To the uninitiated, Poole will look like a rather miserable and boring place. Which is why they are keen to show everyone - those that are prepared to get out and about a bit - why this is not necessarily the case.
The city may look depressing during the winter months, but does actually get a little on the lively side in summer. Despite its essentially quiet nature, it is quite possible to have a good time in Poole.
Tourist attractions are a bit on the minimalist side. There's the 'world famous' Poole Pottery, and a couple of museums, like The Mathmos Factory which makes lava lamps.
Poole Quay during the day is host to a plethora of rusty cargo ships, an aquarium, a model railway, an amusements den and a bucket load of restaurants, cafés and pubs. Occasionally, the owner of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick, docks her big boat there and everybody gathers around to gape in awe and wonder at the sheer decadence of it all.
Poole is also home to the head offices of Exchange & Mart magazine. The High Street and adjoining areas are filled with pubs and restaurants which cater to almost any taste you care to mention. Italian, Indian, Greek, English (traditional grub with gravy and chips, served everywhere), Chinese, Japanese, Mexican and so on...
Shopping is basic, but adequate. The Dolphin Centre houses all major retail outlets. Hundreds of strange shops selling nearly everything you need when you reach 60 years of age line the High Street. Stay near the High Street, your evening begins here...
Start in The Old Harry pub which recently became a franchise of Bass Leisure Retail and is consequently not as rough as it used to be. They serve Carling Premier in there so you can quench your thirst rapidly. They also have a Quids In night on Thursdays: pay £2 on the door and all drinks are a quid1 all night. The ideal sequence from there goes thus:
- Yates's - Very common. You already know what it's like before you even go in, safe territory.
- The Brewhouse - Old men, cheap beer, pool 40p a game at time of writing.
- The Blue Boar - Family-type pub. Old men, cheap beer, no pool table.
- The Angel - 'Fun pub' with karaoke, disco on Fri/Sat, cheap drinks and fights a-plenty as the under 18s drink here.
- The Hogshead - Same as all the other Hogsheads... a bit dull and overpriced.
- JJ Murphy's - Irish theme pub. Guinness, drunk here by anyone Irish or wants people to think they're Irish (quite how this became fashionable is a matter of puzzled conjecture). Pool £1 a go, again, at time of writing.
Pubs on The Quay
- Lord Nelson - Dead during the winter, packed with bikers in summer. Live bands weekends, rock/blues.
- Jolly Sailor - Popular, packed all year, psychotic doormen keep fights to a minimum but drunken marines used to destroy the place on a weekly basis.
- The King Charles - Right up the other end of the quay. Ten points if you find it. Nice place, good beer, disco on Saturday.
A lot of the pubs participate in a Pub to Club scheme on Thursday nights. Ask at the bar in most of the above mentioned watering holes, and they'll provide you with a ticket to get into Woody's (above the aquarium complex on Poole Quay) free of charge before 11.30pm.
Woody's is the best club in Poole. Open Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 2am. Thursday is party music, Friday is dance and trance night, Saturday... well, that depends who's resident.
Other clubs are:
- Corkers - Small, friendly, expensive, shuts at midnight.
- Lators - A youth club filled with power-drinkers and 16 year old criminals with their pregnant girlfriends, situated opposite the bus station. Dorset police don't need to patrol the rest of the town on Friday and Saturdays, they just park two riot vans outside Lators and the trouble comes to them. Avoid.
One thing worth mentioning about Lators is that downstairs from this place of ill-repute is a nice pub called Grey's. Grey's is usually quiet and pleasant. But weekends there see the cream of local Thrash Metal bands making peoples' ears bleed.
Eating options after 2am are limited to Taffy's on the corner of the High Street selling kebabs, burgers, chips - the usual late night drinker's fare, and a KFC by the bus station. You're recommended to wait until you get home to eat.
By this time, cabs are few and far, there's usually a dozen or so stop outside Woody's, otherwise stagger to the station, where there's a good chance you'll find one. Failing that, head up towards the rear of the Dolphin centre on the roundabout. This is where all the cabbies go before they clock off, so you should be OK until about 4am.