Sunday, 15 November 2015

Tour 9 - From Canada to New Zealand

You know buses? You know how supposedly you wait for ages and then 3 come along at once? Well for me my current analogy for buses are my new colleagues at my new company. Well here again, I say “new” yet I’ve been there for over a year and I’ve still not managed to get even a tiny whiff of interest in anyone accompanying me on one of the fabled pub rambles.

Weird isn’t it? I mean, who wouldn’t want to come down the pub with me and colour in a flag? That’s surely got to be better than nature documentaries.

Anyway, in this particular episode the buses finally came screaming round the corner in the shape of 4 work colleagues and 2 partners of those said colleagues. (I mean that two of the work colleagues were accompanied by their partners, not that the four colleagues share two partners between them! What sort of a perverted company do you think I work for?)

I guess the only perverted thing in some respects was that the buses that these colleagues had had to catch to come on the tour had travelled the 4,780 miles from Seattle or the 4,794 miles from Hyderabad to take part in the tour.

I guess I’ll have to keep working on those UK based colleagues.

Anyway, the tour from the Wimbledon office started with a rather labourious and tortuous train journey to Waterloo and then a cramped, labourious and tortuous tube journey along the Jubilee Line to Green Park (standing next to a drag queen) where we emerged into a dark damp and generally thoroughly nasty November evening.

Luckily the walk to the first pub wasn’t too far and we did have the distractions of several luxury cars lining the well-heeled kerbsides of St James as well as the bright lights of the well-known frontage of The Ritz to entertain our foreign guests and give them a flavour of this area of London.

When planning this particular tour and discovering that one of the High Commissions was located in St James, I desperately searched around for some new pubs that we hadn’t tried before but alas I could only come up with 2 suitably located watering holes that we’d previously visited as part of the Pall Mall square of the Monopoly Tour. But just to make sure that I would still be able find these places and the other ones I’d organised, I used one of my days holiday the previous week to do a quick practice tour around the streets with the benefit of daylight….which also explains why some of the photos weren’t taken on the evening and that you can actually see what’s going on in them.

My daytime route took me from Victoria Station via Buckingham Palace so I approached St James from the southern end and as I approached the first pub I noticed one particularly well appointed house and garden with a whole array of flags flying in the grounds. This turned out to be Marlborough House, the headquarters of the Commonwealth Foundation, so the omens should be good for this tour. Maybe they’ll let me hold the after-tour-completion party there?

Anyway, back to the night in question.

The first pub was The Red Lion, a cracking little boozer tucked down Crown Passage and when we visited last time it was almost deserted and I was hoping that its secret location would work this kind of magic again. Unfortunately it wasn’t so and a healthy crowd of early evening drinkers were spilling out of the door in the passage itself.

Richard tells our visitors the role he played in the war of independence.

I forced my way to the bar and decided on a policy of simplicity by ordering everyone a pint of St Austell Tribute and told them to try and secure as many stools as possible. As I was at the bar I bumped into Richard who had made it to the meeting point in good time and told me that he’d just received a message from Buddy Rob and New Guy Mickey that they were also in the Red Lion.
With Richard and I joining the rest of the work colleagues who had done very well by securing not only stools for everyone, but a table in the packed pub, we worked out that Buddy Rob and Mickey had made it also to The Red Lion, it’s just that they were at the wrong one. By now Spikey Haired Ed had also arrived so it was electronic devices to the front as we made contact with the two lost souls and directed them to the right place.

One pint was enough in The Red Lion so once Buddy Rob and Mickey had arrived we finished up and made our way back to King Street and a different coloured lion in the shape of The Golden Lion, where last time we had an experience with a pair of red high heels and I still have photographic evidence to prove the encounter.

No shoes or Scotch eggs feature in this photo.

There were no shoes on display tonight but there were Naked Ladies in the shape of the pints from Twickenham Fine Ales and we once again struck it lucky by getting a table in the well frequented pub.

