|Through the looking glass : curved mirror fun in Preston/|
Boxing Day was a great day though, and with "2015 Chauffeur of the Year" Dad in the driving seat, I finally got that East Yorkshire monkey off my back .....
767. St John's Hotel, Hull
Yes, after Dad's elaborate 9 year long April Fools trick finally expired, we finally made it to the correct pub on Queens Road, NOT the Queens itself but this more homely, pleasing Marston's effort. Christine was outside looking like an autumnal owl, also awaiting the 'grand opening' at 12 noon which would see me complete a county for the first time since I previously completed East Yorkshire back in August using the 2015 GBG, at the New Adelphi. Sadly, this moment lacked the same feeling of anticipation, excitement and magic and I think that's because nothing really happened. We walked in, it was multi roomed, I confirmed I hadn't been here before, we picked some stereotypical Marston's beers from a stereotypical squash-nosed barman, whilst a stereotypical friendly but nervous local shivered at the end of the bar acting polite, and a rugged woman briefly came into to say "ey up" and then disappeared again. A locals corner pub for local Hull people, good they've slapped an ACV on it because you could just picture a pointless mini supermarket on this very corner. I liked it in a vague kind of way, the snuff on the bar was the quirkiest feature. Even getting Dad to "tick off" this final pub was a lame duck because of course, I'd erroneously highlighted it before. Oh, and if Marston's think "Christmas Pudding" is a plum flavoured beer, they seriously need to pay a visit to Titanic brewery.
By 12:30, we were heading for the rest of our pre-match session in the Whalebone, now there is a truly brilliant Hull pub.
|About to make the East Yorkshire GBG clearance in Hull.|
768. Grey Friar, Preston
I'd walked past this depressingly modern looking JDW house several times before, but now it's in the GBG, I could ignore it no longer. It served the usual pre 11am purpose, and we entered a vast typical Spoons with a real post-Christmas lull feeling, as if Preston had taken one huge collective sigh into this one building. Getting served and sat down with two pints was as excruciating as only an early morning 'Spoons can be on a Monday. Dark Star Hophead seemed the obvious choice, but it had just gone, and then Otter Claus was bottom of the barrel so Dad had to have a Tinsel Tits or something suitably Christmas themed. The barman was a lively jolly chap, telling us he lived in Blackpool and still didn't know how to get to work here, needing a friend to drive him. Worse though, some familiar voices behind told us Hull City fans were present, it was no other than Mr Sparkler and his mates! To give you the background, we see Mr Sparkler at most away games. Down south, he'll withdraw a sparkler from his pocket and demand the poor bar staff put it on (Colchester postponed game being the prime example), Up north, like he did here, he asks for the sparkler to be removed! It makes me cringe and laugh, but mainly cringe. Pain in the bum. When we finally sat down with our drinks, we'd been in the pub for almost 20 minutes! We watched some more rolling news on the floods and soon it was approaching 12 noon.
|Good job I wasn't thirsty! Arriving at Grey Friar.|
Wow, just when you think you can start working out 'pubs of the year', an 11th hour contender comes along to ruin everything! This was a splendid pub from the moment we walked in, Dad's initial pleasure was possibly at the lack of other customers, mine was for an interesting beer range including Colchester, First Chop, Blackjack and a magnificent house beer which was as classic pale as you can get. The barman was a quirky guy, reminiscent of a young Elton John with his cowboy hat and shades, whilst brunette barmaid was smiley and they both had a toy gun fight just to reinforce the fact that we were in a fun and quirky environment. Dad alluded to the 'Not Going Out' Christmas Special but barmaid hadn't seen it yet, I'm sure it would've been classic Brunette 'bantz' otherwise. We found a fantastic side room with William Morris-esque wallpaper and some fine etched glass, through which you could watch a high class heritage version of Bolton v Blackburn and the loos were above average too with the nice curvy mirror (see above), I definitely try and pay attention to architectural details since i got my GBG heritage book. A classic pub in every way.
|Moorbrook - my dream pub set up!|
|Arriving at Moorbrook|
Had my ankle (which I'm not mentioning), been able to cope with the longish walk between railway station and Deepdale, Ale Emporium would have been a good shout either pre or post match but as it is, I'll save it for next season as I'm sure we'll be coming here. We briefly sampled the "delights" of the Unicorn Hotel, pre-emptive in a loose sense, but the Doom Bar was decent, the landlord was very good, and whilst our drinks were settling, he took us to the corner to point out the corner of the football ground - now that is customer service!
Post match we simply cut our losses and joined some friendly Preston fans who (half) sympathised with our scandalously disallowed goal for more Moorbrook fun. We even got sat in the comfiest seats in the pub despite it heaving with football fans.
End of Year Appraisal
So there we go, 2015 has been a fantastic first full BRAPA year. My aim was 750, I've managed 769 and that was allowing for a 73 cross-ticking shortfall. Gotta be pleased with that.
I'd barely considered East Yorkshire a year ago, now I've finished it. And only 2 more in West Yorkshire and 3 more in Bedfordshire, all 5 achievable by the end of Jan. I should be able to continue stumbling on with impossible North Yorkshire, whilst really getting stuck into both Berkshire and South Yorkshire for 2016.
My aim is 950 pubs by the end of the year. Nice and conservative estimate that, but the 'ticking' will get harder as the Yorkshire options run out. but I'm hoping September's cross ticking will be a bit more kind than the last 2 years (less than 50 please!)
As the year has gone on, I've really had a glimpse of how the power of social media can assist, especially Twitter, and I must make this more of a routine and 'get my name out there'. My new iPad will help me to be able to do more "on the move".
900 will be the key pub number as that is 2/10 of the GBG completed so I'm expecting Party Poppers, free beer and balloons at whatever pub that turns out to be!
Plenty of plans in place for the start of the year, plus I have two "overnight" away days in mind for Spring/Summer time. Jan will start with an East London knees-up, then a bit of North Yorkshiring with my chauffeur, before we finish Bedfordshire, a trip to Twickenham (6 to do!) plus more midweek mayhem as and when my ankle is back to 100%, but I'm no Richie Appleby.
I'll also be releasing the "BRAPA 2015 Awards Ceremony" blog in the next week so stay tuned for that,
See you soon, Si