Jane Stuart – Writer

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

Lincoln City v Blackpool: Lincoln Pubs

Dear reader, you may recall I fell in love with Lincoln on my visit there last season. I have even been buzzing for my virtual trip to Lincoln this weekend. Where else can I explore? Which pubs did I miss last year? Will I find a chippy that serves gravy – and will I be run out of town for having it on my fish? You should know by now that being stuck at home isn’t going to stop me finding out the answers to all these questions – as well as ones that no-one is asking.

I’m going for the weekend again, of course. Thanks to a top tip from Si ‘BRAPA’ Everitt (top beer blogger – give him a read), I have learned that I can get optimum train fares by booking three weeks in advance. A return from Blackpool North to Lincoln therefore comes in under the £100 threshold at a mere £88.30 for an Anytime Return. I am beginning to notice that many of my train journeys are bypassing Blackpool East now – sod’s law, after I went to all that trouble to bomb, rebuild, redesign and rebrand the station.

On Friday morning I find myself on the 0633 to Manchester Piccadilly. My assignment is due in on Monday, so I spend this part of the journey working on formatting my script and editing my commentary, whilst munching on a healthy packed lunch of grapes, bananas, cherry tomatoes and firecracker chicken. I’m back on the Slimming World plan and am heading towards my half stone award, so I’m going to be good for the journey at least. Obvs there’s no hope for me when I get to Lincoln.

The second leg of my journey takes me to Donny and en route I finish editing my commentary and I’m chuffed to bits with my progress this morning. As the train pulls into Donny station at 0937, I kick myself for not setting off a little later. I have the best part of an hour’s connection time at Donny today – and I’m here before the pubs are open. Schoolgirl error. I’ve earned a pint as well. I take the opportunity for a wander around Donny anyway.

Museums are always good for a visit before the pubs open; I am therefore delighted to discover the Danum Gallery, Library and Museum. This brand new cultural centre looks amazing, with a state-of-the-art library, rail heritage museum, impressive lamp collection and a museum in which I learn much about the history of Doncaster. I am fascinated by local history (I was thrilled to find knitted pies in the Wigan museum) and this museum is perhaps less quirky but I had a huge smile on my face from the moment I was greeted by a friendly face on stepping into the building. Take a look for yourself with an interactive guided tour.

I land back at Donny station in time for the 1024 to Lincoln and spend the remainder of my journey getting very excited about the weekend ahead. At 1109 I skip off the train and lick my lips at the prospect of some serious pub crawling.

Whilst my crawls are often haphazard, this is not the case today. Because there are so many Must Visits, I have to be ultra organised. I want a mix of new pubs and old favourites, with some exciting new eateries thrown in for good measure. I am standing for no pub pizza this weekend, dear reader – make no mistake.

Queen In The West

I am staying here tonight because I was promised ‘odd looks and Kerplunk’ by a Lincoln fan on Twitter. I love being viewed as a curiosity by locals, so this sounds like the place for me. As I complete the check-in formalities, I enjoy a cheeky half of beer.

Recent beer checkins here on Untappd include:

  • Titanic Plum Porter
  • The Crafty Brewing Co Hop Tipple (IPA)
  • S43 Raspberry Galaxy (Raspberry & Strawberry Porter)
  • Magpie Jay IPA
  • Theakston Old Peculier

Now, dear reader, it takes some beer to keep me off the Titanic Plum Porter, I can tell you – but there is no way I can resist the Raspberry Galaxy. At 5%, it’s a little naughty for a breakfast beer but, what the heck – I’m on my hollibobs in Lincoln!

There are only two rooms – with a shared bathroom – but I do kind of like the lottery aspect of a shared bathroom. Will there be someone in there when I only have half an hour to get ready before I have to catch my train in the morning? This also saves me some time now, as I don’t have the option to lay out my toiletries in the bathroom, so I simply dump my bag in my room and head straight out to the first pub on my list.

Bentley’s Bar (The Jolly Brewer)

I confess I walked straight in and out of this pub on my last visit, owing to an uninspiring beer list. I give it another go today because it has changed hands and been revamped.

I’m pleased to see there is a better selection of beer on offer today:

  • Welbeck Abbey Portland Black (porter with hints of vanilla and chocolate)
  • Welbeck Abbey Henrietta (golden)
  • Horncastle Damned Deceiver (bitter)

I of course opted for the exciting porter.

Bentleys has a five-star hygiene rated kitchen. I can’t see a menu here on my virtual visit, so you’ll have to pop along and sample the food (and beer) for yourselves when it reopens on Monday 12th April.

