Monday, 12 October 2015

BRAPA : the archives (321-330)

Monday night is now officially archive night, and we're going to finish our tour of "lovely" Leeds, my place of work, before delving a little bit deeper into West Yorkshire, ending up in "wonderful" Wakefield.

321.  Tapped, Leeds

Imagine if aliens took over and opened their own real ale bar.  It would probably look like this.  Cold, metallic, uncharacterful, robotic.  I'd already heard a few negative murmurings from work friend Carol P and her chap Steven, before I decided to try it out for myself.  It was 20th April 2014 and me and sister Lu had 'landed' in Leeds ready for a drink before a Rezillos gig at Brudenell.  What is weird now is that BRAPA was officially 15 days old but I never considered this a pre-emptive tick at any stage.  Maybe I was fooled by the fact that keg seemed to be king, with the cask ales hidden behind and due to the sterile dispense display, it was hard to tell which was which.  Luckily, a friendly barman assisted and I was drinking a beautiful Marble Spring from the great Manchester brewery,  Lu may have had the same.  We may have chosen this because the brewery is vegan.  Anyway, we rested on a cold metal bench and had a deep conversation about being "still" whilst life buzzed around us.  I almost came back here once with Emily on the way from Crowd of Favours to Friends of Ham, but it was about 4 deep at the bar.  Did I care?  No.  Not a patch on the York, Sheffield or Euston versions of the same chain.

322.  Templar, Leeds

Friday 10th October 2008 was a memorable night out for the all wrong reasons, but before Jig got wiped out by a Nissan Micra, I did what I do best and got the whole birthday group on an ambitious pub crawl of Leeds.  This was our second pub though I was a bit drunk, having spent about 3 hours waiting for them all in North Bar.  The reason for the sudden visit of this famous, old Leeds pub was that I had, for the first time, seen it in the GBG and despite the birthday group containing people I#d never met before(!), I still marched them here.  It was a bit poor, I drank Tetley's which was about the only ale on, it was corridor standing room only and the highlight was me picking up a free pissy Argos pen from the toilets and carrying it around with me all night - urrgghh!  Due to it's association to "10/11", it took me a few years to return but have done 3 or 4 times since and have been incredibly impressed.  Beautiful building, great ales, the only problem being the clientele.  Very rough men!  Having said that, the only time I've been brave enough to listen in to a conversation of these tattooed rugged old toothless scummers, it was about Uncle Phil's role in Fresh Prince of Bel Air and I smiled kindly at them.  My most recent visit was 10th Oct 2014 (my 6th anniversary) as I waited for Bob's surprise birthday to start, the locals were livelier than ever but I was safe in the snug to enjoy a delightful Kirkstall Three Swords.  This pub is constantly under development threat, may not be here much longer, enjoy it while you can, I certainly will!

A classic Three Swords in the Templar, 10th Oct 2014
323.  Veritas Ale & Wine Bar, Leeds

I did my usual "wait for ages to see how this peculiar new bar settles in" before I came here on a rare Monday lunchtime with Emily 27th Feb 2012 and was a bit disconcerted to see cake displays and coffee machines on the bar entrance.  You have to walk a bit round the corner to find the ales.  Now surely that isn't right?  Staff were good, the ale was good, but I can't help feeling that awful term "female friendly" is designed for bars like this.  In fact, every time I've been it's with females, whether it is Emily, Rebecca or a girl called Jo's leaving do.  It's true my workplace's ale aficionado Bryan brings "his girls" here as well if that doesn't sound too dodgy.  My most recent visit was as long ago as Hull City's promotion day 2-2 with Cardiff where we went out for a join (i.e. my sister's) birthday do on the evening.  Despite being a Saturday 8pm, it was as dead and chilled as ever.  After the trauma of that day, I was happy to stay, but she swiftly moved us on to the now defunct Fab Cafe.  Oh, but it's a Market Town Taverns so another one off the list! 

