Monday, 30 November 2015

BRAPA : the archives (367 - 374)

It's with sadness that I declare this the last 'archive' entry, unless of course some pubs get into the 2017 GBG which I went to before BRAPA began.  But it's been fun taking this trip down memory lane and I can now start putting them all into a chronological order to work out what my definitive 'first' GBG 'tick' was, though annoyingly it's not a question I'm getting as regularly as I did in 2014!

367.  Ferry, Cawood

I suppose there's a fair chance I came here as a baby and slyly had a quick sup of a Mackeson Stout, as we lived nearby in Biggin, but this pub most resonates with me as a kind of 'reserve' option when we were looking for a pub lunch after our golfing trips, which started around the year 2000, maybe a bit before.  Having said that, it took an awful lot of years and a probable closed Greyhound in Riccall / Drovers in Skipwith . Cross Keys in Stillingfleet, to finally make it around 2011.  It also took as a long time to realise it was a good real ale pub in it's own right, despite having spied adverts in York's Ouse Boozer magazine for many years.  I remember how pleasantly surprised I was as a busy husband hoovered, set up a wood burner, pulled us two cracking pints of some guest ale, made a great ham n cheese toastie and still had time to rock the baby back to sleep (well, that's how it seemed anyway).  The inside was intimate with old beams, just like I'd envisaged (unless I had been here before!).  I badgered Dad for a return though Greyhound at Riccall was still a firm favourite, though on 31st Jan 2014, this was one of the few places we could rely on for food, good ale (Rudgate Viking and a Scarborough one) and more wood burner heaven.  Krzb went quite recently with his Mum and had a bad experience so may be I have just been lucky, but it's deservedly in the GBG in my eyes.

Wood burner and Dad's elbow at the Ferry
368.  Fox, York

Well, well, well - it's fair to say that me and John Watson II are still champing at the bit for more Fox visits since it became an Ossett pub a year or so ago.   It was already a wonderful multi roomed building with one of the best beer gardens in the York area, with a little serving hatch to the outside too.  But it's fair to say it's been 'mixed' in terms of success rate since we first came here.  Despite living on the right side of town for it, it is still a helluva walk which doesn't help, plus it's had periods of not open at all / will it be knocked down etc etc.  In fact, on our last visit pre change over the old man steward 'looking after it' (just Tetleys was on) told me off for talking too much!  A pub first.  I'm putting my first visit at August 2005 as our dicegames took us to more adventurous York pubs.  We were obviously quite impressed for on our second visit (10th Jan 2006), I reported that it "lacked the atmosphere and ale of it's debut performance". (it lost 0-4 to Hansom Cab for heaven's sake!)  And on the 2007 A-Z, I wrote it was "it's usual fairly nice pub, decent pint of Landlord but not too thrilling, but still an underlying feeling of chav grime about the place!"  How times change,

369.  Hop, York

Or the Hop Pizzeria, as I insist on calling it at all times.  This is one of York's newest and most welcome additions over the last year or so.  As you may already know from my blog, Ossett are equally adept at breathing life into ailing but grand old pubs like the Fox above, as they are to converting a more modern building from scratch, but unlike it's Sheffield equivalent, this does have good atmosphere whenever I've been in.  27th October 2013 was my first visit, when I was doing a Sunday evening challenge to tick off a different York pub each week i.e. an excuse for a pint!  It hadn't been open long and was predictably busy with a younger crowd, and I had to sit high up in the back room - trying to read P G Wodehouse under neon lights with music playing did not go well.  I was drinking a fantastic pint of Flash Flood by Phoenix, fitting because storms were being predicted for later that evening by the Met Office.  My favourite time here was when when I was showing Dad round a few new York pubs and we got to sit in the front room, quite ornate and a really great atmosphere, but the only time I've ever seen a spare seat here to this day.  I haven't been too often really but I'd say it thoroughly deserves it's GBG debut.  

