Tag: beeston

Booze of the World

Often, the best way to take the pulse of a town is to check out its pubs. The health of these is the health of an area: if they are boarded up, run down, or too terrifying to enter, it’s a safe bet that the surroundings aren’t going to be great.

On that basis, Beeston is in rude health. We’ve long had a strong reputation for pubs: Beeston has often been mooted with having the highest density of drinkeries in the UK. We’re right by the source of the best water for ale in the world: the beer that the Trent is brewed into is world renowned. Of course, the only way to prove this is to go out there and get some hard-core journalism done: to visit every pub in Beeston to give a comprehensive picture of how we’re doing. You might have spotted us a few Saturdays ago, first strolling, then staggering, then crawling between pubs.

This isn’t the first time: four years ago The Beestonian, then a fledgling magazine, took a look round and printed up the results. We’d expected to register a decline, all these years over. We were surprised to find that this wasn’t the case.

You’ll find the results inside. Pubs are famously under a hell of a lot of pressure, with greedy Pubcos and loss-leading booze in supermarkets just two challenges pubs must counter. How they do this was the most revealing part of the survey: rather than stay the same and slip into decline, they’ve diversified, changed what they offer and created a much stranger estate of boozers than ever before. Very few pubs are just straight forward pubs anymore, and the imagination, entrepreneurism and sheer verve of some were inspirational, and testament to the spirit of Beeston. We even found a new, albeit micro, pub had opened.

Also within you’ll find pages stuffed to the margins with stories, news and all things Beeston. This town does not sit still, making our mission to celebrate the place one we never take lightly. So if you see one of the team at the bar while reading this, they probably won’t say no to a pint. Cheers!

LB

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

Foreign Accent

The last Beeston Beats featured a promise by myself to root out all alternative music, a vow that led me to the ‘Boat and ‘ossess’ (horses) down on Trent Road in the Rylands.

Previously I have only ventured ito this establishment very rarely, with prior outings to the Degeneration festival last year and again more recently for a fantastic Sunday dinner (now sadly not available).

Within moments of stepping in the venue something didn’t quite seem the same, a change in atmosphere lingered in the air and then it hit me; the strong character of previous landlord Peter was missing, with him venturing off to pastures new. His dynamic and friendly personality added a quality to the ‘ossess that made strangers feel immediately welcome.

Hosts aside, the music element still remains, with the pub’s weekly open mic night every Thursday alongside a guest spot at 10pm for an assigned band/act.

Catching my interest was a four piece group called Foreign Accent who were due to perform the late spot: a Hungarian folk band on a U.K tour covering local venues across Nottingham – The Maze, Surface Gallery and Running Horse.

Within moments of their starting I was utterly entranced. Their beautiful sound consisted of an infusion of violin over plucked acoustic guitar, twinkling keyboards alongside a hauntingly emotive vocal.

Even the subject matter of the songs was deep and meaningful with verses based on poems such as ‘Prayer after war’ inspired by the work of Endre Ady, telling the tale of an ex soldier trying to make peace with himself after war.

There was also a rendition of English folk ballad ‘Scarborough Fair’ followed by an Indian folk song ‘Vasudevaya’. ’Blue violet’ is based on a Hungarian folk song about a small flower asking for dewfall as a broken heart seeks love  – the majority of mainstream  modern pop music lyrics just  fade in comparison.

The night was soaked in enchanting melodies, making it impossible to be occupied in anything else going on at the time. As for the next stop in my random music adventure, who knows where I will end up? This, was an amazing place to start, though!

Lulu Davenport

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.

 

Feel Good Shopping

Jade Moore tells us why our abundance of charity shops is a good thing

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Christmas is a time for giving, and it is a truth locally acknowledged that Beeston has an abundance of charity shops. So, why not make the most of them? They are treasure troves when it comes to looking for gifts and you never know, you might find exactly what you set out to buy, and you’ll be helping a charity, too. It’s a fool proof Christmas plan (especially if you’re on a budget, as I always seem to be!) Whether they know it or not, my friends and family have received charity shop bought items and loved them. I take pleasure from finding a pristine copy of a book in a charity shop, removing the 99p sticker and having my friend believe that they are worth the £8.99 they think I paid.

There are plenty of chances to do your bit and I think here in Beeston we are lucky to have a wide range of charity shops along the High Road.

Saving money, helping a good cause, pleasing a friend – I can’t think of a better solution, and this is something we can implement in our lives at any point during the year. If, like me, you don’t give to a charity on a monthly basis, there are plenty of chances to do your bit and I think here in Beeston we are lucky to have a wide range of charity shops along the High Road. We can dip in and out of them as we please, pick up a bargain and help charities that range from Scouts, to The British Heart Foundation, to Cancer Research, to helping fight poverty with Oxfam.

If you happen to be perusing the shops of a Saturday afternoon, pop into Oxfam Books and Music and you’ll find me there filling the shelves with more books, or standing behind the counter mentally urging you to find and buy a book. I’ve volunteered for Oxfam for just over four years and I can’t emphasise enough how much I enjoy it and appreciate the work that Oxfam does for poverty.

This time of year, you can buy extra Christmassy things. We have traditionally festive cards as well as funny ones. Our Unwrapped Gifts are more popular at Christmas too: if you don’t know what to buy someone, why not buy them a goat (or two)?

If you give to charity regularly already, then keep up the good work! If not, then now is the time to start. Treat yourself, treat others, and take comfort from being able to help many brilliant causes.

Jade Moore