Coffee culture And my Addiction To that naughty Bean

I am currently sipping away at my 6th coffee of the day. This one has been made using my brand new coffee maker I received as a birthday gift. My kitchen is like a fragrant, noisy, caffeine infused version of Breaking Bad. I love coffee and in the midst of the sleep deprived rabbit hole that the arrival of a 10 week old baby brings, I need it.

Coffee is a passion; for me it’s a bit like a good bottle of wine.  I like my coffee to have a story. I’m not interested in some freeze dried, corporate, mass manufactured bastardization of that beautiful bean.  It needs to have a soul. I want my coffee beans to be exotic, to have been grown from seeds first passed through the digestive system of an ageing mountain goat at high altitude. It should have a caffeine content that borders on the illegal and a body smoother than a chat up line from an Italian waiter who has took a shine to your wife. It should be gentle with a finish so long that you could watch the Lord of The Rings box set and still be able to taste it.

Afterwards I want that lingering smell to permeate through my entire house like a plug in air freshener and every time you inhale you experience that magic all over again.

I heard recently that many university campuses now are dumping the sticky floored boozer and instead having a coffee shop. At first I was stunned by this. I mean how many student liaisons were nurtured near the jukebox in a sweaty union bar on a wet Wednesday night, where a snake bite and black was only £1?

I include myself in this group. I met my wife in freshers week and I dread to think what she would have really thought of me if all we had swimming round our bellies was a soya chai latte with a hint of cinnamon. However now I understand, coffee is big business.

Coffee culture exploded into the UK in the mid-nineties and we’ve never looked back. I’m old enough to remember a time before there was a Costa or Nero on every street. The Gold Blend coffee adverts, where viewers were captivated with a blossoming romance happening over a cup of instant coffee, showed how we regarded the drink at the time. We Brits weren’t seduced by the fancy coffee shop culture of our French or Italian cousins.

My dad still to this day secretly prefers the instant variety, he thinks the freeze dried granules are the nearest us mere mortals will get to consuming foods made for astronauts. He’s convinced that the best cup of coffee he has ever tasted was served in a polystyrene cup out of a van at a rainy car boot sale in a field in Doncaster in 1989. Although this may have something to do with the fact that it was 25p and came with a free Club biscuit.

During my childhood there were very few options for coffee enthusiasts. You had two main choices, a flask or a greasy spoon café. No one ever sat down and relaxed in a coffee shop back then. We were always on the move. We did go to a greasy spoon café on a Saturday afternoon in Wakefield before going to see an afternoon matinee at the cinema.

With checkered table cloths and a big plastic tomato sauce holder in the middle as a rudimentary paperweight, the place was a bit of a dive. It had a glass window with water running down it, I used to think it was quite a stylish addition, looking back it was probably a creative twist on a leaking condensing pipe. I would have a steak Canadian and a calypso pop (the E numbers kept you going all day) and my dad would have an egg butty and a cup of tea. Everyone seemed to drink tea back then; rumour has it that we won wars on tea.

My wife’s family are huge tea drinkers; my father in law was pushing fifteen brews a day when he used to “work” for the council. When he first met me he offered me a brew, I refused (as I didn’t really care for it at the time, I preferred Ribena) he looked at my wife as if to say, “not sure about this one love!”

A visit to a coffee shop is part of our family routine every weekend now. The people who work in these places are proper cool; I think I’m ever so slightly in awe of one of the dudes in our local establishment.

I use the term “dude” deliberately. They are like the kids at school who had a motorbike at sixteen, smoked roll ups and could play the guitar. With a quiff, a t-shirt with rolled up sleeves and those things that the youth put in their ears now which make the lobes look like the eyelets in a camping ground sheet. It’s the job I would have wanted when I was younger.

It’s interesting that the coffee shops never really suffered during the recession. It’s the one luxury we are not prepared to forfeit. I worked out recently that I’m spending on average ten pounds a week on coffee, that’s over five hundred quid a year on beans! Even Jack wouldn’t have gone with that deal and he got a beanstalk out of it.

But I don’t begrudge it, particularly if it’s going to support the independent guys of the coffee world. I won’t mention the corporate giants; let’s just call them “Tarducks” who attempt to make a connection with you by asking your name to write on the cup. It didn’t wash with me, I used to say “HMRC” and then quickly take my coffee and leave.

