Road To Nowhere: Part 1

Regular readers of the blog will know that whilst I once liked to kick a ball around I am strictly on a watching brief these days.

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Walking yes,  cricket occasionally, but that’s about my lot; however, when one of my pals, who cycles, suggested a ‘pub cycle’ along the Trent and Mersey Canal towpath then I reckoned it was time to dust down my tracksuit bottoms and go for it.

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The ‘other’ Martin (from Burton) loves to cycle and seems to combine it well with beer and when I recently suggested ten towns to go for a drink in, Rachel called me out on Alrewas so this was going to kill two birds with one stone.

This was the planned route from Willington canal all the way down to Alrewas and then work our way back on the towpath after visiting a few hostelries en route.

(Willington to Fradley – look for red markers)

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What could possibly go wrong?

My pal, who also wasn’t wearing Lycra, is a top bloke but definitely adopts a laissez-faire approach to life in general.  This soon became apparent when, just as we approached Stretton and I felt like I had been cycling through treacle, a closer inspection of the bike revealed not one but two flat tyres!

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However, we weren’t done just yet and intrepid bike man Rod set off to the nearest bike shop for repairs Cycling 2000 in Dallow Street, Burton  whilst I walked down the towpath with the aim of meeting him with his new inner tubes etc.

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I walked for a decent length of time until I saw the miraculous sight of a pub appear by the canal.

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This definitely wasn’t on our to do list but I don’t think I have ever been so glad to see a Hungry Horse chain boozer!

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You often hear big pub companies saying they still build new pubs to replace the older ones they are shutting down even if they are popular  as they re-evaluate their estate…

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Basically, aside from Independent Micro pubs, all big chain new boozers are built near to either (a) a budget hotel (b) a fast food restaurant or (c) a 24/7 garage with coffee shop attached.

This one has apparently been open for 20 years and with no sign of Rod as yet I thought I should pop in, it was almost midday after all, and see what it had to offer.

364 – Mill House DE13 0LA is classed as Stretton and could well appear on Pete’s radar in the future as you can moor your boat here and drink all day with the possibility of food to boot!

(Bench seating!)

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I’m not going to say it was an unbelievable pub or that is a classic of its kind but, it is definitely serving a purpose.

(Sky Sports and pre midday pints)

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There is a Wacky Warehouse section that draws in most of the kids meaning that the ‘pub’ section is pretty much all adults and has all the things you would want from a local pub, apart from a ‘character building’ of course.

(Hungry Horse etched windows – will we be talking about these in 30 years time!)

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It has a poker night…

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…karaoke night

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and a remarkable amount of people in for just after midday on a Wednesday, albeit in the school holiday.

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Mind you, this lot definitely weren’t on their school holidays and were settling in for a session I reckon.  I should point out at this point that the barmaid (possibly the gaffer) was terrific, really friendly, chatty and helpful, which is always a positive sign in any pub.

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If you walk out the front you can see it has been plonked right next to a new housing estate…

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…and therefore within walking distance of chimney pots, which makes it unusual for a new build, whilst backing onto the canal is a positive most new boozers don’t have.

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I was just settling down into my little alcove with Lee Johnson and Bristol City on my own personal Sky Sports TV when Rod rang to let me know he had the repair kit.

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This of course meant I had to try another of the ‘easy drinker’ Greene King IPA(Greene King) and my cycling partner plumped for an Abbot Ale (Greene King)

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which came in at under £3 a pint, so was helping us through the pain of mending a bike.

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I say ‘we’ but it was very much Rod with me adopting a strategic management role,

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however, my encouragement whilst watching a grown man struggle was clearly paying dividends as, suitably refuelled, we were good to hit the Trent & Mersey Towpath in style and reach Alrewas before the evening draws in…


20 thoughts on “Road To Nowhere: Part 1

  1. I’ve always found a certain allure to canal side pubs, meandering along at 4mph in a painted narrow boat, tying up overnight near a cosy canalised pub, a Hungry Horse just shatters the illusion. Each to their own though, they provide what some people want. I remember taking my own kids to the local Wanky Warehouse (sic), or at least that’s what they (unwittingly) used to call it.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Spent some hours in Wanky Warehouse with the kids, David Batty and his twins. Thorp Arch trading estate play area with the Pirate Ship and the tanks was always a favourite for us too, after we’d picked the kids up from school.

