The Halfway House (Rickmansworth – Bucks)

Shuffled down the carriageway of the M25 and right at the end of the tube network this pub seems anything but half-way there. Its a lovely old style cottag of a traditional pub but full of the wrong mix of persons, after a cheap shot of Corky’s or some overpriced, less than satisfactory grub. The furniture in here doesnt match what the place could be and although one of the staff was doing all the work, the other was giving the place a bad name. As a pub this really needs a good crowd (and its quite big) to have fun, yet in the summer the outdoor tables, bar and views of the brook are quite relaxing.

Overall, a pub hidden in the skin of a run-down shack of an adbode. Think families on income benefits, cheap shooters at midday on a sunday and over-varnished wooden beams, which must have seen better days; 4/10

Fortune of War Pub (Brighton Beach – Brighton)

Set on the bustling beaches of Brighton is this shallow bar, with a spray of pcinic tables out front, grandually eroding from the salt off the shore. The theme inside is sailing and the water, with images of boats about the place. The bar staff are fast, the prices are low and the selection of ciders is impressive. Taking the plastic cups out drinks are served in we make our way out to the beach to basque in the hot sun.

Overall the Fortune of War is somethign of an instituation – no other bar along the beach looks as authentic, well established or with quite the same vibe – 7/10

The Western Front Pub (Brighton Town Centre – Brighton)

Just outside the main shopping centre in Brighton town centre and a short walk up from the beach is the Western Front Pub. This pub is bustling with activity with a sea of outdoor tables and chrome chairs to the rear with large wooden features within from heavy-set coffee tables to the thud of the floorboards on the floor. The service at bars upstairs and down during the day is fast and the food available is pretty hearty. The drinks are also quite well priced. We head up the stairs for a pint after a solid daytime drinking session, the upstairs bar remains closed and we can see into a small grubby looking kitchen but the room is very bright and spacious (all the other punters seem to prefer standing out in the sunshine). The sofas are torn apart soemwhat and sag, but they are comfortable and food arrives promptly as we partake in lunch.

Overall a welcoming and comfortable venue which I imagine gets over crowded at night but after a shopping spree or drinks at neighbouring bars on the beach, the Western Front is, at least, a good spot to stop for lunch – 7/10

The Atlas Pub (Hove – Brighton)

A weird musty smell hits me ad I enter this rather eccentric traditional pub. The place is kitted out with a scattering of heavy tables and only about a third are occupied. Over the fireplace a DVD plays over and over of fish in a virtual fish-tank. Books sit underneath it on a brick shelf and in the corner a stern faced teenager plays bar billiards- a game I have never seen played before. Half-mesmerised by watching bright balls jiggle into hole assembled across a one player green table with a cue, we approach the bar. The bar is stocked with a strange assortment of drinks, tequila rose sits beside an unidentifiable chocolate liquor but we steer clear and order pints from the various taps. I spot a kit kat resting happily in one of the drinks fridges and cigarettes for sale behind the bar and am, somewhat surprised by the community feel of the place. Off to the left of the bar is a quite well done up restaurant area with echoic toilets and I cannot explain why but i feel a little uncomfortable in a quiet local pub that is just so big.

Overall quite the full fledged experience and a good take on the local pub but not epic by any means – 6/10

The Wick Inn Pub (Hove – Brighton)

Away from the hustle and bustle of Brighton pier and its beach front bars is Hove. A town so close to Brighton that you would think they were one in the same. In fact Hove is that little bit more reserved, goes to sleep earlier and is picking up as a favoured location to get away from the student body of Brighton. The Wick Inn is a medium sized corner pub at the end of a commercial strip in Hove. From the outside it has all the trimmings of a traditional pub; a Gothic body, picnic tables for the smokers and a burly bouncer. Once inside I am confronted by a big bar area which fills the middle of the room as drinkers skirt around it, queuing from all sides to get a drink. The selection is not too bad, the bottles all laid out like soldiers behind the bar staff. The service is not particularly fast and odd characters to my left and right order beers and pints of cider. In the corner is a narrow winding staircase which heads up onto the first floor. Up here the banister of the stairs has giant heavy wooden needles at its summit and beyond the Gothic theme continues with booth-like tables and chairs, a plateau with more seating and a second bar which remains unoccupied during the evening. The toilet access is peculiar, there seems to be a second staircase running up and down the back of the pub which leads down to the toilets in the basement. Friendly faces pass you on the stairs, confused as to which floor they are on and how to get back to the top floor.
Overall The Wick Inn is a friendly pub which grows in popularity as the night wears on, unfortuantely there is no late license here and things seem to end without much of a applause as we exit the pub and begin looking and down the street for a decent kebab house – 6/10