Scott Bennett

 

 

 

 

Food Time!

“What time is it, Scarlett?”

Sal and I ask our two-year old from time to time. “FOOD TIME!” she replies with glee, and starts listing all the food she’d like to eat… “Wittybix, ogange, monkeynana, yoghurt, chocle bissit, grapes and cheese PWEASE!” she pleads politely but forcefully. “And bubbles and juice! And milk!”

And we smile because somehow having a tiny person with the permanent appetite of the shark from JAWS charging around the house actively trying to devour pretty much anything (except cucumber) is wonderfully cute and endearing.

We hear stories of parents who can’t get their children to eat anything but macaroni cheese or cat food and we wonder how weird that would be, in much the same way that I find it incomprehensible that anyone wouldn’t like STAR TREK (the proper one, with Captain Kirk of course).

And maybe there’ll come a time when she’ll hate everything except chicken nuggets and Haribo and I’ll be forced, ironically, to eat my own words – but I have to say for someone who likes food Beeston is an excellent place to be growing up.

Last Sunday Sal and I, admittedly without Scarlett this time, attended a charity fundraising dinner for My Sight Nottinghamshire (formerly the Nottinghamshire Royal Society for the Blind) at the always astounding Café Roya on Wollaton Road.

I have a soft spot for the charity as every year in November I lead a group of volunteer fundraisers in walking across burning hot coals to raise money for them at Nottingham Castle. Great fun, brilliant cause (give it a go, it’s inspiring, life-changing and best of all doesn’t actually hurt, I promise)!

For once it wasn’t Roya doing the cooking though, although the food was still entirely vegetarian – the special guest chef was the phenomenal Alex Bond. Alex is a brilliant bloke – very friendly, extremely talented and has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and with Nottingham’s Sat Bains and hopes to be opening his own restaurant in Nottingham soon. Given the truly inspiring dishes he produced (in content, presentation and taste) I hope he does.

As I’ve said, Scarlett will eat pretty much anything but I’m a bit pickier these days – I certainly wouldn’t class myself as vegetarian but each time we’ve been to Roya’s we haven’t even noticed there’s no meat, the food is just so good. But Alex served up a series of dishes, some of which consisted entirely of foods I wouldn’t normally eat (olives, yoghurt and lemon anyone?) that were simply delicious.

So maybe I should learn a lesson from Scarlett and try a more varied diet – as I said, Beeston can certainly provide that.

We have a new world tapas restaurant, The Frustrated Chef opening in place of Relish on Chilwell High Road, a new seafood/Thai restaurant, The Lobster Pot (near Sainsbury’s), Korea House on Broadgate and the excellent Gurkha Express almost opposite, taking the place of the now-defunct ‘Bonito’ restaurant, a place that very long-term readers may recall I once wrote a scathingly unfavourable review of in this very magazine.

The place closed down very shortly afterwards and although I’m sure it was nothing to do with my review… well, just for a second I got to feel like a real food critic.

But these days, new food and drink establishments in Beeston have some great forebears to aspire to and beat – and I think we’re being really well served here, literally and figuratively.

So don’t worry about the clock not being repaired in the Square, if anyone asks you what time it is in Beeston you can just quote Scarlett… “Food time”!

For more information on other events organised by My Sight Nottinghamshire visit http://www.mysightnotts.org.uk. Roya’s and Alex Bond’s fundraising evening raised over £400 for the charity. Many thanks to them, their staff and My Sight’s Jonny Rudge and sponsors for organising it!

Tim Pollard

Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood

Beeston Parents

When I was four years old, I was a fantastic artist.

You could ask me to draw anything: real, imaginary, or a mix of the two, and I would just get on with it. I would use anything available that makes marks. Things like:

  • chewed-up biros – in those days they had a death cap on them that was a serious choking hazard. No strategically-placed airhole in the seventies;
  • stubby pock-marked crayons with or without the paper wrapping. It was a bonus if I could see what colour the crayon was meant to be;
  • felt tips – if they were dried up I would just lick the end;
  • broken pencil nibs. Not the pencil bit, just the broken-off bit. I did have very small hands all those years ago and could hold the 7mm length quite comfortably;
  • paint, with strange nylon brushes that always pointed out in a multitude of directions, so each line painted would come with an echo;
  • Plasticine – yes, it left greasy faint marks on the page;
  • Most shockingly, I found that matches had a lovely red bit on the end that I could draw with – not for long, and not without the pain of an important lesson on how not to use matches;
  • My Mum’s makeup – I loved lipstick.

