Just to report that, on my trip to the Great Smoke, I did manage to re-acquaint myself with one or two favourite pubs and find a new one into the bargain. There’d been a bit of a mix-up over accommodation, but my hosts soon sorted that out and, after unpacking and showering, I went out for a meander. I walked around the West End for a while, attempting to find Liberty’s to see if I could obtain a little knick-knack for Her Maj, but the place proved too elusive for one approaching from the south up Regents Street; I’m told that an approach from the north is more likely to prove successful and one day I’ll find the blasted place.
Mooching back through Soho, I thought it was high time I found the John Snow and paid homage to the man who first applied the tools of epidemiology to an outbreak of cholera and stopped it dead. He did so by the simple expedient of removing the handle from the public water pump which was infected with the cholera bacillus, much to public scandal, I have to report. You can read more about the man and his contribution to epidemiology here.
The pub named in his honour turned out to be owned by the Samuel Smith brewery, although none of their beers were available from the cask. A quick pint of Taddy lager and a call hame to hersel’ were the tasks attendant upon that visit. That and a silent toast to the man himself.
After that, time to head over to the Seven Stars in Carey Street at the back of the Royal Courts of Justice for a good pint of real ale. This is a very small, narrow place with a high density of legal types sinking the good stuff by the pint. I grabbed a pint of something good (which escapes me now) and a bag of macadamia nuts and went to sit down in a corner with an evening paper. At the next table were three young people, all in their twenties, earnest, intelligent and engaged in a discussion about champagne and good wines. The expert, a young man with passion in his eyes and a relentless curl in his hair, was explaining to a friend who was enquiring of him, the rights and wrongs of the champagne trade. The advocate for the wines was clearly extremely knowledgeable, having worked as a wine waiter in some very good establishment, and it was fascinating to ear-wig such expert conversation. The only thing I know about champagne is, that when opening the bottle, one turns the bottle against the cork and not vice versa. Apparently, from what chummy was saying, the rest of my seldom-practised technique was spot-on, so I preened myself quietly and nibbled my nuts.
Then it was time to hook up with some chums for a meal and we descended upon the Auberge near Waterloo station for the remainder of the evening. The food took its time coming, but was excellent when it did, and the Belgian beers and good company made it an excellent way to round off the evening. Even more conveniently, I was only twenty metres from my hotel!