Tuesday, 25 September 2012

At Least it was Dry in the Tunnel

Not much to say about today really except the weather, so first a bit about last night.
One of the things that has changed most on the cut since I first boated in the 1970s is the pubs. What were once small, quiet,old-fashioned houses, frequented by locals and a few passing boaters have become upmarket, mainly food-oriented establishments. In extreme cases they have become more akin to restaurants where one feels unwelcome calling in just for a drink.

I don't remember stopping at Stockton Brook in those days so have no memories of the "Sportsman" (on the main road near the second lock in the flight). However, I doubt it's changed substantially since those days.
There are two rooms: a comfortable "snug", that functions as a lounge bar and a "tap room", which is everything a public bar should be.
Mark gettin' 'em in at the Sportsman
No carpets, no music, wooden-topped wrought-iron tables, bench seats and even a table skittles game. The beer choice is not extensive - a couple of beers from Marston's - but it's well-kept and served by a friendly barmaid! A price list dated 15 February 1971, which older readers will recognise as "D" (for decimalisation) Day, lists mild at 5½ p, bitter at 6p, best bitter at 6½p Double Diamond at 7p and Guinness at 8p!(all per half-pint).

As for today, it started to rain as soon as we set off, rained all the way down the Caldon, rained at Etruria where we tied up and set off to find a pub called "The Holy Inadequate" that a boater had recommended to me. Unfortunately he neglected to mention it doesn't open at lunchtimes during the week. It then rained all the way to Kidsgrove, where it's till raining as I write. The only time we weren't cold and wet all day was the 35 minutes we spent negotiating Harecastle Tunnel. I shouldn't have gone through so quickly!
Waiting to get out of the rain at Harecastle Tunnel
Tonight we will visit a pub even better than the Sportsman. I imagine most of you will know which one that might be!

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