London in springtime. What joy! I felt like Lily Allen pratting about in the February sun. After the snow of last month, it felt like a long time coming.
My housemate Emily (the co-parent of Claude the Cat) and I went for a walk about the neighbourhood in the sun yesterday. We sat in lovely Southwark park and watched a very aggressive game of football before my rubber arm was twisted into going for a wee shandy on the river.
There are few things nicer than a river walk and a refreshing beer, and it’s one of those simple pleasures that London does so well. Yesterday’s pub of choice was the Old Salt Quay in Rotherhithe, which as an area is a veritable epicentre of river-based pubbing. The outdoor seating area is HUGE (you can see some of it behind my massive ginger barnet) and there’s a good range of ales on too, if that’s what floats your boat. It’s a bit ‘corporate’ (it’s a Greene King pub) but it’s a cracking spot on the old Thames.
Also worth checking out in Rotherhithe is the Mayflower, a lovely little pub that dates (in its present form) from the 18th century and is close to where the Mayflower set off for America with all those miserable pilgrims on board. As you can see above, on days out I force my nearest and dearest into classic tourist photo opportunities. I love a good plaque! Normally I would have made them point to it. Subtlety is not my medium.
My dear friend Pat introduced me to this gem, which does great food (lush sausage butties) and has a fabulous decking area over the river, as long as the tide is low. At high tide you’d need more than just your wellies. Probably a small boat.
Even more exciting, when I went for lunch here in December, I had a cuppa to warm my cockles and it came in lovely vintage crockery. Hooray!
Neighbouring the Mayflower just a wee walk away is another Rotherhithe/Bermondsey institution, The Angel, which as well as being a lovely boozer with great views is also a Samuel Smith’s pub. Now, there are few things in life that please me more than a Sam Smith’s pub. Probably just Ryan Gosling and Guinness cake. Sam Smith pubs serve the most amazing cider and a really lush lager called Alpine and it is SO CHEAP. There will have to be a whole blog post dedicated to the Tadcaster brewer at some point because I am obsessed.
You can even see another Sam Smith’s boozer across the river from the Angel, namely the Captain Kidd at Wapping. And my, what a pub this is.
Some very dear friends of mine had their wedding drinks here, I’ve been to countless birthday drinks in the beer garden and I’ve even dragged my parents along for a pie and pint when they’ve been to visit. While some folk might see Wapping as a bit out of the way, it’s worth the extra mile from St Katherine’s Docks and is a great walk. Like pretty much every other pub in Wapping it too claims to be the oldest pub in Wapping/on the river/in the Western world, and its historic past does drag in hoards of tourists in the summer but bear with folks. It is a diamond boozer.
Technically not riverside but standing proudly along the banks of the canal in the borderland of Mile End and Bow, the Palm Tree is a beautiful Victorian pub with a singing landlady, lurid gold wallpaper and a Poirot-esque feel about the place as you walk through the park at night to reach it. In many ways, it’s one of the last of its generation around these parts. This is the East End of pie and mash and Roman Road market, not organic chorizo and Broadway Market. The till must be a good fifty years old alone. Admittedly, it’s at the upper price bracket for the area but it’s worth it for the trip back in time. Top Tip: it helps if you like a bit of Frank Sinatra.
And there’s one pub I really can’t miss out of this list, mainly because it employs me, but also because it has one of the best riverside terraces around and has Aspall’s cider on draft. Greenwich’s Cutty Sark Tavern also has the best bar staff of course. Here are two of the reprobates faffing around on the picnic tables at dawn, with the beautiful view of the Docklands and the O2.
I should mention that it is NOT the pub next to the actual Cutty Sark boat. That’s the Gypsy Moth. It’s actually a ten minute walk east from the boat. But walk! It’s lovely.
What are your favourite riverside drinking holes? Any top tips for west or north London?