Tuesday, 20 November 2018

BRAPA - Okie Dokie to Daytime Karaoke : Tales from VERY East Yorkshire (Part 2)

Saturday 17th November, two pubs in, three to go, and it had already been an eventful day in Holderness.  We'd had everything from an inland lighthouse to erosion ready boulders. 

Dad was my chauffeur for the day, but despite so far being on the hot chocolate and cappuccino, he was enjoying it as much as me (in my mind at least!)  As we headed north west from Withernsea, the excitement grew as we passed all the places he used to bike around as a twild.  Coniston, Sproatley, Roos, Burton Pidsea, he knew 'em all.  But one place he'd never heard of, slap bang in the middle of all this, was 'Lelley'. 

I use inverted commas because it probably isn't real.  An EY TWAMRA invention to lure in the gullible masses from the rest of Yorkshire?   We drove to Preston by mistake, no not THAT Preston, but home of one of the GBG's most woeful entries in my 4.5 years of ticking, the Nag's Head.  A pub so bad, the rude landlady actively seemed to be trying to freeze pensioners to death.  I've always found Hull and EY CAMRA's decision making quite baffling of all the places I know, but this was the ultimate in baffledom. 

We turned the car around. and the purported village of Lelley was very pretty, but no consolation as not a pub in sight.  It was up on the 'main road'.  Again, inverted commas, for it was far from 'main'.
Only about 2 cars were parked up.  "Is it open?" asked Dad, third time out of three one of us had asked that today, but it was ......

1393 / 2366.  Stag's Head Inn, Lelley

Surprisingly large and barn-like, it was also full of punters.  Had they all walked here?  Hard to believe, most were about 80 years plus, and not a shopmobility scooter in sight.  First glance and it looked disturbingly 'foody', but plenty of space to the left for the drinkers, even if the emergency beermats had to come out, which I don't say often in East Yorkshire.  The ale was the weakest of the day, not strength, I mean quality, not poor by any means but a bit fizzy with a hint of wishy-washyness.  Me and Dad had 'business' to attend to anyway (an update on what we are thinking about which Hull City games to attend between now and May!) and this seemed the appropriate, fairly bland pub to discuss such plans.  After all, a trip to the loo had unearthed some dodgy wallpaper, irritating blackboards, bar blockers and 'piles of logs serving no purpose' (a BRAPA fave pet hate).  Besides, 2366 GBG pubs into my lifetime, it is tempting to be complacent and say "I've seen it all" so when, just at the moment we unfurled our Hull City papers, a lady stood up at a microphone in the main bar and started belting out 'Build Me Up Buttercup' to the non-plussed old codgers at the bar, I have to say I was quite open mouthed.  I say 'belted' out, it was a tentative start, but she grew in confidence, and 'Stand by Me', 'Mamma Mia' and 'Perfect' were delivered with more gusto and proof she could hold a note.  If this was the Voice, I'd have spun my chair around, but only to take a quick sly photo for the blog, and then spin it back around again.  Saturday afternoon karaoke works in say, Churchill's in Blackpool, mid punk festival, but in a pub like this in a place like this, it felt slightly incongruous.   As if she knew of our Hull City research, her next two tunes made sense.  "Oh Ian Ashbee, he's neither here nor there" was fine, but then "cheer up Terry D, oh what can it mean, to a shit football manager, and so is Jeff Leeeeeeee" was a step too far, and we left, muttering goodbye as we had to do that awkward karaoke 'walk past' (well Dad did, I vaulted out through the toilet window into the back garden!  Sort of).

There she blows

Come on ale, show us a bit of life!

Dog hides as audience prove hard to please
Well, back down to something resembling civilisation for pub four, and we were back on the new Micro trail on Thorngumbald. Of course, I approached with caution, and as so often is the case, I was pleasantly surprised ......

