Monday, 23 March 2015

BRAPA : the archives (161-170)

Evenin' all, for our latest delve into the pub archives, we are back in Notts, the start to Shrops, we'll be having a Bath and ending with a bit of Staffs fun.

161.  PRINCE RUPERT, Newark - Dad and I arrived for our father/son day trip to Newark on 15th June 2013 and being an early opener doing food, it seemed like the perfect place to come for breakfast before a bit of sightseeing and antique shopping.  The building was a fantastic 15th century old, creaking, oak beamed delight with different areas, though not quite sure you could call it multi-roomed.  However, the general atmosphere and feel of the place didn't match this, very modern attitude with smart staff in clean white shirts in a more modern bar area.  Needless to say we went to sit in the shabbiest part of the pub we could find, but all-comers were here from students to families with small kids and you can almost imagine Dad chuntering to himself.  Our full English breakfasts were pretentious affairs, every element of it a little bit "off-beat" and Dad was soon complaining about a lack of toast until we weren't charged, at least for part of the meal.  At least one of the main beers on was the magnificent Oakham JHB, but not sure it was much of a consolation at the time.

162.  FELLOWS, MORTON & CLAYTON, Nottingham - September 10th 2004 and the first of two random Nottingham trips to see amazing American horror pop punkers Groovie Ghoulies at a venue called Junktion 7.  I was meeting new "couple" Milner and Lisa (who were very delayed) so I ended up trying out a lot of new pubs in my 2002 GBG (i didn't buy 2003 and '04 wasn't quite out yet).  I got very drunk and ended up wearing a women's thong on my head and having a song called "Freaks on Parade" dedicated to me.  Before this, this was my first pub of the evening and it seemed to be an absolute hive of Friday evening students and office people, it felt like "the place to be" and I was a bit intimidated by the swathes of joy which seemed to be emanating from every corner of the place.  A great range of ales was on though they weren't so interesting like microbrewery ones.  I also remember a load of flyers for gigs, website links, Myspace & Facebook pages etc.  It was all a bit overwhelming, though I was inexperienced then.  I perched near a servery, admired the condiments and cutlery, and drank my pint quite quickly.  Never been back since as it's generally been not in the GBG, but from thre outside, it looks a beautiful pub.

163.  VAT & FIDDLE, Nottingham - Achingly good, this pub I'd call "our" pre-match pub for our trips to Nottingham Forest away.  On a snowy March 5th 2011, we were in early and hiding from Hull City hooligans who marched past the window.  The helpful staff introduced us to Castle Rock loyalty cards and Mark Bainton's drinking speed soon meant we were ready for a freebie before we could blink.  We always sit in the same corner, just to the left, underneath and interesting map of all the pubs of Nottingham.  A pub cat completed the scene (though we later learnt it died - not on a day we were there I might add!)  Problem was, a section of our "Welly gang" got over-excited about being in Nottingham and decided to tour other (inferior) pubs.  Dad, being a spineless chump, thought we should be "sociable" and join them, but he secretly regretted the decision, I wasn't happy either.  It was similarly infuriating a season later (29th Oct 2011) when the"Welly" contingent met us here though the barman was a miserable bugger on this occasion and I had to practically beg for a Castle Rock loyalty card!  Dad and I enjoyed our pints before the gang arrived, but again they maddeningly decided to move to the Canalhouse.  This time I put my foot down, and before long, they were back announcing VAT & Fiddle is a better pub.  Hallelujah!   So by our final visit to date 1st Dec 2012, we were able to put full focus on this amazing pub, even getting some nice simple pub food which tasted like it'd come off a greasy wagon by the City Ground.  Perfect with a pint of Castle Rock, Hemlock, Elsie Mo or Screech Owl etc etc.  We even came in post-match one year, possibly the second time, where a friendly local couple chatted to us about dead cats and things.

Me, Ben and Colin on visit three - I'm happy cos we are staying put (for once!) 

164.  COACH & HORSES, Shrewsbury - Me and John Watson II went for a random mini-break to one of my favourite towns in the UK having told him about my several great pre-match Hull City experiences here, most even pre-beer guide.  The date was probably Tuesday 6th September 2005.  This was our first evening of two nights, and midway through our pub crawl we found this gem, probably pub of the night and John's eyes still glaze over when I say the words "Coach and Horses, Shrewsbury".  We had to work to find it, down a maze of quiet backstreets just off centre.  But we found the most peaceful old style atmosphere imaginable, warm and comfortable with a Victorian feel and lots of wood paneling.  They sold great local beers like Shropshire and Slater's - I think John had an Elsie Mo.  We sat in a snug area, joined by a student girl and her parents, and John explained he thought girls were more attractive when on a trip out with their Mum and Dad!  Interesting.

