It’s the one you’ve been waiting for, the one that will get you taking that epic train journey to Greenock tomorrow (perhaps).
Duncan suggested “Everyone’s gone to Dunoon” (£3.99 + P&P for that title), but I wasn’t actually in Dunoon, and I’m saving that title ’till the Crown gets in the GBG with its Greene King IPA.
Greenock has fascinated me since I collected football programmes from Steve Earl in the ’70s and spent a whole weekend looking for Morton on the map.
I’d have laughed if you’d told me back in the summer of “Punk” that i’d visit for a pub rather than a ground tick.
Pubmeister beat me to the Willow by a few months, and his report is a model of how to bring a sense of place to a blogpost. I was tempted to just steal his photos, but with the court case linked to my earlier blog title theft still pending thought better of it.
I did commit theft of a sort, inadvertently (Oh yeah, says Tom Irvin) staying on the train past Greenock Central to Greenock West, depriving ScotRail of 10 new pence (3 Scottish groats post-Independence).
The Willow looked fairly plain across the road from West station, so I’ve made it look atmospheric for you.
Plain boozers aren’t ten-a-penny in the Guide, so we should treasure the unpretentious and welcoming Willow.
It may be neutral but Duncan hadn’t worn his Buddies away shirt in here.
“What can I get you, lager ?” said the frankly lovely Landlord. Oh.
In fact, I heard him say “Lager ?” at least a dozen times to the post-work crowd while I was there.
That can raise alarms, but the Red Smiddy was cool, crisp and foamy, NBSS 3.5+. Just as The Great Pubmeister said, in fact.
I just wish Duncan had warned me about the James Bay soundtrack.
I walked into town to catch the return train from Central Station, as dodging another 10p fine could have seen an end to my ticking career.
It’s an odd town built in shipbuilding, shipping and sugar, with a population peaking at 81,123 a century ago but now close to half that.
The Mid Kirk looks stunning on the descent from Regent Street.
but the town is eerily quiet.
Except in the Spoons, where I have just enough time for a return visit.
What a wise man I am. The staff were great, the Inveralmond Winter ale sensational.
A rare NBSS 4, one of the best drops of ale in a Spoons ever, and you know I wouldn’t lie to you.
Two of the best beers I’ve had in all of Scotland. No wonder that cruise ships are queueing to dock at Port Greenock.