Saturday, 10 August 2013

Ye Olde Ostrich, Colnbrook part 2

 So, here we are at Ye Olde Ostrich in Colnbrook. The Ostrich (which maybe derived from Hospice, Hospice meaning a place of refuge or rest for travellers) was first built in 1106 and the present building in around 1500 (it is thought to be the 3rd oldest inn in the country). It is reputedly haunted and has been featured in the Most Haunted television programme. 

     The Ostrich's  biggest claim to fame (or infamy) is the story of Mr Jarman who was landlord during the 17th century. The Ostrich was one of several coaching inns in Colnbrook at the time (in 1577 there were 10 such establishments) and Mr Jarman would entice the most affluent customers with high quality food, ales and wine, then offer them the best room in the house at reasonable rates. But, unbeknownst to the poor unsuspecting client, the best room was directly over the kitchen and Jarman had installed a kind of trap door mechanism in which, once the retaining pins were removed, the floor and bed swung down and the sleeping customer slipped out of the bottom of the bed straight into a boiling vat.

Impression of Jarmans trapdoor bed

 Jarman and his wife would then sell the victims belongings after pocketing his monies and dispose of the body in the river Colne.

      But Jarman was found out after murdering a wealthy clothier, Thomas of Reading, just by not disposing of the poor fellows horse. During investigations Jarman confessed and he and his wife were tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. Whilst in prison waiting for the sentence to be carried out, Jarman allegedly confessed to a fellow prisoner that he had disposed of at least 60 travellers in this way. This may have been just prison bragging but he was certainly responsible for several deaths. It has been suggested that this was the basis for the story of Sweeney Todd.

      Interesting as this story is, it could all be a load of rubbish! Thomas Delaney, a writer of the period, notes that there was a murder at the time but at a pub called the Crane and there is nothing to link it to the Ostrich apart from both being the names of birds. Also, a government return from 1577 names a Mr Jarman as an innkeeper in Colnbrooke but at an inn on the other side of High Street.

Unfortunately, all this history doesn't rub off on its current modern day setting. I took some pictures, as I always do, and this one picture stood out to me more than any...

Did I hear someone say "American Diner"? 

And if you were wondering...

Yep! That's a Stainless Steel bar... like a canteen... Or a Diner!

I mean for Christs sake, How much history was in that bar? and some corporate twat decided to "modern" it up, WHY? If I wanted my beer on a stainless steel bar, I'd go to.... I don't know where I'd go actually. Surely this is unheard of? Am I not well-versed enough in "THE ENGLISH PUB™" that I've not come across this before? Please comment below and let me know.

They also had double glass doors, front and back, across what used to be the carriage entrance. We didn't take a picture 'cos we didn't think you could stand it!!

Needless to say that I didn't like it, and there is a couple of other things I didn't like, For example, again, all available indoor space was assigned for dining tables, and I didn't feel welcome. Outside there was a bunch of young 'uns keeping themselves to themselves, and a couple of unbelievably stereotypical toffs, who look like they where stopping for a Pimms on the way back from the Regatta, in their blazers with whatever crest emblazoned on the breast pocket, even wearing straw boaters! Inside had one family in the other room eating a meal, and that was it... No locals, No warm welcome, Nothing.... What time does The Rising Sun shut again?

I did like a few things...

They got their own Beer! Excitedly, I asked the barmaid for more info on the Ostrich Lager, Who Brewed it? Was it brewed on the premises? Errr... No. Its was a re-labelled major beer company... from Scotland... Still, tasted nice...

Too be honest, it was a bit disappointing. It was about 9 o'clock on a Friday night and there was nobody in! There were about 9 or 10 sat outside enjoying the evening sun and, as Clint said, one family having a meal inside. No locals, no old fellas to talk to with lots of stories and the landlord wasn't there nor his "guide". The assistant manager, Sarah, was nice but very young and, although she showed me round the pub didn't really seem very forthcoming. The pub itself (apart from the plastic bar) is great. All old beams and leaning all over the place.

As promised after our last pub I thought I'd try a local brew so I had a pint of Kings Gold (4.2%) from Sussex brewer J W King. It was not unpleasant but seemed a little bland with no bite. I wouldn't have another.

Actually, If you get past the Canteen/Bar, The pub has some great old features, all of which will be best shown as pics, not by my below par education trying to describe them. But I do wanna comment on these pics, My favourite of our quest so far...


And I was stretching! Still, you don't get diamonds the size of house bricks!

It was a shame the place was empty, 'cos after our little tour, and a quick read of the local history leaflet, there wasn't a great deal left to do... a lot like our first pub visit, Ye Olde Boars Head, but the difference there was that we were stuck there. Here, we had had two pints of Ostrich piss and a car sat outside... It was inevitable really, with no one to talk to, no one in the bar to ambush for a chat, all photos taken, we'd had enough, and headed back to sunny Slough. This had proved to be generic eatery number 2, and no one was hungry... 

Anyway, we'll post the rest of the pictures next time, but for now, San Miguel awaits...