Not only could I use an impressive range of media to make the marks, I could create my works of art almost anywhere:

  • The skirting board going up the stairs was brilliant. It went on and on, and I loved making a wiggly continuous line along it. It was a stunning landscape – mountains, valleys, hills, hummocks and some sheer cliff edges. It was enhanced by being on the diagonal, rising upwards.
  • My parents painted the living room a wonderful shade of lilac. I really loved sneaking in and making hand prints in the wet paint. My parents preserved the hand print art by hiding it behind the sofa. Not sure that they loved it as much as I did.
  • Steamed up windows – how could anybody resist drawing on those? It was extra special when there was ice too. It curved up beautifully in the corners, like a Victorian illustration, and added extra sensory crunch to my artistic creations. It was such fun to draw with my fingers in the condensation, leaving cold drips streaming from the trails I drew.
  • Paper – so many wonderful textures, colours, surfaces. I really liked to use the sugar paper at school. It was mysterious to me – we didn’t have anything like it at home. It was brightly-coloured, rough on one side and smooth as ice on the other. When I folded it the folds stood proud and didn’t dissolve back into the surface. It was even more fascinating to tear it and create rough, irregular frayed edges. I found the perfect combination of media when I was allowed to use pastels. Degas created masterpieces using just the pure pigment of pastels and his fingers. I’m off now to get some chalky, densely-pigmented pastels and some lovely, rough sugar paper. The children at nursery will love that.

But what happened? When did my unbridled joy in creating art and pictures turn into fear and embarrassment? Pablo Picasso said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

I strongly believe that when we draw for children, cut things out for them, give them colouring sheets and dotted lines, we chip away at their childish joy. The joy they feel in just drawing, painting, exploring, experimenting and creating. We are telling them that they are doing it wrong and that they cannot do it the right way. We are teaching them that a house has to be a square with a triangle for a roof and a door set smack bang in the middle of it.

To encourage our children to be creative, we have to let them be creative and create what they see, what they feel and what they can imagine. If they want to draw themselves as three times the height of your car, that’s fine. If they want to make a snowman with three eyes and two mouths – fine. Who says that snowmen have to look a certain way? If they want to put their hands in the paint and swirl all the colours together into one slurry, then slowly and systematically cover every square inch of the paper, or piece of foil, or box, with that colour, then fine.

Let them enjoy the process and learn how to make marks, how to enjoy making art and how to take pride in their work. There is plenty of time for them to conform when they are older and when they want to. Imagine if Degas had been told not to use his fingers and to stay within the lines.

Roopnam Carroll

 

Beeston Exposed

Well I’ve made it. I didn’t think I could, but I have. There’s an old proverb that goes “a journey starts with a single step”. My particular journey started on 29th March 2006, and is still ongoing. Not a journey by foot exactly, but a photographic one, as ten years ago I started a blog called ‘Nottingham Daily Photo’. And, as the name suggests, I blog (almost) daily about Nottingham, although this isn’t strictly geographically true, as I have covered many different towns, cities and countries on my travels. In fact my first ever blog post was actually about Dubai. But for the most part it is about NG1 and NG9.

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Like many ideas these days, it came from the Internet. I was searching for something photographic on the web, and a site called Paris Daily Photo popped up. I took a look, as I have always wanted to go to Paris and follow in the footsteps of French photographers, Brassai, Eugene Atget and of course Henri-Cartier Bresson.  I found the website quite absorbing, and learnt that many other cities across the world had blogs about them too. Sometimes more than one. I naturally checked to see if Nottingham had one. It didn’t, and so I took the mad decision to start one. I’m not really sure why I began with an article about Dubai, or what I would do with this new form of creative outlet. But slowly I began to get the hang of it, and now ten years and over 3300 entries later, I have created quite an archive of my life, the places I’ve been to, the events I’ve seen and the people I’ve met.

