Wednesday, 18 June 2014

BRAPA - burning the candle at both ends

I'm halfway through a working week of Detox, meaning no midweek WY BRAPA, no dice nights and no cheeky World Cup bottles, even when England are playing.  It all came about after my weekend double header left me feeling, well, less than healthy come Monday morning.

Still, on the plus side, 14 (count 'em) pub ticks including last weeks midweek event.  That started in a Tuesday evening rainstorm in Baildon, where I visited the Junction (432), one of best pubs I could hope to visit with their own beer brewed on site, soured only slightly by barman short changing which I couldn't be sure was 100% honest.  I then walked into Shipley where I drank a can of craft ale (kill me!) in Sir Norman Rae (433) Wetherspoons - been in better and worse ones - before finishing at the very no nonsense Ring o'Bells (434) which was local, uncomplicated, good but lacking star quality.

So, onto Saturday and I was more sad for my travelling companion John Watson II that back in his homeland, this return to Durham didn't really garner great beer range or particularly outstanding boozers.  A nice Wetherspoons brekkie and best range of the day was found at the Waterhouse (435) but a noisy fan and lively atmosphere meant it was never going to be a classic.  A bus to Witton Gilbert soon found as at the Travellers Arms (436), a real disappointment as one of only 3 boring ales went off and my Theakstons was bland as predicted.  The pub had some decent features but wasn't great.  Still in Witton Gilbert, the Glendenning Arms was a bit of an improvement (pub 437), it felt nicer and the old Vaux handpumps were a good touch but with the locals all focused on the horse racing and another disappointing range, you couldn't help but feel Durham villages like this are a bit out of touch.  We were soon back in Durham via a quick bus journey at the John Duck (438).  Now this used to be O'Neil's but my John (Watson, not Duck) was pleased with the improvement.  It felt a bit like an upmarket gig venue in places but had a nice feel around the bar even if we did opt to sit outside.  Some good beers too made it one of the highlights of the day.  My final pub tick was the Durham Rugby Club (439) and I was sure John would be pleasantly surprised at the improvement since he last went over 15 years ago.  Sadly, it was exactly as he remembered with well kept Tim Taylor Landlord and Black Sheep only.  Quality is more important than quantity and it was a good pint, great comfort, but felt very much like a sports club bar!  We ended in Half Moon, one of several Durham pubs I'd already 'ticked' off years ago and this reminded me what great pubs there are in Durham.

I'd barely had time to rest, watch England lose, and improbably stay up for Ivory Coast v Japan which finished 4am, before I was in West Riding Refreshment Rooms, Dewsbury for my first weekend West Yorkshire BRAPA jaunt with Jason and Richard from work.  What a cracker the WRRR is, shame it wasn't a pub tick but i can understand the "i missed the" slogan and sympathise with all who have!  A short taxi ride later, we were at Leggers (440) in what must be "pretty Dewsbury", next to a canal and it was a lovely almost 'lodge' like building that felt enough like a pub and had a great Kelham Island on.  It also had an immaculate pool table, which are normally only found in dives in my experience (such a snob!)  Another taxi followed and today taught me how easy and useful taxis can be for BRAPA.  We were in Liversedge, a small place but has 3 pubs in the guide so I was quids in.  Firstly, Shears (441) the furthest up the hill and not on top form as there was a christening do happening.  Still, I got a Moorhouses Luddites brewed specially for the pub due to previous Luddite connections and it was good, as were the friendly staff and clientele. Black Bull (442) was next and this stood out to me and Jason as pub of the day.  A refurbished Ossett house, but with more pub hubbub than the likes of York and Leeds new Hop pubs.  Great beers went without saying.  Cracking place I'd recommend to anyone.  New Inn (443) is a former champion West Yorkshire pub and was good apart from their annoying foody policy.  They had locally brewed ales and I had the World Cup themed "Hand of Bob", very nice.  I was getting a bit worse for wear by now but not enough to realise what a great proper pub the Horse and Jockey (444) was.  Great jukebox, great hubbub, great beer, you couldn't ask for more, even bumped into Sarah from work's parents.  The final pub was Taproom in Batley (445) where Richard met his returning Batley Rugby League fans who'd won.  I felt it was a bit airy and like a Wild West saloon but I was drunk by this stage so maybe should give it the benefit of the doubt, the beer certainly wasn't a problem!

So as you can see, a productive time but at a cost to the old liver but I'm thoroughly enjoying the detox at the moment!  I'm well up for the month of June with 17 pub ticks and more to come next week.

I'm looking at the final Otley 2 for my next WY BRAPA meet one day next midweek but not Tuesday as England play in the World Cup.

The following Saturday brings a trip to Shropshire on Saturday (it was due to be Aberystwyth and Aberaeron but decided in the current climate, it was a step too far). I'm visiting Shrewsbury where I have 3 but have 5 still to do, including over 30's haunt Admiral Benbow.  Please let me in!  Maybe this could be my 450th, 10% of pubs done will be a landmark!  I'm also heading to the village of Baschurch because it is the first Shrops pub in the guide and will slow me down a bit.

Then onto July and hopefully, just hopefully, we can get cracking on the North Yorkshire trail.


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