Problems early on as our first tick, the Beech Tree in Kirk Ella was not open at the 11am as suggested by the guide so it was off to Cottingham for pre-match. We started at the Blue Bell which we visited back in December, a poor effort from the East European barmaid marred a good pint of Hobgoblin Gold in comfy if not pubby surroundings, and I was glad for it's sake I'd already reviewed it!
591 - King William IV, Cottingham
My final Cottingham tick of three was unsurprisingly a Marston's effort, continuing their dominance in this part of the world. My theory is EY is a real ale backwater and it's easier to monopolise the market here than somewhere like say, the West of the county. The King Billy is a two roomed pub, with a lounge that looked quite busy and a bar which looked quieter, but as we walked through, realised it was heaving with locals playing darts, a cackling group of women and old regulars blocking the bar. As we sat down to a rather farty Banks Sunbeam at the old gaming tables, we could at least appreciate the sun coming through and the traditional pub feel. A few families came in with some very nice looking standard food coming out of the kitchen and tempting Dad's nostrils as an old stager ordered fish n chips! The one barmaid had to work very hard to cope with the rush, and with the Railway pub in mind, what is it with Cottingham pubs being full at 12 noon? Very rare I normally find on other trips around the country. Things had calmed down a bit, a better second pint of Marston's Empire followed and despite having to persuade Dad to stay here, we warmed to the atmosphere as wave after wave of characterful old locals came and went within minutes. There were more ales than pumps too, which is always good to see. So after a rocky start, we became quite fond of this 'grower' of a pub.
|Me arriving at the King Billy in sunny Cottingham|
592 - Beech Tree, Kirk Ella
Another pub that left me with mixed feelings, the huge car park and vast open plan pub layout did make it feel like some family Happy Harvester affair with a typical EY crowd of families, tattooed couples, limping old folk (that wasn't just Dad!) and women drinking Prosecco by the gallon. However, in the plus column, this pub is owned by Ember Inns who are one of the better chains for real ale, offering CAMRA discounts and interesting guests. Not a sniff of Marston's here and I was glad of the change. A guest Bateman's ale was the most enjoyable of the day, they also had the superb Kirkstall Three Swords on as a regular beer which is always rare. Despite the slightly sterile atmosphere, it was comfy enough and unthreatening as Dad and I sat on a high stool around a corner, deciding it just wasn't quite warm enough to take advantage of the front outdoor picnic tables.
|Dad grins n bears it on the entrance to the Beech Tree.|
Overall, two more valuable ticks but I'd have been pushing it to ask for the Ellerton tick on the way home, think I'll have to invite Dad round one day in the summer to get that one.
Onwards and upwards then to Derby on Tuesday, I'm looking at 5 or 6 pubs minimum to get March really going. I'm also adding a tick as when doing my archives, I realised I'd definitely been to the First Chop in Ramsbottom so we'll call that pub 593 (next archives addition coming soon, we also have a new leader coming up for the 'earliest pub visited' challenge).
Dad has the modern day form of tendonitis. That combined with some email backwards and forwards with Ben means that Saturday's trip to Leicester means again, pubs will be limited but looking forward to the Salmon and a nearby Wetherspoons called High Cross may also be an option.
But it's East Beds day the following week I really have my eye on for top BRAPA adventure. Biggleswade x2, Broom and Dunton are the "musts" with Sandy, Potton, Henlow and Shefford being the maybes. I've booked May's trip to Dunstable and now have my eyes on what I'll be doing in Beds in June! Long term thinking.
In other family foot news, Lu's ankle is improving but the progress is still slow (first physio appointment not until a week on Monday) so when she'll move back in is anyone's guess. Even a St Paddy's day return a week on Tuesday is not looking a formality. Gotta be patient!