Sunday, 28 April 2013

London and Larry Miller at the Borderline

Once again the combination of a really good London pub crawl followed by one of the best gigs of the year so far was all part of another splendid day!
Now don't get me wrong, I do not spend all my time swanning around London trying to drink it dry, it's just that living close enough to the capitol does mean it's fairly easy to get in and out to catch some great gigs and other events and armed with a little knowledge before hand you can explore parts of London that the majority of tourists just don't see and that also means there are some excellent pubs scattered away down backstreets and side streets that are well worth a visit.

This was a real Fellowship of the Stick outing, four of us intrepid mortals succeeded in actually finishing work at more or less spot on 12 noon on the Friday, part timers? Emphatically not, in order to be able to finish at 12 on a Friday (That's the cut off point for core hours under our flexi hours system) one has actually to have done ones hours for the week and have hours in ones flexi account, anyway, 12 and we were off again.

We had not visited the Betjeman Arms at St. Pancrass for quite a while, it was well worth it for a fine pint of Betjeman Ale and to watch the world go by, life here is always interesting and there's always something to to spark the imagination.

Yours truly outside the Betjeman Arms (
A (very) short bus ride down the Euston road saw us at The Euston tap another splendid watering hole with a fine range of draft, craft and bottled beers.

 Not far away, tucked away, is one of my favourite pubs in London, the wonderful Bree Louise where CAMRA members can get a nice little discount on beers and meals, so good Kevin created his own Happy meal!

Now, three pints of splendid strong ale into the afternoon, it was time to move on, which we did in style, visiting, in no particular order, The Draft House, The Blue Posts, Nellie Dean of Soho, The Crown and Two Chairmen, the Montague Pyke and then popping into The Crobar for a quick JD & Coke before descending into the depths of The Borderline.

Chris, Peter & Kevin and The Stick

So, nicely fuelled by a splendid afternoon we were ready to rock our socks off to some of the best rocking blues you're ever likely to hear this side of the universe!

Support for the evening came in the form of The Mitch Laddie Band, now if you've never heard of Mitch Laddie and you like your blues loud and rocking, Mitch is one of the young up and coming new generation of  Blues Rockers, in fact I'm pretty sure the Borderline would have been just as full if he was headlining, so to have Mitch and the boys there as a support for Larry was something quite special and a great way to start the gig.

Mitch Laddie (in the cap) really going for it

Now that Mitch had us all warmed up it was time for The Larry Miller Band to get us started and get ready for Larry himself to explode upon the stage! 

This tour is promoting the new album Live and Outlawed, which, as the title suggests, is a live album, it is a damn fine album and really does manage to capture some of the excitement of a Larry Miller gig, any way, back to the gig, to say that Larry was 'on form' this night would be somewhat of an understatement, Larry was on fire, and just so, so, so good, days later and I'm still buzzing.

Larry in action at The Borderline
Now surprise of the night, at the end, Larry brought on a very special guest, in fact a very, very special guest, Eddy 'Blue' Lester on saxophone, just in case you didn't know, Eddy is an ex Jimi Hendrix band mate and to hear and see him play Voodoo Child with Larry was something that made the hairs on the back of my neck (and elsewhere) tingle!

Eddy 'Blue' Lester

What a way to round off one of the finest of days, quite and utterly splendid, and, as I type this, I'm listening to Live and Outlawed, again!

The sheer brilliance that is, the Larry Miller band.

As is somewhat traditional for a Fellowship event, I captured the day in the ditty below, another one for the chronicles.

London & Larry 26/04/13

Some traditions are fine and should be respected
Or in this case an old tradition resurrected
A departure time of  spot on 12 noon
Just couldn’t come around too soon

And there we were once again
London bound on the half past train
And what was the first establishment we went in?
Why of course it had to be The Sir John Betjeman

A pint and a bus ride saw the Fellowship four
Walking through The Euston Tap’s door
Then onto the wonderful Bree Louise
Corona-less barmaids so to tease

And then right before our very eyes
The most delicious, sumptuous pies
Then off again to a new ‘Mine Hosts’
To find a pub strangely called the Blue Posts

Along the way there was the Draft House for a nice craft beer
And the Nellie Dean of Soho for further cheer
The Crown and Two Chairman, strange names methinks
We shared a table with the lads and their girly drinks!