        They removed the Wanky Warehouse from the nearby Fox and Grapes some time ago and the sizeable pub is now a cheap roadside eating house. Never been in for years, but there are only four or five houses within walking distance and never more than half a dozen cars in the car park. I reckon it’s some sort of money laundering thing? It can’t be making a profit?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Must be! Or is that just your mind after so many years of suspecting!! 😉 I drove to BAFC today and mill house is basically on stretton business park about 500 yards from the ground! They are always on a business park ..


  2. I recognise the pub, we’ve been past it several times, but never stopped there. The reason has logic (and a lot of habit!) involved.

    Our typical day on the boat goes like this. Set off and travel for 2 – 3½ hours and stop at a pub for lunch. Ideally close to the canal…so the Mill House is a potential candidate for a lunchtime stop. After (usually) three pints with lunch we set off aiming to travel for 3 – 5 hours (dependent on our overall itinerary) aiming to stop somewhere there is more than one pub (if possible).

    Unfortunately, for our usual schedule, the Mill House is in the wrong place being halfway (in canal terms) between Willington (3 pubs) and Burton (slightly more pubs!). The only time I could foresee us stopping there is if we, like you, had an equipment failure!

    There are many such pubs on the canals that don’t fit in with our usual schedules that we’ve never been in. However, I’m sure that if it was a rickety old pub with lots of character, we’d have stopped there at least once! (In essence, I’m agreeing with Richard’s sentiments, above…just don’t let him know that I’ve agreed with him…lol!)

    I look forward to hearing tales of Alrewas in the coming days. Another village worth a visit along that stretch of canal (best done by bike as it’s a mile from the cut) is Barton-under-Needwood which has even more pubs than Alrewas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A day in the boat life of Pete Allen… There’s a blog in there somewhere pal! 😉 Yes I’d be stopping at Willington or Burton before stretton every time too…without wishing to put a spoiler alert on future posts alrewas and Barton are both still on my radar!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “then I reckoned it was time to dust down my tracksuit bottoms and go for it.”

    Good thing I didn’t read that as ‘pull down my tracksuit bottoms’! 🙂

    “(Willington to Fradley – look for red markers)”

    Hopefully you didn’t take the A38 the whole way. 😉

    “a closer inspection of the bike revealed not one but two flat tyres!”

    I just blew beer out of my nose! (LOL)

    “I walked for a decent length of time until I saw the miraculous sight of a pub appear by the canal.”

    I’m very sceptical that that was just coincidence.

    “but, it is definitely serving a purpose.”

    Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

    “It has a poker night…”

    I’d like to poke the person who put that apostrophe in there!

    “…karaoke night”

    Which could be where the apostrophe from ‘chips’ belongs, but I think that’s a toss-up.

    “whilst backing onto the canal is a positive most new boozers don’t have.”

    Location, location, location. 🙂

    “This of course meant I had to try another of the ‘easy drinker’ Greene King IPA(Greene King) and my cycling partner plumped for an Abbot Ale (Greene King)”

    It’s nothing but a string of amazing coincidences innit? 🙂

    “with me adopting a strategic management role,”

    I usually go with the line ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. 🙂

    “and reach Alrewas before the evening draws in…”

    Thus on to part 2!
    (which I hope to read on the actual day of the post)*&


    * – Yes, missed a bucket load of posts from ‘you lot’ this past week. I blame my wife, our newly born only grandchild, my wife and… my life. 🙂


  4. I was just going to comment on your latest blog post – only to find it’s the last part of a trilogy – so I’ve had to come back to part 1 – here goes…

    ‘Walking yes, cricket occasionally, but that’s about my lot;… ‘

    What – not even footie down the recreation ground….?

    ‘Alrewas’ – I had to check the map as i thought you were making that up! How do you pronounce it in the local dialect?

    Free sausage and chips on poker night, but not on Karaoke Night smacks of double standards I’d say…

    Like you – can’t think of a better place to have a bike repair pitstop (while the pit crew drink beer)…

    I won’t say I’m enthused after the first episode, but I’m going down the shed to get my sons bike out and ride to the nearest pub…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Top stuff Hermit 👍👏🍻 if these posts don’t put you off bike riding for good I don’t know what will ( it gets worse!) Yes you’re right get them spending cash on poker for ”free’ sausage and chips. I’d not spotted that! It’s as it sounds all ru was…. My day job means I’m fairly active and kick a ball occasionally but few and far between! 😀 Your kind of pub in part 2…

      Liked by 1 person

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