Friday, 16 August 2019

BRAPA and ..... The State of Modern Football (Tales from Bury)

'Alreet pet, should I give it five mins?'
Not going to lie, I was still a bit bewildered from the crazy Friday night in Stalybridge & co when I arrived at a rain soaked 'Bury Interchange' ("all your transport solution needs") on the following morning with SIX pubs on the agenda. 

I found myself on a bus that straddled Bury & Rochdale, a bit like Rose West on a West Indian gentleman, which dropped me off by a hospital called Fairfield.  I didn't go in, but instead climbed 15-20 minutes into a more rural area, finding myself in woodland by a village church, with 35 minutes to kill until 12 noon pub opening.


It was the serene sobering 'back to nature' detox you need after a trip to Legendz, though the sign promising a whole host of exciting wildlife was disappointing as I didn't see the merest scurrying of a stoat, hear the slightest pip of a chaffinch, nor did I feel the faintest flutter of a Speckled Wood with the face of Kev Newton brushing my cheek.

From a clearing, I saw a much more pleasing BRAPA sight.  An old dear taking out the pub bins at 11:59am.  Just as well, the rain was coming down heavier by the minute.......


Just as I approached the door of the Church Inn, Birtle (1723 / 2695), the door swung open and a stodgy sort of bloke grunted at my lame 'bad weather' comment.  I smiled at him reassuringly a few times during my visit, and his face spasmed in a way which suggested his facial muscles weren't often exposed to such a course of action.   A local rocked up at 12:01, and was amazed to see I'd got my Phoenix ale before he'd been served (breaking his 50 year record of being served first here?), so retaliated with a double Corona, aggressive lime in each.  By ten past, a huge extended family were in the bar area causing a fuss, apart from moody teenage daughter hanging back as though she wanted to be anywhere else in the world apart from here.  No doubting this is primarily a dining venue, for all the crooked beams and low roof, just a less posh version of the White Hart in Lydgate, and yet, not necessarily better for it. "You ready to order?" asks a barmaid, waving a menu at me from the bar.  "Errm, no, I'm just having a drink".  "OH!"  Jeez, can't you look hungrily at a barmaid anymore without them assuming you want food?  Perhaps the most baffling quote of the entire day came at 12:17 when a quirky granny and her gobshite grandson walked in.  "We're not too late to order food are we?"  Even mine host half smiled at this!  They also had to have 'J2O' described to them.  By 12:25, safely 'checked in' on Twitter', I looked up to see all 4 staff members looking over.  Had they seen my check in?  Was I paranoid?  Were they just looking at the heavy rain in the window behind me?  Whatever, it was time to get going.




That was, perhaps, the perfect example of me enjoying the planning and getting to a pub rather than the act of actually being there!

A bus didn't take long to dispatch me back in Bury, where my one remaining central tick, loomed large, as Wetherspoons so often do .......


Bury 'Spoons do well for me, and Art Picture House (1724 / 2696) was a splendid building out and in.  Pleasing to see, as not all of these former cinemas and theatres come up to scratch, anyone who has been to the Ritz in Lincoln can tell you that.  In the other Bury 'Spoons, Robert Peel, a couple of years back, I had a pint of Brightside Odin which was perhaps the best kept pint I have ever had in a Wetherspoons.  I ordered the same today, and whilst it didn't quite reach those heights, it was good enough.  The young barmaids were chirpy and diligent, buzzing around the island bar, understanding the need to 'let it settle and top it up', which sounds like it should go without saying, but doesn't always in 'Spoons.  I wandered around admiring the beautiful old theatre stalls and balcony after that, reminded me a bit of being in the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool's Winter Gardens during a boring punk band, and deciding just to admire the room instead!  At the loo, someone had inexplicable sprayed foamy soap (I hope that is what it was!) all over the mirrors, and I was just about to get an 'amusing' photo when a sighing staff member spoilt my fun by cleaning it up post-haste.   Still, just like the Coronet in Holloway or Liverpool Street's Hamilton Hall, you had to keep looking upwards, as everything at ground level was reassuringly 'Spoons Grot, even the one man who moved seats when he saw me arrive (MY REPUTATION?) and the strange wedding party in vintage dresses and crazy coloured waistcoats.  At least a deaf punk said thanks for holding a door open.  Imaging myself and the nearby drinkers as subjects of some 19th century theatre performance, I soon get restless and felt the need to move on.



