Monday, 10 August 2015

BRAPA - from Upper Denby to outer Blackpool

Parasites in Blackpool.  And I don't mean anyone on benefits!  (see pub 723)
Last Wednesday might have been the eve of the punk festival, but with only three West Yorkshire 'ticks' still to get, I was eager to crack on.

A train to Huddersfield and popular connecting service found me at Denby Dale, an interesting rural part of West Yorkshire with a viaduct making it rather like a mini Ribblehead, with a few happy cyclists getting off here for an evening of biking.     I walked down to "Denby Dale interchange" which was a glorified bus stop where a woman and young lad told me how one bus had gone missing and the service was always unreliable.  I was therefore relieved when it was my bus that arrived on time, even the driver joked about the reliability, it was mystery to all where the 1732 had disappeared to!

722.  George, Upper Denby

I liked this pub's feel, it had that rustic atmosphere you get in West Yorks rural villages and again reminded me how much I'll miss this county when I've finished ticking the pubs off in a week or two's time.  The beamed ceiling added character, and the main bar room was bustling and lively though the pub had only opened at 5pm.  Okay, so the locals weren't perhaps as engaging as Southowram or even Thornton.  Even a local dog called Hugo went round every single person in the pub APART from me, so I disqualified him from "pub pet of the year contender" and whispered this to him when he briefly came over to sniff my rucksack for food potential.  The barmaid was of the pretty brunette variety but as an ageing local told her, let herself down by walking like a stooped old crone which was harsh but fair.  A Scottish wiry bloke zipped around the pub, he was perhaps the Dad as I heard this is a family run pub.  Following on from last week, there was more egg chat - this time of the pickled variety as someone actually consumed one, whole.  All the books were about walking in the local area, apart from one, the 2015 GBG which I almost stole by accident as I'd left mine at home!  There was a great Locale on by Small World brewery at Shelley, and TT Landlord was also sampled - the beer quality was immaculate.

The George in Upper Denby viewed from bus stop

Due to timing issues, it made sense to catch a bus all the way back to Huddersfield and again, it miraculously turned up on time and a scenic 40 minute bus took me back to town before a speedy connection back to York, no extra stop offs due to impending punk fest, which is also why I hadn't taken Tom up on the Penistone suggestion.

Talking of the Punk Fest, my first morning (Friday) dawned bright and sunny and after a lame cooked breakfast to sustain me, I met Krzb Britain at North Pier tram stop as it was a case of "now or never" for BRAPA pub ticking.  Jig had also been part of Thurs night BRAPA discussions but didn't think to get ready in time, a shame as his hotel was across the road from the next stop.  It was first time on these trams since they have made the majority of them modern and soulless.  A few minutes later, we were in Cleveleys.

723.  Victoria Hotel, Thornton Cleveleys

Such is the dearth of good real ale pubs in this part of the world, Sam Smith's pubs do get in the GBG which never happens in York anymore, but this was a fine example of top quality Sam Smith's and certainly the biggest I've been in bar the Berkeley in Scunny.  The plan had been to sit outside but the interior was so grand with wood panelling, snugs and stained glass everywhere, we had to make the most of my probable only trip here in my lifetime.  But where was the barmaid?  Luckily, a local encouraged me to ring the 'last orders' bell which had been handily left on the bar in this event.  Problem was, the OBB barrel needed changing so she vanished again for about 10 minutes, it was one of the longest it took to get served all weekend, in the quietest of situations! However, the result of this fresh barrel was the strongest and most flavoursome version of the beer ever.  We joked perhaps this proud Yorkshire brewery saves it's strongest stuff for Lancastrians.  You may have seen on the news that a harmful parasite had got into Lancs water supply - most pubs had messages saying "take your own chances" but this one specifically refused to serve anything from a soda font (and presumably tap water but they didn't specify on the sign!)  Good job I only drank beer and tea all weekend.  A fine pub.

Me at the Vic, courtesy of Krzb "jaunty angle" Britain.

724.  Bispham Hotel, Bispham, Blackpool

A few tram stops closer to Blackpool was Bispham (pronounced Bisp-um, or Buzzpum if you are really hardcore Lancashire),  This was the second Sam Smith's pub of the day and a much more run of the mill example of one of their pubs.  The building was nice enough, still quite large but not a patch on the Victoria.  A bit like Hull's Bluebell or Rugby Tav, the locals were either depressive, weird, scary or any two of those three.  The barmaid even had her lipstick painted on in a down turned clown type from, she may as well have drawn worry lines on her forehead.  The Sam Smith's OBB was much more standard, funny how the same ale can taste so different two miles apart!  Krzb even experimented mixing his with Irn Bru, to create a drink which almost worked, but was sickly sweet and smelt like puke.  We found a separate room at the front of the pub which was a bit less inhabited, so any misery didn't rub off on us.  