Let's give it a go .....
1394 / 2367.  New Royal Mail, Thorngumbald

Seems to be a growing trend, and a welcome one to a traditionalist like me, that micropubs are gradually realising that they don't have to follow the original Hillier blueprint to the letter (small chilly one room with whitewashed walls, no music, experimental brews, amusing signs saying things like "stop looking at your mobile phone and converse with our local weirdos" etc) and can still buy a cheap plot in a disused chippy, butchers, brothel, undertakers etc. and do exactly what they like with it.  And this even includes, shock horror, 'being like a mini version of an actual pub' with carpets, jukeboxes, fruit machines, piped music, radiators you'd get piles from and beers you've heard of for centuries.  And this little corker was about as traditional as a micropub can get, apart from perhaps the bizarrely wonderful Oddfellows in Shipley.  Brakespear was the beer I just had to have, and as for Dad's Ossett, well as you beer experts/bores would say "phwoar, look at the lacings on that".  And only three on, low for a micropub.  And on a totally related note ..... best quality ale of the day, of the month, and up there with best I've had all year.  Okay, so the barman and his impressive facial hair seemed a bit of a surly bugger, but perhaps he was playing a part.  Refreshing change from these micro sycophants you tend to get, all mouth, no pants.   Those folk at the bar in my bottom photo were saying some right stuff, but I didn't write it down cos I was 'relaxed' so I forgot!

Nearly asked for a pint of 'Funds for our Village Xmas Tree'

Arty shot of Dad looking at the wall, carpet nicked from 'Spoons


So, one more to go and Hedon isn't far from Thorngumbald.  You could probably walk, glad I didn't have to, my knee I refuse to talk about was smarting today after that Fitzwilliam walk the night before.  It was another micro, another I'd avoided last year in case it was a flash in the pan, but a second entry and of course I was now taking it seriously.  Such a pub whore!

We parked in this car park thinking "it can't be far away" and there I spied it backing onto the same car park:

This is my 'sober' face (bucket is coincidental) 

1395 / 2368.  Hed'On Inn, Hedon

Special award must go to most hackneyed pub name of the month, I can almost see the Antic's of South and East London nodding in agreement, but still thinking it needs an extra word tagging on the end like 'goathouse', 'technical' or 'marvel'.  Okay, so this may have had more of the traditional micropub feel, but the warmth of people and temperature (and bench seating) was not to be underestimated for this was a fine effort too to complete a strong days pubbing.  The landlady was fantastic too, but as she pulled our Chocolate Orange Black Sheep, it went.  And then she did a "here's what you could've won" and gave us a taste anyway.  Cruel.  But not for long, as Titanic Plum Porter was on, oh yes, can't go wrong and Dad says it makes up 60% of Titanic's overall sales or something crazy.  Not bad for a speciality beer.  A bloke stood at the bar (photo below) had a real presence about him, and sure enough, I've been informed he's a local CAMRA legend and has stood at this same spot at the bar since 1968.  He must've been rubbing off on us (not literally) for we picked up a local TWAMRA mag and read about Hull pubs to get future ideas for home games.  Vintage on Silver Street, Station Inn, Beverley Road, let's get those pre-emptives done.  But for now, it was back home to York for a nice/nasty KFC supper!

Where we would sit

Knew this guy was important in some way

Interesting - I'd love to know more!
So, only 5 pubs left to do in East Yorkshire for this year's GBG and three of them I actually might have done!  Well, I've definitely been to Hull's Head of Steam back when it was King's Ale House so i COULD tick this off now.  Dad is sure I've been to the Fergie Fawcett in Walkington with him and some bloke I've never heard of.  And I drank Guinness Bitter in two Bridlington old town pubs circa 2000, could one of them be the Board Inn?  And that'd only leave one in Hornsea and one in Beverley.  So can surely get these done before late August or whenever the 2020 GBG is out!

Si thee Friday for more West Yorkshire mayhem.


Monday, 19 November 2018

BRAPA - Noddy Holderness : It's (Not) Chriiiiiistmas in VERY East Yorkshire (Part 1)

The kind of bloke you might meet in any East Yorkshire GBG pub

'Are you hanging up your stocking on the wall?'  Well, of course you aren't.  It isn't even December yet.  The word Christmas shouldn't even have entered your head.  But, and this is a certified BRAPA fact (not an actual fact, but a BRAPA one), 17.8% of all GBG pubs already have some kind of 'nod' to Christmas on their premises. 

