it was about the mid 1800s or maybe a little earlier, but it was before there was a proper police force. To keep the peace there were about half a dozen members of the Inniskillen Fusiliers based in the town, one of which was Timothy Dunn. One night he had an "assignation with a lady of the town" behind The White Horse (a pub long since gone) where they had a disagreement and the soldier killed the woman in question. Unfortunately for Mr Dunn the crime was witnessed from an upstairs window at the back of the pub and he was duly arrested.

He was sent for trial at Leicester Assizes and in due course was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. At this time in history it was common practice for prisoners to be taken back to the scene of their crime after their execution and their bodies hung on a gibbet, for all to see, as a deterrent to future wrongdoers. But the authorities thought this a barbaric practice and were trying to stamp it out. So the magistrate at the trial decreed that the body may be taken back to Ashby and put on display but not hung on a gibbet!

So the poor man was hanged and then bought back to the scene of his crime, but then came a bizarre turn of events. 

As the corpse could not be hung up it was decided (by the local dignitaries I believe) to disembowel him and then wedge open his  torso with pieces of wood! He was then placed on the bar of The White Horse and left there for three days!!! This, of course, did not sit well with his fellow Fusiliers and they announced that, if he was not given a proper burial, they would burn the pub to the ground. And so, the local authorities agreed that they would dispose of the body properly.

But that's not the end of this sorry story.

Instead of burying the body, it was taken to a local tannery on Smisby Road, and boiled "until the flesh fell off the bones". The skeleton was then reassembled and taken to the local Cottage Hospital where it was used as a teaching aid for student nurses.

And so ends the sad tale of Timothy Dunn.

I once told this story to a friend of mine who had worked as a nurse at Ashby Hospital and she said that she had seen this skeleton and it had a nameplate on the base with just the name Timothy Dunn, but I haven't been able to confirm this.

So this is where I got my interest in the history behind pubs (I'd always been interested in their products, sometimes too interested) and I also started collecting  a few bits and pieces associated with the brewing industry, named glasses, bar towels, ashtrays, mirrors, etc., (by the way, I've never stolen a glass or anything else, I've always asked and only been refused once, for a San Miguel bar towel in Majorca. The bar owner said he had just enough to go round his bar and you couldn't get them any longer). I've also started collecting bottles of beer, mainly from micro breweries, but this can get expensive (The Driftwood Spars in St Agnes, Cornwall, has its own brewery and produces around 20 different bottled beers and at about £2.50 a bottle it gets dear if you buy them all at the same time).

Then. about 6 years ago my wife became ill and I stopped going to the pub, having been quite a regular beforehand. She's on the mend now but I never did get back into the habit of going for a pint. I much prefer sitting in my garden with a few friends and family (or even on my own occasionally) and sinking a few cold ones (not having to worry about closing time and the smoking ban) which is fine during the summer but not so comfortable in November (or quite a few other months come to think of it) despite my fantastic chimenea!

So, one night, sitting looking around my garden my eyes settled on my old shed. It had seen better days and was full of junk but I suddenly had a brainwave!

I would turn my shed into a pub!!!!

It's a 10' by 8' shed with a pitched roof and with a little work its going to be a 12' by 10' pub with no last orders. This is an ongoing project and hopefully will be finished before the end of the pub crawl we're about to embark on (By the way, if anyone knows where I can get a bar top from, about 8 to 10 feet long, I'd be very grateful).

This is why my son suggested we could scrounge a memento from every pub we visit.

Well, I think that's enough from me for now. Unless my son posts anything, our next piece will be after our visit to The Bears Head next Saturday.


Saturday, 15 September 2012

Getting Ready

Saturday 15th September

Hi, Steve here... 

Well, we're sorted for the first visit at last. We selected the pub that we're going to (number 1, gotta start somewhere...) and I rang them, got an e-mail address and mailed them. Mail failed. Tried again. Failed again. 

In the end Clint rang them.

Didn't you Clint?

So I rang this pub and, would you credit it, the Manager is away on holiday until next Friday (21st Sept) but I spoke to the assistant manager and she was very helpful. I explained what we wanted to do (talk to regulars, take photos etc.) and she said there should be plenty of opportunity as she had a few regulars in mind and it shouldn't be a problem. I've contacted both the local papers letters page and a local history group so lots of people should know we're coming. As I'm typing this I've just received a mail from Alastair, the Chairman of the  local history group saying they are looking forward to meeting us and supplying us with some interesting stories. How spooky is that??? It's gotta be a sign that we're into something bigger than us!!!!

Once we decided on the pub I thought I'd do a bit of research on t'interweb and some of the tales make excellent reading and brilliant blog material. Can't wait to tell you about it.

Right! Time to reveal all....

On Saturday 22nd September we are going to visit The Bears Head at Brereton near Sandbach, Cheshire.

