Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

Charlton Athletic v Blackpool: Greenwich Pubs

Dear reader, I’m actually looking forward to trips to London now. How did that happen? Simply by getting to know the city and immersing myself in its culture, as opposed to being wary of its hostile crowds. This is much easier done virtually, of course – but I am hopeful that this will extend to real life once we’re allowed to play out again (and feel safe to do so).

Today it’s Charlton away. It’s £58.50 for an Advance Single from Blackpool to Greenwich. I take the 0724 from Blackpool North and arrive in Blackpool East at 0750. I only have ten minutes here before my connection, but that’s enough time to collect my bacon and egg barm from the caff. How is that possible, I hear you ask? Well, I pre-ordered it on the Blackpool East app, so it was already waiting for me (alongside my Earl Grey Rooibos) on arrival at the caff’s takeaway counter in a paper bag bearing my name and a smiley face.

‘Thank you! Have a magnificent day! Love what you’ve done with the place.’

At 0800 I boarded the Avanti West Coast service to London Euston. I found a seat with a table, removed my coat (so I’d feel the benefit when I went back out in the cold after the two-hour journey) and rummaged into my breakfast bag. I pulled out my tea, my butty and – what’s this? – there was a Ferrero Rocher in there as well. Blackpool East, you are really spoiling us…

After breakfast I really wanted a good sleep but resolved to crack on with writing my book. I set myself a target last week of writing four chapters a week and I’m delighted to have stuck to schedule in my first week. It has been relentless but I know it will be worth it. I’ve got through the difficult years and am now heading into more joyful times, so I am hoping the next couple of weeks will be an absolute joy to write. The train pulled into London at 1011, just as I was finalising Chapter 14.

I continued my overground exploration of London. Today my connecting train was from Cannon Street (a new station for me), so I made my way there (as is the new norm) on foot, which should take 51 minutes, according to Google Maps. Here is what I discovered along the way:

  • Charles Dickens Museum – I loved Dickens after studying Great Expectations at school. I read his works voraciously for pleasure and absorbed every adaptation I could find, on television and on stage. However, my love for him waned when I was disappointed with a collection of his Christmas short stories, which I read around the same time I began falling in love with the French classics. I never did go back to the English classics thereafter. I loved the raciness and va va voom and fuck-it-let’s-do-what-we-like attitude of the French. I wondered if a visit to Dickens’ former home could reignite my love for his works. You can do an interactive virtual tour of Dickens’ former home here.
  • St Pauls Cathedral – I paused for a moment to appreciate this stunning work of architecture.

Well, wasn’t that a delightful stroll? This is far more civilised and relaxed than heading underground like rats, swarming through toxic tunnels, emerging at the other end sweaty and stressed and gasping for breath.

At Cannon Street, I boarded the 1105, landing in Greenwich 12 minutes later. I’ve chosen Greenwich for my pre-match libation today because it’s close to Charlton and looks to have some fine pubbery. Let’s drill down a little deeper, shall we?

Meantime Brewing Company

Of course Meantime are based in Greenwich! Why had I never connected the dots before?

Tours of the brewery are available – but I was more interested in The Tasting Rooms, a bar and kitchen. I settled down with a pint of Chocolate Porter and surveyed the menu. It’s basically burgers, with other items listed as sides.

There’s no way I can resist Aberdeen Angus in a brioche bun (despite having the same thing for lunch yesterday). I added Yakima Red BBQ Sauce and Jalapeños and it was lush!

There’s a brewery shop here, too, selling limited edition beers and merchandise.

Beers available from their online store (free delivery over £50) are:

  • London Pale Ale
  • London Lager
  • Anytime IPA
  • Yakima Red Ale
  • Easytime Lager
  • Chocolate Porter
  • London IPA

Keep an eye on the Meantime website for events when such things are permitted again.

The Old Brewery

What brewery is or was this? ‘In our beautiful dining room you’ll find the original brewing tanks for Greenwich’s local brewery: Meantime’. Ah-ha! Ok, you’ve lured me in…

Following my burger at The Actual Brewery, I’m not hungry, but I look at the menu anyway for blog purposes. Dear reader, I’m glad I did. How could I resist this?