Cardinal’s Hat

We got here too late to get in on our last visit, so I get this one in early on this occasion.

Recent Untappd checkins include:

  • Mauldons Cherry Porter
  • Big Hug White IPA
  • Tapestry Topline (IPA)
  • Oakham Bishops Farewell (ESB)
  • Brewdog Vagabond (gluten free)
  • Tiny Rebel Club Tropica

I’m having the Cherry Porter of course. I’m loving the beer down here already – and I haven’t even got to my favourites yet! You see, Lincoln is just one of those cities (like Liverpool) where every pub is amazing.

I peruse a copy of The Cardinal’s Journal, which contains a menu of predominantly meats and cheeses. The specials board offers other tasty delights.

I realise I haven’t eaten yet and need a substantial meal to soak up this beer. I quickly flick through the rest of the publication, see Chambord Black Raspberry and Absinthe on the ‘Liqueurs and Herbal Tinctures’ menu and understand that I must leave this pub without further delay if I am going to last the weekend – nay the day – in Lincoln.

This pub reopens on Monday 17th May. They are currently hiring bar staff, if you’re interested.

Burton Road Chippy

After my last visit to Lincoln resulted in an epic fail on the gravy front in the chippy, Burton Road Chippy reached out to me and promised me gravy when I next came to town. Well here I am, so let’s see what else is on the menu (even though I always have the same thing).

You know I love a good pun, so I do find it difficult to resist this.

I must confess that’s the most impressive allergen list I’ve ever seen. I do resist this dish, though, because it is important that I try out the three core ingredients on which I judge a chippy: fish, chips and gravy. I’m pleased to see a ‘me-sized’ option on the menu.

I am intrigued by the level of detail offered by the gravy option here. I have no idea what is in chippy gravy. All I know is sometimes I love it and sometimes it’s not right. Here a clue is offered. Indeed, Burton Road Chippy have invited me to make my own gravy on my next actual visit, so the mystery will be solved once and for all. But will I divulge their secret, dear reader? Well, you’ll have to come back next time to find out. Subscribe to my blog (on the right if you’re on a laptop, or below if you’re on your phone) so you don’t miss out.

They have jars of cockles on the menu here and I don’t know what cockles are, so I order a jar to take away with me and surreptitiously snack on in a pub later. I check and the FAQs section on their website does not answer what’s in their gravy or what cockles are, although it does confirm that you’re out of luck if you want lemon on your fish. Who even asks for that? Why would you have lemon on your fish when gravy is an option?

Burton Road Chippy is open for walk-ups, Click and Collect and via Deliveroo.

The Dog & Bone

This is a new one on me – and I confess it’s only made the list because it has an ace name. I’d have gone here first, but it doesn’t open until 2pm on a Friday. I am thrilled to discover it is a Batemans pub with a delightful beer garden.

The inside is equally lovely – and already I am regretting not booking a longer stay in Lincoln. I know I could stay here for a week and still not do this city justice.

Recent beer checkins on Untappd include:

  • St Austell Tribute
  • Batemans XB
  • Stockport Crown Best Bitter

I quaff a half of XB – and you can too, when the pub reopens on Wednesday 14th April.

Widow Cullen’s Well

Well, well – I am most intrigued by this place, having picked up on an article on Lincolnshire Live, confirming that it has banned ‘steampunks and mobile phones’. How is it even possible to ban a literary genre, which Wikipedia describes as ‘a retro futuristic genre of science fiction that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th century industrial steam-powered machinery’. Is there a lot of this in Lincoln? Is the landlord a stickler for Shakespeare or Jane Austen and will simply not tolerate what I have to say is a very specific genre of science fiction? What is the story here?

This sounds brilliant – with just the sort of characters I love encountering in pubs because they make for a memorable experience – and this pub is top of my list to visit next time.

This is a Sam Smiths pub, which I always love for their traditionalism (hmm…) and offerings of mild and/or fruit beer. I am not expecting any Untappd checkins here, if mobile phones are banned, so let’s see, shall we? Oh but there are some! Tut tut! Expect to be barred those of you who checked in the following:

  • Samuel Smith Extra Stout
  • Samuel Smith Old Brewery Bitter
  • Samuel Smith English Bitter
  • Samuel Smith Old Brewery Bitter
  • Samuel Smith Organic Strawberry Fruit Beer

Needless to say, I’m asked to leave in no uncertain terms when I’m rumbled with my cockles. I don’t even get chance to taste one before they’re confiscated and I’m sent on my merry way. Nor do I have chance to take a sip of my drink but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as I do have a very busy pub schedule today and I am beginning to question my capacity.

