Wednesday 2 February 2022

BRAPA in .... PRE-EMPTIVE, INVENTIVE AND PREVENTITVE (Wobbly Wednesday With the Tickers : Huddersfield-Greenfield)

The origins of last week's unusual 'Wobbly Wednesday' trip had its roots in the Pub Tickers Whatsapp group, where six tickers all more successful than me compare notes, opening times, give pre-emptive tips, show off about where they are etc. etc.

When Jim (who I'd met once at York's Market Cat) posed a little quiz including 'guess the pub in the Huddersfield area which has only so far been in the 1974 GBG but is on the way back up', I dusted down my non-plague edition and worked it out.  

My prize, and I had been hoping it was a week in Torremolinos, I can't lie, was that Jim would drive me and anyone else who wanted it to this pub, a few other useful pre-emptives in the vicinity.  Pushing my luck, I asked if we could throw in two actual GMR ticks so I felt I was doing something concrete.

Jim agreed, and picked me and BRAPA hi-vis hero Eddie Fogden up from a wild and windy Huddersfield station car park shortly after 6pm, and off we trundled, past a very smashed up car which I hoped wasn't a to be a harbinger of dooms to come! 

Holmfirth was first on the agenda, a place I'd been to when I ticked the Nook on 9/6/15, 'twas a bit darker and colder tonight, the town seemed a bit less 1930's.  With pre-emptive options left, right and bloody centre, Jim drops me and Eddie off, goes to park up, and we head to the towns Magic Rock Tap Jim not bothered himself about joining us in this one. 

Top pointing Eddie

It looked massive, with huge shiny windows, and a bit of a blot on the Holmfirth cobbled landscape if you've got this idea in your mind's eye of it being Last of the Summer Wine country which is EXACTLY the sort of lazy viewpoint a blogger like me would come out with.   Inside, it doesn't seem quite so overwhelming, more Borer Natty than Nora Batty, almost like the walls close in a bit when you enter.  Interesting!  I decide to deploy my 'allowed to drink halves in pre & post emptives' rule.  After all, no idea exactly how many we're gonna end up visiting tonight, and I've got work at 8am!  Eddie, #Pubman he is, gets a pint to put me to shame.  My half comes in an oversized glass, which is a nice touch.  The staff are nice in a wiry, hairy way, a bit like boutique dogs.  The place is fairly busy, and as you'd expect from this friendly part of the world, most customer's are smiley.  We sit down, and as if to confirm my suspicions, Eddie's phone soon buzzes.  It's Jim.  In the intervening few minutes, he's found a new pre-emptive he suggests we should join him in!  Crikey, this really was BRAPA with a twist.

We march a few yards down the street, and come to this uninspiring frontage ......

But don't be so quick to judge, Judgey McJudgeFace, this has GBG 2031 written all over it.  O'Brien's, Holmfirth, recently opened , and I must say I think it is one of the stronger pubs tonight.  One cask hidden away, a stout, so I grab a half.  I've not even seen Jim sat to our right.  My Credit Card is refusing to do contactless, making me sweat as I forget how to put the card in the reader, then put my PIN number in wrong twice, get a warning message 'wrong next time and your outta here mate'.  Luckily, I CAN at least remember the same strain of 'banter' I tried on the barmaid in Tamworth Tap in this situation, and this barmaid reacts just as positively.  Love her, great lass. We join Jim, but soon, being a local legend, he sees some beery folk he knows, an elderly couple, so he runs into the street and brings them in.  A jolly pair, the bloke especially is a very chatty chap and I must confess am thinking 'ey up, we got lots to do if I'm to get my last train out of Greenfield later' so am kinda glad when we say farewell and get the heck outta here.  Definitely plenty of GBG potential in this little one, pop in a wood burner, a carpet, bench seating, disabled access, Bass, Citra and Plum Porter, and you are onto a national POTY winner.

