But a further word about those chains, again referring back to Counting the Scores we saw that the "winning" chain, if that's the right expression was TaylorWalker with 26 pubs appearing on the tour; this was closely followed by Nicholson’s with 22 and Fuller’s with 19 and Greene King with 15. There's a well documented issue with chains in that they usually try to stamp a corporate brand onto all locations sometimes without a care for the origins of the pub or building, but I think I can happily report that maybe the days of someone like Watneys coming in a painting everything that moves “Watney Red” have now gone. Most of the chains still try to do a uniform decor job but I saw many fine examples where this had been done around and in harmony with the history of the pub and it was actually quite comforting to know that some of our very valuable pubs are safely in the hands on such caring companies. Want an example? Well how about the Ye Olde Mitre Inn which Fullers are obviously lavishing care and attention on, or the Argyll Arms whose fantastic ceilings and huge mirrors are polished lovingly by Nicholson’s. And in that analysis we see the two companies who I felt were doing the best jobs from the 4 majors. Now if Taylor Walker took on a “no blaring music policy” and Greene King a much more “extensive guest beer policy” then they could possibly catch up!
The next three pubs were all in a row along Shepherd Street and thanks to my awesome map reading (no one else was doing it people) we made it to number three in the row via the Japanese and Panama Embassies. Despite cries to the fact it was spitting with rain I forced the tour back down to what should have been pub number one, the Kings Head on the corner of Shepherd Street and White Horse Street.
The final place was back towards Piccadilly again and yet another Taylor Walker place, The Rose and Crown on Old Park Lane - This time the beer selection was even worse with only a choice of Old Golden Hen and some bizarre ciders, which Charlie immediately partook of. With Gemma and Big-J still sticking with cokes I was on my ale-lonesome especially when Nicole raised my eyebrows by asking me "to surprise" her - Perhaps the bottle of Grolsch wasn't quite what she had in mind and this was confirmed by the way she quickly swapped it for Ed's pint of Estrella. At least the pub did have the certificate out though, although it was oddly positioned behind the front door meaning each scanner was at risk of being crushed as the scan was taken.