Me, Lisa and Lu - drunk in Hop Pizzeria Xmas 2013 (never mind the Appeltiser!)
370.  Three Tuns, Sheffield

14th Feb 2009 could well be the date of my first of two visits to this pub, which I remember most for being on a very steep street somewhere between the city centre and Kelham Island.  Also, the building is a very weird shape too, but once inside, it felt kind of generic bar type fair, a bit too clean cut really - a bit Slug n Lettuce if you will, but with a little bit more atmosphere.  I remember being with Dad and I think Tom as well, not sure who else but we met Ben in here / on the way.  Pub was open but in a Greyhound at Ipswich type of way, the barman made us wait until the clock sounded 11am before he'd serving us, so we sat around reading newspapers casually - Dad even started a crossword.  I think our pragmatic approach freaked out the barman, who looked edgy and actually caved in a minute or two early!  I hear the pub has changed a bit now, sounds better according to the GBG.  I feel this was our "early opener" en route to what was perhaps my first foray to the Kelham Island Tavern.  I may also have come here alone quickly on 25.7.09 before a pre-season friendly but have no great memories if I did!  Turned out this pub was actually the Wig & Pen, not Three Tuns!

371.  Halfway House, Edinburgh

I first learnt about this pub in the classic "Britain's strangest pubs" book which I must have got around the mid noughties, and this why I have this nagging feeling I'd visited before my first definite date of 3rd March 2012, on mine and JW2's Edinburgh pub day, en route to Clyde v Montrose.  However, am sure I didn't visit it on any of the other three Scottish lower league football days, leaving my trip to Glasgow to pick up a certificate for completing a course at work early Oct 2011.  But even though I most probably changed in Edinburgh, did I really have time to visit an extra pub?  Whatever the truth, I remember me and JW2 walking up the steps at Fleshmarket Close and seeing a big group of pissheads going in, so deciding to leave it a bit!  We sat at the bar (it's a tiny pub so about all you can do) and voted it our pub of the day.  I wrote "halfway house was the winning pub as it combined bow bar's snugness and blue blazer's calmness without being too much one or the other, prob why it is called halfway house".  I was back there almost exactly two years later for a late pint after my X & Y A-Z day in Yoker and Glasgow, where I drank a fine Festival Ale by Houston and declared it "Edinburgh's Best Pub".  A bold claim indeed!

372.  Black Lion, Plaistow

28th Jan 2009 and if Dad's birthday overnight West Ham trip had started to go downhill with a trip to the Magpie near Liverpool St, it took an even messier turn for the worst as I followed Ben in here - I wonder if this more of a bladder requirement for him as we meandered our way towards the Boleyn Ground, rather than any great need to visit a new pub.  I certainly hadn't classed it in my mind as a GBG pub even as I entered the busy pub and got a rather cloudy joint pint of Sharp's Doom Bar for me and Dad, who'd stayed outside with most of the others sheltered from the rain under an awning, which he reluctantly helped me sup as we passed it around.  It did feel like a proper old pub, being built in 1747, you could sense the atmosphere, not just of those 'appy 'Ammers!  Should probably go back to realise it's full potential, but the fact of the matter is, I don't need to so shut up.

373.  Clockwork Beer Company, Glasgow

So, 10th October 2009 and after a nice little pre-match tour of Glasgow, me and Krzb got the local train to Mount Florida just a stones throw away from Hampden Park, where we were due to watch Queens Park v Stranraer.  It was quite a large building, but it's main quirk was it's own onsite brewery selling Clockwork beers like 'Amber' and 'Red', served by friendly young staff.  I think I'd rate the beers good, but not spectacular, and I'm sure there was plenty of brewing equipment on display too.  We settled down to watch a football match on the TV above, and i was sure we were watching Swindon v Walsall until Krzb pointed out about 40 mins in that it was Wales U21's - and I seem to remember his favourite rapist Ched the Ripper playing too!   Maybe the beer was stronger than I realised.  I harboured vague desires to return for a post-match pint, but pretty sure we didn't.

374.  Fleece, Haworth

Welly summer days out were at their peak in 2012 and a big group minus Dad set off on the Keighley-Oxenhope railway thang on 7th July.  Haworth is a bit irritating with it's pretentious steep hill and feeling that all the shop keepers are secretly laughing at the tourists puffing and panting their way up it.  We'd tried a nice Steam brewery pub that never gets in the GBG, when on the way down, we went in this proper West Yorks no holds barred Timmy Taylor's gem.  Friendly staff pointed out a 'secret' (not so secret) beer garden up a lot of stairs and on the pub roof!  A perfect spot in the summer to view the surroundings with a pint of Ram Tam, Christine used a strange phone App to try and plot her altitude and height above sea level, which meant nothing to me, whilst Mark's wife traumatised me and Ben by declaring her love of Fifty Shades of Grey.  This was easily my favourite of all Welly summer outings to date, so I repeated the trick with Jig, John and Krzb the following year.  It was a great day, but a cool breeze meant my second Fleece roof trip wasn't quite as pleasurable, but nonetheless, I recommended this to Christina at work who recently came here as part of her honeymoon.  What could be more romantic?  Just don't mention Fifty Shades.

