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Friday, 7 November 2014

UPDATES - A New Trip to Old Haunts - The Warwickshire Ring

When I started this blog I hadn't really thought through how I would present new visits to pubs that I'd already reported on. As detailed in my previous entry, I've recently returned from a canal trip around the Warwickshire Ring. This took us to quite a few pubs we'd not been to for a few years.

We set off from Napton and our first re-visit was to the Two Boats in Long Itchington (#100). As detailed in my previous entry it is THE MOST EXPENSIVE PUB for Blackcurrant & Soda that we found on our trip.

However, it is still a good canal pub and the food was good, as previously. Apparently it has had a refurbishment since our last visit in November 2011, but this wasn't particularly noticeable!
Two Boats, Long Itchington - Saturday 27th September 2014
We passed through Warwick, but we didn't visit any of the pubs previously mentioned and it wasn't until we reached Lowsonford on the Stratford Canal.

The Fleur de Lys was completely unchanged from our last visit in the Spring of 2011 (see #026)
Fleur de Lys, Lowsonford - Monday 29th September 2014
© Photo Digital Art

Next was Wilmcote, a village we also hadn't visited since 2011 and, again, both pubs were completely unchanged.

First was the Mason's Arms, one of the earliest pubs I featured (#006). In all the years we've been going there it has been run by the same landlord...and he's still there! In all respects, the Mason's Arms was the same as previously, including the monster portions of vegetables served with the main meals!
Mason's Arms, Wilmcote - Monday 29th September 2014
The other pub in the village is the Mary Arden Hotel (#061). Again, completely unchanged in three years.
Mary Arden Hotel, Wilmcote - Monday 29th September 2014
Even though it was a Monday night I was very surprised at the lack of people in either pub. In the Mason's Arms there were a few locals in when we arrived, but by the time we left at about 9pm the place was deserted. It was the same story at the Mary Arden and only one customer came in during our time there!

Our next stop was Stratford-upon-Avon which used to be a regular destination on our annual Easter trips. All of the pubs we visited, that I've reviewed before, were completely unchanged!

They were - the Dirty Duck (#033), The Falcon Hotel (#079), The Garrick Inn (#020) and Queen's Head (#082)
Dirty Duck, Stratford-upon-Avon - Tuesday 30th September 2014
Falcon Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon - Tuesday 30th September 2014
Garrick Inn, Stratford-upon-Avon - Tuesday 30th September 2014

Queen's Head, Stratford-upon-Avon - Tuesday 30th September 2014
After leaving Stratford for the long haul up to Birmingham the next pub to report on is the Navigation Inn at Lapworth. This is one of my most photographed pubs that I've reported on several times - #008 and the updates here, here and here!
Navigation Inn, Lapworth - Wednesday 1st October 2014
This was our first actual drinking visit since the pub reopened in 2012 and I can report that the refurbishment has been a success and we spent the whole evening there enjoying the food, drink and atmosphere.

Next day we visited the Wharf Tavern at Hockley Heath (#083) which is under new management and has had a complete makeover since our last visit in 2011.
Wharf Tavern, Hockley Heath - Thursday 2nd October 2014
The much needed refurbishment has been very well done and the Wharf manages to tread the fine line between being a pub and a restaurant very successfully.

Our next stop was at The Horseshoe in Kings Heath (#112) which is a pub I'd not been inside since 2000! We'd passed by on many occasions, but not stopped because of the difficulties in mooring, which haven't improved in the intervening years. However, this time we were running out of light and there was no other viable option!
The Horseshoe, Kings Heath - Thursday 2nd October 2014
After the ritual 'abuse' from the gentlemen smoking outside the pub (often an issue when taking pictures of pubs!), we found that it hasn't really changed much in the years since we last visited. It is still a down market boozer and, as we usually find with this type of pub, it was more friendly than many of the pubs we visit.

Birmingham was our next stop and we visited two old favourites which haven't changed since my last reports in 2012 - the Prince of Wales (#089) and The Shakespeare (#095).
Prince of Wales, Birmingham - Friday 3rd October 2014
The Shakespeare, Birmingham - Friday 3rd October 2014
Next evening we were in Curdworth where we revisited the two pubs in the village - the White Horse (#051) and The Beehive (#087) - neither of which seem to have changed since 2011.
White Horse, Curdworth - Saturday 4th October 2014
The Beehive, Curdworth - Saturday 4th October 2014
The next pub on the list was The Anchor Inn at Hartshill (#022), which also has changed little in the intervening years. The food was great and it was a welcome stop on a grey day!
The Anchor Inn, Hartshill - Monday 6th October 2014
A couple of days later we were in Newbold-on-Avon, nearing the end of our journey. For many years there were three pubs in the village (including our last visit in 2011) - the Barley Mow (#053), The Boat (#078) and the Newbold Crown (#072) - now there are just two, but this isn't as bad news as it sounds.

As we walked from our boat we could see that the Barley Mow was still there, but The Boat which had been next door (always a mystifying situation!) has now become the overspill/function room for the Barley Mow called the Barley Barn.
Barley Mow, Newbold-on-Avon - Wednesday 8th October 2014
Barley Barn (Formerly The Boat)
The Newbold Crown was something of a revelation. On our previous visits we've only ever been into the bar which is at the front of the pub. This time the bar was closed for redecoration so we went into the lounge which was very pleasant. This was a bit of a surprise as I'd got the impression that the Newbold Crown was a bit of an 'estate' pub, but the lounge was more like being in an older village pub!
Newbold Crown - Wednesday 8th October 2014
Our final pub, which we'd last visited in 2011, was the Old Royal Oak at Hillmorton (#077). As it is a 'Hungy Horse' pub I wasn't expecting to find any changes and I wasn't disappointed in that respect!
Old Royal Oak, Hillmorton - Thursday 9th October 2014
© Photo Digital Art

It is still in a great setting and, for a lunchtime stop, it is perfect for a bite to eat and a few pints.

That's all the pubs I've previously featured, but we did go into plenty more that I will add to this blog over the coming months.