Then the Montague Pyke just had to be done
Beers and burgers or hot dogs and beers simply yum
And then of course it was really not that far
To slip in a mock JD or two in the old Crobar

So as it happened as usual just in time
We made our way into The Borderline
The Mitch Laddie band were in full flow
And he’s pretty damn good don’t you know

But Larry Miller was on so on form this night
His band so practised and so very tight
And with special guest Eddie Lester (Eddie Blue)
This was a spectacularly brilliant somewhat special do

And the Borderline did what it always does
Finished right on time but OK for the four of us
We made it back to Kings Cross for the earlier train
We were ‘As happy as Larry’ once again.

Grant Meaby

So, until the batteries are restored and we have the energy to do it all over again, cool runnings one and all, until the next time.

All rights reserved, words and images above, Grant Meaby 2013.

Sunday, 14 April 2013


This a very much my own personal impression and it is not intended to be anything like a definitive guide or to provide you the reader with any detailed (boring) tasting notes.
So to begin, on Friday the 12th April 2013 I set off to London in the company of a couple of my best friends who just happen to be fellow CAMRA members for a mini (Or perhaps not so mini) tour of some the Craft Beer establishments around Kings Cross, Euston & Camden.

There has been so much written about ‘Craft’ beers recently, what makes a beer a ‘craft’ beer, is it the size of the brewery or microbrewery? Or is it the batch size? Could it be the way the beer is kept and served? Is it a passing fad? Is it really any threat to real ale?
Is it really just beer for the Lager generation?

No doubt the debate will rage on for months and years to come, one thing however that cannot be disputed is the rise in popularity of the so called ‘Craft Beers’ and Craft Beer bars and pubs, especially in London.
Any discerning drinker with a ‘Smart phone’may, if not already aware, like to know that there is an APP that shows you where all these places are and tells you a little about the venue and the range of beers available, so, with that in mind!


Our first port of call was the Queen’s Head near Kings Cross, pictured above, I have to admit I was instantly distracted by and fell for the Dark Star Hophead while my friends ventured straight away to the crafty dark side, I did of course succumb and taste Windsor and Eaton Conqueror, also on offer were Black Isle Organic Porter, Wild Beer Epic Saison and several others including ‘Real’ lagers and Ciders.
The Queens Head is actually a very friendly ‘Olde Worlde’ pub with a warm friendly atmosphere and a charming and knowledgeable landlord.

Next we ventured into The Exmouth Arms (above), another splendid Victorian pub, it seemed popular and offered a good range of real ales and craft beers, if somewhat ‘pricey’ my pint of Ska, Nut Brown Ale cost £6 for heaven’s sake!, they also had a beer that we were to later find popping up all over the place, Camden Ink, which by the way was also pretty good.

Clerckenwell saw us actually in the Craft Beer Co., I can honestly say I have never ever seen so many hand pumps and taps, the mirrored ceiling just has to be seen and if a little peckish I can highly recommend the home made Scotch Eggs they were absolutely delicious, the beer was OK too, if what somewhat expensive although this seemed to be becoming somewhat of a common theme!

The amazing array of hand pumps and taps in the Craft Beer Co. Pub

OK, the Holborn Whippet, this is a Craft Beer pub, pub? Bar? Another good range of overpriced beers most of which we’d already seen at other establishments, as one of my friends so aptly put it, “It looks like the beer equivalent of a wine bar”, spot on observation there!

We set off to The Euston Tap, one of our favourite haunts, where we have never failed to find a fine selection of real ales, craft beers on tap and a huge selection of bottled beers.
On a Friday evening after work this place is hugely popular, despite the rain which by now was pelting down, the Euston Tap was packed inside and out, we opted for a strong very dark porter, by now the name and the brewery escaped long into the dusk!