(Scroll down for pubs if you dislike rambling intros).

Saturday 17th November then, and with no Hull City to ruin our mood (god bless the Nations League, the Ember Inns of international competition) , Dad was happy to drive me around some of East Yorkshire's more far flung outposts. 

When you hear people (outsiders) talk about Hull in that sneering way they do, you'll often hear "well, you'd never be 'passing' through it, because it is the end of the line innit?"   WRONG.  Head east out of Hull and you'll enter a strange land called Holderness.

You won't have read about it in any books, seen any footage of it on TV, you may have heard a whisper on a dark web forum.  It is said that Tolkien wrote a chapter of Lord of the Rings based in Holderness, but the editor deemed it too fantastical and consigned it to the waste paper basket in the corner. 

It isn't far out of Hull, going past Hedon, that last bastion of semi-civilisation, that the sky turns a strange shade of soupy beige, the roads become narrower and gravelly and everyone drives within a pointless 30 mph speed limit.  You'll never reach your destination.  Wherever that is.  Even you don't know by this stage.  Drive into the sea, go on, no one cares anymore.

It doesn't matter in which direction you look,  you can see the Queen of Holderness.  I'm not fat-shaming some bint, this is actually a church.  The reason for this is that the landscape is so flat.  Flatter than flat.  So flat, even Lincolnshire is blushing and yawning. 

So flat, it is flatter than the flattest pancake.  A pancake that has seen only the smallest squeeze of Jif Lemon and the merest dusting of sugar.  In fact, such is its flatness, that when it was batter frying in the pan, waiting to be tossed, Mumford and Sons latest single came on the radio, causing a flatness in its mood.  That's how flat it is around here.

*When is he going to stop jabbering on about imaginary pancakes and start talking pubs?* I hear you ask.  Sorry. 

Anyway, my point is, if you are a weirdo like me who finds beauty in this bleak semi coastal scenery, and enjoy places like Sheerness, Portland, Isle of Man and the Wirral, I'd say this is a MUST visit part of the world for you.

So here we were, me and the good father BRAPA, and our 'early opener' if you like was in Patrington where I'd previously visited a pub on the outskirts.  "Don't worry, I'm not judging your chauffeuring skills compared with Martin Taylor" I reassured Dad as he struggled to park directly outside the pub and we had to walk AROUND A CORNER!  Ugh. 

By the by, I WAS totally judging. 

Shopmobility and me, in Patrington

1391 / 2364.  Amy's Bar & Kitchen, Patrington

The worst thing about this place was the name.  But we shouldn't be too harsh on Amy.  Of course, to a pub ticker like me, I associate the phrase 'bar & kitchen' with some of 'the south east's' blandest Good Beer Guide entries, but I guess Amy is a very East Yorks lass and knows not of my pub traumas in Islington and the like.  The fact there was a shopmobility scooter outside just highlighted the paradox, and on entering, the owner of said vehicle was immediately apparent, a frail but friendly old bloke with a thin Holderness nose sipping an unknown black liquid at the bar.  "Wonder what ale that is?" asked Dad, as he ordered a cappuccino, and I ordered a good quality Titanic White Star.  As Titanic do an ale called Cappuccino, I worried this may be a problem, but it wasn't.  "I'll bring them over to ya" said the kindly barmaid, perhaps Amy, seemed more Vera to me.  She even brought my change which I'd left at the bar!  Could be a long day.  We sat in the sun, it was more like a cafe than a bar or a micropub, but unlike most 'beer cafes', it was cosy and had a dollop of East Yorkshire earthiness which allowed it to be thoroughly enjoyable.  Everyone who came in said 'now then', one bloke said to his wife "oooh let's sit out of the sun" and then shouted over to us, "isn't it nice to get some sun?"  Another couple came in, honed their eyes on me (of ALL people) and asked whether they sat down or go to bar and then sit down.  I said I was no regular but go to the bar first, and sun bloke piped up "they'll need to know what you are wanting!"  Very helpful advice.  With the strains of K7's wonderful "Come Baby Come" adding an extra quirkiness to proceedings, it was time to leave.  Dad's curiosity finally got the better of him.  "What ale IS that you are drinking?" he asked shopmobility man.  "Guinness" was the anti-climactic reply.  But probably all that was keeping him alive .  Good start to the day.