He's about to move .... wait for it ......

Gone!  (Drew smiley face on pint condensation to boost my morale)
 A short bus ride took me to the Bury suburb of Woolfold, for my final 'tick' listed under Bury. 


The Lamb, Woolfold, Bury (1725 / 2697) was the basic traditional boozer that I come to this part of the world for, and let's face it, the day had been crying out for such a pub.  I walked into a darkened room with a marine green carpet to strangulated cries of horror as VAR seemed to be dominating their beloved Manchester City's opening Premier League game against poor West Ham.  There were just two ales on (which I like), Doom Bar (hmmm) or this Black Sheep clip with a 'Pale Ale' sticker over it.  I went for this and wow, incredible stuff.  If it was a Black Sheep, best I've ever had, but it could've been anything.  Here wasn't a pub to ask anyway, the barmaid who looked about 12 kept crouching on the floor behind the bar.  She was either a secret ninja, or trying a bit of yoga.  I stood with the bar blokes, deciding 'getting into the farcical football spirit of things' was the way to enjoy this pub.  It was.  Everyone was bonding over the crazy decisions.  Of course, part of me wanted to grab my GBG, plonk it in the middle of the floor, stand on it like a soapbox, and declare "LISTEN TO YOUR PLASTIC SELVES!  NO WONDER CLUBS LIKE BURY & BOLTON ARE DYING WHEN THERE ARE LOCALS LIKE YOU SUPPORTING MAN CITY!  COME ON THE HAMMERS" but I'm quite confident I'd not be safe back in York writing this blog if I'd done that, but I'd like to think at least Mr Protz would've paid tribute to me in a dark corner of What's Brewing.  On the way to the loo, two lads tried 'bantz', suggesting my punk top and combat three quarter length shorts looked like I'd just got out of bed, but they were wearing trackie bottoms and dirty vests!   Still, it was quite a classic experience, and I figured 'Sterling is in my Fantasy Team' so not all was lost.  The final whistle blew, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, a bloke told me it was going to be a long season.  I nodded and scurried to the door. 




Cheer up chickens, Gigg Lane might reopen soon
Three done, three to go.  I'll tell you about them on Sunday if you behave yourselves.

Si

Thursday, 15 August 2019

BRAPA and ...... "Chris Dyson Seems Like a Very Long Time Ago" (Part 2/2)

So where we?  Greenfield actually, climbing up one of the steepest inclines in BRAPA history in the Quoshmobile with our genial host Quosh, and his long standing buddy, Chris Moran.

We'd said farewell to Chris Dyson, but I had a second BRAPA tick to get complete.  "Chris Dyson has taught me more about beer than anyone else I know" announces Quosh, with a glimmer of those pearly whites, a brush of the beard and possibly a tear in his eye, I couldn't tell, it was sunny now.

Anyway, the views were grand and the pub was here ......



Church Inn (1722 / 2694) and some nice tiling at the entrance.  We were greeted by a very bubbly landlady, one those fearless 'take no shit, misses nothing, this is my gaff' type of ladies, but really pleasant with it, trust me!  More Donkeystone beers dominated the bar.  We all had loved them, but we'd all had enough of them and ordered the one we could see from somewhere else.  No idea what it was, does it even matter?  A red faced local asked for a DPA.  Dukinfield Pale Ale? He'd made it up.  Quosh made sure our barmaid heroine knew he was local by asking about the pub quiz he'd once won and if this bloke was still doing it.  Great thing about hanging around with these dudes tonight, I felt less of an outsider than usual and that is actually nice once in a while.  I walked through the locals to go to the loo cos I'm brave like that.  Not much else happened, then we left.

