Watchet! Minehead Revisited

He knew!  Mark Shirley reckoned I’d be back before you can say BirminghamCitynil and Duncan suggested I would, ‘Sinatra like,’ return from blogging retirement.

A month is hardly like George Foreman or Joe Bugner spending ages away from the ring before returning but, a quick holiday in Minehead, has given me some ammo to make a fleeting return.

I would say by popular demand but that would be stretching the realms of fantasy even for this blog so, without further ado, let’s wax lyrical about Somerset’s premier holiday resort with a suitably highbrow title for Russ.

The highlight undoubtedly was The Quay Inn close to the Harbour, where I spent a terrific hour working my way through possibly the best beer of the week

with Exmoor Ales and Otter coming up trumps whilst chatting with Danny, an exiled Brummie.

We ran through a multitude of ‘recent’ highlights; such as the Carling Cup triumph in 2011 and the Leyland DAF cup final of 1991 and how he missed it due to a stomach upset. 

Having lived in places such as Moseley and Erdington he was au fait with players from both sides of the city and one of his pals had also run the legendary Garretts Green boozer The Mazeppa! Where I had once watched World War III break out ono a Saturday evening whilst regulars carried on playing pool and drinking pints.

There was also a notice board with a Darts league table on the wall and Watchet Wags are clearly a team to be reckoned with!

I spoke to the barmaid and she confirmed that there were pub games aplenty including a skittles alley, although not in use at present and reiterated, “This is a proper pub!” 

Time flew and this was very much a locals boozer, as opposed to the Hairy Dog and Stones, which are both on the main drag.

Ian J noted in Twitter comments that these are renowned for stag and hen parties and with Butlin’s firmly entrenched in the town then this is likely to be the case moving forward.

However, in mid-October and mid pandemic then stag parties are no longer in vogue so the Hairy Dog was fairly quiet on a Monday afternoon but looking very cavernous and more of a family place in the day and very well kept.

Tribute (St Austell), which is the Minehead version of Carling, was in good nick and this felt like a boozer whilst Stones had more of a hotel/restaurant feel to it with Tribute once again…

…the sole offering on the pumps.

Mind you, they did have a backing soundtrack of The Jam, Specials and Elvis Costello along with an affable barman who admitted they had to ‘cater for all tastes’ when Brian Ferry suddenly darkened the mood!

Of course, like most biggish seaside towns, Minehead has a ‘spoons and The Duke of Wellington was the boozer with the most customers I saw all week.

The usual eclectic mix of punters (always a good thing) and a helpful barmaid who was happy to go and check what ales were on…

… and she returned with the best pint of the week, Abbott Ale, for less than £2.

Not bad, for a Monday afternoon to get you into the holiday mood.

Final port of call in Minehead was arguably the pub with the longest sign in the south-west, The Queens Head Inn.

This is on the outskirts of the town centre and very much a locals pub that had limited opening hours, but a magnificent games room…

…inside the boozer and looked very much like it has had a refurb whilst retaining its classic windows.

I’m not sure that six punters at half past four on a Thursday means it will open for longer hours but, Serie A on the big screen, Thai food and a pint of Exmoor Ales ‘own brew’ (as described by the friendly gaffer) at £2.70 might do the trick.

Further up the West Somerset Railway line is Watchet;

famous for its harbour, this felt far less like a tourist town and,

as such, there were more punters in their pubs.

After seeing a statue of renowned sea (canal) farer Pete Allen and seeing the tourist board’s (kids) version of attractions for Martin

and then (adults) Mudgie,

I took the chance to visit a couple of classic boozers.

The Esplanade Club/Harbour Bar is a club but open to all and sundry and felt like a boat owners/harbour workers kind of place:

With a dalek on one door

and a Tardis on another then ‘quirky’ best sum up this place with a friendly barmen and a group of blokes talking about the best places to crab in rock pools.

It felt like a social club and had a big screen playing seventies tunes as well as offering excellent beer by Gem Ales and was relatively lively for 5pm on a Wednesday.

Which just left the Pebbles Tavern. It was as packed as it could be with social distancing rules and I had to wait for a couple who were leaving before I was allowed in. 

It is more of a cider house I reckon and the Landlord (Timothy Taylor’s) wouldn’t get in the GBG, but the pub itself was top class.

(I’m going to drink through my mask…)

The atmosphere was crackling and two Geordie lads were spending most of their time trying to wax lyrical to the young barmaid who, in turn, was doing a great job at chatting without showing any interest beyond being a chatty barmaid!

There were couples, blokes and ladies who drink in and as I left and was taking a picture outside a geezer pulled up outside with his better half and said “This place has been brilliant, everyone takes photographs of it, and has live bands when back to normal.”

