Friday, 1 April 2016

BRAPA - More fun on the outskirts of Barnsley

With the smell of Johnstone's Paints hanging in mild spring air, I was back in the now familiar Barnsley interchange in search of new 'Good Beer Guide' pub ticks.  I was on the bus to Hoyland Common about 15 mins later, and as I took the below picture, across the road was a man wearing nothing but boxer shorts seemingly locked out of his house.  Barnsley is such a great town.

849.  Saville Square, Hoyland Common

It was almost as if bland pub chain Ember Inns had torn up their business model, and decided to add a bit of character, comfort and an additional exciting beer.  True, the eye-watering, mismatched furniture unsuitable for pub use was on display, so was the pointless pile of logs and friendly young staff doing their best to impress.  My brunette was on top form, and only missed out on an award nomination because it was a male!   Abbeydale Moonshine (another Ember staple) was on, but I went for a Thornbridge Kipling and I doubt I've drunk a pint so quickly this year.  Great stuff.  The bar area had nice tiling too, quite quirky and green, just the way I like it.  An unlikely business meeting was happening to my left, two young men agreed everyone else in their company were "fucking idiots", and could "only see what they want to see".  Someone called Simon came in for serious criticism which seemed harsh, Simon's Union and all that.  Little did they know I was taking the meeting minutes.  They called time on the meeting after about 5 minutes, happy with their conclusions, and watched clips of cats playing with babies on YouTube and giggled hysterically.  It was time to go!

Strange outdoor seating at Saville Square
A lovely pint and some horrific chair patterns in Hoyland Common
Birdwell was only a mile away, so I tested the dodgy ankle in readiness for Saturday's day out to see how it would hold up.  Of course, after last week's fiasco, I got increasingly nervous as I got into Birdwell and started the walk on the imaginatively titled 'The Walk'.  Thursday night is surely a night that pubs open?  I saw a car pull into the car park, a good sign (as was the Bass lamp identified by Martin Taylor), and sure enough the pub door was open.   What a blessed relief!  

Does this scene look familiar?  It should do!
850.  Cock Inn, Birdwell

I said 'hello' to my trusty picnic bench (the glasses had now gone!), and entered the left hand side as per 2016 BRAPA rules.  This was immediately wrong with no pumps in sight, and a friendly young version of punk legend John Robb (complete with croaky voice) directed me all the way around.  Mrs Birdwell decided I was going to be the guinea pig for her 13 year old daughter's first foray into pint pulling, and the young lass did a good job on a fine pint of Stancil Barnsley Bitter.  Like all good South Yorkshire pubs, a group of jolly jokey men had gathered in the back right hand corner (which also happened in Barugh Green and Auckley and must be a local rule).  The pub was just as I'd imagined last week, a wonderful old stone grotto of pump clips, strange decor, a bit like the Graziers in Stanley but with a slightly more country feel.  Anyone worried about the future of real ale or proper pubs just needs to spend an hour here to be reassured.  Of course, I had to ask about Monday opening, I owed it to us all!  Landlady told me they hadn't opened on a Monday for at least a year now, but plan to start doing so shortly.  I decided it would be harsh to tell her that I actually gave no shits about what they were planning to do on Monday's 'in the future", they seemed a lovely family.  I think the local CAMRA need to get more on the ball re the GBG opening times and WhatPub, but there are worse crimes I suppose (i.e. why Sunderland CAMRA still haven't de-guided the inept Butcher's Arms) but anyway, I digress.  This was a classic pub experience worth waiting for. 

Cosy pubbing at the Cock Inn
So, Saturday is on the horizon.  I've not booked anything so I could see whether the ankle was up to something more rural, or whether I should stick to a townie day.  

And then,  at the 11th hour, a freak injury to a family member is actually going to work in BRAPA's favour so see you all on Sunday for a full blown report, plus of course the review of March and preview of April.


p.s. oh, and good luck to the Tykes on Sunday!


  1. Lovely stuff.

    Your reference to the Saville is a better Ember is a good one; we visited on a Saturday lunchtime recently and it was just that, but still a bit too modern bistro for us (and not cheapo food either).

    I wouldn't ever knock CAMRA branches since they (we ?) are all volunteers, but we need to keep WhatPub up-to-date if it's going to have credibility, and also not just copy details off the pub's website (Cleveland).

    Do you get as big a thrill as I do seeing which pubs CAMRA have deleted from the Guide ? Apparently ONE deletion in the whole of London (and the Black Heart was good when I visited before Christmas). How's that work ?

    1. Thanks Martin! Yes I'd imagine Saville Square would be worse on a lunchtime/weekend.

      I often find pub websites tell you everything apart from their opening times, but in future (especially after Bellerby), I'll be doing absolutely everything I can (apart from ringing ahead!) to get the times right.

      I DO get a big thrill, one of my monthly highlights. Never really get this 'change of ownership, must delete' rule. Poor Airedale Heifer in Mirfield, I'd say give them a chance to prove themselves before de-guiding!

  2. Less unexciting beers do turn up in Embers, as I understand it the allowable guest list isn't dissimilar to Nicholson's, they just don't have as many on. Some do haver differences in furniture. I'd instantly recognise the internal photograph as an Ember, but perhaps not the external one, which does prove your point about differences. I agree with the two young men in the meeting. And not everyone called Simon will meet your same high standards, not that I am necessarily condemning Secretary Simon.

    May I proffer a theory that the 13 year old is actually the best in the family at pulling a pint and that the line of the punter being a guinea pig is used whenever a stranger appears in case they are from social services? Just as long as she doesn't win the brunette award, otherwise I will be worried.

    I was going to post my prediction of the freak injury, but you gave it away a little in a text message. I shall post what I had theorised:
    The most plausible way for a family member to have a positive impact on BRAPA is by being chauffeur. Thus Bernard must have become available to drive, and hence not able to go to the 4-0 defeat against Bristol City. However, he must still be able to drive, so I don't see why, if he is the injured party he can't go to the game, thus eliminating him from injury. Thus, he must either have to leave after he would otherwise for a home game, which wouldn't work because he would be able to set off at 13:00 for a home game which would be absurd for BRAPA, or be back earlier, which would make sense. I reckon from a home game he would get home about 19:00, which could be a bit late for hospital visiting. Thus the injured family member needs visiting in hospital before 19:00 and is injured enough to be in hospital but not enough to be in such a position that Bernard has to be within rushing distance of them. The freak accident will be falling out of a window trying to catch a feather duster or something (that was the idea when you implied through texted chant what had happened - I was still working on it).

    1. To be fair, I've met a lot of idiot Simon's in my time and it pains me when they stain the name!

      Am sure Saville Square was not an Ember despite the many similarities, mainly for the fact that blackboards with Ember written all over weren't pushed down my throat!

      Good theory, for a first attempt it was a strangely good attempt which was not met with much surprise by Mum and Dad so perhaps you are right!

      Hilairious freak injury theory. I was laughing out loud.

  3. The idiot Simons do though make it easier for you to impress. I like Toms that aren't as good as me, it lowers expectations.

    The sign at Saville Square isn't Ember. I have looked at their website and it seems they are actually trying to emulate said chain though.

    I hate Oxford United more than I hate Barnsley, so I almost agree with good luck to the Tykes, although I see it more as bad luck to the Yellows. Although I suspect the match has already been played, thus making such sentiment irrelevant.