Friday, 17 July 2015

BRAPA : the archives (252-260)

Good evening all, and welcome back to the archives.  Ideally, I'd like to get all of these 'written up' before the 2016 GBG is released in September.  Unlikely probably, but eventually I'm going to put them all with their "dates first visited" in a spreadsheet so I can keep a 'live' record going of each GBG visit.  It's a good job I don't have much more to do in life isn't it?  Well, apart from visit them!

This time, we'll unleash the county in which I live ... North Yorkshire.  York, remember, was reviewed previously.

252.  Old Manor House, Clapham 

15th September 2012 and although "C" was technically for Carnforth, a trip to Clapham on the train line back down seemed to be a nice bonus "C" in the pre-cursor to BRAPA, 'Si's A-Z Aleway Adventures".  First pub New Inn had been quite disappointing and things weren't looking up as this place didn't seem to exist!  All I could see were a few posh old women in a cafe called the Reading Rooms, but hang on, I re-read the entry on my GBG Phone App, and sure enough, the bar was hidden in an adjoining room through the cafe!  Travel companion Jig looked as non-plussed as me as we ordered the most interesting of the guest ales, which may well have been Bowland Hen Harrier, it definitely had a birdie theme. It was a sunny light room with a few board games scattered around and the clientele was older, higher class drinker.  As this turned out, rather sadly, one of our pubs of the day as the standard was generally average.

253.  Bonhomme's Bar, Filey

26th January 2013 and heavy overnight snowfall was not going to ruin mine and John's day out (even if my Facebook 'friends' were bleating like babies about the weather) as I trudged up South Parade to the station ankle deep.  After a pleasant explore of Filey beach, a church and other attempts to be cultural in the posh crescent area (it was sunny now), it was time to 'tick' off the one GBG pub (at that time) and very pleasant it was.  I was expecting something quite grand, but rather nicer, it was an unassuming carpetted lounge bar.  The barman was friendly, maybe not expecting tourist visitors on such a day and there was a good range of ales, am sure we had the house beer 'Bonhomme Richard' from East Coast and I think we got perched near a fire, I could be wrong.  The star attraction though was a 'self help' positive spirituality book written by Noel Edmonds - never more have I wanted to steal a book from a pub!

Why does it always snow on me?  Me on a lobster in Filey pre-Bonhommes
254.  Blues Cafe Bar, Harrogate

It was 22nd June 2013 and I'd been working in Leeds on a Saturday morning and was just contemplating the train back to York for some lunch when Ben Andrew text me out of the blue to say he was "shopping" in Harrogate which in Ben speak, normally means 30 mins of failing to find some jeans he likes, and then six hours in pubs.  So quick change of plan, as the rain started (what had happened to the sunny morning?) I was on a train 'the back way' to Harrogate.  I'd been here 3 times before, each involving real ale pubs, I'd seen this pub in every GBG I could remember, but this was my first visit so thanks to Ben for letting me push him in this direction.  It definitely felt like a cafe bar, but a cosy, rustic one (supposedly brown cafe Amsterdam style) with plenty of nods to music, past and present.  An interesting range of guests was on offer too.  Problem was, no seats and leaning on a radiator was not comfy so we tried to use our initiative and shinned upstairs to the other room we could see.  Before we knew it, barman was chasing us up shouting "you can't go up there, it's an Egyptian restaurant!"  The other customer's looked sympathetic but a bit smug, had Dr Allam hired the whole place out to feed his greedy face?  It was a bit extreme and me n Ben scowled our way through the remainder of the pint before declaring the pub "up itself" and leaving.

255.  Coach & Horses, Harrogate

My first of two visits here was when I had my first proper trip to Harrogate.  In recent years, when Hull City had a boring FA Cup 3rd Round home draw, we'd gone to a non-league game and with Goole and Pickering already sampled, with trudged across a waterlogged stray on what may well have been 6th Jan 2007.  We were impressed with this unassuming side street pub, landlord was obviously proud of their ale commitment and they had a little 'ticker' to show how many real ales they'd had on in the last year/decade/ all time (or something like that).  It was a bit chilly and basic, but ale was good and I think Dad probably marginally preferred this to me.  But I still liked it enough to recommend it as we went to Harrogate for Ric's birthday in early July 2009 and started here.  We were 'voting' pubs in categories similar to those used at dice night, and me and Krzb argued the crazy little dog and pool table were worthy of a 'Quirk/Food' bonus point but sister Lu (not a nun) successfully argued pool table is always here, dog might often be here so it wasn't a "quirk", to quote her " may as well call the category 'random shite'"  and to this day, that has stuck.  And it came about in this nice little pub.

256.  Blind Jack's, Knaresborough

Oh yes, it took me a while to discover the delights of Knaresborough and this, it's most celebrated and probably best real ale pub.  My first visit was 20th April 2013 when "K" was for Knaresborough on one of the best A-Z days of the whole challenge.  After a bit of culture (involving being ripped off by Mother Shipton's cave), we came here for our second pub of the day and were impressed by the exciting range and proper basic bricky, wooden, poky feel.  You can't really stand near the bar without getting in half the pubs way.  I spotted a non handpulled Magic Rock but am sure we went for some weird and wonderful ale, they do some in their own small brewery.  We sat in the window looking out towards the market place.  I think it's here where a weird hidden staircase to the loos sometimes seems to take you to a lumber room, sometimes the actual toilet, depending how the pub feels!  I came back with Dad the same October (12th) for a random father/son day out and though it wasn't our most memorable pub experience of the day, I was struck how much this place reminds me of both Saltaire's Fannys and Otley's Old Cock (the latter modelled on the former).  We sat in exactly the same seat as A-Z which feels like the best seat in the house, and I drank a strong Shankar IPA from the marvellous Great Heck brewery.