So there you go: a snapshot of Somerset holiday resorts as LifeAfterFootball on tour returns for a holiday special, a bit like the Beano really but that’s got more humour!

16 thoughts on “Watchet! Minehead Revisited

  1. It might just be the picture but the Tribute 2nd pic down looks awfully cold?
    I reckon Big George and Big Joes comeback were financially driven, I’m pretty sure this is not your motivation. 😁
    Welcome back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to confess I could be tempted to write about anything for a pint of Bass/Citra! Minehead wouldn’t go down as one of the best ever towns I’ve been to for quality of beer but decent enough pubs. A bit of filters on that picture but I think it may have been quite chilled….

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  2. I do quite like the statue…maybe I’ll grow a beard!

    I was down in that neck of the woods a few weeks ago and stayed in the Duke of Wellington overnight – a bargain £35 for a night. I was on a photographic mission (and driving) so didn’t sample any of the other pubs!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. “oh hang on I think he was in seventies disco group Ottowa. Yes that’s it 😉”

        Indeed! And that would be Ottowa as in Ott-‘owe’-a. I have two grown up children (and a grandson!) to whom I generously give money. Whatever’s left is happily spent by my darling wife. *

        Cheers

        * – although slight guilt is making her spend some of it on my very own man shed/pub in the backyard! 🙂

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  3. “but, a quick holiday in Minehead, has given me some ammo to make a fleeting return”

    Excellent!

    “with a suitably highbrow title for Russ.”

    And here I thought ‘watchet’ was pronounced ‘whatcha’. 😉 **

    “where I spent a terrific hour working my way through possibly the best beer of the week”

    If it was the best, why’d it take so long to drink?

    Perhaps… the best of the week doesn’t necessarily mean it was good? 😉

    “with Exmoor Ales and Otter coming up trumps”

    So it was good! I guess you were just savouring it. 🙂

    “an exiled Brummie.”

    Doesn’t ‘an exiled Brummie’ just mean gone to a better place? 😉

    “We ran through a multitude of ‘recent’ highlights; ”

    (slow golf clap)

    “Where I had once watched World War III break out on a Saturday evening whilst regulars carried on playing pool and drinking pints.”

    A bit like all those poor sods living in East Berlin all those years. May as well just drink and enjoy life because you never know when your time’s going to be up!

    “and Watchet Wags are clearly a team to be reckoned with!”

    That’s the better halves of all the other players, right? 🙂

    “This is a proper pub!”

    Huzzah!

    “in mid-October and mid pandemic then stag parties are no longer in vogue”

    Sigh. Indeed. My darling wife’s Christmas catering is going to take a narsty hit this year.

    “Tribute (St Austell), which is the Minehead version of Carling,”

    (slow golf clap) 🙂

    “with an affable barman who admitted they had to ‘cater for all tastes’ ”

    Cool! If I’m ever over there I can get them to play some Weather Report (jazz). 🙂

    “and a helpful barmaid who was happy to go and check what ales were on…”

    You still can’t just check the board yourself? (sheesh)

    “… and she returned with the best pint of the week, Abbott Ale, for less than £2.”

    Blimey! Beats Duncan’s £3.45 for a HALF pint in London!

    “but a magnificent games room…”

    Was it available for use?

    “Further up the West Somerset Railway line is Watchet;”

    Ok, scratch my ‘watcha’ remark at the start. **

    “this felt far less like a tourist town,”

    Your photo below tends to belie that remark.

    “and seeing the tourist board’s (kids) version of attractions for Martin”

    (slooooow golf clap) 🙂

    “and a Tardis on another then ‘quirky’ best sum up this place”

    That was obvious by all they have festooned on the walls at the entrance!

    “It was as packed as it could be with social distancing rules and I had to wait for a couple who were leaving before I was allowed in. ”

    From the size of it in the photo below, I can totally understand.

    “(I’m going to drink through my mask…)”

    Blimey. The ones Si just went to allowed you to sit sans mask and only wear it if your bum wasn’t on a seat.

    “who, in turn, was doing a great job at chatting without showing any interest beyond being a chatty barmaid!”

    LOL! Ah, youth.

    “There were couples, blokes and ladies who drink in ”

    Mrs RM would certainly nod her head!

    “as LifeAfterFootball on tour returns for a holiday special”

    Looking forward to the Christmas special. 😉

    Cheers!

    ** – Argh! Only now just realised you were doing a riff on Brideshead Revisited!

    Either that or some obscure reference to the birthplace of famed science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. 🙂

    Like

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