Wednesday, 7 June 2017

BRAPA - North Derbyshire

A BRAPA day in North Derbyshire made so much sense, I wondered why I hadn't thought of it sooner.  Derbyshire begins with a "D", Apperknowle begins with an "A", so for those of you now familiar with my BRAPA alphabetical OCD (ABC?), it just had to be done.

I ignored Chesterfield for now, where I know there are pubs to be had, but (a) it has a railway station and (b) I've still not forgiven them for the Luke Beckett Jacobs Cream Cracker Tin days of yore, the utter crooked spire baaaastards! 9 points?  Travelling down to Southend on weekday, stop at Little Chef, the news breaks, we can't get automatic promotion anymore. It's an effin scandal I tell thee.

Anyway, I digress - and it was a sunny Saturday morning in a place filled with 'Duckmantons' and parked in a large carpark and waited for 11am.  Strangely enough, the door was ajar and a few people were already lurking outside, looking for coffee - presumably as they have no concept of what a pub is.... oh dear, BRAPA rage rising and only 10:55am.

Me at Arkwright Arms, why does Twitter try and blacklist this pic?

1139.  Arkwright Arms, Sutton cum Duckmanton

Dad read the script and entered through the correct LEFT hand side, and as always seems to be the case in 2017, this was the no nonsense boozy side, with dining tables making the right look limp by comparison.  We were warmly greeted by the ultra friendly smiley rosy cheeked barmaid (some might call her manic, i won't).  She told us about the 'blackboard' because there were so many other ales around the other side, and we chatted on rushing into choices only to later discover something exciting when you've already settled down with your Doom Bar, for example.  They had some fascinating local ales on, shame both our pints were too warm suffering from "first of the day" syndrome, but I find this harder to forgive since the Fox Hole at Piercebridge told us how they put theirs in the pies.  Cooking Ale?  His evil brother's on twitter.  Whilst the barmaids shared a probably hilarious in-joke about a cheese and salsa sandwich, Dad gave me the now ritual weekly update on Howard's Way storylines (I bought him the box set of this 80's classic, and things have moved on since the last update in Higher Burwardsley). This was a lovely pub room stained glass dragon above the door, adverts for a Hawaiian shirt festival, and camping out t'back.  Legendary Hull City fan Geoff Newby's Derbyshire clone sat at the bar, and the barmaid told him one local brewery had changed their recipes cos the locals didn't like how hoppy the beers had become.  I could almost hear those strangled hipster wails on the wind .......

Nice but a bit too warm, Orsino by Newby Wyke.

Typical representation of a Chesterfield fan

Lovely stained-glass dragon

The bar pre-Derbyshire Geoff.

Mr Sat Nav reminded us that his re-programming and caused a total personality change, for we turned the wrong way out of the pub, but he stayed silent and calmly told us just to drive to the end and go round the roundabout.  It was nice of him, but he sounded disappointed in us which was worse.  The next pub seemed to be nearer Chesterfield's football ground than the pubs in the town!

The man in the door apologised for photobombing, but I told him he added character to the shot.
1140.  Beer Parlour, Whittington Moor

Well, I'd been joking it was all downhill after that superb first pub but this was, despite not being as pubby, the experience of the day at what used to be a bottle shop, but so many locals drank here, they extended it and it's properly taken off.  It sure felt like a large micro, from the nice but randomly quirky owner, to every local in there.  Seriously, I've been called "duck" a fair few times in Derbys but this set a record for most 'ducks' in a 30 minute spell.  It all started when the owner asked us if we were here for the "festival" (which I assumed wrongly was the Barrowhill steam turn-tabley thing which everyone loves apart from me!)   So I casually, as an aside almost, murmured "nah, I'm just ticking off every GBG pub in the country."  It still got those friendly micro Derbyshire senses going, and soon we were sat under a grandfather clock on leather seats chatting to this lovely dude called Mark who told me I was a "lucky lucky duck" (no less) for living in York, where he loves to go for a pint.  His tipple of choice, Thornbridge Jaipur,  and I thought I was impressive having a 5.5%er at this time of day.  Oh well.  He gave me some good BRAPA day out ideas (Stamford and Matlock were the ones i can remember) and then his wife rang, and he told her totally deadpan "they've got Jaipur on some I'm going to have to 'av another!"  Sound reasoning, and soon Mrs Mark had made her way down, looking a bit stony faced, to prise her hubbie away, but she soon relaxed into ale splendour once he told her we were from York.  They are probably still there now, drinking Jaipur.

Mark apologises for almost walking into shot

I'd love to go to this quiz
It wasn't too far to the more rural setting of our third pub, but you can never get too comfy in BRAPA because something unexpected will always come along to bite you on the bottom, there was a beer festival on!  Whilst Dad tried desperately to park the car something within spitting distance, I went to get the pints in .....

