Day 4

A leisurely start to the day, time for a little sightseeing before catching our train from London Waterloo. Our target was 11:39 Southwest Trains service to Southampton (our last destination before heading home). Heading out of Waterloo you pass The Oval cricket ground on your left and Battersea power station on your right. Incredibly the power station last lit London's light bulbs in 1983. The building has quite rightly been saved due to the exceptional design, both internally and externally. The building is a monument to the architectural flare and detail of many buildings build in the 1930's even when they were build for mundane tasks. Eventually the plan is to turn Battersea power station into a retail and leisure complex.

South West Trains at London Waterloo


We are soon passing through Clapham Junction station heading off to the suburbs of South West London followed by the golf courses and leafy lanes of Surrey and Hampshire. 90 minutes after departing Waterloo we are passing Southampton Airport and are just moments away from out destination.

 Having enjoyed the pleasure and excesses of London yesterday we have decided to claw back some of our budget by staying at the Travelodge, Lodge Road, Southampton. Now this is not the kind of hotel that I can give any kind of recommendation to, however with a nightly room rate of just 26.00 it certainly offers value! Apart from the price, our choice of hotel was influenced by its location. Whilst it is a couple of miles north of the the city it is close to the student area and not surprisingly a number of Good Beer Guide pubs.

Just 2 streets away is a Good Beer Guide entry, however this isn't a pub but an off licence! Bitter Virtue, Cambridge Road offers draught real ales and ciders along side an excellent range of bottled beers from around the world (if only there was somewhere like this in every town) A short walk brings us to St. Denys railway station and not 1 but 2  station pubs both of which are Good Beer Guide entries. Our approach brought us first to Dolphin Hotel, Osborne Road South. The Dolphin is a cosy detached pub just over a footbridge from the station. With 8 handpumps there is always a good selection of local ales and beers from further a field, for example we sampled beers from Ringwood brewery, one of Hampshire's finest but chose to pass on Fullers London Pride and Timothy Taylors Landlord. Across the footbridge next to the opposite side of the tracks! The South Western Arms, Adelaide Road is of a similar age as the Dolphin and similarly has seen many internal re-structuring during its life. The pub was quiet on our arrival but this was mainly down to the fact that it wasn't due to open for another half hour! however after a little sweet talking and being roped in to repairing the light in the ladies toilets (don't ask!) we sat down to enjoy yet more excellent Ringwood beers. The choice extends to around 10 real ales sourced countrywide.

The Dolphin and South Western Arms, St Denys, Southampton

      We returned to our lodgings to prepare for our evening in Southampton city centre. Our evening commenced in the Duke Of Wellington, Bugle Street. Occupying a building that dates back to the 15th Century the Wellington was so named in 1815 and sits in the old part of town not far from the medieval walls. The Wellington offers beer from Ringwood (no surprise) and Wadsworth as well as the occasional guests. We are now heading away from the city centre towards the town quay and docks area were you will find the Platform Tavern, Town Quay. The Platform Tavern opened in 1872 and its rear wall is part of the old town wall fortifications, it was a different kind of fortification that brings us here however. The Platform tavern has an open plan main room and a second no smoking room that doubles as a dining room for the excellent food on offer but more about that later. We were here this evening to sample the beers on offer. Adnams Broadside and Fullers London Pride were on offer alongside Ringwoods Fortyniner and and all were found to be on good form. We abandoned our plans to dine here as the pub was already full and one of the many gigs the Platform stages was due to start.

The Duke of Wellington and the Platform Tavern, Southampton

        We put plan B into operation which involved a short walk to what is laughingly called Southampton's restaurant row! The White Star Tavern, Oxford Street is the city's flagship Gastropub and is consequently a busy spot. Our visit seemed to coincide with a group having their  works Christmas party ( well it is December tomorrow) The White Star has been in existence since 2002 and they have most definitely read all the manuals about combining restaurant prices with the casual environment of a pub / bar. A solitary handpump graces the bar and dispensed an acceptable pint of Fullers London Pride. Make no mistake the menu reads well and covers most of the contemporary  bases but it is probably a mark of how poor the competition is if this the best Southampton has to offer! An acceptable meal was served in the stylish dining area but the noise from the bar area was obtrusive. The White Star tries to separate the dining room from the bar without success, this leaves you feeling detached from the general hustle and bustle but unable to avoid it. Were the Anchor & Hope the previous evening was like one large party, this felt like there was a party taking place but you weren't invited! It was also unfortunate we visited here the night after the Anchor & Hope in London as the cost of starters and main courses worked out as much if not more in Southampton than a similarly pitched establishment in London!!