Monday 28 March 2022

BRAPA in ..... COVENTRY WATERWORLD (Wobbly Wednesday Special)

The omens were not good on the Wednesday morning as Daddy BRAPA arrived at BRAPA Towers for the long drive down to Coventry.  My fifth Hull City game of the season, my record so far reading : 

Played 4, Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 3, Scored 1, Conceded 6, Points 1.  (the goal was an own goal when 3-0 down so even that wasn't worth celebrating).

So the last thing we needed was heavy traffic in York preventing Dad from reaching me for half an hour, then he temporarily lost his phone, then we had to follow a hearse all the way out of town.  The rain came down heavily and was unrelenting.  Every motorway we joined found us accidentally merging in next to massive lorries, with logos like 'Please Turn Back Now Limited' and 'The End is Nigh Solutions' emblazoned across the sides.  The visibility was poor, the surface water treacherous.

Trowell Services gave us much needed respite ......

Hot cross bun, red leicester, spiced otter and hot tea

Scouting for new mascots (in the days before Pedro the Plum solved our problems)

I picked us up a couple of Lucozade Sports on special offer, and a big bag of wine gums, and if you think this detailed travel, food, service station & football comment sounds suspiciously Blackpool Jane-esque, I'd just like to point out no quirky museums were visited in the making of this blog.

Luckily, the key to how we turned this dreadful start around into a wonderful outcome was partly, well totally (without bragging) down my highly detailed level of research, as illustrated below ......

After Saturday's Wolverhampton embarrassment where I had to be told the Chindit and the Royal Oak were not actually 50 minutes apart as I'd assumed, and more like 3,  I was determined to nail down every pub opening time, every bus, every walk, every parking space.

We parked in the Holbrooks area just far enough away from the evil zonal restriction area, but nicely walkable back to the car after the match from the Ricoh (sorry, Building Society Arena), and took a bus down into the inner ring road which signifies the town (city) centre.  

No bus shelter meant we were pretty soggy when we arrived at pub one.  En route, I must mention, we spotted FIVE places doing Gelatos, Milkshakes, Crepes, Waffles and Cookie Dough etc.  This was without even looking.  Is Coventry renowned for having a particularly American sweet tooth?

First pub looked fun.  I'm being sarcastic of course ......

After joyous experiences at the Swan and Royal Oak on Saturday, it was time to taste the other side of the Marston's coin here at Town Crier, Coventry (2122 / 3685) , a dining pub for the elderly and feeble minded.  Dad found a nice raised seat whilst I waited at the bar.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally, a bloke appears and totally turns the situation into a good one by showing some real #PubMan characteristics.  "If I wanted to serve this many coffees, I'd have got a job as a Barista!" he grumbles whilst serving me what turned out to be an excellent pint of Tetley's.   Someone did point the fact that coffee takes priority over beer on their blackboards suggests Marston's know exactly what they are doing!  We have a little sympathetic chat about how pubs should be pubs, and I join Dad, who is eagerly eyeing up the fish & chips currently being wolfed down by Coventry's Loose Women.  To keep it real, a scraggly haired old bloke drinking lager next to them chuckles at the sight of KLO and asks if the World Wildlife Fund have been called!  Errm, he's very well looked after thank you very much! 

I was determined to make the most of a full afternoon pre-match, and get out into the 'burbs, and not just focus on the town (sorry I keep doing this, CITY) centre.  

After all, we'd done the lovely Town Wall Tavern to death in previous years, I'd choked on a bacon sandwich in the Gatehouse Tavern in 2010, and nearly frozen to death at 11am in the Old Windmill, so I'm not a total stranger to lovely old Cov.  Plus my Hull City record here was surprisingly good  ......  W3, D1, L1, but surely that wouldn't have any bearing later, would it? 

How half hourly buses can be so badly timed, I'll never know, but it made sense to walk the 21 minutes to Earlsdon despite the rain being as relentless as ever.  A quick 21 minutes though, we must've been striding out.

Looks a lovely Mock Tudor building ......

