Monday 18 October 2021

BRAPA in ..... 2001 : A SUSSEX ODDITY

As I bade farewell to pub 2000, there was no looking back, there never can be in this pub ticking game.  Onto pub 2001, infinity, and beyond.

I marched Dad and Tom across a road we didn't need to cross, then down the wrong street.  Nice to see that 2000 pubs and 7.5 years later, my navigational skills are still terrible.  And as for my left from my right?  Don't have a clue mate. 

It was easier to cross back the other way, so no harm done.  As I loiter for the outdoor photo, an approaching lady lingers at the edge, not wanting her BRAPA five seconds of fame.   

She overtakes us and goes in first.  "My 2001st pub visit!" I tell her.  She looks at me like a world weary worn woman who is sick of random weirdos quoting pub stats at her.  But fear not.  King's Arms, Horsham (2001 / 3430) supplies further evidence that the town is managing to keep it traditional.  The sun streams in, the atmosphere is happy, and without being multi-roomed, there is a 'split' feel to the place, offering the feeling you can 'get away from it all', not a bad thing when the boisterous Horsham F.C. fans are in town.  I look to see which opponents are making them so giddy.  Potters Bar Town, home of my recent joyful 'Spoons experience.  "You're getting taught by the Scholars!"  On a day of fabulous bar staff, this woman is my favourite, her sense of humour drier than some dry hopped something or other.  She agrees that it is reasonable of me to assert that if I'm going to be the spokesperson for our little trio (i.e. shouting out the drinks order), I should be absolved of ever having to buy a round.  Sadly, Tom and Daddy BRAPA didn't share her view.  Our beer was a puzzler.  As in, I thought it was dreadful.  Not the quality.  Just the style.  A Black Cherry mild by local Kissingate.  Presumably an ancient one.  I know mild is, by all accounts 'mild', but this was just like sweet cherry water.  I thought I'd picked up Tom's pint by mistake!  Perhaps a centuries old recipe that just doesn't translate.  In any case, yuck.  Still a fabulous pub.  My fave today overall.

Into the bowels of Horsham for our last two pubs, by which I mean the town centre, a welcome relief from the utterly depressing concrete ring road main drag.  

Colin said hi to a few old rellos:

...and a second nod to rhubarb in quick succession 

A risky cut through, right through the middle of an indoor shopping centre rarely ends well on BRAPA days, but I emerged from this one fairly unscathed.  Tom, who likes places with amplified acoustics for inappropriate football chanting purposes, managed to hum a few strains of the classic "Shopping Wankers" (B-Side to 'BRAPA 2000').  I was about to tell him off, but the way that a woman with young children moved to the side for us as a result, letting us pass, really helped with the BRAPA progress. 

Shopping Wankers of Horsham / I wanna pass, they say 'ov course son'

In fact we were hampered more so at the other end as the ShopMOBility Mob closed in on us .....

Horsham Mobility Mafia Mob

A random donkey then tried to look important and historic, but ultimately got in the way ......

So you can imagine it was a relief when the narrow side lane to pub three emerged .......

Pirie's Bar, Horsham (2002 / 3431) is not going to take home any BRAPA awards, but I was mindful not to sneer at it quite as much as my two travel companions.  After all, there's was something very 'York' about it.  Difference is, because we are in Horsham rather than York (city?  don't care) , people will be less inclined to be all dewy eyed and dumbstruck over it.  Having said that, a giant moth-inducing Corona font dominating the poky, dark bar area is not a good look for any CAMRAery codgery ale drinkers gaff in my book, and what a book it is!  Only in the hapless Bell in Reigate have I witnessed similar.  There, it was positively celebrated.  At least here, as I poked fun at it, a barmaid chuckles along and looks sort of sheepish.  I like her.  The bogs were nonsense here too.  Three urinals in the same space as one actual toilet and sink.  But one lock encompassing all!  So if you are a selfish shitter, you can conceivably lock three innocent pissers out of the whole equation!  That can't be right can it?  We sat in the 'covered' outdoor area as the inside was busy and stifling and narrow.  Stickiest table in a BRAPA pub this year!  Why are empty gin bottles hanging on pieces of string, suspended above Daddy BRAPA's head?  I was nervous for his skull the entire time.  The ale, another local offering, from a place called Long Man, is a pale cool fizzy thing I just cannot get along with.  Maybe everything is piped up to that all encompassing Corona?  Time for my Hull City quiz (as is tradition on Tom days - "buzz!") and before long, the most impassioned Junior Lewis discussion ever is being had.  The poor bald bloke who's just across the bench from us must think he's walked into the Junior fan club!  He's a very friendly chap anyway and says hi to me about ten times.  You know at the beginning where I said I was careful not to sneer at this place too much?  How's that going?

Corona world domination

Tom n Dad at the bar

Odd outdoorsy bit

Funny, I thought I quite enjoyed Pirie's til I started writing that piece.  Now I'm not so sure.

One Horsham pub to go, or so we thought, until we got there.  

Dry your eyes lads

SHUT PUB ALERT!  Anchor Tap.  Google had suggested this would be the case, peering in through the window showed that this wasn't just a 'isn't open', but more a case of 'if they open again this century they'll be doing well'.  I'd seen conflicting info on social media in the build up, but honestly thought we'd be in luck, sounding like it had been taken over and done up.  But I was wrong.  And so are you. 

So now we have the added conundrum of needing three pubs rather than two to get the magic BRAPA six.  Tom debated over trains to Amberley, then Faygate, but not one train to the latter today.

Back at the station, a Littlehampton bound train coming in shortly.  'Let's hop on!' I said, having earlier been the one most reluctant to go too far and get stranded.

