Some reflections on the New Normal, but more importantly the answer to the question posed 2 months ago – How many pubs did I visit last year ?

I’m wary of speculation about what pubs will be like on 4th July (if they even open). In fact I’m not sure I’ll be rushing back. You get such good beer in your local Nisa these days;

Real ale, in its strictest sense

Pub Curmudgeon, not for the first time, summed up my reservations here, just ahead of the re-opening announcements today.

“The whole thing (proposed restrictions) transforms pubgoing into a much more considered and premeditated activity rather than something spontaneous and FUN, which is what it should be.

And if it is reduced to such a JOYLESS, regimented process it is highly likely that many people will simply conclude that it’s not worth bothering with.”

Joyful pub – The Pelican, Devizes


Mrs RM senses my uncertainty.  Greeters, reservations and table service ?  Ugh !

But that said, I DO like to sit in pubs.  Half my posts are rants about bar flies and dithering at the bar.

Bar flies in the Forest of Dean

Perhaps it CAN work.

But will I have to register for EVERY pub visit ?

Is there a GBG ticker exemption for folk who just want to nip in for a quick half ?

White Swan, Barton upon Humber



For context in 2019 I made one thousand, one hundred and twenty-eight (1,128) individual pub visits, to 1,086 different pubs. Mostly for beer, but the odd coffee and eggs benedict, though they all had money from my visit.

And most of the time I probably only decided I was going in a minute before.


For those interested, I visited the Regal (Spoons) and Wrestlers (Thai, Cambridge) and Sun (Waterbeach) half a dozen times in 2019, but very few others more than once.

The Sun

Sentimentalists will be delighted to know that the most pubs visited on one day was the round dozen on my birthday (22 December), and I knew it the next morning. 126 pubs in December, so obviously not put off by the seasonal amateurs.

The Magazine – another unwise birthday decision


My Top Pub Towns were Cambridge (31 pub visits), Manchester (32). Aberdeen (21), and Proud Preston (16).

Table service in the Black Horse, Matthew ?

Preston’s finest in Preston’s finest

My vast 2019 spreadsheet even has 992 beer scores.

You’ll be thrilled to know the average NBSS 3.13, weighed down by two pints of sludge in Wetherspoons (Haverfordwest and Dorchester), but bolstered by perfection in Bolton‘s Stonegate, Newcastle’s top micro, and the Doom Bar of your dreams in Winchester.


Good luck with table service in the Eclipse.


68 thoughts on “REGISTERING FOR PUB VISITS – ALL 1,128 OF THEM ?

  1. If the reservation system is similar to ours, no reservation would work when there is an open table. Otherwise you’re out of luck. Walking in can work for you though. They will seat you. Not sure how much emphasis you will have on time slots. We essentially get the table for a certain amount of time. This ensures turnover for the staff and bar. You can’t nurse two beers endlessly. Staff is serving far fewer tables than they used to so earnings are down.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s great perspective, Dave.

      Not much chance of me overstaying my welcome, though I seem to have lingered in Southworth company (weren’t we kicked out in Leek ?). We shall see, soon enough. Both terrifying and slightly fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Expecting a whole host of batty ‘rules’ framed by people whose one & only ever time in a pub was during a Oxford or Cambridge Uni Rag Week in the 1970s. Thankfully, as is generally the way, most will then fall by the wayside through token or non-observance in many establishments after a few weeks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the LBC bore telling us how they long to get back to their wonderful West London riverside pub (the Dove) for their Sunday lunch once a month and politicians who think all pubs are Wetherspoons. Oh, they are.


  3. Loved the caption “Preston’s finest in Preston’s finest.”

    Oddly my only bit of knowledge about Preston is that it’s apparently the hometown of Aardman Animation’s Nick Parks, and that he gave the antagonist dog character in “A Close Shave” the name Preston as a tribute.

    I must say given what I’ve read about the virus I’d only be comfortable in an outdoor pub garden at this stage– which let’s be honest, doesn’t really give you the full pub experience does it? Let us hope they can develop at super effective vaccine; seems that is our only real hope of life getting back to anything approaching normal.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Martin,
    It’s probably me just being not very good at sums but I don’t understand your less individual pub visits (1,128) than different pubs visited (1,186).
    You’ve prompted me to count my pub visits last year and it was 736, an average of two a day, which means that I averaged 1¼ pints on each visit and, over the year, 2⅓ pints in each of the 390 pubs I used.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I learnt sums from Priti Patel, Paul.

      (it’s actually that problem of crumbs behind the “A” “Q” and 1 keys on my keyboard). Should read 1,086, of course. A bumper year for both of us.


  5. It’s a conundrum isn’t it…? For me, almost all pub visits are random – “shall we have a pint later” conversations, or on the way home from somewhere passing our favourite pub. Sure I live in Surrey hence do the gentlefolk Sunday lunch thing – but tbh Thursday was mostly pub day for us. Like one of the comments on Pub Curmudgeons page….if it involves booking, queuing, perspex screens and a joyless experience then home in the garden it is with some quality beers bought from the local off licence…. As with all things….let’s see how it goes, I suspect most people will ignore Gvmt advice when it comes to pubs anyway and our local will smile kindly on us as we turn up…..

