Friday, 12 February 2016

BRAPA - Outer Doncaster (warning - glamourous pub content!)

Mr Boilerman was here earlier than expected on Wednesday (12 noon) so I should really be thanking the lady who randomly decided to have a lunchtime bath, meaning he couldn't sort her plumbing out (it's gone Confessions of a Boilerman already!) which in turn meant he could sort my boiler first, in time for this bonus afternoon BRAPA trip......

With West Yorkshire complete and no more of North Yorkshire possible on weekday evenings, I've decided to focus on the deep South, perhaps interspersed with a bit of East Lancs/Greater Manc to see if I can complete SY before the 2017 GBG comes out.  And I started at the beginning.....(well, not including Arksey, done in 2014).

After an 'interesting' journey from Donny's bus depot where I passed B&B's with names like 'The Caribbean', I avoided the rush hour traffic (if Doncaster has a rush hour, it is hard to tell), avoided an old man who sounded like Jimmy Savile trying to talk to me about guide dogs "Now then young man", and avoided some shifty looking street youths who all resembled Adam Johnson, to arrive in Armthorpe in beautiful clear blue sunshine!  Phew, that's a sentence you'll never here again.

A difficult start, but feel the quality, at the Wheatsheaf
804.  Wheatsheaf, Armthorpe

Quite a grand pub from the outside, it was the old cliche of "walking into someone's front room" (always the best) inside and as I ordered my Sharp's Atlantic, the landlord sat behind me murmured 'good choice lad!'  I was immediately given the 10p CAMRA discount with the landlady's "every little helps" comment sounding a bit supermarkety.  Sadly, the cloudy ale didn't clear and my expression on the 'tangy sourness' said it all, and she offered to change it no fuss.  Even better, the landlord said that if I was willing to wait, they'd put their Purity UBU on and bring it over to me, so I retired to a wonderful 70's style armchair in the sun.  So this was why the only two other customers, old dears no less, were drinking cans of Red Stripe!  You don't get that in York's Pivni I tell you.  The beer when it arrived was perfect quality, sometimes you have to have a bad experience to have a really good one.  And you could tell this pub seriously cared about it's ale.  Or did they just think I was a CAMRA inspector? A bit of drama then as a nice dog got attacked by an evil one in the pub car park, landlady threatening to bar the owner of the evil dog, but it was all done in jest.  Nice dog incidentally was given a free bowl of water, but would rather drink from the dirty puddle outside, showing that 'real' water beats 'craft' water every time!  Perhaps. 

I trotted off up to the next place, Edenthorpe only 1.5 miles and thankfully, a subway allowed me to cross the tricky looking A road.  Subway of the year contender for sure.  Edenthorpe was full of 'professional' dog walkers who I nodded to as a hot-footed it past Tesco across the road to my next pub.

No Garden of Eden at the Eden Arms
805.  Eden Arms, Edenthorpe

The first thing that hit me here was a huge sign declaring this was an Ember Inn, a chain which I'm led to believe is 'not the best' though I'm open minded and also this was never going to be as bad as the Dog & Gun in Wolverhampton.  I entered an almost Happy Harvester type large room, not unpubby but you know the type, 'open plan but partitioned', 'furniture that doesn't belong in a pub', 'eye watering cushion design'.  The young barmaid, a nice lass, was having to be patient as the local nutter was telling her a rambling story about a stolen charity box.  She offered me a (better) CAMRA discount but twice in a row is a BRAPA first!  They obviously like to reward ale drinkers in these parts.  Sadly, the earlier exchange meant she couldn't subtract 20p from £3 which she blamed on a 'brainstorm'.  I sat on the lowest settee imaginable, it felt like someone was about to bring me Sushi and I spent the next 27.5 minutes enjoying a pint of Abbeydale Moonshine, allbeit in pretty much total blandness as women sat around drinking white wine and children shuffled around aimlessly.

