Bunhill Quaker Gardens

Charting the redevelopment of the Quaker Gardens between Banner Street and Chequer Street, London, in 02005.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Goodbye, Jack Frost, for another year

One of the compensations of winter in Bunhill is the availability of Fuller's Jack Frost in the Artillery Arms, on the corner of Bunhill Row and Dufferin Street (more or less between the Quaker burial ground and the 'non-conformist' burial ground on the opposite side of Bunhill Row). At its best, Jack Frost is very special beer. I haven't enjoyed a pint so much since I was an under-age drinker.

Given the snow this morning, it was an unwelcome surprise to find that Fullers have decreed that winter is over, and Jack Frost has been withdrawn until the nights close in again. I was offered, and accepted, a pint of the dubiously-named Jennings Ale instead.

The Artillery Arms is a treasure for more than just its beers. It's a small traditional pub that would be hard to convert to anything else. Reassuringly, after it was closed for refurbishment for two months last summer, you could barely tell the difference. Clearly it makes its living from the City office spillover that crowds the bar at lunchtimes and early evenings, with loud voices and louder ties. But it comes into its own when it starts to empty out and you can appreciate two of its special features. One is its wide selection of bar games from jenga to chess (using glass pieces that are rather hard to distinguish in gloomy bar light). The other is a determinedly fogey-ish music policy. Bob Dylan and Neil Young are the perennial staples, and this evening the selections were drawn alternately from Dylan's Bringing it all Back Home, Young's Harvest Moon, and, as 'guest artist', Nick Cave and his sublime Boatman's Call album.

Lucy had a scare today, but — touch wood — all is OK.


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