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JCP-UK 2012: Neighborhood Pub

I'm back from my 10-day trip to the UK all in one piece! Wow, what a whirlwind of an experience it was...so much so that I've got absolutely no idea how to organize the various highlights of it. Since many of the UK Meet attendees are already blogging about it, I'm going to start somewhere random: my trip to a neighborhood pub.

One thing I really wanted to do when I got to England was go grocery shopping. Yes, I know that's mundane. I just enjoy seeing what's different whenever I arrive in a new locale. Clare and her older son were happy to oblige! We hit the local store and gravitated toward the beer. Since Clare's son has bartending experience, he could tell me knowledgeably about the differences between the varieties, and we decided to stock up on a few different types and have a beer tasting.

Once the hectic excitement of Brighton was over and we returned to London, we settled in for our tasting...and then Clare's husband came home and offered to take us down to the local pub! (We were already nice and lubricated at this point.) One of the things on my checklist was to visit a REAL British pub, rather than a place that catered to tourists, so we jumped at the chance to go.

There were patrons drinking there, but not many. I think Clare and I were the only women there other than the bartender. We ran into a friend of Mr. London's who bought us a round and had a nice chat with us, and the atmosphere felt convivial and very right. The entire ceiling was covered in the little plates they put on the taps to show which sort of beer is in there (I don't know what they're called) and it made for a striking decor!
Clare and I had a fabulous time. She and her family welcomed me into their home and made me feel like an honorary Londoner. How funny, I hadn't noticed that union jack in the corner of the shot until now! Just in case you couldn't tell where we were ;-)

I could never really predict where businesses would be. Something would look like a residential street to me, and then there would be a pub (or a surgeon or something) right there among the houses. Maybe US neighborhoods are more strictly zoned as to residential or business uses.



( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC)
So glad you had a great time! I also love going grocery shopping while in Germany and naturally to the pubs too ;o)
Sep. 22nd, 2012 03:58 pm (UTC)
The grocery store looked like I would expect, but then I got up close to the shelves and saw all the brands were different. It was quite fun.
Sep. 22nd, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
It was lovely to meet you Jordan! I couldn't wait to go grocery shopping while in Italy... all that pastry...
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Meet
Fabulous meeting you too, Kat! Thanks so much for linking to my site in your Polish-language summary of the meet. A lot of your readers are popping by to check it out!

You and Agnes were definitely the most glamorous authors at the meet. At the club, I was thinking, "Yeah, they're with US, I know you Brighton people are all jealous." ;-)
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Meet
He he, you're welcome, I surely hope some readers get hooked ;D

And thank you. You're making me blush! ^^
Sep. 22nd, 2012 02:01 pm (UTC)
It's funny what you say about the zoning thing. In the UK everything is crammed higgledy piggledy, although we often have town or city centres which contain most of our shops.

I live in a small cul-de-sac off a road which stretches for about a mile. When I moved in 10 years ago, it had the following mix on the street:

A family run petrol station/auto-shop
A Doctor's surgery
More houses and the back entrance to the train station
A cloth mill which dates from about 1850
A factory which makes lighting components
A car park
A Wendy wool factory
More houses and opposite them another Victorian mill which had been converted into units housing a dance studio and a go-kart place.
More houses
A nursery/garden centre
The town cemetery
A pub/bed and breakfast

The petrol station is now no more and has been replaced by a block of retirement flats. The lighting factory has gone too and more housing has been built there, but there's still a rather eclectic mix of houses and businesses all on one road!

So, yes, I think zoning is pretty non-existent, certainly where I live :).
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
Higgledy piggledy is absolutely the perfect word for it. Clare and I were going shopping and she said, "I have to stop at the surgery and pick up some forms," and I thought, "Okay, so why are we stopping here?" To me it all looks like a bunch of twisty roads with ivy-covered walls. It makes all the difference in the world to be with someone who knows where they are. What might be scary (if I were lost or alone) became an adventure instead.
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:01 pm (UTC)
Glad you got back safe and sound. Hope the hat made it home too. Traditional British pubs (as opposed to the chains) have some very ecletic decorations inside. I'm not sure what they call those signs they hang on the taps either - they didn't have them when I was growing up in a pub.