Nice tiling

Nice barmaid and more bloody Donkeystone

Eighties retro

Just felt I needed an extra picture in here of anything.

Back into the Quoshmobile (the car door ridiculous hard to open on the hill we were parked on) and Quosh had another 'pre-emptive brain wave', telling me a tale that sounded vaguely familiar.....

Arguably the best Mossley pub is the Rising Sun.  but it doesn't get in the GBG.  This is because a local CAMRA bloke witnessed an incident he didn't like (something about stairs and a disabled lady I think?) and they've taken umbrage ever since.  And I heard this same story back off the owner of Mossley's Fleece back on 4th June 2016.  Seems that over 3 years later, grudge still going strong!  That poor lady in the Redcar micro who told CAMRA to fuck off has got no chance!

But was it really a good pub?  Only one way to find out ...... GO INSIDE!



YES IT WAS.  Sorry, ruined the suspense there haven't I early on in the piece?! It was a packed out Friday evening crowd, the floor space littered with laughing jokey people, many of which Quosh knew, starting a theme for the rest of the evening.  Again, they weirdly called him 'Alex'.  We got our ales and were drawn to a tall bloke in the middle of the room, full of hugs, handshakes and exaggerated comedy movements.  A bit like Mossley's answer to Kramer from Seinfeld.  It then got confusing as a bloke who thought I was Quosh asked me to ask this bloke about his sex life.  I was like 'errrm, we've only just met!'.  Huge amazing looking pizzas flew out of the kitchen at a healthy rate, some folk watched Liverpool stuffing poor Norwich and Quosh said "gimme your camera, I'm happy to take photos in here" and got some classics as you can see below (might employ him to take all BRAPA pub photos!)  The best was yet to come as Quosh introduced me to the landlord Richard(?) and what a lovely bloke he was.  He even gave me a little 'behind the scenes' tour past the pizza making lasses in the kitchen, to the beery area.  We asked about the 'not being in the GBG' issue, it'd have been easy for him to slag off CAMRA and say he didn't care, but he showed real class by saying he wished the pub was in, but all they can do is keep working hard, selling good beer and doing the things that make the pub so popular, which it obviously is.  Superb, and let's be honest, it is the GBG's loss, for this pub is a cracker.

Not quite A.B. from Eagle & Child, Whitefield, but good effort!

"And if you post that pizza on Instagram, I'll show you where the bloody door is!"





Chris ticks the Church Inn at Mossley, after the event.
Back at the car, I was happy but a bit bewildered by the whole experience.  "Chris Dyson seems like a very long time ago!" I sighed.  Quosh & Chris laughed and said that would be an excellent blog title.  I just had to remember to write it down.  

And things were ramped up another notch as we hit Stalybridge, the town that time (and space) forgot.  So the prospect of going to the infamously 'roughest pub in town' filled me, I must admit, with a fair share of dread, and I've been to Portland.  

Chris in fact said he'd taken some friends several years ago, and they STILL talk about their visit to this day.  Where am I talking about? .  Legendz.  The 'Z' is the key feature here.  


The one picture Quosh sent me which sums the place up more than 1,000 words ever could.........

Just wow!