I'm conscious they've both mentioned that Nook has a sort of 'sister pub' upstairs somewhere else in town, wondering if they want to go there, but seems not.  Also, as we approach the car park, I point out a very handsome looking old pub, Jim kindly offers to let me go in, but I decline on basis we've got so much to do.  

Holmfirth.  You could spend a whole day on the ale here!  

Next stop, another rural outpost I've visited once in BRAPA history.   This one a month after Holmfirth on 7/7/15 when I went to Wils O' Nats and made a tit of myself by insisting I sit in a dining room with my pint just because the bar area was a tiny bit busy.  

This was the '1974' pub I mentioned earlier, so the excitement was building.  As Jim pulls into the carpark, I say to them "I've got something to show you both when we get sat down with our pints".  Eddie says if its that trick I do with my pockets, he doesn't want to see it, but I assure him not.   I have to shout Jim back for a photo, he's already striding into the pub!  Come on Jim, this is BRAPA, play the game and humour me .....

Travellers Rest, Meltham is the revitalised 1974 entry in question, and like so many West Yorks rural ticks, the young staff kind of approach you head on , looking in your eyes with a big 'ey up, how are you guys tonight?!'  Enough to give someone from Surrey or South West London a coronary.   The reason this pub is being talked about in real ale circles again is that it is now owned by Milltown brewery, and having a tiger themed beer on in this month of Hull City takeovers in the Chinese year of the tiger, I just have to have it.  We sit in the lower part of the pub, it a bit vast and sweeping, dining orientated in parts, but at least opens up into some decent seating. I delve into my bag and show the guys my 1974 GBG I've brought along so we can compare notes .....

Well, no Tetley.  No pleasant landlord and landlady present, but pleasant enough staff.  Very busy?  I'll take their word for it.  Phone number has changed a bit.  Do they still use the apostrophe?  It is still on Slaithwaite (Slawit) Rd you'll be glad to know.  Quite interesting anyway to look at the 1974 GBG.  I've made another startling discovery about my copy of it, but I'll save that for a future blog.  Ale is decent, loos have a sign that is genuinely laugh out loud funny,  but we really must crack on.

Oh, one last question, do I take my green Stabilo to the 1974 GBG?  I'm tempted.  But no, I'm not a monster.

As the road becomes increasingly darker and more rural, Eddie start to come over a bit queasy, yes we've left the sanctity of Yorkshire behind and crossed the "border" ..... 

I'm happy really,  about to get an actual physical tick than can be greened up.  Eddie and Jim have of course, been before, but they are happy to let me have my full pint / 25 min fill .......

Blurry Stabiloey bowling green

We've seen it so often before, you mention a beer and then it appears.  In this case, we walk into the smart, unpretentious & immaculate Dobcross Band Social Club, Dobcross (2022 / 3585) and I've got to have the Joseph Holt's bitter, Jim and Eddie had just been telling me how well kept it was in New Windsor's Union Tavern, as I'm talking ticks I need for when I go to Manchester Punk Festival.  I suspect this Club is quite famous.  Daddy BRAPA told me so.  He's been reading Stuart Maconie of late, so is suddenly an expert on anything clubby Lancastrian.  I love the guv'nor, he's got exactly the kind of face you'd hope for from a place like this.  Eddie sets us a poser.  What is that weird device behind the bar?  When neither of know, he reveals it is a device for cleaning lipstick off wine glasses.  How splendidly niche!  I ask if that means that this club has a surprisingly high proportion of lipstick wearing customer's, which gets a chuckle from the guv'nor and a local over t'other side.  My proudest moment of the night, as they don't seem the type to just laugh at owt.  And then, right on cue, the brass band strike up!  Well, first I think it is piped brass band music, but Jim indicates them through the glass, rehearsing.  Fabulous.  See photo below.  With that, we finally sit down and after a deep delve into our current GBG progression in Greater Manchester, my delicious Holt's is done, and it's time to go.