Friday, 2 August 2013

Ye Olde Ostrich part 1

Happy Birthday to my son Joseph, Who was 5 on the 4th of July, and due to his obsession with Lego, the next Olde inn was decided for us...

As a birthday treat for Joseph, my wife and I planned a trip for us all to take him to Legoland in Windsor. So, to kill 2 birds an all that, we looked on our Ye Olde Innseekers map and found that we had a pub in the local area, Ye Olde Ostrich, in Colnbrook, not more than 5 miles from Legoland. As we are about 120 miles from Windsor, we booked a cheap Travelodge at neighbouring Slough, as it was a damn sight cheaper than Windsor. My Dad and I added on another day to the trip so we may visit the Ostrich, and I got permission off the Mrs to have a night in the pub while she stayed in a strange hotel...

So, Excitedly, we picked Joseph up from school and hit the road, made good time, had a pleasant evening in the hotel eating a take away Chinese, rose early, went to Legoland, Grandad and Grandma came along, and Joseph absolutely loved every second of it... it was a perfect family day...  
Joseph and Chloe Shopping for a new Darth Vader....
And then we had to go back to Slough...

I'd really been looking forward to this! Two weeks off work with a trip to see Mrs Browns Boys, a day out at Legoland with the grandchildren, a night out to see Kings of Leon and a weekend away at one of the pubs on our list. Well, the first three went well.

After a long day at Legoland we got back to the Travelodge looking forward to a rest and a quiet night. Me and my good lady were chilling in our room when my son turned up and he was a bit pissed off to say the least. Some dickheads in the room opposite his decided they were going to set off the fire extinguisher in the corridor and while trying to do so they banged the extinguisher against the door of my sons room, frightening the kids who were in bed and on the verge of going to sleep. After a strong verbal warning from the hotel manager they quietened down and eventually me and my son decided to go for a pint at a pub I'd spotted just around the corner.

This pub, the Rising Sun, didn't look very appealing as we approached it. Painted completely black (and from the look of it, a long time ago) it looked pretty foreboding.

 (I should point out here that I've tried to find a picture of The Rising Sun on-line but all the photos I've found show it with white windows and a big blue name sign across the front of the pub and it all looks very nice. This isn't quite how I remember it, but maybe my memory's playing tricks on me)(or it could be the quantity of Stella consumed).

Anyway, just as we crossed the threshold of the pub, not quite knowing what to expect.....................A ROCK BAND KICKED UP!! It was an open mic night and over the next three hours or so we were treated to some excellent blues and rock guitarists. We played a couple of games of pool and, when one of the locals put some money on the table, we ended up playing doubles, me and my son against Artur, a Polish guy and  another fella who's name escapes me but he looked like he could have been Mo Farahs' granddad  They were both nice blokes and we had an excellent time. The landlady, Teresa, even gave me a bar towel for my collection. If you find yourself in Slough and you fancy a pint, try The Rising Sun. It's a proper pub!

Legoland is on the outskirts of Windsor, and that is a beautiful place, the castle, the parks, the fountains for paddling in, the clean shopping centre strewn with all the top designer shops (not that I give a Shit about shopping, but it is a reflection of the area, generally, I think an area is better with armani shops than cash convertors...) 
But we were stopping in Slough... 

Slough is a Shithole.... please, don't visit, just believe me, If you're taking your family to Legoland, pay the extra and stay in Windsor, and drive AROUND Slough. The place has gangs of youths wandering up and down the town centre, throwing stuff at shop windows going completely unchecked, free to do whatever they like. I'll tell you how bad Slough is, look at this extract from 
"Writers have supposed the name to be derived from a 'slough', 'mire' or 'morass'. These are usually places where the soil is soaked all the time and generally muddy. Indeed a number of references are made in local  writings about a 'miry place'"

Basically, the place was named after a hole of shit....

If you know anyone who works for the Thames Valley Police, they have got a proper easy job, cos they certainly ain't doing any friggin' police work down there...

Actually, I'm being unfair... we had a crap stay in Slough, to the point where I was worried about my kids safety, But me and Dad stumbled upon, quite possibly, our perfect pub. Dad and I love rock music, and, as Dad mentioned, we ended up in The Rising Sun at their open mic night, and we sat there watching all the local musicians turn up and just, jam... We made some good friends playing pool, listened to some excellent music and didn't trip over someone eating a mixed grill. Generally, pubbing perfection....

So, Friday we went a ride into Windsor, a very nice place with parks, fountains you can play in and, of course, the Castle, where you can't even walk on the grass??? We spent a couple of hours playing in the park with the children then an hour or so in the fountains, had a nice meal in one of the cafes and a walk around the shops and up to the castle.

But soon it was time to head back to Slough and get ready for our trip to Ye Olde Ostrich in Colnbrook. So we went back to the hotel to chill out for an hour or two before the nights excitement! After some discussion the ladies decided, sadly, that they weren't bothered about going and would stop in the hotel while me and Clint went. Clint ,Sue  and the grandchildren said they were going up into town to get some food before we went out. Me and Aud weren't particularly hungry as we'd had an excellent feed in Windsor in the afternoon so we stayed in the room waiting for them to get back. Then we were reminded where we were..........

