I woke up in Cleethorpes slightly the worse for wear (see this blog for why). Also, my shoulder was killing me. What was that about? It would be around an hour before I remembered I’d stood at the station with my rucksack on my back for half an hour yesterday, which (probably) explained that.
I clambered out of bed straight into the bathroom (it was a small room). I remembered my bathroom light hack from the previous night, repeating the OCD trick of ON OFF ON OFF ON, which provided sufficient light for my shower. I was pleased that I’d got the shower to work (something I always used to find tricky in strange hotel rooms, but I seem to have mastered in recent months). I did, however, feel like I was in an escape room when I attempted to exit the shower through one of those folding doors. How the fuck do they work, then? I realised I had no choice but to figure it out. And then the light went out and no amount of dancing in the shower I was now trapped in would get it to turn on again. Shit. What a great start to the day this was. In desperation, I tugged at the fold in the shower door and was at last free.
I reached round to the light switch and turned it ON OFF ON OFF ON but the light stubbornly refused to stay on even long enough for me to wash and dry my hands, let alone put my contact lenses in. Fucking stupid fucking light. I tried dancing and flapping and doing star jumps and for fucks sake I really wasn’t feeling up to any of this and the light still wouldn’t stay on. I sighed and resorted to muscle memory to insert my contact lenses in the dark – a task I found surprisingly easy.
I battled to get dried and at least partially dressed before opening the curtain to let in some light (the window looked out onto the road so some decorum was required here). I then returned to the bathroom to clear out my toiletries and leave it as I found it. As I bent over into the shower to retrieve the body wash (‘wash your body to the music’) to place it back on the sink, the fucking light came on and stayed on. Fuck off. I imagined my landlady cackling in another room as she controlled it remotely for sport.
I was pleased that the hairdryer came with a diffuser. I don’t have one at home and do want to wear my hair curly. Bizarrely, my hair ended up straighter than usual, so I’ve no idea what happened there.
I was up earlier than I needed to be and headed downstairs to grab a brew and sit in the garden (a practice I enjoyed in Exeter on our recent visit).
I had fully intended to report the irritating fucking light to my landlady but she’d just been bitten by a spider while hanging out the washing.
‘It was one of those ones with the tiny body and long legs. I didn’t even know spiders could bite. It felt like a bee sting.’
Shocked by this development, I promptly forgot all about the bathroom light. After drinking my brew, I left proffering thanks and was told I was ‘the perfect guest’. I said I’d definitely stay here again. It felt like home.
I trotted the short distance to Clee station, smiling at the Lollipop Train as it passed (I’ve still yet to go on that). At the station, I spotted a little hut and trotted over to grab a brew for the train. There was a family in front of me with a little boy with the strongest willpower, refusing all the sweets his grandma was trying to talk him into having. Whilst this protracted persuasion was ongoing, the man in the hut called me ‘very good looking’ and, when he finally got to serve me, invited me to ‘come back tonight and I’ll take you round the pubs.’ Well he certainly knew which buttons to press there but I told him I was off to Lincoln for a couple of nights so had to decline his invitation. I chuckled as I made my way to the platform and onto the (busy) train.
Now, buckle up, dear reader, because we’ve got a lot of pubs to get through today (and tomorrow). I’d have company today in the form of my friend Sarah (of Wigan Warriors blog fame).
I was meeting Sarah on the train and she promptly boarded somewhere I’d never heard of and proceeded to show me the photo of the pie she’d just had for breakfast. A PIE FOR BREAKFAST. This is why I’m friends with Sarah. Wigan is our spiritual home (not coincidentally, that is where we first met).
I had a plan of action for today, taking into account Must Visit Pubs (including a favourite of Sarah’s, which I hadn’t yet visited), two food stops, quirky opening hours and Sarah’s relatively early train home. We had a lot to pack in and there was no time to waste once we landed in Lincoln.
This favourite of mine is close to the station and opened at 1100, so it was the obvious first port of call. I also knew it to be ‘home fans only’ on matchdays, which ruled it out of my Saturday pre-match plans, despite it being up that way.
This is a Batemans pub (the first of two we’d visit today) and here are today’s beer offerings.
I find XXXB impossible to resist because I had a nice one in Churchills in Blackpool once and you know how some beers just get under your skin?
There was an exciting selection of confectionery behind the bar.
I turned my head away from this delightful display because I didn’t want to spoil my lunch at the next pub. Also I couldn’t make out the Lion Bars from that distance, otherwise I’d have undoubtedly bought one to go in my handbag for later.