Music to my ears!

Guinness legend said hi and bye

Confusing clock, and that's not all

Dad and tiny coffee
Next, it was off to end of the line to Withernsea, where Dad used to go on holiday. People in 'Ull pronounce it Wither-un-sea cos they can't do fluid movements (unlike me after a few pints!) but he's always fascinated to return to see how it has hardly changed since the late 50's/early 60's, though the coast has come further inland due to some pretty hardcore erosion.

Dad actually had a plan in mind, which he told me, was inspired my Martin Taylor.  Incredible stuff!  "I'm going to let you go in this next pub on your own, and meet you in <27.5 mins> whilst I go off to buy some white emulsion paint from MKM Building Supplies".

Sounded a solid plan, but was soon in jeopardy, as Google did what the GBG, Whatpub and every other pub resource couldn't, and told me the next place was 1pm opener and NOT 12 noon.  Google was right too.   What's more, MKM Building Supplies, which had the same bewildering opening hours and industrial unit layout as an angry Birmingham microbrewery, was ALSO shut.  Probably brewing a collaboration sour with a famous beer icon for a bottomless brunch.  Best laid plans eh? 

Luckily, and somewhat incredibly, we saw a shop screaming "PAINT" right next to the pub and where we'd parked back in Withernsea proper......

Dad (not outside a micropub .... you can tell by his genuine joy)

And as we walked into 'Hers & His', first thing we were confronted with was white paint!  Tonnes of it.  Well, gallons.  Litres! "I've got a special offer on that, 10 litres for £8!" says the bloke.  "Boom!" (not a direct Dad quote), and soon he was dragging it into the car with no help from me at all.  

As M.Lawrenson said at the time on Twitter, 'tastier than some craft beers'.  

Next, we went into this Aladdin's Cave which I thought was an amusements cos it sold fizzy pop at the front, but opened up into this deep, dark, wonderful antiques shop with a large gothic section.  Okay, so no 1975 Good Beer Guide (doesn't exist), no antique rummer glasses, but a 50p Brian Close book and a lady tried to give me the hard sell on a 'Hetty the Hoover' (she even demonstrated the suction for me, ooo err!) so not altogether a waste of time. 

You can't put a price on a Bombardier glass (well you can)

A photo to sum up Holderness
Finally, it was 1pm, the shutters were up, and the pub was open.  Thanks Google, the modern day CAMRA. 

1392 / 2365.  Old Boat Shed, Withernsea

Bit ashamed to say that when it made its GBG debut last year, I purposefully decided not to visit in case it fell into the sea (gotta think tactically in this game, I've got the same view on the whole of Kent).  But a second year in, it obviously had something about it, and I walked in (first customer of the day) into this fairly cavernous micro, friendly bloke (quite quiet for a micro owner, think his wife may be the chatterer) and got this gorgeous 5.2% stout by the amazing Half Moon brewery.  And sat alone with my strong beer and read Martin's blog about the time I was drunk in St Neots, proof I never learn!  "Bet you don't do a Mild!" screamed the second customer looking triumphant.  They did.  He actually looked a bit disappointed!  Soon, Dad shimmied in with the air of a man who loves Withernsea a little too much and brought over his hot chocolate on a rather dramatic tray.  The toilet doors were saloon style, an excitable twog in what looked suspiciously like a Christmas jumper (can you shout 'Christmas Jumper Wanker' at a dog?) jumped up at me and I failed to look like anything other than a cat lover despite my best efforts to fake it!  Dog owner was a nice chap and tried his level best to control the blighter.  We'll discover in part two the problem with dogs and East Yorkshire pubs.  Silly to say but it did feel like a boat shed (probably because it was) and like so many EY micros, a bit like in Merseyside, I expect them not to excite me and then end up being impressed and this place was done really well.  