And it is full of local Legendz!  The tales, the folklore, the errrm legends.  Thank goodness I was with two guys who knew the area, I'd NEVER be brave enough to have attempted it alone!  Made me think for a moment of Alan Winfield, and his quest to go in 'EVERY' pub, in some way, the only REAL pub ticker as those in the Good Beer Guide, 99% you know are going to be 'relatively safe verging on cotton wool'.  Got chatting to a bloke at the bar, he liked York and just kept shouting out various 'Gates' in the city, culminating in "WHIP-MA-WHOP-MA GATE!"  He loved that.   Keg only pub of course (hard to real even call it a 'pre-emptive'), we got our lagers in these weird mini test tube glasses.  The pub had a strange Man Utd theme.   The barmaid was quite a legend too, my collar was wonky on my jacket "Come 'ere she says, it is doing mi head in!" she says grabbing me and straightening it out.  You don't get that in a South London Antic, I can tell ya that for nowt.  And then, star attraction and local legend Kev Newton arrived.  He smelt like a nice aftershave mixed with a bit of decaying corpse.  But he seemed a nice gentle bloke too  His teeth were falling out.  His finger ends had dropped off recently, he'd told Quosh.  I looked down, true, some of them had gone!  'This isn't normal Kev' Quosh had told him, but Kev just treated it matter of factly.  HOW CAN YOUR FINGERS JUST DROP OFF?  His party piece was drinking a pint (John's Smooth) in 4 seconds.  Twice I got my camera ready but Kev had finished the pint before I'd even pressed record!  Third time lucky,  Chris took a fantastic video - I'd post it here but videos never work.  Kev used to be able to do it in two seconds, without using his hands, but he said age has slowed him down!  I think a brewery used to pay him to do it or something?!  Anyway, another Stalybridge pub to leave you speechless, even though Chris and Quosh claimed 'I'd got off lightly!' on my visit tonight.




Well, you can't top that but how can you hate Stalybridge?  Never fails to deliver. But not everyone agrees.

Richard Gere once called it "one of the worst towns I've ever visited" but can you really trust a man who is only really famous for sticking a gerbil up his bum just for shits and giggles (and NO, it wasn't a suppository).  

You could perhaps say 'well, you can't expect Americans to GET a place as nuanced as Stalybridge' but not true.  In fact, they are sending a delegation of the Southworth brothers, Vanessa Hudgens, Belinda Carlisle, the ghost of Jeffrey Dahmer and Mark Crilley to apologise for their fellow countryman.  They have to spend 12 hrs in Legendz as penance. 

I'm supposed to be writing about pubs?  Awwww. I'm wasted on you guys.  And I pretty much was by now as we popped into the lovely but a bit weird White Horse for a swift half.  It seemed pretty normal after Legendz, even if you could put your hand into the jukebox and steal Belinda.

Isn't she adorbs?

And then it ended as all blurry days in Stalybridge do, at the excellent Buffet Bar.  My 4th visit to this station classic, and I can't remember any of them.  Quosh got a cider, I joined him, but it was too sweet for me.  We met another guy the guys knew, really nice bloke this one, a stand out, even if I can't remember anything he said, did or anything else, just that I warmed to him!  Oh well.  My train was in Quosh says, so just like the time I met him with his bro back in 2017, I ran and hopped aboard the Huddersfield Express.  

Oh what a night.  And I had SIX pubs planned for tomorrow, waahhh.

I'll tell you all about that tomorrow night cos I'm having A WEEK OFF THE BOOZE!  (well, 6.5 days).  

Si 


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

BRAPA is ..... Going Posh with Quosh Before I Get Sloshed (Part 1 of 2)

Lydgate.  You've never heard of it, don't pretend you have.  It is like Dukinfield.  But only because you've never heard of that either.  No ..... no .... don't lie please, or this is going to be a very long drawn out blog ('aren't they bloody always?'  I hear you say).

Lydgate is posher than Stalybridge.  Hang on.  Everywhere is posher than Stalybridge.  Okay, it is posher than Greenfield and Mossley (pronounced Mozzley, I learned tonight), and they seem quite 'nice'.

Lydgate had a GBG pub for the first time in BRAPA history.  Twitter legend and probable mayor of Stalybridge, Quosh (some people call him 'Alex', fuck knows why) kindly volunteered to take me here and also to my one remaining Mossley pub.

I jumped off the train at Greenfield into the bouncing rain, almost accosted by a gang of middle aged Twanspennine Crawlers probably off to Marsden to hopefully drown themselves in the river.  Why going on the Transpennine Ale Trail has to coincide with being an anti social nincompoop is one of life's precious little mysteries.