We admired the water tap on the bar.
Sarah admired the little jug. She remarked she used to have one just like it but didn’t know where it was any more. Could it be…?
Our friendly host advised that the water supply was in its default OFF position, as pissed up blokes often turn it on and spray water everywhere for a giggle. It is functioning only when specifically required and requested.
As it was a beautiful day weather-wise, I led Sarah through the pub to the beer garden at the rear. As we battled our way through an unexpected swarm of flies on the way out, Sarah remarked that there must be a body buried under the floor here.
As a writer with a creative mind, I immediately visualised the corpses of pissed up blokes who’d thought it was funny to turn on the water tap but they’re not laughing now they’re buried under the patio.
‘That definitely needs a photo.’
What had I missed? Sarah pointed out a barber busy at work cutting someone’s hair. In the beer garden.
I chuckled at this before I finally took a seat.
The sound of the clippers emanating from the pop up barbers as the sun warmed our bodies made for a relaxing first beer of the day. But now I’m thinking about Sweeney Todd and an alternative source of bodies to attract those flies.
I love a pub with character and this one has it in spades. There are piles of board games and the locals and staff are brilliant. This could easily be my local if I lived in Lincoln. But I don’t and we have a busy schedule today so let’s move on to Pub #2.
As we trotted through town, Sarah was rather taken by these chairs outside a charity shop.
But of course this was no time to be shopping, as we had pubs pubs pubs to be rattling off, on a tight schedule today.
You may (or may not) recall that I’d regretted not visiting this place on my last visit, when they’d had a Brew York tap takeover, but I didn’t spot this until the end of the night. I therefore made a point of factoring it in today. It also did food, so we stopped here for lunch. I had yet to find a Pub of Choice for food in Lincoln. Could this be it?
This pub is down at Brayford Wharf, where we paused to gaze on at more things we’d love to do but had no time for today.
Right. Lets head into the pub.
Well, where do you start with that little lot? When there’s no dark beer, I go fruity. I was intrigued by the gooseberry fool. Had I ever had a gooseberry? What did they taste like? I was about to find out.
Meanwhile, we needed to get our food order in. Lets consider the menu.
The human menu was good and varied and I went for the beef ‘salad’ below.
Well, what a find this pub was! This is definitely the place to come for food with your beer in Lincoln. Quality on both counts.
The main point of conversation over our lunch (and, in fact, continuing into the next pub) was gooseberries. Sarah is a fountain of knowledge on all sorts of weird and wonderful subjects. She told me all about the Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show, where Monty Don was a guest this year. She showed me pictures and I was surprised they looked like little melons, whereas I’d always imagined them as prickly things, like conkers. My mind was blown by the Gooseberry Facts section on their website. Did you know ‘gooseberry’ used to be a euphemism for the devil? And that gooseberry sauce can be served with duck, mackerel or herring? Popular in Victorian times, apparently. My mind was blown. I never knew I needed to know all this about gooseberries. I need to spend more time with Sarah to expand my mind into these previously unexplored worlds.
Whilst it would have been delightful to stay here and relax the afternoon away, we could already hear the next pub calling from the other side of town, so off we scampered across town before tackling That Bloody Hill.
Oh did I forget to mention it’s the Lincoln Steampunk Festival this weekend. We saw some fabulous outfits and my absolute favourite was one woman’s octopus handbag. I’ll confess I don’t know a lot about steampunk and what it stands for but it was a magnificent visual display and really enhanced our day out.
The Vic was really making an effort to welcome the steampunks and it was duly rewarded with many of them visiting and seemingly staying for a long time, as the pub and beer garden got progressively packed as the afternoon progressed.
I went for the old faithful Harvest Pale.
We both thought this pub looked different from the last time we visited. I managed to find a video of the pub from said visit in 2020 (when I was vlogging my adventures), but the video didn’t show the part of the pub we were now sitting in, which I was convinced had been knocked through.
As with all the pubs we’d visited so far today, I’d have been more than happy to stay here longer than our schedule allowed. But time constraints pulled us onwards to a particular favourite of mine.
Right, shall we head inside?
Obvs I’m on the Cherry Raven here.
As the weather was lovely, we headed out to enjoy the beer garden.
