Friday : Off to Canterbury for Hike Norfolk Weekend

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After a little milling around central London, including around St. Paul’s where it was too hot, I shuffled in the intense heat to get the Central Line to the delights of Wanstead. Richard and Dave were picking me up from Redbridge and since I wanted to get there early, I thought I’d wait in the nearby Wetherspoons, around a fifteen minute walk away.

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I’m not sure what interesting things I can say about Wanstead Underground Station. Work started on it in the 1930s, but the Second World War got in the way, so it didn’t open until 1947. It was designed by Charles Holden (1875-1960) who had been heavily involved in designing War Graves Commission cemeteries after the end of the First World War.

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More a photo for Untappd than for entering in any photography competitions, but this is the Tropical Crush from Portobello Brewing. I found a table with a power point nearby and got myself fully charged for the big journey, as it’s best to be prepared with Richard driving. He’ll read this, but he only reads the post that gets emailed to him when I publish it, I don’t think he’s worked out I change posts afterwards if I find that additional gossip is needed.

The Wetherspoons is the George, a rather grand former hotel and it’s relatively well reviewed, and I found everything to be in order. I quite liked this review though:

“I went to the George pub and the service was very bad as the food took so long to arrive and I did not get served until 8.45pm when I did order at 7pm, so I was very angry with the people who served me so I will not be going there ever again.”

There’s something about the very angry that intrigues me. It’s quite an early JD Wetherspoon outlet, they took it over in 1992 and dropped the Hotel from the pub’s name, although I do wonder what they’re doing with all that space. The hotel had been built in 1903, replacing an earlier pub which was called the George and the Dragon.

Anyway, with that drink enjoyed and my devices fully charged, I walked along the side of a busy road (on a pavement, but nonetheless, the walk isn’t ideal) to meet Richard and Dave at Redbridge. A quick phone call to the restaurant to confirm the evening’s meal arrangements were as I expected, and we were off. Now, Richard told us some funny stories about his trip to France, but, unfortunately, he has imposed a DSMA-Notice on this blog so I can’t post about those details. Dave or I can recount them on request though.

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After checking into the B&B, which was an experience I’ll return to, we then rushed off to the pub, as Richard is pub obsessed. This is the Tribute from St Austell Brewery at the Three Tuns pub, which I choose as a quick stop despite it being Greene King. It was well kept, although it’s never going to be a beer to write home about. The pub dates from the fifteenth century and apparently there are remains of a Roman theatre underneath the building. And today, it’s a Greene King pub which isn’t quite as exciting.

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Next it was a stop at the Foundry Brew pub, which is Untappd listed and Good Beer Guide pub listed. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure this location for the group meal, but I did need to have a little examination of their beers as they’re the brewpub of Canterbury Brewers. I won’t drone on for too long here, the beers were all well kept and tasted of a reasonable quality, but nothing particularly stood out other than the Itzamna, their imperial porter. Decadent with tastes of vanilla and chocolate, all very lovely. I liked the care they took with noting which beer was which on the laminated sheet, that was much appreciated and rather professional.

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Gordon in front of Patisserie Valerie, as it’s a location he likes telling a funny story about.

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I had struggled to book a table for the Friday night, but this was the location of choice, the Millers Arms. Steve kindly gave an excellent little talk about the Camino that he’s just walked, several weeks of 22 miles a day on average, all very courageous. I think it’s fair to say that he inspired a fair few people around the table. He also gave details of the walk that we were undertaking on the following day, which was part of St. Augustine’s Way.

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Onto the food, which exceeded my expectations to be honest. Tender fish, a rich batter which remained crispy and had a depth of taste, with skin on fries which had a suitable fluffy interior. Nicely garnished, well presented and with sufficient tartare sauce, although that’s hidden at the back of the photo. It complemented the Double Stout from Shepherd Neame, who operate this pub, really rather well. Although, to be fair, I think stout complements nearly anything, I’m not that fussy.

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The Millers Arms was a decent pub, I liked it, and it’s a hotel as well for those who want somewhere to stay. Everything felt professionally managed, they certainly didn’t let me down.

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And with that, it was time for a few of us to visit the pub. Gordon ran off, which was really not ideal, but sufficient numbers stayed out as there was a Good Beer Guide pub that I hadn’t been to still left to visit.

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The Thomas Tallis Alehouse was where I took everyone, a quirky arrangement as the pub doesn’t even have a bar. I liked pubs that are different and the Good Beer Guide didn’t let me down here.

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There’s a nice little beer selection there, I think young Nathan would have been happy with that.

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I had thought that it would be busier on a Friday evening, but unfortunately, not, although a couple of tables were taken later on. It was rather lovely to see Sarah and Andy come along at this point, they’re hard core drinkers though, so it wasn’t an entire surprise.

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As for the drinks, I went for thirds of a number of different beers, including the Bone Machine from Whiplash, the Double Juice Punch and the Wake Up Call from Brouwerij Frontaal as well as the It’s Me or the Solar Farm from Turning Point. An attractive range of beers, with the Double Juice Punch being particularly notable.

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A very decorative toilet.

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Richard and I were the last two standing, or, technically, sitting. He’s reliable like that is Richard. That just meant we had to get back to the B&B which was a twenty minute walk.

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All very atmospheric and I’d add it’s very difficult to take a photo of the cathedral. Despite its size, it remains hidden behind these narrow streets.

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It was all rather quiet, although it was nearly midnight. There was a big party going on at the venue underneath the Hilton by Hampton though, which we realised by walking in front of it, and also from Gordon who was staying there and who couldn’t sleep until 3am despite spending £220 per night. How the other half live….

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And the castle, which was constructed by William the Conqueror shortly after his invasion of the country in 1066. It was used by a gas company in the nineteenth century who took the top floor down, which isn’t entirely ideal, although there were plans to entirely demolish it, so the outcome is better than it could have been. I’m pleased to report that we got back to the B&B unharmed and in good shape, with Richard really excited for the walking the following day. I was busy to complain all day that it was too hot.