Beeston is, of course,  featured quite heavily, with the various things that have gone off over the past decade. The tram works, Oxjam, Beeston Bay and the rising stardom of Emma Bladon-Jones to name a few. Matt has also appeared several times in different guises, as well as other local notables like Jeanie Barton, Tim Pollard, Jimmy Wiggins and Hallams’ very own superstar Toni “They’re not French” Fox.

I’ve used quite a few different cameras since I started the blog, beginning with a Canon point & shoot, moving to Panasonic, then Nikon. I’m now an Olympus guy, and can’t see me changing again anytime soon. I like to think that the quality of my photography has improved immensely through the years, and that I now have a good eye for a picture. Although of course, photographers, like every other type of artist, are continually developing their skills. Excuse the pun. Talking of which, I always try to come up with a snappy, or amusing title for my entries. I have managed to build up a good following across the world, and have nearly reached half a million page views. Of course I’d love a lot more. Comments too. A few years ago, the blog was featured in the Evening Post, in an article written by journalist Erik Petersen, which gave the blog a bit more exposure. Oops, another bad photography pun.

Who knows where the journey might take me in the future. I must admit that I have thought about giving it up on several occasions, as sometimes it’s felt a bit like a millstone; in trying to come up with new photos and text every day, and the thought that I have to post, even though I might not have come across anything any good. But I plan to continue for as long as I can, in whatever form it takes.

My blog can be found at http://beestonblog.blogspot.co.uk.

CDF

Beeston Inspired

‘Inspire’ is a rather fitting name for a company looking to run a library. To my mind I can think of no better use of public resources than to hand a child a book. With each word their experiences grow, their world develops and they become greater. There is no better investment than that of education and for poorer households, and students like myself, the library has become a vital educational hub. 



The Beeston Library has recently become the centre of a scare in the local community. Lord B. was already drafting placards by the time Councilor Kate Foale put fears to rest. In the wake of ‘toiletgate’ and the closure of the post office a brief and terrifying threat seemed to loom over the Library itself. The reality is thankfully not a closure but a change of hands. This change of hands will leave Beeston Library under the management of Inspire, a non-profit organization set up by Nottinghamshire County Council with a focus on the arts. Their remit includes libraries, music lessons, and supporting educational activities in the community. For Beeston this means maybe two major things: the library is staying but will be under new management, and that the library may be refitted to accommodate some of these other aims. They hope this will allow the Library to respond more rapidly to the changing demands of the community. Councillors have suggested that this refurbishment will take around 6 months and that in the process the library will absorb other services.

One perk of Inspire’s status is that it must be responsive to the public will. Their website is incomplete but currently the focus is on signing people up to their mailing lists and inviting members to their annual general meeting. Hopefully this means that the people of Beeston will get a greater say in how the library provides services. They certainly seem keen as over 4000 people signed up to have their say within a month of Inspire opening. Membership is of course free and all members will have an opportunity to stand for election to Inspire’s board.

In a comment to the Nottingham Post County Councilor John Knight, who chairs the committee for culture, seemed enthused about the project. He pointed to the current popularity of libraries throughout the county, having lent over 3 million books in the last year. He is hopeful that Inspire’s cultural events will allow for a greater sense of community to build around the library. With any luck these cultural events will be yet another chance to show off Beeston’s beating metropolitan heart, much like the various film nights at Cafe Roya and the White Lion.

Generally those I spoke to seemed optimistic, particularly hoping the move would allow for greater responsiveness to the wishes of Beestonians. Many however also seemed frustrated by yet another refit, especially given that “it hardly seemed 5 minutes since the last one”. One of the other local concerns raised regarded exhibitions by local artists. These were moved last year to a larger venue in an upstairs room at the library, much to the consternation of art lovers who pointed out that few people knew such a venue existed.

Overall the Library appears to be in safe hands with Inspire. Despite my own worries that this is a step towards the privatisation of local services, the democratic nature of the community group seems to be designed to keep the public involved. It also seems like a great opportunity for Beeston to once more show off its cultural variety. Hopefully the library can be a hub for Beeston’s seeming renaissance.

TR

Cycling Graffiti

You’ve probably seen these stencils on Chilwell High Road. They mark places where it is particularly dangerous for cyclists. Indeed they mark where accidents have occurred; accidents that could have been avoided if those creating the tramlines and cycling lanes around them had just thought properly.