My great pint and view of the bar

View to the bogs

Simple pub humour I can appreciate

Dad loving his hot choc tray life

Settle down lad!
Three more pubs to come, and things were about to get weirder in pub three.  Join me tomorrow night to hear about that, promise no rambling intros, emulsion or antique chat next time.  Thanks for your patience.  


Sunday, 18 November 2018

BRAPA - Bringing the "A" Game to Outer Wakefield

Friday night and the time was right to start ticking those pubs listed under West Yorkshire.

There's probably about 20 to go at, pubs which are either brand new to the GBG, better now than they were in the period 2014-17 (or I'd have done them already), or they've just been open so long, local CAMRA have taken pity and thought they deserved a year in, the equivalent of a pat on the head.  You might think this practice doesn't happen, but am certain it does!

Not sure what category tonight's duo fit into, but safe to say they won't live too long in the BRAPA memory ......

It all started, like all the worst stories do, in L**ds on a misty Friday evening.  It wasn't officially Black Friday but enough shoppers were milling around to make you think it was.  A local stopping train with an engine that sounded very 1950's chugged into life, dropping me at Fitzwilliam where a half hour walk took me to Ackworth.

A Taylor-esque style map of my route
I'd done this walk once before, 17/2/17 to be precise, and you gotta learn lessons in this game, so I had my walking boots on this time due to those muddy paths as I negotiated Fitzwilliam Country Park, with only the faintest sliver of light left in the sky.  Quite terrifying, any local Robin Hood type could've jumped out at me, for he was actually from around here, so Nottingham & Sherwood can piss off.

Up onto the relative civilisation of Wakefield Road, my pub is one of SEVEN real ale pubs in Ackworth, so probably five more trips to go in the coming years!  My knee had been improving well (thanks for asking btw!) but I was feeling the pain when I reached the pub .......

1389 / 2362.  Boot & Shoe, Ackworth

"A busy non food pub ...." began the Good Beer Guide description, so when I saw a 'Pub & Grub' banner at the front of the pub, I assumed 'grub' must mean something else around here, perhaps the pub pet is a maggot or something?  It was an interesting semi-circular shaped building, with curved red bench seats in front and good stone floors, but after our barmaid gave me a quality White Rat (beer, not pub pet) I turned to the left and found what was in effect a restaurant area!  The four or five people in it looked at me like "shhhh, you've not seen this bit!" and I disappeared off to the right no questions asked.  You'd never have known it wasn't a proper West Riding boozer from hereon in, I could even smuggle my salt n vinegar Walkers squares without any fuss!  My Mum would've been a fan too, at least of the tightness of the jeans on display in here.  She's determined to get me some skinny tapered ones for Christmas, and has totally been 'jean shaming' my poor mid 90's baggy ones.  An edgy couple shared my 'snug', but were on edge cos their friend was just sat in the car park seemingly refusing to come in.   And then a canny Geordie with a Cancun baseball cap was told a story about some bloke called "RM" (ever heard of him?), something about bringing fags back from abroad costing 200 Euros ending with the line "what's your problem?"  Bucharest?  I didn't understand, but it was a conversation topic you tend to hear in 'proper' pubs, which this so nearly was.  Still, I was a bigger fan of the Masons Arms when I came to Ackworth last time.

Approaching the pub  - don't go left

Quality Rat

No way I wanted to walk back through Fitzwilliam Country Park and wait for the train to Wakefield, so luckily I found a bus stop right outside the pub with a 18:01 due in the next few mins.  The same lad who was stood here before I went in the pub was still here now.  He smiled, smoked in my face, but didn't get on this bus either!

Half an hour back into Wakey, and a mile and a bit walk out to Alverthorpe, another place I'd visited previously for BRAPA purposes.

