The Half Moon

The Half Moon, Durham DH1 3AQ

This pub is a traditional urban local just across the pedestrianised Elvet Bridge from the city centre. The interior comprises a front bar and lower rear lounge, connected by the semi-circular bar counter from which the pub reputedly takes its name. Both have plenty of dark wood and red leatherette bench seating. There is also a large beer garden at the rear overlooking the river.

There’s no food (although the website promises a new sandwich menu) and TV sport is shown, ensuring a lively atmosphere on match days. The regular beers are Draught Bass (very reasonably priced on my visit), Taylors Landlord and Durham White Gold, plus a couple of rotating guests. The pub has been in the Good Beer Guide for thirty consecutive years.

The Swan

The Swan, Brewood, Staffordshire ST19 9BS

Brewood is a large village in South-West Staffordshire that in the past has claimed the status of a town. It still boasts a central market place with the three-storey Lion Inn and the striking house with Gothick windows visible on the right-hand side of the picture. The Swan is an old former coaching inn on the west side of the market place, with an arch leading through into the car park.

Inside it is more down-to-earth than you would expect, with a central U-shaped bar, around which the drinkers cluster, and a couple of comfortable snugs on either side. Outside is an impressively large and comfortable smoking shelter. The dark wood, cream walls and red upholstery colour scheme suggest a former Bass pub. According to the Good Beer Guide no food is served beyond cobs on weekday lunchtimes. The regular beer range is Theakston Black Bull, Deuchars IPA, Wye Valley HPA and Courage Directors, plus two guests, on my visit including Taylors Landlord. It’s hard to fault the pub, but it would be good to see Draught Bass and other Staffordshire beers on the bar.

The Manor Arms

The Manor Arms, Rushall, Staffordshire WS4 1LG

A four-square, white-painted pub tucked away down a cul-de-sac in the northern suburbs of Walsall and backing on to the Daw End Branch of the Rushall Canal. It features on CAMRA’s National Inventory of Historic Pub Interiors and claims to originally date from the 12th century, although the present building is mostly 18th century. The track past the pub takes you to the Park Lime Pits country park.

The highlight is the unspoilt public bar on the left with handpumps installed against the back wall and no bar counter as such. There’s also a central corridor with serving hatch, a smoke room on the right with bench seating and quarry tiles, and a plainer, modern lounge to the rear. The pub also has an extensive beer garden overlooking the canal, and so is an ideal spot for a summer weekend lunchtime.

Once an M&B house, it has now passed into the hands of Banks’s/Marston’s, with a beer range of Banks’s Mild and Bitter plus four changing guests from the Marston’s range. It has been reported as serving lunches in the past, but on my recent visit had a sign saying “kitchen now closed” – I’m not sure how permanent that is.