The one thing I failed to notice during my detailed research I don't like to mention is that City Arms, Coventry (2123 / 3686) is a Wetherspoons.  I think the name fooled me, I'm used to them all being called things like the Sir Brian Kilcline, Lord Steve Sedgley and the Rt Hon Micky Gynn.  City Arms? Unusual!  Despite more 'is someone gonna actually serve us?' woes, which I'm hoping won't become a Coventry theme, and the realisation that I'm soaked to the skin when I remove my coat, despite having a good waterproof on, it soon becomes evident that this particular 'Spoons is an established GBG entry for a reason.  The atmosphere is of the gentle weekday mid afternoon thrumming kind.  And 99p for a brilliantly kept Acorn Old Moor Porter?  Shunning 'Spoons because you don't like the owner's politics?  Could never be me!  Dad obviously hasn't got those fish n chips out of his mind, and is soon scratting around for food menus.  I decide to do it on my App, much easier, and he's soon got F&C and I've got a small Ham & Mushroom pizza which looks pretty decent size to me. Lovely thin crispy base.  It is a good move from Dad this food getting, rare for BRAPA, but today felt more relaxed and with more necessity to 'look after yourself' than the classic 'racing around the pubs' day I'm used to.  The loos are far away, along a corridor, upstairs, along another corridor,  and through a door which doesn't look it leads anywhere, it really is 'Spoons to a tee.  

Has the rain eased off at all?  Of course not, as we tackle the next leg of our route, a shorter 14 minute walk to the suburb of Chapelfields (according to the GBG).  

The mainly residential side street containing our pub also has two others which we pass first.

As I stand by the entrance and Dad takes this photo you see below, I can hear quite the racket coming from within.  Not something I'd been expecting on this unassuming side street on a wet Wednesday afternoon ......

The place is heaving, every room packed, people cowering in corridors, loitering by loos, perched in porches, dripping in doorways.  Wow, welcome to Hearsall Inn, Chapelfields, Coventry (2124 / 3687) , Dad's glasses quickly steam up to add to the disconcerting befuddled nature of our entrance, but I use my 'almost eight years' of experience to fight my way to the bar.  Seeing Bass on always lowers the blood pressure by up to 0.14%, I read in a scientific study recently which I've just invented.  And I get Dad a Goat's Milk (it is a beer).  Dad has bravely (or perhaps blindly) played a blinder in getting us seated.  Sharing a table with four mean looking blokes, and the reason for the sheer amount of people has becoming very apparent, Cheltenham Gold Cup.  And the main race is about to start.  The sense of anticipation is palpable, and how the pub cat remains calm enough to sleep on a stool is a wonder (must be on the Bass).  I only notice him when he jumps on a bar stool later and realise he was in one of my photos.  The pub as one is cheering for Tiger Roll.  A Hull City omen?  In fact, when I entered the Old Transporter Ale House at Henlow, the Grand National was about to start and Tiger Roll was the favourite then too.  I'd just ordered a 'roll' which turned out to be the WORST crusty beef n onion roll in BRAPA history (not a cob, sorry West Midlanders, but this was Beds) and Hull City lost.  But Tiger Roll won the race.  Here, winning until the final fence, Tiger Roll loses.  The pub as one is gutted and we've been able to get fully invested.  When Dad goes to widdle, one of the blokes from our table tells him the soft ground was the problem.  Time to go, a whirlwind, character building experience we both enjoyed muchly.  But then again, this is what pubs were like 24/7 in the 'good old days' according to some folk.

Excuse me waiter, there's a wee Irish man (WIM) in my Bass

Can you spot the sleeping #Pubcat ?

"Up the Roll!"

And breathe!  In all the mayhem, I just about remember to text BRAPA number 3 and Hull City super fan Tom Irvin who's meeting us for a couple.   We're a bit behind schedule so I tell him where we are headed next but in light of this rain, he may wanna stay central and meet us there.

It is only a six minute walk to pub four, AND back in the right direction for town.  Fabulous location too, it looks the road is coming to an end but there is a narrow little gap which leads under the railway line to take you there.

As I stand opposite the pub, about to photograph Daddy BRAPA outside, a giant raindrop blobs onto the screen and takes the photo!  The first one anyway, I redid it with him looking .....

Photo taken by rain

Photo taken by me

Funny one this, in that I can see a set of circumstances where Broomfield Tavern, Spon End, Coventry (2125 / 3688) could be a pub of the day contender.  But on a day like today, where our primary concern was warmth and comfort and 'getting dry' (which the masses of Cheltenham Gold Cup watchers had helped with due to all their hot air) , this pub was the one we declared weakest.  It had an astonishing selection of ales on from place you'd never heard of, that might excite you, staff were friendly, but it was chilly and the little fire just wasn't giving off any heat!  Might seem silly but it was SUCH a big thing to us today, every other pub did well on that score.  It was an interesting mish mash of a pub too, felt like a work in progress.  Obviously old, quite warped and gnarly, kind of untouched in many ways, but felt like it was on the cusp of modernity somehow, can't just've been the hops hanging from the ceiling, a tricky one to describe.  Just as we are about to leave, the fire gets a good poking. Typical.  After a friendly 'cheerio' to our host, we're on our way back into town.

