Hell, hell is for children”  sang Pat Benatar, who’d clearly not seen what the residents of Boscombe have to live with.


From the Firkin I walked down past the station to the coast (exciting evidence below).


You pass one of every chain pub on the walk down Bath Road; passing, oh, zero Beer Guide pubs but lots of German tour coaches. Why would Germans come here for holiday ?  Presumably Spoons beer prices.

I would have gone in the Moon in the Square for old times sake, but I had a long walk ahead through the suburbs of Boscombe and Southbourne, and it’s rude to nip in too many mid-range hotels for the loo when you’re not going to buy a £3 half of Peroni.

Perhaps the dullest walk in the UK

I DID pop in the Cottonwood, upgraded to boutique status since they kicked us out in 1998, a year it made the Beer Guide with (from memory) a solitary Ringwood beer, a pianist is smoking playing “Moonlight Sonata” and women dressed in chiffon.

No pianist, no chiffon, no cask

The next hour took me past tennis courts, gated housing and 275 identical hotels. The only relief came with the occasional wildlife quiz;

I confess I thought the answer was “bunny“.

After an hour I made it to sultry sulky Southboourne and the Wight Bear, presumably named after the mythical Isle of Wight which doesn’t actually exist.

That’s right mate smoke in the opticians

It’s another micro, my sixth (6th) of the day, so expect high tables, middle-aged escapees from South London and unreadable beer boards.

Oh grief !


It’s only a posh one, all 30-somethings, with pashminas and Prosecco and a bloke about to do Coldplay covers (allegedly).

“Excuse me”

“May I”

“Excuse me”

No bar and no indication at all of how you got served.

And this was the “menu“.


It was a BBC version* of the Herne model, with beers from the back, signs telling you your mobile phone will be crushed, beer paddles and the like, but a sinister corporatism behind it.

“Speak to your Bear handler” it said on the wall.

My Bear handler appeared, an enthusiastic young man who clearly wanted to advise me on beer styles.  Now, call me cynical, but aren’t those cask options cheap ones ?

The Peerless Pale was past it (NBSS 1.5), left unfinished on the speaker, and I made a dash for Christchurch, about which I remember nothing.  But the B&B was great, and I’ll be back.


*That’s not a recommendation.

34 thoughts on ““SPEAK TO YOUR BEAR HANDLER”

  1. “Why would Germans come here for holiday ?”

    I’ve never been able to figure out the proclivities of Germans for certain holidays. 😉

    “Perhaps the dullest walk in the UK”

    What the heck are Groynes?

    (Ah. Just checked Wiki).

    “I confess I thought the answer was “bunny“.”

    Wiki says it can be either A or C, so it still doesn’t answer the question.

    “presumably named after the mythical Isle of Wight which doesn’t actually exist.”

    Or the undead (e.g. barrow wight) which still don’t exist. 😉

    “Oh grief !”


    “signs telling you your mobile phone will be crushed,”

    Do they stick it in the mouth of a twin of that thing seen in the Firkin Shed?

    “and I made a dash for Christchurch”

    Is there a secret wormhole to New Zealand?


    PS – “and it’s rude to nip in too many mid-range hotels”

    While ‘too’ may work, I think in this instance there are one (two) many ‘o’s. 😉

    “a pianist in smoking playing “Moonlight Sonata””

    That should either be ‘is’ or ‘in smoking (insert attire here)’. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grief you’re quick off the mark !

      Will give you the Moonlight Sonata but surely “pop in too many hotels” (i.e. several) is right. Put the too in italics and it feels right, anyway.



  2. “It’s rude to nip in too many mid-range hotels for the loo when you’re not going to buy a £3 half of Peroni” and unnecessary given the shrubbery, and pot plants, outside hotels such as the Cottonwood Boutique Hotel.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. She is actually quite cute. You don’t happen to have a photograph of the remainder of her please ?
        Or is photographing just half of the totty your new way of avoiding the wrath of Pauline Sharp ?


      2. Yes, we understand, and very occasionally, as in Morcambe, quite cute young ladies can drift into view without you realising.


  3. Good to see a familiarity with the works of Ms Andrzejewski. There’s also actually a little-known track on her outtakes album called “Hell is Other People’s Children” 😮

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post Martin – sums up Bournemouth nicely….I spent a few years of my early civil engineer career working on drainage and cliff stabilisation schemes for the good people of Bournemouth and districts (I’ve done my duty)….

    Are you in total denial about the existence of the Isle of Wight now…?
    Does that allow you to cross off the IOW GBG entries as no longer existing…?:)

    PS – The October Beer and Bus event might be a good time to go there….when the island (if it exists of course) will be taken over by CAMRA types using vintage buses to search for real ale…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess Worthing isn’t much better, being similarly dominated by micros. I remember an Eldridge Pope pub above the Gardens in Bournemouth, but apart from the Goat (Wadworths) and Cricketers near the Firkin it’s thin.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Permission to speak Captain Mainwaring.
    Perhaps the invasion of Germans ( old habits die hard ) is due to them being on the way to Cornwall because of Rosamunde Pilcher ?
    She’s even more popular down there than Herr Stein.
    I came across a German in Penzance once who was clearly upset about something.
    I commiserated.
    ” U ok Hun ” ?

    ( Seeing as I’m barred from knob jokes …. )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You may be right. Obvious budget stop, and I believe that some folk in Moenchengladbach have never seen the sea. Incidentally, no knocking the Germans. That’s what the French are for. #Demarcation.


  6. That blackboard in the micro looks impossible -Mr Tyke would have struggled if he didn’t have his right glasses on -I don’t think we would have persevered with this one though -give me high stools & beards & old copies of Viz please

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Hell, hell is for children” sang Pat Benatar, who’d clearly not seen what the residents of Boscombe have to live with.

    ….and just like that, I’ve spat my water onto my keyboard!

    I work in Boscombe and this is a very apt observation.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No need to feel guilt, I experienced Boscombe in sunkissed glory which helped me to romanticise the day! On a dark winter’s evening, walking from my work building to my car in Boscombe is a different story haha. Thanks for reading Martin.

        Liked by 1 person

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