For the love of ale eh?  Get those ales racked and ready to go then! 
So not terrible, but just a bit lame.  Onwards and northwards as I walked another mile up to Kirk Sandall with dusk now falling on this productive start to South Yorkshire midweeks.....

806.  Glasshouse, Kirk Sandall

As the GBG informed me, this pub used to have a bar made entirely of glass, "alas, no more" and isn't it sad when they strive to knock any quirky character out of pubs?  It reminded me of my 2014 trip to Doncaster's White Swan which once boasted "the tallest bar in the country", alas, no more there either.  They've kept glass in the name, and on the premises i,e, they have windows!  Otherwise, it was another quite sanitised establishment, though two rare Theakston's ales were on the bar so I sampled both, the staff were young and efficient bringing food out to old people.  I'm not a fan of beer blogging but I will say this, Theakston's bore me and their Noah's Ark (10p of each pint goes to help flood victims in an admirable stance) was cloudy and ironically, you might say, not a patch on a pint of Sam's OBB!  And no, it wasn't a Saison before you ask.  I initially sat on a very squeaky leather chair too near the bar area, felt exposed, but a quick wander revealed a more pubby room which smelt of Leeds Beer Festival's pie and peas.  Wonderful.  This was much more like a South Yorkshire pub but my peace didn't last long as a large family descended, and an excitable young lad beat a strange man called Andy at pool, so I moved back to squeaky chair territory and had a swift half of Theakston's 'Paradise' (it wasn't)  before the train back to Donny.

The more pubby area of the Glasshouse
Back in Donny, I had decided to strategically leave my remaining Donny 'ticks' for another day but the train to York was cancelled so I suddenly was 'forced' into an extra pint, how sad! 

807.  Gatehouse, Doncaster

It took a while to find this peculiar 'Spoons, but that was because the strange pedestrianised area it was in was not showing up on any of my maps!  Priory Walk or something.  It was oh so quiet, so different from your usual main street 'Spoons rabble and I could only describe it to entering a deserted, haunted theme park.  I've never tip toed in and whispered my drinks order in a 'Spoons before, but it was so peaceful, well eerie.  And before you could say 'Scooby Doo', a very thin man who sounded like Shaggy (yes, THAT one) pushed in, said "Zoiks" and returned a pint of lager which was apparently bottom of the barrel.  Lager drinkers complaining on quality, always makes me chuckle!  Anyway, it had a canteen style look to the seating near the bar, but opened up into a larger place behind with some nice bench style settee seating.  My ale incidentally, from local Dukeries, was my pint of the day and the customer's were all old men grumbling about what was on the news.  A strange but not unpleasant JDW experience.

"Hey Scoob old buddy, old pal .... my lager is off!" 
Luckily, my next train was on time and I was back in York to watch a bit of painful WBA v Peterborough penalties with a chicken kiev near a nice warm boiler!  A good day in all, I've now done 40 South Yorkshire pubs in total but lots still to do so hoping to crack on next Tuesday.

Until "outer Wigan" in 12.5 hours time, see you soon!  



  1. Good stuff, laughed 12 times, not bad.

    I'm finding your experiences are pretty close to mine, down to the "Good choice lad" when I ordered a Hobgoblin in Armthorpe which was OK. Wanted to see Armthorpe Welfare but were away at Shaw Lane Aquaforce.

    Impressed at the walking. Might keep you alive to complete BRAPA.

    The Gatehouse was a different beast on the Friday night we visited. Proper Donny.

    Enjoy Aspull.

    1. Thanks! I meant to say, I can't think of Armthorpe without thinking of 'Miners Welfare' after it which must go back to the days of listening to the local non-league football results on Radio Humberside!

      Walking is a double edged sword, some country lanes I've been on I feel like I'm putting my life at risk. Once near Beamish I almost phoned my Mum to say goodbye!

      Thanks. Aspull will be an interesting mix of transport methods.

