The Lord Clifden

Hockley, Birmingham:

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I was ready to hate this, but thought one of my companions might like it, as she has a less grotty taste in pubs than I do. Hockley can be a bit of a game these days, what with The Rose Villa Tavern, and the increasing ‘cool’ of the area, so with that and the company that owns this (and its sister pub, The Red Lion, making a chain of 2) calling itself Urban Art Bar Group [shudder], I was ready for it to be replete with bell end hipsters (is there any other sort?).

Actually, I was pleasantly surprised. Inside, it looks like a pub. An actual pub. OK, there’s art on the walls, but it actually looks OK. The staff were friendly, efficient, and normal. The food was good, the ale was excellent (as per the reputation), and the music wasn’t some dreadful shite no-one would ever listen to for pleasure, and not so loud we couldn’t talk. The prices weren’t too bad either. There’s a big outside smoking shelter for those of you that might want it- with a TV (so we can get the two objectionable things in one place! (edit: there’s a TV in the bar too, but not the lounge)).

Best of all, the customers were normal too.

The Tilted Barrel

Princes End, Tipton:

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Normally, this would be an unexceptional local’s pub, were it not for the quite alarming angle the building continues to stand at.

It’s grade 2 listed, and we’ve been past many times, but not gone in before.

The place was friendly, inside isn’t plush by any means, but it was OK. No ale, sadly, but my Guinness was perfectly drinkable. Worth a visit to sightsee, especially if you’re a structural engineer who’s already seen The Crooked House.

The Black Swan

Seahouses, Northumberland:

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This is odd. This review has it as a gastropub, and the Tripadvisor reviews are glowing, but when we visited, there was no sign of this- it seems the restaurant is closed much of the week, and is to permanently close on Oct 26th.

Sadly, what we were left with was a pub with no real ale, the football on too loud, and an unpleasant smell (from the glass washer, I reckon). Shame.

The Craster Arms

Beadnell, Northumberland:

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Just up the coast from Seahouses. I think the weather helped- warm and sunny. This is an inn, again, and a good amount of the inside is dining space, but it feels very pub-like, tidy and fresh but not devoid of character, and sat outside in the lovely beer garden, it felt almost like the perfect country pub. Landlord and staff were friendly, the food and beer was great, and generally this made for a lovely afternoon.

The Wynding Inn (Lord Crewe Hotel)

Bamburgh, Northumberland:

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This is a hotel, but the bar and (pleasant) beer garden feel pub-like, and the bar markets itself in that way, so it’s in.

We stopped here for lunch after a walk up from Seahouses. Pleasant staff, decent beer, good food, and not too expensive, though our entire Northumberland trip was a bit pricey beer-wise. It’s very modern gastropub inside, clean, bright and stripped wood, but not unpleasant- and the nice man filled our water bottle for the journey back.

The Bamburgh Castle Inn

Seahouses, Northumberland:

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Opposite the Olde Ship, this seems to bask in the reflected glory: we went in because The Olde Ship was rammed, as did several others. It doesn’t have the olde-worlde charm, but it does have great beer and food, friendly staff, free wi-fi, and a great view over the harbour. Dog-friendly too. Like the ship, it’s got rooms, but both feel mostly like pubs.

The Olde Ship Inn

Seahouses, Northumberland:

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The best known pub in Seahouses, and a probably for good reason. Inside it’s a maze of rooms, and most of them are decorated with an eclectic mix of maritime memorabillia. There’s great beer (both choice and quality), and good food, and the staff are friendly. There’s free wi-fi too, handy given the shaky Vodafone signal locally.

There’s actually only one problem: It’s far too popular!

We went in several times, but turned round and went to The Bamburgh Castle Inn over the road more times than we stopped, as we couldn’t get to the bar, never mind a table to eat, but I should point out they take reservations- so booking is adviseable.