School days from Prague
Saturday 27th December Part 2

I drive and park outside a bungalow in Hale, Cheshire. The security lights come on outside the house. I get out of the car, walk up to the door and press the doorbell button. Rick answers the door he's someone I knew from school days. He works in Prague now at Cisco Systems dealing with emerging markets. He's visiting relatives at Christmas and always phones me and invites me out when he's in Manchester.
Rick: "Come inside."
I go inside the bungalow. The entrance hallway has beige carpets and modern stylish glass chandeliers. Rick gets his jacket and says bye to his relatives.

We go outside to the car, I start the engine and back out down the driveway onto the street.
Rick: "Where are we going?"
Me: "There's a pub called the Woodstock in Didsbury."
Rick: "We could go to Altrincham."
Me: "There's a place called Shaker Room in Goose Green."
Rick: "We could try that or the Griffin."
Me: "We can go to Altrincham or Didsbury."

The Griffin in Bowdon (in Altrincham) is only a few minutes drive away and there's easy parking. We arrive and go inside, order drinks and sit down. I overhear the lady working at the bar speaking to a friend about going travelling to America.
Rick: "There's not much seating in here now. There used to be loads."
Me: "They refurbished it a few years ago. Apparently they turned it into a gastropub."
Rick: "What, by taking all the seats out and sanding the wood."
Me: "It's not a good use of square footage. The original version made really good use of space. Where those Chesterfield suites are there were lots of tables and chairs."
Rick: "You used to be able to seat 20 people there, now it only fits 4."

The Griffin was one of the last traditional pubs in the area that had good service. It was refurbished by taking out all the seating, brass, dark wood panelling, stained glass windows, and replacing it with unvarnished light rustic wood.
Businesswise it's a disaster. Some locals don't go in because they say it's been turned into a trendy bar and isn't a pub anymore. Also, now since there's very few seats people don't bother going in because it means standing all night. The restaurant isn't particularly popular either because it serves fish and chips, burgers and other things you can buy from a takeaway.

Me and Rick have a good conversation about what we've been doing.

I go to the bar to order a drink.
Me: "Can I have a non-alcoholic Becks."
Bar lady: "A non-alcoholic Becks?" she says in a way as if questioning why a non-alcoholic beer.
I look at her as if what's it to do with you. It's unprofessional for her to do that.
Bar lady's friend: "It's because it's non-alcoholic." she says in an attempt to clear the air.
We end up having a conversation for a few minutes and it turns out the bar lady's friend is in her final year at university studying business marketing. It's interesting. I studied business as part if my degree at university.

the Griffin has 4 groups of smartly dressed middle aged people having meals and 2 groups of students having drinks. Not very busy for a Saturday night. It's probably because it's a few days after Christmas and people are saving up for New Year's Eve. It's because there aren't many people here is also what makes it nice. It means we can sit on the Chesterfield suites next to the gas fire with flames imitating a real open fire.

At 9pm we leave the Griffin and go to the Woodstock in Didsbury.

At 11:30pm we leave the Woodstock.


Summary and venue reviews: Saturday 27th December

The Griffin in Altrincham
Quiet. Clientele: locals, smart casual. Decor: 4/10.
Notes: Comfortable if there are seats available to sit down. Not polite service.
The Griffin in Altrincham

The Woodstock pub
Quiet. Clientele: smart casual. Decor: 9/10.
Woodstock pub



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Alex Remizo