'Pie and pastry punch up'  I'd pay to watch that.  Do you remember Mary Berry's BRAPA cameo?

Despite only being a15-20 walk back into town, I didn't wanna keep Tom hanging any longer so I managed to get us on a bus which shuttled us back to the bus station nice and quickly.

In the ......

City of ..... (go on Coventry, say the word)

In the Cathedral quarter, lights twinkling as move towards evening time, all sort of 'cultural' like ......

We slip along the cobbles and are confronted by this handsome old medieval pub (oldest in Cov) ruined in the swinging sixties cos everyone was on drugs and had their tops off, being clawed back now ......

Golden Cross, Coventry (2126 / 3689) would not normally be so highly regarded in a BRAPA write up, what with its bare boarded clomp, clomp, clomp, slightly dining, winey, ginny style atmosphere, but as Daddy BRAPA (who loved it even more than me) said "some pubs are just exactly right for the right time", so in a sense, the opposite to what we'd just had at the Broomfield, which on a summer Saturday would be better than the Golden Cross every single time.  But not tonight.  I don't know what was the more welcoming sight, the smiling face of soggy Tom, blackcurrant in hand, or the Titanic Plum Porter pump on the bar.  As we order, a voice propping up the bar to my right says "ooooh, don't serve this pair of reprobates, they've been on the ale all day!" and blow me down, but look who it isn't having a few post work drinks but the coffee ranting bloke who served me in the Town Crier?!  I often talk about the 'perfect symmetry' of BRAPA days.  Coincidence?  Fate working in mysterious ways?  Amazing how often nice little happenstances occur such as this.  He asks me to guess his football team.
Me: "Errm, Coventry?" 
Him : "Nah, way more southern, wayyyyy down"
Me  :  "Oooh, Portsmouth?"
Him "Further north than that!"
Me : (moment of inspiration) "Charlton?!"
Him : "Booooo, we don't like them!"
Me : "Palace?" 
Him "Ahhh I love Palace, some of my best mates are Palace fans.  No, give up?  It is West Ham"
Me "mumble, mumble, Jarrod Bowen, mumble mumble"
By this time, Dad, who rather ironically given the present circumstances, as got himself a COFFEE, with brandy chaser, is back at the table with Tom having a lovely time.  It truly is the comfiest I've felt all day, I think the Plum Porter helps.  Almost a shame we have to go n find that number 3 bus and get up to the ground.

Bit of a painful meandering bus route but we couldn't have done it any better.  Tom's got a dodgy leg injury he doesn't want to talk about.  Has it stopped raining yet?  No.  Is the away end clearly signposted and easy to find?  Course not. 

Here's the match highlights ......

"And there's no better otter than Keane Lewis Otter, not even Tarka ohhh noooooo"

And then something weird happened.  We played well, especially first half, and won 2-0!  They were quite good but we defended great and had the luck at the right moments, like when only 99/100 of the ball crossed the line for them!  Lovely lovely stuff.

The rain even stopped about 9pm so we actually had a dry walk back to the car, woohoo, which obviously wasn't too far away due to my amazing pre-trip research I don't like to talk about.

The journey home seemed even longer than the one down, especially when we hit Sheffield-ish area and it dragged, but we agreed that all in all, it had been a wonderful day, everything had gone like clockwork.

Dad caught a very bad cold after that which lasted ages.  It didn't come on until the following Saturday afternoon but he blamed the rain in Coventry, which has now become a bit of an in-joke between me and Mummy BRAPA that Coventry rain contains germs!

You heard it here first, thanks for reading, Si 



  1. After this and the Hants trip, BRAPA needs a GoFundMe for a quality waterproof jacket (with hood) and walking boots.

    1. Haha YES! I'm all for that. A proper waterproof. Am always being told by Daddy BRAPA that I'm never suitably attired for these trips!

  2. I always assumed you'd done the Coventry pubs as they hardly ever change (like Walsall) and Hull must have played there loads of times.

    1. Always end up in Town Wall Tavern, but don't think I've really done it since 2014 when BRAPA became a 'thing' so just went to the odd one or two! First time we've played Cov in years.

  3. Excellent read as always Simon and despite not being far away in Bromsgrove I've never done Cov. But I will now.
    One minor correction if I can - Tiger Roll got narrowly beaten in the National Hunt Chase on Wednesday not the Gold Cup on Friday . I know that as I smugly backed the Gold Cup Winner !

    1. Cheers Steve, was amazed how little of Cov I'd done despite a fair few visits before.

      Ah thanks, so the race I watched wasn't the main one of the weekend? That makes me wonder how insane that pub must've been for the Gold Cup on the Friday!