Despite being disturbed by the higher billing on their website to drinks other than beer, I am quickly placated at finding this:

But surely the CAMRA South East London Pub of the Year 2019 has ales? I dig deeper to find some. Recent checkins on Untappd include:

  • Kernel Pale Ale Amarillo
  • St Austell Proper Job (IPA)
  • DEYA Sunshine (IPA)
  • Fourpure Last Train (stout)
  • Kernel Table Beer
  • Meantime London Lager
  • Beavertown Neck Oil

If I’d remembered to have a beer while I was there, I’d have gone for the stout, of course.

The Gipsy Moth

They still have their festive menu here, which I think is brilliant, as I would happily celebrate Christmas all year round (why don’t we? Is it just because we would all be really fat?). My eyes are drawn to the items with little sprigs of holly against them – particularly this one (check out the accompaniments).

Craft beers on tap here are:

  • Fourpure x Brewgooder Zambezi Hazy IPA
  • Lagunitas IPA
  • Northern Monk Faith (hazy pale)
  • Fierce Peach Fuzz
  • Porterhouse Yippy IPA
  • Beavertown Bloody Ell (blood orange IPA)
  • Siren Soundwave IPA
  • Purity Session IPA
  • Brew York Kaijuice (American pale)
  • Tiny Rebel Pump Up The Jam (jam doughnut pale)

Any bar that serves Fierce beer is somewhere I want to be.

The Gipsy Moth has a partnership with Craft Beer Residency, which I confess I’d never heard of and still don’t really understand. This is why I need to get back to actual pub crawls, so I can ask friendly barkeeps about this sort of thing. I need more beer, because trying to decipher this is making my head hurt. Onwards…

The Plume of Feathers

This is the oldest pub in Greenwich, dating back to 1691. I’m hoping for something more traditional here, as it’s all been a bit hipster thus far. I’m not disappointed.

Dear reader, they do an English breakfast pizza!

Yeah baby! If I’m eating anywhere when I visit Greenwich for real, it’s here for sure. HP or ketchup, though? This poses a real dilemma. Pizza = tomato but sausage and bacon = HP. What this situation really calls for is HP Fruity Sauce. I must remember to take some in my hip flask the next time we play at Charlton.

But what about the beers? Patience, dear reader – I’m getting there. Recent checkins on Untappd are:

  • Adnams Jack Brand Dry Hopped Lager
  • Brockley Altbier
  • Harveys Sussex Best
  • Brockley Pale Ale
  • Wentsum Green Hop – Ernest (IPA)
  • Southwark Bermondsey Best
  • Harveys Old Ale

This is certainly a more traditional beer menu. That said, I have no idea what ‘altbier’ is. Again, this is something I would ask of the barkeep. Instead I look it up on the Brockley Brewery website:

Malty sounds good, so I have a half of this with my pizza (NB I go for the ‘half and half’ ketchup and HP on this occasion, because YOLO).

Pelton Arms

Ten handpumps and a knitting club. What more could a girl want from a pub?

Christmas decorations!

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • Timothy Taylor Landlord
  • East London Beyond The Tower (IPA)
  • Dark Star Hophead
  • Eagle Bombardier
  • Brockley Red Ale
  • Bedlam Pale
  • East London Nightwatchman (dark ale)

As I sup a half of Nightwatchman, I note that the pizza menu here is interesting too. Have I got room for this?

The Pelton Arms has a selection of board games and is dog friendly. They have hosted live bands, such as Squeeze. They are also a B&B. Hmm. If we ever play at Charlton on a winter weeknight, this could be a great place for a stopover – retiring to a cosy pub, sitting in front of the fire with a pint before heading to bed upstairs? That sure sounds better than sitting on a coach for five hours, wanting to fall asleep but being unable to. I sense a plan hatching and will bank that one for future reference.

Spanish Galleon

This pub has its own chippy! Bizarrely, there is no mention of this key feature on their website (I only found out via this useful London Region CAMRA pub map). I head over to TripAdvisor for more information – and am thrilled to find the Spanish Galleon has very mixed reviews. If it’s a place people love or hate, I am bound to love it because it will have personality.

Hang on – there’s a pubdog as well? I’m definitely visiting.

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • Shepherd Neame Classic Collection – India Pale Ale
  • Shepherd Neame Spitfire Lager
  • Shepherd Neame Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale
  • Shepherd Neame Five Grain Lager
  • Shepherd Neame Bishops Finger
  • Shepherd Neame Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager

Hmm, this’ll be a Shepherd Neame pub, then? I try the Five Grain Lager because it sounds complex and tasty. And of course I’m having the fish and chips (and gravy, in the unlikely event they have this in London).

Greenwich Tavern

Q: How do you make a Chicken Kiev hipster?