I saw Quosh's easily distinguishable Quoshmobile and hopped in.  "This is Chris" he says.  'What is Chris?' I wonder for a confused second.  Then I turn to see a kindly looking young chap on the back seat blinking up at me, like a Thinking Man's Beckham.  He had 'pub blogger potential' from the off, I thought.  Quietly contemplative, drinking in surroundings, nuances and moods.  I liked Chris already.

Quosh played us a bit of Morrissey ("before he became embarrassing") just to cheer me up, and waxed lyrical on Duncan Mackay for a few minutes solid, as any red blooded male would, as we passed all the grand houses of Lydgate and approached the sodden pub car park.  'Looks like a dining pub, probably is a dining pub', I ruminated in a roomie kind of way.

Top pose from Quosh

The White Hart, Lydgate ( 1722 / 2694) then, and before we'd even entered, I could see a gaggle of middle aged posh blonde ladies and barbour jacketed men who looked like they'd stepped out of a dog boutique in Lymm, blocking the route to the bar.  Quosh fought through to see the largest pump clips known to man, from a local brewery called Donkeystone in Greenfield, more on that later.  We span around to see another pub twitter legend, Chris Dyson, another one to tick off the 'Pub Twitter I-Spy Book' (40 points for a Chris Dyson).  He was from the right side of the hills (Halifax), so obviously had his head screwed on right and the rumours of him being a great bloke were spot on.  We peered into about three empty rooms, all set up for the kind of posh dining that even the Lymm boutique massive gave zero shits about, and thankfully found a 'drinkers' room with a table in the corner, though I had to wait for a twog to get yanked away by a lady owner.  We chatted on pubs, ale, BRAPA, you know the drill.  'The Newark Incident' and 'The Phantom Ticker of Sidcup' tales got an airing, 'twas all really pleasant, the ale superb even though we all admitted we had no idea how NBSS worked.  What was with the staff uniforms though?  I thought it was just the one guy, but when a young lass who reminded me of something from the original Twin Peaks appeared, I realised they had this skinny blue jeans and tight grey waistcoat uniform policy.  Truly unique.  A more perfectly formed dining pub than many.

Really nice Cotton Clouds, lacings or something.  3.5 on NBSS, or is it 3.75, 4 or 4.33? 

Quosh getting his debut green highlighting done - GERRIN' LAD!
The success of the Donkeystone ale had got Quosh thinking, and when Quosh thinks, we all think.  "Would be a good idea to go to the Donkeystone Brewery Tap down in Greenfield.  After all, it could be a great pre-emptive tick for you."  'Sounds good to me' I chirped.  "Hellz to the yeah!" agreed Chris Dyson (not an exact quote) and he followed us in his car, passing previous Greenfield BRAPA ticks Railway, Wellington and the King Billy.

In another puddly car park amidst industrial units aplenty, a few artsy donkey murals greeted us ......

Here I was

Chris Dyson does what is needed
Donkeystone Brewery Tap, Greenfield then, and after a bit of initial skepticism from me, yes I kind of liked it.  Enough warm heaters blowing air through (often a problem in these places), not too echoey and sparse (my pic below is rubbish), a better version of Magic Rock near Huddersfield, and far superior to some of those 'edge of Birmingham' efforts.  It rhymes with 'Gurning Arsehole' if you wondered.  A lovely lady called Veronika greeted us, of course she knew Quosh, and as I got the drinks in, a huge rumble of thunder sounded from above.  'Is this a good or bad time to be in a huge metallic shed?' I wonder, and then added (out loud) "this wouldn't be such a bad time to die I suppose would it?" which met with mixed reaction from our hostess and the three boys.  I do my best thinking out loud.  My stout had Java coffee & vanilla in, Veronika recommended it and you'd always do what she said, though I could only taste vanilla til half way down, then the Java coffee hit me and BOOM, like the thunder, a gorgeous rumbler of a beer (wow, listen to me talking about beer like a proper blogger!)  Talking of beer, Quosh brought up the subject of Autovac and soon all us Yorkshire folk were sweating.  Through the brewery window, two blokes swept the wet floor.  Amazing insight into how breweries work.  Perhaps this ends up in my next pint, the Donkeystone answer to Autovac?  Seemed too much of a coincidence.  Joking of course.  Which makes it alright.  Chris Dyson said he had to dash off for some important event, so we said how much we loved each other and bade farewell.  Definitely worth a visit this place.

