It's that time of year, old friends return to the area, call you up, and a meet up is arranged. Tonight, I went across to Paignton to meet several old friends who've mostly moved away, and, well, we went for a wonder.
Started in the Isaac Merrit
, the Wetherspoons in the centre. I can remember when it was a shopping arcade (not that
long ago), and the decor, faux traditional pub with strange ceiling arrangements, has always bothered me for instinctive reasons. It's not a bad place, despite my misgivings over Wetherspoons as a company, they do make decent pubs. The bar area is crowded, horribly so; I got there first, and was absolutely convinced I'd never find people; the joy of mobile phones, a quick ring, they're nowhere close yet. So I stay outside, to wait. Good job I did, another old friend who I a) hadn't seen for at least 5 years and b) introduced me to the friends I'm waiting for, comes past with some colleagues; they're all coppers, but off duty, and not exactly sober from what I could tell. Always good to catch up with people; congrats on the baby Gareth, if you read this.
Eventually, everyone arrives, we go in, and try to snake our way through the packed crowd. It's at this point I realise the problem with the crowd. Bar area? full, completely, you can't move. But get past the bar to the seating area at the back, plenty of space. Why are people crowded at the front when there's seating going spare at the back? Beyond me. Drinks are cheap, the cider is good, the conversation enjoyable. However, the decision is taken to move on.Pickwick
! is the order. Pickwick, says I? I forget where that is. I live in Paignton. Pickwick is, of course, now Winston's
, on Station Square. Unlike the Meritt, there's music playing. James Brown. Even this old goth likes James Brown, can't go wrong really. A bit chilly, the large doors are open, so we go nearer the back, where the music is a little too loud to have a conversation, but not horribly so. Not a bad place, overall, but again, after the drinks are finished (mine's a coke, I'm driving), we move on.Henry's Bar
. For some reason, I've never liked the place. No idea why, a number of friends (including an ex-girlfriend) have worked there at times, and it's not bad. Then I make use of the facilities. Can't speak for the ladies, but the gents could do with a refurbishment, and definately a good clean. Ah well. And since when was the arcade next door shut and turned into another
pub? Didn't try it, just curious. We finish drinks reasonably quickly, and there's a small disagreement; do we finish for the night, split up, or go on?
Eventually, we all decide to go on. After all, what's a night out in Paignton without a stop in the Spinning Wheel
? I've always loved the place, in the summer it's great to sit outside, the bands, while normally of varied quality, are at least trying (I'd rather a mediocre real band to piped music most of the time), the staff are normally friendly (except when busy, as tonight) and the decor and atmosphere just seem, well, right. But we're a bit cold, and it's getting late, so drinks are finished, and we walk back; as usual, it's discovered I'm parked nearby, so I'm volunteered to drive people back.
Maybe I should get used to taking the bus more often? So, four pubs visited, none of them awful, most of them crowded, and all of them a bit chilly. Anyone have any favoured pubs they'd like to recommend?