Somebody’s let the fire go out at The Lion in Whitehall one recent Thursday evening and now someone’s got to re-light it.
“The wood’s wet,” grumbles the man who eventually steps up to the task, kneeling in front of the wood burner opposite the well-worn bar.
It’s still pretty quiet at 6ish, but spirits are high at the prospect of starting the weekend early.
“Is that a double?” asks the cheerful woman behind the bar, glass poised under the Captain Morgan optic.
Bristol24/7 relies on your support to fund our independent journalism and social impact projects. Become a member and enjoy exclusive perks from just £5 per month.
It’s all too easy to be persuaded to settle in for the night. A promising red glow is now radiating through the glass of the wood burner, tunes are playing, pizzas are on the menu and the bar is stocked high with a selection of real ales, spirits, ciders and snacks.
Copies of Henry Palmer’s Voices of Bristol: Gentrification and Us can also be bought for £6 each for anyone interested in delving a bit deeper into commentary on changes in surrounding neighbourhoods and the wider city.
This is a local with a well lived-in feel and all the promise of a good night. Heavy glass spirit bottles covered in hardened candle wax sit atop an old wooden piano at one end of the pub and at the other a precarious stack of battered board games is piled on a shelf.
Beyond an archway covered in a vibrant mural, a couple contemplate a game of pool as the pub starts to fill up.
Pints of beer and glasses of rum are deftly served from the bar.
“Can I have a coffee?” asks one customer. “Sure,” comes the reply, as the bar tender looks slightly uncertainly at the coffee machine.
“Sorry, not many people ask for coffee,” she says, finally producing a cup.
A longstanding stalwart on the corner of Whitehall Road and Lyppiatt Road, the pub now known as The Lion, has something going on most nights – from live music to spoken word – and enjoys a loyal customer base.
“Hello lovely, how are you?” A man greets a woman coming up to the bar, just as another local enters with a couple of dogs, who do a quick tour of the place before settling underfoot.
The fire looks dangerously close to going out again, but this time no one notices amid the warm, friendly bustle.
The Lion, 206 Whitehall Road, Whitehall, Bristol, BS5 9BP
0117 329 1316