London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

An unexpected pub crawl

As someone who lives in London, works in London and is obsessed with London it’s always good to have a free day in London with no plans and to see where you end up.  As I am also obsessed with London’s pubs I should have known it would turn into a bit of a pub crawl (without alcohol though!)

This New Year was spent looking after a large group of people staying at a hotel in South West London prior to a boat trip down the Thames on New Year’s Eve.

It turned out however that most of the group had made their own plans for the daytime of the 31st and had left the hotel early.  It was just three of us who got the train to Waterloo around about 11am.  We decided to start with a walk along the South Bank to see what took our fancy.

The first thing we came across was an exhibition of limited edition prints of iconic album covers at the Bargehouse Gallery on the ground floor of the Oxo Tower.    These included Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” and Ian Dury’s “New Boots and Panties”.  Not sure either of them would fit in with my home decor!

After this our journey continued into The Founders Arms for lunch – a Youngs pub – appropriate I thought as our hotel in Wandsworth was very close to Youngs‘ former base at the Ram Brewery (they moved to Bedford in 2006).  Looking at the pub’s website it seems they provide blankets and hot water bottles if you want to sit outside and enjoy the view!

Our next stop was for a coffee in the Members bar at the Tate Modern – am ashamed to admit it was not only my first visit to the Members Bar but also to the gallery. 

The decision was then made to cross the “Wobbly Bridge” and walk past St Paul’s.  It wasn’t long before my two companions wanted refreshments so I took them to The Counting House in Cornhill run by Fullers the Chiswick brewers which as the pub name suggests is in the premises of a former bank.

Although I couldn’t drink because of my forthcoming hosting duties and was also on antibiotics it is always great to visit London’s pubs and we continued on our way, unsuccessfully avoiding being in numerous tourists’ photos on Tower Bridge, before stopping for another drink in a pub just off Borough High Street – the Old King’s Head.  This wasn’t really our cup of tea being a bit too much of a sports pub so we soon left.  

Our final pub stop for the daytime was the King’s Arms in Roupell Street, SE1.  This is very close to Waterloo station but in another world.  Amazing late Georgian terraces line the street and the cosy pub is a great place to while away an afternoon. 

Several hours later we found ourselves in a riverside pub waiting to board our boat at Putney pier.  The obvious venue, the Star and Garter next to the pier was ticket only so the group split between the remaining places and a few of us stopped for a very quick drink in a fantastic pub with an amazing real ale selection – the Bricklayer’s Arms .  I would definitely like to return here on a day when I can drink! 

Onto the boat for our cruise down the Thames.  What an experience.  I felt so privileged to be on a boat in the middle of the Thames moored by the Houses of Parliament watching the New Year fireworks.  It was amazing waving to all the hordes of people on the bridges that we sailed under and toasting the occupants of the many other boats on the river.  What a great start to 2011.

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