Monday 23 December 2019


If I was to beat my all-time BRAPA record for number of pubs visited in a year (447 back in 2018), I'd need to think 'out-of-the-box' and not rest on my Friday and Saturday laurels (the worst type of laurels).  After all, Mad Friday wasn't a day I'd want to be in a pub anyway.  Monday was my friends Christmas do, around York, where I finally got the highly preemptive Market Cat ticked off.  I also received this appropriate card .....

Note the BRAPA shirt!

So that left Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as potential nights.  A pub a day keeps the doctor away?  Probably true, though the stats show it is more than a pub a day in my case.  Oh well, 4 remaining in West Yorkshire.  Three this week, one on Monday 23rd Dec.  That's the plan.

Day One - Tuesday 17th Dec  

Tuesday found me in Keighley bus station.  Sad to report zero GBG pubs in Keighley this year, what happened to classics like Brown Cow and Cricketers?  Where's the overrated but popular Boltmakers Arms gone?  Or the 'Spoons?  And the Lord Rodney was kicked out for bad beer quality AFTER the 2020 GBG went to print.  Quite rare that.  

But at least you can rely on that Bronte Country area just outside town to bung a new one in every year, a bit like a football manager who doesn't quite know his strongest starting eleven.  

With the bus increasingly delayed and the queue now snaking around the bus station like a human centipede, a man in a Christmas jumper and santa hat knocked over one of those 'dangerous slippery wet floor' yellow signs, and when confronted by the staff, refused to pick it up.  Then there was nearly a fight and a man just ahead of me in the queue at Stand K warns "leave it lad, he's travelled over here from Moss Side!" and hangs back to make sure there's no further trouble!  

After that drama, the bus to the quiet village of Oakworth, famous for having the railway station used in the Railway Children, had a Club which was either making its GBG debut, or hadn't been in since BRAPA begun.   'Twas looking rather festive under the night sky, well it had a Christmas tree halfway up the roof .....

Always a bit more anxious about entering a GBG 'club' than a pub, as traditionally, there are more eyes on you, there might be an intercom and difficult entrance to fathom, sometimes a guest book, and the whole peril surrounding 'can I just get a pint or do I have to show my GBG, CAMRA card or pay a small fee?'   First relief was seeing the door ajar at Oakworth Social Club (1663 / 2880), and I entered a bright, comfortable welcoming sort of atmosphere and breathed a sigh of relief.  The barmaid was excellent, chatty and hospitable though there was the constant threat of a set of fake eyelashes ending up in my pint of Saltaire White Christmas, which was on top form!  She started telling me that Sky Sports was playing up, which was putting pressure on her as the lads in the back room wanted to watch the Liverpool match.  "You think I'd be bothered too, cos I'm a Liverpool fan" she concluded slightly unconvincingly, but it kept up the current theme of 'too much Liverpool in BRAPA pubs' over the past month or two.  Still reeling from this, she was soon confronted by an old guy who'd returned from a fruitful toilet trip.  "It's red hot in there, you'd burn yourself if you fell over!" he said, making it sound like a scene from Chernobyl.  Again, she explained there wasn't much she could do, but nonchalantly fiddled with the thermostat for good measure.  Last thing they needed with all this going on was more complications, but she was joined by more staff for a 'Christmas decorations' chat, and sadly, many were electric.  "The dog's a pluggie innie and the snowman is a bugger!" explains the elder barmaid in a late contender for BRAPA Quote of the Year.  Road Rage by Catatonia played, followed by Africa by Toto, then we had Men at Work, with Hull's finest Roland Gift belting out FYC's 'She Drives me Crazy'.  Really nice club this, a worthy GBG entry in the Worth Valley hahaha (sorry). 

All very pleasant

View t'bar (note the Sam Smiths beermats)

Another page done, three West Yorks ticks to go!
Back at the station, I'd just missed a train and was waiting under a heater for the next one when a lost bloke came in and I helped him work out how to get to Bradford via Shipley, or was it the other way around.  So grateful was he, he gave me four chocolate eclairs and told me to come in to his barber's shop next time I was in the area!  Lovely stuff. 

