Notes from West London

Holiday notes: a Spanish pub crawl, of sorts

On Boxing Day last year (or St Stephen’s Day, the name more commonly used in Ireland) my brother, my 12-year-old son and I undertook a pub crawl in our corner of West London. Friends joined us for parts of our journey and the whole afternoon was described in this piece from the time. The event has been mentioned a few times since in subsequent posts, such as this one.

My brother has lived in Spain since the 1980s. When we were growing up we planned, vaguely, to do a local pub crawl, taking in every pub on the High Road, but didn’t manage anything like this until last year. Last night, during our holiday in his neck of the woods, we attempted something similar. In the stretch of road that runs from his place up towards the swimming pool and sports club where we have gone swimming most days, a distance of less than a mile, there are a dozen bars. The three of us, the same three that stopped for a drink in eight different pubs last St Stephen’s Day, walked to the furthest of them with the aim of taking a drink in each one on the way home. My brother and I would have a “caña” (a glass of draught beer, around 330ml) in each bar and my son would once again be switching between Coke, water and fruit juice.

It didn’t quite work out. Most of the bars were closed. Much of the local population (including my brother’s wife and all of her family) spend most of August by the sea. We have been making day-trips to the coast to see them. Here, 30 miles inland, many of the bars close for the whole month, reopening in September. The first open bar that we came to, shortly after 10pm, was packed with families dining out. Every table was occupied and there were no seats left at the bar. We only wanted a single, symbolic drink, standing at the bar if necessary. We waited for nearly ten minutes without any indication that we would get served anytime soon, then headed to the next place that was open. We sat outside, had our first drink of the evening, and carried on down the street. By now a couple of the places that had been open when we walked past them at the start of our crawl were closing up. Others had not been open for weeks. There was just one place left on our route that was serving, Dani’s, just downstairs from my brother’s place. We had a couple there. To paraphrase Magnus Magnusson, I’d started, so I could have finished, carried on drinking till whatever hour Dani’s closed. Instead, with our pub crawl having not gone to plan, we called it a night just after midnight and were all tucked up in our beds before half past twelve. Three bars visited, drinks in two of them: not really a pub crawl despite our best efforts. We’ll have to come back after the summer to give it another go.




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