From Rotherhithe I took the Overground service to Highbury, hoping to do my last couple of GBG ticks in North London. You’d assume that the internet would work on the Overground service but it didn’t, so my planning reached BRAPA-esque depths.
Usually my travel plans factor in football matches limiting entry to pubs near the ground (admittedly rarely a problem in Milton Keynes). I’d forgotten that, on rare occasions, Premiership games are still played at 3pm on Saturdays in 2016, just like in the olden days. The tell-tale sign that the Gooners had that treat against Stoke was the brand new red and white scarf worn by everyone . They do what they’re told at the Emirates – buy the scarf, sing the song, eat the pie, cheer the FIFA anthem.
Ten minutes on the bus up the Holloway Road was enough to convince me walking was quicker, though a lot duller. The Coronet is a lively Spoons, but Upper Holloway is devoid of Beer Guide pubs, and interest, till I got to the Shaftesbury Tavern , when things picked up a little bit.
The Shaftesbury has a familiar North London opened-out style to it, and was filling up with moaning Gooners at 1pm. I should have hated it, but I couldn’t, even with the inevitable dimpled jug.
That’s why writing about pubs is so difficult. Generally Simon Everitt and I agree entirely on pubs, but on occasion we come to blows on pubs just like this one.
What it had was a cheery family atmosphere, just two beers on (London Pride and a very decent Hammerton N7), proper seating, salt and pepper squid and no gastro pretensions. Perhaps I was tipsy by then, as even the inevitable “Lovecats” by The Cure didn’t upset me, though you’ll understand why I preferred South London’s musical offer.
Now I don’t know my Crouch End from my Crouch Hill, and I was a bit confused by the big fences indicated the closure of the London Overground line, so my tactics reverted to “Walk in the opposite direction to blokes in red-and-white scarves“.
This worked well for five minutes, till the Old Dairy loomed into view. I should know by now to walk past pubs I’ve already done, but something nagged in what was left of my brain, and I gave in to a return visit. Pleasingly, it was just as good.
I asked the nice lady for a straight glass.
“As opposed to what !”
“One of those dreadful old men’s mugs” – Lady No.2
Well done you lovely defenders of the (nearly) straight glass.
QUIZ TIME – WHAT IS THAT GLASS AND WHY IS IT THAT SHAPE ?
Yet another Greene King GBG pub, and another one selling no IPA at all, at least while I was there. I couldn’t resist the Old Dairy Silver Top, which was surprisingly good (NBSS 3.5). Quite a few Christmas party groups were gathered round high tables to watch the game of the day, with Watford showing their football is better than their pubs.
My plan was to go to the Beehive in Tottenham, but I gave up on that, and headed for Hackney. Stroud Green Road was only slightly more interesting that Holloway Road, and that was mostly due to the number of wig shops. I thought I was walking away from the Emirates, but suddenly I’d arrive at the keg hell that is Finsbury Park.
WhatPub describes the Twelve Pins as “a very Irish pub”. I like WhatPub’s economy with words.
COMING UP NEXT – FROM HELL TO HACKNEY