6 September 2010

Ancoats fails the family friendly challenge

Click here to search for pubs in Ancoats

This visit (on 5th September 2010) was supposed to be a family friendly day out. This part of Manchester city centre is particularly non-family friendly. Ancoats is probably the worst area for family friendly pubs that I have been in the world.

The Castle on Oldham Street and the Swan Street pubs (The Crown and Anchor, the Fringe, and the Smithfield) do not allow children. The Smithfield did at one time; I have seen a child play at the back of the Fringe. It seems that the policy has changed in Ancoats.

Especially in an age of pub closure, I would not expect these putative public houses to refuse business. The corollary of this is that publicans would rather see a pub close than accommodate families, much like publicans do everywhere else. This gives me an idea for an amusing reverse discrimination experiment: to open a public house that disallowed those of an anti-family opinion. For example, it could disallow single men over fifty or homosexuals. These groups (which are not mutually exclusive) seem to constitute the majority of customers in real ale houses.

The Angel is open on an inconsistent basis. Therefore, it would be difficult to determine, if children are allowed in that establishment. Nonetheless, the Marble Arch still allows dining families. The only other public house that appears to serve real ale is the Marble. As the Marble is overpriced and often crowded, it leads one to think that a restaurant, supermarket, or takeaway, would be a cheaper and a more accommodating option. Thankfully, the Travelodge on Swan Street, Room 106 was a spacious room. There is a bar on the ground floor. The staff could not do enough for us.

5 September 2010


Click here to search for pubs in Sheffield

I think it can take up to three days to appreciate what is on offer at this city. You could easily spend a whole day near Fulwood and the Abbeydale Brewery; another day could easily be spent around the Kelham Island area, with its museums and pubs. Another could be spent around Sheffield centre itself.

I do not recall writing up about the last time I was in Sheffield. It included a visit to the Kelham Island Tavern, the Rising Sun (the flagship pub for the Abbeydale Brewery), a rock pub with questionable opening times, and a few other places. I intend to write about that visit on another occasion. Instead, I will write about the most recent trip on 24 August 2010.

Typically, the East Midlands Trains had not put out the ticket reservations on the Liverpool Lime Street to Norwich service. So when I joined the journey at Stockport, this resulted in me asking someone to move. At the same time, a hoard of people had already boarded the train. One obnoxious woman protested that I took her space while I waited for the chap to move. She was one of those who pretend to be disabled. Thankfully, all was settled within five minutes or so. Oddly enough, when I arrived at Sheffield, the woman who claimed to be “less mobile” than me appeared to challenge me to surmount the forty-five or so degree gradient to the top of the polytechnic. She almost won too; some people invent disabilities to either avoid employment or escape the dismal jobs that exist because politicians have drafted them into direct completion with the third world.

I intended to make my way to museums at Kelham Island. Unfortunately, he rain in Stockport seemed to have followed me. Dressed in short cut trousers and a rugby shirt did not seem such a great idea against the downpour. So I made my way to the Lloyds No. 1 Bar. I had two Bishop’s Finger and an Abbot Ale. Those Camra vouchers came in useful. I ate the Steak pudding too. The wifi access enabled me to keep in contact with the known world. I now have the F# samples from Oliver Sturm as a result of this free service.

Given that the museums are only open until 4pm, I decided against going to Kelham Island after the rain had settled. Instead, I took photographs of the cathedral, a relic of a lost civilisation. Inside, amid the magnificence, it was adorned with war paraphernalia, such as swords and scruffy Union flags. It gives mixed messages; I could never understand the Anglican Church. Outside were the usual drug addicts, prostitutes, and zombies. So after taking photographs, I made my way passed the Bankers Draft. It is the only reliably way that I know to get to Sheffield Central Travelodge.

From the last time, I remember the Travelodge being near an overpriced kebab house, called Nazi or some anagram of that word (Niaz Kebabish, as I recall). There is also an anomalously wine shop nearby, which stock Lindisfarne mead (in 70cl bottles), Phillips Alcoholic Cordials, as well as a few other scarce drinks. A little further down is the butcher shop, with its impressive pork sandwiches at £2.60. Of course, I bought a sandwich, a couple of bottles of mead, and a Shrub Phillips cordial.

The next day I went to the Kelham Island Museum, as well as had a look in at the Fat Cat (Kelham Island brewery’s flagship pub) and the Kelham Island Tavern. Top marks go to the Kelham Island Museum for its free entry fee and to the Fat Cat for its perfect pint of Pale Rider. Surprisingly, it seems to win few awards. The Kelham Island Tavern is a bit of an anomaly in that it continues to win awards. But then again these are Camra awards which seem to be awarded more on a political basis than on an objective basis.