Monday, 24 July 2017

BRAPA - An Amble Down to Hambleden

"Errrm, I think you MIGHT have gone past the stop...." I said to the nice but totally incompetent bus driver (he'd already not known the price for a single to Hambleden / Mill End, or any other stop off points for that matter) as he raced along the main road.  I had pressed the bell in good time with some ferocity just to be sure (I had a bad experience in Wintersett once).

"Ohhh, I'm so sorry" he says collapsing with embarrassment into his steering wheel, then breaking suddenly on a sharp country road bend, almost causing a six pile car up behind him .....

It was too amusing to make me angry, plus the nice Euro blonde (possibly Whigfield's niece) had exchanged smiles with me as a result, the sun was shining, and the pub didn't open til noon and it was only 11:20am.  Shame the six cars behind looked angrily at me, thinking I'd made some late decision to hop off.  If only they knew.

After a fairly fraught road walk to Hambleden, I was chased down into the village by a dog with bald ears.  "Is he yours?" says some posh lady straight out of Midsomer Murders.  "No, I hoped he was yours!"  I replied.  "I've brought him a biscuit" she replies randomly, chucking what looked like a Bella Vita breakfast thing in his general direction.  Then a whistle from the hills, and dog bolts off like a thing possessed.

In the village, two old ladies are chatting across the road whilst gardening.  "Have you been to the new Aldi?" "No, there's an even newer Waitrose in town!"  They may have been talking about Marlow.

11:40am now and pub door open, gotta give it a try .....

There was a barmaid stood at the bar, chopping lemons.  She looked up at me expectantly. "Are you open early then?"  "NAWWWW hahaha" she replied, as if I'd asked the most ridiculous question ever.  I tell ya what luv, how about not have the door wide open then.

So I hung around on this kind of parky cricket pitch area for 20 mins, typical the heavens opened when it had been sunny only minutes before.   I even gave it the complimentary 2 minutes extra, walking in at 12:02.

1203.  Stag & Huntsman, Hambleden

There was already at least 10 people in the pub - typical!  It seemed to be part of a bigger complex and may well have been residential.  And due to the narrowness of the bar, getting served was a challenge.  Staff were ultra friendly, whilst an Eastern European girl misheard what I wanted, I just went with the ale she thought anyway (they all looked the same to me!) two other members of staff asked how I was today?  One of those where you almost say "it's okay, i've already been served" before realising they are actually just being nice.  Shocking.  I realised I was sat in amongst the 'regulars' who'd closed ranks, trying to keep their own section of the pub to themselves, away from tourist chit chat.  I was included in a conversation about getting a barbecue imported from Spain for £35 and tried to look impressed.  Then the ringleader told me my ale looked cloudy.  He was right but it tasted fine, later on it didn't!  I really must be more discerning in this situation.  A friendly young wedding Phil Mitchell and wife (from Essex) appeared from behind the curtain, and joined the local chat.  He ascertained the locals love Hambleden, but hate the constant changes to this pub!  Phil then told a pointless tale about his daughter struggling to get her passport renewed after a DX delivery mix up.  Hats off to him for having the gall to tell a room of locals a story so dull.  The two later arrival locals were amusing, 'Brett' and an old man with a neckerchief.  He came in to talk about his recent health problems but was told he was looking bronzed and well.  "Must be all the blood transfusions" he concluded.  I randomly said "sex, drugs and rock n roll" (they'd been talking Mick Jagger's longevity) but my contributions were limited.  The ringleader told a story about how he'd been chatting to a "delicious Swedish girl" at a party in the 80's, but she stole his unique 'Rush' lighter.  I'd put my GBG on the table to see if it generated any conversation, it didn't.  Time to leave.

Ringleader thinks "what's my next anecdote going to be?"

My murky beer, close up view.  Awful glass too.
I walked back to the bus stop, and after a six minute delay and argument about ticket validity (I really wasn't having good bus experiences today), I found myself back in Marlow from where I'd arrived early on.

