Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Blackpool v AFC Wimbledon: St Annes Pubs

Being from the Far North of Blackpool (Anchorsholme), the southern reaches of the Fylde Coast always seemed so far away and alien to me when I was growing up. I know St Annes quite well now, but haven’t visited for several years. Let’s see what it’s like now.

Water’s Edge

This pub has been a favourite of mine and Lee’s over the last couple of years – so much so that we went here for Christmas dinner in 2019. It’s a Joseph Holt pub with a good range of beers – and excellent food, including a carvery.

Cask beers on offer are:

  • Joseph Holt Bitter
  • Joseph Holt Two Hoots
  • Joseph Holt IPA
  • Bootleg Brewing Co Chorlton Pale Ale

On keg they have:

  • Joseph Holt Trailblazer Stout
  • Joseph Holt Northern Hop
  • Joseph Holt Smooth
  • Joseph Holt Black
  • Joseph Holt American IPA

I am ashamed to admit I have never noticed these keg beers – and three of them are of interest: stout, smooth and black. I’ll be sampling those on future visits.

Joseph Holt also has an impressive online shop where you can buy bottled beer, kegs, exciting glassware – and you can even buy a Northern Night In or a Pub at Home Box.

The Manchester Bee glass is ace. They let me have one in exchange for a donation to the charity box when they weren’t officially available to buy.

Right, on to the food menu. I’m going for the carvery in here, because I do like a good carvery. I seldom have room for pudding at the best of times, let alone when I’ve been allowed to load up my own plate; however this is a virtual crawl and I can eat as much as I like. Ergo:

As if ‘vanilla ice cream, cream or custard’ is an actual choice. I put this question to Twitter and here are the results:

Make sure you take the stairs up to the toilets when you visit this pub, as the walls are adorned with retro tourist posters from the Fylde Coast.

Victoria Hotel

This is a Greene King pub with mixed reviews on TripAdvisor (which you know I believe to be a sign of a pub with character). It seems here there is the offchance of encountering a spectacularly rude member of staff, so of course I have to visit just in case.

Beers checked in on Untappd prior to Lockdown Part I included:

  • Theakston IPA
  • Walls Country Northallerton Gold
  • Wadworth St George and the Dragon (bitter)
  • Stockport Ginger Tinge (ginger beer)
  • Slaters 1 Hop (golden)
  • Robinsons Double Hop (IPA)
  • Old School Academic (NZPA)
  • Naylors Pinnacle Blonde

I’m having the ginger beer. I haven’t seen one of those for ages! They’re always a favourite of mine at beer festivals (remember them?).

As mentioned in my Lytham blog, you can order online from Greene King if you are so inclined.

There’s an extensive menu here and I’m having this:

Next!

Town House

Another Greene King pub? So soon? I’m actually doing these pubs in geographical order this afternoon, having had complaints about them not being in the right order. What more do you folks want? Maps? A floorplan?

I love the way the menus vary in Greene King pubs; this is one thing they do well. Here they have ‘topped chips’ – and I’m spoilt for choice. Char Siu? Curry sauce and crushed poppadom? Nope. I’m going for the one I absolutely cannot resist:

Oh but wait – what’s this?

And – oh an exciting pudding menu!

I’m not sure I’ve got room for any beer here, which is just as well, as Untappd isn’t giving much away, aside from the following, dating back to 2019:

  • Greene King Yardbird Pale Ale
  • Greene King Abbot Ale
  • Lytham IPA
  • Greene King IPA

Now it’s time to get hunting for some exciting beer. Onwards!

Keg n Cask

Dear reader, never judge a place on TripAdvisor star ratings alone. If you dig a little deeper, you may discover that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure:

Do you even like your own dog, Karen?

Sounds epic to me! When can I go the pub again…?

Recent checkins on Untappd show evidence of a more balanced range of beers:

  • Prospect Silver Tally (golden)
  • Reedley Hallows Blacko Mild
  • Bradfield Farmers Steel Cow (blonde)
  • Lancaster Amber
  • Bradfield Farmers Blonde
  • Bradfield Yorkshire Farmer (golden)
  • Prospect No 1 Pudding Shop Stout
  • Lancaster Black

From the above list, I’m having the mild (a rare treat these days) and the Wiganese pudding stout. I appreciate that many ale drinkers do prefer the what-I-call Chicken Tikka Massala beers (popular but often bland), but I can only tolerate them when I’m eating chocolate at the same time, which makes the taste more interesting. That said, I have been discovering some exciting lagers from breweries I’ve happened across during lockdown, most notably Mad Squirrel Smoked Lager (which leaves a delicious coating of bacon around the mouth) and Ride Brew Co Lager (which has that delightful Yorkshire ales taste, which comes from their Burton-esque water). I love beers that are packed with flavour.

Now on to a pub I know to be magnificent…

No 10 Ale House

My only previous visit to the No 10 was memorable because it was here that I fell in love with Bowland Hen Harrier. The beer was beautifully kept and tasted divine. I loved it so much that I asked for a two-pint carry out to take home (back to Walsall in those days). I have had the same beer several times since but never has it tasted so good as it did that day in the No 10. Perhaps my palate has changed since then. I’ll never know until I enjoy another pint of it in the No 10.

