Wednesday, 19 July 2017

BRAPA - Summer Special Day 6 - Guten Mawgan from Cornwall

It was Monday morning, and the longest BRAPA holiday to date was finally at an end, well almost, as I packed my bags and walked into Newquay 'proper' to locate the bus station.

This was the deepest I'd been into Newquay, and despite some people telling me it was a "shithole" in the build up to my break, I'd be a lot kinder and say it was "quite okay".  Somewhere between Blackpool & Filey on the BRAPA seaside town scale.

I joined the handful of retired old colonels on the bus, heading in the general direction of the airport - about 5 miles outside of Newquay.  A couple of miles along the coast was Mawgan Porth, and wonderfully picturesque resort - but most importantly, a GBG pub.....

The beach at Mawgan Porth, last Monday morning

The pub did look a little bit terrifying!
1191.  Merrymoor, Mawgan Porth

I have to confess my heart sank a little when I saw how unpubby this "pub" actually looked, with it's huge glass windows obviously designed at enjoying what was outside rather than within!  In fact, even walking up the correct steps you see in the picture above, it still seemed easier to accidentally go into the adjoining (a) Blue Fish Bar or (b) Upstairs Hair & Nail salon, so I took my time ensuring I got the right entrance.  Indoors, everyone was on the coffee or cream teas, so when I walked to the bar and asked for a pint, the staff did a little wide-eyed double-take as if they were thinking "Shit!  Beer??  Oh yes, we DO sell that ...." and soon I was sat in the comfortable easy lounge environment drinking this superb quality pint of Cornish ale (even if I had broken my 'Cornish run' with the Bass yesterday).  Views of course were great, and this was a hard place to dislike in spite of my conventions!  It did feel a bit like I was waiting for someone to appear through a side door and call me through for my cuticles doing, watch an arty French film, or even to pick up a Chinese takeaway.  All that did appear through a side door was Henry Hoover, such a Monday morning pub thing to see when Henry gets his weekly airing!   This made what happened next a bit bizarre.  A couple came in, Yorkshire accents, bloke a bit lame, faffing over some J20 order.  Wife, straight on with same pint as me, waxed lyrical on it #PubLady  He was bald.  Got a comb out.  Combed his scalp.  Odd.  Even odder, she went into door next to me, where Henry Hoover had come from .... "ooops, I thought, this must the unmarked ladies loo I'm sat next to?!"  But then two new ladies were sent around other side of bar when they were looking for the loo.  5 mins later, Yorkshire lady reappeared.  Had she just been sat in a dark closet with Henry Hoover?  She looked happy anyway.  My cue to leave.

Worth noting from a BRAPA OCD point of view, this was also a key pub because it meant I'd 'ticked' a Cornish pub on each page of the GBG (apart from the first one with just Altarnun and Blisland) so was a satisfying one to highlight in green!  Problem with this page, it has Luxulyan (my one big miss of the holiday), Kilkhampton, Launceston and Marhamchurch (too far North), Lostwithiel (one perhaps for next year as it's mid Cornwall and has a train) and Lelant Downs (a 2018 definite).  Not actually a hard page in truth!

The bus was delayed, I had no signal, so chatted to a German couple and glad they advised me to hang out, as I had considered walking to St Mawgan but once bitten, twice shy re the roads around here.

The bus didn't go through St Mawgan anyway, this only happens a handful of times per day so I hopped off at the airport and walked the downhill 0.7 miles from here instead - easy enough as not much traffic on this side road.

Considering it's closeness to the airport, St Mawgan was a beautiful place, as nice as any village I'd been in this holiday and I cut through this grassy church area, saying hi to some lurking old lady, probably vicar's wife or something,  and saw the pub down below the road ......

