Sunday, 8 March 2015

BRAPA : the archives (121-130)

Dad makes a b-line to the Bricklayer's, Putney (see pub 129)

In this latest edition of the archives (where I try to review and ascertain when I first when to current GBG entries), we have more from Greater Manchester including the city itself, before we say a final farewell to London......

121 - SPINNING MULE, Bolton - 16th May 2009 and with Dad and I arriving in Bolton early enough for a pint before we met the Welly gang at the designated Sweet Green Tavern (the least said about that one the better!), as so often is the case, it was Wetherspoons that got us out of jail.  Set back a bit in a square, it was still big enough not to miss with two levels and a large complicated front yard bit leading to the entrance.  There were a few Hull City fans already in, trying to calm their nerves before this big relegation saving clash, and I think I had a Moorhouses beer from nearby Burnley.  It was pretty standard Spoons fayre, though I looked kindly on it as I loved GCSE history due to things like Samuel Crompton (of Bolton's) cotton spinning mule.  Cos I am sad like that.

122 - VICTORIA & ALBERT, Horwich - Discovered on our most recent ill-fated 1-4 reverse at Bolton on 23rd Feb 2013 a day after coming back from Madeira to freezing England, we'd been in the Crown when we decided to give this new GBG entry a try.  Surprsingly for this part of the world, it turned out to be quite a lounge bar style pub with black leather bench seats overlooking a shiny silvery bar selling lots of ales from the Blackedge brewery.  The staff were a friendly bunch, and as Dad & I tried to work out what language we were waching Stoke v somebody else boring in, the landlord came over to tell us it was Romanian and why should he get screwed paying for English Sky Sports?  No one was arguing with him, but it was a bit on the chilly side (not because of him!) so we decided to move on.

123 - RETIRED!

124 -  BAUM, Rochdale - Recent national pub of the year around the time I came here with Dad, Ben & Tom for an incredibly pointless but hilairiously enjoyable pre-season friendly at Rochdale on 28th July 2012.  Pronounced "Borm" which I didn't know at the time, you could tell you were in somewhere special due to it's popularity and the sheer range of beers on.  Split little levels gave lots of different nooks & crannies in which to sit and the food was of the non-annoying simple but good variety.  I felt a bit like a kid in a sweet shop, and wanted to try them all - but time was ticking on and Spotland isn't really near the town centre at all!  Wanted the chance to come in after the game, but as it was, we only just caught our train with about two seconds to spare.

Real ale heaven at the Baum (Dad is engrossed in a crossword though!)

125 - BAR FRINGE, Manchester - 7th September 2011 and I was on day two of an ambitious midweek double header watching my favourite band, the previous night in Newcastle, today in Manchester and despite working all week, I simply lived out of a bag for two days and commuted to Leeds.  Staying in a Travelodge at Great Ancoats Street, I decided to explore surrounding pubs being close to Victoria station.  This was possibly my first pub of the evening, a little hard to find Cafe type frontage, very quirky decor inside - I remember the motorbike in particular and lots of rat related artwork!  There were some great beers on and I had one of those Blackjack ones (with the playing card pump clips), weird what you remember isn't it?  The old skool landlady was excellent and although I felt briefly conspicuous perched on a ledge near the bar, everyone was so quirky and alternative, I relaxed into it all pretty soon.  Nice little place this.

126 - BULL'S HEAD, Manchester - It was the evening of Sat 16th March 2013 when I first came here, after a very sociable A-Z "L" trip to Llandudno where despite being on my own, talked to array of strangers at various pubs!  I'd got a bit sick of a Manc station drink consisting of either the Wetherspoons or Piccadilly Tavern, so it was nice to be able to eventually fathom out a "different" station exit down an escalator and cross the road to this pub, surprisingly homely for a "close to station" effort.  A really nice barmaid started asking me about my green leather jacket (replica from the film "Wanted") when I was rudely interrupted by a Chinese Man Utd fan saying he'd left his scarf (probably half n half) here, and the moment was gone!  I settled into a seat under the stairs and some young lads starting a night out engaged me in a bit of "man banter" as they probably call it ("manter?") and were generally nice lads.  Also, I remember the pint I got (Atlantic something) being absolutely amazing.  I've been in here twice since, in March 2014 with Dad who was suitably impressed and we drank excellent Banks Sunbeam, I realised this was actually a Marston's pub!  I also came in recently, Feb 2015 after Stoke for a half though the whole thing was a bit rushed as I struggled to get served for ages despite it not being too busy.