That was back on 14/10/14, a good WMC, and I remember getting lost on the way, ending up in some dodgy estate where a chav eyed up my mobile phone, and I heard his girlfriend actually say "don't, it isn't worth it!" which actually I was insulted by, was she saying I had a crap phone?  I think she was.

So I walked a more direct main road route, and sure enough, the pub was soon looming out of the gloom ......

1390 / 2363.  New Albion, Alverthorpe

As I hovered around outside like some pub tourist loser not able to remember my own BRAPA rules (am I supposed to go in the left or right entrance in 2018?), I ended up asking the guy smoking outside.  Despite not having white hair or even a beard, he was giving off a strong Cap'n Birdseye vibe due to a stripey jumper and ability to talk out of the side of his mouth with pipe in.  "Arrrr, doesn't matter which side you go in matey (he didn't actually say matey), it ain't a rough pub.  We chucked that lot out a couple of years back!"  Hmmmm, reassuring(!)  The bar was a bustling scene of chaos as I ordered Abbeydale Moonshine cos you can't go wrong with a Moonie (so to speak).  I felt like I was making a connection with the barmaid, an other worldy type with very pink eyeshadow, a healthy suspicion of me, and she reminded me of one of those 'adult dolls' that men of a certain age (not 39) buy online.  But the pub didn't get any more interesting than this.  To the left, a group of blonde women with twild and buggies blocked the whole space.  Some stairs took you to a calmer area, and beyond there, an 'adult only' bar.  I almost went in, but instead decided to stymie any future twild-based groups by taking the only table outside this area!  Tactics you see.  Yet, I soon realised I was in a room where everyone was a middle aged woman drinking wine (they all reminded me of Emma Winstanley from work, without ever reaching 'full Winstanley').  Trowels were the decor of choice, it was all a bit boring, though friendly folk at least.

Never the full Winstanley (note the trowel life)

Wonder what goes on up here?

Failed at the game "put the beermats in order to produce a sentence" 
So that was that as I got myself back to York, via Wakefield and L**ds.  You know I like doing things in alphabetical order where possible so was good to start with two A's, hopefully every Friday can now have similar West Yorks evening trip.


Thursday, 15 November 2018

BRAPA - A Wolf or a Tiger? (a Si-dentity Crisis in the West Midlands)

Spoons time in Blackheath
"Hull City away, Hull City away, we'll sing all dayyyyy"  Who writes this shit?  Bob Dylan would be turning in his grave, if he was dead.  Is he dead?  He is isn't he?

Yes, it was time to temporarily step off the BRAPA wagon and back into the harsh realities of lower half Championship football, though it wasn't a total write off as we had three pubs lined up for pre-match, and perhaps a cheeky one post-match?

We (me, Tom and Father BRAP) arrived at the gloomy death-hole that is New Street station (recent multi million refurb but still utter garbage) shortly after 10am and made our way to the much more lovely Moor Street station, from where we took the now familiar Stourbridge train as far as Rowley Regis.  

Talking of Regis, the train was as late as the good Cyrille, but I shouldn't 'sneer' (geddit?), at least that allowed us to get sorted with cash and tickets and what-not.

Incidentally, I'm not saying the BRAPA celeb death curse has struck again but Stan Lee dies just two weeks after my trip to the Excelsior in Liverpool.  Interesting.   

Was gonna do a Hobsons Choice joke but it is Holdens

As we wandered into Blackheath, it suddenly felt as West Midlandsy as it gets, everyone had two pupils in one eyeball and it was peak WBA territory as I noticed people starting to glare at my black & amber sleeves.  They thought I was a Wolves fan.  Luckily, WBA folk are the loveliest of the Midlands fans and most let me cross the road without so much as trying to kill me.  

Our first pub was, as so many first pubs are, a Wetherspoons but I was a bit nervous because the GBG App indicated an 8PM opener.  Surely a misprint?  

