Sunday 17 December 2023


South London today. Just for a change. You may be able to guess where we’re heading.

First, it’s time for breakfast. A pot of tea, obviously. Just the one egg, a couple of slices of bacon.

“Do you want some fruit?”

“Good idea. I always have some fruit for breakfast in South Ame-  … ‘”

“Yes. I know. You’ve told me a million times.”

K. is trying all the different types of coffee. She isn’t too keen on the mocca. “Too sweet.”

First destination today is Borough. Which entails a shortish hop on the Northern Line. Our first time on the tube this visit. We’ve done well to dodge it for two days. It also means another delightful walk down Euston Road.

K. has never been keen on the Underground. I’ve only come gradually to despise it as I’ve got older. On account of all the fucking walking and stairs. (I’ve turned into a dalek when it comes to stairs.)

The tube is packed. We just about manage to squeeze on. Now I recall how much I enjoyed riding the tube when I lived in London. Fucking not at all. It’s just after noon on Sunday and it’s teeming with people. Where the hell are they all going?

It’s raining quite heavily when we emerge from the tube. I think I can remember the way to the Royal Oak. The junction is quite complicated, though. Past the church and right a bit, isn’t it?

As we walk down Tabard Street, either I’m having aural hallucinations, or I can hear singing. Against the odds, it turns out to be the latter. There’s carol singing going on. It’s packed and all the windows are steamed up.

That’s a bummer. No way we can drink in here. We can barely squeeze through the door, never mind get a seat.

“Is there somewhere else we can go?”

“I just noticed that the pub next to the tube station is a Fullers house.”

“There’s a pub next to the tube station?”

Odd the different things that you notice.

Yes, there’s a pub next to the tube station. I spotted in the first time I came this way. And filed it away for future reference in case of the need for an emergency pint. Or emergency piss, which is more likely now.

I don’t say any of that out loud, obviously. At least I think not. K. hasn’t given me a look so I can’t have.

The Trinity isn’t too full. But most of the tables are booked. For more Christmas parties. Must be the time of year or something. Once again, we manage to find somewhere to sit.

I order two pints of London Pride without even asking K.. Just a waste of time. Not that there was any choice as they’ve only the one cask beer. And K. isn’t going to drink keg.

Roast dinners float past. Very nice they look. Then two are placed in front of us.

“I wondered why they put cutlery on our table.” I remark.

The dinners are for two pensioners sitting just behind us.

“See, they’re paying with cash.”

I’d just been telling K. how everyone only paid by card in Britain. Almost everyone, I should have said.

A large group of depressingly healthy-looking young people dribbles in. Based on the glittery dresses, I’m guessing it’s another Christmas party. Looking more relaxed, as it’s friends rather than work colleagues.

We do have an appointment this afternoon. Or, at least, I do. At the Kernel. It’s not that far away. Just a bit further than I want to walk. It’s two stops on the tube. With a change at London Bridge.

Changing on the tube is always such a pleasant experience. All that endless walking through tunnels and up and down stairs.

When we emerge blinking into the light from Bermondsey tube station, we’re not really sure of the way. K. is the one with mobile data and hence a map.

“We need to go this way.” She says confidently. I’ve no grounds to argue.

We wander through an estate of various period council houses. This is interesting.  After a bit of ambling around, we get to the railway line. And start walking along the railway arches.

“Is this the right way?”

“It’s just a bit further down here. Look.” K. says, showing me the map on her phone. She’s right.

There are only a couple of other customers. Leaving us a free choice of seats. 

“What would you like, K.?”

“What would you suggest?”

There’s no Mild. And the Pale Ales all have evil modern hops in them.

“What about Brown Ale? That shouldn’t be too weird.”

I get myself a London Export Stout.

I’m here to see Evin, the brewer/owner. But he’s not here yet. We are, surprisingly, a bit early. I’m usually late for appointments in London, always underestimating how long it takes to get around. Despite having lived here.

Evin soon arrives. And we can get down to business. Discussing a project for next year. One it’s a bit early to make public yet. It should be fun, though.

I have a good chat with Evin about all things beer. Especially blending. Which has become a bit of an obsession of mine. Joining many others on the shelves in my obsession shed.

“Would you like some bread?” we’re asked by a couple of people with bags of bakery items they’re giving away. I assume they’re from a nearby artisan bakery.

“It’s for free?” K. makes sure.

It looks very nice. A proper sourdough French bread.

“We can use it for sandwiches tomorrow.” K. is always thinking ahead.

We don’t stay too late as there’s a carol singing event. What is it – carol day?

We change tube at London Bridge. I struggle up the many stairs.

Channelling my new pensioner persona, I ask: “Why didn’t they install escalators? This part is all new, built for the Jubilee line.”

“Don’t ask me.”

“Fucking cheapskates. The old Northern line bits have escalators.”

I’m really getting into the grumpy old git thing. Think I’ll run with it. Or perhaps walk as swiftly as I can is mor erealistic.

The Northern Line train is packed. Again. We get on the last carriage where there’s a little space.

Euston station is mobbed, too. Where do all these fucking people come from? Euston Road is still wet, filthy and crowded. I remember now why I moved away from London as soon as I got the chance.

I’m too knacked to do much this evening. Other than chill in our room. With my cheapo whisky.

Royal Oak
44 Tabard St,
London SE1 4JU.

The Trinity
202-206 Borough High St,
London SE1 1JX.

The Kernel
Arch 11,
Dockley Road Industrial Estate,
Dockley Rd,
London SE16 3SF.


Rob Sterowski said...

Despite all the talk about how pubs are dying, I find they are more rammed than ever at the weekends.

Pity you couldn’t get into the Royal Oak – they might have had Christmas Ale on draught. Sadly, I was too early for it at the end of November.

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to learn more about blending some time.

Christoph Riedel said...

Did you ever visit Sambrooks Brewery in the Ram Quarter, where the old Young's brewery used to be? John Hatch has tons of old brewing records that you might be interested in.