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"South West Pubs" pub crawl

by Techno

a few months back south west trains, along with it's usual "gold" magazine, included some weekend tickets entitling the holder to free travel all over the SWT network on a particular date. seemed a shame to use them on one return journey, but what sort of activity would involve going to many different places on the same day with a short stay in each of them?


glad to see you're with me on this one.

but what places to do? well the tickets sort of helped us out with that. since it was south west trains laying on transport for the day why not "name" the places in their honour? discounting repeated letters (standard practice is to double / treble up on drinks in the places where required) we're left with "AEHINORSTUW". shame the network is not blessed with a decent distribution of places - isleworth is the only "I" and has no pubs, and the two "U"s are upwey and upper halliford. after a top level management meeting "trains" became "pubs" and an altogether more appropriate crawl was formed.

then the place picking. we wanted to make as much use of the network as possible but not so much that we couldn't be well inside the 6 london zones by last orders, so an early morning long journey followed by hops back in was the best plan. weymouth, upwey, poole, bournemouth, southampton, eastleigh, hook, oxshott and twickenham gave us the letters and with enough time for minor delays at most places we could complete out 151 mile epic by 10pm. last saturday (17th august), we cleared our schedules (phil even flew back from italy for the weekend), checked the weather and armed with just place ideas and a rail timetable book, we set off.

the usual suspects

standard all day pub crawl preparation applied - "we should stay in and get an early night with lots of sleep", "good plan", everyone ends up going out.

i met phil just after 8am in waterloo, neither party at their physical peak (his hangover was worse but i had a shaving cut). coffee and coke, sms to darren and anne informing them of our rendezvous, reply back asking if we'd activated the tickets yet.

activation? why yes, you have to call the gold card phone line and get an activation code. only it doesn't open until 9:00 and the train leaves at 8:30. the first in what would become a catalogue of problems.

the SWT information desk guy directed us to the queue for the ticket office, and the ticket office guy there mumbled stuff into his microphone. we nodded sagely and got on the weymouth train. naturally the guard started checking tickets immediately, so i dutifully filled in all the bits i could (the date and my gold card number) and handed over two small bits of card and proffered and explanation about the blank code.

"never seen these before"

and off he went. clearly central office promotion policy has not reached all employees. we kept ourselves amused for the rest of the journey with The Sun brainboxer - see how you get on (answer at the bottom of the page):

A woman has five pounds. She goes to the bank to withdraw some money, and then goes to the shops and spends 5.05. Then she realises that the bank clerk must have made a mistake, and swapped the pounds and pence around in the money they gave her. She now has exactly twice as much as what she asked for, as opposed to what she was actually given. How much money did she leave the bank with?

anne and darren

mike and phil

11:15. Giant Pot, Weymouth

the lack of seats for some of the way (darren and anne) didn't pose a serious problem. arriving 15 minutes late for a half hour scheduled stop having never been to weymouth before, that was rather more concerning. first out the door with a "must find a pub!" mind set we ran out of the station. and saw 3 pubs. er, er, that one!


three halves of lager and one half of strongbow, thank you mr friendly barman. i took this opportunity to ring the gold card people and get my activation code (a 3 digit affair which was exactly the same as darren's). halves downed we left the pub with time to spare and re-boarded the train we arrived on. a bemused guard gave the all clear for our 4 minute journey to upwey.

first orders

11:55. New Inn, Upwey

with the train around the corner and nobody else disembarking, upwey station was silent. not background traffic noise quiet, real proper silence. very un-nerving for us london folk. signs of civilisation just up the station approach road though. darren's recollections of the P.H. marked on streetmap meant a right turn and under the railway.


got our drinks (same choice as before but pints this time as we needed the U place twice) and took a look round. the boozer was great! pool table (doubles game won by phil and i thanks to 3 definitely not flukey shots on my part), bar billiards, darts and a skittle alley allegedly. also some random snack food in the form of walker's excellent chip shop curry sauce flavour MAXes which tasted exactly like chip shop curry sauce. make of that what you will.


13:35. Lord Wimborne, Poole

another seaside stop off and a chance for some silly name truncation. having negotiated the strange level cross through the middle of the shopping area we settled for a wetherspoons pub. unusual pricing strategy to say the least with phil's kronenbourg costing less than the fosters the rest of us had. it was becoming clear we'd be spending a long time travelling and not much time drinking so we changed strategies to an all pint one. the lord wimborne was also the genesis for oxbridge pub crawl, more of that another time.

lording it up

upon returning to the station we discovered a 15 minute delay to the intended train, which let time for a silly picture. only it didn't, because the train before it was also late and pulled in just as i was walking about on a roundabout with phil shouting "forward! left! no, my left! there! no wait" like a knightmare game without the cumbersome helmet. so we legged it back to the platform. no time lost in the end.

