Friday, 14 September 2012

Special Report - Gurd's Trip to Marylebone

For a late Summer treat, this article, for the first time ever*, is penned by a guest columnist.  Gurdeep Singh is primarily known for his pioneering work in 15-minute drum solos, but is also a well respected respecter of beer, social activist, gardener and pigeon fancier.  So then, please enjoy his handcrafted report of a recent trip to Marylebone.  If it goes well, maybe he'll be allowed to write a regular column**. 


Preamble: [not sure about the underlining here- Ed]

This was very much a “stolen crawl” in every sense of the word phrase, as the intention was to have just one pre-homeward-bound-train drink that turned in to quite a few more.  The night before, I had experienced easily one of the top 3 gigs of my life, watching the Afghan Whigs (doing a one off UK show after a 10 year hiatus) at KOKO in Camden.  Before venturing to Camden, we'd supped a sunset hued Staropramen overlooking the lake in Victoria Park, before the tube whisked us to Mornington Crescent, where a pre-venue Brooklyn lager was drunk to limber us up for haggling with (predominantly unspecific) ticket touts.  Cold cans of Red Stripe were standard “gig drink” fayre, but we did manage to find some late bars after the gig that sold real ale into the wee hours. 

After a relaxed brunch at a greasy spoon on the Roman Road in Mile End we headed off to Marylebone to get the train home before our ticket cut off point of 3pm – the rest did not quite go according to plan…

The crawl itself

Marylebone is a much more pleasant and civilised way to enter (or leave in this case) the big smoke by train, rather than coming in to the concrete mass of Euston except.... when it comes to watering holes - in a word mediocre!

We had a pint of Heineken on the station bar, which was as suitably acceptable and refreshing hair of the dog as I'd imagined on a scorching early afternoon.  It certainly washed down my fry up well enough, so much so that it actually gave me an appetite to scope out some proper boozers and sod the 3pm train - “we’re on holiday” after all.

Round the corner was a place called the Allsop Arms, which had a lovely line (literally) of young, female, olive-skinned European visitors outside it, waiting for the Easyjet bus to ferry them to the airport.  Shame about the choice of drinks though.  Peroni was supped by us both [Gurd was accompanied by his chum, pro-cyclist Sean] and onwards to find the next joint.  [I believe that 'joint' is a cool, slang word for venue - Ed].

Next stop was the Harcourt Arms whose only real ale was not on, but a decent pint of Budvar in a real suntrap of an intimate concrete beer garden, was enjoyed here leisurely, as the music was decent.  The street was home to all things Swedish, which was quite interesting, but we never did get to find out why, as we were on a time limit and I was itching to get to the next gaff for some proper ale.

Winsdor Castle was a peculiar place, with an amazing amount of cheap English paraphernalia tucked in to every nook and cranny of this mid-terrace haunt, and whose barman was very, very strange indeed (imagine the John Inman character in “are you being served” crossed with Kenneth Williams in a Carry On film).  We were genuinely unnerved by his opening gambit (or it could have been the cumulative effect of the 3rd day of solid boozing).  Anyhow, a half of nondescript bitter was necked quick time in search of somewhere with a more unchallenging welcome.

We heartily cheered up when we discovered the Wargrave Arms just around the corner with its bright, huge open plan bar/restaurant and beautifully kept hanging baskets and shrubbery adorning the outdoor seating.  A decent choice of ales was on here with Sean and I "keeping it Pale", by going for a lovely pint of Liberation Ale.

Sean at the Carpenters Arms

Things were on a steady incline of improvement by now, as we hit the best pub of the day next - The Carpenters Arms.  Small, busy, independent, loads of ales and Sky Sports to boot.  Sean had a Harveys Ale, I had a 5% IPA that was very nice, but I can't remember the name. [tsk tsk - Ed].  What more could a man ask for?  Errr maybe a meaty snack of the kebabish variety?  Being so close to Edgware Road it would be rude not to patronise a café of the Kurdish brethren while in the vicinity, so we had what we both agreed was the best kebab of our lives from a street food stall called Cafe Helen - a very Kurdish name I'm sure you'll agree.

The view out of the Larrik window
The final place we hit before the train, with one of the nicest, biggest ever window views I've ever experienced from a pub called the Larrik (and you know how much I love them).  The beers were just standard fayre, but we were struggling by now, so Marylebone station was a welcome sight.

The moral of this story is: when in and around the Marylebone vicinity, the pub you should head for is the Carpenters Arms, which is about a 10 minute walk away.  But to say that would only have taken up two sentences and that wouldn't have been very good, would it?

*And probably final time ever.
** I wouldn't bank on this.  In fact, for the removal of all doubt, I make no promises of any future columns.  Whatsoever.

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