Pub #30: The Camden Head, Camden Walk (in Islington, not Camden)

I’m up to writing about The Camden Head, which will be number thirty on this 100 Pubs Project, but technically isn’t the 30th pub I’ve visited for the project.  I’ve got a bit of a backlog I’m forced to deal with at the moment, so some of these pubs are going to be out of order, in a sense.  Plus, my friend Tom took me along a mini-pub crawl in the Primrose Hill/Kentish Town area… and I didn’t write down anything that night, so I need to retrace my steps, or beers, in this case.

Speaking of Tom, that fabulous blogger of Tired of London, Tired of Life fame, he and I went to the subject of this pub posting, The Camden Head.  It was the day of the disappointing England v Algeria game of the World Cup, and he and I had just had a bit of a pub fail post-Thai food along Rosebery Avenue.  We tried to go to two pubs in Clerkenwell, both of which were very crowded, and the evening was getting towards the eleven o’clock hour when many pubs in London close, even on a Friday night.

We wound up walking towards Angel, and walked along Camden Walk (as that is what does along a Walk), passing the interesting boutique stores that line the little pedestrian street…. and a pub.  That was still open.  And not too crowded.


Well, after making sure his bike was properly locked up in front of the nearby Tescos, Tom and I went into the pub and made our way to the bar.  Well, Tom made his way to the bar.  I got stopped as I entered by a doorman dressed in black asking for ID.  Yeah.  This, I think, is a first for London, which isn’t quite as card-check-happy as we are on the other side of the Atlantic.  Some establishments hold a 21-and-over door policy after specific times, so maybe this was the case with The Camden Head.  Anyway, I fumbled out my Florida Driver’s License with the stupid photo of me at the age of 19, and the man seemed satisfied.

“I just got IDed!”  I perplexed to Tom at the bar before we ordered our drinks.  Not so much that I would have my ID checked, as back in Florida I would always be IDed.  The people ringing up my purchase would sometimes look really surprised upon seeing my birth year, to the point of commenting on it with a “Wow!” or with some of the more frank ladies at the check-out “Oh my gosh, really?  Girrrl, you look young!”  I remember one time in my mid-twenties putting a six-pack of beer on the moving countertop and the woman behind the counter at Publix was all, “Oh, no, I GOT to see your ID!!”  I think it was because I had a backpack on, which apparently transformed me into a twelve year-old, when I was probably 25 or 26 at the time.

Why I was a bit surprised about this encounter is that I’m just not used to it here, especially since the drinking age in the UK is 18, rather than 21.

I’m beginning to think I’ll never look grown-up at all.

Anyway, pints were gotten, and a slightly sticky table obtained a bit too close to the men’s loo.  The pints were one of Deucher’s ale (for the lady) and Doombar (for the gent), which totalled up to £6.80.

The evening was interesting, as the majority of the patrons around us were already into their third or fourth… or maybe even sixth drink.  A woman struggled with the cigarette machine next to us, desperately swapping out pound coins with me to try and find one the machine liked.  She later discovered that it actually enjoyed the lighter fare of 50p coins, and when she got her pack of cigarettes, we–or at least I–applauded.

Tom and I hung around the pub for a good chat, worth about one and a half or two pints, depending upon how quickly you drank (I was the slow drinker).  The Camden Head seemed to stay open at least until midnight, although it may have stayed open until 1 am, I can’t recall.  I do believe we were around for last orders, but we departed before the bar staff had begun to actively clear patrons out of the bar.  On the way to my bus stop, Tom and I passed another sort of Head on Essex Road, where we saw the consequences of an evening of revelry beginning to unfold as the inebriated bleary-eyed customers were struggling with the end of an evening, either by being unable to stand, unable to speak in a bit of an inside voice, or unable to keep the contents of their dinner in their stomachs.

Not a pretty sight, that.

So yeah, that was The Camden Head.  In Islington.  I believe there is a Camden Head in Camden as well, hence my detailed title for this posting, and should I ever go to said Camden Head, I wanted to ensure that the two won’t get mixed up.  Although, they may still, anyway.


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