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Arthur’s Column

Week ending 26 March 1995.

I think I might have to rename this column to Arthur’s pub guide! Last Sunday saw us settle into a few Castles (SA beer) at The President. The President is a ship moored close to Blackfriars bridge. Although quite run down, it has a relaxed attitude, and is open all afternoon on Sundays thanks to some special license (2nd in a row – see last week). Those readers from out of the UK will not appreciate the problem (or why these pubs are good solutions). For some obscure reason pubs in this country have to close at 3.00pm on a Sunday. It used to be this way throughout the week, so I guess we should consider ourselves lucky?!? Why the government thinks it neccesary to impose such silly laws on drinkers in a country where pubs were practically invented is beyond me. Did you know that pubs have to close at 11.00pm on a normal night, and there is a short period allowed for “drinking up” which effectively means you’re on the street by 11.30?!?

Weather varied from nice and warm(ish) to really cold. Some nice sunshine on Friday saw the City pretending that summer had arrived and standing on the pavement having the obligatory lunchtime beer. Actually, speaking from experience (we had a few at the King Lud), it was a pretty cold summers day! The King Lud is on Ludgate circus (St Paul’s end of Fleet Street) and is part of a chain called the Hogshead Pubs. They serve about 30 different beers, quite a few straight from the barrels behind the bar. Well worth a visit.

Had dinner on Wednesday at a great pizza place called La Lanterna on Mill Street SE1. Pizzas are tops, and the atmosphere really busy in typical Italian style. Owner Jan is always happy to greet new customers, and will typically remember you and greet you personally on your second visit.

The George on Borough High Street near London Bridge Station was cosy and enticing as usual on Friday night. Only problem with the George is that a number of walking tours and pub tours end there, so we get occasional mass influxes of visitors with accents.

The Head of the River rowing race took place on Saturday betwen Chiswick Bridge and Putney on the Thames. This is a race rowed the reverse direction of the famous Oxford vs Cambridge race which takes place next weekend. The great thing about the Head is that it has a huge number of competitors. It started with the Schools Head of the River last week Monday, the main Head yesterday and the veterans today. There were 420 boats competing yesterday (all 8’s). The boats start at 10 second intervals, and row the 3.5 mile course in about 20 minutes. Quite a busy scene. We watched from Hammersmith Bridge (actually – you guessed it – from outside a pub near the bridge) and then walked down to Vesta Rowing club for the obligatory 10 pints.

Thats all for this week … Watch out next week for news of our first get-together which will take place in a pub in London. We will be inviting all readers who can make it to join us for a beer. (Don’t book your flight until the date is confirmed!).

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