"Imagine if Wetherspoons had a day where none of them opened til 8pm!" Dad reflected as he wistfully imagined becoming involved in the great 'Spoons Riots of 2018.   Meanwhile, I was wondering what an alternate 'Spoons universe would look like in this new 8pm opening landscape.  Beer at £4 a pint, no lager, no coffee refills, Tim declaring "better in than out, just like my belly button", a ban on people over 60, shopmobility scooters outside are clamped.  I could go on.  But I won't.  

Teresa hoping for a strong & stable Spoons experience
1386 / 2359.  Brittania, Blackheath

"It looks like an actual pub!" declared Tom, but I was just delighted the door was open and the 8pm time had been an error.   But I do wish 'Spoons would stop being parodies of themselves.  Two people serving, one had only just come on, but about 15 impatient people all stood around.  I had my vouchers so my round (I'm generous like that!) and as Dad & Tom found a seat, I gently sang "I'll never get served, I'll never get served" when a barmaid suddenly did just that.  Had she heard me?  Seen my vouchers?  Course not, I'd still be waiting now.  I think I was just lucky, though as I glanced to my left, most of the people at the bar were old men who'd been for coffee refills but were now blocking the bar.  Perhaps the most unacceptable bar blockers of 2018!  One bloke had no drink at all, but was stood there sideways with his head on a weird angle doing nothing.  And the vast majority of the pub was a sea of breakfast chaos, crumbs, sticky tables, wheelchairs and pushchairs.  It was life-affirming.  But equally soul-destroying.  A fine line.    Then, our old Hull City mate and NE Lincs finest fracking exponent Ben arrived on the scene.  Always lovely to see him, and he joined us for a warming Titanic Cherry Dark.  Dad discovered he had a new expression, 'Resting Bitch Face', and after a few more scowls at my amber sleeves on the way to the bogs, it was time to move on to our 11 o'clocker.  

Time for a 'waiting to get served in here takes the cake' joke

After a short walk took us from Blackheath into what was sort of technically Halesowen, a place I've always wanted to go to cos as a twild, I thought it was called Hallowe'en, Tom turned us down into an industrial estate, unit 9 to be exact!  

It didn't look very open, these places never do, but a lady encouraged us to try the door handle (good plan!) and some blokes who looked like beer visitors were milling around getting in the way......

Tom & Ben at Unit 9
1387 / 2360.  Fixed Wheel Brewery Tap, Halesowen

"Uh oh, I'm not going to enjoy this" said Dad, already skulking around like a captive tiger.  On the other hand, as Dad went to the bar with Tom, Ben had a great big beaming smile on his face .... "oh this is my kinda place!" he exclaimed.  "Hmmm" I said, for me & Dad were thinking of a recent Brummie outing were we'd failed to enjoy Burning Soul Brewery Tap, a similar style set up on first glance.  But good to have someone like Ben with us to offer the alternative perspective.  In an age when no one likes or expects to be challenged by anything contrary to their views, this was healthy.  However, it didn't matter as I'm delighted to report Dad was soon wearing a look of hope.  "Very good staff who give a damn, a few handpumps, great ale, I'm impressed!" he said, showing you should never judge a book by its shit stained cover.  Behind us, complimentary (unless you are BRAPA) bread & cheese was being arranged on boards.   But what was that skull-splitting sound behind me?  Someone was chopping a breadstick with an electric carving knife!  I tried saying this was wrong but I was shouted down by all three "tis the most effective way of doing it Si!"  so there you go, I'd been told.  Ben did us a quiz on Hull City in the FA Cup which was fun but obviously didn't take long!  "We might come back on the way to the station!" asked Ben hopefully, and I agreed we might.  I knew he was thinking of his bladder, and that is never a bad thing.  I often think of Ben's bladder.

A hat we can all appreciate

Look at it's little face

The cheese is ready, but is it there for the taking?
One more pub then as me and Ben sprinted ahead, and he wasn't sure he liked the look of this, but to me it was screaming 'proper pub I enjoy coming to the Midlands for!'  

Here we go .... pub 3

Tom & Dad struggling to keep up.  Great car btw and cars usually bore me shitless. 

