When we were in Glossop last year I confused Seaton Carew with Seaton Sluice, and proclaimed the former one of the UK’s great beauty spots. The chap who originated from Carew was bewildered, and I promised I’d visit his hometown and write about it.
The Sluice (below) wins this contest, but Carew is a pretty if flat seaside village, with a pleasing collection of buildings round the village green, some low-key family fun and great views across to Middlesbrough. I didn’t test the sombre looking hotel bars.
The walk along the Promenade to Hartlepool was pleasant enough, with a typically clean North-East beach and the industrial views that the Norfolk Coast lacks in spades.
Hartlepool itself is a town transformed since the investment in the Marina, and the Headland is a gem, with basis pubs serving Strongarm with a frothing head.
The town centre, however, is very Essex new town and harder to love. King John’s Tavern is one of two Spoons in the Guide, and had a superb buzz, with less food trade than the norm. You could also hear the roar from the Victoria Ground when Hartlepool scored, which is a bonus.
Quite a few folk were studying the Spoons beer fest menu, which as Paul Bailey notes has become a bit passe these days. The King John had a good selection, avoiding a domination of the overseas collaboration beers that were doing slow business in Middlesbrough on Friday night.
As usual, I went for the beer that had just been served, and the Mordue Wheat beer was very good (NBSS 3.5). It’s a festival special, and like a good half of the 50 beers one l ‘d never heard of it and don’t expect to see it ever again.
What’s wrong with Workie Ticket ? A wonderful beer that had a brief spell in the sun when winning awards in the late ’90s, but rarely seen in the North-East or anywhere else now. Hop Back Summer Lightning is another beer of the same vintage we take for granted, as Paul also noted recently.
If good small breweries without their own estate like Mordue, Otter and Vale can only get bar space by brewing one-offs for tickers and oddity-chasers, what hope is there ? Admittedly, all three of those brewers Spoons specials have been excellent in the last week.
Back at Hartlepool station, the town’s most famous pub was about to close its doors having filled to capacity. The Rat Race is the second ever micropub, and one of the very best, even if AFC Wimbledon fans seemed oblivious to its charms. I thought about sending Mrs RM to ask for a pint of Fosters but I’d like to survive long enough to do the Square & Compasses this week.