Review #5 The Herne Tavern, East Dulwich

The Herne Tavern (website, map)

(Photo by EwanM)

Quiz starts 7:45, £2 per person entry. Two rounds of twenty questions divided into themed rounds. A round of five music questions in each half. A picture sheet given out at half time for ten points in the second half. First prize of £30 bar tab, entry fee also gets every player a raffle ticket to participate in ‘Play Your Cards Right’ at the end for a rolling jackpot.

Result: 4th place (joint with a few other teams)

A couple of weeks ago I went to the quiz at the Old Nun’s Head with my friends Kate and Mark, and we had a splendid evening. They were great quizzing partners, what with Kate’s studying up on world geography and Mark’s excellent music knowledge. So, on Sunday night we decided to try out another quiz, this time at The Herne Tavern and with my boyfriend in tow. This will be a short review, because the quizmaster (Luke) is the same guy who runs the show down at the Old Nun’s Head and the quiz was pretty much the same format. However, there were a few differences.

First off, the Herne Tavern is a really beautiful pub. Lovely wood panelling and stained glass all over the place. According to my pals who live nearby it attracts the ubiquitous Lordship-Lane-first-child-in-expensive-buggy crowd, but I guess not too many of them go to the pub on a Sunday night, and consequently the quizzers were a decent mix of age, gender and levels of drunkenness and excitability. I felt like there were a few more serious quizzers than at the Old Nun’s Head.

The rounds were a bit better than at the Old Nun’s Head. There were again two music intros rounds (five songs per half) which breaks up the quiz nicely and is good fun – a real plus point for me is a quiz with a “guess the song” round every week.

As for the other rounds, the quiz kicked off with a sport round (which strangely featured not a single question on football, cricket or rugby,) then a pot luck round, followed by geography and lateral thinking. I suspect there may be some that say lateral thinking puzzles have no place in a pub quiz as it’s a slightly different game, but I absolutely love them. Puzzles, riddles, dingbats – stuff your quiz full of them and and on a music round and I’d be the happiest little quizzer in the world. Anyway. The picture round was a really fun one – ten pictures of celebrities as children/teenagers and you had to name them.

The second half had rounds about kids’ stuff (MUCH better than the Childrens TV and cartoon rounds at the Old Nun’s Head as it covered stuff like films, books and nursery rhymes) and the human body. I actually don’t think I’ve come across a human body round before and it was a good one – tricky, but enjoyable.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed the Herne Tavern’s quiz more than the Old Nun’s Head and I think there are three reason for this.

1. It seems to be a slightly nicer pub overall

2. The attendees was different – a bit more into quizzing rather than a Thursday night crowd starting to get into the swing of drinking as a warm-up for the weekend.

3. A better set of questions. This is probably just my own personal preferences/biases coming out but I thought the questions were most interesting, covered a better spread of topic and were a bit more original.

At both the The Herne Tavern and The Old Nun’s Head the quizmaster did a great job of working the crowd and keeping things fun, but I feel that at the Herne he had a more engaged crowd and better questions to work with. For this reason, I’d give the Herne Tavern quiz 4 stars out of 5, a half-star improvement on its sister quiz!

Sidenote – For this quiz I busted out a team name that I’d been saving up for a while -“Quizlamic Fundamentalists,” and heard one that as a Manchester City fan I particularly enjoyed: “Why Always Us?” They didn’t win though.

Sidenote to the sidenote – A lengthy and exhaustive blog post on what to name your quiz team is in the works.

Review #4 – Hoopers, East Dulwich

Hoopers, East Dulwich (website, map)

Image

Photo by Ewan, check out his great album on photos of London pubs on Flickr

Quiz starts 8:45, £1.50 per person entry. Six rounds of around ten questions each including themed picture round given out at beginning. Prizes of £10, £10 and a bottle of wine and £30 and a bottle of champagne for third, second and first place teams respectively. Gag prizes for all other teams.

Result: 5th place, won a copy of a children’s book. (there were two of us, all the teams that beat us had at least four people and winning team had nine. Just saying.)

Since moving to this area about four months ago I had heard a lot of great stuff about Hoopers. Anyone I knew who lived within a couple of miles of the place had tipped me off to its excellent beer selection and general awesomeness, so when my friend Tom drove all the way from Chatham to come to a quiz with me on a Thursday night, I knew it was time to finally pay Hoopers a visit.

We got there far too early: 8 for a quiz that ostensibly started at 8:45 (they never do,) but it was a good way to see what the general atmosphere at the pub was like. When we arrived we had a chat with the Pete the barman, who it transpired was also the quizmaster. He did a great job of bigging up the quiz, but also told us that it was his last night working there.

The quiz consisted of six rounds of ten questions each (except for the music round which was only six songs.) The categories were current affairs, music, picture round, beer, connections (all the answers involved the names of US sports team, eg Which 1995 Michael Mann film featured both Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro? Heat.) Pete ended with a round that he called Examples. I’d come across the type of question before but never a whole round of them, and it worked really well. He would read a list of words or phrases which were all types or names of something and you had to name what they all were. Types of tea, varieties of butterfly and characters from the Tempest all featured.

Pete seemed fond of rounds featuring connections, as the picture round consisted of people whose birthday was the day of the quiz. It was one of the harder picture round I’ve come across, featuring famous faces from Levi Strauss to Jah Rule.

What I particularly liked about the quiz was the variety. There were some very hard questions and no super-easy What is the capital of France type questions. Most involved a bit of thought. It definitely seemed like a quiz that had been written either by the quizmaster or someone from the pub, rather than one just bought from the internet, and I always appreciate that kind of effort.

The main issue that occurred to me during the quiz was that it was very much a locals pub, and a locals quiz. By locals pub I certainly do not mean unfriendly, everyone there from the quizmaster downwards was  very friendly and I had a couple of really nice chats with people who introduced themselves to me during my cigarette breaks. However, everyone seemed to know each other and know the quizmaster, which was both a good thing and a less good one. The camaraderie didn’t quite hit cliqueyness, but was slightly off-putting to a newcomer. However, all the regulars seemed so nice, and I’m sure that if you went there even three or four times, you would become part of the quiz-gang, and that would turn a pretty fun quiz into a really great sociable evening out.

I get the impression that the team who won probably win every week, and when talking to a couple of them afterwards I found out that they always donate all their winnings to St Christopher’s, a hospice based in Penge, so long may they continue winning. They set a great example, as the second and third place teams also donated their prize money. I don’t know if they also donated the bottles of wine and champagne that they won to the terminally ill, but here’s hoping!

The prizes for every team also gave a nice touch to the end of the quiz. We won a copy of Diary of a Wimpy kid, but I also saw teams receiving a box of dog food, a bag of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs, and a box of man-sized tissues.

Just a quick note on Hoopers itself – a really friendly old-fashioned backstreet local with an astonishingly good beer selection and the kind of ale card you’d expect to find in a much poncier pub. I really felt like I’d found a gem of a local and even if the quiz doesn’t continue with Pete’s departure, I look forward to going back multiple times just for the drinks and atmosphere.

I’d give the quiz a solid four out of five. Good, varied questions with some quite tricky ones, and fantastic level of enthusiasm from both quizmaster and quizzers.

Positives: Friendly crowd, great and varied questions, good level of difficulty, fun and friendly quizmaster.

Negatives: Felt a bit strange essentially being at the leaving party of someone I didn’t know, didn’t finish until 11:15.