Dance Rocks Vs Ninja Tunes Bar (Secret Garden Party Festival 2009 – Huntingdon)

Almost a completely circular bar with bright lights, fast service and a good price on the bottle I plastic cider – the dance rocks bar at the back of what could hardly be described as a main stage was one of most impressive festival bars I’ve experienced. The selection was not fabulous however and a the festival wore on fate over its fame dragged it down with over population. The dance rocks stage was inside a mock hall just past the bar with horrifically challenging access, acoustics that prevented most acts playing and grim enough for me to see a young chap fit and collapse amidst a tightly packed crowd, where paramedics spent a full set trying to get security guards to hoist the body outside.

Overall a pretty good bar, a shame about the rest of the venue – 6/10

Chai Wallahs Bar (Secret Garden Party Festival 2009 – Huntingdon)

Chai Wallahs Bar

A rather interesting stage with rear bar sat in the very thick of the action on the neutral side of the lake at secret garden party. I enter the tent with a bubble machine and the staff are quick to wag a finger to get me to stop. On the menu at a whole range of drinks including herbal guarana shots for an energy boost. The rest of the venue consisted of a few soft chairs and folk sitting on the hay covered ground in mass numbers listening to a poet chant infectious words into his audience. The words one taste hang over the stage and I watch as the crowd lean in insistently on the poets every word.

Overall this bar serves a tent of more strategic thinkers than other stages, herbal shots, exotic teas and a fired temper on the bar staff are all to be expected 6/10

The Town Crier Pub (Chester Train Station – Chester)

The Town Crier Pub

A large pub sitting all alone on the corner of the square whewre Chester train station a hotel and this pub all conviene. Inside the pub has carpets, alcoves, a long bar running inside the main wall with a good selection on tap at low prices. Toilets and further facilities are up on the first floor (staircase on the left as you enter and out the back a rather well done beer garden, seeing some tabloes in secluded spots making for a well done to the management. The downside is the distance from all the action in central chester, in fact the place is pretty baron as I galnce around corners of the pub at 9pm on a Friday evening which does not bode well for its true success.

Overall a pretty nice pub, perhaps the clientell are a little crabby around the edges but the garden is big and bold and the service is fast – 7/10

Las Iguanas Bar (Brighton Town Centre – Brighton)

Las Iguanas Bar

Las iguanas is a chain of bars which really tries hard to be more of a chain of restaurants. The trouble is that the drinks deals are so good its difficult not to turn up, drink away and watch longingly at some of the food being served up to the diners. On this occasion we hit the bar early afternoon and hit a pitcher of sangria. It turns out that a two for one offer is one so we are left with two pitchers of sangria and with more ice than liquid begin making our way through the drinks. We choose to sit outside and watch an open air band play about 50m away from the chrome table and chairs we choose to sit at. This venue is located in a particularly pedestrianised little spot, the bikes are all stacked next to each other, burly rockers walk by hand in hand, the girlfriend indistinguishable from their boyfriend. Inside the diners tuck into their meals and pretty soon the wind picks up and we head inside, the venue is rather long and quite bright, one whole side of the place being windows which open out onto the lane outside. The decor is a pink red in colour, so a little arty and the toilets are hidden around a servey corner.

Overall the bar is not really much of a party hard veneue, the selection behind the bar is not dramatic and service is pretty slow, the bar itself is pretty sticky as well despite the venue being less than half full. The one thing I cannot knock are drinks prices during happy hour which sees them plummet far beniath anything any rival chain can drum up – 6/10

The Windmill Inn (Luton)

A good place to stop for a drink if you are picking people up from the airport. Simply park for free int he car park wander in for a drink and when you troop is ready  to be picked up, drop your pint and rush to your vehicle to drive the 3 minutes up the road to the drop-off point. Aside from extreme convenience this pub has quite the oriental feel serving Thai food throughout the day as a good price and with colourful and friendly decor within with a small restaurant layout to the right and more pub-like to the left as you enter facing the bar. The staff are friendly. The place is however very small and not the best for a good alcoholic beverage.

Overall it’s not the sort of place you’d really consider to be a quality pub but its convenience boosts it somewhat to a higher than average 6/10