We are hoping to arrive in Brereton around 4.00pm to explore the village a bit and look forward to meeting lots of people at the pub later and having a chat (and a drink) (or two) (or whatever). 

By the sounds of it we will probably have too much information to put in one blog so bear with us and we will get stuff published as soon as poss.

So, see you there.....

P. S. How the bigger print peeps?

Monday, 3 September 2012


So I said to this bloke....

As in the great tradition of all jokes, one bloke said to another, and before you know it, a throwaway remark became an idea, an idea became a plan, and then we had another beer and forgot the plan........

As all great family traditions start, it was over a couple of cold beers (well, at least with our family, that's how traditions start) on a warm evening, and even more beer flowed, and the conversation was making less sense... I'm Clint, a married father of two, and I was spending the evening with my young wife and kids at my parents house, catching up after a hard week. As the night went on, my kids went to bed, and me and me old man were chillaxing by his epic chiminea, My dad told me of his latest acquisition to his new hobby.

My dad has a semi-keen interest in old cigarette cards and silks, not the embassy "collect 200 for a heated blanket" kind, but the pre-war panini sticker type collections, where one would collect a set of  butterflies! or cricketers, or battalion flags, or.... ye olde inns...

This latest collection was a set of W.D & H.O Wills 40 old inns, documenting some of the most historic, interesting and famous inns and public house of the time. The cards were issued in 1939, and he managed to pick them up from a generic online auction site for the princely sum of £13.49, (including UK postage!) and he was well chuffed with them... (especially since he saw the exact same set for sale for £55!) (PLUS POSTAGE!!!)

So, the daft sod made a remark that would change our weekend plans, and bank balances, for the foreseeable future...

take it away dad....

My names Steve and I'm Clint's Dad. I'm a married father of three and Grandad to four wonderful kids. Last Saturday night I let my son, Clint and his family come round mine to sponge off me (He bought ONE crate of beer, I got three). We had a beer and then another,and another ad infinitum, then had a Chinese delivered (meal, not person) then more beer. Eventually the Grandkids and ladies went to bed and left me and my drunken son chatting in front of my epic chimenea! Eventually we got around to talking about my new hobby (Which normally bores Clint to tears) and discussing my new purchase, the set of Old Inns. 

Surprisingly, Clint seemed genuinely interested in them and we had quite a long chat about them.

Then I said " You know what, wouldn't it be great to go and visit all these old pubs and have a pint in each one"

From little acorns.......

Over to you Clint....

Being quite rash, and foolhardy (A knob) (thanks dad) I immediately exclaimed "What a fantastic idea!" and we had a lengthy discussion about the adventure we might have...

Upon sobering up the next day, I thought, genuinely, this might be a good idea. I mean, why not? Me and dad are great drinking buddies, (I pay a lot), He likes old... things, I like drinking, so we had a sober chat, and we thought it would be a good thing to do.

But then that acorn was still growing....

I don't know why I thought of it, but for some reason, I logged onto Facebook, and posted a status asking whether blogging our adventure might interest folk, then I posted it on the CAMRA page (CAMpaign for Real Ale), which prompted an invite to a history page, and posted it again, and in less than 12 hours I had a brilliant response from complete strangers from around the world saying they would read our blog....

So I'd better start writing the bugger.... and here we are, sat in the same space we were 2 nights ago, wondering about, number 1, what have we got ourselves into, and number 2, what excuse can we use to get off work tomorrow...

Here are some more precise details, there are 40 pubs/inns in the card collection, located all over the UK, from the highlands of Scotland, to the centre of our capital, via Wales, Cornwall, Northern Ireland, Irish Republic, and there and back again. We plan to visit every pub in the collection, whether it's still a pub or not. If not, we'll visit the local offy, grab a can of Tennants Extra and squat outside where it used to be. We plan on contacting each establishment prior to our visit, where we would hope to talk to the landlord and locals, grab a photo, and possibly obtain a souvenir and some local folklore, all of which we wish to share with you via this blog. We originally discussed visiting each inn as they are numbered in the collection, but the cost of logistics is currently out of our price range, so we will start with number 1, then visit some popular areas where several pubs are located. then we will plan on ending our trip at number 40. 

So, we have yet to contact the first establishment, but as soon as we have, we'll post details on this blog, share on facebook, and set the ball rolling...

Any other thoughts or feedback is gonna help, so please, please let us know what you think, and share with your friends.

Enough from me, you got owt to add Dad?

Not much, but there is one thing. A few people have asked for the list of pubs we are going to visit. I don't really wanna reveal it all to add a bit of mystery..... (plus I'd feel like Scott of the Antarctic to go round and find someone was beating us to it). However, when we post details of when and where we're going, all and sundry are welcome to meet us there.

Anyway, you'll have to excuse us now. our beer is feeling neglected...