It's Welly Summer Day fun at the Fleece, Haworth (July 2012)
So, there you have it ladies and gentlemen.  374 pubs archived.  I will now get to work on ordering them and report back to you in a few weeks time on my conclusions!  Two special features coming up, firstly next Monday a look at the origins of BRAPA, and then a "two sided" report on the official BRAPA music album!  

See you soon, Si


  1. Si, thank you for the trips down memory lane. Monday nights won't be the same without them. I'm sure that there will be many occasional archive pubs cropping up in future editions of the GBG.

    According to my records, I met you on a southbound Voyager (220010 apparently - the only time I've had it which is a record I would be happy to take to my cold watery grave). I recall the disappointment at only being 29 minutes late into Sheffield. I'd forgotten said Three Tuns, leather sofas as I recall. All very modern whilst vaguely trying to be traditional.

    The Black Lion was in the GBG on the evening in question and it was a considered plan to go to it. May I add the crime of using plastic drinking vessels to its charge sheet?

    I remember Christine's telephonic altitude app which generated complete bollocks. I seem to remember it thinking the Fleece was below sea level. Always a Haworth classic, but I think a bit more touristificated than it used to be. It used to do a special deal of a Taylor's beer (never Ram Tam or Landlord) for 99p, I know prices have inflated but I just can't imagine them doing that now. I agree a top Welly day, we shall have to keep trying with them.

    I look forward to the special features, curiously the music one especially as I think it may be educational for a simpleton like me.

  2. Thanks Tom, yes here's to a good ten more archive-worthy pubs in September 2016 and also congrats on your 8 shack ticks on Saturday.

    Three Tuns is very much how I remember it too, though I can't remember Black Lion being in my mind so maybe it was your Dad/ Ben etc who had the idea? Plastic pint "glasses" are exactly why we should re-visit on a non-match day, but think we have enough on our Jan 2nd plate.

    I'd forgotten the "below sea level" reading but now I remember, I seem to remember the prices being very "tourist friendly" (i.e. overpriced) last time I was there which seems to go against Tim Taylor's ethos (if he has one!)

    Yes the special features will get us through to Christmas (sorry, Newtonmas) and hopefully by then I will have logged all the pubs both in current GBG and 2014/15 guides with dates. Too exciting, I love lists!

  3. I suspect there will be a gradual decline in the number of archive pubs as the years go on, until they all but dry up. However, at some point, when they have become a rarity, say something like 2035, something absurd like Three Tuns in Hull (to pick a random example - it isn't a specific prediction but I will claim otherwise if it happens) will get in out of the blue.

    Your sporting congratulations for Saturday are gratefully received, although it was 8 uses of my red pen rather than shack ticks. Although, as often happens with bashing, some shacks fell as well, which will aid your defence in future West Mids trips.

    Given your love of lists and your knowledge, have you ever considered going on Mastermind, with British real ale pubs as your specialist subject? You could have something punk related and the career of Jon Parkin as the others. I suppose for the lists Pointless is the real target. Your name vill go on ze liszt.

  4. A good read. Couple of comments.

    If you ever do Jon Parkin as a specialist subject, I was at Cambridge v York in 2003 when he missed, conservatively, 7 sitters. We thought we were looking at an Ali Dia scenario then.

    I need to do the Fox (and the Hop). I really like Ossett and the Hop pubs, though as you mention Sheffield (and Saltaire if you've been yet) were a bit student nightclub for me.

    Halfway House was my favourite in Edinburgh, was amazed when it dropped out a couple of years ago, back in now though.

    NB I'd like one of those scary brown tiled pubs on Hessle Road to get in the Guide- Alexandra Hotel I think. Can you fix that for me by attending CAMRA selection meeting and voting for it ?