On the way out .... cosier place than this pic suggests!
But it wasn't quite farewell.  As we were about to enter the Quosh-mobile, Quosh says "hang on, is that Chris Dyson's car?  Is he still here?"  'Uh oh, he's been murdered with a donkeystone and now we'll have to go to the police station and I'll never get my Mossley tick done!' was my first logical thought, but no, Chris had gone into the brewery to chat to the lads, get a few pics, and probably a few free samples.  #Pubman.  The three of us said bye and sped off to Mossley.

Things were about to get crazy, a bit blurred, but mainly crazy. Find out about that in part 2 tomorrow!

Si





Tuesday, 13 August 2019

BRAPA in ..... Notts Landing (Tyred & Emotion-ale)

Derbyshire?  Completed it mate!  Time to move into a far superior county (only joking, Notts folk are generally ('til today) a bit peculiar in comparison to their Derbys counterparts, and don't go thinking my judgement is clouded by Newark station staff even if it is.

I've made decent progress with Notts this year without trying, up to 34 pubs compared to 18 at the start of the 2018/19 GBG season.  And if it wasn't for my ridiculous insistence on following some kind of alphabetical order, Notts would be a great county to get bottomed out ahead of Cumbria, Cornwall, Dorset and the like.

Stapleford felt like a nicely untouched by 2019 style place, having taken a bus from Long Eaton, the home of the late great Alan Winfield.  If he was still around, would he have come to meet me for a pint?  Course he bloody wouldn't!  The man had sense.

Anyway, we loved the pub sign for having the highest amount of TV channels ......


We needed a pick me up after the disappointing Hole in the Wall in Long Eaton, and the Horse and Jockey, Stapleford (1718 / 2691) was the perfect tonic.  A cracking pub, no wonder it was once a runner up in 'best pub of the year' award.  The landlord was an absolute jewel of a bloke from the moment we entered.  I'd been moaning how many plum beers there are around at the moment which never seem as good as Titanic Plum Porter.  So he gave me a 'Plummeth the Hour' taster to prove me wrong, and all the beers were listed on this colourful graph showing strength and colour, the kind of thing yer TWAMRA's love, don't forget the 10p discount too (5p for you cos you probably drink halves).  But don't think this was just some 'beer house', this was a proper community local.  As I went to discover why thick crusty sausages were back on the menu due to popular demand, Dad praised the landlord on the excellent air conditioning on yet another muggy day.  "I just have to remind the locals not to open the doors or windows" he sighed.  "Well, surely that shouldn't be a problem?" reasons Dad.  "Try saying more than four words to anyone in 'ere?  Well they don't understand a fucking thing!" replies our host.  Genius. I could finally bask in the glory of completing Derbyshire, though this Brass Castle ale Dad had chosen (I copied him) was a bit impossible to drink!  The landlord brought us some local CAMRA mags inc RuRAD just to add to his brilliant personable touch.   Cracking pub, I'm sure you've been but if not, you must.






I got the impression buses weren't hugely reliable around here.  Either that or the pubs are just enterprising ......


But we finally got aboard one, my plan now was to hop off somewhere in 'west' Nottingham where I had to tick to do.  This was the area called Radford, bigger than I'd expected and full of student halls and Japanese girls walking a Pomeranian or twelve all wearing air pods.  Quite a long walk, but we made the pub eventually ........


