Wednesday 9 February 2022

BRAPA is the ....... WHITBY ALER

Thirsty Thursday's were about to ramped up to 'peak thirsty' in my quest to get North Yorkshire fully greened off for only the second time in BRAPA's 7.75 year existence.  

With eleven pubs left to green off in NY, I was delighted to see that five of them were on the same bus route between Scarborough and Whitby.  Had I planned it like this, or was I just born this way? 

I took the train from York to Scarborough on this sunny morning, and had a pleasant but ultimately pointless walk around the town before my bus arrived (I'm not very good at 'meandering', 'moseying' and 'mooching', I like my walks to have a purpose, otherwise I'd rather sit down shut up. 

The double decker was busy, the upstairs crowd was surprisingly scrotey, weird blokes with roll ups hanging out of the corners of their mouths having shouty conversations with unwashed backpackers who couldn't understand the concept of a return ticket or Fylingdales.

I was glad when my foot found solid Whitby ground about 50 minutes later. My first pub ticking visit here since 2015, where I unwisely visited over Hallowe'en half term week.  Yes, it was mad!

More serene today

Definitely not scouting for a Colin/KLO replacement, honest 

The Board Inn, a 2014 BRAPA tick

With Keane Lewis Otter in tow, we needed to tackle the famous 199 steps up towards the non too shabby abbey.  

I first tackled these steps in 2014 on my BRAPA debut here, with a broken toe (in tow).  I'd tried to cross a flooded stream 'twixt Grosmont's Crossing Club and Beck Hole's Birch Hall Inn by removing my shoes and socks and wading in.  Thought I was Bear Grylls.  Big mistake! 

So today felt like a walk in the park.  I actually counted 203 steps, so either they've added 4 cheeky new ones, or I miscounted.  Wonder which is more likely? 

101 steps and counting (sort of)

Made it!

A three minute march around the corner past the predictable cacophony of dithering tourist shitwits and I find our first pub tick, opposite the abbey .......

Sadly, I haven't walked quite quickly enough, and one blouse fuelled group of 4 have just made it to the bar before me at Whitby Brewery, Whitby (2030 / 3593) and I can feel the pain of the one perching local bloke, wincing silently.  He must stand here daily, just so he can wince at idiots.  "Oooooh, let's see, we want 2 mushroom pizzas ...... errrm Jeff, Jeff, come over here, do you want to order a beer?"  Ugh, I'm always at my most impatient at moments like these.  When they are asked to provide a table number, the poor lady looks totally shell shocked and disappears into the main indoor area, never to return.  Finally, I'm in, and both server and local breathe a sigh of relief when I say I want a pint of Jet Black and nothing else.  Local bloke even opens the door for me when I express a desire to sit outside in the sun, not wishing to spend the next 25 minutes listening to more mushroom pizza dithering.  The sun quickly goes in, and it looks like it is about to snow!  And with Northern Powergrid drilling through a metal post (sparks literally flying), and a brewery forklift truck behind me beeping and threatening to lift me, KLO and the whole bench into the sky, it perhaps isn't the soothing abbey backdrop I'd envisioned. Vaguely aware of a hardy couple of drinkers braving the now freezing wind like me (more on them later), the Mushroom Pizza Massive materialise, Jeff shouting down the path "toffee! with notes of liquorice! that's wot mi beer was according to the sign, har har har!" before finally pissing off.  Speaking of which, time I had a wee in the outdoor temporary looking bogs, and did the same.

With my long black coat billowing in the wind, I'd look like a gothic legend if it wasn't for the cosy mustard bobble hat, formerly belonging Blackpool Jane, bringing me into disrepute, as I descend the 199 steps back into Whitby proper.  

Pub two is tucked away in the streets just behind the harbourside ......

Whitby Brewery definitely had a quality about it, even if the circumstances of my visit were a bit off, but I cannot be so charitable to Arch & Abbey, Whitby (2031 / 3594), the benchmark in micro doggy depression.  Housed in a former ladies dress shop, it still held that kind of feel, a vast micropub with little concession to pub atmosphere.  The barmaid is absent, so the bloke at the bar shouts her on my behalf, the only glimpse of humanity I'd witness in the next half an hour.  I thank him, wish her a cheerful good afternoon, as I order my second consecutive dark beer (I'm in that kinda mood!) but I don't get a peep, or even eye contact out of either.  He is attached to a dog.  The only other two customers are also attached to dogs.  When it comes to dog interaction in the A&A, everyone is animated, beaming smiles, head scratches, ear ruffling, baby talk, sloppy kisses.  But smiling at their fellow human, not a chance!  You'd have to be a hardcore dogging type (so to speak) to like this place.  My vanilla ale is good, but I'm only telling you this for something positive to say.  As I approach the gents loos, bloke's dog is in the way, so I take the long way around, so he and dog are not disturbed.  I don't even get a thank you for that, despite him being fully aware what I've done.  Ignorant.   I often think 'the prettier the town, the more likely you are to encounter the unfriendly' and here was your archetypal example of that.  I return my glass, finally get a thank you, hurrah.  And to my surprise, I witness two new arrivals are having a Whitby Whaler of a time chatting to the barmaid and dog bloke about being spoilt for drink choice.  Un-be-bloody-lieve-able.  

