Monday night, Archives night!
Welcome back to week two of our three week archives special, where I delve into the vaults of my memory and review eight pubs that I visited before BRAPA was even a drunken sperm trying to fertilise a micro pub shaped egg.
Either that or I visited them and didn't even consider them for BRAPA inclusion, which probably sounds inconceivable but has been known to happen (see pub 388) ......
Apologies for the lack of photos, most of these are such old visits, cameras probably weren't invented (not on phones anyway!)
383. Artillery Arms, Plymouth
The morning of 9th December 2006 and I'd already had my obligatory 10am pint of Bass in the Dolphin, and been to a quirky GBG pub called 'Sippers', when I finally made it here for 12 noon opening, in the delightfully edgy area of Stonehouse. I managed to get lost en route, as I tried to take a shortcut through a dockyard but annoyingly, I couldn't get past the giant metal fence! It was worth the effort, a great street corner local with a real family feel. Being December 2006, it was the time I was keeping a notepad record of my pub visits (like an old fashioned Twitter and Untappd rolled into one) so I can exclusively reveal, I drank an unspecified Adnams beer of top quality, but moaned a Flowers beer and another "non-interesting one" made up the three on offer. As soon as I sat down and unzipped my jacket to reveal my Hull City top, the fun really started with me saying "got some great banter going with all - ending in the landlord running down 2 streets to return my "lost" hat!" The Pilgrim topped teenage son was bouncing a football around the pub despite all the fantastic looking breakfasts flying out of the kitchen, constantly keeping everyone on edge. I told them all I predicted a 1-0 defeat for us, they looked amazed I'd travel all this way to say such a thing. I think you can guess what the score was.
384. Cricketers, Westcliff-on-Sea
Sunny but chilly morning of 1st Feb 2003 and for some stupid reason, instead of discovering the wonderful Cork & Cheese sooner, I thought outside the box and realised this pub, not listed under Southend, would be a great way to spend a pre-match. Well, I was wrong. A modern, bright and shiny Greene King emporium was what it was, soulless vapid staff, comfort of zero, dried flowers in tiny vases on our table. Wooden floors went clomp clomp clomp with the sound of ridiculous high heels, attached to Coke-thin waitresses. One of my main thought processes for coming here was to avoid a big football crowd pre-match. Well that backfired when one of the largest groups of Hull City fans, many young and female (unusual at that time) descended on the pub to complete the experience. The one saving grace was that, being idiots, they all stood blocking the bar, whilst we sat at the far end so at least had our personal space. Hull City then lost 3-0 in one of the most abject performances ever (and that is saying something), Danny Webb was sent off (or should have been) for murdering a defender, and the club apologised to the fans (which was rare too) for the poor effort, they should have also apologised for this pub.
385. Saddle Inn, Blackpool
One of the consolations of the low turnout of our 2008 Blackpool Punk Festival (just me, John Watson and Jig this year) was that it allowed me to plot all the GBG pubs on an autoroute map and try and get to them. Jig and JW2 would be good sports in this sense, had my sister been here, it would never have been allowed being the pre-emptive BRAPA crapper she was. The pub seemed pretty traditional, lots of tattooed locals in vests eating mixed grills. It was boiling hot, the landlady was feeling it, but when I realised our Summer Lightning's were vinegar, I had to do one of the most apologetic beer returns ever. She told me that if our replacement ales were off too, I'd have to come back there and pour something for myself! Which would have been amusing, sadly the replacement ale was fine. Pretty crummy experience considering what a trek it'd been to get here! As a post script, I tried to return on the Friday evening the following year, this time with my sister and her then boyfriend Ric. As predicted, it only took a toothless tanned teenage girl with burning pram asking us to go into the offie and buy her a bottle of cider, for my sister to decide Whitegate Drive was too scary and made us turn back for the (relatively) safer climes of Pump & Truncheon.
386. Briton's Protection, Manchester
11th September 2008 and myself and the good John Watson were excited. We were about to witness the Stray Cats farewell tour at the Uni down Oxford Road. I got to Manchester first, he met me later. I waited in the Lass O'Gowrie in the days when it was a gem of a pub, full of bric-a-brac. John got lost and accidentally stumbled across the GBG pubs on Great Bridgewater St, so I left my drink with two men who definitely didn't look like date-rapers, and found John to bring him back to LoG. We walked to the venue but were shocked to hear the drummer had broken his arm in Brixton the night before and the gig was cancelled. NOOOOOOO! Devastated we were, but at least John had found those other real ale pubs so we decided to make the best of it, and Briton's Protection was arguably pub of the night, much better than Rain Bar and probably also the amazing Peveril of the Peak. Multi roomed, amazing ales, amazing features, I've always wondered why it hasn't been in the GBG more in recent years. I wondered if the landlady of the time had fallen out with the local CAMRA, quite a feisty lady. Less than 2 months later before a 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford, a group of us were in here and sat in one of the more amazing backrooms with fire in. It was one of those all time classic pre-match sessions, just perfect, No food was going on so we decided to eat our sandwiches, so out of courtesy (almost an afterthought), Christine asked the feisty landlady if we could eat our own food here. Her reply "would you go into Marks & Spencer's and drink our beer?" is still one of my favourite pub quotes EVER, huge awkward silence. We sat there as a group for about 10 mins after trying to process what she'd said, like we had been posted a tricky pub quiz teaser. Classic. "Errr, so is that a no then?" we eventually said. It soured the experience, but I've been in since, before a 4-0 defeat to Man Utd with Jig and his Dad (another great session, no food was consumed) and then, before the Man City 2-2 Bullard penalty brilliance, me and Dad hid in a corner here. When landlady announced she was "off shopping", Dad nearly asked her to bring us back some of their beer from Marks n Spencers. The pub breathed a sigh of relief anyway as the door closed behind her, and the rustle of sandwich bags began ......
