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                         The Vat and Fiddle                                                         The Olive Tree                                                   Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem    

On arriving at Nottingham by train, if you only have enough time for a few drinks and something to eat before attending your relevant venue, I'd suggest that you go to the Vat & Fiddle straight away. As you come out of the station, instead of turning right and heading for the centre, walk straight through the covered taxi rank immediately in front of the doors, cross the road at the lights and turn right and walk down that road. As you look from the taxi rank, left is towards Trent bridge, but diagonally opposite is the road that leads to the close by Vat & Fiddle (on the right), 12-14 Queens Bridge Road, (0115 985 0611), the 'brewery tap' for Castle Rock brewery, sited next door.    

The Vat & Fiddle, Queen's Bridge Road, Nottingham NG2 1NB (0115 985 0611) is a favourite watering hole of mine, handy for Nottingham Forest, and County, and the cricket at Trent Bridge. What a great position, near the station and all the major sporting venues. The Vat & Fiddle sells decent good value food, a fine choice of ales, including guest beers and a number from Castle Rock as you would expect, and a significant number of malt whiskies. This is not somewhere to visit for luxurious comfort, but has bare floorboards, utility wooden furniture and a warm and friendly welcome, providing it's not too busy!

However, if you are staying overnight, there are a few places that are a must to visit, as well as Nottingham Castle. Near to the castle is The Olive Tree, 9-11 St James Terrace, NG1 6FW (0115 941 1997), a cosy licensed bar and hotel, independently owned, and situated only 2 minutes walk away from Nottingham's shopping centre and renowned night life. The proprietors are friendly and welcoming, and you will be treated with clean, comfortable and good value accommodation. So, drop off your bags, either here or wherever you choose to stay, and you are only a few minutes away from the castle and reputedly the oldest pub in England.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, 1 Brewhouse Yard, NG1 6AD (0115 947 3171) originates from the 12th century, where it was carved out of the rock and caves beneath the castle and built onto the front. It is thought to have originally been the castle's brewhouse, but probably did not become an inn until the 18th century. The Trip serves food, has a good choice of ales, and is certainly worth a good look around its interior, where you may just find a hidden corner in which to enjoy your fare.


                          Ye Olde Salutation                                                   The Bell Inn                                                Lincolnshire Poacher    

Below the castle area, going back into town, and across the road, is Ye Olde Salutation, Hounds Gate, Maid Marian Way NG1 7AA (0115 988 1948), a 17th century inn, with oak beams, a stone floor and nooks and crannies in which to sit.  This has a great atmosphere and many regularly changing real ales, and ciders and perries too, on offer, and, it looked like, very good food, though I haven't tried their menu yet, will do soon, I hope. 

Back into the centre of town, and not too far from the Salutation is the Bell Inn, 18 Angel Row, NG1 6HL (0115 947 5241), a traditional 15th century Grade II listed building with a more modern Georgian frontage. It has 3 bars, good ales and home-cooked food, and serves breakfast in the morning. The bar at the back holds regular jazz and blues live music and has a fine wood panelled interior with a ceiling that reminds me of the ceiling at the Bodega in Newcastle. When I last visited it was their Burns Night celebration, when I succumbed to drinking Talisker whisky and earning a free 'rocking glass'. I love the place.

Like many towns and cities though, Nottingham does have a significant number of other bars to visit. So, if you are into pub crawls as well as sport, then the Good Beer Guide, the Tourist Board and other websites may offer further suggestions. Me, I wouldn't want to vary from my favourite bars mentioned above, which offer variety plus quality, with the Vat & Fiddle offering ease of access to both football grounds and the cricket. Though if you have somewhere else to suggest is worth further investigation, please let me know at the contact address. 
If you venture further afield, you can leave town from Victoria Centre, where, 5 minutes walk on the left up Mansfield Road, you will find the Lincolnshire Poacher, 161 Mansfield Road, NG1 3FR (0115 941 1584). Another Tynemill house that sells decent food, including vegetarian options, a good variety of ales, many from microbreweries including Castle Rock of course, and a large selection of whiskies. The Poacher has a conservatory and garden at the rear, and occasionally live music.