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was hoping that gen.eric was a mash-up of ’70s popsters Generation X and Wreckless Eric, Raymondo !

        Good to have you back, and I agree with all your comments. I reckon plenty of regulars (60+ blokes with health conditions, the ones that pay the bills), will be wary of a swift return. Certainly plenty of regulars on CAMRA’s Discourse aren’t rushing back indoors.

        For me the beer is only about 10% of the reason I go to a pub, just behind “sunlight streaming in the bay window” and “inevitable but pointless argument between long-married couple”. Or is that my living room ?


  6. I’m with HuishHugh on this one. Rules that either unworkable, or unenforceable, tend to be dis-guarded in the fullness of time, so there is little point in getting too het up over their practicalities. There’s certainly no need for a Laura Kuenssberg-style, in depth analysis at this stage.

    I would also seek to allay Mudgie’s fears about the nanny-state is taking over our lives, because it can only do so IF we allow this to happen. Again, see my point above about unenforceable rules and regulations.

    The main thing is that pubs and hotels will be reopening in 10 days’ time. It will then be up to individual business to implement working practices that best suit their requirements and means of operation, whilst at the same time keeping staff and customers safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I must stop agreeing with my readers; they come here for an argument.

      Laura’s reason to exist is to create and flame conflict, creating the conditions for a “gotcha” or “Will you resign” moment. There’s no space for balanced debate of complex problems on the BBC, which is why so many people join and stick to camps and stick little flags and hashtags on their social media.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Laura also gets plenty of opportunities to wear expensive-looking new outfits – that’s according to Mrs PBT’s, who takes note of, and knows about such things!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. She’s clearly highly competent, but I find that tendency to “take an angle”, create a narrative and speculate, rather than give news totally counter to the values the BBC once had. I’d better stop there.


      3. The political journalists really haven’t covered themselves with glory over the past three months, have they? At least now the daily press conferences have been canned.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Here’s a good example of incompetent media coverage.

        German “r” goes up for 2 days due to isolated outbreaks on a low number of cases – BBC hysteria leading to 2nd wave flappers.
        German “r” back down sharply after targeted intervention – ZERO coverage.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The political correspondents are quite good at reporting on politics and questioning on political matters. However, the past three months have not been a political situation, they have been a health crisis. Quite why the healthcare correspondent, if the BBC have one, hasn’t been on over time with the science correspondent I have no idea, as they would probably do quite a good job given that actually is their job. Apologies if my viewing over the internet has lessened my judgement – I refuse to own a television and I have been isolated from newspapers.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. T’other Paul,
      As for “fears about the nanny-state is taking over our lives, because it can only do so IF we allow this to happen” Boris probably realises that few now will take note of what he tells them and that’s why the new guidance to pubs is all about “steps that will usually be needed” and not “you must …….” and so a month from now pubs on a Friday or Saturday evening will be just the same as this time last year.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s all something of a conundrum, but my experience is that most pubs are quite quiet most of the time. It is very rare for us to turn up at a pub on our canal trips and not get a seat easily (there are exceptions, as always, with gastropubs at the weekends and special days like Mother’s Day), but overall (away from town/city centre hotspots) pub-going is a ‘minority sport’ these days.
    Many of your pub interior photos show a distinct lack of fellow drinkers, so I reckon that it’ll be OK (after a few days of ‘madness’!). The downside for the pubs is, of course, that they need the busy periods to make their money and this will make it difficult for them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My local pubs are quiet during the daytime, which is when I visit them, so I don’t envisage any problems with being able to get in, and they may even welcome the custom of a solitary bloke occupying a table for four while drinking a pint and reading the paper 😀

      Liked by 2 people

  8. We will probably not bother with the pub for the time being unless it is the Halfway House beer garden but I am really desperate to go on a lovely long pub crawl round London ,with our Northern friends -spending hundreds of pounds & having a jolly good time.Sadly this will not happen for some considerable time.we have however been rather adventurous & booked a caravan at St Margarets at Cliffe for 3 nights later in July -hardly any pubs round there to tempt us anyway ! (within walking distance )

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I agree Martin that too many rules will detract from the overall pub experience that many of us are used to. Spontaneity is the spice of life and taking that away from something so important like pubs will be a downer. Some of my most favorite times at a pub have come from a spur of the moment decision to go, but in today’s world it’s best to err on the side of caution. Having pubs open (w/ restrictions) is better than them not being open.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “Half my posts are rants about bar flies and dithering at the bar.”

    …to be replaced by rants about plastic screens, slow table service and (worst of all) queues round the pub car park for the toilets….possibly…?

