(left) Lance and London Miller rudeboy Roberto in the VAT & Fiddle
I left St Pancras nice and early as I quite like a wander around the shops in Nottingham but unfortunately my main retail target, independent record store Selectadisc, was closed. I made do with a much poorer choice at HMV and then headed off to the pub.
It was no surprise at all to find Lance sitting outside the VAT & Fiddle as opening time approached - the pub cat also waiting with him.
The VAT has been the DAFTS pub of choice in the city for quite a few years now - good beer, decent snacks, friendly locals and welcoming to away fans - although the pub cat did prove resistant to our combined charms and sat elsewhere.
In addition they had a couple of decent guests, including the Salopian Hop Twister - a golden ale - this one having more taste to it than many of the bland exponents of this style.
After a few more beers and much badinage, we left Lance in the care of the LMs and headed to the station and hopped onto the tram. Our next destination was the Lion at Basford which is next to Shipstone Street tram stop.(right) Colin, Brian and a tram at Shipstone Street
An interesting pub on the top of a bank, formerly belonging to Batemans, it has a very deep cellar which you can peer down into through glass portholes from the main bar.
It has a very good selection of ales: Mallard Webbed Wheat, Castle Rock Harvest Pale, Titanic Stout, Batemans XB, Bottlebrook Obsession, Slaters Top Totty, Messrs Maguire Haus Lager, Crouch End Fallen Angel and Thornbridge Lord Marples.We had the Obsession, a 5.4% porter and the Fallen Angel - both in excellent condition.
At one corner of the site we found the Horse & Groom which was once the Shipstones brewery tap but is now a free house.
Colin and I continued with the dark beer theme of the last few beers and tried Guerrilla, a stout from the Blue Monkey brewery whose wares I'd first tried in Crewe earlier this year - very nice - as well as the Ruby Mild from Rudgate.
Up to this point we had been blissfully unaware of any football scores and it rather a shock to discover that the Quakers were currently winning at Shrewsbury with about 20 mins to go!
(right) Fox and Crown and the Sherwood Forest mural
After a brief chant of "Two nil to the Darlington" - somewhat confusing the locals in the process - we supped off and headed back into the centre of Nottingham and onto the Newshouse.
The pub was already full of some Rotherham fans who were not well pleased as the Millers had lost to a late, late goal scored by bad boy Luke Rodgers.
Colin did his best to try and comfort them by saying Darlo had taken some points from their play-off rivals but I'm afraid they weren't very impressed - not even when he got his little team out.
(above) Colin's First Team