It was busy out here, so we joined a solo drinker at his table and got chatting with him. The conversation somehow came around to banknotes and we debated whether a £100 note was an actual thing. Online research revealed it is a thing in Scotland but not England. I’ll confess I pay little attention to physical currency these days. I remember it being a big thing when the pound coin first came out and we studied them at school. I still remember the wording from round the rim: DECUS ET TUTAMEN. I took a moment to appreciate the otters on this Scottish £10 note.
We headed next to my lodgings for tonight. Post-COVID, I have yet to find anywhere to stay in Lincoln below £100. My reasoning is that, if I’m paying through the nose anyway, I might as well stay somewhere nice (hence the Hilton last time). This place looked lovely online and didn’t disappoint in real life. Access was via secure gates and an efficient receptionist and the room was delightful. But more of that later. This pit stop was simply to check in and ditch my bag. We still had three more pubs to visit. On our way out, Sarah talked me through the access code to get back in when I was
pissed tired later.
Now this was a pub I hadn’t been back to since my first visit to Lincoln back in 2020. I remembered little of it as I was almost dead from my first ascent up Steep Hill, so I thought I’d give it another go today.
It’s only through Beer Twitter that I’ve recently managed to put my finger on what slightly unsettles me about places like this: it’s the high seating. I’m a little person and I like my feet to be touching the floor when I’m sitting down. I find I can’t relax properly on a high stool. Maybe it feels a bit like I’m in Double Science at school or something. I like a nice sofa to collapse into or one of those chairs that gives you a cuddle (example to follow in my next blog). They just feel warmer. But it’s horses for courses I know and it was busy here at this popular micropub.
I was excited to find this:
There were some pubs on this map that we hadn’t tried – as well as some notable omissions, although we did note it was city centre based, so it was the outliers that were missing. I squirreled this away for future reference (ain’t nobody got time for that this weekend).
Oh – and what’s this? Blimey – even more beers!
We took the time to smile at a (steampunk?) dog in a tutu before yomping off to the next pub on the list – one I had not visited before but was Sarah’s favourite.
In complete contrast to Beerheadz, this is a proper old school boozer.
I had a half of the bitter, largely because the Iceni Brewery pump clips tell you nothing about their beers beyond the ABV and because I can get Cross Bay up north.
There was a ukulele band on here tonight. We were both gutted that Sarah had to get an early train home so we would be missing that. A proper night in this pub is definitely on the agenda for a future visit.
As we wandered around the pub, absorbing its various delights, Sarah pointed out this as a Yorkshire Dartboard with no treble.
Twitter has since informed me that this is, in fact, a Lincoln dartboard. Note also the lack of surround on the bullseye. The Yorkshire dartboard is similar in that regard, although a quick online search indicates that Yorkshire dartboards are in the traditional dartboard colours, as opposed to the black Lincoln dartboard. Happy to be corrected on any of this. Fascinating stuff, anyway.
Sarah led me outside to the beer garden, as there was something out there she wanted to show me.
For such a tiny beer garden, there was a lot to look at.
We got chatting to a couple who arrived shortly after us. There was much chat about the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF), where both they and Sarah worked, with many friends and colleagues in common. I clocked the man’s glass and snaffled it to take a photo of it.
I queried the parrot, who was apparently the pub parrot. You’ll notice him above on the pub signs.
‘He was a malevolent bastard,’ said the man.
This sounded intriguing but my follow-up questions fell on deaf ears as the GBBF chat continued to flow. I’m therefore left to draw my own conclusions. I’ll confess I didn’t know what the word ‘malevolent’ meant but a quick search reveals it to be ‘having or showing a wish to do evil to others’ and now I’m even more intrigued. An evil pub parrot! I fully understood why Sarah loved this pub as it continued to draw me in.
But again we had to leave, owing to our tight schedule and rumbling tummies. We had a 5pm reservation at that exclusive Indian restaurant…
You may recall I’d managed to secure a booking here via telephone from the pub in Clee last night – and very excited I was about it, too.
Lets start with the beer offerings.
I had never seen this beer before but Sarah was very excited about it.
I wasn’t drinking here because I don’t tend to drink in restaurants to give me a break from drinking – especially on a pub crawl.
I was, however, eating. Sarah insisted the sharer Tandoori Platter starter was worthy of a video – and she wasn’t wrong.
The seating in this small restaurant is upstairs and we had a window view, looking out onto the steampunks who looked like they were settled in for the night in the beer garden of the Victoria.