Several of the tour took the opportunity to take in some sustenance and there was a flurry of orders for Scotch eggs and other fine food stuffs and when Mr Cheese finally arrived he was just in time to treat me to said Scotch egg which I have to say was very welcome indeed. There was just time for a swift half as Richard’s son Paul turned up last for the second tour in the row.


So with the full complement of the tour now in position it was time to complete the first High Commission of the night and it was but a short stroll from the Golden Lion to St James’s Square along King Street. A sharp left turn saw up approaching the north-west corner where the premise of the High Commission for Cyprus lives.


Although darkness had well and truly fallen by this time, the flag was still flying proudly outside and the tour had ample time to log the colours for the necessary colouring challenge later….or so we thought.

3 Prime Ministers lived here. None wanted to come out tonight.

We continued around the square passing the many blue plaques that are littered around like discarded chip wrappers and dodging the sleek black limos that were prowling in circles around the square.

The route took us from the east side of the square along Charles II Street before taking our lives in our hands by crossing Regent Street. Just off Charles II Street is the Royal Opera Arcade and when I’d carried out my recce earlier in the week this was almost un-enterable (?) due to the road works along the street. Tonight, not only were the road works in a much more advanced state but the London Beer House at the entrance to the arcade was open and serving beer.

Alas I couldn’t persuade the tour to stop and in reality we’d have never all have fitted into the small premises anyway. So our route had to lead us across Haymarket (another lives in our hands moment) before pausing momentarily across the road from New Zealand House and taking a photo of your truly in between the passing buses.

We’ve seen some different High Commissions so far but I reckon that New Zealand’s has to be by far the ugliest so far. A big concrete monstrosity that doesn’t even have the retro charm that some brutalist building now seem to endear. I’m glad I didn’t have to get any nearer for my photo.


The final High Commission of the evening advertised itself from several hundred yards away in the same fashion that Australia had done previously. Canada certainly seems loves a flag and at least we’d found the real Canada House this time instead of the wild goose chase I’d led everyone on during Tour 3.

Canadian Flags.

We weren’t planning to immediately visit the High Commission itself as the next pub of the evening should have been The Two Chairmen, tucked down the side of Warwick House Street, but the signs of the black windows and the locked door told another story and we soon knew we wouldn’t be getting a drink there tonight.

Dark and closed.

If I’d planned the route with a bit more care I could have quickly led the troops to The Admiralty, a Fuller’s pub on the south side of Trafalgar Square (and also took advantage of another free pint) but instead we crossed the road and took the obligatory photos outside the grand door of Canada House.

More Canadian Flags.

Canadian Knockers.

It would have been nice to have seen Trafalgar Square in all its glory instead of trying to peer through the gloom to make out the lions and what was on the various plinths at the moment but we didn’t linger too long and instead made our way out the north side towards Leicester Square and hit the welcoming arms of The Chandos on the corner of William IV Street.



This is a pub I’ve longer to visit for quite a while as it features an animated cooper on the top floor who faithfully bangs a nail into a barrel at all hours of the day….also it’s a Sam Smith’s pub and these are always good for a cheap London pint. Spikey Haired Ed also has fond memories of the place but you’ll have to ask him about these.

It’s not the most picturesque of Sam Smith’s pubs having a rather more functional look than the nice shiny varnished wood that you see in some of their premises but never the less the organic wheat beer is always nice and once again we did manage to secure a huge table around which I could set the tourists their colouring challenge.

The newbies are the ones colouring. Buddy Rob and Mickey look on with sardonic uninterest.

I have to admit that perhaps the colouring element of the tour is becoming a bit passé dare I say, fucking boring, as the regular tourists all ensued a chance to win another great prize and were more than happy to let the newbies attack the colouring with a fervour that did them all proud.

And let’s also put to bed once and for all the cliché that apparently Americans don’t know anything about any other country unless that particular country plays some silly stick and ball game. Not true as the colouring examples here show. When it came to the judging it was a toss-up between Kendahl and Lauren’s efforts and I decided that Lauren’s sheet just edged it in terms of a better blue in the New Zealand flag. There was time for a steward’s enquiry as it seemed that she’d coloured the Cypriot olive branches black instead of…well, olive but the decision stood and she was well deserving of her prize of a Poppy Day poppy pin.