1192.  Falcon Inn, St Mawgan

In my mind, I was imagining about three Cornish old men stood around the bar muttering, but perhaps a bit too fanciful as I entered a narrow courtyard where people were eyeing up food menus with a lunchtime drink.  Everyone said hello, blinking slightly at my floral patterned t-shirt which was clashing with the pub garden!   I wandered inside and sure enough, 2 expectant waitress girls were brandishing menus ready to accost any new arrival, so I pretended I'd seen a spider on the wall to distract them (well, I looked above them in a startled way) and got straight in at the bar.  The older barmaid was a snappy so and so, but luckily she forgot the price of beer and suddenly became more human.  I then noticed a recurring theme I've my holidays I'd not mentioned, people who order cider down here do it in a rude way.  But beer orders are much more gentle.  Cornwall.  I held a heavy door open for an old dude, and headed outside, and ended up sitting next to a woman with a superior expression and three dogs.  I got my GBG out (not to hit the dogs with) and turned straight to the brewery section (said no-one EVER!) to see if my ale was Cornish.  It was Devonian.  Grrr.  Didn't enjoy it much.  I was all ale'd out.  The locals told the woman their collective term for 3 dogs together was a "woof" of dogs.  All found it hilarious.  Apart from me.  What is wrong with people's sense of humours?   A weird family arrived and went through a gap in the hedge to the garden.  But the "children" (all about 40) were told off by Mum, an apocalyptic Anne Diamond, for not telling "Adrian" (an irritable 50 year old father from the home counties) what drinks they wanted.  19th century Jewish moneylender Granddad tried to calm things down, but this group were determined to break the peace of this delightful pub.  I 'toasted' my 25th and final pub of the holiday, cheers!

My Golden Pig was from Devon, arrrghhh.

My view at the front of the pub

Apocaylptic AD and 19thC Granddad act as go between for kids and Adrian.
I could've stayed for another .... I didn't, and good job as the steep climb back to the airport took it out of me.  Even so, when I saw my flight was delayed for an hour, I considered going back!  But didn't.  The flight back when it happened was fine, the woman next to me a bit boring, ears popped less, and I was back in York for teatime.  Job done!

So in conclusion, a terrific BRAPA holiday.  Best yet.

25 pubs, not a really rubbish one.  They got better as time went on, one 'Spoons, no Embers, no Micropubs, hardly any obvious "chain pubs" actually.  Most good, some magical - guess stand out moments would be things like St Just, Mevagissey, Piece, the Fowey-Botallack ferry place, Falmouth's 'Front, Truro Old Ale House, but too many to mention really.

Beer wise, I didn't have a poor quality pint all holiday.  Some better than others, but standard high, and of the 26 pints I consumed, 22 were Cornish, 1 was Devon, 1 was Bass, 1 was West Midlands and 1 was amazingly / retrospectively Manchester which I'll talk about in a later blog.

Flying was a great decision, despite delays both ends, saved time and money - which I promptly spent on taxis!  Walking around was almost impossible, bus links quite good, trains too but not very frequent as I'd like but that is understandable.

Vague plan in place for my 2018 'return' trip already.  I want to 'mop up' all the pubs I didn't do between Par-Penzance (oh, and Isles of Scilly!)  I will stay more west.  St Ives kind of way.  And will say a more realistic target of 4 a day rather than five or six as it's only gonna get harder.  And if I get chance, maybe a day in middle of county somewhere, like say,  Bodmin.

And that means I can look at 2019 too, which by then I hope the pubs I'll need to be in Cornwall will be all in the North of the county, things like Launceston, Saltash and Bude.  And that will tie in nicely with a hop across the border into Devon, which (beginning with a D) will be high on my agenda by then too for the next long distance county.

Gotta have a plan!



  1. Two micro pubs now in Cornwall the Pilchards Press, St Ives and Treebeards Tavern, Redruth. Both nice the first only open Thurs,Fri,Sat and Sun the second quirky but open all day all week.

  2. Thanks Tony, I'd heard about the St Ives one but wish I'd known about Redruth when I was wandering around thinking it was an ale free town!

    Oh well, am sure I'll be passing through next year if I do some crazy St Ives - Bodmin day trip.