THE CROOKED HOUSE & BULL AND BLADDER
Next day returning to my brother’s who was still working to fix the previous ‘improvements' on Thebus, I found out why the heating controls were loose. Basically the control panel having been removed to work on something else had been hled back in with masking tape. I have to say I was, and still am, astounded that anyone in business would even consider this as any sort of fix, temporary or otherwise. Unbelievable!
Still at last I had someone not only competent and capable, but trustworthy, and not just with me, with everyone he deals with. Thank you God for such a lovely family.
Whilst I was there I wanted to revisit a local pub - The Crooked House. I last went sometime back in the 1970’s and when I packed the things I wanted to put in store before my travels I still had a faded and creased old snapshot someone had given me of its crazy frontage, and vaguely remembered putting the marble on the wainscot to watch it roll uphill.
Leaving Thebus behind we went in my brother’s car, which was just as well as the approach road/lane is quite tight and goes through what is left of an old railway bridge. Arriving the unbelievable angles of the front aspect of the pub are as mind blowing as ever. Subsidence due to mining over the years has resulted in its incredible appearance of twisted floors and windows, and because so many of its features no longer line up with the horizontal and perpendicular aspects ingrained in our psyche, things which are sloping one way appear to be sloping another. In fact the camera takes that away a little as our minds are then one step removed, but even so I think the marble in the little video clip still does look as though it is rolling the wrong way. When you experience it in reality the sensation is much stronger.
So having had a drink in the bar and played with the old earthenware marble - given if you ask at the counter - we decided to try the food.
The pub nowadays is a 'gastro pub’ not a name which sits easily in much of the Black Country, and I have to say it wasn't crowded in the restaurant. But although almost empty they seemed a bit flustered and doubtful as they had a party coming in later, but once we were seated all went well. The menu was interesting with several things I was happy to choose from, and the food well cooked and beautifully presented. We were eating in the restaurant, but they did pub food as well and the Black Country Faggot Bap with gravy and steakhouse chips for £5.95 looked good, but I was saving myself for the Faggots and Peas at the next place which we visited a few days later - The Vine, or as it is known locally for some inexplicable reason The Bull and Bladder
This one is a proper pub, and no messing. From the highly glazed original Victorian tiles on the wainscot with Bull’s Heads in relief, and gloss painted anaglypta above, to the hatch where you are served with drinks from the bar, and the old kitchen table which holds the food.
The pub is the tap house for Batham’s Brewery next door, which is a well known and appreciated local ale. The Lounge Bar was decorated with cups and certificates for prizes won over the years, as well as past landlords and landladies, including the ones from when the brewery first took it over in 1877. I think the beer was around £2.50 a pint, and though I am not a regular beer drinker that sounds very good value. And the food is excellent.
You go into the ‘kitchen’ where there is a selection of food for you to choose from, everything fresh and the portions more than generous. We both had the Faggits and Payes, or faggots and peas to mincing received pronunciation speakers. And a huge plateful it was too, and the faggots were as good as the ones I, my mother, her mother and probably mother’s mother before her made. And how much for this bounty of traditional English fare? - another £2.50