STAINES – HARD TO BEAT

 

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A bit of a shift from cute Cotswolds to (figuratively speaking) surly Surrey next.

For the pubber, Surrey tends to group into 4 main headings;

  • Stockbroker suburbs to the north (Englefield and Epsom) – Brunning & Price land
  • Grittier “Real” towns (Staines, Woking) – Courage pubs run for Chelsea fans
  • Surrey hills village pubs (Shere, Friday St) – gastropubs serving warm Ranmore
  • Hambledon – £10 a pint, visas needed to enter.
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A gem or two in there

Plenty of time for me to upset Surrey fans (are there any ?) over the next week, but I start with a real cracker.  Fascinating OS extract, too.

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Staines-upon-Thames is, I wager, a lesser known Thames town compared to Maidenhead or Sunbury, but I did uncover some famous residents, including All Alone,

All Alone, war pigeon

and of course the musical stars of my blog title (five points).

Lots to explore, but I started in the woods.

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The woods

For about 5 minutes. Until I realised it was actually now a swamp.

The walk through a heavily modernised town towards the Beehive is a mixture of charm, and whatever is the opposite of charm.  With a shopping centre called “Two Rivers” it could have been Watford without the Elton John statue.

You can review the evidence and decide which bits are charming.

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Fat Tones
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Town Hall
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Wavy Debenhams

This is a town where my Uncle was a Church minister decades ago, but I don’t find the shop where I bought Gillan’s live version of “Smoke On The Water” back in 1980 and listened to it silently on Sennheisers at their suburban house later.

Not much modern art, though the pedestrianised High Street makes an effort with historical sculpture, and a busker plays “Wind Beneath My Wings” on a violin.  It’s a Wind Beneath My Wings” sort of town.

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Art

The Library/Museum looked the most interesting, but obviously both of those were now closed.

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Closed

There’s been an interesting mix of pubs in the Beer Guide over the years, with smart riverside Fullers pubs, free houses and a stalwart basic Spoons in the east Croydon mould.

Perhaps London Stone will bring the Craft that Staines deserves.

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London Stone

Oddly, my notes say “but the smells !“, and it’s not what you think.

The riverside, dotted with fragrant plants, is the best smelling patch of town imaginable. What it covers up, I couldn’t guess.

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Not the most picturesque part of the Thames round here, but at least there’s no stuck-up blokes in boats this far out.

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The bucolic Thames

The Beehive is my favourite type of Guide pub, the Irish back street local.

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The Beehive

And not just because of the extensive range of real ale in this free house.

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Take Courage

The choice of two types of Courage pump clip is a nice touch, bringing to mind the five different Youngs options in Bristol.

As befits the national beer of west Surrey, the Best, despite the head, is cool and creamy. It’s a lovely lunchtime drink of Beer Guide standard (NBSS 3+), and the seating is from your “proper pub” dreams.

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Bench seat beauties
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Blue is the colour

I was highly tempted by the bar stools, but feared someone would join me to discuss John Terry or the Chelsea ladies team or summat. Chelsea posters dominate the pool room and the outside loos (no photos).

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Tempted by bar stools

Instead, I was drawn to the benches by the unexpected sight of the Daily Telegraph, a rare John Terry-free zone.

The fastest talking Grandma in the west joined me and the bloke drinking a bottle of Courage light to discuss Grandparental duties with the Landlord, which I loved.

Courage Light man was reading from the obituaries, much to Grandma’s delight.

Grand

Honest to God”   etc etc

Not quite a classic, but pretty much an essential stop if you’re walking or boating the Thames.  Coincidentally, I met a former resident of Staines in the Staffordshire Moorlands a week later who thought exactly the same.

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36 thoughts on “STAINES – HARD TO BEAT

  1. Was that bloke drinking a Light’n’Bitter to add to the nostalgia?

    In the 1990s I attended a couple of SAP courses which involved staying in Staines, so I ended up visiting quite a number of pubs in the town, although not the Beehive.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What I remember is that the SAP training centre at Bedfont Lakes had a free canteen, which basically allowed you to (within reason) hoover up all kinds of sweets, crisps, cakes and snacks for later consumption 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I also remember one hotel we stayed in round there (when working for another company) had a plague of tiny frogs in the ground-floor corridor one morning 😮

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Point of order! I lived in Surrey for a while. Guildford if you’re interested. Although there are some scuzzy bits, there is nothing “gritty” about Surrey at all, whatsoever, nothing like, not even a little bit.

    Friary Muck in most places if I recall correctly? Most memorable thing I remember was going to Work about the same time as the bloke next door. After about four weeks of “good morning”, “alright mate” I got fed up so reverted to “Hey up twat”, “what you looking at” and other pleasantries. Never got a response in six months, not a dickie bird and you call them “gritty”?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Staines-upon-Thames”

    I take it that’s where the sewage plants empty out into the river?

    “Art”

    In keeping with the effluent theme, is that a suppository they’re carrying?

    “What it covers up, I couldn’t guess.”

    Ahem, see my effluent theme above. 🙂

    ” the Irish back street local.”

    An Irish local, with a bloody big Foster’s sign. Says it all really. 😉

    “Chelsea posters dominate the pool room and the outside loos ”

    I was thinking that when you mentioned blue is the colour (Chelsea was my dear departed Dad’s team).

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That first photo, of the guy peering over his glasses, is so good– I must thank you for having caught it. I love the line, “a busker plays ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ on a violin.” I read this little highly specific detail and I’m there, in a way, standing in your shoes, witnessing this odd but memorable little moment.

    Liked by 1 person

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