Once we had finished our (excellent) meal, we were keen to scoot off to the last pub of the sesh, before Sarah had to dart for her train home. Sarah soon pointed out that the waitress hadn’t been over because I hadn’t placed my cutlery correctly. I rearranged it as directed and – hey presto – the waitress was straight over to clear our plates so we could finally ask for the bill. How have I got through life without Sarah?
Now on to my favourite pub in the whole wide world…
On arrival, I led Sarah to my favourite seating area, at the front of the pub, to the right as you walk in. It’s where I’ve always sat. I was excited to see the long-coveted sofa seats in the window were available, so zoomed straight over there, where we took a seat and considered the beer menu.
One of the special things about this pub is that its drinks range is so exciting that I am tempted to go completely off piste and drink something I’d never dreamed of having before I set foot in here. Here’s what I had tonight:
Soz no full beer list as I forgot to take a pic of the beer board but here’s the live beer board to whet your appetite.
Here I tried to persuade Sarah up to Blackpool but she insisted that, if she was to come to Blackpool, I’d have to do a return trip to Whitby (where she’s from), which I was not keen on because of, well, #cuntgate. I was quickly rescued from this conversation by fellow Seasider and friend Houstie, who arrived at 7pm to take the baton from Sarah as my companion for the remainder of the evening, as Sarah’s train was at 7.30pm. I hugged Sarah goodbye and Houstie hello and settled back with the latter to catch up on life in general…
…until we were interrupted by the phone. Now, this wasn’t my mobile (or even Houstie’s). This was the prison phone on the wall behind me. This was to be my first real life experience of The Strait Exchange: an internal phone system installed in the pub during lockdown so people could communicate across the pub whilst being legally obliged to remain at their tables and not mix with others. There is a phone at every table and you can ring people at other tables or even ring your order through to the bar. Gaffer Jez explains it much better in this article I wrote on the pub for Pellicle last year.
‘Ah hello – I’m ringing to speak to you about car insurance.’
‘Sorry, I’m not interested – and can you please remove my details from your records?’
‘Yes, of course. Sorry to disturb you, madam.’
I hung up.
Houstie was looking perplexed on the opposite sofa.
‘Who was that?’
‘Oh just a nuisance caller wanting to sell me car insurance.’
‘Wha…? But how did they know to call you here?’
I explained that it was a clown at another table making prank calls but I’m still not sure he quite understood.
I headed back to the bar to order an alcoholic beverage this time. I’d decided on the Unbarred Bueno Shake, which happily was still on tap, after I’d enjoyed it here on my last visit. The staff here are simply fab and greet me like an old friend every time. After I’d placed my order, one of the girls scampered off to get me some stickers.
As the pub grew busier, we were joined by a group of people on a works leaving do. I got chatting to one of their party, who admitted to having a soft spot for Ross County because they always used to be good for a draw on his coupon. He was going to the Lincoln v Blackpool match tomorrow in hospitality and seemed confident of a win, despite my insistence that it would be 0-0 because that’s what we do now.
The phone rang again.
‘Hello! You’re through to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Impersonation Hotline. Which Arnold Schwarzenegger movie would you like me to impersonate?’
‘I’ll be back.’
‘That’s brilliant – thank you so much!’
I was full and tired now after a day tramping across Lincoln, drinking in seven pubs and polishing off two hearty meals. I was also being extra vigilant with my drinking after those ridiculously strong beers in Clee last night – hence the alcohol-free one above. I had really really wanted to try the Nutella Martini…
…but I was so full I hadn’t actually managed to finish either of the beers I’d already ordered. There was only one thing for it, then: SHOTS! The Lemon Thing shot in here is to die for and I was practically force-fed two by our welcoming hosts. The leaving party decided to join in too, ordering a round for everyone.
I love this pub and it really deserves a full on full attention session here on a future visit – and it’s damn well going to get one. But now I needed my bed and to stop filling my belly. Which meant another yomp up That Fucking Hill before at last collapsing into bed.
I woke up feeling pretty damn fresh and thanked Past Me for avoiding those strong beers last night and opting for an alcohol free one. I showered, caught up on the maggot racing on Radio Lancashire and tucked into Breakfast #1.
As well as the above, there were two options for breakfast. One involved a croissant, so I ruled that out (pastry gives me heartburn). The other involved a reservation at my favourite caff which was, you guessed it, further up That Fucking Hill.
I was greeted by staff with steampunk goggles on their heads and I loved how they were getting into the festival spirit. I felt somewhat underdressed here this weekend. I was shown to a table, where I placed my order and sat back and read my book (‘I Hope You Die of Cancer: Life in Non-League Football’ by Marvin Close) while I waited.
