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   xoxoxoBruce  Saturday Sep 9 11:55 PM

Sept 10th, 2017: The Grapes

England isn’t very big, a little smaller than the state of Illinois. They were beat up by the Scandinavians,
the Romans, and the French. Quite amazingly, from those beginnings they became a world power, built
an empire the Sun never set on, containing 22% of the worlds landmass, and 20% of the population.
How in hell did they do that? Simple, they were drunk. Pubs were the staff of life, Pub-itis the way of life.
Drunks dream big dreams, endure hard labor, and volunteer to sail ships and fight wars for the King,
although sometimes they didn’t know it until they were out to sea.
Here’s one, The Grapes, which has been here since 1583 although it was just remodeled in the 1720s.

Appropriately located on “Narrow Street”, this cozy establishment is part of a terrace of Georgian houses called Limehouse Reach and survived the Nazi Blitz that pulverised most of the Docklands in WWII.

During the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth, this patch of dry land among the riverside marshes became the centre of world trade in the 16th century, and when the tide goes out, you can still see the pebbly beach below from which famed explorer Sir Walter Raleigh set sail on his third voyage to the New World.

Charles Dickens knew the area well and in the opening chapter of his novel, “Our Mutual Friend”, he described a pub which is widely believed to be The Grapes.
“A tavern of dropsical appearance… long settled down into a state of hale infirmity. It had outlasted many a sprucer public house, indeed the whole house impended over the water but seemed to have got into the condition of a faint-hearted diver, who has paused so long on the brink that he will never go in at all.”

On a sunny day, sit with a pint on the small balcony at the rear of the pub overlooking the Thames and imagine the voyages that began here after a friendly send-off at the bar; boats heading out to sea with a few too many wobbly sailors aboard.

The Grapes is co-owned by newspaper magnate, Evgeny Lebedev (The Evening Standard, the Independent),
and some obscure actor named Ian McKellen who lives a few doors away.
Behind the bar is a stuffed fluffy cat from some other obscure actor named Patrick Stewart.
And by the door a bronze statue of some obscure wizard named Gandalf.


Diaphone Jim  Sunday Sep 10 12:41 PM

And a Packard hood ornament on the wall.

A neat place, with a quiz night no less.

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