|My superb view at the Red Lion, Fenny Stratford (see pub 726)|
I broke my Bucks BRAPA duck yesterday with a commendable three pub effort (the MK Wetherspoons not currently being in the Good Beer Guide). Buckinghamshire joins Essex, Gloucs, Kent and Worcs on three.
After arriving in Milton Keynes via Euston at about 10:15am, we had a long walk into town from the railway station, in a very straight line, such is the crazily uniformed layout of MK. One of the main conclusions from the day was that MK is traffic friendly, but not pedestrian friendly despite the strange parallel walkways.
724. Slug & Lettuce, Milton Keynes
My joke about this being the most historic, architectural gem in the whole of Milton Keynes went down well on social media, perhaps it was actually true! Anyway, unlike the Leicester version of this chain, there wasn't a buzzing pre-match throng of breakfasting people enjoying a wide range of ales. Only two were on, Tim Taylor Landlord being the most exciting and to be fair, it was well kept having made a similar journey to us. Dad seemed to be flagging already. Maybe MK had drained his soul. Speaking of which, the obligatory 'nod to Hallowe'en' was in the form of old B-movie posters. At least, that's what I thought until I read titles such as "City of the Alien Invasion" and "How to Identify a Zombie" and wondered if they were just tourist information posters. And as for the Wolfman, he was just a regular chap with much facial hair and a crazed expression. The barman was a nice, helpful chap though his touch of southern hemisphere accent slightly hindered his chances of staff of the year, not that we are prejudiced here on BRAPA. The only other customer, an old woman, had fallen asleep behind me briefly raising hopes in my mind of a first BRAPA death, which would have helped this rather non-descript pub stick in the mind. As it was, mine host called her a taxi and she was soon on her way back home. And we had a bus to catch.
|Heritage heaven in Milton Keynes|
725. Black Horse, Great Linford
It looked like a creaky old ancient inn from the outside, but it was soon clear this was gastro-tastic, and we were nearly grouped in with two women who'd just come in for lunch. Staff were good though, and when the women had been dispatched to a dining room to the left, we were served, again from a choice of just the two ales, but the Oxford Gold was good if maybe a bit thin, The low ceiling and little nooks and crannies gave quite a nice pub atmosphere, even if the diners did keep arriving. However, it was clear that this pub wasn't going to have enough to keep us occupied until the match, (even though the loos were in a strange double upstairs location and smelt of lavender) so I rang for a taxi, Ace, which was reliable and contradicted the dodgy online review I'd read and after what seemed like a fair old drive, we were in Fenny Stratford.
|Canal side action at the Black Horse, but nicer out than in.|
726. Red Lion, Fenny Stratford
Dad was just taking the obligatory BRAPA photo of me outside the pub, when Dave Miller popped his head out of the door to welcome us in. This was like a 'Welly' home-coming, with loads of old faces of Hull City fans I'd not seen for ages, cluttering the main bar which had a covered pool table and a hidden side room with a congregation of well hidden Amber Nectar people. We ordered a Hydes 1864 original, a real proper taste of Manchester, but what was this, plastic glasses? More on that later. Me and Dad had a brief spell of being sociable, but when fanzine hero Matt caused a distraction, Dad (with mojo well and truly restored) saw the opportunity to nip through a conservatory into a beer garden onto the one bench in the sun. Move of the day! It was ridiculously summery for October 31st, and the location was stunning as we watched canal boats negotiate the lock (I'd have been annoyed if I'd had a load of pubbers gawping at me trying to drive one of those things), there was also some great buildings to admire and plants to identify! It was like summer. Christine and Chris D came along about 1:15pm to join us, and then a local walking his rat (oops I mean dog) chatted to us. He explained how L**ds fans had turned up drunk a few weeks ago, broken off the canal gate and trashed two other pubs in town, hence the plastic glasses. His rat-dog was mingling happy with Hull City fans, he'd never done this with other team's fans because WE are the nicest, still the Gooligans weren't present. The beers again were a bit limited, the Ghost Ship had gone off so I was back on the Young's Special like in Bedford last week, but make no mistake, this was an excellent pre-match session.
|Arriving in sunny Fenny Stratford, we sat on a bench to the right that you can't quite see.|
Dad was sure he hadn't been to the Bree Louise (not including a more recent aborted attempt with Tom post-Watford after an Everton v Liverpool cup game at Wembley - too busy). Both me and Christine found this very hard to believe, so it was time to take him to see if anything stirred in his mind! It didn't, and further research (thanks Christine!) shows my first (and long awaited) visit was probably 20th Feb 2010 after a West Ham away game which I remember Dad did NOT go to, so this makes sense. Anyway, it was heaving so we sat outside, Dad had a dry cider and my "Horrible Night Stout" by Wild Weather Ales was easily my pint of the day. We had to contend with two weirdo Man Utd fans (Kevin & Perry?) but that's the territory in such commuter pubs, still nice to see more than 3 beers on a bar.
|A "Horrible Night's Stout" outside at Bree Louise, a fine pint.|
Back in Kings Cross for the 8pm train home, all in all, a very successful day all things considered.
My target for the end of October was 720, I am currently on 726 so I'm ahead of schedule. A 27 pub month was very pleasing. So even if I have a bad November, I should be easily on course for the 750 by the end of the year......possibly the end of this month!
That's not to say I'll be complacent. Best laid plans and all that.....
A perfect example of what I mean is Brentford on Tuesday. What was looking like being an extremely productive BRAP-fest is now going to be a bit of a struggle, I won't be in Brentford til after 16:30 so have had to revise plans. Whitton & Isleworth pre-match. Kew Bridge and Brentford post match. Hounslow the following morning for brekkie is a bonus option though. It is what it is (great phrase) and I'm looking forward to a "great day out" though not too optimistic football-wise!
I'm actually now contemplating a rare Monday night BRAPA trip tomorrow. Knottingley is next on the West Yorkshire list and being off work plus the late start on Tuesday means it makes sense in my mind, at least. Nothing definite, I'll sleep on it!
The rest of the month will see me get back on the North Yorkshire trail (7th and 28th), we have our monthly trip to Bedfordshire on the 14th in the forboding form of Luton, whilst the 21st sees a trip to Bristol, though 3 o'clock kick off it ain't. I'm also hoping to get back in the West Yorks midweek routine on 10th, 17th and 24th. Twenty four pubs this month? I should coco.