    …and when you go out in the car park to join the end of the queue – will your table still be available when you get back….?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Make the proper toilets too off-putting and it won’t only be bad beer ‘watering’ those plant pots in the beer garden.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. “…and when you go out in the car park to join the end of the queue – will your table still be available when you get back….?”

      The perils of solo drinking.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Citra,
        Yes, but it does occasionally have its advantages.
        Several years ago in my nearest Wetherspoons half way through my meal I went for another pint not knowing that the – maybe daily – table clearances was imminent and on returning found my half eaten meal gone.
        It was willingly replaced by a full meal.
        One and a half meals for the price of one would have been really nice if it had been good food.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. We know you love Spoons really, Paul. I’m tempted to make a table reservation for you at the Picture House for 9am on the 4th. I’m sure BrewDog will have supplied some Punk IPA for pubs even if there’s no real ale yet.


      3. Having just read the Discourse threads on returning to pubs I’d say 90% of CAMRAs won’t be going back to pubs on the 4th anyway and 90% of the country think they should be closed until there’s a vaccine that’s never coming, so I should be fine.


      4. But if 80% of the few regular Discourse posters very rarely used pubs anyway 90% of that 80% not going back to pubs won’t make much difference.


      5. Excellent point Paul. By my maths that’s 117% of all people not going back to pubs anymore while moaning about the closure of pubs.

        I do believe most of the posters on Discourse don’t really like pubs that much, full of the wrong sort of people and not enough “choice” of beer.


      6. Yes indeed, and please make it one of the five tables in the beer garden adjacent to the River Sow so that I can watch the swans, ducks and moorhens, and make sure it’s not raining !


      7. Yes, and I’ve just read “how will we know which pubs are going to be open?
        short of cold calling all pubs …. how will we know whether to venture out to a pub?”
        Just not worth the risk of venturing past your front and finding a pub’s front door shut – but there’s a better chance of it being open on New Years Eve, but no there mightn’t be any spare seats then !

        Liked by 1 person

      8. “How will we know which pubs are going to be open ?”

        Simply consult your Directory of Wetherspoon pubs, Paul. Tim Martin will consider it his public duty to open the Great British Pub on the 4th, even if CAMRA members consider it their duty to sit at home in their underpants drinking bottled beer and telling us that these aren’t real pubs so they’re not going.

        (joking, perhaps)


      9. Not simply wander round the town centre until you find one or more that is or are open ?
        No, that’s too obvious !


      10. I’m hoping all CAMRA members will be doing that on the morning of the 4th, Paul, and updating WhatPub accordingly. It would be helpful to know who is in each pub so I can avoid folk with a bad sneeze or similar.


      11. I’ve just read “How will I know if they are open? Well in the Yorkshire Dales, we still have these quaint things called telephones…” so that explains it up North.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Legally, micropubs aren’t allowed to answer the phone, even when they’re open.

        I find Proper pubs will answer the phone politely, even when they’re asleep.


  11. I have lost a few unfinished pints while nipping into the loo, of course none of the staff know anything about it even though the wipe marks are still clearly seen on the table, this tends to happen in London in my experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rarely see the beer mat on top of the unfinished glass gambit these days. When did it cease being part of standard pub etiquette? I still do it, and it works.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A friend of mine used to do that and had a little beer mat-sized bit of cardboard that said so. It worked fine until he came back and someone had scrawled “So have I”

        Liked by 1 person

  12. I won’t be returning on 4th July. I say that with a very heavy heart.

    Firstly, we are in the middle of hayfever season. Normally, I don’t care, if I am going to sneeze and be a bit run down, I can’t pass it on to anybody. With this disease, I could quite easily be an asymptomatic carrier, one sneeze, however well I catch it could easily send droplets all over the pub. I don’t care about myself, but I’m not killing another pub goer.

    Secondly, I live on my own. I go to the pub to meet people, new and old. If I have to be 3′ 3″, or preferably 6′ 6″ away from them on my own table, that isn’t going to be a very sociable experience now is it? I’d may as well sit on a table on my own at home.

    Thirdly, unless I am with others, my pub visits tend to be spontaneous. I want the choice of which pub I want to visit. I don’t want to book in advance (although I can see that falling by the wayside). In real life, if you tip up at a pub, they will accommodate you. I don’t want to find sorry, social distancing, pub full, oh bugger wait an hour for the next train in the rain.

    I will say though, that apart from Friday and Saturday nights, very few pubs that aren’t called ‘Spoons are busy to the point of social distancing being an issue. If you tip up at a pub and there is space, no publican, all of whom will be struggling, is going to say sod off you haven’t booked. These government guidelines, which I don’t think have been published yet, are just that, guidelines. None of it is law, so as long as publicans act reasonably and responsibly, they will be allowed to get on with it.


    1. That’s one of the best analyses so far, Tom.

      Drinking outside will be the safe bet.

      I think the reservation requirement is a misunderstanding. I think only restaurant pubs will do that. Some pub tickers are in pubs for 2 minutes, not even 27.5!


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