Marquee is the giveaway.
1141.  Miners Arms, Hundall

It was all about putting the blinkers on, finding the bar, and trying to block out as much 'beer festival surround' as possible, as this was obviously a lovely little village pub and I wanted to do it justice.  It didn't help having my Pictish ale served from a Polycarbonate glass - am having a bad run with "not being served in proper glassy glasses" recently!  Me and Dad had assumed we'd have to hover around outside like a pair of out of sorts dragonflies, but I realised how much space there was on the wonderful pub bench seating in the corner, so I went to track him down, lurking around the country lanes, and brought him back in!  Then something funny happened as a local CAMRA guy from Twitter called T_i_B recognised my BRAPAness, came and sat with us for a nice chat of all things North Derbyshire pubby which was a bonus.  He had to go and do what good CAMRA leaders do and leave us to chat to mere mortals(!) so it was time to be distracted by the wheeziest pub dog ever, owned by a group of old-skool rockers ever, under a table.  Poor thing probably should've been put down years ago, like most of the bands they were into!   How bad were the festival band?  That isn't a rhetorical question, for I couldn't hear them, but I heard THREE separate groups slagging them off as 'up there with the worst ever'.  In festival band terms, that is rather damning!  And then, at the loo, a wired twattish version of Jamie Vardy (so probably Jamie Vardy) put 3 bottles of Peroni on the window sill and told a muscular Justin Whittle that he was going to get smashed today, because the Peroni was free unlike the ale.  Not sure they really "got" beer festivals.  Typical footballers.  I zipped up, gave hands the quickest rinse, and left pronto.  It was that kind of place.

Some of the Manson family enjoy the festival

Partial wheezy dog, old rockers and stupid polycarbonate fest pint.
 Dad had parked alongside a cricket match (another current theme of 2017 BRAPA) and we headed the very short distance to the only pub which really really mattered today, in the similarly isolated spot of Apperknowle .....

Cricket at a distance

A fielder running towards the pub

Arriving at our next location
1142.  Traveller's Rest, Apperknowle

Oh gosh, it was like being plonked back in the Yorkshire Dales at the height of summer!  Easily the most irritating pub crowd of the day at this fantastic roadside inn, I heard a middle aged horsey lady say "could be the last day of summer this, snort, snort" which really summed 'em up, as despite the mild sun and stiff breeze, everyone was acting like they were on the Copacabana with their lyrca, and food, and prosecco, and kids, and bikes and arrrghhh, I wanted to close the curtains but it might've looked anti-social.  Inside, the small bar was predictably heaving and me and Dad tried to double our chances by standing at different parts.  I was never realistically going to get served in front of the "glass collection" point, so it was left to Dad to elbow away the now ageing 90's British Eurovision star Daz Sampson  and get our pints of Neepsend "Everything's Pale in Sheffield" Ale.  We sat in the furthest corner away, trying our best to avoid the "teenage life" (sorry) outside, and for some reason watched old YouTube clips of Harry & Paul on my phone.  "I was very very drunk."  But really, 'person of the day' was a father in the loo waiting for his son, who was taking ages in the cubicle.  He told me "it's a full time job this, innit?" and then shouts to son, and I quote "come on lad, doesn't tek thar long to have a pump .... mi beer's out there, going flat!" Classic.  Dad's time to observe next as a tattooed local was unhappy with the amount of salad on his plate.  He decided to kill it with salt, before drowning it with balsamic vinegar.  Then he looked happy.  Good pub this, just caught it at slightly fraught time.

Of course he's drinking a Euro lager!

A lesson in how to make salad more palatable 
Seemed a ridiculously long way back to civilisation / a main road from here, so with my pathetic bladder already giving up, I was delighted when Mr Sat Nav decided "you're near Bolsover, sort of, you may as well do it!"  Despite getting lost, we finally found it, and glad we did ......

1143.  Fidlers Rest, Bolsover

We walked up the bank to this totally unassuming local, you might say drab looking pub, in the mould of some of those Ayrshire classics like Kirkmichael, Millport and Largs (but better).  For all I could tell of the clientele in this fairly dimly lit yet still airy proper locals pub, they may as well have been Scottish for they murmured in a nonsensical way.   I left my phone at the bar (I'm still blaming that 2nd pint I had in Whittington Moor), and a local man returned it but because he sounded like a cross between both Dick Dastardley AND Mutley, it was hard to know whether he was saying "there you go young man, and what a lovely phone it is", or "what the fook were you playing at you utter York ponce".  I thanked him anyway and he shambled off indoors, as Dad had taken us to an outside bench at the front which almost had great views of Bolsover Castle.  Loving a good myth, legend (ghosts, Loch Ness Monster etc.) I was very excited about the prospect of a sighting of the "Beast of Bolsover" until Dad explained he was some old politician man, what a let down!  I wandered back in to use the facilities, admire the stained glass and some interesting local fashions including pink skin tight trousers, I for once felt a bit plain in my outfit.  Never mind.  Intriguing place.  Recommend.

Action shot of beautiful trousers

Our view of the pub from the bench,
And that was that as we headed back for York, where I got myself a KFC and slumped until the thing in London (which Twitter doesn't want me to mention) kicked off, and I ended up looking at it from a BRAPA point of view.  Which I hope doesn't make me heartless!

If I don't BRAP before, see you all in Buckinghamshire - again!  Could still finish the county by the end of the year.....




  1. Love the Justin Whittle reference! I played with him at Stoke in my previous existence and pretty sure he would have been a Peroni man! Top bloke

    1. Hi Ian. Yes, a bit of a Hull City legend was Justin Whittle. Think we called him "sarge" cos he was in the army (or something like that) but I totally agree, he did seem more of a Peroni man than most of our players at that time.... Jon Whitney ate a worm off the pitch once to motivate the others so I imagine he was a real ale man.