Thursday, 30 August 2012

Golden Ball, Liverpool Road, Longton

After a week in Budapest spent saturated in the finest glasses of white wine 80p could buy, Miss Chardonnay Sidekick was well and truly off the sauce.
So she kindly clocked on for taxi duties to search out a good pub in the countryside.
For a couple of years now I have been half-heartedly toying with the idea of walking the 73-mile Ribble Way, from it's source in the Yorkshire Dales, to the Dolphin Inn, in Longton.
So in a bid to build a little motivation to take on such a challenge, I thought the best thing to do would be to visit the pub to check on the prize which would await me at the end.
'Of course I know where it is, don't worry about it', I proclaimed after a cursory glance at a map.
'It's a pub, I never have much bother finding them'.
We drove along Liverpool Road into Longton where we came upon the Golden Ball and having not seen Marsh Lane, I immediately abandoned my plan and decided to stop here instead.
But turning to park at the pub we found Marsh Lane and continued down the road.
We kept on going, finding nothing resembling a pub and eventually came out a few hundred yards from the Golden Ball.
So the Golden Ball it was.
The sun made a rare appearance for Bank Holiday Sunday and the front and back beer gardens were packed with groups of drinkers basking in every one of the luke-warm rays.
Inside the pub was similarly packed with large groups who had come together for a good few pints or a bite.
From the outside its appearance suggests a traditional village pub and I was surprised at how much modernisation had taken place within.
The main bar area was wide and open-plan while there were a number of smaller rooms tucked away, including one which had gone for a coffee shop look, with a number of settees.
I wasn't too impressed with my pint of Robinson's Blonde which seemed to taste a little musty.
But then again my beleaguered taste buds which are not so discerning at the best of times, may well have been reeling after a week spent in the company of Hungarian lager (real ale hasn't got that far yet).
I was however, impressed with a patch of grass at the back of the car park because it included one simple feature; goal posts.
As a child who spent many a sunny evening playing in fields at the back of pubs, one cheap little goal post set would have transformed a mundane bike ride to the pub, into an afternoon of endless entertainment.
Cuppie, heads and volleys, whack the football at my sisters, the possibilities would have been endless.

And though goalposts would not technically be needed for the latter, it would have provided a legitimacy for a painful strike in the event a formal complaint was lodged with my parents.
'You've made Lyndsey cry', my mum would say in a scolding tone.
'Ah but she was in goal, that's what happens', I could cunningly reply.
'And anyway she's 24 now, she's old enough to decide if she doesn't want to go in goal'.
We left just as a band was setting up and more people poured into the pub, exchanging a hearty medley of handshakes and back-slaps.
'I think I found us a popular little local there', I remarked to Miss Chardonnay Sidekick as we headed back to Preston.
'Yeah only because you got us lost immediately.
'How do you ever expect to be able to tramp across the country?'

Pear Tree, Penwortham
Bitter Suite, Preston

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