The cycle lane goes onto the tram tracks. It doesn’t take much sense to see that there is hardly enough room for a tram and bicycle to run alongside each other, hence the recent accidents that have happened. What’s more, the lane then veers onto the pavement right into pedestrians. In the words of one cyclist I talked to “it doesn’t make any sense, it’s unsafe and erratic.”

It isn’t only Beeston. These stencils have begun appearing all over Nottingham. A group of cycling activists have taken it upon themselves to right what they think are serious wrongs in the way cycle tracks have been laid out (or not as the case may be).

And I can certainly understand. Cyclists have been unnecessarily injured by the tramlines, by lorries and HGVs, and normal drivers, and it seems at least part of the blame must be taken by the council’s ineptly installed cycle lanes.

Particularly dangerous are so-called “pinch points”. These are where lanes suddenly narrow; where bollards jut out, areas for parking, or those triangle patches that feed in and out of roundabouts. These naturally cause vehicles to edge left, but what that means for the cyclist is suddenly they have much less space, and they didn’t have much to begin with. The graffitists have created stencils saying “cycling priority lane” to remind drivers to pay special attention to cyclists. Remember that it is actually recommended that cyclists position themselves in the centre of the lane, not to the side; that is the safest place for them.

I spoke to a local cycling activist who told me he had been involved in the Beeston stencilling. Understandably he wished to remain anonymous. He spoke emphatically of known friends of his who had been killed cycling simply because drivers just don’t understand where cyclists are supposed to be.

“Cyclists follow all the same rules as other vehicles on the road, they should be in the middle of the lane. It’s called the primary position. A lot of motorists don’t realise this. They try to edge cyclists to the side.” This is particularly when reaching so-called pinch points as previously mentioned, particularly roundabouts.

“The city as a whole is supposed to be pledging to get more cyclists on the road*1, ordinary people, not your lycra-clad stereotypes. But to do that you need to have infrastructure to make cycling safe. That’s one of the reasons that ordinary people, children and such, don’t cycle to work and school; it has the image of being unsafe.”

Part of that is of course the attitude of some drivers. I myself have seen some really appalling things done to cyclists, which is truly ironic, as the activist explained:

“More people cycling would be better for motorists as well; there would be less traffic.”

In fact the benefits of cycling are pretty wide reaching. Let’s look at pollution. For example the area around the ringroad (the QMC) is in the top ten of polluted areas in Europe. The activist said, “When you cycle through there at rush hour you can literally taste the pollution.” Nottingham is one of the worst cities in the UK for pollution.*2

More locally rush hour is always a big issue in Beeston; parents taking their kids to and from school, people on their way to and from work. If more people cycled, it is undeniable there would be a big impact on levels of pollution. But first of all there would need to be safe and thorough cycle routes so that parents would feel their children were safe cycling, and that individuals themselves felt safe. Currently this is not always the case.

And this is why the activist has decided it is time to take to the night and do this.

“Nottingham really doesn’t have very good cycling infrastructure. I’ve cycled around London and felt it was much safer, the attitudes of drivers were better.”

“Because of these problems, particularly the attitudes of drivers, I don’t feel safe letting my kids cycle around this city, which is a great tragedy. Cycling is good for the mind, body and soul. Not to mention the environment, both local and wider.”

Their message?

“Nottingham City Council has pledged to erase all of our stencils. The’ve gotten rid of a few already. We’d prefer it if they didn’t waste tax payers’ money, as we’re not going to stop until safe cycling infrastructure is implemented.”

The city, he feels, just isn’t doing enough to make cycling safe and accessible to all.

“We feel they’re just doing the bare minimum. It’s obvious these people don’t cycle much themselves as much of what they’ve put in place is actually more dangerous than it would be to have no cycle paths at all. They need to listen to the right people.”

Here are some positive sites that I found myself where you can go for more information about cycling safety, cycling law or to get legally involved in cycling activism:

http://smartertravelnottingham.wordpress.com

http://bikeability.org.uk

  1. http://transport2.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/cycle/
  2. bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-27323198

Christian Fox

The 2016 Beeston Pub Crawl

THE MARINA BAR

We start at 3pm. Five of us meet by The Trent under glorious sunshine. It’s not possible to get closer to the edge of Beeston than at the Marina and it’s a bit of a gem. This is the only pub in Beeston in which you feel like you’re on holiday. It might be something to do with being surrounded by mobile homes and static caravans, or its proximity to water. Its décor is nautically themed; ship’s wheel mounted on the wall, the bar studded with port holes. The weather tempts us out onto the waterfront terrace, to look over at Clifton Grove and the fields. This bucolic joy lasts all of thirty seconds, before a hail-storm appears and forces us back inside, but the barmaid runs out to dance in it. Respect.

