Monday, 19 January 2015

BRAPA : the archives (91-100)

Ten more pubs currently in the GBG that I visited before BRAPA became a "thing":

91.  VOLUNTEER ARMS, York - Before it's takeover by the same people who own the Swan and Slip Inn about three years ago, I'd been here 2 or 3 times but probably not until about 2006 when dice games such as "Crawl of Neglect" and "ACDC" started to explore York's less popular (less good) pubs.  I remember JW2 and myself being impressed by this carpetted friendly local with lots of characters and jolly staff.  However, it had changed for the worse by our second visit, more bare boarded and plasma screens showing aggresive hip-hop music vidoes, the beer range so bland I even went for a pint of Strongbow!  There were then tales of it trying to reinvent itself as a great foody pub with the youngest landlord in the country or something, but this never really worked and nowadays, we have the superb pub we know today, 'Thriller in Vanilla Porter' is reason enough to go although I lost a very nice hat in here once and was not sure the staff were being entirely honest when I went back to ask the next day, a bit shifty (or just my imagination?)

92.  YORK TAP, York - We are so lucky in York.  Not only does it boast a brilliant range of central pubs, but this relative newbie on the station means commuters no longer have to go to Coopers (sorry, the Duke of York) or traipse to Maltings or Brigantes.  I've bumped into loads of people I know in here who've then gone on to miss their train, or just been having such a good time they've not bothered trying.  There are about 20 ales on, always interesting breweries, never had a badly kept one yet, and the building itself is a superb recreation of the former station tea rooms with mosaic floors, stained glass ceiling, very ornate.  It can get a bit messy at times like Saturday evenings, the toilets are never that clean(!) and ceiling height can create quite a tinny raucous noise meaning hubbub isn't always great.  These are only minor quibbles though, Jig and me had a post-Cambridge session in here on a Sunday afternoon in September which really epitomised it's brilliance, whilst I often pop in post-BRAPA Saturday's if I've not overdone it (and sometimes when I have).  My earliest memories are the old routine of meeting Ric here for a pint and the FA Cup draw so I reckon my first time here was about 6th Dec 2011 or whenever the third round draw was that season - I sat in one of the window booths next to a Christmas tree.

Krzb, Lisa and Lu unwind after the punk festival train journey home in York Tap, Aug 2012

93.  OLD VIC, Preston - As previously mentioned, Preston away has never yielded a proper, good pre-match drinking session but had it not been for Dad's delayed train (twice this has happened to him, travelling separately from me for some reason!), this could have been the best.  As it was, Ric asked me to meet him in this pub, unknown to me, near the train station.  1/11/05 was the date of this miserable 3-0 reversal, but the pub was a hive of activity with diners, pool players, people having after-work drinks and quite a nice dark traditional place it was, with a very good range of ales (7 according to the GBG now).  Dad did join us but I think there was a bit of trouble getting in touch with him, were we eating, should we get on the pool table etc so it wasn't very relaxed.  I think it was here that a group of dining students slagged off the motormouth girl of the group when she went to the loo, saying her accent sounded like the girl in that "daddy versus chips" advert of yesteryear.  

94.  PUB, Leicester - Hmmm, one of those pubs which should be excellent but somehow falls a little short.  We've never settled into a pre-match routine in the unfriendliest city in the world, but it has loads of pubs with great reputations, and "Uncle" Richard was proud to take us here on 16th Oct 2010.  What annoyed me was (a) it's lazy name (b) their boasts about a fantastic range of 14 ales, the best in Leciester, which as soon as it started to fill up with football supporters, they couldn't maintain and as the ales dropped like ninepins, none were replaced on the basis "they had plenty anyway" but as we popped in post-match, they farcically had changed one and had a grand total of three ales still on!  I'd said something to a barmaid about this jokily pre-match and it didn't go down well!  Oh, and (c) an annoying man saying he was related to ex-Hull City player Gerry Summers, tried to impress Dad, annoyed us all.  It wasn't comfy either, just a bare boarded nicely polished place, tricky on a cold day with cold air blasting through as someone left a door open!

95.  TAP & MALLET, Loughborough - The final pub of the A-Z on 15/3/14.  Yes, it made sense for me n Krzb to finish here as it was nearest the station and after Organ Grinder, our 2nd fave pub of the day though it got off to an inauspicious start as I had to go back to McDonald's where I'd left my bag (not for the first time, but hopefully the last).  Silly Simon.  The pub had a nice comfortable, easy relaxed low key atmosphere, almost like that of some estate pubs. Krzb had got me an Abbeydale Moonshine, and it was as perfect as this beer should be as we sat on comfy bench seating facing the front bar.  Interesting fact, on Untappd I am the pubs second loyalist drinker with my one check in! So obviously not a pub for the trendy young folk.  Good. 

