The Old Fish Market

Bristol:

Fullers pubs are not common in my part of the world, with the Old Joint Stock being the sole one nearby, and our only other experience being The Mad Hatter in that London.

Fullers do a nice job of chain pub: tidy enough, good food, good beer, and this was the case here: we visited twice, eating once, and both visits were pleasant. Even the televised sport didn’t intrude, and the staff were great.

The Hatchet Inn

Bristol:

Had great hopes for this: it’s very old, and listed. It has a rumour attached to it about the front door (TLDR: Human skin under the paint), and the description

Old 1606 Tudor-style pub featuring rock and heavy metal nights in upstairs bar, plus beer garden.

sounded good.

It was actually pretty horrible. Outside looked OK, and the famous door was present. The inside had been given a modern-pub stripped floorborads and green paint makeover, music varied from good to woeful, there was no ale, and the whole place was full of posing arseholes. Maybe we picked it on a bad night…

The Seven Stars

Bristol:

Lovely, independent, traditional pub tucked in a narrow cobbled lane in Redcliffe. Good choice of real ale, and live music when we visited- the unfortunate side effect being that it was full to bursting, so we finished our drinks outside so we could sit, which was a shame, as atmosphere, beer, and staff were all great. It’s well known for the part it played in the abolishment of slavery in the past.

Mr Wolfs

Bristol:

Music venue, bar, and noodle bar, but pub? Yes, just. Again, we were out of the target demographic, but this was the least bad option for us: there were seats, we got served instead of ignored, and the music wasn’t actually dreadful (in fact, it was OK). No draught ale, but bottled Butcombe, and the barman was welcoming. Floor was a bit sticky, but I suspect that didn’t matter to the usual customers.

The Bag of Nails

Bristol:

A small, proper, traditional pub just a short walk from the centre of the city. There’s so much to like here- the atmosphere is laid back and friendly, there’s board games, and music that customers can choose from the stack of vinyl, that you can hear but talk comfortably over. The beer is an ever-changing mix of cask and keg, the cask being in great condition. No food, except crisps & pork pies.

Oh yes: there’s cats too. 14, apparently, of which we saw about 7 or 8. They wander about at times, but often just sleep contentedly in cardboard boxes on the bar top, happy to let customers and bar staff fuss them- and just to be clear, I’ve rarely seen cats more content or happy, despite the customers, and they’re free to come and go as they please.

So generally, it’s wonderful.

The Eagle and Tun

Digbeth, Birmingham:

Right next to The Woodman, another fine old Victorian pub, and another James & Lister lea building for Ansells. Empty and derelict since 2008, it was once a very sad sight, isolated while development went on around it, and with only local listing, the future didn’t look good- as recently as 2012, it looked like both would be flattened, along with The Fox and Grapes. As we’ve seen, The Woodman was saved first, and as we walked past on our last visit, we noticed the Eagle & Tun was about to re-open, and it now has.

It is well known for the UB40 Connection- the video for Red Red Wine was shot there, as was the cover for the first Best of UB40 album, as the studios for DEP International were just around the corner in Andover St.

Anyway, the pub itself? Outside is typical Brum terracotta. Inside is less salubrious than The Woodman, and a work-in-progress, clearly, but the atmosphere was pleasant (if cold!), the barman was very friendly, and the drinks cheap (and decent enough too, even if the HPA ran out before I got a pint). The pub is playing on the UB40 connection, with that being the choice of music. There’s still the stunning tiles at one end, and the feel of a proper Brum pub too.