Day 3

The big one! No we weren't going to Blackpool! we were heading off to London a mere 450 miles away. To get to London we decided against the West Coast route via Carlisle, Preston and Rugby for the all together more interesting East coast route via Edinburgh, Newcastle and York. The East Coast main line provides a wealth of scenic pleasures, from Edinburgh Castle to the Rugged cliffs of Northumberland. From the bridges of Newcastle on Tyne to the historic walled city of York and its equally spectacular station. The East coast route has it all, not to mention a humongous pig farm somewhere near Northallerton, shame the bacon butties on the train are nothing to write home about!

GNER 12:00 to London Kings Cross awaiting departure at Glasgow Central


Anyway we left Glasgow Central bang on time at 12:00 noon. for the 5 hour 45 minute trip to the nations capital. Ample time to work up a thirst and plan a mini pub crawl around the South Bank area.

The Border Town of Berwick upon Tweed and the Northumbrian Coast


We had arranged to spend the night at the Premier Inn County Hall, right in the shadow of the London Eye. There is no such thing as a cheap London hotel but location is all important. As the name suggests this hotel occupies part of what used to be the home of London County Council and more recently Greater London Council. It has a fantastic location right at the foot of the London Eye and diagonally across the River Thames from the Houses of Parliament. But that's enough Judith Charmers for the time being!

The Premier Travel Inn, County Hall London and the London Eye


Our reason for choosing this location was it's proximity to London Waterloo station which was to be our departure point. However that's tomorrow. SE1 covers such areas as Waterloo, London Bridge and Southwark. It is also home to Borough an area until recently overshadowed by it's more famous neighbours. That was however before the celebrity chef revolution. Borough is now justifiably famous for it's market. Borough Market is a wholesale produce market and plays host to the crème de la crème of British food producers. It is however open to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. A Wednesday night is still not a bad time to visit as the area is also populated with good pubs and restaurants. The Wheatsheaf, 6 Stoney Street, Borough is a classic Youngs brewery boozer, usually lively with a post work, pre going home crowd. Always busy but service isn't usually a problem. This pub would be worth the trip alone, HOWEVER next door but one sits The Market Porter, 9 Stoney Street. CAMRA's local branch named it their pub of the year 2006 and worthy of this accolade it is to. As mentioned previously it was a Wednesday evening when we called, sometime about 8 PM and although this was the end of November not only was the place heaving but people were actually stood outside drinking!! The Market Porter is a free house and has around 10 real ales available. We passed on offerings from Isle of Skye ( having just come from Scotland) and Robinsons, Stockport ( brewery less than a dozen miles from our home) and settled instead for offerings from Harveys, Sussex (excellent) and Meantime, Greenwich (very good).

The Wheatsheaf and the Market Porter, Borough, London


From two pubs on one street it was then a walk of half a mile or so to the Charles Dickens,160 Union Street, Southwark. The Charles Dickens is another 19th century pub that manages to be a local boozer and a fairly cosmopolitan bar & restaurant. They offer  2 Adnams of Suffolk beers at all time plus 6 guests. This is another 'must visit'. Our next stop on our crawl back to Waterloo was at The Anchor & Hope, 36 The Cut.  It is difficult to know were to start when describing the Anchor, it's definitely a place you can go for a drink, 3 handpumps dispense Charles Wells Bombardier and Youngs Ordinary bitter plus a changing guest. They are well kept but you pay restaurant prices. They do however go to the trouble of listing all drinks on the list not just the excellent well thought out wines. Make no mistake though the Anchor is an eating destination and what a destination! They don't take bookings for anything other than large groups, it's a case of turning up and adding your name to the waiting list if necessary. Meals can be taken anywhere in the somewhat cramped interior and it really isn't a place for a romantic dinner as people are encouraged to table share for the 'greater good' of accommodating as may of the baying hordes as possible. I for one think this is a great idea as waiting times are reduced and it is a great way of meeting people. On entering we bagges 2 seats at the bar and then once drinks had been secured we enquired about a table for dinner, this was no problem except we would have to wait approximately 90 minutes! After a little negotiating with the staff lead by the excellent Florence Fowler it was agreed we would eat at the bar. The menu changes every day and is chalked on the obligatory blackboard and printed of onto A4 paper. Inevitably for such a popular place by 9PM the menu resembled a list of clues on a half finished crossword puzzle. The food!! have I mentioned how good the food is here? No,  well let me. As I said new menu each day and when something is finished it isn't about defrosting another portion, it's simply a line through the item and a slightly reduced choice or if you are a little more adventurous asking what else they might be able to offer. We had missed the boat on the Soft Roes on Toast, same for Warm Snail and Bacon Salad. My partner plumped for Cod, Bubble & Squeak with Mustard Sauce and I had super Beef Sirloin with Stilton and Mustard Sauce.    

The Anchor & Hope, 56 The Cut SE1 and manageress Florence Fowler


Cod with Bubble & Squeak and Beef Sirloin with Stilton and Mustard Sauce


Feeling full and satisfied we made our way back to our lodgings, leaving just enough time to call in the Hole in the Wall, 5 Mepham Street, Waterloo for last orders. The 'Hole' as it is known lives up to its moniker. It is within a railway arch and the whole place rumbles with each passing train. It will never win any awards for best pub but I have visited the hole intermittently for over 20 years and not much has changed. Offering 6 real ales and approximately 5 minutes walk from Waterloo station it is worth the detour if you have time before catching a train.