A:

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • Brixton Electric IPA
  • Beavertown Gamma Ray
  • Brixton Low Voltage
  • Adnams Jack Brand Mosaic Pale Ale
  • Lagunitas Daytime IPA
  • Brixton Coldharbour Lager

I confess I’ve been somewhat disappointed with the scarcity of dark beers on my crawl today, having expected London to be more diverse in its beer offerings. That said, the food has been magnificent and the pubs sure do have character.

The River Ale House

This is the first micropub in Greenwich and is ‘super dog friendly’. I have purposely saved this until last because I just know I am going to love it – and only the match will be able to tempt me away.

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • Beerblefish 1853 ESB
  • Grey Trees Drummer Boy (bitter)
  • Goody Good As Gold
  • The Canterbury Ales The Merchant’s Ale (stout)
  • Heritage Charrington IPA
  • Stockport Jester (golden)
  • Thornbridge Lord Marples (bitter)

Now that’s more like it! Two beers particularly caught my eye. The Heritage is brewed at the National Brewery Centre in Burton, home to quite possibly the best beer I have ever tasted. So I’m having a half of the Charrington IPA. But I also love the name of The Canterbury Ales – and I need to know more about them, so make enquiries whilst enjoying their rather magnificent stout.

As a lover of beer and classic literature – and having studied Chaucer at school – there is nothing I don’t love about this brewery – aside from the fact that they don’t deliver nationally.

From here it’s a 23-minute walk to The Valley – although I set off with 50 minutes to spare, as it usually takes me ages to navigate my way to the entrance of a ground. Plus I’ll be wanting to check out the facilities once I get there.

Charlton Athletic v Blackpool

This week had been one of mixed emotions for me. There were some deep lows, with the protracted saga of my property sale ongoing and plenty of time to worry about it, being stuck at home 24/7. But were some real highs, especially on the writing front, as I managed to rattle through four chapters of my book, now I have a tangible target and the end is in sight. These mixed emotions have been reflected in my feelings towards Blackpool FC this week, too. I was more than a little concerned at the some of the condescending wording in the minutes of the Structured Dialogue meeting. And yet I had a wonderful evening on Wednesday with the BFC Community Trust at a Zoom Q&A with Ollie Turton and Kevin Stewart, as part of a weekly gathering of female Seasiders. And the new Friday night preview show is a step in the right direction regarding output for the fans. There is a long way to go in terms of fan engagement but hopefully this will continue to improve.

I had made a point to keep an eye on the ref (a habit from my Chasetown days, when I had to report on them after every match) as he looked overweight and I worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with play – and the game was fast-paced from the outset. I began to warm to him after ten minutes when he awarded us a penalty. Up stepped Jerry Yates – looking confident bordering on cocky today, after scoring two magnificent goals this month – and there was only going to be one outcome there. 1-0 to Blackpool. Matty Virtue – back in the centre of midfield – followed up with a piledriver before half-time and what was going on here? Actually backing up dominance with goals. This was brilliant.

There are some excellent imaginings in this blog from Mitch Cook’s Left Foot about the juxtaposed dressing rooms at half time. However, Charlton came out for the second half in full meltdown mode. It was almost painful to watch and I think goes some way to explaining why we weren’t floating on air after the match. We had run them over in the first half, leaving them flailing in the gutter, but in the second half they stepped back into our path and we reversed back over them. Two of their players were sent off for lashing out in frustration. Yates stepped up to take a second (admittedly soft) penalty with a worryingly short run-up but as it was ‘one of those days’ for Charlton and Yates was on fire, again there was only going to be one outcome. We won 3-0. Away. At Charlton. In London. Here are the highlights:

And here are Lee and I reacting to the action as it happened:

Do pop along and visit us on YouTube for these watchalongs. We’re on air from 30 minutes before every Blackpool match and we love engaging with fans of all clubs. We even get people who aren’t into football popping in for a chat. It would be great to see you there on Tuesday from 6.30pm, dear reader.

Much as I have been enjoying exploring the delights of London pre-match of late, I frankly couldn’t be arsed navigating it again after the match, so I jumped on the Blackpool Supporters Association coach and binged on Homeland all the way home. Gosh, it’s good.

We’re (allegedly) back at Bloomfield Road on Tuesday for the visit of Crewe. I’ll be off to Lytham for my pre-match pub crawl. See you there?

UTMP.


NB Pics above are taken from the websites referenced, as this was a virtual trip.


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