So, the wife had a couple of days off work, I don’t work ‘for the man’ anymore, and we had tickets for ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ in Southend (we enjoyed the London show about 10 years ago and enjoyed it), and we had booked ourselves into the Premier Inn in Southend for the night (I do know how to treat a woman – after spending our 25th wedding anniversary in Budapest, our 30th anniversay was an overnighter in Harlow).
I took the opportunity to hatch one of my Cunning Plans, and so the route to Southend would include a couple of hours in Maldon – shops on the High Street, some touristy stuff by way of research for Essex Days Out, lunch, and time to check out the Mighty Oak Tap Room at one end of the High Street, and the Maldon Brewing Company’s ‘Farmer’s Yard’ micropub at the other end of the High Street (ignoring the JDW in the middle). Then the drive to Southend via South Woodham Ferrers would take in Crouch Vale’s ‘Tap Room 19’ micropub, and then the very new ‘One Green Bottle’ in Battlesbridge, and there would be a pop-in to Mawsons Micropub in Southend either before or after the show. So, five Essex micropubs in 12 hours.
That plan lasted until first thing in the morning, when I posted on Tap Room 19 that we could be popping in en route to Southend, and it was pointed out to me that they don’t open until 4pm, which didn’t really fit into our plans. So, four Essex micropubs in 12 hours.
First stop was the Mighty Oak ‘Tap Room’, at the top end of the High Street (close by The Carpenters Arms and The Blue Boar). Lovely big window letting in the light, and low beams (and I do mean low, as I had to dip my head). Seating and tables, with the bar with the casks behind it (not behind a glass panel in a temp-controlled room as with many other non-cellar pubs). Cheesy nibble platters accompany their beer and wine offering, and a cut swing-door Stand Up Gentleman’s Urinary Facility at the end of the corridor (sit down facilities are also available). A neat timeline of the brewery’s 20 year history (they started in Brentwood). And upstairs a small ‘reading room’ with comfy seating. On our visit a cheeky lunchtime half of their Oscar Wilde Mild went down a treat.
A gentle wander down the High Street, some outfits for a forthcoming wedding bought, lunch in the coffee shop/deli off the High Street, a wander around the Maeldune Heritage Centre, and we arrive at Farmer’s Yard just after it had closed for the 12-2 lunchtime session. So, three Essex pubs in 12 hours. Note to self : more research next time.
Next stop : Battlesbridge Antiques Centre, and the Muggeridge Farm part of it (where they have lots of buildings, and car fests and the like). The ‘One Green Bottle’ was open, the sun was shining, and we popped in there. There’s a sun-trap terrace outside, and the inside is quite dinky. One guy in there had presumably been giving the pub a lot of support for a couple of hours, as he was at the stage where his eyes were at that point where in a cartoon they become a simple + +
Casks viewable through a glass window, bottles on offer, and we went for another cheekly half of Dark Star’s ‘Antares’. The micropub has only been open for a few weeks – lets hope for a hot summer and plenty of antique hunters popping in to get the business off to a good start.
Then : off to Southend, check in to the hotel, feet up for a few minutes (we have reluctantly come to the conclusion that in our mid fifties that we can’t keep up the days out pace that we set in our mid twenties, then off to the Southend Cliffs Pavilion via a nice fish and chip dinner overlooking the estuary.
The show was a cracking one, with Phill Jupitus and Michelle Collins, and the two spy characters, stealing the show.
And with a finish at about 10:15, hop in the car and drive along Southchurch Road to Mawsons Micropub, opened recently by George’s Brewery. Interior decor was more like a wine bar than a real ale pub, which was fine by me. Several casks on offer including their Snake Oil Stout, which was in fine form. And Belgian and other bottles to buy, and I finally got my hands on their strong Balthazar’s Feast. So, we hit three out of the five planned micropubs.
We’re off to Southend again this week (Bellowhead), so there’s an outside chance we get to Farmer’s Yard or Tap Room 19 en route…