Reminiscing on Nobby Solano's Hull City days in the Strawberry
We were halfway through the day, and back on the Metro (pronounced Meh-rawwwwww for the benefit of my North American readers) to 'Shields. Not South Shields this time, but North Shields. A new one for me.
We passed something called Cullercoats that looked like an abandoned fairground, and Dad tried to make "colour code" jokes which were valiant but didn't quite work. Can I just say I think the Metro map is misleading. It makes it look as though there is a special Metro ferry that gets you directly from North to South Shields. I don't think it exists.
Anyway, the pub was easy to find when you realised it wasn't a pub.
|Bernard and the sentient carrier bag ready for part 2 of the day|
1187 / 1933. Exchange, North Shields
If, like me, you'd imagined North Shields to be full of coal-faced men with Davy Lamps munching pasties, talking to budgies in unintelligible accents, you may have felt a little bit let down that you had to enter a cafe bar, a performance venue, an 'arts and culture' centre. So through the courtyard, into the entrance area, wipe your feet, turn right, and find a long bar and expectant young bar dude just as happy to serve a mean coffee (so my sources tell me) as a steady pale ale. A couple in the corner seemed to be playing chess, "Alreet!" they exclaimed which first I thought was Geordie for 'check mate' but they were just being friendly, plus they weren't playing chess at all, the table was just chequered. The place was warm and hospitable, which you may not expect on first glance, but it had a bit of quality about it. Some of the artwork though, hmmmm, well let us just say that if it was meant to be Hull City players of old and not rock stars, it was just about acceptable. They made the Newcy Brown owls in Tynemouth market look like Henry Moore's finest. I gave Dad a mini pasty to rest on his coffee like an after dinner mint to try and recreate my utopian view of North Shields ruggedness, before it was time for the trip back towards the 'toon.
|Pasty coffee combo, could catch on.|
|Paul Fewings and Stuart Elliott, I presume.|
|Ray Parlour and Ian Ashbee, probably.|
It was just over 20 minutes to the end of the line at St James, where I had two pubs to tick off. To my great relief, Newcastle were away at Arsenal otherwise it could've been interesting, I was doubly pleased because when they are at the Emirates, I'm nearly always stuck on a train with them on one of my Beds, Bucks, Berks adventures.
I fell asleep and Dad woke me up just as we got to St James, felt like we were practically on the centre circle, the pub was staring us straight in the face.
With the Gallowgate end looming over the pub like an Ipswich sex offender over a prostitute on a dark stormy night, we walked inside to see it surprisingly busy, as I thought they'd all be in London like the die hards they are. A man once told me Newcastle Utd were the "fourth biggest football club in the world", a 'fact' which still makes me chuckle and as a former Sunderland Uni student, I ordered my drink and headed straight for the loo where I whistled a tune I learnt about Alan Shearer whilst having a satisfying pee, but not poo, I'm saving them for micropubs in the future. The locals smiled, so perhaps they didn't know the tune, but as we sat down amongst the football decor, I was astonished that the two player photos facing me were former Hull City faves Nobby Solano and Steve Harper (or was it Shay Given, they are pretty much the same person). Oh, and Steven Taylor but we don't count him cos he looks like the kind of man who goes to a pub once a year in a Christmas jumper. This was like the Exchange all over again! As the pub went, nice enough, beer probably my most average of the day, or I wasn't in the mood for a dark (would still be excellent in London), and when Jeff Stelling announced Ozil (always pronounced in a Hull accent) had scored against the hapless Toon, there was a one second pause whilst everyone registered the news and simply carried on talking. Not a bad little boozer this, but the Sunderland part of me needed to leave.
|Dad trying not to be sinister|
|A glimpse of Hull City in darkest Toon|
Onto the final pub just down the road, around a corner, sort of. Dad was very taken by the curved Victorian terrace, a very nice location, another one of his 50 he'd come to live in for 6 months .....
|All set for final pub of the day|
1189 / 1935. Trent House, Newcastle
I've been trying to get here since BRAPA began, and what's been weird is that although the GBG always calls it "World Famous", as did the inn sign, whenever I talk to Newcastle pub 'experts', no bugger has ever heard of it! But they should've. This was the second best pub today, after Tynemouth. Filled with two things, chatty bald men and beer mats. Some people don't like beer mats stuck up in pubs (I think blue-tac is okay but sticking them down isn't), but for me it's normally a sign of a good one like the Ale House in Reading. One of my biggest ever pub regrets is not pinching the 1970's Yorkshire Bank beermat off a wall in New Brittania, Preston in 2003. It even had an owl on. Even micropubs put beer mats up, usually about 15 to signify all the ales they've had on since they opened two weeks ago. Trent House (which sounded like it should be in Nottingham) was a quite cavernous deep place, the set up and love of music reminded me a bit of a more spangly Free Trade just down the river. Cheap quality ale, best jukebox in town they say, and I can't remember what we talked to baldman#5 about (think he had a wig) but he was great and it probably involved BRAPA at some point, but he did say I should go to the Broad Chare .... yes I know, it's in the GBG!
|Baldman#1 completes a beery transaction under blurry beermats|
|Baldman#3 and Baldman#4 laughing at losers with hair|
So that was all very lovely. Always rewarding coming up to Tyne & Wear and with only 11 pubs left and a January trip to Sunderland on the agenda, I'm looking at a 2018 finish even if the county doesn't begin with an early letter of the alphabet. Steady on there!