127 - CASTLE HOTEL, Manchester -  Another pub ticked off on one of my "Manchester Gig Great Ancoats Travelodge stopovers", this could well have been when I went to see Mahones (no idea of the date, perhaps Spring 2012) as it was teeming with rain as I made my way down into the city centre where the venue was, and popped in here.  I was expecting a pub full of old locals having read the guide description about Grade II listed and Robinson's but what I found was a pub choc-a-block of wall-to-wall students.  Having got served a pint of possibly Unicorn at a side-hatch, I realised the front bar had no seats and the back bar seemed to be about to host a live music gig of it's own, though the vast majority seemed here for drinks and socialising.  I breathed in and stood in the corridor between bars, supping my pint and smiling weakly at student girls who constantly barged passed me, apologising as they did so.

128 - EUSTON TAP, London - I caught on very late to this unique building when it opened as a pub a few years ago to give drinkers yet another option in the Euston area.  For a while, it was Dad's "pub of choice" on the way back from his various pension meetings in London but my first visit was 11th Dec 2010 when I came here to find the Welly gang to tell them Doric Arch was kindly going to screen our game at Palace in the teatime kick off.  Well, despite feeling a bit guilty for the DA, I was persuaded to stay for a pint (possibly Punk IPA, possibly even a cask version before they went keg only) and I have to say, it was a postage stamp of a place, a strange white building on it's own with the only space if you go up the spiral staircase.  Chris D went off to the match, I nearly joined him but thought better of it, and we retired to Doric Arch.  We went 2 or 3 more times that season when the weather improved as the outside area is quite large.  I remember meeting everyone back here post match once where it felt like being at the finishing line at a marathon, waiting to applaud whichever person I next recognised sprinting round the corner to be next at the bar for post match refreshments!

129 - BRICKLAYER'S ARMS, Putney - The first time I came here was with a full Welly gang quota on a snowy 7th Feb 2009 before our first Prem trip to Stamford Bridge.  This pub had come highly recommended, and not only was it owned by Keighley's own Tim Taylor's, but they also had a forthcoming Yorks v Lancs beer festival on - very strange but pleasing behaviour for a pub in posh London.  However, being in 'posh' London, you could expect to pay £4 plus for a pint of Landlord which is ridiculous, still the quality was excellent.  I remember the weather cos a man and kid with a sledge came in and chatted to us for a bit.  I was less enthused by the pub on our visit 8 months later before a Fulham Monday night, it was standing room only, plastic glasses but still lacked any life or atmosphere.  I was stood with Ric and Colin Scunthorpe and I don't think the three of us uttered a word for about 30 mins at one point!  By the time we returned nearly 5 years later (just me, Dad and Tom this time) it was no longer Tim Taylor owned but my sadness was short lived as they had ales on from all sorts of interesting breweries like Yeovil and Kissingate.  However, the ales were much of a southern muchness and more polycarbonate glasses and a draughty door didn't help make this a pub of the season contender.  We went back post match, things improved beer and atmos wise in the beer garden, but we missed our connection in London and this pub's been (unfairly) held partly responsible!

The Putney Pig staring at me, before a 2-2 draw at Fulham Apr 2014.

130.  MAD BISHOP & BEAR, Paddington - To say this is a Fullers Pub on a upper concourse above Paddington station, I have quite a lot of time for this place and have been there with relative frequency on any football/BRAPA days that involve passing through here.  21st Jan 2012 pre-Reading away may not have been the first, but is the first I can remember because of a superb cooked breakfast.  I often eat here, though the reason for this is mainly that the staff don't let you drink before at least 10am if you aren't ordering food.  I also came here before my first A-Z outing at Bath in July 2012, and more recently, it achieved another first in my first pint of the 2014/15 season pre-QPR.  The staff are always friendly here, food is good, I like the raised areas and little booths, and it never seems too busy or full of the type of scum who sometimes frequent this style of pub (not that I'm a snob or owt!)

Top breakfast at Mad Bishop n Bear, and I ate most of it!  

So there we go, ten more down but look out for a Rochdale special coming up next!



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