324.  Victoria Family & Commercial Hotel, Leeds

Wow, don't ask me when I first came here but judging by it's "Inn Brief" entry in the 2002 GBG, I'm going to put the conservative October 2003 estimate on it as I did with Duck & Drake and Palace.  Up until about 2009, it was easily my most visited pub in Leeds.  Dad would meet me lunches here if he had a pensions meeting.  I had countless LLAC sessions with the likes of Mark Dobson and Dan Midwood here.  Even Bob, not really a pub or beer fan, loved it when I took him here after years of Stick & Twisting!  We even had a work Christmas do here once in a side room but my roast dinner was AWFUL, but the ale made up for it.  We were here on Jig's fateful birthday night where I tried chatting up a Canadian girl, and sister Lu told two lads how to carry three pints at once which was highly amusing.  I have met John Watson II on several of our nights out here, cos trying to save one of those big booths is a challenge on a Friday evening, let me tell you!  But what a wonderful pub, let me tell you - Nicholson's are very lucky to have it in their portfolio and well done to them, though I personally think that like the Scarbrough, the ale has suffered since it changed to their hands.  In fact, it went through a terrible spell of vinegary pints probably around 2008/9 and it is one of only two pubs I've had to report to CAMRA for consistent shite quality.  Same staff for years so god knows what happened.  My favourite time was during a chaotic December weekend evening, we were off to watch the Saw Doctors and I turned up in my welly boots terrified of ice!  I ended up drinking a woman's white wine and pretending my boots were some statement of my love for the Saw Doctors song "Hay Wrap".  A pub with loads of memories for me.  

325.  Whitelock's Ale House, Leeds

Another old classic, cor even my Mum used to drink in here when she was a teenager so probably about 1715 hahaha but seriously, it is little changed since  and it truly is the heart of Leeds, as some famous person said.  I will again put my conservative estimate of Oct 2003 on it but it's always seemed to be in the GBG and was certainly mine and John Watson's fave on our early Leeds pub crawls.  Great entrance, down a little narrow ginnel between two main shopping thoroughfares, and easily the best of the four pubs that have this set up.  I've been a fair few times but not as often as I should have done, and certainly not at all often in the last 5 years.  Highlights include when me and Piper got ID'd and then exclaimed to the pub that our combined age was actually 63!  Once, I sat outside and a water spout suddenly shot out of the side wall and drenched me.  On another occasion, JW2 had an internet date here with a Norwich girl  and I was the perfect, but invited, gooseberry,  My fave indoor times were once when I had a hot roast beef sandwich and then made a gothic couple jealous because I was going to a Misfits gig they weren't aware of!  And once when me, JW2 and Lu sat inside on another reasonable quiet afternoon birthday Leeds crawl - such a wonderful atmosphere.  You know this makes me want to go tomorrow.  24/1/14 my last visit at time of writing.

326.  Old Cock, Otley

The most valuable thing my Team Leader at work has ever said to me was the story of how this, one of her favourite Otley pubs, got it's name.  A local couple loved visiting Fanny's in Saltaire (see pub 327) so much that they opened their own in Otley with the same design and gave it this cheeky equivalent name!  On a perfectly sunny day, 6th May 2013, my birthday crawl of Otley eventually brought us here and I have to say it was, as predicted by my boss, pub of the day.  I hadn't been to Fanny's Ale House yet so it actually reminded me of Blind Jack's in Knaresborough, with proper old boards and the feeling that you had to breathe in and apologise to everyone as you walked forward to the bar.  The difference was that we did find a side room to sit in, but Jig was having a crisis of confidence because he thought the guy who served us used to work with him at the railway station Wetherspoons in Leeds. He eventually plucked up courage to confirm it with him, and that's the only concrete memory I have if this cracking little pub, which I'm shocked to learn, didn't open til 2010.  I'd have guessed 1756 if you'd forced me to.  

327.  Fanny's Ale & Cider House, Saltaire

Having recovered from the most traumatic work night out ever on Friday 6th December 2013, I was ready to do my "S is for Saltaire" A-Z day on the Sunday, 8th December and arrived into a grey Saltaire and hung around outside til 12 noon trying not to look like an alcoholic on the main road.  Multi roomed, real fires, different levels, wooden, just beer, beer and more beer, wow this was the perfect tonic to a miserable last two days!  I got chatting to the friendly barman, all big hair, bearded, tattooed, he must have been in a metal band surely.  We chatted on Fernandes brewery and York pubs and he told me a few facts about this place, which I can't remember.  I drank a "Blue Lady" by Fernandes which he recommended, then an Ossett Treacle Stout cos let's face it, pubs like this don't come around every day and I was recovering from a David Hockney art exhibtion, a man who I'm sure doesn't like Fanny's!  (sorry). 