Nicely fuelled and somewhat soggy (inside and out) we set off to Camden and, joy of joys, if you are going to do things in a new way and do it right, Brew Dog certainly have.
I must admit I love the Brew Dog beers and to get a lovely fresh pint of Punk IPA in the Brew Dog pub was an absolute delight, the pub itself is modern, slick, stylish and extremely popular, this is one I’d definitely go back to.

After calling into Camden market for some much needed (And by far cheaper) food we made our way to our last drinking venue, The Dark Heart, this faceless impersonal looking place is tucked away down a side street, there is no nameplate on the door, no pub sign, just an impersonal black fronted doorway with bouncers standing by, this should probably have told us something about the place before we entered, dark, dingy, slightly Goth themed, loud music and offering a few craft beers and real ales and the usual naff main brand lagers and ciders at inflated prices, ho hum, you can’t always leave the best till last I suppose.

Thank heavens we were actually off to the splendid Daevid Allen’s Magic Brothers gig in the Inspiral Lounge which of course rounded the day off perfectly.

So, in conclusion, it doesn’t matter whether they call the beer ‘Craft’ or not, there are some mighty fine beers out there to try and some reasonable places to drink them in, but on the whole I would I say I prefer a good ‘Real Ale’ in a proper pub, but again, that’s just my opinion.

Cheers all, until we next raise a glass together.

Grant 2013

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Well it was Easter

It was one of those nights, you know the ones, the ones where you suddenly go from nothing much to do at all to the "Good grief, everything is all on in different places at the same time" sort of nights, Easter Saturday was one of those occasions.
A couple of weeks before, well a few days before to be precise, there was not a lot on that I really wanted to go do or see or had arranged to do, and then Club-85 in Hitchin pumps out a splendid line up for the Club-85 benefit weekend, a mates band gets their first London show and Cheezy & The Hellmits get to play The Red Lion in Biggleswade, how could I choose?

To be fair it wasn't that difficult, despite the raucous racket they can make, I love Cheezy & The Hellmits, and what's more I'd not had an evening full of pure classic Punk for far too long.
Cheezy and The Hellmits don't just play Punk & Oi, they really recreate the authentic sound of the early Punk bands playing live and also create such a brilliant atmosphere, it's always a boot stomping sing along accompanied by copious amounts of alcohol and what was even more special was that several of my closest friends had decided they were going too, all in all the makings of a jolly splendid evening.
So for Keith & Sally, Kevin, Paul, Mel, Cheezy & The Hellmits, this is for you.

A couple of years ago I spent a long weekend in Antwerp with The Hellmits when they played at De Rots Rock Concern as part of a British Pub bands weekender along with Sharps Hooters, what an awesome time that was, so I really had little choice and after all, it was Easter!

Filmed by the wonderful Punkrocksal here's a cover of Homicide, I think it was a 999 song originally.

And to commemorate the occasion! (The astute among you will no doubt recognise the 'construction').

Well it was Easter!      
Cheezy’s Hellmits played last night, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
Punk Rock music played just right, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
The Red Lion in Biggleswade, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
An unholy sound was made, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi

Grant and Kevin were there too, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
What a splendid thing to do, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
Paul, Mel, Strat, Keith and Sally, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
Bopped around didn’t dilly dally, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi

But the pains our ears endured, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
Were never to be once ignored, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
We all love the raunchy punk, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
Especially when we’re getting drunk, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi

At half past ten the pub was heaving, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
Such a shame it was time for leaving, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
Cheezy’s Hellmits played last night, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi
And Easter well it turned out right, Oi oi oi oi oi, oi oi oi oi

All too soon it was over, well it was for me as the last train back South from Biggleswade was at 11:20 but it was a happy journey home, my feet aching and my ears ringing and my mind singing some of those fine old Punk songs from the 70's, they don't write them like that anymore!

Keep bouncing!

Until the next time, cheers all, Grant.