So with my attentions still mainly on Vaya, Kate and CJ (plus that singing girl from Oldham who pretends she's from Manchester to sound more urban), I pulled out my trusty Good Beer Guide, turned to Greater Manchester, and over the next hour worked out that the vast majority of pubs were do-able on a Tuesday night, providing I didn't mind getting home at 10pm for the sake of 27 minutes in a pub! A BRAPA revelation.
Fast forward to Tuesday evening and the first step of that GMR dream (unless you count Castleton) was underway as I took the train to Atherton via Manchester Victoria for my next alphabetical tick. The heatwave had ceased in Yorkshire by now, but being a step behind the rest of humanity, those crazy Lancastrians were still basking in it.
A 15 minute walk down a main road, surrounded by funeral parlours, dog surgeries and abandoned garages followed, and although the side door looked very closed, the front was angrily shouting "come inside you soft Yorkshireman".
|The Sky Sports sign was a bit of a turn off|
|Probably a less threatening view of the pub|
I'd been to Atherton before, and it'd seem lazy to compare this pub to the Atherton Arms with side rooms, but it really did feel like it, perhaps a bit more homely and comfy. Traditional, yet newly refurbished, the first person I saw was a man at the bar with a St George's Cross tattoo on his lower leg. He turned to look at me, scowling and growling like that MGM Lion when he realised I wasn't a person he knew. But his female companion apologised for blocking the ale pumps, which is more than I could've hoped for. Martin Taylor had joked that he'd sent someone to track me, and when I saw a man on a shopmobility scooter ridiculously facing the wall (in the same way my blind cat used to do), I wondered if it was true! I ordered a Fyne Avalanche beer cos it sounded 'cooling', though it was nice and well-kept, it seemed slightly warmer than I like and wonder if, even with the best will in the world, it is hard to keep ale cool in this heat. I sat in a nice bench seating area facing the bar, the barmaid was one of those chirpy moon-faced 18 year old girls who's heads are full of boys, make-up and fidget spinners rather than whether the Thwaites Cask is drinking well. Despite the ominous Sky Sports banner outside, all that was on TV was the local news reporting from the Royal Cheshire County Show, but this just descended into farce with the female presenter perving on a French man selling cheese. A band called Asis were playing soon, they are a bit like Isis with a better bassist. There seemed a love of live music here. Then, a friendly looking chap appeared and said hi. To my total horror, he then murmured that he was Martin's cousin!! He wasn't, but he'd seen the Twitter comments and thought he'd play a joke on me - it worked, totally gullible I am. So who are you? I said, turning to my "Twitter Pub Men I-Spy" Book. Well, it was Deeekos, so I turned the imaginary pages to find him located 'twixt "Curmudgeon" and "Erlangen". He solved my query on the lack of Allgates beers here, told me how to pronounce Atherton (it's "ATH-erton" not "A-Therton", hope that clears it up!) And he also half-assured me that his CAMRA branch hadn't just changed all their pubs to piss BRAPA off, which was nice. So I took my glass back to the nice young lady, said thanks, stepped outside, and Deeekos had already disappeared down a side street like the pubby enigma he is. Good stuff, all that in 32 mins. Back in York for 9:10pm, job done!
|Looks like the most air-brushed pint ever!|
|Shopmobility man facing the wall for no reason|
|The "outlook" is good at the Jolly Nailor, ha ha.|
But before that, Hartlepool tomorrow with my York friends. Monkey suits at the ready, it is going to be fun!