I've made decent progress with Notts this year without trying, up to 34 pubs compared to 18 at the start of the 2018/19 GBG season. And if it wasn't for my ridiculous insistence on following some kind of alphabetical order, Notts would be a great county to get bottomed out ahead of Cumbria, Cornwall, Dorset and the like.
Stapleford felt like a nicely untouched by 2019 style place, having taken a bus from Long Eaton, the home of the late great Alan Winfield. If he was still around, would he have come to meet me for a pint? Course he bloody wouldn't! The man had sense.
Anyway, we loved the pub sign for having the highest amount of TV channels ......
We needed a pick me up after the disappointing Hole in the Wall in Long Eaton, and the Horse and Jockey, Stapleford (1718 / 2691) was the perfect tonic. A cracking pub, no wonder it was once a runner up in 'best pub of the year' award. The landlord was an absolute jewel of a bloke from the moment we entered. I'd been moaning how many plum beers there are around at the moment which never seem as good as Titanic Plum Porter. So he gave me a 'Plummeth the Hour' taster to prove me wrong, and all the beers were listed on this colourful graph showing strength and colour, the kind of thing yer TWAMRA's love, don't forget the 10p discount too (5p for you cos you probably drink halves). But don't think this was just some 'beer house', this was a proper community local. As I went to discover why thick crusty sausages were back on the menu due to popular demand, Dad praised the landlord on the excellent air conditioning on yet another muggy day. "I just have to remind the locals not to open the doors or windows" he sighed. "Well, surely that shouldn't be a problem?" reasons Dad. "Try saying more than four words to anyone in 'ere? Well they don't understand a fucking thing!" replies our host. Genius. I could finally bask in the glory of completing Derbyshire, though this Brass Castle ale Dad had chosen (I copied him) was a bit impossible to drink! The landlord brought us some local CAMRA mags inc RuRAD just to add to his brilliant personable touch. Cracking pub, I'm sure you've been but if not, you must.
I got the impression buses weren't hugely reliable around here. Either that or the pubs are just enterprising ......
But we finally got aboard one, my plan now was to hop off somewhere in 'west' Nottingham where I had to tick to do. This was the area called Radford, bigger than I'd expected and full of student halls and Japanese girls walking a Pomeranian or twelve all wearing air pods. Quite a long walk, but we made the pub eventually ........
But if I'd had a few reservations as to how 'real' the Plough, Nottingham West (1719 / 2692) might be, I needn't have worried as we entered another Horse & Jockey style 'boozer for the people'. Rare contemporary evidence from the day (I took no notes, apart from the locals air con quote in the previous pub) shows that Dad put it best. "Places like this are to be cherished, I don't care about the arty farty and the lah-di-dahdy" he cried poetically as we breathed in the centuries old smoky atmosphere, the carpet that Wetherspoons are jealous isn't in their collection, shiny mirrors and historic award plaques galore. Whether he added "...or the namby pamby, or the hoity toity" I cannot remember, but you get the gist. A quick head count told me apart from me and Dad, the six other customers in the bar area had a total of three hairs on the top of their heads between them. But one thing this pub couldn't beat the Horse & Jockey on was air con, and I knew what Dad (a man who suffers with stuffy pubs more than most) was thinking and we were quite happy to take our drinks into the pleasant patio area. "I want a picture with me resting across all those tyres!" I squeaked, "Twitter will love it!" "Yeah, you can call it 'tyred and emotional' says Dad warming to the theme (plot twist - it got 4 likes and Cooking Lager told me to get a longer shirt from a tailors - FML). "I'll just have to wait for this couple to leave" I said. But they didn't, and I was past the self-conscious stage, so I leaned across them anyway. Was it worth it? Well, at least I have a memory of being outside at the Plough now!
"Now listen Dad, we're going to really have to push ourselves for this final pub" I said, as father looked like he might be more than happy to have a coffee or a juice or a sleep in a Nottingham Station waiting room. But I had the BRAPA bit between my teeth by now, and the sixth and final pub of the day could not be skipped.
Once again, the bus didn't quite go in the expected direction, but the friendly driver heard me whining as we alighted somewhere near the station. I told him we were off to the Embankment pub. He shouted out some numbers like 7, 8 and 9, and I saw one across the road so raced to it - a shell shocked looking Dad traipsing behind. "Come on! We can DO this!" I encouraged him.
"HO HO HO" said a rosy cheeked man dressed in red and white who'd witnessed our escapade. No, not Father Christmas but another sub-species with an unhealthy need to visit kids bedrooms in the night, the Nottingham Forest fan! (ONLY JOKING) "WE'RE KICKING OFF AT HALF FIVE, GOOD LUCK".
Of course, the guy in York Chambers had mentioned this all those hours ago. And our pub was slap bang across the road from the City Ground. Ugh. I checked my watch, it was just gone 5pm. I was nervous? Who were they playing? THE BAGGIES OF WEST BROM OF COURSE! One of those clubs whose fans historically seem to be always where BRAPA is.
I ordered Dad to stay across the road and do the photo ......
|We won't criticise him for not getting the pub name in under the circs|
So, the Embankment (1720 / 2693) , I really pick my moments don't I? Luckily it was 17:23, 7 mins til kick off so it wasn't the crazy heaving mass I'd expected, people had all but cleared out to the game and the staff were taking a collective deep breath, wiping down tables and collecting glasses galore. Quite a great time to go into a pub really! I'd notice local legend Vicky McClure had been in here a couple of days ago getting her own Castle Rock beer made, but I couldn't see it sadly (if it isn't called 'Lime of Fruity', I'm suing) but I could focus on one called 'Sleepwalker' which seemed apt. We sat by a giant mural of the original Boots the Chemist which had been here back in t'day. We didn't talk much. Dad blinked at me, and at 5 minute intervals, did soundbites like "how on earth did you get us here?" "that was pure BRAPA" or "you are ridiculous for bringing us out 'ere!" shaking his head with a smile. 'Thanks' I replied. 'Tis hardly Whitchurch Canonicorum, but I'll take it.
And that was that, bus back to the station well before the crazy football finished, and safely back 'ome. We'd used Derbyshire Wayfarer's for most of the day, probably not valid for some of our Notts legs but drivers kept accepting them on the basis that they 'didn't 'av a clue mate'.
Always a rewarding part of the world to pub tick, and a really great day out. I can almost relax now til the 2020 GBG arrives, just tie up a few Greater Manchester loose ends. Perfect.