GOOD FOR: bhajis, cheap ale, raffles, great location.

BEST QUOTE: “I did a Beeston pub crawl once. Ended up stopping traffic outside the Charlton Arms”. – Barmaid

BOAT AND HORSES:

We’d heard a lot of good stuff about here: renovated after being a bit tired for years. Sunday roasts are to die for apparently. But this is Saturday, and we’re here for beer, and a good choice is presented to us. Another great summer pub: the hail eases into sun so we sit in the beer garden. An indie band rehearse in the spacious function room. The staff are really welcoming, there is a huge heap of vinyl to browse and buy, and the beer is decent. We’re almost tempted to stay for more than one half, but time is moving on, and our mission can’t slacken off.

GOOD FOR: Beer, food (so we hear), rehearsal space, people with kids: the vast garden can distract them while you focus on drinking the ace beer.

BEST QUOTE: “There is a real problem right now, and the reason that I refuse to buy balloons. That problem is a paucity of helium”. – Tom Roberts

JOLLY ANGLERS

We’ll be honest. We were a bit nervous going here. We’d heard rumours it was a bit rough, a bit unfriendly. But journalism has to be fearless, so we ventured in, Bernstein and Woodward watching over us. And we’re glad we did. The beer was decent, the welcome friendly and the place a smartly turned out, light and airy surprise.

GOOD FOR: Football fans, especially Forest; the 18 bus (between every hour and every six weeks, depending on the vagaries of Trent Barton).

BEST QUOTE: Our notes don’t show any, but we all recall something amusing was said about crisps.

 

THE PLESSEY CLUB

We’re joined by another, ahem, surveyor, Chris at this point. We were enthusiastic about it in our 2012 survey, and do like to drop in when we can. A sprawling venue with snooker rooms, meeting rooms and a full on bar. Talking of fans, a massive one hangs from the ceiling, making you feel in a bizarre cross between a 1970’s Working Men’s Club, and Singapore Raffles Hotel, about a century ago. Dead comfy, warm, utterly unpretentious, with cheap beer. It’s a shame we have to move after a single drink. We urge you to give it a visit.

GOOD FOR: Value, space, lack of pretension, fans of fans.

BEST QUOTE: “I want to get a mollusc hip-hop band together, and call it the Wu Tang Clam’. You had to be there.

THE VICTORIA

Victoria! So sang the Kinks after a brief visit to Beeston in the sixties. Over the years many more have sung its praises. Traditional décor, sublime food and a colossal range of beers, whiskies and obscure New Guinean pineapple liquors (probably). It was seen as the only really decent pub in Beeston, and attracted people from miles around to try its burritos and beer. The Vic continues to do great business and good food, which we sample (journalism is tough, we indulge so you don’t have to). Its success has spread through Beeston: the stripped down focus on good beer/good food has travelled well and changed Beeston boozers for the better.

GOOD FOR: Train spotters (engines hammer constantly), foodies, CAMRA types, good staff.

BEST QUOTE: “I work in Philadelphia sometimes. A really good place” – Chris. “I like Philadelphia. Well, the cheese” – John

THE QUEENS

It’s Possibly Beeston’s remotest pub (apart from The Nurseryman that doesn’t count). We arrive at 6:50. The A-board outside proclaims “DISCO: 7PM”. Ah. Karen, our teetotal correspondent, and Ric our foot-blistered distribution chap and anagram wizard join us. It’s a small compact pub, well priced and, being on the first floor, has a pleasantly detached quality. It was bombed in WWII after the Luftwaffe got it wrong and missed Boots, but was swiftly rebuilt, and has steadily gone about its business since. To our surprise we have another drink. This might be down to the hammering rain that has appeared, and the seemingly huge distance to our next pub. Or it could be down to the disco starting, and the older members of the party finding Sabrina’s ‘87 classic ‘Boys Boys Boys’ is provoking some beer-inspired toe-tapping. But into the evening, and the monsoon, we must go. ONWARDS!

