Wednesday, 21 March 2018


As our daughter lives and works in Glasgow we usually visit at least three times a year. For me this is one of the great pub cities in the UK and our favourite pub is The Bon Accord. 

This pub can be found just over the M8 to the west of the city centre and not far from Sauchiehall Street. The Bon Accord was at the forefront of the real ale revival in Glasgow and there are 9 handpulls serving ales from most of the UK and an impressive range over 400 whiskies.

When we go the place is always busy but then staff have the knack of spotting you and serving you straight away. They always have time for you and the customer service is spot on. The beer is always in excellent condition. They have a decent size food range which is won't break the bank . 

Our most recent visit was last Saturday night at about 6pm and the pub was heaving with only one table left for the 3 of us to sit at. There was a friendly buzz about the place as we ordered our food. Looking up I spotted these two very recognisable old men staring at us.

After our meal and a couple of pints under their watchful eye, we set of for the mayhem that was Sauchiehall Street..........   


Sunday, 11 March 2018


The Spring edition of CAMRA Angle , the quarterly magazine of the Sunderland and South Tyneside branch of CAMRA, has  just been published. Copies are being  distributed to real ale pubs throughout the area , and beyond. As usual , this is another full issue and well worth a read.  

The forthcoming CAMRA AGM and the special resolutions regarding Revitilisation are explored, as well as pubco reform and a look at the CAMRA Beer Scoring system and the reasons why it is important to use it more.

There is a look at the branch pub/club of the year 2018 awards and recent announcement of the National Pub/Club of 2017. Also featured is the presentation of a cheque to Roker RNLI.  

There is a write up about a pub crawl in Worcester, and a pub review - The Monument in Penshaw ( hence the front cover.) Another review, this time a book, looks at The Great North East Brewery Guide.

Now there are not many people I know that drink cider, perhaps because its not beer and not to everyones taste. I would urge you to read "Read Cider & Perry Taste Introduction" - while editing it to make it easy to read I learned a hell of  a lot. Another unfamiliar drink in the North East is Mild so there is a brief look at the different styles.                     

A regular section is a news update on beer from the wood, pubs and  breweries in the branch as well as Locale pubs and those that offer discounts.

Issue 51 is rounded off by pub quiz. 

Enjoy the read !!

If you cant find a copy, follow this link to download your own,  and for more branch news. .
And remember, accept no imitations.  

Tuesday, 6 March 2018


I was in Sunderland yesterday ( renewing Metro pass) and as it seemed foolish just to go and come back I decided to drop in a pub. Now in recent weeks have been in most city centre pubs apart from Vesta Tilleys opposite the Sunderland Empire.- not been in since it reopened so why not. Its also very close to The Dun Cow, The Engine Room and The Peacock. ( the latter is significant)

Ordered a Double Maxim and a bag of Nobbys Nuts - If your going to have lunch- may as well go overboard. As I sat down I looked round and noticed that the majority of the clientele were older men sitting by themselves. In fact it was strange. There was half a dozen and all sitting at alternative tables by themselves ( like me)

As I savoured my beer & my nuts I thought...Ive seen this scene somewhere before !!   Sure enough, it was the one and only time I had been into the Londonderry pub ( now the Peacock). I recall then ordering a Double maxim and a bag of Nobbys Nuts and seeing half a dozen older men sitting, either staring into space and drinking their John Smiths or Carlsberg, watching the racing or reading the paper.

What happened when the Londonderry closed and was then reopened, these guys had to find another home, so it looks like they drifted into the Vesta Tilley nearby, and have remained. The prices in the Peacock have been bumped up , so they haven't gone back..

What got me about all of this, none of them spoke to each other- they were all in their own little world. There was no groups around tables having conversation, just like the Londonderry days.  And I did exactly the same !!

And the pub ? Well there were three handpulls, beer was well kept and under £3, friendly barmaid who kept calling everybody darling , comfortable seats. Great for a quick lunchtime visit, just dont expect any of the locals to speak !

Sunday, 4 March 2018


This news item may have escaped your notice but journalist and author Michael Green died last week. 

"Who ?" I hear you say. Well Green was a contributor to the Observer and the Sunday Times from the 50s, with some  witty sports articles. He was persuaded to write a book which was released as "The Art of Coarse Rugby", in 1960. Others followed, including the "Art of Coarse Sailing" and my favourite - "The Art of Coarse Drinking" ( 1973). I still have my copy I bought in 1975 ( 40p), plus some other "coarse" books

So why the term coarse. Well its used to describe amateur enthusiasts in the sport or pastime that they follow ; in the case of sport being useless at it. 

I don't think this funny book is meant to be taken too seriously but some of his anecdotes ring bells with me. This describes "mishaps" with all types of booze, pubs, parties - in fact any occasion or location associated with booze. 

There is one paragraph that my wife can identify with. Standing at a bar waiting to be served for a coffee, a tall forceful drinker will breeze in and his very presence means he will get served ahead of whoever may be in front of him.  Which is why I always get lumbered going to the bar.

Written in the early seventies, there is no direct reference to real ale as such. He graphically describes life in pubs with little beer choice, stale out of date food under a glass case at the end of the bar and often violent pub dogs. On the last subject , he does point out that friendly dogs who wander the pub scrounging crisps off the locals often mean there is a friendly landlord/ landlady.The Monument pub in Penshaw is like this , but with 3 or more dogs !

He mentions a fantasy pub in the village of Adulterating on the Wold where the staff spoke in with a foreign accent. This actually happened to me the other week in a pub in Sunderland - with a sea view. Mrs Ken and myself went out for lunch ( fish & chips) and the waiter spoke with an Italian accent.

He cleared the table next to me and noticed that some of the leg screws were loose. So he found a member of staff to help him put it back together. As they were discussed the problem, I noticed he had actually dropped the accent and was speaking like a local       

The author vividly describes getting mortal by drinking a pint of Creme De Menthe. I know someone who was on the equivalent amount of Southern Comfort in the 70s, he was in bed for 2 days!

I like to think I am a coarse drinker !

Michael Green' s books are still in print and usually available form a certain online retailer. If you want a good laugh - recommended.

PS I can lend out this book for a small fee ( A pint...but not Creme de Menthe)


Sunday, 18 February 2018


When I was at school my favourite subject was Geography, and maps in particular. In fact I was a bit of a nerd, and still am. So no surprise I've got maps all over the place. The first thing to do when going off on non-local pub crawl is print off a map. Mrs Ken has given up rolling her eyes now. Besides, when I'm driving, she's a skilled map reader and the navigator. 

( don't go any further - ed)  

Anyhow, with my interest in pubs and beer it seemed natural to combine town maps and pubs. So here are 3 recently produced Real Ale Guides - for South Shields, Sunderland & Washington which I hope may be useful