This was my first time in Ripon and was immediately impressed by this pretty market style town. The Cathedral was impressive in it's sturdiness, but looked a bit too new and immaculate if anything. There was also an old prison which is now a museum, and the river Skell ran through the town, to mix things up a bit.
534 - WATER RAT, Ripon - And it was along the Skell where we found our first pub, tucked away off the main drag. This had some good distinctive areas, meaning that although the majority of the pub looked a bit foody, we found a nice grotto-like cosy area (we'd be annoyingly asked if we were "dining with them today", which always makes me want to say I'm here to get pissed!) Barman was good in fairness, jolly and friendly. The pub was quite quirky with games tables for chess and stuff, a big toy hamper and very red toilets which contained an entire encyclopedic volume of books - who has a toilet session that lasts that long? The outside area looked like it would be an amazing location in the summer. Sadly, my pint was poor, very sour - it was a red one and despite no sulphur, I find it hard to believe it was supposed to taste like that. Krzb's was fine on the other hand.
|Me at a jaunty angle outside the very good Water Rat|
|"Pub of the day? What of it?" says Krzb at the One Eyed Rat|
536 - KING WILLIAM IV, Ripon - Described as a "social drinkers pub for sociable people" by the GBG, but it was hard to see how a non-local could infiltrate the very local inner ring of barman and the 5 or 6 regulars greedily surrounding the bar, watching Man City v C Palace with one eye, and Derby v Norwich with the other, in a slightly raised section which was cordoned off for a Christmas function later on. There was no disputing the architectural beauty of the pub, the original West Riding victorian windows outside, plus that general very old skool pub feel I notice a lot on my pub trips to Liverpool. The beer quality was also good, but the Whitby Abbey ale we chose was uninspiring. And I'm pretty sure they had a problem with us using our mobile phones to check-in. Yes, I believe conversation is king in a proper pub environment, but 5 quick mins of Untappd and Twitter has to be tolerated in the 21st Century, no matter how old skool you think you are!
|Me trying not to look cold outside the "Billy".|
537 - ROYAL OAK, Ripon - This time of year means pubs are always susceptible to that "raucous party season" feel, and today, it was the Royal Oak that suffered mostly. Rather than my Christmas jumper, I wish I'd had one of those "a pub is for life, not just for Christmas" t-shirts on as a gaggle of overly merry middle agers milled around. The fact that the pub was quite geared up for dining didn't help either, and we had to sit right in the middle of the main bar despite many empty tables in the back area, a pet hate of mine as I've said many times since BRAPA started. On the plus side, the beer was good with the full Tim Taylor's range plus guests available, and my Ram Tam was as good a pint as I had today. This pub could be excellent, perhaps on a wet Tuesday lunchtime in Feb!
|Krzb about to encounter a raucous hubbub at the Royal Oak|
|Horrendous Unicorn statue at this good 'Spoons|
|Me looking well oiled outside the Black Bull in Boroughbridge|
So, the BRAPA shop is closed for Christmas week and although I doubt any new ticks in Sunderland on Boxing Day (Isis and/or Kings Arms/Museum Vaults is likely), I'll be in East Yorkshire on 28th getting my first 'ticks' in this county since W M Hawkes in Hull, showing I've neglected my spiritual home for the whole of 2014.
Happy Christmas, see you soon!