In the late ’90s a short-lived monthly glossy called “Taste” emerged, packed with articles on alcohol, drinking and pub crawls. I guess it aimed at the sort of territory “Ferment” covers, except that it made pub-going sound more fun than sipping from cans in your underpants.

A typical article would see a mixed group of mates in their 20s visit an unremarkable town like Retford and visit ALL the pubs to get drunk and write about the experience, rather than the beer.

Taste didn’t last long, but it left a legacy of great pub crawl reporting that probably inspired BRAPA, and I recalled an account of a chaotic night in Oban as I made my own debut in the fun capital of Argyll.

Oban looks the part, doesn’t it ?

I guess that’s why folk pay outrageous prices to stay in the plain looking Premier Inn midweek.

£217.98 ? Our honeymoon cost less than that !

I left Mrs RM* in the campervan next to the Premier Inn to seek out cheaper deals and headed out to tick the three GBG entries in “less than an hour“.

Luckily, the first one was 20 seconds from the ferry terminal.

It was 6pm on Friday night, and it looked packed. Surely I wouldn’t be defeated at the first hurdle by a Spoons.

Loads of gentlefolk standing at the door waiting for instruction that never came; I nipped in and took the first empty seat by the window. Nice view, but a cacophony of noise with screaming babies and dropped cutlery.

Covid rules seemed different up here. Folk standing at the entrance, trying to read sixteen sheets of instructions.

“Just find a table and sit down” I said authoritatively. They did as I instructed, then probably wondered what to do next.

Recent experience in Sheffield had seen a long wait for a beer at understaffed Spoons, but my half of Deuchars (85p !) ordered via the App arrived in 5 minutes, which isn’t bad for 2021.

It was unremarkable with a hint of diacetyl but drinkable (NBSS 2.5), but with people standing next to my table I drank up in 20 seconds and scarpered.

The next pub should have been the highlight, but as I told you on the night, the Oban Inn WAS full.

I’ll pop back in 20 minutes” I told the barmaid.

And I did, after nipping across a busy town to Tick No. 3.

The Lorne looked a classic tables round an island bar Scottish boozer. But the emphasis on food, the handpumps bare, and the Tennent’s not quite the classic lager you’ve come to know and love.

Nice staff though.

I let Mrs RM know I might be running late as I didn’t want to have to come back the next morning to tick the Oban.

Fill your boots” she might have said.

As you’ll remember, I DID eventually get my pint of Jarl at a glorious little table next to the pumps. Look ! Look !

Suddenly Oban made sense, though most of the other drinking seemed to be in modernised hotel bars rather than back street boozers.

Bob Marley sang “Waiting In Vain” as I sprinted back to Mrs RM, oddly inappropriately, to find that she’d beaten the Premier Inn price by a whole £217.98.

We parked up 20 minutes away, in the Fearnoch Forest car park. It was the best nothing we’d ever spent.

*Highlight of the ferry back from Mull was when Mrs RM scanned her ferry tickets and it made the sort of quacking noise they used on Family Fortunes for a bad guess. Thought you’d like to know that.

11 thoughts on “A TASTE OF OBAN

  1. That premier Inn price is astonishing -do people really pay that ? I was looking at some in London recently (for December ) & they were quoting £150 which I thought a bit steep -this was central London & it went down to the usual £50 ish further out

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, people really pay that, Pauline (that price includes dinner and breakfast deals but a lot of folk do add that).

      When we were looking for an average hotel to break up the camping it was hard to find anything on Booking.com with parking for less than £100. And the Premier Inns were sold out at well over £100 room only.


      1. Ah food included ! We do that deal when we stay in Taunton on way to Cornwall -we know from experience that the Beefeater is pretty good (for a Beefeater ! )

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oban, a home of shinty – a game combining the worst aspects of rugby union and golf – and with horribly predictable consequences.

    I’d watch out in those parts.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. When I went to Oban in 2000 the best beer was to be had in the bar of that large hotel which I think was called the Caledonian back then. The Lorne looks superficially like a proper pub but isn’t really.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it looks like a fair few pubs of that age in Birmingham given over to diners. Notable how quickly Scottish pubs have dumped cask on re-opening. An empty hand pump looks worse than none at all !


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