A reserved sign, RetiredMartin ! Again !“. Hear me out.

A week ago we were battling the closed M27 from Portsmouth to Southampton, which is officially “The Worst Way To Spend Two Hours In Britain“.

I was delighted with my destination, a 37th Premier Inn of the year at Southampton Airport.

£35, free parking, a quick getaway up the M3 in the morning, four minutes on the train to St. Denys, the Gateway to Hampshire’s 2nd best pub town (no, the best isn’t Eastleigh).

From the platform at St. Denys, inspiration for the Blondie hit, you can see a famous pub formerly known as Nellie’s Nob. Would I get a chance to pop in there after the Saints v City game ?

Southampton is no Portsmouth, let’s be clear. The street art is distinctly amateur,

and the street parking leaves something to be desired.

The old corner pubs of northern Southampton have either gone,

or turned into Indian tapas bars.

Dhaba looked decent, it’ll be in GBG23 now, but I slogged it to The Handle Bar, expecting/dreading another of those “craft for cyclist cafes”.

The last 5 years have seen a succession of these suburban craft bars in the Guide, always tucked in between Stockbrokers and Opticians.

I really liked The Handle Bar. Bright and breezy, modern but comfortable, with some good beers you may have heard of if you’re as on-trend as me.

I asked the charming barman what I should drink in that irritating way that charming barmen around the country hate.

Recommend one. DON’T ask me what I normally drink“.

The Flowerpots is good.” Well done that man.

He pointed to a table on the next level I could sit at and said it was free for 15 minutes. “Don’t worry, I’ll only need ten !” I said, too enthusiastically.

The Flowerpots was cool, clean and crisp, with a lovely aftertaste (I get all this rubbish from a book, possibly Moby Dick), NBSS 3.5+ stuff.

I’d been there for all of 8 minutes (the Met just checked my phone records to prove that) when a chap came in, announced his reservation, and the nice barman came across and said I’d have to go. I was nearly down to the dregs, anyway, and shot off.

But it left a sour taste. And that’s why table reservations and “pubs” don’t mix. No doubt someone will say I should have my days planned to the minute and I should have booked that table the previous week. They can do one.

Still, gorgeous beer, nice people. I hold no grudges. Let’s continue, shall we ?


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