Monday 9 January 2017

BRAPA - Mystery Lincolnshire Tour

This was a pub-ticking first for me as I met BRAPA-chauffeur elite Dad at York's Designer Outlet at 10am on a sunny, breezy morning - I DID NOT KNOW WHERE I WAS GOING!

The clues I'd been given was that it was a town with at least 3 pubs, at least one of which opens 11am or earlier.  But how could this be?  It certainly wasn't Yorkshire as nothing fit the bill, and my suspicions of Lancashire were soon put to bed as I noticed us heading eastwards.  I correctly guessed Lincolnshire but my next two thoughts, Brigg and Gainsborough, were both wrong.  Dad had gone even more ambitious, Louth!  I'd forgotten it existed.

Mystical shot of the church from the car window
We eventually arrived and parked up, a bustling market town with a positive feel, not too many bland high street shops, and if you forget Preston exists, the highest single church spire in England which dominated the town, but in a good way.  Our first pub was just underneath and Dad was taking his BRAPA photography duties more seriously with each trip that goes by.....

Dad basically leapt out onto the road to take this.

985.  Wheatsheaf, Louth

Bit of a confusing entrance, as if you turn immediately left, you'd walk straight into the back of the bar, but then there is a door with another (main bar) to the right.  After flapping about and eventual remembering I'm supposed to be good at walking into pubs, I was declining the draught Bass in favour of something mysteriously murky (but well kept) local tasting called Tipsy Toad, which I later on was not at all surprised came from Tom Wood.  We sat in the left bar which was notable for two things.  A huge dip in the ceiling which made me imagine a huge hairy Greek man having a bath and jolly singalong right about my head, ready to drop at any moment.  And secondly, a coffee machine that took up the entire bar and chugged away irritatingly.  To be fair to it, it wasn't a namby pamby Goring Miller of Mansfield effort, but a proper Samuel Pepys 17th century balls-to-the-wall London Coffee House effort.  The type of coffee that makes you want to bury cheese in your garden.  Dad observed two old men near us, they'd just played tennis together and now seemed to form a book group (for two) - one commenting "I've just tried a bit of chick-lit".  Highly unexpected.  Matched only by a later comment "Did you read the one about the aftermath of the northern invasion??  EVERYONE STARVED!"  Spoiler alert much?  With a roaring fire in each room, this must be the most acceptable pub to have a gin menu ever.

A short walk into the more central part of town took us down a little alleyway called Pawnshop Passage to a Wetherspoons named after a man who loved talking about the iron (and I don't mean Scunthorpe Utd).

Dad ready to join a queue
986.  Joseph Morton, Louth

Arrrggghhh, WHY IS EVERYONE QUEUING?  That was my first and pretty much only thought of this identikit 'Spoons effort which won't stick in the mind for any other reason, not even the two tweens eating hotdogs twice as big as their jaundiced Lincolnshire faces.  Bar etiquette is one of the first things visitors to the UK get taught, so why would people in Louth suddenly think a snaking queue blocking half the pub floor is preferable to leaning against the bar and letting the capable staff decide who is next?  Utter fools.  Only twice before in a pub have I seen queuing.  Firstly, and it doesn't really count, the Black Swan in York on folk festival day, but we all know old folkies don't live in the real world so have no concept of social convention.  The other time, also a Spoons - the Eric Bartholomew in Morecambe.  I put this down to Morecambe trying to make itself look more cultured, but it just made everyone look thick.  So Dad's view is "there's a queue, we'd better queue", mine is "I'm leaning on the bar and ranting about how ridiculous it is".  An old man agreed with me and a barmaid heard me and said she'd serve me.  "Hah!" I thought, "and Dad is still three people back."  But she got waylaid with some coffee ditherer (not Dad) and he was soon in the hot-seat, and shouting what ale did I want.  And to make things worse, the ale I wanted was called "Thanks Pa" so it just sounded like I was thanking him from afar, til I ran over and had to point at the pump clip.  Traumatic, I try and be nice about 'Spoons but there are times they really let you down, mainly due to clientele or staff incompetence.  Nice 6% ale it was though!