The town felt like it was grabbing you by the lapels and pleading "I'm posh, honestly, you HAVE to believe me!!" with an array of flimsy high street eateries, boutiques, bars and restaurants and shoppers who've forgotten how to smile cos they know in their heart of hearts, the Marlow dream they were sold 30 years ago was built on wafer thin promises.  It made Wokingham look like Rochdale.  And you can't say any fairer than that.

Luckily, looks like I was off to the realest place in town!

1204.  Royal British Legion, Marlow

Apologies for lack of outdoor shot, phone died on my at the vital moment.  So, a GBG Club.  It's been a while, always a bit of a hornet's nest to be honest, knowing how they'll react, so after getting little change out of the two 'practical jokers' (Simon and a postman) smoking outside, I walked in where the barman and two old blokes were sat.  "Am I okay to come in for a drink?" "CAMRA are ya?" "Yeh, do you wanna see my card?" "Naaaah."  Nice and relaxed then, so I drank a pint of 'Slapstick' that the locals in Hambleden had been raving about.  It was okay.  Much better quality.  I got chatting to one of the old chaps, a scousers with a hearing aid and a hatred of most things.  He liked York, which was good, but laughed when I said I grew up in Saffron Walden (we'd been talking about not losing native accents, not that I speak Essex, just not very Yorkshire, he'd been in Marlow 40 years).  First person I've met who said Saffron Walden was shit, he also said L**ds was a shithole, Hull old town was nice but most of it was shit, he rolled his eyes when I said I worked in a bank, oh and he really likes Reading, unless you have to pay for a coffee in a shopping centre,  hmmmm.  He wanted to give me a guided tour, but as he had a scooter, he just commentated whilst I walked around the room admiring the medals, gun collection etc.  Really good place.  Not much else to say, but I was impressed with this little club.  Our scouse friend was a bit concerned Simon and the postman would hide his scooter again like they did last week, but when I left, it was still in it's rightful place!

Boring BRAPA Stat of the Day .... This was my 46th pub tick of the month, a new BRAPA record.  It also means I only have 6 pub ticks left in Bucks.  But will the 2018 GBG ruin all that?  Last year, I'd done 10 Bucks pubs before the GBG came out, it went all the way down to 4.  

That was all I could do in Buckinghamshire today, and probably, until I have the 2018 GBG, depending when it comes through the post this year (I'm back in Bucks on 2nd Sept so it's touch & go) so it was time to get back into London and get some 'ticking' done before the 18:30 train back.

I had the inevitable change at Maidenhead, where I'm still waiting for the town to open their debut micropub 'The Maidenhead Mutant' (a tribute the the locals) and then crossed London from Paddington to Moorgate cos i don't like getting onto the Northern Line at Kings Cross.  One stop took me to Old Street, where suddenly I was hit by a young, cool, hipstery vibe quite different from South Bucks I can tell ya!

Once, I got my bearings in the now incessant rain, I found the pub easily looking very nice ....

1205.  Old Fountain, Old Street

I'd wanted to come here for a while as I keep seeing it in the GBG, and built up this image in my head of it being some rare untouched London boozer full of straggly old blokes and crones straight off skid row.  Sadly not, but good news was the real ales appeared straight in front of me at the lower bar.  But why wasn't the beardo barman not looking up from his modern day cash register?  Well, because it wasn't the handpumps, just the pub's unique 'blackboard' style way of showing what was on.  Utterly confusing, and a bit annoying.  Luckily, a nervy Andrex puppy version of Cesc Fabregas and spied me, and called me to the top.  One of those young men who set you on edge, a bit all over the place.  Trying to do too much at once.  In contrast, his colleagues did nothing and stared dead eyed, through their long curly locks / beards.  The main feature of the pub seemed to be a few illuminated fish tanks being passed off as an aquarium.  The majority of the punters were watching the fish silently, like you might watch a football match, not sure what they thought the fish were going to do but the sense of anticipation was very real.  Oh, and not much else happened as I sat under some stained glass windows imagining this pub 100 years ago!

Most dishonest way of asking for tips ever!

The big match is on!

Nervy Cesc tries to get young Billy Joel/Stephen Mangan to do something.

It's half time, time to look away from the 'aquarium'.

