Friday : Off To Wales (Part Three – Gloucester and Beer)

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In part three of this riveting series of posts, Liam and I have managed now to navigate our way around various Greggs across the country, have faffed about at a National Trust property and have now arrived in Gloucester. I admit, the Wales element of this trip is still a little way off in writing terms, but I’ve called it that as I was very brave in Wales and that’s how I want the weekend remembered.

We got to Gloucester and Liam mentioned that we had managed to park on Cromwell Street, which is perhaps best known for being where the crimes of Fred and Rosemary West took place. I hadn’t realised that this was in the centre of the city, I had just assumed it was in some obscure outlying area.

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I’m not normally into dark tourism, but this is where the property was, now demolished and replaced with a small green area and a widened road. It’s odd to think of the crimes committed there, but there was no point dwelling on that as I’m sure the city has wanted to move on from this for some time.

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We walked into the town centre and this is the signage relating to the East Gate.

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And there are the remnants of the structure. These defences to protect the city were built by the Romans soon after they had established Gloucester as a settlement in AD 68. A thirteenth century tower was placed on top and the structures have been much changed, but some Roman remains are still there nearly two thousand years on.

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A quick walk across the main square, or at least, a big square.

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We were trying to kill an hour before moving the car to the hotel’s car park, as it was much cheaper after a certain time. As we were visiting the decadent pubs in city later on, we popped to the Wetherspoons outlet, the Regal, for a quick drink.

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The interior of the pub and I did feel watched throughout by someone.

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But I was too busy with my 50p Mini Cheddars to worry about people looking at me, whilst Liam had rather more decadent crisps. The beer is half a pint of Wychert from the Vale Brewery Co which was well-kept and slightly under-poured. I thought that I’d better have a quick look at the pub’s reviews, a little towards the bottom end of JD Wetherspoons outlets.

“This Wetherspoons has recently started offering Pizza on the menu. We have tried them a couple of times and they were delicious. However, today we ordered them expecting the same quality,but they were disgusting. There was virtually no topping on them, they were not even the correct shape! I complained about it, and I was given another one, which was much the same as the other one, but with dollops of cheese here and there. Needless to say, we will not be ordering a Pizza again.”

I don’t disagree with this review, as JD Wetherspoon pizzas are in my view cheap rubbish that would be best lifted off the menu, but obviously enough people like them. Anyway, there are two cultural references here that I liked, the dollops reminding me of Friday Night Dinner and the needless to say bit reminding me of Alan Partridge.

“Was served a pint in a badly chipped glass. When I complained I was told that they could not replace the drink as I had consumed some. The best they could do was tip the drink into a fresh glass. Very poor”

Always tricky, pubs usually do pour it into a new glass instead from my experience. This review could have done with photos so I could assess the badly chipped glass.

“Ladies toilets smell horrible and a notice on the door to warn of male workman being in there would of been helpful”

I wonder if there’s more a back story to this one.

“Got charged for a drinks mixer I didn’t order when brought my complaints to the manager nothing was resolved. In short this experience has turned me against pubs, first time going to one since lockdown ended & also Last time I will make that mistake, #StayHomeStaySafe #boycott #ItsMoreFunToDrinkAtHome”

It isn’t more fun to drink at home, so I ignored this review (beyond carefully reading it, copying it and commenting on it).

“The waitress brought out a plate with a very small jacket potato and a small chicken breast on it, the presentation was disgusting. We had to ask for a side salad for my friend. They could of at least put some peas, sweet corn or carrots on the plate with it to make it look appetising.”

Presentation of a meal is disgusting because there are no vegetables?

“salad was NOT fresh when spoke to manager about the salad she told me thats how it comes its pre cut and if they would make fresh salad no one would get food as they would spend all day cutting it”

Spend all day cutting it, that’s a classy comment I think, they should have given the manager some praise for that.

“This is honestly the most disgusting place I’ve ever been”

Some people need to get out more.

“Asked if EURO2020 could be put on the TV instead of the news which no-one was watching, but was told ‘no, we don’t do football here'”

And that’s a 5/5 from me. But that’s enough reading of reviews, I have a blog to write.

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When I booked the hotels for this weekend several weeks before the event, the prices were high across Wales and England, the cheaper rates of the last two years have certainly gone away. I don’t know why the Travelodge in Gloucester was relatively cheap, but I picked it because I hadn’t been to the city recently, it was a short walk from the centre and there were nearby pubs.

I went to check-in whilst Liam parked the car, taking advantage of the cheap rate of £2 overnight. I had to wait a few minutes as the staff member was being ill outside, but the staff were so friendly that I felt entirely welcome. Travelodge might have some problems, but they do recruit some excellent staff, although whether or not they should have someone so ill behind the counter is a different point. But they gave me a heap of coffees on request and the booking was all as I expected.

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There are two centres to Gloucester, or in leisure and hospitality terms anyway. There’s the Quays area and then the city centre, around a twenty minute or so walk between the two. We started in the Quays area as that’s where the hotel was located.

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We weren’t entirely sure where to go for food, but I’ve been to some other outlets of Brewhouse so we thought we’d try there as they haven’t annoyed me in the past.

