It was coming up to the end of the year and after having done some little videos about the bars along the SoBo Mile I thought it would be different, but great fun, to put an open invite via Facebook and see if you could get a little group of us together and make a merry trip down the road.
The idea was to reach out to the local community and bring people together over a drink at the various bars along Southbourne Grove. I had four bars in mind on this first gathering. They all were happy to join in and reserve a space for us, even though it was the busy Saturday just before Christmas.
There were eight (four couples) plus me, so nine people in total. I planned it so we would spend 45 minutes in each bar, starting at the rather early time of 6pm and so would finish at 9pm and then people have time to carry on.
You would think it was easy to have one drink and move on, but I felt like some parent giving the kids their 10 minute warning at each place.
It was interesting to hear that two couples had a small place around Southbourne as a weekend retreat and have reached a point in their lives where they have sold up their homes to buy a new home here. The attraction to Southbourne is immense. The rejuvenation of the high street, from the sleepy road that it was in the 1990s and early 2000s, has most definitely helped. The nightlife has grown steadily and diversely.
Our route started off in the Way Outback Bar. Bournemouth football club had just beaten Brighton at home, so the bar was a little bit lively at 6pm. Now that Richard Brown, the owner, has moved his brewing equipment to a building on the other side of the road he has created extra space with a new snug area with wood burner. He has literally built that place by hand.
The next stop was upstairs in the Library of Liquor cocktail bar, which is above the Larder House. A smaller, quieter and usually more intimate kind of bar. Dark wood paneling and the actual wooden bar counter came from Aberfan.
The third stop was the Wight Bear Micropub. To help oil the wheels so to speak, David and Nicola Holland brought out various “paddles” of beer and cider, so we didn’t have to waste valuable drinking time deciding from their chalkboard menu. A paddle is a handy way of trying the range and then deciding on what you like best.
Our planned final stop was Terroir Tapas. Forget old world Spain, this is a very modern place for drinking and eating. It’s not a restaurant. You can choose to order their plates or not, to go with your drinks. Seeing as we started at 6pm, many of us hadn’t had much to eat so this was a welcome stop indeed.
I said planned final stop but above the Library, which itself is above the Larder House, there was a pop-up Rum Tiki Bar in place for the festive weekend. Local Rum expert Peter Holland, aka The Floating Rum Shack, held court and dispensed knowledge and drinks on all things rum, and not rum as well.
I had one there but said I would be good, seeing as I was leading the group and trying to do some video, which was flimsy at best but hopefully conveys the fun we had that night.
People from outside of Southbourne are already seeing it as a destination, rather than heading off into Poole or Bournemouth town centres. It works well for those that like their craft ales, cocktails and food. Definitely a foodie destination place in my mind.
I will let January pass by after all the excesses of December and look forward to planning the next SoBo Mile on Tour.