I'd noticed on my GBG App that a pub was only 0.4 miles away, AND in the right direction for walking back towards Kings Cross.  Thing was, it was classed under North London so I'd not really thought about it.  Glad I did .....

This would be Pub of the Day, hooray!
1206.  Wenlock Arms, Hoxton

And the lack of any expectations was a good thing.  I guess you could say the "exciting for my blog" bit all happened in the first 5 minutes at the bar.  But firstly, the key to this pub was not being too central as to be full of passing trade, tourists etc.  I've often commented on what lovely buildings many London pubs are, only to be ruined by a hectic atmosphere, oh and shit beer!  But this was calm with nice beer but as I stood at the corner of the bar, the only customer wanting to be served I may add, that old affliction of "invisibility" struck, and a loud cockney Frankie Boyle in a huge leary group of about ten swivelled round on his chair, reached a long arm up to the bar, and ordered a round that just went on and on and on.  You know the sort, "ohhh mate, I'll 'ave 4 red wines too for the layydeez .... ooh yeh, what crisps do you have, errrm errrm two salt n vinegar, two cheese n onion, errrr did you say prawn cocktail, oooh hang on, what's that Jools, you want a pickled egg but only if it comes in a Fullers bun case on a bed of rocket leaves?"  Okay, I exaggerate the last bit, but you get the gist.  Annoying twat.  Anyway, a man at the bar could see my pain, and moved a stool slightly to quote him "part the waves" to help me get served.  A nice gesture but thought he looked a bit "fruity" so I avoided eye contact, but then a tall leggy blonde appeared from the bogs and they left together with the words "are we off then hun?"  So I got that wrong.  But I sat down with my pint in peace, soaked up the special chilled out afternoon atmosphere, a few odd characters like sockless Beethoven appeared but this is North London after all so even the old dudes are hipsters aren't they?  Top pub.

Finally sat down with pint, notice white shirted sitting down round buyer.

A nice entrance mosaic doormat thing

Hipster Beethoven and a couple of other locals
I had a feeling my last pub(s) might be a bit less interesting having read the GBG description (always a mistake) so I spiced it up by wondering if I could actually squeeze two in between here and Kings Cross and still get the 18:30?   Not long before I arrived at the next one .....

1207.  Brewhouse & Kitchen, Angel

I don't know why I was surprised to see their own ales on, after all it did say "Brewhouse" but I just find words meaningless now in pub titles.  After all, as for the "kitchen" bit, I didn't see one old housewife bleaching the floor, washing the dishes or chopping veg for a stew.  It was more like a gaudy school canteen with some failed attempts at mood lighting.  Barmaid's were of the P.I.S.S. variety (I don't think my bright green rain mack was acceptable to the pub ethos), plenty of Robert Palmer backing dancer about them, lots of pouting, side glances and unnecessary swishing of hair and hips (not that I was captivated by them or anything).  In fact, the whole female to male ratio was an eye opener, but when I wondered why my posing table had such a surprisingly calm atmosphere around,  I realised I was next to a large group of deaf Greek hipsters, frantically signing to each other!  A middle aged woman behind me was finding her man friend far more amusing than should've been the case, if her laugh wasn't bad enough, she CLAPPED when she found something really funny.  Utterly hideous.  She reminded me of a seal.  If seals were dickheads.  Awkward moment in loo as I made eye contact with a man of impressive sculptured facial hair, he said "hi" and then held the door open for me even when I had barely got to handwashing stage, never mind bloody drying them! I told him not to bother.  Anyway, no time to loiter, the sixth pub was still on - just!  

This Black IPA was as good as any pint as I had all day

My view from probably Table 13.

Another view, excuse the slight thumb

The distant "kitchen".
Anyway, I was glad to get that one done because it is the "first" London pub listed in the GBG 2017 and I like the order.  Last pub was again classed under North London, and despite crossing a road I didn't need to, I was in enough time to have 27.5 minutes there and still get back to KX in time for the 18:30.  Phew, I'll thank that Black IPA for being very drinkable. 