I gracefully did not deduct marks for the spelling of coloured.

Hopefully the evening didn’t take a maudlin turn as I explained how the inspiration for tonight’s prize was the acknowledgement that Remembrance Day also commemorates that thousands of deaths from Commonwealth Countries as well as British lives and we decided that a suitable end to the evening would be found in arms of The Harp next door.

Again for those who remember previous visits, The Harp was where Aussie Pete had his run in with a charity collector but tonight there was no such entertainment as we took our drinks (mine being an oatmeal stout) to the upstairs room which as someone commented, could have the owners sitting room with them having just popped out.

There was then a round table discussion on the differences between US and UK TV shows of which the finer points may have passed me by. Just like the time which showed that I had to make a move for Charring Cross station in time to get the tube round to Paddington in time for the last train. I left the others in the middle of (the) Strand* as they made a decision as to whether to get some more food. I guess some American clichés are perhaps quite true……

* it’s a running joke thing… the other blogs.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Tour 8 - From Cameroon to Sri Lanka

I’m not sure if I’ve ever explained the exact process that goes into selecting the High Commissions and the pubs for each of these world renowned tours. You might have thought that I borrow several dozen chimpanzees and several dozen typewriters and just hope that between them a suitable route gets created, but alas it’s nothing as intelligent or exciting as that. But don’t think that I’m going to completely open my bag of cats because just like Colonel Sanders I can’t reveal the precise inner working of the secret recipe, but the basic working principle goes something like this;

Take the next High Commission alphabetically. So for this tour, Tour 8, that means we’ve finally left the “B’s” behind and started with our first “C”, which as every studious schoolchild knows, is Cameroon.

So, once we’ve got the “first” High Commission sorted, the next step is to see which other High Commissions are located nearby. And it was here where we hit a challenge with this particular outing.

Cameroon’s High Commission is located in Holland Park, all on its own and quite a distance away from any other fellow High Commissioners. An ever widening internet search later revealed that there were two other High Commissions in the not too far distance, but these were both not in exactly spitting distance and also, they were both standing alone in the same fashion as Cameroon.

The good news was that all three together formed a pretty straightish line, running across the top of Hyde Park, standing over the deep rumblings of the Central Underground Line. Therefore the simplest solution would be to take these three as the candidates for Tour 8 and link them together with some short tube journeys between the locations.

Holland Park Tube Station.

So, with this plan in mind, I set the tourists their starting point of The Castle, on Holland Park Avenue, just a couple of metres away from the entrance to Holland Park tube station itself. It’s certainly an attractive pub, with the outside covered in green and cream aged tiles, some of them spelling out the name of Charrington’s, the original brewers who owned and ran the pub.

The Castle.

I was first to arrive and the pub was already bustling with a fair crowd of people, meaning I had to turn on the full BGC charm to get the Latin barmaid to serve me on the other side of the bar, away from the crowds of student-types who were milling around like they didn’t really know what they were meant to do. I plumped for a pint of Amarillo Amber from Meantime Brewery, which although it was proudly served in the branded stemmed glass, was much much too cold for my liking and meant the taste was dulled until it could have been any old fizzy golden beer.

Cold and fizzy. I'm sure this isn't what Meantime were planning.

Talking about the bar, the other thing I noticed was the Cask Marque certificate stuck securely and unobtainabley behind the bar, meaning I’d be one more scan up for the night, but only thanks to the “certificate not accessible” option on the app.

Certificate not accessible.

I managed to secure a table of sorts in the back room and wondered if I would have to sacrifice the low sofa that came with the table to any one of the other groups who were prowling around looking for places to sit. Luckily it wasn’t too long until Rav arrived and although it was lovely to see him again as he has missed a few tours recently, it was mainly a feeling of relief because he could now take one of the seats and mean that I was no longer a Billy No-Mates and wouldn’t have to deploy the next phase of my seat reserving plot which would have been to start laying towels on the spare seats.