At the L**ds end, I missed my train too by seconds and was eventually back in York for about 20:10 which wasn't too bad really.  I bought my train ticket to Pudsey for tomorrow whilst I was there.

Day Two - Wednesday 18th Dec

I thought this pictorial clue was easy, but some still thought I was off to Beartown, Teddington or Bearstall. 

The trains have been absolute bullshit all year, and these new Christmas timetables just seem to have made things worse. 

I was sat on this train (final destination Chester, quite randomly) all settled, ready for New Pudsey when the guard announced "because we can't arrange a party in a brewery, we are delayed and passengers bound for Bramley, Pudsey and Bradford should make their way to platform 15...."

So half of us got off, ran across to Platform 15, to join an already thronging platform and when the train does turn up, it's a rickety 2 cart pacer.  Even with everyone "moving down inside the carriage", it was hopeless, and me and many others got left behind.  To add salt into the wound, that Chester train had departed around the same time! 

Now, we had to wait for the 17:12.  I'd left work over an hour ago.  An angry man and a nice Spanish lady told me they did this commute every day, and expected absolutely nothing other than this utter shambles.  At least the train was there, the doors weren't open yet though.  And at 17:12, the lights went off inside the train.and everyone groaned.  Engine went off and on again, lights back on, we got on, and finally set off 17:28.  Farcical. 

New Pudsey station was a good 25 minute walk from the pub in the centre of town.  By an underpass, a cat with mumps looked at me funny.

Opposite the Wetherspoons which has never been GBG worthy, was this Beer Guide debutant and good, cos Pudsey has been under represented over the years for such a nice, honest W Yorks town.

And true to previous Pudsey form, all were smiles and 'hello' as I gingerly stepped foot inside the Manor Inn, Pudsey (1664 / 2881) which ran the gauntlet between working man's boozer and high end modern bar quite nicely, never really committing to either. It worked, and when a bloke in a L**ds Utd bobble hat smiles kindly and stops being a bar blocker and asks how your day has been, you know you're in a decent place.  "You CAMRA?" asks the switched on barman, and I got a pretty hefty discount without even showing my card.  I ask him how he knows he can trust me, to which he replies "People just go 'huh, wotz CAMRA?' if they aren't in it!"  Groping around for change in my pocket, I was surprised to find a pair of scissors I'd accidentally brought from work when cutting the label off a potato peeler at lunchtime (don't ask!  And yes, I really do still work in a Bank, just).  Dotted around the comfortable leather sofas are a series of lone old men staring vacantly at football, their faces lit green by the pitch like I've coloured them in with my highlighter pen.  And to my astonishment, bloody Liverpool again!  How can this be?  Two consecutive nights.  But turns out they are in this World Club Cup thing.  They really are haunting my BRAPA at present.  A friendly interloper shuffles over to ask me "if I'm on tour?"  Huh?  Oh, he's seen my GBG.  I start BRAPsplaining away, but his wife's waiting at the door so I cut short my ramblings.   Music was great in here, we had Dune Buggy by PUSA, then a bit of The Interrupters and then Tilly and the Wall so think it beat Oakworth.  Nice little place, deserving its GBG entry.

Another page done.  Just two West Yorkshire entries to go.

Again, I got back to York about 20:20, bit later than yesterday which showed how annoying the trains were because Pudsey should be much easier than Keighley, AND didn't involve a bus.  Oh well, and back in the Booking Office to book my South Elmsall ticket for tomorrow.  Knackered but gotta keep going in this crazy week of burning the candle at both ends! 

Day Three - Thursday 19th Dec

Work had been laughing at me for being 'posh York' as I'd pronounced South Elmsall exactly as is written.  But it isn't, it is "Emsall" said Rotherham Dave and Crofton Meg as I made my way to this 'tick' which was South Yorkshire in every way apart from the county dividing line.  

The pronunciation was confirmed by the train announcer, but it makes little sense to me.  I mean, when you go for a pint in Durham, you don't go to the Em Tree.  When you want a gorgeous Bass in fine surroundings in the Stapenhill area of Burton, you don't say 'I'm off to the Ems'.  That'd be silly.