1388 / 2361.  Swan, Halesowen

The ceiling was a sea of green plastic poppy weirdness / remembrance genius, and the sun shone annoyingly on the board so you couldn't read the beers and that folks is why if you insist on having a board, "make it a blackboard or nothing at all".  I think that was a Scandinavian hit in the 80's.  Two old blokes tried to get their bored dog (not a twog, I liked it) to do something interesting, but it failed miserably.  May as well have been a cat.  We oozed into some bench seating and it was my turn to do a Hull City quiz.  The answers included '5 foot 8', 'no one knows, but Bolsover', 'he borrowed a different hire car every day of the week' and 'Hepatitis A'.  How did you do?   Not much else to report really, it was good, I've not written much by my standards, deal with it.

Things are looking up for Father BRAPA

Too much glare

Go on then, do something!

So it was back to the Fixed Wheel at Ben's behest, not that we were complaining.  But there were two little epilogues to my blog of gladness, as I marched down the street with my royal Dadness.  You may find them amusing ......

I picked up a local CAMRA mag and noticed an interview with a pub notable in BRAPA circles I visited recently.  This was the Swan in Amblecote.  Notable because it was the LAST pub I visited to get in the 2018 GBG but NOT the new 2019 edition.  I liked it personally and would've kept it in.

Now I'm NOT saying TWAMRA don't have a sense of humour but that is probably what you are thinking.  Okay, I am too.  Same bracket as Tax Inspectors, Microbrewers, Local Councillors, Beer Bloggers, Benefit Cheats, Vegans and Farmers in inability to laugh at themselves.  But we can't generalise.  Some are probably a great laugh.  Anyway, so when the old school landlord was asked what his favourite beer was and he came up with the reply of Carling Black Label, well you do wonder if they took it to heart!

In my eyes, brilliant.  I find the flavour of some of the modern ales a bit too much as well.   Or did he then take off his mask chuckling to reveal a Cooking Lager? 

But the Fixed Wheel wasn't quite done with me yet as we stood at the bar, my round, and Ben made a weird whistling noise through his teeth and said "ya know Si, I MIGHT try one of the taps!"  Dun dun dun!    Okay then, and he points to one with an ice cream symbol.  Well, of course fate decreed it was a Burning Soul beer, and when I said something like "ice cream beer, I can't imagine such a thing!" a helpful bloke to my left sat at the bar offered me a sip of his. He seemed to know a lot about it.  When I looked closer, the bloke had a Burning Soul hoodie on!  Gosh, wouldn't it be serendipitous if he was the same guy who got a bit cross with my review of his 'pub' a few weeks back?  In all the mayhem, despite having ordered a pint of cask something or other along with Dad, the barmaid gave me an Ice Cream Burning Soul beer too!  Fate loves laughing at BRAPA.  I couldn't quite manage it all, but the upside of it all was less liquid consumed equalled me not needing the loo throughout the whole of Birmingham City 3-3 Hull City (unprecedented), and good cos it was a modern day classic.  A shit classic, but still a classic.

We were 2-0 down at half time due to defensive incompetence.  Then we went 3-2 up!  Then they equalised near the end.  And yet our fans still had the temerity to chant "2-0 up and u fucked it up!"  Errrrm, doesn't work lads!

Post match and the plan was to get ourselves to Cradley (pronounced Craydley like Cradle) Heath for a late tick but I soon beckoned Tom away from his one man post match demonstration to point out we didn't have time:

So we hopped back to Brum, and had a swift one in weirdo Victorian quirk masterpiece the Victoria near that theatre.  Lovely barmaid, friendly folk, good ale,  despite the pretty chaotic evening scene.

A great day, and you know what ..... AS I SIT HERE AT 20:30 on Wed 14/11/18, I am UP TO DATE with my blog for the first time since  13/09/18.  TWO WHOLE MONTHS.  Insanity.  Gonna celebrate by getting the county of Yorkshire back up and ticking this weekend and next.

See you on Sunday for news of that.

Thanks for reading as always, Si