We didn’t have to wait that long until the next attendees appeared, in the shape of Sam, who once again was on some sort of “day off”. He was spending this particular “day off” doing his bit for the community by escorting Richard, a CAMRA friend from Berkshire (the current chairman no less) who currently divides his time between homes in Newbury and Notting Hill, meaning this tour was almost on one of his two doorsteps.

From left to right: Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich...etc etc

Richard and Sam took their places on the low sofa, giving us all concern that we’d have to get Thora Hird along to help Richard back out again, but we saved the situation by acquiring some more spare chairs, which was good because they were soon put to use by the arrival of Mr Clarke, again not seen for a couple of tours and Mr Cheese who was running late as usual. The final tourist of the evening was Paul, a newcomer to the tour but another who lives not too far away. The other reason that Paul was here was to ensure his dad didn’t take a nasty fall and have to press his emergency call button.

By the time everyone had arrived and had got themselves settled it was time for a second pint and the drink of choice, certainly for Paul and I anyway was Maverick, a ginger and chilli flavoured cider from Orchard Pig. I’ve had this before and it really doesn’t taste as foul as it sounds.

Being a Maverick.

With a complicated public transport related tour in the offing tonight, it was time to set off and complete the first High Commission of the night, which was the afore mentioned Cameroon, whose place of residence is just over the road in the afore mentioned Holland Park. The flag was still out but the autumnal nights are now our worst enemy meaning the green, red and yellow of the flag could be any of a millions shades of grey to the naked eye. Still, we managed to get in the usual gurning snapshot of my visage posing against the brass plaque.


My original plan was to now descend the depths of Holland Park tube station and take the Central Line one stop along to Notting Hill Gate but the combined thoughts of the two father and son duo had put two alternative suggestions on the table. Richard was all for getting the bus to the next pub, probably because he gets free bus travel compared to having to lay out some coppers for the tube, but Paul countered that the walk wasn’t long anyway, and by the time we’d descended to the depths of the tube anyway we’d be more than half way along to the next stop. And anyway, there was no way we’d ever get Richard’s bath chair onto a bus in the first place!

What Paul also mentioned in passing was that my next suggested pub, The Old Swan, wasn’t perhaps the best of venues and instead would we like to sample the delights of the Uxbridge Arms in the aptly named Uxbridge Street?

Uxbridge Arms.

The walk was, as promised, not that long at all and before we knew it we were entering the very cosy surroundings of the Uxbridge Arms, which as everyone kept commenting, could have been any little local in any little town up and down the country.

The beer offering wasn’t that dynamic but the pints were in excellent form and my pint of St Austell’s Tribute was certainly much more drinkable than the frosty Meantime I’d had previously. The only obvious downside to the Uxbridge Arms was that space was at a premium and we were spread over two tables either side of the toasty real fire whilst Sam propped up the bar like an extra in the Woolpack.


It’s very hard to make out in the photograph but the little red lettered sign just behind Sam’s left shoulder, bears the legend of “No Pissy Attitudes”, which I guess is just about as sage as anyone should become in the pub.

More like pissy his bag full again?

The next pub on my original agenda was The Champion and this pub got the rubber stamp of Paul’s approval so it was another medium length jaunt along Notting Hill Gate itself before crossing the road opposite the imposing Russian Embassy and stopping at the second High Commission of the night.

The front door of Guyana’s High Commission is hidden behind some leafy trees but even after we’d peered behind these it was disappointingly obvious that the flag had been taken in for the night, leaving us with a bare flagpole and only another gurning photo to keep us company.

More gurning.

The afore mentioned Champion is on the next street corner and is a large Tardis like pub, teeming with the young, hipster and bearded, meaning the beer range was quite good but the chances of getting the necessary space for our gang was quite poor.

Get the beers in Rob...Champion.