Unsurprisingly, the pub has no website, nor has their Facebook page been updated since 2015, so I can’t confirm when it opens and I’m frightened to call and ask in case the ringing phone triggers the landlord.

Morning Star

Did you know that the morning star is the name given to Venus when it appears in the East before sunrise? Well, you do now.

I’m gutted that I’m not eating in here, because I can rarely resist ordering something from a chalk board. I don’t know what it is about them that is so much more alluring than a paper menu. Maybe because they’re so ‘in your face’. Maybe it’s the concept of the time someone has spent lovingly crafting the letters in clear handwriting on the board in chalk. In this case, maybe it’s seeing lamb chops on the menu. I can’t remember when I last had chops. I’m not happy that there are three of them, though, as I do like my food in even numbers (especially sweets).

Recent checkins on Untappd include:

  • Timothy Taylor Landlord
  • Marstons Wainwright
  • Fullers London Pride
  • St Austell Proper Job
  • Pheasantry Light Dragonfly (golden)
  • Hogs Back Surrey Nirvana (pale)

I opt for a half of the Light Dragonfly because I like beers with animals on the pumpclips and this one has a pheasant and three dragonflies.

BeerHeadZ

I confess I am a little uncomfortable with the ‘z’ in the name here, but we met a nice dog here last year so I’m visiting again. This is part of a chain with ‘locationz’ (shudder) in Grantham, Melton Mowbray, Nottingham, Retford and, of course, here in Lincoln.

Recent checkins on Untappd include:

  • Pollys Acapella (DIPA)
  • Overtone Wake Up! (coffee stout)
  • Yonder Boogie (bitter)
  • Eight Arch Quarterjack (porter)
  • The Outpost Cosmic Spaces (NEIPA)
  • Bakers Dozen Magic Potion #24 (pale)
  • Yonder Subculture (pale)
  • Roosters Roots Rock Reggae (IPA)
  • Yonder Raspberry Gose

I decide to try and counter the z’s with an exclamation mark and order the Wake Up! despite not liking coffee and fully aware that I am starting to nod off.

I eye up their merch and am taken by this tee:

I’m not entirely sure how this is meant, but my interpretation relates to when I order vodka and resolutely do not want anything else in it. This seems a difficult thing to achieve in pubs on the rare occasion I do have spirits (usually in pubs that don’t serve Nice Beer).

The Victoria

This is another Batemans pub – one of the two that we visited last time. The staff were friendly and made no bones about the fact they had a horrible beer on that they wanted us to buy but couldn’t recommend. I therefore couldn’t miss this pub out on this occasion.

Recent Untappd checkins include:

  • Batemans XB
  • Oakham Citra
  • Castle Rock Harvest Pale
  • Batemans XXXB
  • Castle Rock Elsie Mo

Ooh this is a tough choice! I have to go with the XXXB because where will I get this better than in a Batemans boozer?

The Vic opens from 4pm on Wednesday 14th April.

The Strugglers

I need a reason to leave this pub before I set foot inside it. On my last visit, they had the most quaffable stout that I could have supped all day, had I not had the match to go to (in retrospect, I ought to have stayed put). I have therefore booked a table at the Indian next door, so can only stay for one (well, maybe two…).

According to the pub’s Facebook page, ‘The Pub dates back to 1841 and at a time when hangings were carried out, people often gathered at the Pub to observe the executions nearby, hence the name.’ How delightful…

The pub itself is quite a delight, though. I am thrilled to see a chess board table has been installed since my last visit and I am now a little annoyed that I haven’t allowed myself much time here. I was, after all, Anchorsholme Primary School Chess Champion 1988 (and I still have the medal to prove it).

Recent Untappd checkins include:

  • Welbeck Abbey Portland Black
  • Welbeck Abbey Salem Gold
  • Theakston Old Peculier
  • Timothy Taylor Landlord
  • Brewsters Nouvelle Normale

The Strugglers plans to reopen on Monday 17th May.

Castle View Indian Cuisine

This place came recommended from Lincoln food lover Amy Claridge on Twitter. It’s too handy for those last two pubs, so I cannot resist a visit. Here’s what I have:

Starter. I can never resist ginger.
Ooh ginger again! Chicken, madras hot please.
Rice with cauliflower! That’s a new one on me. One of those please.

I need to walk this off, so off I trot down Steep Hill to the pub I have to end the night in, because I will only leave when they throw me out.