A bit closer to the car and off the main drag was pub three, it was gonna be an improvement.....

Ahhh, my very Own Cow
987. Brown Cow, Louth

So Dad's photo diligence hadn't lasted the pace, I blame Wetherspoons coffee, but on the plus side, this felt like a proper traditional street corner local - a bit like the Dog & Bone in Lincoln but kind of nothing like the interior if that makes any sense.  A landlady who looks like she's been there for centuries pulling the frothiest Harvest Pale ever witnessed, an eight year old boy being forced to take plates of chips to slobbish football fans, and the classic line of the day "that was in the days when they used the same needle for everything".  Ahhh, well just as we were all reminiscing about the golden days of hepatitis and awkwardly craning our necks to see Man Utd easily beating a limp Reading, something that made perfect sense in the context of this pub happened.  A shady looking bearded chef emerged and revealed two pairs of gleaming new trainers which he tried to sell to the dodgy chaps at the bar, who were sporting a shiny new pair as it was, all the more noticeable considering their unkempt state from ankle up.  Before you could say "off the back of a lorry", the standard of the Harvest Pale was rapidly deteriorating, it was time to drink up and go.

Landlady sees all.

Gleaming pints, gleaming trainers.
We hopped back in the car because our final pub was well worth waiting for, out east of the town.

Still clutching my reusable Sainsbury's carrier of BRAPA kit.

988.  Gas Lamp Lounge, Louth

Only 22 pubs with gas lights left in the UK, and not many can have a brewery underneath the pub like here (Fulstow).  So a pretty special place to tick off and you walk in to this serene atmosphere, no music, just yokel Lincs chatter and laughter, and a nice wood burner.  The beers seemed pretty strong, I had one called Northway IPA which tasted of cloves and we were both soon hallucinating - well Dad was convinced Micky Phelan enjoying a pint with his mates and one of Dad's old York magistrate buddies.  I needed the loo (where Phelan was sat) so said "I'll walk past and smell him to see if it's him".  I was serious at the time but have no idea what he'd smell like.  Weird what happens in pubs isn't it?  Anyway, despite the carefree expression you'd expect from a man relieved of his duties at the shower of poo which is Hull City, he was far too young.  A visiting man at the bar made a point of proudly telling the staff "I don't wanna be having a pint!" before adding "but I'll sample a few halves and see how I get on".  It was that kind of pub.

A few home brewed ales, and some silly pots.

Fake Micky P and friends under the old Hull Brewery sign.

It was a long drive back to Hull where I was going to a party in pre-emptive shoe-in Furley & Co, via a Travelodge, some City of Culture second world war recreations, and Walters, where I had my most "haunted" pub experience ever, but that is a story for another day cos it is bed time.

Conclusion, I like Louth, and if Lincolnshire is all like this, I've been unfair on it in the past.  But Dad has set a dangerous precedent, everywhere north of Louth in Lincs is now fair-game for chauffeur day ticking (well, once I've finished North Yorkshire).

I'm back in West Yorkshire tomorrow, somewhere exactly as far from L**ds as Ossett is.

Good night!  Si


  1. RM is going to be disappointed in your beer choice.

    1. As is Mudgie 😡

      And if your Tipsy Toad was murky, it wasn't well-kept.

    2. Well, I am redefining the word "murky" in beer context in 2017 as it has been a negative term for too long. I mean it was "murky in a deliciously Lincolnshire opaquely pond-water fresh" kind of way. Expect to see more of it in my coming posts and soon you'll see Protz n co using it everywhere! Trust me on this one.

  2. Louth is a weird place. Whilst it is one of these food tourist hyped up destinations, it seems to have escaped eateries that reside in the arse of their owners and still maintains a certain Lincolnshire inbredness.

    Whilst Bernard has previously declared admiral willingness to be a Lincolnshire chauffeur, I should place on record that there is a public transport solution for every pub in the six fingered county. I didn't run anybody over on my driving lesson today.