My beer of choice was Autumn Red from Caledonian and the table of Hobson’s Choice was a cramped affair from which we had no chance to see if there was a Cask Marque certificate or not and therefore no chance to redeploy the “certificate not available” option again.

Appropriate given the time of year.

The original plan here, once done in the pub, was to jump back on the tube at Queensway and take it one stop further again to Lancaster Gate, but seeing as we all seemed to be fairly good shape at this point, we decided a little late evening exercise wouldn’t be too arduous and we set off in good spirits.
We would have reached our destination sooner had we not fallen foul of Google Map’s detour into Lancaster Gate  itself and we then had to ignore the bright lights and temptation of The Swan, another Fuller’s pub that we met on the way. The Fuller’s pub we had planned was The Victoria but that most welcome of drinks would have to wait just a tat longer, just as soon as we’d finalised our final High Commission business.

Camp gurning.

Alas, although the building that the good citizens of Sri Lanka call home is a fine appointed mansion with a very nice porchway, they also had taken in the flag for the night meaning the tourists would be flying blind when it came to the colouring.

The world's crappest boy band reunion tribute act.

The colouring was to take place in the afore mentioned Victoria, a pub I have known the delights of before as it’s a lovely pub full of interesting décor and also full of drinkers, who tonight anyway were in the form of quiz players. As we entered the chap with the microphone was just about to announce the answer to “What was the name of the song that Jim Diamond took to number 1 in December 1984?”

Look! It's Jim Diamond at the bar!

If, like me, you got the answer right, treat yourself to a pint of ale and give yourself the next weekend off. If, unlike me, you either don’t know or don’t care, the answer is at the foot of the page.

Due to the fullness of the bar, we took our drinks, a fine pint of Adnam’s Ghostship for me, upstairs to the theatre bar which was deserted which at least meant that the boys could get down to the business of their colouring.

Hard at work.

I have to give them some latitude of course, due to the fact we’d only actually seen one of the three flags tonight, and even then that one was in the gloom of the evening, but maybe I shouldn’t have been that surprised at the combinations of gaudy colours that adored this tour’s versions of the flags. And of course there were the usual comments of badly drawn penises and even one “arse-wipe”.

Paul's winning entry on the left. Richard's French influenced attempt on the right,

The scanned picture here doesn’t do the colouring justice but I awarded first and only prize to Paul for his very neat effort and one can only imagine the delight he must have been feeling as he was presented with his prize of a child’s atlas which features the three flags we should have been seeing tonight. Hopefully it will make up for the lack of real flags anyway.

The Pride of Photography.

For the final stop of the evening it was a short sprint to Praed Street, the home of not only Paddington Station, but the Pride of Paddington pub and the Pride of Paddington beer and a barmaid who needed 47 attempts to understand Ian’s request for some port scratchings.

The Pride of Pints.

So as the tour slowly disintegrated into their own merry ways to various merry homes, it was left to Sam, Rob and I to find some meagre food sustenance on the forecourt of Paddington Station.

The McNasty Brothers. Angus, Wee Jimmy and Morag.

At least for this tour there wasn’t the normal, mad dash to get the final train of the night and there was even time to see the results of Great Western Railways rebranding in the shape of their new décor for the on-board toilets. I was so impressed, I didn’t buy the company, but I did drop my phone down the pan.

Thanks GWR, the feeling is mutual.

So you really didn’t know the answer to the quiz question? You really should have done better.

Arse Wipe.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Tour 7 - From Brunei to Trinidad and Tobago

Some top notch exciting news to start this latest episode of the blog, which now it seems, is getting some international attention.

Eagle eyed readers of the blog will have noticed that on the right-hand side of the Flying the Flag blog (which you’re reading at the moment) there is a link entitled “High Commissioners - They were invited” which links to Wikipedia’s article on what exactly a High Commissioner is. Last week on Twitter, my @BGCollector account was followed by none other than someone called DM Kirk-Sargeant who describes themselves as a Consular Officer at the New Zealand High Commission in London!

I'm still following you....if that makes any difference......?