It was great to meet you.
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
The hat is safe! The key to packing it is filling it with clothes, and putting rolled up clothes around it. Then it takes up hardly any room, which is a bonus.

It was wonderful to get some time to really chat with you!
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
Glad you had a fun time. I love going to grocery stores as well. My ex went to one in China. He said THAT was an experience. :-)

That's true about the zoning. Here in my entire neighborhood beyond a church and a community centre building there are no businesses. At each end there is something, a gas station donut/shop at one end and a mini-mall with pizza, Chinese, physiotherapy and eye glasses at the other. People in North America don't like business where they live. They don't want people driving down their street to go shopping or visit the dentist. Kind of weird. I suppose. :-)
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
I remember when we were building a new library, people were actively protesting it being too close to their homes for noise and traffic reasons, then complaining when we eventually needed to put it in the "new" part of town :-/

I'd be scared to go to a Chinese grocery store unless I had an actual Chinese person with me. The Asian grocers in Madison and Chicago are exotic to me as it is (eek, an octopus) so I imagine a real one would be a total trip.
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
It was great to meet you at the meet. Yes, British pubs are unique.

We definitely don't have zoning in the same way here. I was at my doctor's yesterday and that's in a converted house in the middle of a residential street. There's a Starbucks on my road, which is in a building I think used to be a pub. A but further up the road there's a library, a public swimming pool, my hairdresser's and some other shops, all with houses mixed in. Fun!
Sep. 22nd, 2012 04:18 pm (UTC)
Thinking about it now, I suppose Chicago was more like that, at least on what I'd consider to be main streets. People who lived in flats above business could get away with having really wild parties once the business was closed for the day.

I feel so lucky to have met so many people I previously only knew online!
Sep. 26th, 2012 08:44 am (UTC)
Those things on the ceiling are called pump clips--I know this as a card carrying Campaign for Real Ale member (well, the other half is anyway. I lost my card somewhere)

I've grown up with mixed residential and business, so it seems so normal. Zoning is a weird concept. Why shouldn't things be all muddled up?

Anyway, it was smashing to meet you, and I'm definitely descending on your place if (when!) I visit the States.

Sep. 26th, 2012 09:09 am (UTC)
Okay, now don't be looking at a map of the US, seeing how far away I am from anything else, and changing your mind!

There was a Campaign for Real Ale newsletter/magazine in the bathroom at the Londons' house, I presume because older son is a bartender, so I actually know what you're talking about :D
Sep. 26th, 2012 09:25 am (UTC)
Damn, and there was me hoping you wouldn't realise just how terminally uncool being a CAMRA member is! ;P
Sep. 26th, 2012 09:52 am (UTC)
Ha ha, you know me. Beer = yay!
Sep. 26th, 2012 09:55 am (UTC)
Was it my imagination, or were we the only two people drinking beer all weekend?
Sep. 26th, 2012 10:39 am (UTC)
I did notice a lot of fancy drinks in peoples' hands. (More beer for us!) You are one of those drinkers who never seems particularly tipsy, too.
Sep. 26th, 2012 10:55 am (UTC)
Hehe - that's because I stuck to the beer. If I have anything else (particularly spirits and cocktails), I'm all over the place!
Sep. 26th, 2012 11:33 am (UTC)
I'm deeply disappointed that I didn't get to try a Pimm's cup. I looked into making them here, but it looks like a big pain in the butt. We don't have the same kind of lemonade, and I'm not sure I can even find the Pimm's liquor. So I guess I save that experience for my next UK trip!
Oct. 10th, 2012 10:22 am (UTC)
ANYTHING that encourages you to retiurn one day is a treat to me! xx

(and apologies for being so late in catching up on this post...)
Oct. 10th, 2012 10:21 am (UTC)
*heh* this is where I confess that Mr London (what a brilliant way to describe him, jcp) is a CAMRA member as well! :)
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )

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