This is the older sister pub of the No 10 Ale House in Blackpool, which is an absolute gem, offering a good range of well-kept cask ales as well as delicious Thai food. This micropub in St Annes specialises in real ale and pizza. Both pubs offer alternative food offerings if that doesn’t float your boat. I think it would be rude not to try the pizza here, though, so I go for:

  • Hawaiian Pizza
  • Garlic Bread, Cheese & Tomato

I can’t remember the last time I had either of the above. This makes a refreshing change from sourdough pizzas with spinach and feta at the hipster craft beer bars.

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • Bowness Bay Golden Fells
  • Bad Seed Dawn Rising (pale)
  • Bowness Bay Swan Black
  • Northern Monkey The Last Drop (pale)
  • Hophurst Cosmati (golden)
  • Northern Monkey Noisy Neighbour (NEIPA)
  • Northern Monkey Film Club (popcorn stout)

Whilst supping a pint of stout, I make further enquiries about Northern Monkey Brew Co because (a) I have never heard of them; and (b) I love the name. They have a beer shop online, selling Film Club and Noisy Neighbour, as well as:

  • Northern Monkey Boats n Hose (DDH citra pale)
  • Rivington Brewing Co Close Quarters Pale
  • Northern Monkey Bit of a Rum ‘un (rum & raisin stout)

I love discovering new breweries with beers that I can’t resist. This drinking from home malarkey has been so good that I now have a ‘core range’ of favourites, whilst at the same time sampling randoms from beer clubs (NB I’m getting bored of black IPAs now, thank you). But of course it is the pubs that are putting these breweries’ beers in front of me – and I can’t wait to be back in an actual pub drinking a pint (or three) of cask ale and engaging in conversation with strangers. I love and miss meeting new people.

Fifteens

This is a firm favourite of mine in St Annes. A proper pub with a great range of ales – and a rocking chair. Formerly a bank, there is still a vault at the rear of the pub, available to hire for private parties.

Ah – I’m transported back to the Uxbridge Arms in Chasetown, which has a nude of the landlord’s wife in the back room. Nowt wrong with that at all – it’s certainly a conversation piece.

Recent checkins on Untappd include:

  • Three Castles Chain Mail Pale
  • Three Fiends Weak Become Heroes (pale)
  • Tatton Black (porter)
  • Three Fiends Misfit (blonde)
  • Mill Valley Chocolate Orange Stout
  • Three Fiends Two Face (pale)
  • Wily Fox Nelson Pale
  • Farm Yard Chaff (IPA)
  • Fuzzy Duck Minstrel (pale)

I’m going for half of each of the porter and the chocolate orange stout. I’m interested to discover that beer in a bag is a thing from Mill Valley:

What’s this all about?

As this is a virtual crawl, I’m unable to ascertain how this pub is related to the Wigan hostelries Little Fifteens, Fifteens of Swinley and Fifteens Standish – or indeed if there are more in this franchise. However I have found myself very taken with each of them – and they are worth a visit for the decor alone. They have stunning interiors.

All too soon, it’s time to head off for this afternoon’s match. I catch the number 68 bus from the stop outside Fifteens to St Chads Road, before skipping down Bloomfield Road and waggling my season ticket in the card reader for a good 30 seconds before hearing that reassuring BEEP releasing the turnstile.

Blackpool v AFC Wimbledon

I don’t really want to talk about this one, so I’ll keep it brief. The pitch looked weird – a bit patchy and puddly in places, which was odd, as it hadn’t rained. The starting line-up was super exciting, with CJ starting on the right and Demi Mitchell on the left, with Simms and Yates up top. I was terrified for the Wimbledon defence – needlessly, it transpired. We played long balls up to our fast forwards, presumably for them to use their pace to run onto (or to avoid playing it on the patchy pitch?), but the balls were just too long. Neither of our set-piece takers (Kaikai and Garbutt) were on the pitch. We were missing what Kaikai does best, that link-up play, those cute dinky moves that can lead to goals. We weren’t creating much at all. Yates was lucky not to get sent off for shoving an opponent to the ground with two hands in his face. We were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty shortly thereafter, so I guess those decisions cancelled each other out.

Simms broke the deadlock after an hour, during our only spell of dominance, lasting all of five minutes. Then we made a change, bringing on Kaikai for CJ, which transpired to be detrimental, because CJ did look exciting – a class above – every time he got the ball and Kaikai was less effective. Then we went ultra-defensive to hold onto a narrow 1-0 lead. I don’t understand why Critch takes off players who have scored (he has done this on a few occasions when a player is on a hat-trick).

Dear reader, we conceded at the death. Again. Gutting. You’ll see from our livestream that there was a lot of tension building towards this moment.

We got a point and climbed back into the top half of the table. If we win our games in hand we are in the play-offs. Yes, this performance was disappointing, but there is a long way to go. I have no doubt that Critch and the team will learn from this match – and we will come back stronger in the run-in.

Next stop Milton Keynes – somewhere I don’t think I’ve ever been drinking. Dear reader, that ends on Tuesday…

UTMP.


NB Pics above are taken from the websites referenced, as this was a virtual trip. Apart from the Fleetwood poster, which I snapped on a previous visit to Water’s Edge.


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