Castle View is open 1730-2130 Tue-Sun. A takeaway service is available pending the restaurant reopening.

The Strait & Narrow

I fell in love with this pub last time around. It reminded me very much of a pub I visited in San Diego (or was it LA?). It has a long bar and a huge selection of beers: cask, draft, cans and bottles. Indeed, the beer menu was quite overwhelming. This is a pub I could happily spend a whole evening in. I might just do that on my next visit (which could be a week long, at the rate I’m unearthing Must Visit places). Here – take a look for yourself.

Last year I placed an order with Strait Crates for some exciting beers to be delivered to my door. I made a cheeky request for some Lincolnshire Plumbread with my order, because that stuff is delicious but sadly impossible to source outside of Lincolnshire. Dear reader, they only made a special trip out to get some for me and included it with my beer delivery. I knew they were good sorts, because they sent me a t-shirt following on from my review of my previous visit there (hint, hint, BeerHeadZ, winky smiley).

Recent Untappd checkins here include:

  • Batemans Yella Belly Gold
  • Chorlton Lemon Drop Sour
  • Wild Beer Millionaire
  • Tiny Rebel Stay Puft
  • Cloudwater Step Up (stout)
  • Double-Barrelled [Exit, Pursued By A Bear.] (milk stout)

Being a literary sort (not of the steampunk variety, please note, Mr Smith…although I am writing a cyberpunk tv script at the moment…is that allowed?), I have to order the [Exit, Pursued By A Bear.] for so many reasons (not least its punctuation).

I remain here until closing. Frankly, this pub is ace and I would live in here if I lived in Lincoln.

I am very ‘tired’ now and head back to the Queen, where I know I will fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, completely unaware of any pub or street noise that may or may not be audible to other guests.


I wake up surprisingly fresh on Saturday morning. Well, perhaps that’s exaggerating slightly but, in any case, I feel brighter than I did the last time I woke up in Lincoln, owing to (a) two substantial meals yesterday; and (b) not ending the night on cocktails and spirits (shudder). I whack on the latest Rochdale AFC playlist on Spotify (for this is my Saturday morning motivation music now). There isn’t a new one this week, which is fine because I loved last week’s, and I add Little Man Tate to my music collection on Apple Music. This is an ace video, too.

Treaty of Commerce

And it’s the Batemans hat-trick! This is an adorable little pub that I couldn’t walk past when I first saw it and was so glad I went in. The locals are simply brilliant and this is hands down the warmest pub I have visited in Lincoln – despite there being many friendly pubs. The locals embraced us immediately and we left feeling like we were leaving friends behind.

Recent Untappd checkins include:

  • Batemans Yella Belly Gold
  • Batemans XB
  • Batemans XXXB
  • Batemans Skull & Hammers (pale)
  • Batemans Gold

I go for the Skull & Hammers because I’ve never had it and I like the pump clip.

On our last visit, we stayed in the bar and I was not aware they had this massive beer garden.

The Treaty is unsurprisingly fully booked for opening day Monday 12th April but keep an eye on availability and get yourself down there.

The Tiny Tavern

Well this place wasn’t here the last time I came. And just look at it – isn’t it adorable?

Knowing from my last visit how Lincolnians(?) like to prolong their Christmas celebrations, I would not be in the least bit surprised to find it still decked out like this in March.

Recent Untappd checkins include:

  • Ashover Littlemoor Citra
  • Ashover Blackberry Stout
  • Front Row Eddies Ninjas (pale)
  • Pheasantry Aurora (golden)
  • Pheasantry Excitra
  • 8 Sail Rolling Stone (pale)

Ooh Blackberry Stout, please!

The Tiny Tavern will be reopening in May – with an extra handpull. Yippee!

Imp and Angel

The last time I was here, this little micropub was packed and so hot that I was practically forced to sit in the fridge to drink my Juice Springsteen (which didn’t touch the sides, I might add). Hence I pop in here a little earlier today in the hope it will be a little less heaving.

Recent Untappd checkins include:

  • FAB Just Jane (bitter)
  • Pennine Amber Necker (bitter)
  • Siren One Through Three (NEIPA)
  • White Rose Gecko And The Bunnymen (EPA)
  • Welbeck Abbey (NZPA)
  • FAB Green Imp Golden Ale
  • Geeves Evolver (pale)

I have to have the Just Jane, of course. This is brewed by Ferry Ales Brewery, who I haven’t even visited this weekend. Doh! I definitely need a week here next time, don’t I?