We were further surprised to learn that Arundel had no GBG ticks, and no brewery (Arundel brewery is in Ford, down by Littlehampton).  The castle and town looked lovely from the train window and it might be cos the cricket team play there, but I always thought it was a major town in the Sussex scheme of things.

And further analysis of this much neglected BRAPA county (Burgess Hill my only tick before today, back in 2014) shows what a beer desert it is.  Look how much of it I've been able to colour in, despite having completed only Burgess Hill and Horsham.

NINE in Worthing though, so it'll probably even itself out

Littlehampton then, and I soon had us marching down to the furthest one, a mile south east of the station close to the coast.

Dad suddenly tells us he's going to give this pub a miss, and go down to the beach instead, which from what I gather, was one of those pebble strewn little numbers like Brighton, lacking sand, but he had a lovely time so that was the main thing.

The manky old saloon door promises great things at the New Inn, Littlehampton (2003 / 3432) and I wasn't to be disappointed on this occasion.  It felt like exactly the kind of pub you tend to find in those under appreciated, oft neglected English seaside towns, slightly down and out, but maintaining a real sense of yesteryear, the 'old country' if you like - not dissimilar to a Harwich or a Clacton or even, on a cold winter's day, a Weymouth.  But never a Portland.  I make a fool out of myself immediately by pronouncing the Frigate ale as 'Fry-gate'.  Despite the fact there's a massive Frigate ship on the pump clip.  Tom and a local (described as a 'know-it-all') both make fun of me, but the barmaid is more sympathetic, having made the same error the previous day.  You think there'd be two G's in Frig wouldn't you?  Don't answer that.  She still looks slightly perturbed though.  "Wot is yor accent?" she asks me.  Funny, as when I chat to my Dewsbury/Wakey mates at work, they act like I'm Brian Sewell and Philip Mould's lovechild, but down on the Sussex coast, they have me pegged as bloody Tubby Lard from the Boulevard.  So I'm sat with Tom, musing on this pub of the day contender, when the door crashes open, Nanny from Count Duckula style, and Daddy BRAPA appears "cooey BRAPAboos", and starts loudly saying "what a shame they've ruined this pub by taking out all the inner walls .... it'd have been a multi roomed gem back in the day!"  and yes, he has a point, but this pub has plenty character besides, especially as you go towards the loo and see the back games room split with what seems to be a mortuary / ladies loo.  Friendliness though was the main thing I'll take away from here, and the Frigate was one of the day's best pints!

It is evident long before we get back into the centre of town that achieving both remaining ticks is going to be out of our reach, and this was the problem all day.  

No matter how we twist and turn to try and achieve the six ticks, it is always just beyond us.  Does make you wonder if West Sussex is just a bit much of an ask on a day trip.  But I think we are returning in November to try again!  More confident as we are booked on more 'generous' trains.

One pub is beyond the station, but the other, we are passing en route, is just about achievable.  

Shopmobility scooter outside - beats a Cask Marque sign any day 

George Inn, Littlehampton (2004 / 3433) and as I turn around as we approach the bar, Tom informs me that Dad has decided to give this one a miss too!  Not sure if he wasn't on drinking form, or whether he has a special clause written into his BRAPA contract that forbids him from visiting Littlehampton boozers, but whatever, he'd gone to explore the town.  A dreary range of beers is cheered up 1% by Adnams Broadside, one of those strong ales I can drink easily for some reason.  They say (well, BRAPA says) if you want to gauge what a town is really like, a trip to the Wetherspoons is your litmus test.  As Tom and I spy the one empty table in a sea of insanity, as two pubbers who've seen quite a lot over the years on our travels, it is fair to say we are left pretty well speechless at the general atmosphere here.  It isn't a criticism, it was fantastically rugged.  There's this young kid just sat alone at a table for ages.  He has the face of a much older man.  A bunch of other kids come n go, occasionally murmuring a few words to him.  I'd pitch this piece about half way between Oliver Twist and Bugsy Malone.  I'm scared to go to the loo in case the massive ten year old Sumo steals my lunch money.  A "responsible adult" finally appears.  About my age, I'm shocked when the kid calls him Grandad.  Balding, but not Claire.  I'm even more depressed when 'Dad' arrives, a tracksuited  scrawny tattooed 24 year old.  If this kid is 8, and Grandad is 40 .... I'm trying to do the maths.  Eventually feeling brave enough to go to the loo, my progress is blocked by two ladies who look like they could knock me unconscious with one punch.  "How's ya kids?" asks the first.  "I don't 'av kids, I have 4 dogs" replies the second disturbingly matter of fact.  "Oh, well I 'av twins!" says the first.  I have a full bladder.  I didn't say that.  Wasn't brave enough.  Dad texts, he's waiting outside.  If only he knew what he'd missed.

Back on the train, waving to the Littlehampton pub we have missed (Steamboat or something), I'm still half thinking of ways I can achieve the elusive sixth pub.  Crawley would be an option, but the train doesn't stop there.  

I'm wondering about getting back into London, Clapham Junction has a 'Spoons I need.  But is there time?  

Maybe my travel companions can come up with a solution?


Besides, there is one very pleasing plus point about getting back to King's Cross with over half an hour to spare before the train isn't there?  It begins with an E and ends in a B.  

An exhausting, but weirdly very fun day.  Thanks to Dad and Tom, and the folk of Horsham and Littlehampton.

I'll be back either tomorrow or Wednesday to tell you about the time I went to Brinsworth, in South Yorkshire.

For now, sweet dreams, and I'm off to watch Prisoner CBH episode 451.


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