    2. Just thinking about the winter pub walking - to reduce the possibility of not being seen and hence run over, have you considered getting a high visibility jacket? You could even get a BRAPA branded one.

      We are staying up.

      Dagger for Duncan.

    3. Are you bored this eve Tom ;-). Seem to be getting a lot of random correspondence!

      Two things occur to me. You know me well enough to know my wardrobe is pretty hi vis though admit not shown it off so much recently.

      Also, are South Yorks lanes dodgier than West Yorks cos if so, I count myself scared already!

    4. No I'm quite entertained thank you, just having a productive evening after a good days thinking at work. Sorry if I've overwhelmed you. I have listened to your advice though and watched Shetland, the first two editions are very good. I do recall seeing a previous series now. If I ever lock myself in a shipping container, please make sure Emily is looked after.

      I'm thinking the reflective stripes might be a good addition to your wardrobe. I'm sure you can get a fluorescent green high vis.

      I have come close to be run over in fairly rural South Yorkshire before.

    5. Because I sometimes get a bit overloaded with your informative emails / blog replies, I've created somesub-folders in my emails to organise myself. So if I don't reply straight away, doesn't mean I'm not loving your humour, words, info and I'm not being rude!

      Shetland is ace! Glad you are enjoying it too. If you've not seen 3 or 4, I won't spoil it but can't wait for number 5 which I think is Friday. Sad I can't watch it without thinking of BRAPA pub strategy!

      I've found a fluorescent hat, mentioned your plan to the girls at work, they think perhaps a good idea but also want me to add a torch and wet wipes to my travel kit!

    6. No worries, I know I sometimes have sessions in which I send a lot, I have no worries about working through at your own pace. I'm a little upset because I've just found an error in one of the ticketing systems which would have helped you for this one. If you ever need a York-Doncaster day return, please see me in my study.

      I watched the third Shetland today. I quite like the bloke who is like Harry Grout from Porridge. I also like Tosh.

      I think the torch is an excellent idea, you could even get a miner's hat with the headlamp. I've seen walkers with those before. I don't see the sense in the wet wipes.

    7. Thanks Tom, sorry my brain gets crowded a bit too easily at times!

      Glad you are enjoying Shetland, I too like Tosh sure she was in York's Rose & Crown having Sunday lunch today!

      Someone also suggested plasters, in case I get blisters. Hmmm. RM would say "you can't get blisters from sitting in a taxi" ha ha.

  2. Were you offered the CAMRA discount without showing your card, as I once was?

    Sad to hear the tall bar in the White Swan has gone - that was one of the most distinctive and unusual pub features in the country.

    1. What I tend finds to happen is they ask, I say yes and grope around for my card in wallet, and then they say "ho ho, we believe you lad, no need to show it!" But in Armthorpe, I did have to. In Edenthorpe, she just believed me.

      Yes, the way I heard it was the "previous unimaginative landlord" had ripped it out. York's new Eagle & Child has a very tall bar, though it's no traditional pub!

    2. * (or what I FIND TENDS to happen - in fact!)

    3. It really marks you out as a visitor when the bar person asks "Are you a CAMRA member"; happened a few times now (never in Spoons). As I rarely pick an unusual beer, I assume it's because only CAMRA members go for real ale !

  3. The glass bar, and indeed the pub name of the Glasshouse presumably are linked to the glass making heritage of the area. The glassworks of the next village of Barnby Dun is still going. A particular shame to see a pub feature going when it has a local connection.

    I've seen all the above village pubs many times whilst working and never been in. Shows what a good employee I am I supposed, but I am often tempted.

    We are staying up.

    Dagger for Duncan.

    1. Yes, I did read that about local glass now you mention it.

      What is an Ember blackcurrant like just out of interest? And is it free?

  4. An Ember blackcurrant is much like Weatherspoons, what you receive is random served by somebody who is either a dimwit or very good. Pricing is also random, but never free.

    In fact, the whole set up is like an upper class 'Spoons.