387. Greyhound, Ipswich
Me and Dad were staying in a nearby B&B overnight so having checked in on 25th March 2006, we decided this was the nearest pub in my GBG to come for pre-match. It was notable for a few factors. Firstly, it was the first time Ben Andrew joined us for a pre-match session, he'd become a regular over the next 5 years or so, Secondly, it was the first time I paid £3 for a pint, and I was fuming. Adnams Lighthouse it was, and to rub salt into the wound, the Adnams vases they serve their beer in just makes for a depressing drinking experience. The staff were right misery guts, and this probably all started my (until recently) negative impression of Suffolk's 6 fingered lovelies. Ben enjoyed the pub experience, we didn't (pub was all cluttered dining tables) but he did enough to encourage a group of us back two years later on the last day of the season, as if it is the only pub in Ipswich. Some of our group were here for breakfast, but they wouldn't serve ale til 12 noon, and they meant it. Even counting down the final minute at 11:59 before they serve us. Obvious they were deliberately proving a point and being obstructive. Some of us had even popped out to the local home fans only Spoons to tide us over. Irritating pub, Ipswich has so much better.
388. Duke of York, York
Every Thursday, me and my "York Gang" us a dice to randomly decide where to go. Let's face it, York has over 100 at least decent cask ale outlets. When a new one opens (which has happened a lot over the last two or three years!) we know there will be an initial clamour brought on by Mr Aitchison's gushing Evening Press review. This will be counter balanced by people moaning York has reached pub saturation levels, debate about whether it is worse than the latest pop-up Tesco Express and whether drunk racegoers are ruining the city. Our gang yawn, "give it a few weeks/months", and visit when the clamour has died down and the pub has 'bedded in'. So on 21st November 2013, we came here and in the dark mood lighting, I ordered an Acorn "Burning Bails"as "Burning Balls". Ouch. Still busy, the problem for me here is the pub never feels like it has 'bedded in'. My second visit (alone on a Sunday evening) was better but amidst the dregs of a 'brewery takeover', and beers were going off at an alarming rate - the service was terrible. Whether you try and sit upstairs or down, I've never 'enjoyed' a pub experience here. Another problem is the Leeds Brewery pub model (and I do very much like their beers). If you've been to "Crowd of Favours" in Leeds, you've been to Duke of York. 'Brewery Tap' and 'Midnight Bell' are slightly different, but the point is they are all a bit modern and soulless. Apparently, if you sit upstairs in the window on a wet Tuesday afternoon overlooking overlooking King's Square, it is the most joyous York drinking experience in the City. Such claims aren't enough. I'd advise you go to "Eagle & Child" as a pre-emptive instead, as this is one York 'Leeds Brewery pub' which does have more natural charm.
389. Royal Oak, Old Malton
26th Jan 2013 and "F" had been for "Filey" with John Watson, one of my most favourite of all the A-Z days as we refused to let heavy snow the previous night spoil our plans. It was pitch black at the end of the day as we trudged out of Malton along a busy main road and found this fantastic old heritage pub. Not sure what we drank but the landlord could sense our approval of the old building and came over for a nice friendly chat. Our main criticism would be the icy draught coming from the window behind, but we were told that because it was a grade II listed building, it could not be replaced or double glazed or whatever, and we'd just have to wrap up, which I suppose was a consolation in some kind of way!
390. Fleece, Pudsey
There were many reasons why me and John Watson (featuring heavily in tonight's archives) kept coming to Pudsey in the 2003-2006 period but it was our "adventurous" evening twice yearly trip. Our first pub experiences in Pudsey were the World's End (wanted to love it but you could tell it was on the decline), and the Bankhouse which was our favourite with it's "Last of the Summer Wine" bathtub approach play, some good grub, and the best, albeit limited, ale in town. What's more, we accidentally first came to Pudsey on a "Children in Greed" night, which seemed fitting with the Pudsey Bear link. I fancied a girl from Pudsey too, not that we were likely to bump into her in a real ale pub. And we went to many more pubs of mainly poor standard. So when I saw the new 2006 GBG in Leeds Waterstones one lunchtime in Sept 2005 (I was too much of a skinflint to buy the GBG back then so used the shop as a public library), I yelped with delight at a newly listed Pudsey pub. 18th Nov 2005 was the probable visit date, memories are vague but I remember a full range of Tim Taylor beers, busy with very friendly locals and staff (middle agers) and a great lounge like small hubbuby atmosphere with lots of photos and decor. I'd like to go back really but I might wait til the "Pudsey Bear Micro Terry Wogan Cask Eatery Tap Tap Tap Kitchen" opens next year!
I'm in South Yorkshire tomorrow night, I'll write that one up on Wednesday. Then we'll have a month end review / preview for Sept/Oct before my 8th trip to Berkshire on Saturday.