Monthly Archives: July 2008

The Dacre Arms Pub

Dacre Arms Pub, near Blackheath

Well, I had to give this one a try… After the rave reviews on a couple of pub websites, and the glowing comments right here in the Bugle, the new bike was taken to The Dacre Arms to see what we were missing out on. It’s a little bit outside Blackheath, but definitely worth it, and walkable from the station-end of the village.

You get that lovely sensation of “this must be the wrong road… There can’t possibly be a pub down here, this looks like a cul de sa… Oh, there it is!” when you go exploring to find this place (reminds me of The Clifton Arms over in North London, back in another lifetime).

Dacre Arms Courage Best and Twiglets

I had a good pint of Courage Best, and Twiglets! How marvelous! Haven’t had Twiglets since this was the future of computing… I don’t think they do food, but frankly I didn’t care after I saw the Twiglets (I’m easily pleased).

It is a very nice “locals” sort of pub. No sweeping views of the heath here, but good beer, nice atmosphere, and pleasant beer garden outside…. Nothing showy (no picture frames hanging outside a la Princess of Wales), but nonetheless a nice place to sit and relax on a warm summer evening.

Definitely recommended.

Dacre Arms Beer Garden

Beer in the evening review.

Fancy a pint review.

Google Map here.

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Bear Necessities

Bear necessities

Why do they have these Disney toys in their window? Is it to appeal to kids as they walk past “Mummy please can we book a two week break in the Algarve”?… I find the toys a bit creepy, not to mention garish… And what do they have to do with a travel agency? Does Disney need to give permission for their images to be used in a commercial context? Will the toys still be sitting there, staring out at the bus stop, folorn and threadbare on a dusty shelf in a few years time?

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One less phone box in Blackheath

Phone box being removed in Blackheath

On Sunday, I spotted two men fiddling with the phone box on Tranquil Vale. I assumed they were repairing or fixing it. When I asked them they said “No, it’s going”. So, one less phone box for Blackheath. I have mixed feelings about these pay phones.

Red phone box

Everyone claims to love the way that traditional red phone boxes look, but I vividly remember the way that they used to pong… Stale tobacco and god knows what else. But the new ones didn’t have the style, even if they functioned better.

This is what I don’t understand… BT has this spectacular quantity of small parcels of land in public areas that are powered by electricity, and connected to their telephone network. Why don’t they modify each one to become part of a wireless network? Wireless connectivity in this country is still pretty patchy, even in London. If they offered it as a free service to their landline subscribers, it might stop their exodus to other companies.

I’ve often wanted to do a spot of wardriving around Blackheath, to see where any free wifi might be. But with no GPS unit, and no car, it’s not likely to happen in the near future. However, if anyone else has the inclination to do it, download netstumbler, and let me know what you discover. Googling suggests that the Royal Standard pub might have some?

Phone box photo from Flickr user rbrwr.

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The Hare and Billet Pub, Blackheath

The Hare and Billet Pub, Blackheath

I’ve never quite got around to mentioning The Hare and Billet pub.  Just down the road from the Pagoda, and Jack the Ripper’s house (possibly not), is this quiet little pub.  Much more low key than the Princess of Wales pub, but none the worse for it.  You won’t find blaring music or surly teenagers serving you… It’s more of a old fashioned country pub, with nice views of the heath from the front windows.

Hare and Billet Pub, Blackheath.  Greene King IPA

The pub is run by Greene King, which I don’t think has the best ales.  Their IPA is nice though…  Abbot ale is not for me, and their Flowers has occasionally been known to be distinctly off (although when I mentioned this, they apologised striaght away, and got me a pint of something else).

They also sell Aspall Draught Cider, which is excellent, as well as lots of dodgy looking lemon and lime ciders “Kopparberg?”, sponsored by Bulmers – a name to strike fear into the heart of anyone who likes a good cider…

Hare and Billet Pub, Blackheath.  Aspall Cider

I can’t understand the sudden popularity of Bulmers cider – I watched the 1970s horror that is Abigail’s Party the other day, and Bev was waxing lyrical about how wonderful it is. This should be warning enough to anyone… Anyway, back to the plot…

For such an old pub ( it has been there since at least 1765), it can feel strangely generic, with adverts for bruised boxers promoting Nuts TV staring down at you in the gents toilets, flat screen TVs playing sport, and quiz machines flashing their wares in the corner.  Having said that, the TV tends to be off during the day time.

