Before my trip to Barnsley (a pre-season friendly which I was always going to hijack for BRAPA purposes!), I'd been looking back at my A-Z challenge to try and work out if I'd 'missed' any pubs from my original reccy which are still actually in the guide.
It all came about because of the now famed "Elsecar conundrum", I knew I'd visited 3 on my "E" day with Tom and a bit of research told me we'd met in the Milton Arms (482) and immediately after the heritage centre, Market Hotel (483), which fits the guide description about multi-rooms and colourful characters to the absolute letter! I couldn't remember what the third pub was so I'd use Barnsley day to bottom it out.
Additionally, I remembered on Jarrow/Jesmond day, we'd lunched in the Five Swans Wetherspoons on the edge of Newcastle town centre, so this became pub 484. Finally, the Albion in East Molesey (485) was visited post Hampton Court, on a pretty posh street, the pub had quite a locally feel but lacked warmth and friendliness but was comfy and just what I needed after all that Tudortastic history! It is actually listed under Surrey in the guide.
So, on to Barnsley then and I roped Dad and Tom into my BRAPA ticking at 11am as we arrived on another scorcher of a Saturday.....
486 - Silkstone Inn, Barnsley - A Wetherspoons like any other in many ways, but at least this had a traditional pubby name and is named after the Coal seam that ran under the town. I think I read somewhere it has a dark feel with lots of booths to reflect that coal mining age but that could be true of many JDW houses! It was bustling, staff were good, but why oh why have 2 Raspberry wheat beers on together??
Disaster struck next as the Commercial was closed. I even rang but the phone line was dead. Was it, as the staff in the Old No 7 said, possible that they were opening deliberately late because there was a football match on? Hmmm, in any case, won't be trying to get back in a hurry so was onto the afore mentioned Old No 7 which not only is the best pub in Barnsley but new Yorkshire pub of the year, I hear. And well deserved, not a BRAPA tick though.
Post match saw me out on the train bound for Sheffield stopping at a few stations.
487 - Commercial, Chapeltown - So I did at least get to one 'Commercial' and what a cracker! Excellent range and quality, friendly community feel, looked very run down from the outside but never judge a book by it's cover and it also had a wonderful large outdoor area with some benches to enjoy the evening sun. Pleasantly surprised.
488 - Crown Inn, Elsecar - Time to solve the conundrum then and sadly, I still couldn't say for sure which that third pub was but I think it was this one. Again, very local with friendly staff and a few good ales but lacking the Chapeltown range. Sat on a bench at the front which looked like it should be designed for some old smokers. Tough. A dog seemed to be driving a shopmobility scooter, it was that kind of place.
489 - Fitzwilliam Arms, Elsecar - Because it was next door to the Crown and you entered a similar bar, I really couldn't be sure which one I'd been to before. This was less pubby but again had some interesting ales on, what did work in it's favour was a huge outdoor area with two older men on the swings having a 'swing challenge'. There were lots of kids and families leaving as I arrived so good timing, I nearly stole one girls activity pack with crayons and stuff, accidentally mind! /Nice pub, good summer one I'd say.
490 - Anglers Rest, Wombwell - It really was a long walk, I'd hoped the guide had made a mistake by not showing the rail station symbol but I soon saw why. Anyway, though I was a bit drunk by this stage, my memories are of a large square estatey pub. I'd earlier discovered Old No 7 is the excellent Acorn brewery tap and this pub was the Geeves brewery tap so had an excellent porter.
All in all, 5 new pubs (well 4 in truth) meant a productive and fun day despite the heat and having to watch Hull City for 90 mins in the middle! Nearly missed train back to Leeds from Wombwell and got stuck in the door but you can't win em all.
It's been a great month for pub ticks, 29 so far (10 in South Yorkshire alone). And we aren't done yet, a midweek BRAPA night probably on Wednesday as I'm off work Thurs and Fri should see me push the boat out with some outskirts of Bradford style ticks. Cullingworth and Harecroft are high on my agenda.
See you soon for the next update. Si