165.  DOLPHIN, Shrewsbury - The original and best experience in this pub was with Dad before an evening game, I think on 29th October 2002, my sixth and final visit for football and the only one I got to use the GBG for.  I think this was our final pub pre-match as it was dark by now.  Talk about characterful!  You know I like pub cats, but this place was heaving with the felines, and a camp barman with weird hair kept squirting fresh cream into ashtrays on the bar for them.  I also seem to think they had their own brewery onsite, I seem to remember short-lived Dolphin beers (it is a Joule's pub these days),  The other room to the right where the toilets were was much better, traditional with pre-war music, gas lighting (very rare) and a load of old locals asleep, or possibly comatose by the gas!  It wasn't the best beer or cleanliness, and I'm trying to remember whether I took John here on our 2005 trip, I'll have to ask him, if so, it was less memorable! 

166.  ALL NATIONS, Madeley - John and I went to Coalbrookdale / Ironbridge for a bit of tourist activity on Wed 7th Sept 2005 - we both like history and the industrial revolution.  John drove but we stumbled upon this amazing pub, famous for being one of the "original" 70's brewhouses when only 4 or 5 kept going in the face of lager and keg domination.  It was still brewing and I remember my pint of All Nations whatever being absolutely top class.  The pub had quite a rural feel, outside and in with bare boarded floors, and we ordered cheese & ham toasties, John showed me a dodgy clip on his new hi-tech mobile phone and we generally basked in that mini-holiday lunchtime feel.  

167.  BELL, Bath - 21st July 2012 and it was the start of my "A-Z : Aleway Adventures" where I annoyed everyone who showed an interest by doing the letter "B" before "A".  It was all to do with getting a good deal of train tickets, don't blame me!  This was my final pub of the day in Bath and compared with some, it was quite a vast yet quiet affair, with hopbines hanging from the ceiling, friendly staff and locals, eight ales on, and towards the back of the pub where I sat, something that looked like a washing area and a real emphasis on music with lots of random tracks being played off a laptop, gig posters and apparently a side room called the "Love Lounge".  A young man started acting strangely so me and the couple next to me were laughing at him, but in a nice way I promise.  I remember thinking "god, do they not realise I'm probably just as drunk as him!"  

Internal scene of a pretty empty Bell in Bath, July 2012
168.  OLD GREEN TREE, Bath - Second pub of my "B" is for Bath day and as my heritage guide would tell you, this pub has a real Northern feel (unlike the rest of Baaaarth!) with a kind of hallway serving area where locals stand and get in the way!  I went beyond this and took my pint into the lovely oak paneled back room which was empty at first, until about a billion Chinese students descended on the place and it was the only time all day I wanted to pretend I was a local Bathman (or whatever the phrase is).  Tiny pub really, bit like the Grove in Leeds mixed with Blue Bell in York.  I drank a house beer, called Green Tree Bitter or something.  They say it's impossible not to strike up a conversation in here, but I managed it!

It took me ages standing here waiting for a tourist free shot of this lovely old pub! 
169.  BURTON BRIDGE INN, Burton-Upon-Trent - So, you have a brand spanking new ground which you want to showcase to the world.  You are so proud.  Which "big" name side do you invite to play you to for your second fixture having lost at home to Chester in the inaugural opener?  Hull City of course!  So that's why me and Dad found ourselves at the Burton Bridge brewery tap (famous brewing town anyway) on the evening of 20th July 2005, before being two of the 957 lucky punters in the Pirelli Stadium.  The pub had a nice sunken, dark, old feel though I remember little actual detail, though beer names like Golden Delicious and Stairway to Heaven resonate as amongst those I tried on the night.  2-2 it finished thanks to Craig Fagan and a bullet header by a young defender called Alred Lord Byron who we believed would soon break into the first team.  He never did.

170.  BULL'S HEAD, Burslem - Or Port Vale to those of you who don't the Potteries,  my first visit here was monumental in my real ale education as it is the Titanic brewery tap and to this day, that remains one of my favourite breweries ever.  14th August 2004 was the date of my only trip to Vale Park, and before Steve Brooker did what he always did against us, we settled down for a great pre-match session.  The most memorable ale on was a tribute to Vale hero goalscorer Roy Sproaston(?) with his picture on the clip. The pub was traditonal bare-boarded Brewery Tap style fayre, quite light and airy but comfortable enough once it warmed up (more of a problem on our second visit).  Our first visit was almost ruined when the police, in a seemingly controlled experiement, allowed an unconvincing group of Burberry clad Hull City youths (about 16 years old) to come in.  The landlady did a great job on them, telling them to sit down and shut up, and they could have one lager and then leave!  And guess what, they were totally subservient like they were in a school canteen - bless 'em.  Needless to say, we returned knowing Stoke itself wasn't good for real ale on 21st Jan 2006, a very cold but brilliant 0-3 win day.  And this pub came up trumps again as we met up with Tom and Chris Irvin for a good session.  Dad drove us to the game from there, which was above & beyond! 

So there we have it, ten more down and some very interesting memories to be had there.  More from Shrewsbury, Bath and Stoke before we delve into Suffolk.  

See you soon!  


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