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!