I couldn't avoid it any longer. Having ticked off Brinsworth the week before, I had one remaining 'tick' to do in that rewarding county of South Yorkshire. And with the countdown towards GBG 2022 release date getting ever closer, Thursday night was the night to get it greened up in full.
It would be the first time I'd complete South Yorkshire since the 2018 edition, for which I'm blaming the Allams. #AllamOut
Not an easy tick at all, Hoylandswaine bus services have become sparser since my 2017 visit to the Rose & Crown. Foolish of me back then to suggest I'd never need to return .......
|*I (which I'm sure Russ told me in the comments at the time)|
I closed my work laptop at 4pm and shinned it down to York station. From there I took a direct train to Huddersfield. Then a four minute dash to platform 2, where I took the connecting train to Penistone, home of THAT club who, a few years back, growled at me and said "we don't want your sort in here!" when I said I was a CAMRA member wanting a drink. I'll never forget that one.
It was a 39 minute walk to Hoylandswaine according to Google Maps. Evening dog walkers were out in force, jumping out just in front of me at every juncture in a housing estate with every road named after a famous poet.
This soon became a walk in the park (literally), crossing the River Don, more dog walkers to my left, viaduct to my right, stuck in the middle with Col.
An uphill housing estate followed, this time named after lakes in the Lake District. A right turn onto a main road thankfully it had a pavement on the left, preventing it from being too much of a scary walk, but maybe a bit spooky ......
One awkward roundabout to negotiate, but at least it was called the Hoylandswaine roundabout, including a sign for the afore mentioned Rose & Crown which now had a new 2021 logo .....
A left turn downhill into the village, I got stuck behind a dog called Tilly who kept being told off by her owners for veering off the path / getting distracted by me. I just couldn't get past the creature. With dusk falling, the smell of real fires hung in the air. "Is tharr firewurx?" says Mr Tilly, finally allowing me to pass. Autumn is here, the air had a frosty bite to it this evening. I love this time of year, all sort of magical like.
The club came into view .......
But I'm panicking, there is no sign of life! I was probably in denial, but I was even questioning whether I was in the right place (despite the name and address exactly matching what it said in the GBG!) Not a light to be seen, but I couldn't admit it. Down the back, past the beer barrels, a glimmering light in a neighbouring building. Perhaps the bar was here?
But alas, this was the village hall. "Bit of a long shot, but I'm looking for the bar of the Social Club, not here is it?" I ask a lanky drippy nosed lad with a southern accent. "Bar, no not here ..... not sure where it is, I'm not local!" he tells me. Just BRAPA luck to find the one non-local in the localist place on earth. "Can I use your loo quickly while I'm here anyway?" I ask. He blinks stupidly. The lad is annoying me. I don't wait for an answer and go through to the gents.
Back outside, I push a gate I probably shouldn't and I find myself on a cricket pitch. I see a light through some French windows, and I peer in to see blokes playing pool clutching pints of bitter.
I lurk until someone pushes a handle and let's me in. This wasn't Welham Green / Woking / Urmston / Corfe Castle entrance difficulty levels, but even so, it ain't Bolton Ukranian / Birchanger easiness either. Seems the 'main door' is a dark little side thing I'd never have noticed!
But I'm in! Okay, so this wasn't the kind of place to make an exhibition of yourself, being the most locally local locals place imaginable, friendly to a tee, but I did feel slightly intimidated as the lovely guv'nor quizzes me on what I'm doing here, and everyone turns to listen to my answer and adds their two penn'orth. Sports & Social Club, Hoylandswaine (2012 / 3441) really looked after me though.
Everyone is impressed to hear this is my final South Yorks GBG tick, even more impressed to hear I've walked from Penistone. I mention the tardier than 2017 bus service but no one is any the wiser. The accents are strong to the point I wonder if they are a bit put on, the way some words are pronounced unlike anything else I've heard in Yorkshire. I bet they go all posh when I leave! When I plonk the GBG down (not TRYING to be threatening, honest!) he whips my Moonshine off me which I was enjoying, changing it for a fresh barrel. But that leads all the locals to want their Moonshine changing too! He says that if I stay for a second pint, he'll shout me it! Talk about the VIP treatment. Fresh pint in hand (which I can't say seemed massively better, though my second free one did!), he puts on the back room light for me, gives me a local CAMRA mag , and tells me to 'have a look around' though coffee machine and a few sporting trophies are all there is to see.
My CAMRA mag gets stuck to the table, ruining both in the process, which I try my best to cover up! I make a mental note of all the pre-emptives, try not to make a fool of myself looking for the loo, and just sit very still otherwise! Talk of CAMRA got something whirring in the guv'nor's mind, and he goes to find an envelope, which still has his 'well done for getting in the GBG letter and stickers in it!' I tell him he might get a new one of them soon. "Doubt it, we been shut loads over past year" I tell him it has been the same the country over, Covid wasn't a Hoylandswaine only phenomena.
The pub pool team, practicing furiously, have an away game tonight at Penistone Church, 8pm 'kick' (break?) off. "If you hang on til 7:40, you might be able to cadge a lift back with them" I'm told. I do a few mental maths, and tell them thanks for the offer but I'll dash. Lovely experience this.
|Even better than 'Spoons|
It is raining steadily now, wind has whipped up, it is pitch black, and more uphill than the way there I have no hat, but I did remember a little torch thankfully. Maybe I should've accepted that lift. If I dash, I can get the 19:43. I have to run the last little bit but I make it!
Out of breath, but very happy to have completed only my 5th county of a difficult year.
I then go and undo all my good work by forgetting to change at Barnsley, meaning I have to go on to Sheffield and get home via L**ds. What a doofus. 40 minutes to wait too, time for a pint? I think so.
|The famous steps that Martin Taylor fell 'up' on our day with Couldwell and Protz|
Only one pub can soften the blow in this situation ......
Rutland Arms, Sheffield my Parcel Yard / Bull's Head / Draughtsman of Sheff, and it is in typically irrepressible form tonight, full of quirky pissed up twenty and thirty somethings, plus 5% + dark beers, staff who look vegan, banging tunes and a traditionally carpeted atmosphere. The kind of pub where if you put your cauliflower on the table, people will either try and eat it or look at you like "that is exactly what I'd expect to see in here". The Rum Porter knocks my socks off as I sit in a new seat, a low leather settee between bar and smoking area. Plenty of people smile when they walk past. One man sat alone has tears in his eyes. I try not to stare. I wonder if he's a pub ticker gone wrong? Mr Ted has moved since my last visit with Citra, looking a bit forlorn on the floor in the main bar, I think Mrs Ted has written him a note to say she's leaving him, but all good otherwise.
No more delays getting home, which was a relief, as it was 22:30 when I got in. Luckily I was on a 9-5 at work the next day which meant I could sleep in til 8:53am and still have time for coffee and toast whilst signing on. #WorkingFromHomeLife.
Join me tomorrow for tales of North East Wales. See ya then.