1208.  Craft Beer Co, Pentonville

I've been to Craft Beer Co pubs in Farringdon and Brighton before now, and really enjoyed them both, but this one left me a bit uninspired by comparison.  It didn't help that when I got to the bar, I realised they were having a "takeover" (annoying trendy pub thing where they get lots of ales on from a brewery, usually as trendy as themselves so they can all wallow in smug satisfaction together).  Sadly for me, the brewery in question was Bad Seed - a good if slightly trendy brewery from Malton near York, a bit like Brass Castle's more frumpy sister who still gets her fair share of cock.  Anyway.  One sip of my ale and I noticed it was approaching full-on vinegar, and after my ineptitude in Hambleden, I was determined to call it out early.  Barman pulls himself some.  Takes a sip.  Looks confused.  Looks at me like I've got two heads.  Frowns.  Takes another sip.  Jeez, this was nerve-wracking (plus I had limited time in here as it was!)  Asks his colleague for a second opinion.  Colleague takes one sniff and goes "ugh, definitely on the turn!" Scary how some staff can't tell.  Perhaps he's not an ale drinker.  But shouldn't he know anyway?  Excitement over, I tried to find a seat in the depths of this limited establishment.  All I found was a huge reserved area "Sarah - 6pm", it was approaching 6 so I left.  On my way out of the room, a floppy haired lad from a large group opposite said "haha but imagine if he had been Sarah, how funny that'd have been!"  Yes it would.  London humour?  Amazing.    I had to sit at the piano, the only seat in the house.  At least third time this has happened in BRAPA history!  It was locked so I couldn't play the pub my three stock tunes - jingle bells, tuna fish and 'there was an old man with a beard', the latter of which i could've changed to "young man with a beard" to make it 21st century relevant.  

Chucklehead is OFF!

I got the 18:30 without much a fuss, a 34 minute delay didn't help but ker-chinggggg, compensation time.  At the York end, I popped into York Tap where I had a very pleasant Oakham Inferno and nobody weird tried to talk to me, which was weird in itself for York Tap on a Saturday night.  Great day out, and the record breaking month of July 2017 continues apace.

See you Tuesday night for fun after work frolics from somewhere in the "North West".



Sunday, 23 July 2017

BRAPA Special - Drawing a Blank in Great Yarmouth

The family, that is myself, Mother BRAPA, Daddy Chauffeur BRAPA and even Sister BRAPA (not a nun) travelled down to Great Yarmouth for Uncle Roger's funeral on Tuesday evening, arriving at 9:30pm.

Of course, I'd researched late night BRAPA potential with three pubs in the GBG.  I must admit that in Good Beer Guide terms, Norfolk is one of the things beginning with an N which I give zero shits about, like Northamptonshire, Northumberland and Nottinghamshire.  Ask me again in 2029.

Nevertheless, a chance to go to the appropriately named Tombstone Saloon for last orders/rites sounded almost perfect, until Mother BRAPA looked up at me with sad eyes and said "you won't go off late night gallivanting on your own, you WILL stay and have a drink with us won't you?"  How could I say no?

After all, perhaps the pub built onto our Premier Inn would be pre-emptive?  We checked in, Sister BRAPA dawdled, but we were in by 10pm after the obligatory photo op .....

