A SLIEMA WANDERER

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Duncan will know all about the strange allure of foreign football team names from your youth.  Jeunesse D’esche, Nancy, Grasshopper, Shepshed Charterhouse…

I’d always wanted to visit the home of Sliema Wanderers, the biggest team in Malta back in the ’70s, and now home to most of the island’s “beer scene” according to local expert Richard.

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Sliema

So, on what some folk refer to as Valentines Day, I left Mrs RM with enough euros to buy a bottle of milk stout and took the 50 minute bus trip to “Do Sliema in an hour“.

Malta not only has cheap, efficient buses (1.50 euros for 2 hours travel); there’s also enough WiFi to plan your journey on the way.  Compare and contrast with Melrose, for example (I’ve no idea why I’m picking on Melrose).

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Journey planning

Sliema is where the trendy bars are, a strip along the Strand facing Sliema Creek holding the bulk of the Maltese youth in the sort of covered outside drinking areas you’d expect in Islington or Southport or Chorlton.

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I started at the ancient Hole in the Wall, which Richard reckons is the best bar on Malta, and as usual the cocky sod is right.  This is as close as you’ll get to a slice of new Leeds or Norrebro, anyway.

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Actually it’s very Copenhagen, only lacking the Evil Keg fonts and exciting prices.  A seat at the bar allowed me to take some photos so bad I wondered why I bothered as I drank the local (and rather wonderful) Stretta IPA.

No live music tonight in the tiny upstairs balcony, but an eclectic jukebox went from Johnny Cash to “Making Plans for Nigel” and sometimes that’s all you need.

I suspect the banter was about internet speeds and the continued lack of Punk IPA but I’ve no idea.  Next to me the locals were drinking Stella.

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Best beer on Malta

Richard’s blog has the photos you need but I caught Socrates, who famously played for Garforth Town, of course.

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Zico

A few yards west to a proper ex-pat bar.

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Salisbury Arms

No relation to the Cambridge pub at one stage owned by CAMRA investments, the Salisbury is more a little slice of Magaluf.

There may have been a couple of Maltese locals in watching Real Madrid on the telly, but the bar was full of Scousers cheering Liverpool on to a win in mighty Porto.

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Scousers here, Scousers there..

There were unused hand pumps with hunting patterns on at the bar; I was secretly relieved they weren’t dispensing vinegary Bombardier.

Do you have local beers ?”

Perplexed look, pointing to a sea of Heineken, Guinness and Stella.

Beers from Malta ?”

Ah, we have CRAFT beers“.

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Phoenix in Farsons

Well, they had those Phoenix beers, served icy cold into a Farsons glass.  The Dubbel was decent before , but their standard stuff was fairly rubbish.  retiredmartin says “Not craft”.

And I’m not just bitter because I had to sit in a room bedecked with Man United tat.

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Some day this will all be City

There were two football commentaries going on at the same time, in Spanish and Mancunian, and neither bore any relation to the match being watched. An experience.

So I wandered down to the waterside, past some pleasing crumbling architecture.

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A touch of Sicily

Richard had spotted Lord Chambray beers on draught in the Black Sheep, whose fridge gave no clues to its odd name.

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What a coincidence

A narrow bar set out for Madrid v PSG, which made the task of the excellent singer (below) rather thankless.  I thought of asking her if she did “Blue Moon” and “Seven Nation Army” but these things get lost in translation.

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A thankless task

An enthusiastic barman lit up when I asked for the local (and superb) Lord Chambray beers, and not just because they’re the most expensive (£6.50 for a 6.3% San Blas). He told me they were stripping out the Heineken and Stella taps to put more craft beer on.

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Your actual craft

We’ll see if that works, won’t we ?

3 bars in 40 minutes, almost Pubmeister standard. I was back just in time to find Mrs RM had finished the milk stout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

32 thoughts on “A SLIEMA WANDERER

  1. What a shame you were on such a limited shore leave from HMS Mrs retiredmartin.
    Those three spots look the makings of an amiable evening session over 2-3 hours.
    But I see why you left the best till last.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Sliema, but the beer was generally a bit shite (not that it mattered, you don’t go to Malta for the beer).

    Have you visited the Marsa Sports and Social Club yet? Some great colonial-style architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks like you were rushing so much to get there and back for €1.50 that you forgot to spell Marsamxett correctly! It’s Sliema Creek actually, Marsamxett harbour is the deep water the other side of Manoel Island – well you did set me up as the local expert!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sod that. I don’t worry (usually) about geographical names. Martin caught me out on that a few weeks ago (Endicot? – or some such?). 😉

        Cheers

        Liked by 1 person

      1. “Bill is the New Kid On the Blog.”

        No offense to Bill but Zico wasn’t a spelling error to me. Sports references are hard to spot from way over on this side of the pond. 😉

        Like

      2. Argh.

        I put “waves at Bill” in those triangular bracket thingies ( ) but they don’t show up for some reason.

        Like

      3. “Is this a tax dodge ?”

        Since everything these days is done on computer I can’t use handwriting ‘write’-offs for my taxes now can I? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I thought so too, Ian, Some folk on here very sniffy about Malta, but Richard Coldwell will tell you they’re very pubby (folk talking rubbish, TV football, all ages welcome, pub grub). Just shows our expectations of pubs vary wildly !

      Like

  4. “but I caught Socrates, who famously played for Garforth Town, of course.”

    Is that a Monty Python reference? 😉

    “What a coincidence”

    It has me stumped. (LOL)

    “He told me they were stripping out the Heineken and Stella taps to put more craft beer on.”

    That’s encouraging. (thumbs up)

    “3 bars in 40 minutes, ”

    A pint in each?

    Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A half in each, Russ, but 2 of them were 6.3%, so I was in good spirits waiting for the bus (on time). Luckily the Maltese provide an informal comfort break (scrubland near the entrance to Valletta) as you change buses on the way back. You’d like it. Bet they get hand pumps soon.

      Like

  5. Love the detail about the jukebox playing Johnny Cash and “Making Plans for Nigel.” I have mixed feelings about the latter as it is truly the only XTC song you will ever hear on US radio, as if the band never recorded anything else. Does that track have such exalted status in the UK?

    (For The Smiths the go-to song is “How Soon Is Now”; you’d think they were some kind of one hit wonder band…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the sort of insight I like, Mark.

      I thought “Dear God” was the best-known XTC song stateside. In the UK they had half a dozen or more quirky hits that most people of “a certain age” would remember from 79-89 e.g. “Senses Working Overtime”, “Sgt Rock”. I rate their later stuff, of course.

      I can see that the early Smiths stuff works less well in the US. Some folk here (Mrs RM) could only name “Heaven knows I’m miserable now”. Of course, a version of “Please, Please, Please” is memorably used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” which is the greatest film of all time.

      Like

      1. Yes, I was going to say “Dear God” is the only other one that has a chance of being heard anywhere over here. English Settlement was one of those albums I bought when I first started getting into music– adored almost every track. They had dozens of songs that *should* have been hits, but it just never happened for some reason.

        I’ve always felt “How Soon Is Now” is a great song but a kind of untypical of the core Smiths sound. I have happy memories of “This Charming Man” getting airplay when the Smiths first came on the scene, but you hardly every hear it now, sadly.

        Liked by 1 person

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