Tuesday, 26 May 2015

BRAPA: the archives (222-229) - Welsh special

Good evening sheep!  Let me be your Shepherd for the night and guide you through the shamefully small number of Welsh GBG pubs I achieved before BRAPA became a "thing".  I say "shamefully", I've visited so many more Welsh pubs but few seem to be in the GBG at present, frustrating!

222.  Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff - It was school chucking out time on Tues 13th March 2012 and I needed some pub ticking before checking into my Travelodge, that was the plan anyway.  The first and most unique was in the Canton area, I nearly missed it as it was set back from a pretty dismal side street.  It was the perfect contrast, a light shiny new arts centre with automatic doors, and people tapping away on laptops.  A great range of ales greeted me and I sat well back from the bar, trying to take in this peculiar set up.  Not pubby in any way, and the least edgy Cardiff has ever been.  A few businessmen looked a bit puzzled by my presence, I sent a photo on my brand new iPhone of the bar scene to JW2, but that's where my problems began as my phone died and I got totally lost 2 pubs later whilst looking for the Mochyn Du (still a pub I need to this day).  I returned here when I was again alone on 10th November 2013 for my main pre-match pub with a crazy egg-chasing contest congesting the main city centre pubs in a chaotic way.  This was again calm, but busier with young Mum's drinking coffee, more laptops, kids playing, someone on a keyboard, staff serving food like it was a canteen, and me in the middle with bright stripey black and orange trousers supping 5 pints of ale!  Weird place.

Me nervously eyeing up a pint on 2nd Chapter Arts trip, before Ben Amos messed up.
223.  City Arms, Cardiff - BRAPA was already in my mind on 22nd Feb 2014 (in fact, I'd just completed my first trial run) but the pubs this day were still too early to be classed in BRAPA terms.  Despite the great reviews and high anticipation, Dad and I were a bit underwhelmed by the ales as we sat in the centre of the pub on a high barrel style table.  I'm sure Tom felt the same sense of being underwhelmed as we'd recently found him just before leaving the first pub.  It was one of those where it didn't seem too busy but all the good tables on sides and corners were occupied.  I drank a beer called Drayman's and it was as non-descript as Cardiff's performance that day.  Not that we were complaining.

224.  Urban Tap House, Cardiff - Seemed to be called Firehouse in my 2014 GBG though was Urban by the time we visited (so do I need to revisit, I certainly hope so!)  Anyway, this was our first pub of the day on arrival on 22nd Feb 2014 and it seemed to be a Brewery Tap for the Tiny Rebel beers, one of those hoppy modern day excellent new breweries I've seen plenty of times since outside of Wales.  It was quite a plain no nonsense drinkers bar, plenty of shiny metal and wood but the overall verdict was superb pub.  Some French rugby fans who'd been drinking for approx 24 hours were showing the first signs of coming down from there high, but still treated us to a hug and a little french dance, or was it a drunken stagger?  Tom had got a bit lost, I think he found us or one of me or Dad went to look for him and bring him here, can't quite remember!  My records tell me I drank a FUBAR and a hipster version of Tom called Tristan appeared first, confusing us more.

225.  Bank Statement, Swansea - 12th April 2011 was a sunny Tuesday afternoon as me, Ben and Mark arrived in Swansea.  This was a second pub, and came about really when walking between our first two designated pubs (Mark had a map), Ben suggested we nip in for a quick one (he maybe needed the toilet).  I remember getting a half as both were on a "mission" and I knew I'd never keep up with the pace - I peaked post match when both were slowing.  All I remember was a very sticky table with menus / paper table mats stuck to them in the style of a newspaper article. Pretty standard 'Spoons, we got a booth which was nice.  Quite busy for 4pm on a Tuesday.  Little did I know then that recent BRAPA tick No Sign Bar was right next door and I only verified this 'tick' this season.