Brewers Fayre, Great Yarmouth

So we wandered in to the sad sight of both handpumps turned around.  I'd researched it, and it was supposed to be Sharp's Doom Bar or Adnams Southwold, better than a kick in the balls I thought, (probably).  In the absence of ale, Sister BRAPA made the wise call to survey the fridge for bottles but the personable young yokel behind the bar told us the fridge was broken so everything was warm.  I still went for a child sized can of Dead Pony Club made with loving care by those paragons of virtue up at Brewdog.  Dad hit the San Miguel like an England World Cup fan abroad, after asking me which lager I thought would be best out of this and Becks Vier, and Sister and Mother BRAPA gave up all together and smashed the wine like Keith Floyd on holiday.  We ordered 4 bowls of chips and before we'd barely sat on the 'menu-stacked' corner table, they were with us!  Frozen oven chips probably out of the microwave, what a delight!  Possibly the worst bowl of chips all of us had had.  I compared one limp chip in the bottom to a foetus, Sister BRAPA couldn't see it, lacking my imagination!  Mother BRAPA found two hairs in her chips, how curly they were she didn't say.  However much vinegar I soaked them in, they remained dry.  Someone popped a balloon and found it hilarious, this was the tail-end of a birthday party and a load of hammered middle aged women went up for last orders.  I'd experimented with 'arf a Guinness but was now on the San Miguel with Dad.  We convinced ourselves it had a "very real" taste, almost like an ale.  I think we were comforting ourselves.  Chatting went well, it had raced on to 11:30pm and any chances of getting last orders in at either of the alleged 'midnight GBG closers' had passed.  Not that I really believed they'd have rung last orders as late as 11:40pm on a Tuesday.  We were asked to leave, almost politely, and the morning breakfast tables were being set up - which I ended up enjoying a lot more than this experience, mainly due to some surprisingly "on form" black pudding.

Worst chips ever!

Dad necking another one.  Round 3 came in a Becks Vier glass to spice it up.

I thought it said "refreshing bottoms" at first, it kind of does!  Pass me the wet wipes.

So, a bit of a pointless review you may think in BRAPA terms, but I think it is worthwhile every so often to remember that there are terrible pubs out there, and when you use the GBG, you start to take quality for granted and it was a good reminder that you (I) shouldn't.  So there!

The day after was the funeral then, a strange mish-mash of a ceremony with Dad's amusing speech and the funky disco music when the coffin disappeared being the highlights.  Oh, and meeting our two long lost cousins Robert & Edward - both live in East Yorkshire, both were semi-impressed with BRAPA, Edward loves ale and especially the Transpennine Crawl and works in a bank like me,   Robert hates real ale and drinks gin and is some kind of arms dealer.  Fascinating times.

The "after party" was at the Imperial Hotel, I spied Greene King IPA a bit too late, a weird American 'crafty keggy' font, I wanted fresh orange juice, but Sister BRAPA swapped it for her Pimms which she didn't like.  I failed to harpoon the strawberry in the bottom, but I nibbled two sausage rolls, good quality.

We passed some Norfolk villages on the way back that have BRAPA pubs - this was painful for me, but back in York for evening and a celebratory bottled ale (Old Hoppy Hen) to toast the Uncle properly.


Friday, 21 July 2017

BRAPA - Dawdling in Audlem

I was STILL all "beered out" as I took the train over them dark hills to the west of lovely superior Yorkshire.

And now I've lost half my readership, we'll continue and all felt a bit like a replication of Aston/Nantwich/Crewe day early on, what with changes at Manchester Piccadilly and Crewe, and the little one carriage train south, minus the lovely Justyna and Lucy of course (oh, and the even lovelier Tom obviously!)

Whitchurch isn't in Cheshire, which may not be "revelation of the year" to those of you with UK geographical knowledge, but it seemed a sensible base as I could get a 15-20 minute bus ride to Audlem.

I walked through Whitchurch, a friendly place with only that slight "almost Welsh" feel, I guess you'd say the locals had 5.5 fingers on each hand.  The "bus station" was actually part of Tesco car park, so when my bus didn't show, paranoia kicked in and I started searching for actual "bus stations" but I was in the right place, and me and one old lady who appeared from nowhere with an air of the "what of it" hopped aboard.

Confusingly, we passed a Combermere Arms but I hung on til we reached Audlem Square, and I saw the pub across the road .....

Looks promising .....

