|Name a more iconic chauffeuring duo|
We took the train from L**ds to Sandal & Agbrigg where she parks every day before driving home to her Crofton slum, but today, she drove the two miles or so to this pub. She'd never been in before unlike the other Sandal boozers and wasn't too familiar with BRAPA protocol as I made her pose for the pub photo. "Ey up. What if people are looking at me?" she whined in her local twang. True, the pub did look packed inside and locals were blinking out through steamy windows ......
1453 / 2424. Star, Sandal
The bar area was a weird shape, which kind of siphoned the locals into a 'holding area' at the front. Megan, in a panic, said she'd settle for half a Carling but I encouraged her to be adventurous as I eyed up a Blackpool Bitter. "Arrrr, it's actually brewed reet on t'pier!" said a local, turning to Megan and winking, he looked old enough to remember George Formby Snr starting out TBH. Emboldened by the friendly chatter and smiley barmaid, Megan decided to go for gin and lemonade, but wanted 'pink' gin which I didn't know existed! As I tried to order, Megan interrupted to make sure I was definitely ordering 'pink' gin. "She doesn't trust me to get it right!" I complained to the barmaid. "THEY never get it right" said Barmaid to Megan with an eyeroll and nod, "YEH!" chimed in Megan, "THEY never get it right!" Errrm, excuse me, who are these 'THEY'? Oh, it is hard being a poor average rubbish man in 2019, let me tell you! Despite the busy nature of this one roomed Friday fun pub, we got the one remaining seat near the back, resplendent with real fire and some nice decor n shit. A scruffy dog (not a twog) ran across for an ear scratch, a dalmatian looked at it like "show off", there was also a bulldog and this huge thing taller than me. A kind old lady started talking to us about the dogs, and you have to say the locals were ultra friendly here. I do like that outer Wakefield area for that, proper salt of the earth folk. Our table was a bit big, our seats a bit low flung and spongy and Megan had more problems as her (real) friends realised she was out, and this ultra persistent one called 'Liv' seemed to think that if Megan could manage a BRAPA pint in the Star, she could bloody well make her way back to L**ds and get 'proper smashed'. So she did!
|Interesting shaped bar to keep the locals in their places|
|Friendly scruffy hound|
|Megan on the pink gin|
But because she's a living legend, she still volunteered to drive me to Wakefield bus station first to make it easier for me to get to Ossett. On the journey, some crazy music blared out. "What IS this?" I asked, like a bewildered old man. "Stormzy" was the reply. I'd heard of him but didn't know he was real, a bit like the Loch Ness Monster, Rob Roy or Duncan Mackay. Next up, it was a girl group who won American X-Factor. Best BRAPA musical education since a certain Peter Edwardson introduced me to the work of Rory Gallagher and you can't say fairer than that.
After saying farewell, I had a quick slash and then caught the bus, 27 mins to Ossett where I had one of those "HOW THE HECK HAVE I NOT BEEN HERE BEFORE?" pubs. Yes, two previous trips to Ossett, FOUR pubs visited, yet never the Brewery Tap which you could argue is the most famous thing about the whole town. Insane!
As I crossed the road in the 7pm gloom, I was delighted to see that this wasn't like most 'Taps' (shiny and silver and cold ,like the ones you find in your kitchen, bathroom, London or Birmingham) but it was like a 'proper pub'!
1454 / 2425. Tap, Ossett
Like all good pubs, the bogs were in the porch way of the entrance cos OF COURSE I needed to go again by now. Even better because it gave me a taste of things to come. No, I don't mean the beer tasted like piss but rather, one poster advertised their new ale 'Yorkshire Brunette' (cos the blondes have had it their own way for too long) and the fact the beer is brewed 1136 metres down the road. Call yerself a Tap? Am afraid this isn't LocAle enough for me. Into the bustling cosy bar with side rooms off in each direction, the lovely landlady called me 'luv' and pulled me a Yorkshire Brunette (so to speak) which she topped up twice even though it barely needed it, hope she didn't think I was TWAMRA. In addition to looking for a nice seat, I was half looking out for another work colleague, this time Bryan Longbottom, the bank ale legend who does a kind of Amsterdam version of BRAPA which involves errrm, other 'activities' that BRAPA hasn't sampled in Maidenhead or Slough. In the gloom, I saw every bald head as a potential Bryan so smiled at them all but none were the full Bryan, so I settled in the corner and listened as a Denim Acorah made pub platitudes like he had some "what to say in a pub" phrasebook. Suddenly, two excitable wine ladies plonked (excuse thee pun) themselves down. I was like "ey up, you alrite?" I was a bit surprised they'd not said "is anyone sitting here?" or "can we share your table?" but this lack of preciousness was brilliant in its own way. They just said "we'll be alright once we've had a glass or two of this!" This was my chance to say something witty or clever, but Denim Acorah got there first with a line straight out of his book and made them laugh, typical! I slunk back into my seat and hid behind my GBG til it was time to catch my bus back to Wakey.
|Flippin' Denim Acorah being quick witted!|
|The ladies who wine|
And then, it was back to York as quick as I could as I had an early start tomorrow. Annoyingly, I kept JUST missing train connections and the like, so it took a while .......
Fast forward to 8:30am on the Saturday and I was down to Peterborough where I was meeting Martin "RM" Taylor (or chauffeur #2 as he may also be known for the foreseeable future)
So we're just pulling into Peterborough station and a bit even I won't try and make amusing as someone jumps onto the line, we break suddenly but hit them. "Oooh I'm on the train and there's a sombre mood" report the bleeding hearts of Twitter, when in truth, a few plastic Liverpool fans with surprisingly South Yorkshire accents were saying if they saw him and they missed kick off at the AMEX, they'd push him back onto the line which I didn't think was very charitable under the circumstances.