As I was up early and had time to kill, I decided to amble to the top of the hill (in for a penny…) to see what the steampunks were up to in the castle grounds…
…but there was a massive queue, so I turned heel and took a leisurely stroll through town in the direction of the pubs near the ground.
I was an hour ahead of schedule this morning, which meant I had an hour to kill before the pubs opened at noon. Karen was due to arrive soon so I’d arranged to meet her in the general vicinity. I had no intention of waiting in Spoons so decided to take a cursory walk up the road to see if there was another pub that opened before noon. I ended up in here…
I was greeted with a chorus of yapping as soon as I opened the door. I made tentative enquiries and was permitted to take seat in the front area (the dogs were in the back) and have a brew. The dogs soon settled down and I settled back with my Earl Grey, updating Karen on my location.
The dogs in question were four chihuahuas and a pug.
The premise appears to be similar to that of a cat cafe (but with dogs), whereby you can pay to spend time sitting with the animals while you’re enjoying your brew.
Karen soon arrived (to another chorus of yapping), regaling tales of her golfing exploits with some member of the royal family.
Bang on noon we were standing outside the door of Pub #1…
…paying complete disregard to the HOME FANS ONLY sign in the window (which I interpreted to mean NO DICKHEADS AND NO FIGHTING). Being two middle-aged women, we are effectively in disguise and can go about undetected as football fans, which comes in handy in instances such as this (and kettling). There are so many disadvantages to being a woman that I’m perfectly at ease using my gender for little wins where I can. Besides, I’m no trouble (usually). I made a little joke with the landlady to confirm I was no trouble and stepped inside to consider the pump clips.
It was still warm today so we headed out to the beer garden.
I felt so instinctively at home here that I resolved immediately to remain here at the expense of the two other pubs (and the fanzone) I had intended to pack in. I’d done quite enough tramping about from pub to pub the last couple of days and I wanted to settle down here and enjoy this pub to the max. Profuse apologies to Imp & Angel, Golden Eagle and The Tipsy Imp, which I will definitely visit next time (there will always be a next time with Lincoln).
The Tiny Tavern is not all that tiny. The landlady explained on questioning that they had already decided on the name before securing the premises and decided to run with it.
After moving us inside because it had started raining, Karen yomped off to find some food and meet Houstie in the Golden Eagle. I explored the inside of the pub a little before settling back with my book (and more beer: King John’s Jewels and Ringneck Amber Ale…oh and more Damson Porter).
I overheard a conversation behind the bar about Poundland spectacle wipes and made further enquiries (I just use water and toilet roll to clean my glasses). I was assured these wipes ‘will change your life’. I’ve not been to Poundland yet but watch this space…
After a delightful couple of hours spent in a pub I am probably now barred from for defying the HOME FANS ONLY sign (although I am an honorary Imp), it was time to head to the ground in the rain.
Lincoln City v Blackpool
Despite the rain, I was pleased to find an outdoor concourse (my favourite, as they are less claustrophobic). I was less impressed with the portaloos but they were at least functional.
I took a seat in the stand with a bottle of water. Not long into the first half, I realised I was hungry again (despite those three breakfasts). There was an alluring aroma of burgers but there were none to be found at the refreshment kiosk, so this is what I had.
I was puzzled by this perimeter advertising but am learning to embrace oddness so decided it was quite fine.
I didn’t enjoy the match experience. The first half wasn’t so bad but things took a turn around half time. One of our fans emitted a series bloodcurdling yells in the direction of Critch (something to do with wanting Andy Lyons on the pitch, I think) and it made me feel quite ill. The football deteriorated in the second half and I just wanted to go home.
I don’t want to fall out of love with football altogether so I am taking a step back from Blackpool away games this season. It is too much and I need a breather between matches such that Blackpool becomes literally two hours of my life every other week, rather than my whole world, which is has been for many years, but will never be again.
(SPOILER ALERT: I do find some football to enjoy in the blog after next, so the plan is working, Edward.)
I left the ground early and managed to take some shots of the fanzone that I’d missed pre-match.
I boarded the Blackpool Supporters Association (BSA) coach back to Blackpool, finished my book, did a bit of writing and listened to my new fave podcast, Finding Funnies (if you like the work me and Lee do, you’ll like this).
Next Up: Hebden Bridge Pubs.