Shall we go in?  Yes!
1199.  Lord Combermere, Audlem

But perhaps a bit of a "wolf in sheep's clothing" of a pub, for when I went in, I was immediately hit with modernity, and worse, a woman smiling up at me from a low leather sofa flanked by two kids and a dog (note I'm being open minded and not declaring them twilds or twogs yet).  Beyond the bar, I heard a Mum placating a definite Twild (waah waah waah), by asking if his toy was a friendly frog.  No one ever answered this conundrum.  A panicky old woman's husband materialised from the shiny wood panelled floor and was told "I got you a coke, did i do the right thing??"  He didn't reply either.  I gave a nice shoulderless brunette barmaid the exact change, did this make me more attractive to her?  Another unanswered question.    If this was becoming a theme of the pub, so was antiques.  Bargain Hunt was on above me, and the pub was hosting it's own version of Antiques Roadshow.  A cynic might say they are auctioning off all the proper pub furniture and memorabilia now it has gone down the 'half trendy diners' route, but TBH I didn't have the energy to dislike this place.  But the signs were there, when smiley woman left, a barmaid was out within seconds disinfecting the table.  I hate Wetherspoons sticky crumb tables, but there ARE limits.  The staff were nice though, as were the few old men, one of whom apologised for having Shropshire Gold instead of the "exciting guest" (which I wasn't massively enjoying as it tasted like Toilet Duck.  Pine fresh).   The biggest dog EVER walked in, you could feel it breathing from across the pub - but am not sure the barmaid (who boasted she was off to Leamington Spa shortly, impressing nobody) calling it "a beast" was a compliment or not.  Okay pub all in all, but expected just a little bit more.

When a beer says "try me", you probably shouldn't.

Huge lager fonts to dull right hand side, ales in vibrant left.  Good!
After a bit of confusion about where the bus would actually stop to take me back (the local bike shop weren't much help), it did what I wanted it to do and soon we were chugging back to Whitchurch with some great effort.  I was a bit torn, could I be arsed doing Whitchurch.  Three easy pubs but wasn't in the mood, so decided I'd leave it to fate and see if anyone "alighted" at the station.

They didn't.  So I was soon back at Tesco and took this as I sign to sample at least one pub.

GBG Boring Stat of the day ..... This would prove to be my first Shropshire 'tick' since I watched a World Cup game with some mad locals in Shrewsbury's excellent Woodman pub over 3 years ago - I actually had a few pints and convinced myself the ghost of the landlady who died in a 1923 fire and haunts the pub was sat right beside me.  The pub is still in GBG today so was a good tick to get.

"Enter as strangers, leave as friends"

Can see the pub.

I do on a Tuesday, but not always a pint of Joules!
1200.  Old Town Hall Vaults, Whitchurch

"This was more like it, nice way to bring up a mini-landmark"  I thought as I ambled in slowly admiring the typical Joule's stained glass - though I think the Glebe in Stoke and the Cross Keys in Chester (where I fell asleep, in my pint of Slumbering Monk no less) are my only previous experiences of the 'chain'.  I'd thought their "enter as strangers, leave as friends" strapline was a bit risky (don't make promises you can't keep) but almost immediately, a chirpy grey haired and grey skinned old local was asking me BRAPA related questions and the personable young bar lad (who looked like every guy off Emmerdale and Coronation St in a blender) was joining in, and true, I was making friends!   The pub had outdoor loos, another sure-fire sign of quality, but I didn't wanna push my luck, so sat in the front bar, smiling briefly at the wife of 'knee support Brian Butterfield'.  A dog jumped up at me like a little mad bastard, but I even liked that, and didn't whisper twog in it's ear once.  I stared around wide-eyed like a proper pub tourist, but drama came in proper human form when a nice young barmaid with an element of Willow from Neighbours (but older obvs), was made to go out and buy some chips.  5 mins later, she returned, Iceland didn't have any (what?!) so she went to Tesco.    15 mins later, she came back traumatised, she'd got some, but the shopping bag burst and the chips went right through them.  Poor girl was having a bad time of it, and I went before the inevitable tears followed..... perhaps.  Lovely pub.

The pub looking nice

Their own Green Monkey lager sign, in the loo where it belongs, probably.

Knee Support BB and wife chatting the chit.

Despite this great experience, it didn't push me to do the other two, and there was a direct train to Manc shortly so I walked up the road, and got it.  It stopped at Wilmslow where I needed two ticks, "hmmm sounds like a proper traditional old Cheshire town" I thought, uh oh!