The upshot of all this from a BRAPA perspective, poor Martin ended up drinking about 58 coffees across the Drapers Arms and Waitrose, so when the doors DID get released, he was waving frantically at me across the car park in super speeded up motion like summat off a Benny Hill sketch.
No matter, we were soon en route to Whittlesey, where they'd decided to add to the three pubs I'd done in the summer with a little Wetherspoons addition just to make life that bit more trickier than it needed to be. Martin decided to park in the tightest car park spot ever in a kind of "I bet Megan couldn't do this" kind of way and I ran off pubwards ......
1455 / 2426. George Hotel, Whittlesey
First thing that struck me, the main drinking area was your usual fairly dimly lit arena, but the bar area had a kind of conservatory style roof so it seemed airy and pleasant, how strangely un-Spoons, but I couldn't ponder this for long, as a trio were kind of hovering a few yards from the bar. It was impossible to tell if they were trying to get served or just having a little "pre-going-to-the-bar-conflab" so I edged in front of them and took out my 50p off voucher. I could feel their eyes on me, but the perfect ale was on, so I said fairly loudly "Pint of Village Idiot Please!" It was my most passive-aggressive beer order since I ordered the pint of Hopeless Twat IPA in Doncaster four years ago (not really, it was Useless Wanker DIPA). It was good whatever, as I got 65p off rather than the usual 50p, and those chumps are probably still stood there opened mouthed now. 'Spoons can be a joy for the pub observer, and I found myself opposite a family playing Uno. Well, talk about aggro. The Mum accusing the son of cheating, then when Dad took the younger boys up to the loo, she menacingly whispered in his ear "You finished arguing yet?" and "we'll draw a line in the sand under your cheating!" as she filed her nails in a psychopathic way. Later, he sneezed and as his Mum reached for a tissue, he accused HER of looking at his cards. Epic. And if that wasn't all enough, Martin ran into the pub, took a quick pic of me, and jokily sprinted off, leaving the table behind gawping at me wondering what was going on!
|The beer that mattered - £2.15 - 50p = £1.50??|
|Lady sits on last surviving 'Spoons pet and squashes it to death|
|Piccie on the way out, thanks to Martin!|
Now, it was time to get the trickiest and furthest one of the day done as we tootled out towards Wisbech, I'd never been here before but Martin must like/hate it as he recommended it to the Southworth Bros. The traffic was irritating, the sky was Fenland grey, the town may have been pretty, but all I could see was a muddy banked river which reminded me of that walk from Bristol to Ashton Gate. But you could see pub number three from across t'way so I waved at it.
|"Hi pub no.3, won't be long, please keep your beer in good condition ......"|
As Martin can vouch for, I was PROPERLY excited about Leverington.
Reason for this, when in the Jolly Sailor at Ramsey earlier this year, I told a local I needed to do this pub, he said the place was inbred, and instead of the Rising Sun, they call it the Falling Moon. (Yes, this coming from a person from Ramsey). And then he actually HOWLED, like a werewolf. Wow. Anyway, I'd been saving that one for today, and as I said to RM, the magic was almost gone when I saw motorised vehicles in the village!
The pub car park seemed to suggest we'd be the only customers, unless everyone had walked a mile or so from Wisbech. Don't be silly, people NEVER walk ANYWHERE these days!
1456 / 2427. Rising Sun, Leverington
And whilst we were the only customers, it was immediately clear we were going to have an ultra positive experience, when following on from similar legends in Comberton and Little Gransden, our landlady Maggie put herself up for an early 'BRAPA barperson of year award' with an inspired display. Tasters of the ales before I could say "I don't really do tasters", the kind of pub running ethos you just wish everyone had, hell she even made a beer festival (Peterborough) sound totally appealing and as Martin pointed out, especially when you are a pub ticker, beer festivals don't really excite. She was from Bellerby in North Yorkshire though no trace of it in her accent, Martin asked her about the flag on the wall which was Wasps who are a rugby union team, whatever that is. "I thought it was Watford before!" said Martin, though he should know Watford + positive pub experience cannot go together in any way. "Don't you be slagging off rugby on your blog review" said Martin in front of her, knowing full well what I'm like. Come on maaaan, as IF I'm gonna start slagging off those posho egg chasing Coventry dwellers? Well, I'm not AM I? Her 'the time I nearly licked Lawrence Dalllaglio anecdote' was probably the highlight. She was ably assisted by smiley background barmaid Becks/Bex/Becky/Bec (possibly related to Tooting Bec from last week who'd swallowed a trumpet on the London underground), a sort of less sulky Fenland Olivia Deeble. It was a great experience, and I got Maggie to do the highlighting (the sort of Hollywood Handshake of BRAPA) and I'm sure I heard her utter "oh good, a green highlighter pen, I'd never use pink or yellow").
|Maggie does the honours|
|The Wasps flag of much contention|
|IBS Support Group in a Brewery Visitor Centre, I love it!|
|Bogs you could probably eat your dinner in|
So there we go, back to Wisbech it was for pub three. And then three more. Join me on Wed or Thu for that for I have got a Christmas dinner tomorrow (seriously) , don't expect my memories of the rest of the pubs to be much good cos Martin took more notes and drank more coffee.
Lots of love, Si