So unless this person is on a mission to follow all tweeters who swear constantly about rail travel, she presumable found me via this blog. Needless to say, this meant my mind went into overdrive about how we could celebrate this momentous happening, especially when we finally get around to covering the NZ High Commission in a few episodes time.

However, upon checking these facts as I was writing this, it looks like all these grand plans might be scuppered because I see that after only one or two days of following, Ms DM Kirk-Sargeant no longer follows BGCollector. (Sad face emoticon) So maybe the constant train related swearing put her off……….but the invitation to any other consular staff remains open! (Leering grin emoticon)

Now, here again there’s a short story behind why the tour was arranged for this particular day, in this case a Wednesday. It was because another friend from the place I lay my hat every evening was in ye olde London town for a jolly. Needless to say that whilst this day suited Andy down to the ground, it wasn’t so popular with the feminine contingent of the tour who once again complained about missed episodes of The Great British Bake Off.

But as with most things, the dirty black Paul Hollywood shaped cloud on the horizon was instantly lifted by the fact that surely between the wonders of iPlayer and the enticement of the colouring competition prize for this time being some BGC crafted cakes, there would be no-one who’d want to miss this one……would there?

7 Baked Perfections........thank the lord for ready icing.

Well with my air tight Tupperware box bulging at the seams with 7 baked perfections I set off only to find that not only would most of the regulars not being making it after all (apparently due to having to work late) but Andy himself wouldn’t be making it due to a chipped tooth! Well perhaps it was best that he wouldn’t be eating cakes then in that case.

But there’s no way that this reduction in attendee numbers would stop the tour going ahead and any way, I did still have two confirmed attendees in the handsome shapes of Mr Cheese and everyone’s favourite chocolate fudge packer, Spikey Haired Ed.

So, surely the question still on every readers’ lips is why there were “7 baked perfections” and what exactly was making them so perfect. So the first question is easy to answer in that the next High Commission alphabetically was Brunei and with their ambassadorial building being located near to Belgrave Square, this epicentre of Embassies saw 6 other High Commissions all within easy walking distance.

My emergence point, Harrods's famous green shades. All downhill from here.

The meeting point for this marathon was the “only pub on Sloane Street”, the Gloucester and if you want to know how I know it’s the only pub on Sloane Street…..well it says so on the door. Now you may take one look at the photo of the pub here and conclude that this particular tour was taking place on a pleasant balmy mid-September evening. Nothing in fact, could be further from the truth as the weather was atrocious with lashing rain and the ominous signs that the evenings are closing in far, far too early for my liking.

I had plenty of time to contemplate the weather as I made it to the pub well over an hour earlier than the other two, which did give me time to order a pint of One Stop Hop from Sadlers Ales courtesy of the pretty red-haired barmaid and grab a stool in the window which allowed me to watch the people entering the pub and the bouncing rain in front of the Gucci shop opposite.


Pretty soggy.

Next to me in the other corner by the window were a strongly accented Scottish couple who were polishing off a couple of burgers with gusto. So much gusto in fact that when the pretty red-haired barmaid came to collect their plates, the strongly accented lady commented, “you couldn’t get DNA from that plate!” – It might have been something more like “ye cuddne’ get DNA from that plate”, but that would be insensitive.

Now this would be interesting enough on its own but then as the couple were leaving they were approached by another strongly accented curly haired chap, who proceeded to shake the other chap’s hand (with gusto) and proclaim how he was a boyhood hero. (I mean how the other guy was a boyhood hero of the curly haired chap – not that he was a boyhood hero of himself!) I then gathered from mentions of “fitbaw” and “the ‘gers” that this was an ex-Rangers football star. I’d love to be able to finish off this anecdote by revealing his exact identity but also I can’t….so if you think you know the mystery footballer, please let me know.

Any further soccer related ponderings were laid to rest as Spikey Haired Ed made his grande entrance, just in time to buy me a pint of Curious Brew lager from Chapel Down. There was just about enough time for Ed and I to catch up on who is currently pissing him off the most at the “old place” and capture the Cask Marque certificate from its location by the bar, when Mr Cheese made his sopping dripping entrance, just in time to buy me another pint of One Stop Hop.