Jim gets his debut BRAPA tick in

My Tony Currie moment - "A quality pint by a quality guv'nor"

Rehearsal in progress

Lipstick device.  Cheers Eddie!

Satisfying to finally get a bit of actual greening going on, but as we trundled the short distance to Uppermill, Jim wanted to show us his favourite pub in the area, despite it having not made a GBG since 2001, the year I started drinking real ale!  He probably likes it even more than GBG regular Cross Keys which I enjoyed back on a balmy summer's day in June 2016.  It certainly looks the part, tucked away in an isolated location even for this part of the world ......

Church Inn, Uppermill had the best atmosphere of any of tonight's ticks, and as we squashed in at the narrow bar, cheerful staff served me a cracking Saddleworth Mild at cheap as chips prices, and brewed right next door.  We scan the bustling interior and are pleased to get a bench at the far end.  Perhaps it isn't surprising that being in such good form tonight, it is mooted that possible reasons for the long standing GBG omission are a CAMRA fall out, or even that is such a hard place to get to!  Thankfully, three independent Twitter sources replied to tell this was all nonsense, and it is more a case that the pub is famously inconsistent, and (as told by The Tand, a man that having met him in actual real life, you'd trust implicitly), all pubs in the area are given equal consideration.  Phew, and good cos I don't like conspiracy theories.  Still, on this showing, you'd think it was a nailed on entry which just goes to show, you can't always tell as a fly-by-night visitor.  

The clock was ticking though and even though it meant one less tick, I was relieved when Jim noticed this too and said something would have to give.  Sadly, that'd have to be my second actual 'tick' but I was happy in the circs, as me and Eddie were getting a bit tight for the last L**ds train out of Greenfield.

Reasoning behind it, was that we intended to visit the new pre-emptive Donkeystone Brewery Tap, Greenfield which Eddie needed too, but when we arrive, the huge metal gates are well and truly padlocked and there's no way through.  A quick look at Facebook and Whatpub shows me it is closed Tue n Wed.  Did we realise that on the night?  I can't remember.

Oh well, Eddie's sad face is BRAPA's gain, as Jim shoots us back up to Uppermill for the second tick I'd craved.  Hurrah!  

Albion Tap, Uppermill (2023 / 3586) has a blink and you'll miss it entrance, in fact the whole place is so narrow, you feel a need to suck your beer belly in at all times.  I'm delighted to see Millstone Tiger Rut on at the bar, another beer I'd mentioned to the guys earlier as it reminds of those heady distant summer afternoon's circa 2010 in the steep beer garden of the Railway pub in the same town, back when the Transpennine trail was a gentle thing for discerning ale drinkers and there'd always be only 1/100th of English mustard left in the jar for your pork pie.  A second Tiger themed beer of the night too, it really is the Year of the Tiger.  We sit on one of the high metallic benches, Eddie comments what a great place this is.  I laugh think he's being sarcastic, but I'm wrong, because despite the slightly rushed nature of this tick, I can feel its tentacles wrapping around me and drawing me in ten minutes later, exactly my same experience in Burton's Weighbridge Inn two days later.  My most satisfying wee of the night is here too, trying to mimic Bob Marley's pose, though am sad I missed the snowy Saddleworth mural that the GBG mentions.  A grower.  

Confession - my Bob Marley wee pose was actually done in Dobcross before I'd even seen Bob!

Jim had gone to pick up some food, but was still back at the car before us to whizz us down to Greenfield, no panic needed as to getting the train in the end for myself and the good Eddie. 

I say farewell to Eddie in L**ds, and get the connecting train to York.

A great, productive, flying by the seat of your ticking pants kinda night.  Thanks so much to Jim, top chap,  and Eddie great value as ever.  

See you on Friday where I'll attempt to tell you about my Burstin' in Burton , probably in two parts.  Tomorrow is a very Thirsty Thursday, so time to get organised for that.  Never stops does it? 


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