The sign didn't lie at Fanny's in Saltaire
328.  Staff of Life, Todmorden

With the BRAPA seedling having started forming in my mind a couple of weeks earlier, I suddenly was impatient about finishing the A-Z so squeezed in Todmorden on Sunday 26th January 2014. A silly idea as replacement bus services made the day twice as difficult and I arrived in near darkness after 4pm.  The people in Tod are so friendly, I just have to squeeze that in, but I was still scared walking the 2 mile trek towards Burnley as Eagle's Crag loomed large and water flooded down from the gorge, crashing on either side of me.  But the real reason I was scared cos I'd just read a man was abducted by aliens here in 1980 and I could feel those little green men, getting ideas for opening the Tapped in Leeds (see pub 321) hovering above me.  It was with some relief that I arrived at this cosy narrow pub, not the best time as people were looking very bloated following 5 course Sunday lunches.  My presence, a stranger wanting beer, confused most, but I got the friendly "poor lad, we've stopped doing food and he has to make do with beer" look which is sadly common on my BRAPA trips.  I sat near a load of pub games on a multi cushioned seat and decided my pint of Salamander was actually quite poor!  I blamed brewery at the time, not pub.  I scowled at a few families who were overstaying their welcome, but didn't pluck up courage to ask staff about the legendary "White Doe" tale as instructed by the GBG.

Remote Crag side walk to the Staff of Life. Todmorden
329.  Black Rock, Wakefield

And speaking of the A-Z, I was soon with Jig on a freezing Thursday morning 30th Jan 2014 to be precise, having done U and V before T - I think I was losing A-Z discipline by this stage!  We'd done the "culture" of Wakey, and it was time to get out of the cold and hit the pubs.  This was one of the few to open before 4pm midweek so we started here (1:48pm) and were surprised by the sheer volume of scroungers (sorry, I mean retired people definitely pensioned and NOT claiming benefits).  But it was a happy atmosphere in a proper dark old pub.  Lovely exterior too, and almost everything else in the centre of town has become a crummy bar.  The 4 ales were all quite standard considering I'd read the locals are supposed to help choose what they want!  Having said that, I loved my Morland Golden Hen, and everytime I've had it since, it has been nowhere near this quality.  Of all the pubs I mentioned to my Wakefield friend Rebecca, this was the one she most despised but then, it isn't designed for young women, and surely that is a good thing in pubs, right?!  

Arched tiled facade, proper great old man pub - yes! 

330.  Bull & Fairhouse, Wakefield

And later on in our "W is for Wakefield" day, the worse for wear duo of me and Jig entered this former cattle market and fairground, approx 5:15pm.  This was probably my haziest pub memory of the day, and it always feels like I'm at my drunkest when Jig is my fellow BRAPster, though to claim being 'easily led' by Jig would be a very lame excuse, I'm sure he'd agree.  But very much like our Cambridge day, I had a bit of a mid-session wobble.  So much so that I it's only now that I read that it is the brewery tap for the wonderful Great Heck brewery, so our decision to both have Ossett Silver King (nice but quite common) says a lot for our mental state at the time!  We sat on a raised seating area and Sky Sports News was in, it was quite a traditional pub and I felt like I spent most of the time on my own - so either Jig had a long loo session or just zoned out completely.  Should probably re-visit!

So there we go,  we'll finish off in Wakey next time and then get started on the pubs which I had visited pre-BRAPA and are in the new 2016 GBG but weren't in the 2015 GBG, or I'd forgotten that I'd been to them!

See you soon, Si



  1. Good idea making it a regular evening slot.

    I've always felt that Whitelocks has a bit of the tourist trap about it - it is almost too unchanged for its own good. Am I being harsh?

    May I ask what the culture of Wakey consists of? Did the visit the cathedral, the former workplace of the late Rev Eric Treacy, or was it a case of doing a couple of drug deals and a mugging, perhaps a rape and a murder if you were feeling really cultured. Largest city in Europe never to have had a football league or equivalent team.

  2. The 'regular release day' idea is the brainchild of a certain Andrew Dunn, and I now decree it is Dunn's Law that I should endeavour to release archives on a Monday, midweek trips on a Wednesday, and weekend write ups on a Sunday, with special features as and when. I won't always be able to stick to it, as this midweek testifies, but I'll be as near as!