Our companions for the evening.

Luckily the rain was holding off for the present time as we made our ways along Harriet Street and down Lowndes Square to the bottom corner and the location of the High Commission for Pakistan. This was the first High Commission that we’ve visited so far that had some security people loitering outside and although none of them had the stature of “Steve” from the Jeremy Kyle show it was enough to make me miss taking the traditional BGC gurning photo by the brass plaque and instead make do with a very murky shot of the flag.

We continued down Lowndes Street until it bends into Chesham Place where the huge German Embassy lives on the corner. Just next door is the smaller High Commission of Lesotho and although their flag was out, it seems we’ve only got the shot of the gurning BGC to record this event.

Gurning at Lesotho.

Following the route round into Belgrave Square proper it was flags everywhere and it was only moments until we’d bumped into Brunei and the subsequently Ghana as we completed the west side of the square. Just round the corner is the hidden little gem of the Star Tavern which is where the Great Train Robbery was planned…..apparently.

Brunei (left) and Ghana (Right)

Whatever the pub’s dubious past it’s now a very smart and welcoming place and with yet another Fuller free beer voucher in my grubby mitt, I was happy enough to get the round in of pints of Oliver’s Island for Rob and I and Discovery for Ed. I even pushed the boat out to get the crips in!

Memory seems to suggest that we planned nothing greater than how Jeremy Corbyn was shaping up after his first week in power and it was probably just a shame that news of David Cameron and the pig hadn’t broken at this point ‘cause we may have stayed for another pint in that case.

There was just enough time to visit the quite posh loos before leaving the pub and trooping back to Belgrave Square before detouring off the north face by walking up Wilton Crescent and stopping at the High Commission of Singapore for another shot of the face that only a mother could love.

Rounding the rest of Wilton Crescent we ducked down Wilton Row to a pub that is even more well-hidden than the Star Tavern, in the shape of The Grenadier which again has an interesting history in that it was originally the Officers Mess for the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards and all I can say is that there can’t have been many of them back in 1720 as it’s a tiny little place with possibly more room in the scarlet sentry box that stands to attention outside.

But although room was at a premium we still managed to find a suitable place next to the bar to drink our pints of Wild Hare from Bath Ales and find the Cask Marque certificate which was propped on a nearby table.

 An interesting story from the pub’s website retells how there was a young Grenadier, who when caught cheating at cards was beaten to death by his comrades. Apparently “Cedric” haunts the pub to this day, especially in September (!) and locals have attempted to pay off his debt by pinning money to the ceiling. Something I noticed and photographed without realising why all the cash was there. Hope Cedric didn’t mind.

Cedric's Cash.

Wilton Crescent brought us back round to the east side of the square and we walked briskly past the Malaysia High Commission before getting a little lost in hunting down the last High Commission of the night, Trinidad and Tobago, before finding the final pub of the night, The Horse and Groom hidden away (a theme of the evening it would seem) down Groom Place.

There's a Malaysian flag there somewhere.

The pub was befittingly bedecked in flags but they were there to celebrate the Rugby World Cup rather than my Flying the Flag pub tour. But we were still welcomed like conquering heroes, especially when after we’d settled down with our pints of something or other and finally opened up the Tupperware of 7 baked perfections. They certainly attracted the interest of Derek and Jennifer, a pair of likely candidates from a nearby travel agents (well that’s what they said) and fascinated to hear about the trials and tribulations of the Flying the Flag tour.

There wasn’t much more to be said or done, other than make a last minute visit to one of the smallest toilets ever before being very good naturedly shown to the door by the barman who was already mopping the floor by the time we’d gathered together our bags and coats.

Tiny Toilets.

Oh….and if you were wondering who won the colouring competition then it was neither of them as they both failed with soggy bottoms.

Soggy Bottom.

Oh piss off then.