Blind Jack's on my second visit with Dad, October 2013.
257.  Cross Keys, Knaresborough

Another pub I did on both A-Z day and my Dad trip, and on both occasions, were visited one pub before Blind Jack's.  It's an Ossett pub done in the traditional style, so as we know from recent West Yorks midweek adventures, that's almost a quality control guarantee on it's own.  On the first visit, we eventually moved outside and celebrated Jig making the front page of the York Evening Press despite his accident being nearly 5 years ago (slow news day in York, we felt!).  Jig had almost (promised) to get us a lavish present each after the compensation he received, Lisa had demanded a pony so when a pony drawn cart circled the corner of the pub, we thought for a minute Jig had come good on his promise.  He hadn't.  With Dad, it was a much chillier October day so we sat inside and we admired the way they'd made it feel clean, modern and traditional all at the same time.  I remember staff featuring prominently, they were either superb hosts or totally incompetent.  Sadly, I can't remember which or why!  At least Untappd can tell me I drank a Big Red and enjoyed it with fruit bread and cheese which Dad had smuggled in.

Lisa, Lu and Krzb have a drink for "Crash Victim" Jig at Cross Keys

258.  Crown Hotel, Malton

Back to 26th Jan 2013 and "F" had been to Filey, but by late afternoon, we'd jumped train to Malton via Seamer to check out the two in the GBG, this is the only one which remains as of 2015.  It was also called Suddaby's in the GBG at the time (in brackets, like this!)  I spoke to John about this recently, and our memories differ slightly.  We both remember a low roofed raucous place with locals lining every wall like they were part of the furniture.  I remember horse racing photos, horse brasses and wood beams but John remembers exposed brickwork.  Who knows?  It was one of those pubs we'd heard was a bit of a North Yorks institution and whilst we enjoyed the olde worlde feel, we never could quite embrace it due to the overload of local joviality and noise!  Plus my phone died, we got lost trying to find the train station, it was pitch black, but someone in a chippy helped us with directions and we legged it back just in time, phew!  

259.  Swatter's Carr, Middlesbrough

Let's get one thing straight, Middlesbrough's premier real ale establishment for years has been the Star and it is ranged from almost good to quite rubbish so it is no surprise that a Wetherspoons could come on the scene, have a quality commitment to ale, and steal it's crown.  Of course, me and Dad only realised this on 4th Jan 2014 at the start of Hull City's world famous FA Cup run where we won against a disinterested Boro' with McLean and Proswitcz up front ..... of COURSE Bruce took the competition seriously from the start(!).  I digress.  I had colours on so zipped my jacket right up but there was no fooling the friendly young barman who simply loved the idea of Hull fans in the pub excited about the ale range.  He was hoping to get off his shift in time for kick off, I hope for his sake he was forced to do overtime.  We sat in quite corner and learnt that Middlesbrough Ironopolis as they were know before the rebrand, played on this very site.  It was called the Paradise Ground!  In fact, all Boro' historical life seemed to have come through this huge building.  I for one, was impressed.  Of three ales sampled, Salopian Shropshire Gold was my highlight.  Me and Dad didn't want to move but Ben was feeling neglected, alone in the Star, so we took pity and it was much worse than it ever had been on any other trips, freezing too and full of weirdos.  Wished we'd stayed in the Swatter's Carr, a really top Wetherspoons.

Learning about the Smoggies history - informative Spoons action in Boro'.
260.  Blacksmith's Arms, Naburn

When Mum and Dad moved us to Naburn in 1993, one of the more interesting pre-moving days out was a walk around the village, probably because it didn't involve that dusty broken down house they were doing up at the time!  We stopped here and I remember sitting on one of the benches out the front and drinking a lemonade.  So do I have to call this my first BRAPA tick?  I'd rather the Wetherspoons in Sunderland town centre.  As I got into beer, I'd walk down to this village - sometimes with Lu, occasionally Dad, or might bring a friend who was staying.  The timescale of most of my visits would be between 1998-2005.  One thing was constant - it was rubbish.  Dirty glasses, filthy benches, rude staff, weird locals.  Louise Nurding lookalike was a great barmaid, though when John came to stay, he got abused for being too pale by some local, then some Chinese tourists tried to usurp us based on the fact there were two of us taking up a table of 4 and they wanted to do the quiz - tough luck ladies!  This was about year 2001.  My all time highlight was probably when Lu stole a Kronenberg glass on the night we came here to get over Paddy's death and we saw a tree spirit.  Or when Mum didn't wait to pick me up from the bus for long enough, so I came in here and downed two Guinness' in protest, just before a dentist appointment.   Beer improved in the sense they got some Marston's ones on, Banksies and Mansfield Cask are the two I have mostly had here.  I haven't been here in years but signs of improvement aren't too forthcoming.  John came here to watch brilliant folk artist Jez Lowe headline a festival, which was also a "beer festival", but he told me it was still all Marston's and the one guest festival beer went off immediately HA HA HA.  I could only imagine.  And only a few weeks ago, Mum and Dad brought Lu here and they reported rude barmaid and quite rubbish all round.  And it's in the GBG.  Come on York CAMRA, have a word!

And on that terrible note concludes another classic selection of pubs.  We'll stay in North Yorkshire next, it's going to be fun.


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