GOOD FOR: Disco fans; nostalgia, mountaineers.

BEST QUOTE: During a heated discussion on how this might be the highest pub in Beeston, Prof J (co-founder of The Beestonian and geography academic) decides to settle the matter once and for all “Right. I’m off home and getting my GPS’. He doesn’t.

THE MALT SHOVEL

We arrive soaked and drunk. Will this dampen our critical faculties? NEVER! Roopam, our correspondent on all things parenting, joins us for a night off from parenting. Tom is effusive about the burgers here, but we’re still too stuffed from the Vic to try them. It’s a decent pub, handy for the town centre and the beer is good. Chris is particularly complimentary of the American IPA. The wallpaper, a giant ancient map of England, particularly pleases Prof J.

GOOD FOR: Burger fans, map fans, being near to Sainsburys.

BEST QUOTE: When Roopam arrives, and walks over, Prof J gives her a startled double-take. “You look after my kid.” Roopam runs a local nursery. She replies, “Not tonight I don’t.”

THE GREYHOUND

There has been a lot of uncertainty about the Greyhound over the past few years. However it recently was taken over by the dedicated Rob Balmer who is working hard to bring it back to its past glories. It looks like he’s off to a flying start: the place is busy. We’re fittingly joined by our music editor Lulu. She is a massive fan: while we have a good amount of places putting on live music, no one does it quite as loud, so rocky, as The Greyhound.  We salute you, Rob, and all that rock hard with you. Especially the bloke in the denim jacket at the bar, which has the word ‘FISTULA’ stitched on the back.

GOOD FOR: Rock Fans, live music fans, people who would see watching X -Factor as less preferable than eating their own feet.

BEST QUOTE: “WHAAAAT? WHAAAATTTT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU. WHAAAATT?”

RYE

Is the erstwhile Belle and Jerome really a pub? Since its new incarnation last year, with a stronger focus on the evening market, we reckon so. Plus, we’re on the menu. Yes, really. A piece about the etymology of Beeston that our history editor Joe wrote a couple of years ago now adorns the menu and the walls. We like that. We don’t like the realisation that we’re only half way round the survey, and are having difficulty pronouncing words of more than three syllables. Craft beers and good wine mean this place isn’t cheap, but you’re drinking quality here. It’s well lit, the DJ spins some decent choons, and the staff are cheerful. I pass my notepad round for everyone to write a comment in. The following comes back: “Classy” “Aye yai lai Rye” “FEELS LIKE LONDON” “I like bricks” “DJ TASTIC” “I‘m underdressed” “I feel WEIRD”. That and a drawing I can’t describe, but is elaborately attempted nonetheless.

GOOD FOR: Sophistication, good booze, late nights (license until 1am); you can go back in the morning and try the Eggs Hemingway.

BEST QUOTE: “Craft ale. Craft ale. What is craft ale? Until that question is answered, I will have another.”

POTTLE OF BLUES

The last thing we expected when planning this survey was a new pub. Refurbs, yes. Closures, definitely. But an actual NEW pub? That bucks all trends. Admittedly, it’s a micro-pub, and right now only fits a couple of dozen. It is the ultimate pragmatist in what a pub should do: the beer drops straight from the cask, the staff are ace and it’s more like someone having an open-house party than a pub. The tininess encourages chat and before long you’re all pledging lifelong friendships. It has been only open a week when we visit, but is rammed. As we’re now a burgeoning party of 9, our collective entry is tight, but somehow we manage our halves and pottle on to the next pub.

GOOD FOR: Ale fans, friendly people.

BEST QUOTE: “Oh hell. I best get the jugs out” – Jen the landlady upon seeing us all enter

 

THE LAST POST

Ah, the Past Lost, where you can easily lose all memory of your prior existence after a few ales. It’s a Wetherspoons but perhaps the one closest to the heart of ‘Spoons Head Honcho Tim Martin. He was once a resident of Beeston and according to local legend, came up with the concept of Wetherspoons after an unsatisfactory night at The Durham Ox. “I could build a better pub!” he apparently exclaimed. I relate this tale to the straggled army of Beestonian surveyors as we nurse our admittedly cheap drinks. By now, nobody really knows what we are drinking. It’s bizarrely quiet, but a member of staff reassures us: “You should see it at breakfast”. We collectively know that won’t happen, especially tomorrow. We’re late in the day, well behind schedule, and taking casualties: designer Dan, who makes our mag look pretty, and draws The Beest, has to retire. This is not good.

