Yesterday it was my lovely boyfriend’s 40th birthday, so being wild and crazy party animals we decided to spend the afternoon moving sedately around the London Bridge area (very sedately, as I appear to have broken my foot in an argument with an oven – don’t ask) taking in the frenetic pace of the area and checking out a few historical pubs I’ve had my eye on. So in place of a proper blog post, here are a few thoughts on some of the places we visited.
The Old King’s Head
To be honest The Old King’s Head looks rather more exciting on the outside; it’s down a dodgy-looking alley and the sign has Henry VIII’s cheerfully inflated head on it, so you expect to walk into some backstreet dining hall revelry, where jesters hang from the oak beams and swarthy men eat entire chicken carcases with their hands. Alas, no, although it is still rather charmingly old fashioned and has some beautiful stained glass in the windows (a dragon, a lion and a whippet, I think).
The George is an excitingly old place, and even has various notices from the National Trust telling you how it’s the last surviving galleried coaching inn, and Shakespeare and Dicken’s hung out there like writerly bros (not at the same time, sadly). In terms of actually sitting around and drinking, it is a weirdly uncomfortable place. It took us a little while just to get inside – you open a door onto a room full of people sitting and drinking, with no bar in sight and no doors to anywhere else – and you have to peer into a few windows before you figure the layout (we did our usual “It’s like the Crystal Maze/Krypton Factor!” bit). The seats were oddly high, so our feet dangled above the floor, and a small bottle of pear cider cost £4.50. Yikes.
The Barrow Boy and Banker
This one was cheating slightly, as we have a long and exciting history with the Barrow Boy; a huge pub, with an upstairs balcony area (off which we once infamously threw some plastic men with parachutes) and an enormous sweeping staircase. It's often heaving to the rafters but yesterday afternoon it was quiet so we ate lunch there, and thanks to it being Marty’s birthday we got a free drink! Can’t say fairer than that. Also, the fish pie is amazing.
Now this one isn’t in London Bridge at all, it’s in Camberwell, but it’s worth mentioning here for several reasons: a) it always smells of lovely food being cooked b) the staff watch Game of Thrones c) it’s decorated in a explosion-in-an-antiques-shop-with-a-load-of-tat-on-the-side fashion, which is exactly how I would decorate a pub, and d) it used to be the Silver Buckle, which was a terrifying place with bullet holes in the walls and drug addicts chewing the tables. Now it’s not, and that certainly deserves celebration.