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It’s not the best craft beer around, but it’s credible enough for my liking. The staff member at the door was helpful, saying that they were at near capacity, but she then worked out that a table would be available for us in around twenty minutes. I appreciated the helpfulness as they certainly were busy, and I decided I would ideally stay here for food.

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There was some standing at the bar for around twenty minutes waiting for a table, but they kept us informed.

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The beer choice. I work through the list in my mind, thinking about the beer styles, cross referencing them to Untappd and then having a final think about what I want. Liam decides which beer name he likes the best on that particular day. He doesn’t even have Untappd. I had two beers, the Unite Celebration, a creditable sour, and the Jamaic Ann Oatmeal Stout, which was a little lacking in depth of taste and mouthfeel.

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They brew some beers here themselves, including the two that I had.

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I liked the lighting. I had a lot of time to take photos of the decor as the food took over 40 minutes to be served, but to be fair, they had said they were busy and I was just pleased that we were getting food at all.

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I went for the half beer can chicken, which seems to be what they shove the poor bird on to keep it tender and moist (after it’s already dead I’d add). I didn’t know what corn ribs were, but they’re essentially just bits of corn cut to make them easier to eat, which I appreciated as corn is unnecesarily fiddly. I thought that this was all very delicious, plenty of meat, the sauce had some flavour to it and everything was at the appropriate hot temperature. Liam had some pie and I don’t recall him complaining about it, so all was well and I think we were entirely satisfied with our choice of restaurant.

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Next was TANK, an odd place which was poorly laid out with one clearly competent staff member and some less aware colleagues. I know this not only through my own observations, but because the competent staff member mentioned it as well. It’s listed in the Good Beer Guide as it has some cask options, but their keg selection was more exciting in my view.

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I went for the Dockside Dark from Gloucester Brewery, who operate this venue as a sort of taproom, and this beer is available on cask and keg, although I went for the latter. It was OK, not rich enough for my liking though, but still very drinkable. They didn’t have any tables available when we got there, although we moved inside soon enough and I noted quietly to myself the staff could do with cleaning the place. But, I mustn’t complain.

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The docks at night.

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Between the docks and the city centre is this sculpture which didn’t offend me, but which was voted as one of the worst in the UK a few years ago.

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We then decided we’d better make the walk into the city centre and we went to the Good Beer Guide listed Pelican Inn, which was delightful in every way. The menus were on Untappd and it had that community feel to its arrangements. I think the service was a bit lacking in enthusiasm, but Liam got this round and so I can’t comment much more about that. He doesn’t ask interesting beer questions of staff though, he’s too busy seeing which beer has got the name he likes the best.

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I’ve just realised that Stuart from the LDWA, who does have Untappd (unlike Liam) as I got him into that, had been to this pub. Another handy feature of Untappd is that I know that, although it’s not clear what I can do with that information. This happens a lot with Nathan, who seems to have been to every pub in the UK. I went for the Wholesome Stout from Wye Valley Brewery, which was excellent, rich, full-bodied and, well, wholesome. It’s always a delight to see Untappd screens, not least so I can look at little pictures of myself at the bottom of the screen and remind myself I need to change my profile photo on the app.

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A decorated postbox. I’d never have the patience to do this and I would be highly annoyed if I had spent hours on it and then someone pinched it.

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Gloucester, including some photos of the Cathedral, at night and some of these came out better than others. I’m still playing about with my new phone to get photos look as I want them.

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We thought we’d have one final drink when we were back at the Quays, ticking off the JD Wetherspoon outlet which has the intriguing name of the Lord High Constable of England. Below is the history of the pub name that I pinched from the pub’s web-site:

“This building stands on the east side of the docks, between Llanthony Warehouse (now Gloucester Waterways Museum) and Llanthony Road, where it crosses Llanthony Bridge. The name ‘Llanthony’ is taken from the now-ruined medieval priory on the west bank. Llanthony Secunda Priory was established by Miles de Gloucester in 1136. Like his father and grandfather, Miles was High Sheriff of Gloucester and was also Lord High Constable of England.”

This pub is better rated on-line than their other pub in Gloucester that we had visited earlier in the day and I was surprised how busy it was. We got the only table that was still available and the atmosphere was calm and sort of welcoming despite the busy venue. It could have all been a little cleaner, but it was towards the end of a night and it was busy, so perhaps I’m being a little aspirational there given that it’s a Wetherspoons outlet.

“I and my partner apparently had a ‘complaint’ made against us for kissing in a booth, out of view and restrained”

There weren’t many reviews that caught my eye, although this one makes me wonder how they were out of view.

“I brought an alcoholic drink from bar without being asked to show my id and then later was asked to show my id to a higher member of staff witch by law you cant do that once you have been served”

I don’t think there is such a law…..

“I would give it a 0 if I could, the tables were disgusting, the management and staff were so rude and I wanted a refund and she refused to give it to me because they “already started making my food” which isnt allowed?since I work with food and if the customer wants a refund, its law tou have engine them one!”

What laws are the residents of Gloucester following?

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I went for the Old Thumper from Ringwood Brewery which was OK and well-kept, but I wouldn’t write home about it (although evidently I popped my thoughts here).

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A quick couple of photos from the Quays, before it was back to Travelodge ready for our day of bravery starting the next morning. A suitably busy day, evident that it’s taken me three blog posts to write up.