Me from across the road at the Bispham Hotel

And then it was back to the centre to remember why we had really come to Blackpool!  I meant the punk festival, but why oh why is Pump & Truncheon not in the GBG.  To be fair, standards had slipped and ownership has changed, but it was back to it's absolute best this year circa 2008/9.  The Layton Rakes Wetherspoons was again very good, and Gillespies is another pub that surely deserves to be in the GBG based on my last two visits, but strangely isn't.  We also learnt the UK's biggest pub, a Wetherspoons on the South Shore, is opening soon with 3 floors, 30 pumps, 16 ales minimum on at all times, and must be a good pre-emptive for next year's festival as is the Auctioneer which was de-guided but might get back in I suppose.

Jig, Lu, Andy and Lisa enjoy our first 2015 experience in Pump n Truncheon.

This Week

Football is back!  3 days late for me, and a trip to Accrington with 3 new ticks is a great way to start.  I also have North Cave on Fri but both Wed n Thu might sneak in a little extra cheeky tick - you don't get much time off work do you?  Got to make the most of life and grab it by the BRAPA's.



  1. It is good to have extra competition like Hugo in the pub pet of the year competition. Even when they don't win, I don't really like to see only one competitor in the competition, as it seemed with Legs last year.

    Are the new plastic trams really that bad? I've not been since the modernisation, barring that New Year's Day 0-0, when all I saw was what was visible of the proper trams at Riggers. I suppose one day I shall have to get the red pen out with them, perhaps on a visit to have the heritage fleet but before the proper ones come out to play or after they go off to bed, or maybe if we are unfortunate to visit with Hull City AFC on a proper tramless day that has a plastic service.

    Consuming a whole pickled egg is a moderately impressive feat, I do think pickled eggs in pubs should be encouraged. And pubs that refuse to serve derivatives of water for fear of parasites should be discouraged.

    Given 3 in Accrington, North Cave, say 6 as a ball park for Wolves that gives you 10. That is 15 shy of my suggested target of 25 for the week. You have some of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. I reckon you could just about do it.

    I reckon Allam will get about £5.00 for every Accrington ticket sold. I find it ironic we are now boycotting each other tomorrow night, and every home or cup game for the forseeable future. There are two ways (well, I suppose three) that he can end this. Allam Out!

  2. Legs the cat won easily as he was so good but there were other contenders, as there will be this easily. I doubt Sinbad will have it all his own way despite pork scratchings.

    I'm definitely seeing Chorley as a stand alone trip, not for Bolton day, simply too much to go at. Adlington is, however, in my mind for this season.

    The plastic trams lack the creaky old wooden charm of the old ones which match that old Blackpool feel. Still, the town has plenty of plastic too!

    Re your second last paragraph, I might have to set mummy Everitt on you for encouraging her son to damage his liver!

    Remember my West Midlands archives, I have done either the Newhampton or Combermere before but not sure which so added Elsecar style interest.

    And finally, I want to make pickled eggs a BRAPA staple!

  3. When we are tumbling down the leagues, there is bound to be someone that we play all the time, no matter what division we are in, much like we Rotherham and Macc used to be, and Burnley are now with keeping ending up in the First division with us. It is entirely plausible that Bolton will be that club, in which case two pre-matches in Chorley will be useful. Of course, if Bolton end up 4 divisions above us and look unlikely to ever play us again, that will be a good time to go for Chorley as a standalone. Essentially, I would keep it in the bank as an option.

    Do I get the feeling that Blackpool is even more shit than the last time I went. It seems to get worse with each visit.

    How frightened do I need to be of Mummy Everitt? It is an unknown threat you have given me of which I am bot highly cautious but intrigued. I can't imagine her being set on somebody.

    Will you be flagging which ever pub turns out to be dud, or do you want to go to both anyway?

  4. Hi Tom, I aim to go visit both pubs if needs be, think Newhampton where we are meeting could be it, but I need to be sure.

    Mummy Ev wouldn't be set on people but it'd be more mental torture that would grind you down!

    Blackpool oh dear oh dear oh dear is all I can say about the town.

  5. Remember I have strong will power. I quite happily make long term stands and boycotts with buggar all chance of successand I've watched City for years whilst entirely sobre throughout and starting on the assumption that losing against Lincoln and Rochdale is entirely normal and expected.

    Would such mental torture grind even me down?