Hare and Billet Pub, Blackheath.  Inside view

It is much much better for a quiet sort of pint than the Princess of Wales at the weekend.  It has a friendly looking dog (called Bonnie), and pleasant bar staff.  The bangers and mash is also very good, they do great vegetarian bangers.  We also had an opportunity to look at, and nearly taste the pork ones too, as they came over first by mistake!  (Again, the staff were very sorry, and brough the right ones over soon enough!  I think we’re just unlucky or something)…

If they only had some space outside, and some local beers, it would be a truly great pub.  There used to be a Blackheath Brewery serving light ale onto the Heath in the 1820s, although I suppose the nearest thing we have to that is Zero Degrees, now.

Anyway, all in all, it’s a nice place, and well worth a trip if you fancy a quiet pint.  More on the investigations into The Dacre Arms, over at the other end of Blackheath soon…

Fancyapint.com has a review here.

Hare and Billet Pub, Blackheath.  Pork Sausages
Hare and Billet Pub, Blackheath.  Dog
Hare and Billet Pub, Blackheath.  Veggie Sausages

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Blackheath Tea Hut Changing Colour?

Blackheath Tea Hut gets a lick of paint

The Blackheath Tea Hut as always been a pleasing (or not, depending on your point of view) shade of green.  It looked like it was getting a makeover today, possibly to change hues… But no, it’s just an undercoat apparently…

Blackheath Tea Hut on Blackheath Common

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Building a Better Bin Bag

As mentioned before, we have run out of biodegradable bin liners.  After extensive testing, and careful prototyping at great expense (well, a couple of newspapers worth at least), I have come up with a sure fire plan to show you what to do with the contents of a kitchen caddy.

The plan I eventually went for is this one, but with the addition of some Sellotape (I’m pretty sure Sellotape is biodegradable, and we’re going for saving the planet here, not origami perfection!).

The video above shows how to make one of these boxes.  There’s no sound, and sorry the quality isn’t wonderful, but I only have an ageing apple mac to film the video on!  If you want to make some, use three or four sheets of the largest newspaper you can find.  One box should just about take the quantity of waste in a kitchen caddy (unless it is hopelessly over stuffed, in which case you’ll need two)..

UPDATE:  If you’re feeling of an origami mind, check out this great TED talk.

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Value Added Trouble

Blackheath Village Deli and Starbucks

I might have to reappraise what I wrote about the Village Deli back in May… After today, I’m not sure I’ll be heading back. It all started well enough, with the idea of getting something to eat there before catching a train. When we’d bought our food to take-away, I realised that we still had 15 minutes before the train was due.

So I asked one of the staff there if we could sit down with our food. He said of course, so we did. Then a very grumpy lady came over and loudly told us that she was very sorry, but we couldn’t possibly sit there, as we had paid to take away. Which was kind of embarrassing, and made me feel like some sort of furtive vagrant sneaking into their shop to sit down…

I completely understand that by law the place has to add VAT on to our order if we choose to eat in, so I offered to pay the difference. Mrs Bugle was busy fuming by this point. So we finished our (rather dry) spinach and ricotta thingy, and got up to leave. I asked how much we owed her, and she announced £2! Two pounds in VAT?! I’m sure our two spinach things didn’t cost more than £6, and by my reckoning, two pounds means that our food must have cost £11! I questioned it (hell, I’d already lost any chance at getting out of there without embarrassment), and was told that it was “because we sat at the table”, whatever that means.

It’s not so much the money, as the way it was handled… Maybe she was having a bad day, but as Michael P pointed out in the comments in the previous post about the Deli:

Every time I leave the Deli, I swear that I will never return. Although the service is just about passable during the week, I am almost always left to hang for a sapping period of time at the weekend. And there’s about as much chance of getting a smile as there is getting change from a tenner.

True indeed…  If I’m turning this blog into one long whinge-fest please tell me.  I do like Blackheath really!

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