But if I'd had a few reservations as to how 'real' the Plough, Nottingham West (1719 / 2692) might be, I needn't have worried as we entered another Horse & Jockey style 'boozer for the people'.  Rare contemporary evidence from the day (I took no notes, apart from the locals air con quote in the previous pub) shows that Dad put it best.  "Places like this are to be cherished, I don't care about the arty farty and the lah-di-dahdy" he cried poetically as we breathed in the centuries old smoky atmosphere, the carpet that Wetherspoons are jealous isn't in their collection, shiny mirrors and historic award plaques galore.  Whether he added "...or the namby pamby, or the hoity toity" I cannot remember, but you get the gist.  A quick head count told me apart from me and Dad, the six other customers in the bar area had a total of three hairs on the top of their heads between them.  But one thing this pub couldn't beat the Horse & Jockey on was air con, and I knew what Dad (a man who suffers with stuffy pubs more than most) was thinking and we were quite happy to take our drinks into the pleasant patio area.  "I want a picture with me resting across all those tyres!" I squeaked, "Twitter will love it!"  "Yeah, you can call it 'tyred and emotional' says Dad warming to the theme (plot twist - it got 4 likes and Cooking Lager told me to get a longer shirt from a tailors - FML).  "I'll just have to wait for this couple to leave" I said.  But they didn't, and I was past the self-conscious stage, so I leaned across them anyway.  Was it worth it?  Well, at least I have a memory of being outside at the Plough now!




"Now listen Dad, we're going to really have to push ourselves for this final pub" I said, as father looked like he might be more than happy to have a coffee or a juice or a sleep in a Nottingham Station waiting room.  But I had the BRAPA bit between my teeth by now, and the sixth and final pub of the day could not be skipped.

Once again, the bus didn't quite go in the expected direction, but the friendly driver heard me whining as we alighted somewhere near the station.  I told him we were off to the Embankment pub.  He shouted out some numbers like 7, 8 and 9, and I saw one across the road so raced to it - a shell shocked looking Dad traipsing behind.  "Come on!  We can DO this!" I encouraged him.

"HO HO HO" said a rosy cheeked man dressed in red and white who'd witnessed our escapade.  No, not Father Christmas but another sub-species with an unhealthy need to visit kids bedrooms in the night, the Nottingham Forest fan! (ONLY JOKING)   "WE'RE KICKING OFF AT HALF FIVE, GOOD LUCK".

Of course, the guy in York Chambers had mentioned this all those hours ago.  And our pub was slap bang across the road from the City Ground.  Ugh.  I checked my watch, it was just gone 5pm.  I was nervous?  Who were they playing?  THE BAGGIES OF WEST BROM OF COURSE!  One of those clubs whose fans historically seem to be always where BRAPA is.

I ordered Dad to stay across the road and do the photo ......

We won't criticise him for not getting the pub name in under the circs

So, the Embankment (1720 / 2693) , I really pick my moments don't I?  Luckily it was 17:23, 7 mins til kick off so it wasn't the crazy heaving mass I'd expected, people had all but cleared out to the game and the staff were taking a collective deep breath, wiping down tables and collecting glasses galore.  Quite a great time to go into a pub really!  I'd notice local legend Vicky McClure had been in here a couple of days ago getting her own Castle Rock beer made, but I couldn't see it sadly (if it isn't called 'Lime of Fruity', I'm suing) but I could focus on one called 'Sleepwalker' which seemed apt.  We sat by a giant mural of the original Boots the Chemist which had been here back in t'day.  We didn't talk much.  Dad blinked at me, and at 5 minute intervals, did soundbites like "how on earth did you get us here?" "that was pure BRAPA" or "you are ridiculous for bringing us out 'ere!" shaking his head with a smile.  'Thanks' I replied.   'Tis hardly Whitchurch Canonicorum, but I'll take it. 



And that was that, bus back to the station well before the crazy football finished, and safely back 'ome. We'd used Derbyshire Wayfarer's for most of the day, probably not valid for some of our Notts legs but drivers kept accepting them on the basis that they 'didn't 'av a clue mate'.

Always a rewarding part of the world to pub tick, and a really great day out.  I can almost relax now til the 2020 GBG arrives, just tie up a few Greater Manchester loose ends.  Perfect.

Si