"right, so the woman is at the bank, and had money before. so there's 500 + x - 505 = 2y. and x is 100a + b, and y = 100b + a so if we substitute in to the OH FUCK IT!"

childish teletubby humour

14:33. Inferno, Bournemouth

the unexpected late earlier train put us back on track for meeting graham in bournemouth for lunch (pun overload). it's a scream all day breakfast is the essential food of the crawler and has featured on previous occasions. i'd never noticed the afternoon weekday closing before, is this new? new or not, it's daft - access to this cavernous sofa endowed boozer should not be restricted.

suitably refuelled we bundled into graham's funky motor for the trip back to the station (hey! it's a long way after all that grease and fat). disaster! 30 minute train delay. could have been worse though, the 14:15 to manchester was cancelled. that's gotta piss you off, there's only one per week or something crazy. but fear not, anne came up with a plan.

burn baby burn

15:35, Samsons, Bournemouth

bonus boozer! exiting the station from the opposite side we happened upon what looked like a closed club but turned out none too shabby. with the premiership kicking off and nationwide in full swing it was goals galore while we sipped our halves.

"so this woman, right..."
we still haven't figured it out yet.

the bonus bar

16:30. Victory, Southampton

our half hour delay meant a slight rescheduling and we arrived at southampton for final score. just across the road from the station in the victory, an omen perhaps? coke for me, the hardened drinkers remaining on lager (or guinness in anne's case).

made our exits just as the st mary's stadium crowd began to fill the pub. they filled the train as well, once they're figured out where it was going.

suitable pub?

17:45. Home Tavern, Eastleigh

pastel shades outside no less, and not an o'neills as previously thought. pretty quiet inside - the "non-stop party" of which the sign outside spoke was not in evidence. do the people of eastleigh have a siesta thing going on? jack daniels and coke for me, pints for the others. with all the extra drink we thought of adding richmond to give us enough letters for "SOUTH WEST PUB WHORES". all very schedule dependent though.

out next journey meant a change over in basingstoke. 13 minutes gave us no time for a drink but we did stock up on ginsters sausage rolls and other goodies.

meta pictures

18:55. Raven Hotel, Hook

some kind of wedding reception in evidence, us short wearing undesirables stood at the bar next to those suited and booted. not a beer garden so much as a beer shrubbery, firs encroaching on our table as we drank. strange goings on at the station as well - to get from one platform to the other you had to arrange transport with the site manager. so not just use the road bridge then? i guess not.

change over #2, this time requiring a one minute bridge dash at surbiton from eastbound to westbound platforms. 4 minute delay in woking was making us very edgy...

the ivy leagues

20:55. Victoria, Oxshott

hooray for network wide delays! the surbiton train taking us to oxshott was also delayed and arrived just as we got to the platform. yet more plans coming together - how we love it.

huge houses in huge gardens and skateboarding toyota MR2 owners suggested mega-wonga inhabitants. bit of a trek from the station to the pub, especially if it's dark and you're unsure of the territory. it also finally put pay to doing richmond, we couldn't really risk missing twickenham and ending up with a really stupid collection of letters. the pub was a good'un though, a quaint feel to the place with strange stuffed birds in a display box and old newspaper clippings on the wall. the puns had been getting worse all day, and following the new website idea for a ratings system based on drugs called gearintheevening was the low point. take outs from the mini market across the road and on to our final stop of the day.

darkness falls across the land...

22:45. Hobgoblin, Twickenham

not so much as a raised eyebrow from the bouncers greeted us - they must be used to drunk people by now. a pleased looking anne informed us of the 1am last orders and we wangled a table to sit / stand by to watch football highlights and world wrestling. phil had guinness, me and darren stuck to lager, anne had strongbow, and we all drank some dangerously nice tasting shooters too. thus the SOUTHWESTPUBS crawl ended in triumph.

there's a load of tickets left too. another SWT pub crawl? i did suggest "TRICKY" because yeovil station is miles from any pubs and it would quite appropriately make it tricky, but who knows.


the aftermath

darren got that glazed eye look about him at 11:30, he went home with anne shortly after. phil and i stayed until after midnight then he got it in his head to taxi back to trafalgar and night bus it home from there.

don't try this at home

remember kids, pub crawls are performed by trained amateurs. to do the route without free weekend travel tickets would cost �49.60 each (�66.13 without a YP / annual gold card).

the woman would have �68.31 when she left the bank