And after last Saturday's Melsonby disaster "we're a pub that only opens in the daytime for two hours a week!", it was back off the naughty step on Sunday 2nd April and time to try again. With us this time was BRAPA glory supporter, Mummy Everitt, almost fully recovered from ankle woes sustained last summer, and although it was tempting to chant "where've you been since Llansillin?", she showed no sign of nerves as we got out of the car in Melsonby and hobbled up the road ....
"You're nervous aren't you?" she correctly observed, having known me for almost 38 years. This was Anchor Anchor levels of "you'd better be bloody open" pub anxiety. Mum strode confidently up the steps, crashed through the doors like Oliver Reed on a stag do, and we were in after the obligatory photo opportunity.
1074. Black Bull, Melsonby
Phew, my round I think under the circs! Though I sadly remembered I couldn't show off my new £1 coin I'd squandered yesterday which would surely have been massive news in a Darlington postcoded outpost like Melsonby. It's a bit of a cliche to say "it's like walking into someone's front room" in the world of pubs, but this actually was, and so front room-esque, it lacked a bit of pubbiness (bench seating, a log fire, and some pointless beams would've been nice though bold leather seats, daffodils and a turntable had to do. It was a real "grower" this place though, the foundations laid by superb jolly friendly staff and a good job as a local man came in muttering something about his mate being beaten up at football in Blackpool, or something. But there was no time for sympathy in his direction, as his wife was delayed on account of holding a watery funeral for her dead goldfish. Sympathetic eyes abound when she arrived, though the landlord kind of killed the mood by asking if she'd flushed it down the toilet. My subsequent "Finding Nemo" joke was met with blank stares. Oh dear. I'd checked the ales three times to ensure the Ward's Best Bitter was real and not a mirage from circa 1998, Mum was on her customary pub lemonade, and Dad decided to be a little angel and have J20 which surprised all. "Absolutely any flavour will do Sime!" he told me, before adding from the corner of his mouth "anything with orange in it", Errrm, so the orange flavoured J20 then Dad! So awkward some people. As we sat and admired the old Vaux mugs and Mum wondered if I'd find anything to write about(!), landlord brought us some complimentary snacks - cheese on sticks, pieces of sausage, Yorkshire pudding and pickled onions in a little white boat thing. You know when a pub wins you over, and you worry you've been easily 'bought'? This was me in here! I had a 50/50 decision to make as to where the bogs were, so obviously I went the wrong way and had to be retrieved from a smokers area, but this was a fine pub experience to finish NY in.
|Mrs Goldfish contemplates her loss.|
So, as I probably mentioned before, I'm currently spending evenings going back through every football match, holiday, gig, trip out since 2002 to try and retrace my pubby footsteps - rebuying every GBG from those years and trying to reassess my thought processes.
I've so far documented 502 pubs I've visited not currently in the GBG but of course, there's many more I'm unable to identify for definite. And I'm only up to 2008 so 5 for more years to look at! But one has come up trumps which is actually in the current GBG!!
1075. Griffin Inn, Dale
On the first of three British holidays circa 2008-2010, that the parents invited me on, we were staying at St Bride's in West Wales and had many amazing walks along the Pembrokeshire coastal path. It was already my "trademark" to research a few nearby GBG pubs and as it was pre-BRAPA and there wasn't that sense of a "target", I had to just gently persuade them to pop into the odd one. I'd put a probable date on this of 24th Sept 2008. I remember the drive into Dale, seeing how watery it was with the pub clearly visible right by the water's edge. We walked in and a view bedraggled old scroats stood at the bar (all long grey beards and trackie bottoms) with that kind of "we're resigned to the fact that we get tourists in so we just accept it but it doesn't mean we like you". I drank something Welsh, brown and quite boring like Rev James or Buckley's but no idea really, and we sat at a small table on the right of the pub never really feeling at home, or that this was going to be a memorable experience, which it nearly wasn't! The GBG from the day says there's table skittles, though I cannot recall it. We may have done another pub that holiday, St David's, Roch or Solva? But I really can't remember and I wrote a dreadful poem called Walking in Wales where I rhymed "Dale" with "Ale" - revolutionary. But at least it was the clincher I definitely came here.
So there we have it, I'll carry on with this "bookwork" and who knows, I may have another pub revelation to report but I won't bank on it.