What greater joy can there be on a Spring day in England than traipsing round an out-of-town shopping centre in Dudley looking for a Wetherspoons. Several, I’d say.
I can safely vouch that Merry Hill is a joy best left to people who need things, or like arguing with their wife over meeting places. Which tends to exclude me. I did need noodles, and can recommend the Yangtze Express effort for £4.50, though whether I’d be brave enough to bring Mrs RM here on Valentine’s Day like Peter from Brierley Hill is a matter for debate.
I knew I’d been to a Spoons here in pre-GBG days, but that turned out to be the Abraham Darby, one of those airy places attached to shops that make up 80% of central Milton Keynes’s pub stock.
It turned out I hadn’t been to the Waterfront before, and you’d definitely remember it. Bizarrely, it’s a few yards from the Midlands office of my regular drinking partner, so I must have walked past it a few times without recognising it as a Spoons.
I’m not sure I’ve been in a Spoons as plain as this before, making even the early shop conversions in Eastcote and Stanmore look palatial. WhatPub talks about an attractive location by Dudley No.1 canal, which is a very generous description, unless you’ve never seen water before. It’s a while since I’ve seen so many vacant offices and shops.
No Primark shoppers here, but a near enough full house of locals and the odd office worker nursing a coke. I do wonder what changes take place for old Spoons like this to suddenly make it into the Guide. It had a couple of local beers on from Sadlers and Backyard, but it’s hardly competing on choice.
A Doom Bar and Abbot apart, there wasn’t much cask being poured over lunch either. That Backyard Jackalope was OK at best, though I couldn’t finish it. The barperson somehow sensed I was CAMRA and offered discount, before oddly checking the front of the pumpclip to confirm it was a “CAMRA” ale; confusion with Cask Marque perhaps !
I’d love to bring you snippets of the banter, but it was genuinely incomprehensible, apart from the bits I can’t repeat anyway.
“You like a bit of crackling now and then, eh” was delivered with rare hidden meaning that was lost on me; Simon will understand.
As an early, basic one room Spoons, you get the benefit of downstairs loo, but lose a bit on local history displays, so I explored Brierley Hill myself.
The High Street is lacking in shops, which is understandable, but also sadly lacking in the pubs that the rest of Dudley Borough is famed for. The Dog & Partridge has one of those minimalist descriptions that WhatPub use for keg strongholds, but I’m sure Alan Winfield can fill us in on its many merits.