"Oooh hang on, where's mi bag?" was my thought seconds after taking this photo

96. MALT SHOVEL, Scunthorpe - If you hear about a stabbing, shooting or rape in North Lincolnshire, the odds are that (a) it'll be in Scunny and (b) that it can be narrowed down to Ashby High Street and surely enough, something kicked off (shooting I think) just before we (Dad and myself) arrived here on 15th Feb 2003, took us a while to find and I remember feeling quite nervous as we walked up and down the street!  I remember the date because I had a very nice local ale with a Valentine's Day theme.  The pub was packed with pensioners having their lunch and we struggled to get seated, but the staff were helpful under the circumstances.  By 2pm and our final pint before the thrilling 3-1 defeat, the pub was empty and we couldn't get over the clearance.  It's as if Dignitas had threatened to leave Switzerland and move their HQ to Ashby High St.  A good pub though, to this day have still not done much better in Scunny than this day.

97.  DOG & DUCK, Soho, London - Friday 8th October 2010 and I'd travelled down to London with Jig to watch 'Sublime with Rome' (two thirds of the original band) play at Shepherd's Bush Empire.  Obviously, it'd be up to me to come up with some pre-gig pub agenda, and I chose Soho because there were about six Soho guide pubs at that time (only three now) and I'd not been able to persuade the Welly gang that'd it'd make a good pre-London match crawl, despite two years of trying.  We alighted at Tottenham Court Rd for this, our second pub of the day and the most iconic with it's small but orante interior, famous throughout the world with mosaics of dogs and ducks,  I wanted to appreciate it but it was so packed, we joined the hoards drinking on the busy streets outside, as businessmen and joggers were blocked off by us all.  Were we allowed to be out here?  Who cares, it was a bit of a chaotic free for all but felt very London.  I remember having a Scottish ale that was strong but light n hoppy, not sure how I remember, as I cannot remember the names of any of the pubs we visited after this one!  

98.  PEMBURY TAVERN, Hackney - 27th Sept 2008 is a big date in the minds of a lot of Hull City fans as we won away at Arsenal, but give me Yeovil or the Swansea 3-2 any day.  Being a 5:30 kick off, we could really relax and enjoy ourselves in our designated Welly meet-up pub, a big one roomed affair, light and airy but despite the bare-boarded feel, had some degree of comfort.  I have to admit though, I wasn't overly impressed compared with some members of our gang.  This is a Milton pub and at the time, I felt the ales were all a bit thin, samey and southern and it's only been brilliant 2014 experiences in Cambridge and Bradford that have turned me back onto Milton brewery.  The pub also had a bit of a shabby chic pretentious feel, delicate eastern european barmaids serving overpriced burgers, neither Dad or me were impressed with ours, I had a wild boar burger.  Similarly, they had all these obscure card and board games with ridiculous rules that no-one could fathom out.  It was a nice experience but I wasn't too upset when tube problems stopped us getting back here pre-Spurs a week later.

99.  DRUM, Leyton - A huge pub called the Coach & Horses (non-guide) had been our pub of choice for our pre GBG trips to one of our most frequently visited away grounds, Brisbane Road.  Pre-ale, this place had everything you would want in a pub (apart from maybe quality real ale) but as soon as we got into the guide, we decided to expand our horizons.  So when Dad dodged his anniversary celebrations on Tuesday 16th Sept 2003, we sat outside on a sunny evening at this small 'Spoons house, we have had ordered food but my main memory is two dreadlocked locals smoking cannabis unashamedly near the bins just a few yards away from us!  This was around the time we discovered 'King William IV' as a great pub that then went a bit downhill, then uphill, the downhill(!) so we may have moved on to here afterwards. 

100.   PARCEL YARD, King's Cross - It seems fitting that the hundredth archive pub should be one I'm very familiar with.  I'd call it a marmite pub, you either love it or hate it - I've switched between both extremes over the last few years but you can't deny it serves a very good purpose, real ale in a nice building in a station you are often stuck in during your travels.  The prices are ridiculous, but the staff are always good, the ale quality very variable, just when you think you are stuck with the Fullers range, a nice guest ale from the North might pop up, and away from the main bar, there are some truly magnificent side room I've whiled away many an hour in.  It's also easy to use the loos without being made to feel guilty for not buying a drink, such is their location.  It opened mid March 2012 I think so am wondering if below photo, taken after a 2-0 defeat at Millwall, was my first visit here?  Unless we went really early on after the 17/3/12 bore draw at Palace on 'yellow coat' day but I doubt it.  

Me in Parcel Yard, 7/4/12

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