There’s no shortage of obvious headlines for a trip to Pompey in November; half an hour spent in Fratton’s Spoons provided no end of witticisms, most unrepeatable. Always safest to use the tried-and-tested Joe Jackson one.

Wetherspoons seem to fall into two camps now.  OAP and family dining (e.g. St Neots), and male dominated cheap boozers where you can escape from your wife (don’t judge me).  The John Jacques was showing the Arsenal match to a crowd of 1664 drinkers on Sunday, the first time I’ve seen Premiership football in a standard Spoons.

The take-home points from a boisterous pub were; “Gary Anderson can’t check-out, that’s his problem” (something to do with darts rather than hotels apparently), and “Bournemouth are gonna score any minute” (they did, just as I left).  There was also a vigorous argument over which county Farnham was in (“It’s ‘amshire, innit ?”  “Nah, it’s Lunnon !”, and on and on).  Pub Curmudgeon would have exploded with rage.

Fratton Road is the least gentrified of the city’s many ungentrified suburbs, replete with kebab shops, carpet centres, gaming arcades, and surprisingly great street art.


I’d left a bit of Cotleigh Buzzard (NBSS 3) undrunk as I needed to whizz off to the station.  Once again getting my train times completely wrong (old age), I returned to it 15 minutes later, perhaps in the hope of hearing the resolution of the Great Farnham Debate.  My untouched 1/3rd had improved, which may be a ground-breaking discovery.  Or not.

My next tick, ten minutes up Fratton Road, looked incredible.

And shut. The Florist joins a long list of pubs to close before their GBG innings has really started. Please don’t say I should have looked on What Pub first; it just makes me more depressed about the failings of the Guide.

Worth the walk for the exterior views, a view Fratton’s residents clearly don’t share given the wide berth they gave me as I took photos of their iconic pubs.

At least Telephone Street knows the value of urban architecture, displaying its 3rd prize for Best Dressed Street with pride.  A shame then it was so awful, except in comparison with Gillingham or Anfield I suppose.

But the Beer Guide pub at the end of it was yet another Southsea gem. Rather like Norwich, but with less obsession with guest beers, the city is full of attractive corner pubs like the Rutland Arms, which offer little but comfortable seating, cheery locals, the Pogues on repeat and decent beer.  My notes say Goodards (NBSS 3) – can that be right ?


We spent part (the best part) of our honeymoon in Southsea, but sadly my notes of beer scores from that trip haven’t survived three house moves.  Virtually all the pubs look inviting, and seem to rotate in and out of the Beer Guide.  It would be very difficult for the average pub tourist to guess the Guide entry.

You may well have predicted the arrival of the Wine Vaults in the new Guide though. With dozens of beers, quirky stylings and a bicycle in the window, how can it fail in a city crying out for craft ?


I disliked it intensely.  Having praised Fullers for their craft makeovers in Acton and Westbourne Park, this place felt like a little slice of Twickenham.  Which isn’t good.  High tables full of empty Amstel glasses, wine-drinking hipsters blocking the way to the bar, screaming children, dull beer (Vibrant Forest, NBSS 2.5). “Scrumptious bar boards and Sunday Roasts” says What Pub.  Which says it all really.

The Wave Maiden shows Southsea how to do craft. This is like a weird mix of Tunbridge Wells Fuggles Beer Café and the Sheppey Inn, which is a huge compliment.  Proper seating, two beers from the barrel (Siren NBSS 3.5), chatty staff, and a dish of cheesy chips and gravy that has shortened my life by 734 days. It’s the sort of food you get in the best German biergartens.

just the one offence here then

I can find little to fault with Southsea, which frankly is Portsmouth.  If you make it past the Maiden you can take in the enduring joy of Portsmouth’s top road (Castle Street), and not just for its two Beer Guide regulars.

As the sign says;



  1. Would have been Goddards in the Rutland — an exotic import from the Isle of Wight.

    I don’t remember ever having seen that Mondrian window — where was it?


  2. I am impressed that you managed to count the 1664 people presumably crowded round the television set watching the football match.

    The artist is Basel Crb.

    Assuming it is the most well known Farnham they were looking for, Surrey is the answer.

    I can spot two offences in the Wave Maiden. Converting what I presume is a special issue Halloween lemonade can into a candle holder is not on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If Surrey is the answer, it’s the wrong question.

      By the way, welcome back Tom. It’s a shame you weren’t protecting Simon from the perils of Periscope on Saturday. That will damage his chances in the next Presidential campaign, I fear.


      1. Was somebody using a periscope to spy on Simon or was he attacked with one as some form of blunt instrument? Either way, he has my deepest sympathies.

        It is perhaps the candles themselves that offend me more. They have electric lighting, so use it. The candles and associated holders are just unnecessary clutter.


      2. It’s the former. One of Tom’s work colleagues hold a periscope over his head and we get to laugh at him. I used to have a Magic Roundabout periscope. Or was it a kaleidoscope ?


  3. Tom beat me to Surrey, although it’s hard to conceive of anywhere that people could genuinely wonder whether it was in London or Hampshire. Maybe “within the orbit of London”. I remember thinking when I lived down there that Farnham was, but Alton wasn’t.

    Surprised to hear of a Spoons showing football on pay-TV. I hope it’s not a trend that spreads, as I’ve always regarded them as refuges from it.


    1. They were part of a darts team that clearly never venture beyond Petersfield normally.

      It’s possible that Spoons was a one-off. It’s near the football ground and feels like a proper local, which isn’t always a recipe for success. 😦


  4. I took my good wife to Portsmouth for a four day break,we stayed in a bed & breakfast in the middle of Southsea on Albert road.
    We did loads of pubs in Portsmouth and also went to Chichester and Ryde.
    We did some really nice looking pubs in locations that some would not go to,the Mystery was a great looking pub set in a council estate with very large tower blocks around it,i love doing pubs in these type of areas,the other nice looking pub we did was the Diamond.
    A great four days pub crawling during a cold February.


  5. It is sad. The barman in the Florist was telling me that Oakleaf had plans to open a second pub in Winchester and then maybe expand their estate further if these two venues proved a success. I was really shocked to learn that the brewery had folded a week or so later.
    I believe some investment firm have taken over Oakleaf and will trade again under the name Fallen Acorn Brewery (not to be confused with Fallen Brewery or Acorn Brewery!), so you might be able to find their beers in the local pubs again soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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