The Imp & Angel is serving from noon on Monday 12th April.

Golden Eagle

This one was on the map for us to visit last time, but we ran out of time. I had been promised a beer in here by Lincoln fans, so I wasn’t going to miss it this time. And doesn’t this look cosy?

I’m thrilled to see it’s a Castle Rock pub. I love a good Castle Rock pub. I met a lovely pubcat at the one by Nottingham station. There are up to nine handpulls on here – and recent Untappd checkins include:

  • Welbeck Abbey Smashing Pumpkins
  • Tiny Rebel Feel The Rhythm (NEIPA)
  • Castle Rock Elsie Mo (golden)
  • Castle Rock Counting Crows (red)
  • Castle Rock Echoes (pale)
  • Oakham White Dwarf (golden)
  • Castle Rock Sherwood (Stout)

Here I enjoy a Sherwood with LISA – the Lady Imps Supporters Association, which encourages women to actively support Lincoln City FC. I learn all about their brilliant initiative and it’s joyful to spend time in the company of fellow female football fans. So what if we support different clubs? It doesn’t matter. We are all part of the same football family. And I somehow feel so at home here. Why is that, I wonder? I fell in love with Clee in the same way I fell in love with Lincoln. I guess it’s a Lincolnshire thing.

The Golden Eagle is reopening at midday on Monday 12th April.

Lincoln City v Blackpool

Had you forgotten I’m here for the match? I almost had! I get so absorbed in enjoying Lincoln itself that I find the trip to Sincil Bank gets in the way a little bit. It shouldn’t be that way today, of course, as the Mighty Tangerine Wizards are running rampant, unbeaten in 13 matches and winning five on the bounce away from home. With Lincoln already on the ropes, riddled with injuries and COVID – and unable to train until Thursday of this week – this was beginning to look too easy – and we know things are never easy for Blackpool. I was therefore suspicious. Half of me was thinking ‘we’re going to win this comfortably’ but the other half was thinking ‘no, it can’t be as easy as that – they’re going to nick something here.’

Dear reader, it was a bit of both. After a disturbing start, where their forward clattered Maxi, the match was totally absorbing. We had the better of the chances and found ourselves 2-0 up and positively cruising just after half time. We really were getting better and better every week – and the players were oozing confidence. Ellis Simms was on fire from the off today – and his goal was inevitable. The way Jerry Yates creates space around defenders is joyous to watch. What a player he is becoming. I can see him making the Premier League. I haven’t been this excited about a striker since Brett Ormerod. And what brilliant work from Embo for our opening goal. Gosh, this was exciting!

We continued to attack, looking for more goals, which put me in mind a little of the Ollie days. Wasn’t this a little dangerous, continuing to attack like this?

Well, yes, it was. And thus, after a sub-fest from Lincoln, the game ended 2-2. But we will learn from this capitulation – as we always do. That will have hurt the boys. Here are the highlights:

And yet we are now 14 unbeaten and have climbed to 4th in the league. What with a game in hand on Sunderland – and with them to play twice – 3rd is attainable. Can we reasonably be looking any higher than that now? Much as it would be wonderful to win automatic promotion, reaching the play-offs this season would be a wonderful achievement. The fact that we are still looking – and aiming – higher is testament to how far this team has come in the past few weeks. We expect big things of them now because we know they are capable of competing at the very top of League One – and are ready for the Championship.

Here’s a link to my vlog from last year’s visit to Lincoln, followed by our live reactions to today’s match as it happened – including a post-match post-mortem.

I dart for the 1738 train to Sheffield and collapse into my seat exhausted and exhilarated from another wonderful weekend in Lincoln. Again I am very sad to leave. Again there is no happy ending. I get my head down on the train, furiously typing up details of my weekend to share with you, dear reader, in this blog.

At Sheffield, I accidentally-on-purpose miss my connecting train to Manchester Piccadilly. Oh, what a shame. I retreat to the Sheffield Tap, where I enjoy a Harbour Rhubarb and Pink Peppercorn Berliner Weisse Sour and a Thornbridge McConnels Stout.

I reluctantly board the 2011 to Piccadilly (my last train home), where I join the 2131 to Blackpool North, which gets me in at 2252. I am of course quite exhausted when I arrive home but have to go through the usual routine of unpacking my overnight bag and conducting my evening toilette before finally crawling into bed somewhere around midnight.

Lincoln – I love you. Thank you for continuing to look after me and making me feel like truly one of your own. I cannot wait to visit for real for the Lincoln Imp Trail this summer.

UTMP.


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


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