Young Simon is clearly having a good time down in Dorset, exploring the unexpectedly rough pubs of Greater Bournemouth (Lesser Bournemouth is rubbish).
I’m quite jealous of his first ever trips to Lower Parkston Ex-Servicemen’s Club and the Cricketers, particularly as I’ll only get to drive him to square micros this week. New entries to the Guide often have good beer, but rarely give you the visceral thrill of a locals’ boozer.
But there’s still hope for the veteran pub ticker in search of the Proper Pub. Like the anonymous Salford Holt pub, and that Wilmslow Brewhouse & Kitchen, both new this year.
In this case, it’s the Green Dragon in Darlaston, technically part of Walsall CAMRA but it feels like a suburb of Wolves (or IKEA) to me.
Darlaston is an old coal-mining town with a typically low-key town centre that I know you’re desperate to see.
There’s that giant IKEA a mile to the east, an ASDA with a decent café on the High Street, and a few pubs just off the main drag.
Us tickers live for places as unspoilt as the Green Dragon. There’s a backroom with some women of uncertain age who give me a suspicious look; they’ll probably eat Simon.
The front bar has that evocative combination of Hi-Vis jacket and combat trousers and cheery Landlady.
Not my best ever pump clip shot, a bit rushed.
Add a few more Old Boys and you’d have the Stile.
More decent beer (NBS 3); the next bloke in had a pint so cask isn’t a waste of time.
But you come for the quiet or the banter.
“Yam Yam” said one bloke at the bar to the other. I have no idea of the context, but it didn’t matter.
I knew the Gents would be good, and it was.