Staring down into the village well in Broughton on the morning of Wednesday 3rd November, I was getting strange flashbacks from the night before where I nearly fell into that vat of Pressed Warthog ale at Triple fff brewery.
It had been a frustrating morning. Up early to do one of my half dozen or so 'impossible on public transport' ticks this week, my plans to walk 4.5 miles from Mottisfont & Dunbridge station had been scuppered by 'the Salisbury Incident' (the train one, not the Russian one).
Having missed the bus to Stockbridge where I could've attempted a hair raising walk along the A30 (glad I didn't, plus I didn't know a #Pubman lived there - more on that later), all that remained was to take an expensive taxi. At least there was a 13:09 bus back to Winchester!
It was your typical remote village, a few curtain twitchers kept an eye on me, the village phone box was now a lending library, cor you could've been in rural Cambs.
At 11:50am, I witnessed a conversation between a jolly man who had 'youthful pub landlord' written all over him, and a dude in a car. "Popping in for a pint?" asked the former. "Ooohaarrr I moight" says the latter. "You open already?" I interjected. "We've been open since 11 moite!" he replies. You won't find that info on social media. Let's get our first impossible tick of the week done.
Tally Ho! Broughton was the name, an interesting clash of styles within. Village farm shop in feel, part dining, part traditional local, it was certainly not dark and brooding like many pubs I'd visit this week. The bar area was especially disconcerting. Incredibly low and deep, meaning they had room aplenty to display their village store-esque wares behind it. It was like someone had built an area half way across the room, and called it a bar, than built a bar in the traditional sense. I'm allowed to order the 'wrong' beer, and then taunted that I should've been patient and waited for the Exmoor Fox to go on! It is all done in good humour but is still odd behaviour. Pulling it through takes the barmaid an age, she's getting taunted too to go quicker with her pulling technique. Me and Col are laughing from afar. Jarvis the pub dog comes to settle next to us, a lively contender lacking concentration span. The stand out moment is when a bloke (quite serious and posh looking, meeting another chap here for lunch) asks if the pub sells any biscuits! I don't think it all my years pub ticking have I ever heard anyone ask that in a pub. It throws the staff, who eventually flog him those tiny biscotti things you put on the side of coffee saucer. He munches a few down with gusto and half an Exmoor. #TasteHook I return for a half of Exmoor myself "seeing as you've worked so hard to get it on!" I say. "Awwww bless ya" say the staff. BRAPA cares.
|Jarv and Col ultimately fail to bond|
Peculiar but nice, would be my pub summary, and it wasn't finished yet. As I waited for the bus, a hi-vis dribbling yokel stops for a ten minute chat, and a removal van makes me cross the road - I assume he's wanting to park his van in the space behind the bus stop, but he drives straight past! Why do people keep testing me? Must be the Test Valley way. Haha. Sorry.
Back in Winchester, and being Wednesday, there still isn't a lot open mid afternoon midweek. Basingstoke & Whitchurch to save the day?
My train doesn't take long, I enjoy a spot of lunch and send RetiredMartin some GBG pages on the move, he wants Derbyshire and Manchester today. Demanding. Can't he go to the Winchester until all this blows over? #TickersUnion kept him right in his embargo period hour of need.
|Orange Doom Bar, mmmm, like an Orange Kit Kat?|
|The pub being boozerish|
|Did the Irish man get the lager he wanted? 'Fraid not|
I still had another Basingstoke pub to do, SIX in the Guide, but make no mistake, even if you are one of those people who call it Amazingstoke, it isn't exactly Winchester pub town quality. Happier than Andover, but then again, where isn't?
Can you see her hiding in the doorway? I did encourage the chirpy barmaid at the Prince Regent, Whitchurch to embrace her 5 seconds of BRAPA fame, but she sensibly declined. It was an honest type of boozer, not unlike the last, but most notably fellow pub ticker Eddie Fogden was in town for his Hitchcockian cameo, before a football ground tick / Wonston Arms debut. He had me a pint of Crop Circle on the table when I arrived, what a gent, it is nice once in every ten pubs to walk into a pub and see a friendly face. It was his first time seeing the new 'under embargo' GBG, and soon this equally chirpy bloke comes over and is shaking our hands, slagging off the other Whitchurch pubs, especially the one I'm visiting next. Cross town pub rivalry. I love it. A lovely smell of curry is emanating from every pore of this pub making us hungry. Eddie has a lift so has to dash, so all that remains is to hear our elusive barmaid telling Mr Rivalry about how horrid she was to her Mum when she was a teenager. Decent boozer, but I dunno, something about it that just felt a little tired.
A quick march into the centre of town brought me to our other Whitchurch tick just as dusk was starting to fall on day two of BRAPA.
|"A better pub - 0.5 miles"|
|Just say no|
|Col tries to add a bit of irreverence to proceedings|
It was drizzling with rain, and the rush hour traffic was out in force as I wait for the bus to Overton. Already in a bad mood from the last pub, some total idiot parks in the bus space, runs off down an alleyway for a piss, and then for an encore goes to buy a sandwich from the Co-op behind me. The bus is just coming down the road as he emerges, so he runs around, hops in and drives off just in the nick of time. I mouth 'wanker' and give him ironic applause, he sees me and starts gesticulating like he wants a fight, but I have pubs to do and he looks like he goes to the gym.