1201. Old Dancer, Wilmslow

A little taste of Chorlton-cum-Hardy had arrived in Wilmslow, even down to posers sitting outside despite the chilly wind and light rain.  "We're having fun out here, honest!"  they shivered, praying the staff would bring them blankets.  Inside was buggy heaven (if you like babies, young mothers and buggies that is), their wideness not designed for a small continental style bar like this (the buggies, not the mothers!)   I couldn't see a staff member serving, but two black shirted dim wits who were members of staff but not "on duty" due to shovelling food into their faces, stared at me, but didn't ask anyone to serve me.  Poor show.  I took my hopelessly appropriate Tiny Rebel ale (v.good quality btw) to a table between twild groups under a mural of "Old Dancers".  The Clash played to help my mood, then Morrissey (which predictive text changes to "mortuary" on my phone) seemed more in-keeping with the atmos.   When "Enjoy Yourself" came on, I knew the playlist was taking the piss.  At least female black shirt dimwit finished her food and smiled and said "hi", cos no one else did.   The lazy eyed blonde Keeley Donovan did a job, but lacked charisma.  A Mum thanked me as I moved my legs, before a buggy could sever them clean off.  The toilets were confusing called the Urinoirs, which may be french for "Black Piss", which you may get if you have a 12 hr sesh in here.

Old Dancers

Background Mum and ginger twild compliment the BRAPA scene very nicely

A few mins walk down the road, I found the other Wilmslow pub and as soon as I saw the italic text looming on the horizon, I had a feeling I'd be thinking "that Old Dancer wasn't such a bad place really" in a few minutes time ......

1202.  Coach & Four, Wilmslow

So, here's a question, in pub-terms, what is more depressing than an Ember Inn?  I'll tell you, a pub that isn't an Ember Inn but ticks so many boxes on the Ember bingo card, that it may as well be.  Snooty middle class diners with superiority complex?  Check.  Piles of logs serving no purpose?  Check!  Young families studying menus bigger than their children?  Check.  Cluttered sticky table? Check!  Oh well, a few highlights I can report.  I couldn't really pronounce my ale - "Willamette Pale" or something, so made a joke of it and barman found it hilarious!!  I wasn't even trying.  What a dude.  Secondly, I was gobsmacked at the bar to see the mystery beer (Solstice Amber) I had in Truro's Rising Sun here too.  What?  I'd presumed it was a Cornish microbrewery ale.  But a closer look at the pumpclip told me it was brewed in Manchester's "Media City".  I figured out it was a HYDES beer all along, confirmed literally minutes later by someone on my Twitter!  So the whole "14 consecutive Cornish ales" etc had all been a lie!  That then led me to the question, "was this a Hydes pub?"  Surely not.  Not after Fletcher Moss in Didsbury.  It can't be.  It even made Q in Stalybridge look like the Anchor Anchor did this boring hell-hole.  I faced an old couple doing the crossword together which was quite sweet and lightened my mood as I failed to get told off for using the disabled bogs despite my best effort.  The old gent wore full maroon, which I very approve of.  I guess you could call it a "Somerset CCC Playsuit".  Lovely effort.  A good last thing to witness before I left.

Pirate scarecrow thing fails to make this pub interesting

Proof of the Truro ale (left) back again, my 'amusing' Williamette on the right.

Mr Somerset Playsuit doing the crossword.
Back on the train to Manc, of course I could've got off at Stockport but it'd be wrong to go to such a good ale town (wouldn't it Mudgie?) if I wasn't feeling on top pub drinking form?

So I got a huge coffee, and was on the train back to York by 6pm.  I felt like I was kind of rebelling.  Against who exactly, I don't know, but I could hear Tom's voice in my head (never a good sign) saying "Si, you could easily have whipped in six pubs today, I'm very disappointed".  And that pleased me.  Liberating, I don't have to push myself every bloody time.  Stupid BRAPA.

So, I need a break and I'll get a break, I thought last Saturday.  Uncle Roger funeral midweek so would there be chance for any Great Yarmouth ticking?  Stay tuned.  And if not, I'll be back to review Saturday 22nd trip to Buckinghamshire, probably my last time there before the 2018 GBG comes out.

Have a good un,