226.  Potters Wheel, Swansea - Talking of 'Spoons in Swansea on 12th April 2011, me, Ben and Mark must have been desperate as we came here both pre and post match and later declared it our "pub of the day".  Looking back, it again felt like a  pretty standard 'Spoons, less cosy than the last but with better staff and ales on than any other pub, and we'd been to plenty.  Pre-match, we got a bit lost and when Mark asked a local woman the way, we were about 2cm's from the door.  I enjoyed the post match experience much more as the pub was quiet and winding down for the night, happy to stay open for us and unlike pre match, I was enjoying my drinking now as the other two slowed down.  We watched drunk local night life through the big glass windows, and seeing a woman pirouette around a lamp post and then fall flat on her face was a particular highlight. I think this was the point where Ben declared Swansea "a shithole".  Cruel.  Perhaps. 

227.  Queen's Hotel, Swansea - A bright sunny Saturday morning had dawned as me and Dad arrived into Swansea on 12th April 2004, my 2nd (or perhaps 3rd) opportunity to use the Good Beer Guide to find Swansea pubs.  Before this, we'd always gone to a tiny pub in the backstreets near Vetch Field (you could see it from the pub door!) and drink Guinness with a friendly father and son combo we saw every season.  Times had changed and despite the fairly limited beer range, we loved this pub and drank local Buckley's Bitter.  The locals looked very enquiringly at us, and stared at my Hull shirt when I went to the loo in a weird way, but we sat on a bench seat in the sun near the door and enjoyed our pint or two here.  We were held up by a swing bridge outside where we admired a statue of "Captain Cat", a Dylan Thomas character I'd been banging on about all morning.  Even more of a co-incidence, I came here with Ben & Mark for our first pint of the day on 12th April 2011, 7 years to the day since my other visit!  I only remembered half way through my visit, Mark was doing his ambassadorial bit having us stood at the bar chatting to barmaid and locals who seemed to find the loud, bald, friendly Hull chap quite a novelty! 

228.  Westbourne, Swansea - The first time I encouraged Dad to have a GBG tour of Swansea was 3rd May 2003 (I'm sure we did about 5 including Brunswick in the GBG now but can't remember ANY details to confirm it).  This was the day of their "Great Escape" and although this pub was a large corner pub a bit of a walk from the centre with limited ale and atmosphere, a huge group of about 20 Swansea fans came and sat on a large circular table in the centre of the pub and I've honestly never seen a more nervous bunch of football fans - it was incredibly liberating to have nothing to play for and take pleasure in others misfortune for once!  As a Hull City fan, it doesn't happen very often.  I can't remember being overly impressed with the pub though. 

229.  Cottage Loaf, Llandudno - It was A-Z day, the letter L on 16th March 2013 and I'd enjoyed my sight seeing of this nice tourist town when I finally decided to call it quits and hit the pubs.  This was the only Llandudno listed one in the 2013 GBG so I later had a right tour of places like Flint, Rhyl and Frodsham.  I was in sociable mood and struck up conversation with two ageing local chaps at the bar who seemed impressed with how enthusiastic I was about the local brews, which I believe came from the nearby Conwy brewery - excellent by the way.  The pub was all wooden beams, low ceilings, very old feeling, but sadly, very foody and the staff (dressed up in all white like ghostly waitresses) were absolutely rushed off their feet with lunch demands and it took ages to get my second pint (occupational hazard of drinking at the bar I think).  A good friendly pub though, and I can see why it's one of the few I visited that day still in the GBG.  

View of Llandudno shortly before my Cottage Loaf trip.  One of my better photo attempts! 
So there we go, a few Welsh pubs - I must get out there more, though I did state I was concentrating on English counties for the next few years.  Next time in the Archives, another outpost - East Yorkshire!  See you there,


1 comment:

  1. I do wonder whether if we hadn't had an incompetent Jan Molby team in 2003 whether we would have just been relegated from a premier league containing Exeter City.

    I do like being a division below Bournemouth and Swansea again and looking forward to a league encounter against Rotherham. I think I'll be more comfortable when the south Yorkshire encounter is Doncaster, but its a start.