Grandma Gertie always said there's not a savory dish that can't be made tastier by just a touch of tarragon.

Tsunami and Me

Tsunami and Me
too big to escape now....

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Rub a Dub Dub...Let's Pop into a Pub!

 Over thirty years ago I wrote a piece, "Posies, Pubs and Poets," for Uncle Jam, an arts and entertainment tabloid, about my first trip to London. In it I quoted a sign in an Edgware Road pub, The King's Head: "This bar is dedicated to those excellent gentlemen who make drinking a pleasure, who reach contentment before capacity, and who, whatever they drink, can take it, hold it, and remain gentlemen."

Just back from England for a week now, this gloomy, chilly Saturday afternoon I already wish I could teleport myself back to London...or the Isle of Wight...for a lazy afternoon of sipping a cider and chatting with old friends and new friendly gentlemen. Instead I have a list as long as a dragon's tail of tasks that need to be completed over the next few days. But none of them seem as tempting or as tasty as just relaxing, unwinding, and ordering an Old Rosie or a Thatchers Gold, and watching the world wander by.

This trip our Road Scholar Dickensian group dined at The George, on Borough High Street, Southwark, a pub frequented by Shakespeare in his day, and Dickens in his, and me in that first 1980 visit. This time I enjoyed steak and kidney pie with my pint of cider. The George is London's only surviving galleried coaching inn. Right around the corner is where Chaucer's pilgrims set out for Canterbury. It stands on the south side of the River Thames near London Bridge, for centuries the only bridge across the river.

 Later that evening we visited The Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, where we gazed out at the Thames and wished for a slightly warmer late spring evening! Fans of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen may remember that Mina Harker pauses in front of this pub and says it brings back memories. She's alluding to the beaching of the Demeter at Whitby in the novel Dracula. In earlier centuries this pub had a reputation as a meeting place for smugglers and villains

On Charing Cross Road in the West End, twice I dropped in at The Porcupine, a pub with a history, as well as great fish and chips. Its website proclaims "The Porcupine has proudly stood its ground since 1725. In years gone by we were a haunt of the freemasons and in 1807 became the meeting place for another group; the 'Lodge of Confidence'. In 1822 a gang of thieves came here for a celebratory drink, after burgling at the house of Lord Ashbrook. They were nabbed after asking the landlord to put their equipment behind the bar for 'safe keeping'!"!!

This has been the third summer in a row that I've headed for England....there's the lure of the University of Cambridge International Summer School, the wonderful theatres of the West End, the ciders of Somerset...and now, my new love, that "obsure little island," the Isle of Wight. Might be back once more next summer! I've read that actor Ian McKellen is buying The Grapes, the pub where young Charles Dickens used to stand on the table and sing to customers. This is the same pub that later became "The Six Jolly Fellowship Porters" in Our Mutual Friend.

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