GOOD FOR: Cheap stuff. It’s a chain, but it’s reliably ok. Early-door drinkers. Ah, it’s a ‘spoons. You know.

BEST QUOTE: “Tim Martin came up with the idea of Wetherspoons to build the best pub in Beeston.” “When d’ya reckon that will happen?”

THE CROWN

Like supine royalists, we bow down to The Crown. Once such a chaotically mad pub, it threw out its brewery and crap landlord and replaced them with just what Beeston needed: an indie that gave a damn about its clientele. While the Vic gave Beeston inspiration to make pubs better, the Crown stuck a rocket up its arse. A success from day one, it has never not been anything other than excellent. It’s packed when our team stumble in, and it’s hard to read the subsequent notes we took. But if we need to convince you to go down to The Crown, then you’re probably not really into pubs anyway.

GOOD FOR: Come on now. If you like pubs, you’ve been to The Crown. 

BEST QUOTE: “Muaghh. Arghhh. Ahhhh bah hum gahhhh” (according to our notes).

THE WHITE LION

Our notes are sparse now, as holding a pen became too challenging. Yet we salute the White Lion for many reasons: it is the most excitingly diverse pub in town. Under the exuberant stewardship of landlord Sergio, it has become a pub like no other: part art-gallery, restaurant, grill, cinema, story-telling centre, Hungarian night club, poetry venue, and much more. Things are looking tight. Prof J has deserted us just 7 hours after he first threatened to do so. The rest of us are by now decidedly shaky. Cocktails are ordered, despite our rules to just have a half in each pub. It’s late. We have to press on. Yet as we suck on our straws and let fine tastes flood our gobs, we seem to forget this.

GOOD FOR: You name it. It’s both cosmopolitan in outlook – where else can you get a Hungarian starter, a Brazilian main and a Portugese custard tart in one meal? Sergio is one of the nicest people in Beeston, and the staff are similar. Just go there, ok?

BEST QUOTE: “What’s Portuguese for ‘help I think my liver just melted’?”

THE STAR

It’s nearly midnight. We have four more pubs to do. We have failed, but manage to cross The Star off, by a whisker, ordering a round just on the clang of the bell. Numbers are hazy now. I try a head count but find this isn’t ideal when you’re seeing double. After a huge refit The Star became very much a fixture of Beeston. Damien, the guy behind its rebirth, has a knack of taking old pubs that have long stumbled by, and turning them into something ace. Fans of Stapleford’s Horse and Jockey will know what I mean. We’re big fans.

GOOD FOR: Ale, beer gardens (claims to be the largest in Beeston), the Tardis (it’s similarly massive inside); Austin (Beeston’s most prolific barman: he’s wowed the crowds at The Vic, The Crown and now here, over the years).

BEST QUOTE: “So let’s all set up an off-shore tax haven on Barton Island.”

….and that’s it. We simply can’t finish off, so The Cricketers, The Bar, The Chequers* and The Hop Pole can’t be surveyed.

We are a ragged bunch as we are turned out onto the cold streets. Someone suggests further drinks at their place, and some hardy boozers obligingly follow. However I have a book of notes to get home and transcribe and I can barely feel my legs. The one thing we do all agree on though is that we are dead lucky to have so many pubs and of such diversity and quality. We failed to get to four pubs. Many towns feel lucky to just have four pubs, let alone four more than can be visited in a nine hour trip.

As for the missing pubs? Well, we’re just going to have to soldier on and do them for our next issue. I know, I know. This journalism thing is just dedication and hard work, isn’t it?

The Beestonian does not condone irresponsible drinking. No animals were hurt in the making of this survey. If anyone has seen the bits of our party we lost between The Crown and The White Lion, please bring them back to Beestonian Towers after giving them a good hose down.

*The Chequers is in Chilwell, we know. However we decided to use it to replace The (technically in Beeston) Nurseryman, as it has more contiguity with Beeston. And we’re lazy.

 

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