We needed cheering up, and I'd promised KLO a little bit of fish, so we find a chippie (just beating the kids who are out of school and crash in behind me 5 minutes later).  We enjoy it on the harbour front, and then in the railway station, once a seagull with a roving eye starts following us around and calling his mates!

If Blind Sooty is the sign of a good pub, is Blind Fisherman the sign of a good chippie?

I'd give the fish a solid 7.5/10, but not a patch on my last visit here.  Maybe I should start paying attention of the names of these places, like I do with pubs.

With the schoolkids now piling into the station and getting on the 'Boro bound train, I had one final Whitby pub before the bus down to Robin Hood's Bay, a 4pm opener so I had to hang around for a few minutes.  

Customer's already in, go go go!

It took me a shamefully long time to locate the entrance considering it was obviously going to be on a very small station, but Waiting Room, Whitby (2032 / 3595) provided the redemption to what had so far been a pretty average pub day.  I'd even considered a revisit to the fabulous Little Angel at one point, and you know BRAPA doesn't do revisits on BRAPA days if it can be helped.  I knew as soon as I walked in, and the couple with slightly West Mids accents blinked at me nicely, and the friendly landlady greets me warmly.  Not hard to be friendly is it?  And seeing two Ashover ales on, my favourite lockdown brewery, one of the few breweries which get me animated on beer, that made a route into the conversation even easier.  Another couple arrive, yes it is the hardy outdoor couple who sat outside Whitby Brewery earlier.  "We're not following you around, lolz" they chuckle.  Sam & Paul, ladies and gentlemen, today's BRAPA cameo heroes.  I gave them a BRAPA start up pack (well badge & beermat, not sure I gave them sticker & keyring, not that generous!) so hello again if you are reading.  It soon becomes just a nice 'round the room' chat between the 5 of us, at times like if I was a Pub Ticking After Dinner Speaker which could be a great BRAPA side line, as long as no more the 8 people are invited to such dinners.  Landlady's favourite pubs seem are the afore mentioned Birch Hall Inn at Beck Hole, and the Shakespeare in Sheffield.  A lady of immaculate taste.  Time flies when you are having fun, and I realise my bus is just around the corner, so I have to dash.  Nice to end Whitby on a high.

Dusk is falling as I hop off at the top at Robin Hood's Bay, close to the Victoria Hotel, which I ticked off with the Dolphin back on that Hallowe'en 2015 weekend.  

I'd almost forgotten how steep that descent is, and of course today's required tick couldn't be much further at the bottom!  Very reminiscent of my Cornwall ticking.

I make a bit of a twit of myself by trying to enter through a door that probably hasn't been opened since the 18th century, but a couple drinking their pints outside set me straight .....

Daddy & Mummy BRAPA were less than enthused with their visit here on a busy September daytime, so that fact that I'd class the Bay Hotel, Robin Hood's Bay (2033 / 3596) as my favourite pub experience of the day, really shows the benefit of off-season visits to these tourist friendly resorts.  Having said that, the first thing I witness on entry is a little L**ds Utd sticker stuck on the inside of the bar.  But once my eyes had finished stinging, I was greeted by a cosy, unpretentious hotel bar, a little fire bubbling away at the end, where two windows look out onto the sea, deepest blue becoming full on black by the time I'd left.  The staff are cracking characters, 'bantering' with visitors and locals alike, I don't think thirty seconds went by without the next cheeky comment coming out of someone's mouth.  'Fake Tony Duggins from the Tossers' was the staff member not working, but drinking, and he helped bridge the gap between customers and staff, like a boss.  I won't pretend two Theakston's beers alone enthused me, but I tell you what, that Lightfoot was a cracking pint.  It didn't need a top up, but the staff insisted.   'Fake Garlic Bread Megan Formerly From Work' and her boyfriend chuckle along, as the most gigantic badly behaved hound ever kept trying to jump onto tiny benches.  Even dogs weren't annoying in here, just funny and ridiculous.  And it's owner, a Rolling Stones loving lady who's partner looked like a respectable Jonjo Shelvey, was suitably contrite.    A Scottish lady starts buying drinks for anyone she recognises (so not me) as it is the anniversary of her husband's death.  Then,  a dark haired Katie Hopkins arrives with child flung over her shoulder, chewing on a toy giraffe (the child, not Katie).  As soon as the child sees the giant dog, he becomes proper enamoured and starts cooing and pointing.  This was peak BRAPA, and I had a ringside seat.

Walking back up that hill quickly in the dark after four pints was fairly punishing, I was puffing and blowing by the top.   At least the bus turned up on time, I didn't need a wee too desperately, next stop Scarborough!

And I'll tell you about my Scabby tick, a fairly limp Scabby pre-emptive, and the beginnings of a rural Hertfordshire classic with Simon & Daddy Dewhurst, next time out. 

But I've written enough words for now, and need to get back to Saving Neighbours, so see you all on Friday, or tomorrow if you do Twitter.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Si, it was good to meet you on your quest! Not sure if we are hardy or were just avoiding the Pizza munching hordes lol. We've been reading your blog and will follow your adventures with interest, best of luck on completing your challenge, cheers Sam & Paul.