Without going into too much detail, what should've been a nice family meal at Pizza Hut, turned into a violent evening between the staff at pizza hut and some local gang, to the point where I was worried for the Mrs and Kids safety. Thames valley police are, and I choose my words carefully, Fucking useless, and to get my family home safe without having to drag them through a bunch of angry teens, I had to call my Dad to come and fetch us. Thanks a lot Thames Valley Police!

Anyway, to the task at hand! We had had a nice long day in Windsor, and a terrible evening in Slough, I was both knackered and very reluctant to leave Sue and the Kids in the hotel. Sue assured me she was fine and they were all tired and would probably be asleep soon anyway. So I went round to Dads room, and immediately I could tell he wasn't up for it either, it had been a long day, but I suspect it was more that he wanted to head back to the Rising Sun...

Clint's half right. I would have liked to go to the Rising Sun as I knew there was a rock band on again and we had had a good time there but I was still looking forward to going to The Ostrich. So eventually off we went to Colnbrook. I drove as it's only 5 minutes or so and we would leave the car there and get a taxi back, picking the car up in the morning.

I just want to add something here, as I was the passenger in said car, I left the menial task of chauffeur to Dad, and I did what every modern man does, and checked my facebook... One of the sponsored pages was British Airways, (weirdly) and there was a story about BA taking receipt of their first Airbus A380, the worlds largest passenger jet, at Heathrow that day. I jokingly mentioned to Pop that we should keep an eye out for it as Colnbrook is only a couple of miles from the airport. As we pulled into the pub car park, we got out of the car and at that moment, a Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 was passing over, and I gotta say,  someone sold his soul to the devil, 'c
os its magic that keeps that beast in the air, its HUGE! As it was taking off, it looked like it was skimming, not climbing through the air. It looked like it was struggling to make it! Its a hell of thing to watch, truly, the pinnacle of engineering...  

  Anyway, back to the pub. The Ostrich was reputedly founded in 1106 and was originally called the Hospice but the name has "morphed" into it's present form. As we pulled into the car park Clint took a picture and, I must admit, the place looked pretty good.

The place looks very olde worlde from the outside but once you got inside it looked even better but with a couple of notable exceptions.

A few days before we went I had e-mailed the landlord to remind him we were coming and I had a mail back from him in which he explained that he was sorry but he wouldn't be there and the pub "guide" also wouldn't be there due to serious illness and that he couldn't guarantee that there would be many regulars there for us to talk to but that his deputy manageress would be there and knew we were coming.

 That didn't bode well.

That's all for now. More very soon. Cheers!!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Pics and Stuff

Just thought I'd add a few thoughts and pics we might not have used. There aren't many of the Bears Head, Middleton 'cos I accidentally deleted the ones that we hadn't already used in the blog (I think?). Anyway, I'm posting them all again here and if you've seen them already.................Hey Ho!

            One major failing on our part is not reviewing the ales in the establishments we visit. There are reasons for this. Firstly, we are lager drinkers, not connoisseurs of cask ales although I do like to try them. Secondly, it wasn't high on our list of things to do. We just wanted to go to all the pubs. However, I know that for a lot of people the quality of the product outweighs the attractions of the establishment. And thirdly, we tend to drink too much anyway on these little  excursions and if we tried every ale we came across we'd forget most of what we were there for.

           Still, in future I will endeavor to try at least one "proper" beer in every pub  we visit and give my honest opinion, such as it is. 

            I did try half a pint of Langton Brewerys' Hop On which was very good, sweet and nutty. And on our way to The Boars Head in Middleton we stopped off at The Gardeners Arms and had half of Joseph Holts' Crystal Extra Cold lager which was excellent! I wish I could get that in my neck of the woods.

                     One thing that makes me smile is that everywhere we go at least one person ( and normally several) asks us why? Why are we doing this? Our stock answer is................ Why Not? 

           How many of you have been out in a group perhaps at the pub or a barbecue and, after quaffing many libations, someone will come out with some lunatic idea of entering the London marathon or going skydiving or doing the three peaks challenge? Everyone is well up for it and you decide you'll talk about it next Friday night and then you sober up the next day and forget all about it. And nobody ever does anything MAD.

          Well, that's what happened to us, only when we sobered up we decided to do it!

Pictures from The Bears Head

The Bears Head
Me, 2 minutes after arriving
With copycat son

Brereton Church

Gatehouse leading to Brereton Hall

Brereton Hall

Brereton Totem Pole

Pictures from The Three Swans

              There are too many here to put captions on at the moment. I'll do it when I have more time.

Pictures from The Boars Head Middleton

It's occurred to me after looking at these photos, I'm gonna have to invest in a decent digital camera. Been using mobile phone and some of these pics are a bit ropey. Sorry about that. Will try to do better.

Don't forget we are going to The Ostrich in Colnbrook on July 5th. Hope to see you there................Cheers!