But at least the 16:21 set off just a few minutes late, as I'd not really recovered from the Pudsey travel woes of yesterday. 

GBG and new orange scarf (not appropriate dress in S.Elmsall) in my bag)

Two blokes who didn't know each other sat opposite and were talking ale within seconds!  One was returning from a Beer Festival at Sowerby Bridge and was 'feeling a bit fresh'.  I put my GBG on the table to enhance the chat, and though the first bloke got off at Outwood, Sowerby Bridge man told me I'd enjoy tonight's pub if I was a fan of 'proper' pubs.  Behind me, a woman on the phone gave clear instructions to her daughter to get a Cottage Pie out of the freezer. 

Of course, it'd be too simple for the pub to be close to South Elmsall station, no it was an uphill walk to an area called Minsthorpe, nearer North Elmsall which I didn't even know was a thing!

The pub came into view, looking fairly hospitable and Christmassy for something with Barnsley in the name ......

Though the inner door had a sign suggesting anti-social behaviour had been a problem in this pub, even Sam Smith's houses seem chilled on the swearing front compared with this .......

Reinforcing second sign below this one
It struck me that Barnsley Oak, South Elmsall (1665 / 2882) is one of those pubs now run to high standards by caring people, when perhaps it hasn't always been the case.  I got the feeling they knew they couldn't 100% control the rowdier elements of their clientele, and partly didn't want to curtail them too much for fear of losing the soul of the pub.  You see, train timings meant I was here over an hour (for two pints rather than one) so I got to build up a clearer picture of the place than my 27.5 minute visits would!  Two ales on, both Black Sheep, one the standard ale I had second, and first a seasonal Blitzen.  Enjoyed both, especially the first, and I'm no fan of B.S. generally.  The main downside an incredibly drunk woman behind me who sounded like Karen Matthews with a voice that carries.  Bad combination.  She was in that flip-flopping "you are my best friend you, I love youuuuu / leave me alone, you are a beast!" phase of drunkenness and when a group of old men shouted at her to shut up, she luckily didn't hear them.  For the twenty final minutes I was here, she suddenly went silent.  I daren't turn around for fear of making eye contact, but I suspect she'd fallen asleep.  She'd earlier accused the pub's chips of looking like slugs.  It felt a more edgy pub to sit alone in than Oakworth or Pudsey, but then again, I was there longer, it was probably all that one woman, and looking around me, most folk seemed in friendly party mode or just in for a quiet pint.  Wonder how 'mad Friday' would compare to 'bat shit Thursday' here, but I'll never know.  I bet SHE will be awake by then though!  Nice to see pubs like this in the GBG.

Settling down early on with my Black Sheep Blitzen

At the bar

 Bit blurry but this was when I was sober

Rare second pint footage late on

So there we have it.  A timely three pub boost.  One West Yorkshire pub to go, which I've just done tonight (23rd) and I also need to tell you about my trip to Penrith on Saturday.

I was so close to finally getting caught up on my blogs for the first time since my Lake District bonanza in October, but Christmas is now gonna get in the way and slow me down, unless I can find some down time between the mince pies and charades!  

Have a lovely Festive time, and I'll be back before the end of 2019.



  1. So right about the mysteries of pubs revealing themselves over an hour rather than 3 minutes.

    I had a pie and chips and pint of Barnsley for about a fiver when it was in the GBG a decade ago (probably less than that), loved the atmosphere.

  2. Just a quick post while I wait for the car to warm up (currently -15C here in Edmonton) to wish you a Merry Christmas. We're enjoying spending the week with our sons (and grandson!). The drive thru the Rockies was the worst drive we've ever taken. I've been told next year we fly. :)


  3. Merry Christmas to you. Hope you continue to blog into 2020 and beyond. Really enjoy it.

  4. Yes, Merry Christmas. Your blog is always a treat.

  5. Are you worried you're outed as a CAMRA by bar staff or is the Olly Reed T-Shirt a giveaway ?

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