    Way harsh re Whitelocks, I've never picked up a tourist trap vibe. York's Ye Olde Starre, London's Market Porter and Edinburgh's Bow Bar are 3 of the many examples of where it is noticeable.

    Good Wakey stat. We did Cathedral, old theatre, and the Hepworth gallery but it was all really pub preamble.


  3. The one trouble with having a specified publication day is that when you are unable to keep to them, I get worried that something awful has happened like you being kidnapped by an alien in Tapped.

    I shall have to revisit Whitelocks to see if I get the same vibe. Although I do have an idea for a barometer to judge this, which I shall inform you of on Saturday.

  4. Scowling at families and pub diners, complaining at female-friendly pubs; you are Pub Curmudgeon, aren't you ?

    Was your theft of the lady's white wine like mine at the Ivy House i.e. you were doing it for a tick ?

    Wakefield isn't bad; Newmillerdam and the heaths to the east are really attractive, but the pubs are the highlight. Nothing new for some time though, apart from that one in Stanley.

  5. Having involuntarily visited Wakefield a few months ago, I think I was slightly less generous than I could have been. The bakery at the West Gate end of the generic shopping area was decent with good parkin, and Thomas' isn't bad for a chain bakery at the Kirkgate end. I'd still argue with your rating of 'isn't bad' though.

    1. I like that you can recognise culinary excellence Tom, none of this Burger Kings/Greggs nonsense. I had a peshwari naan just north of centre that was brilliant as well. You're right though, you do need to stretch the definition of Wakefield a bit.

    2. Hey that Gregg's sausage roll in Sunderland was as good as any top cuisine could get! Thomas' is better though, love the one near Jorvik Viking Centre and love a good bit of parkin (not Jon).

      I more agreed to 'take ownership' of the white wine in case she took off a stiletto and stabbed me in the eye.

      I like Wakefield mostly, well not the people but that Red Shed (wow), Fernandes (superb), Hop (yes) etc etc and places like Heath, Stanley and Wintersett and surely shoe-ins for any GBG!

    3. Whilst I don't know about sausage rolls, I've always found Greggs both overpriced and substandard. I'm sure you can find better ones. I enjoyed the doughnut voucher fiasco though.

      It's Steve Parkin you love isn't it?

      Being stabbed in the eye could have been a good way to get sympathy from the woman, and would have allowed you to not drink the wine.

      Would it sound strange if I stated that I think Wakefield has its own character, and it would be wrong to take that away, as they seem to be doing at Kirkgate station. Yes, do the repairs. Yes, put the information in. Yes, if you must install a buffet, but make it a proper one that sells mugs of tea and the like for say a quid, rather than the protentious thing they have installed. I bet if you get to know them the people are great, those I've met have tended to be, if a little dense at times.

  6. By the by, that Brudenell. Best gig venue on earth, and the beer range is good (Kirkstall for one). I thought you could drink there without going to a gig, ought to be GBG.

  7. I'm pleased to hear that the Brudenell has improved. I was taken there in 2008 and thought it a very poor student serving establishment. I think I'd sooner have been collected by aliens in Tapped.

    1. You really should start your own blog called Tom's myth-busters.

      The faked moon-landing was a fake
      Wonderwall is the worst Oasis track
      Grimsby is in Yorkshire
      It's a barm, not a muffin
      The Brudenell is a pit
      etc etc

  8. I have no knowledge of Oasis, other than the fruit flavoured drink of that name is crap.
    Grimsby is a shithole in Lincolnshire.
    It's a bread cake, not a barm. A muffin is something completely different.

    1. Boys, boys! Ok, time to bust a few myths. Brudenell was a pit the first time I went too, probably 2008 but now, yes I totally agree, I've seen hardcore punk and country music there and it is equally fantastic with a pint of Kirkstall Three Swords and for me, should be in GBG aheead of Tapped, Friends of Ham and all the other modern bars!

      And yes, I always thought a barm was more like a bap or a breadcake and a muffin might be the Cambridge version to accompany the quail eggs and caviar.

      I liked Oasis when it was in a glass poppy lidded bottle in 1997. The band died when the drink went plastic!

  9. In the highly unlikely event that I am still alive and allowed to roam free in society, I will let you demonstrate the new found fantasia of Brudenell on my 63rd birthday.

    A muffin has more straight sides and seems to have a denser dough. I've never been a fan, but I would be interested to try a proper one rather than what I suspect is the supermarket crap version.