Wednesday 17 December 2014

BRAPA - Ponte Carlo & Darrington

Planned 'post-work' Christmas drinks were cancelled late on Monday, freeing me up for some Tuesday BRAPA pub ticking, just when our West Yorkshire midweek challenge looked a write off for December.  What a bonus!

So with a bit of last minute planning, I was on the bus to Pontefract but serious delays (Christmas plus roadworks) meant it was a gruelling 90 minute journey listening to college students jabbering on.  Why didn't I get a train?  Well, I would have struggled to make the last bus connection to Darrington.  As it was, the delays meant it was impossible anyway, a bad start.

531 - BROKEN BRIDGE, Pontefract - Close to the bus station and by this time, desperate for a drink, this had to be my first choice.  'Pontefract' means broken bridge in Roman, hence the name of this Wetherspoons, unique perhaps for having a dartboard and proper 'oche' in the centre of the pub.  The depth of the building was also staggering, I didn't realise until I went in again for a second time in the night (which we'll get to later) and had a mile long walk to the loo.  I didn't order the right beer first time round, a weird Belgian affair full of lime and coriander but no disputing the quality.  Staff seemed jolly and the locals, although they had that rumbustious Cas air, lacked the same warmth and humility, though later on, I got talking to a very nice chap who loved pub trips to York with his wife!  I generally sat behind a christmas tree.  It was obviously an above average 'Spoons.

'Spoons with a dartboard?  In Ponte Carlo?  Whatever next? 
532 - SPREAD EAGLE, Darrington - So it was taxi time to make that almost impossible 2.3 mile journey to this small village and after baffling a tee-total taxi driver with my BRAPA life-plan, I was there.  The outside felt a bit like a courtyard leading to a horse stable which made sense as the ghost of a boy haunts the pub - he was shot here for horse-rustling in the 17th century and it might have been my imagination but I'm sure I could feel a presence!  Spooky.  The beer range wasn't so spectacular in this cosy carpetted traditional style pub, but the Ossett Yorkshire Gold was as high quality as you could get, probably better than most actually Ossett owned pubs which this wasn't.  The barmaid was very good and made absolutely sure my pint had settled before she'd let me walk off with it.  A young couple came in which made a change from the grizzly locals, but it was time for a taxi back to Ponte.

Woooo, spooky goings on in the dark at the Spread Eagle
And what a taxi ride it was.  Oh yes, he turned the Indian music up to max and sang along, telling me he was only moonlighting as a taxi driver but he was a proper singer - wasn't sure judging by his voice but I tipped him a quid for his efforts.

533 - ROBIN HOOD, Pontefract - In a strange location by the "notorious town end traffic lights", I wondered what traffic lights have to do to gain notoriety.  For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting much from this pub but was delighted to see a fine array of interesting guest ales, reminding me a bit of the Brown Cow in Keighley as I then went to sit in a raised upper area around the side of the bar.  My mock amazement & indecision at choosing an ale didn't go down well with a miserable barfly, but the barmaid at least humoured me.  I then learnt that Hollywood star Ben Stiller had come here for a drink, apparently because he met a girl from Harrogate, though that still doesn't explain why you'd then end up in a difficult to get to pub in Pontefract!  I wish I'd spent longer here but I downed an excellent pale called Jester by the always good Abbeydale from Sheffield.

Nice window at the Robin Hood, think traffic lights and Ben Stiller
My chance of catching the 20:20 train back to Leeds was scuppered almost immediately as I walked the wrong way, but no chance I'd have made it anyway.  With the next train 21:19, I returned to Broken Bridge for an Acorn Quercus (which was on the "coming soon" list earlier on, evidence of their quick commitment/selling out of new ales) and finally made it back, didn't get gripped by the train guard, and was in York with a Whopper Meal for 10:45pm, job done!

A nice bonus BRAPA trip in what is turning into a successful month.  But with Dad trying to hijack my 29th Dec plans by buying me a match ticket for the Leciester home game when I specifically THRICE told him not to, I'm going to have to make a decision on that soon.  


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