Wednesday 22 July 2015

BRAPA : the archives (261-270)

I think pubs have been ingrained in my soul for as long as I have been alive.  One of my favourite ZX Spectrum +3 games which didn't involve football management was called 'Gunfighter'.  The premise was that you were a 'goodie' in a wild west town, and you had to seek out and shoot dead each individual baddie on the "Wanted" poster, cowboys like Billy the Kid.  One tip was to go to the local bar/saloon and if you went right up to the bar, the 'bar keep' would give you the local gossip of where the baddie was ... "hey kid, I hear he's down at the O.K. Corral" for example, so you could go and seek them oout.  My tactic was far more simple.  I stayed in the pub propping up the bar, til the baddie got bored and came in here, then I shot him dead from my position at the bar.  Simple.

Anyway, on with the North Yorkshire archives after that little interlude!

261.  Tickle Toby, Northallerton

This very blatant pub on the main high street by the market place in Northallerton was first visited by myself on the A-Z day, N is for Northallerton, on 24th August 2013 when it returned after a summer break!  My travel companions were Krzb and Clare and we came more towards the middle/end of the day.  There is a main room where the bar is but the pub is pleasingly long and thin and you can get lost in some very impressive old style canteen booths, as I'd describe them.  It can only be the alcohol that made this an unmemorable experience despite it being my second favourite pub of the day, it certainly had a good selection of ales on.  I therefore decided to do it justice when I had time to kill in Northallerton on an official BRAPA trip earlier this year.  It had been one of those incredibly social days and it was nice to 'hide' in one of the booths of a quite transient pub, being at the centre of all the hustle and bustle but still having a locals feel.  Anyway, I could regroup from my rural sojourn in peace as I nursed a half of Whiteheart by Yorkshire Heart as the human toby jug which is Tickle Toby smiled back at me in a jolly way.  May have to go back a third time just to be sure!

262.  Tithe Bar, Northallerton

A Market Town Tavern, and one of my 'sub-challenges' of the pub world is to tick all of these off, I believe I just have one remaining which I should get in by the end of 2015.  I like all MTT's, all have a certain blueprint, but this for me is one of the strongest, and I've been three times now I think.  The first time, again, was 24th Aug 2013 where me, Krzb and Clare saw a special guest all which seemed to relate to all of our names (can't remember how), and then we shared a delightful fish platter which I think was one of the most comprehensive demolitions of food I have ever been party to!  We were all impressed.  And as you'd expect from MTT, a great range of quality guest ales, served by young friendly staff and a young-middle aged well heeled clientele, even in Northallerton (joke!) The town has proved a real staging post for North Yorks BRAPA trips, whether it be Dales, North East, whatever really so I've popped in here so as not to be rude.  In January whilst waiting for the Borrowby pub to open, I unwisely had a Black Jesus, a killer at 6% plus and with the light fading, the soft music and gentle ambiance, I was nearly drifting off and just remember sat underneath this bright spotlight smiling at everyone who went past!

Fish Platter heaven on my first trip to Tithe, Aug 2013.

263.  Sun Inn, Pickering

After two previous trips to Pickering had yielded average pubs at best (mainly the former GBG entry run by the Sunderland fan who had a parrot next to the carvery), it was nice to be able to seek this one out 'cross town with Jig before we were due at Joe's wedding do.  This was 29th June 2013 but feels like a century ago!  An extremely precarious crossing was my first memory, and then a larger pub opening then expected with a selection like which I didn't think Pickering was capable of.  I quickly stole a pub beermat which I have on my bedroom wall today, cos I'm a sad tegestologist.  We sat in a unique back area, which felt a bit like a horses stables and beyond that, a beautiful sweeping lush green garden, which looked like a golf course but I think my memory is over-egging it.  The signs/entrance to the gents was one of the most confusing ever, and we got into a chat with a north eastern visitor about the ridiculously misleading signage, though I can't recall exact details.  Me and Jig stayed here for as long as possible, speculating the beer range and quality would spectacularly decline at the evening wedding do, and to find limited warm Black Sheep bitter was actually seen as something of a victory.

264.  Station Inn, Ribblehead

"R was for Ribblehead" and in the wild and barren walkers scenery, Krzb and me figured that our one certainty was a fine pub with great beer.  Except, I wasn't convinced and wasn't on my recent "re-visit" where I popped in for a quick half.  With the rain coming down hard, we had a Dent beer on arrival as we sheltered with what seemed like a thousand walkers.  It was pretty good and it was here where I first was made aware of a iPhone battery charger (which runs on battery), as I saw one group of walkers quizzing another on it.  I'd say this is one of my most important parts of the BRAPA survival kit two years on!  A sense of guilt soon filled us as the pub emptied when the sun came out and everyone got on with some serious walking!  Me and Krzb spent about half an hour tooling around under the viaduct before deciding lunch was calling at the pub.  My giant chilli filled Yorkshire pudding with hidden chips underneath ate next to a boiling radiator had me sweating like a chimpanzee (if they sweat) and has gone down in history as a momentous pub meal.  We worked our way through the beer list, another Dent, a Kirkby Lonsdale and their house beer Station Bitter.  All tasted wishy washy and the same!  It was hard to get past this.  Especially when I asked a surly barman who brewed the house beer and he snapped "DENT!" before I'd finished my sentence.  It was reminiscent of so many walkers pubs, where because the majority of customers are "passing through", they treat them like scum.  Something I've seen too often on my North Yorks BRAPA trips.  On my recent visit, I was unsurprised to find my half of a Copper Dragon guest equally bland, as I feigned interest in vintage Rugby League.  I saw the same beer in Alma in Scarborough recently, warned people off it, but was curious to know if it actually tasted amazing there?  Overrated pub.

Monumentous Chill and Chip filled giant Yorkshire pud, shame about the ale!

265.  Greyhound, Riccall

Impossible to say when I first came here, I'm guessing about May 2009, but having enjoyed lunch here with a pension's friend who lives nearby, Dad recommended this to me as a great place to come for lunch after our two or three yearly trips to play golf.  The staff are always very friendly and attentive, food is pretty good with the "Greyhound whale" (big fish) & chips a favourite.  The ale is a bit limited but there is normally one good guest, sometimes two, next to the John Smith's Cask.  They'd always set up a tab for us anyway.  We once accidentally "broke in" on a cold March lunchtime, stood at the bar, before being told the pub was actually closed!  And on rare occasions when food hasn't been available, Dad would pop to the fantastic butchers round the corner and we'd have pork pies, normally in the large beer garden but I think they let us eat them in the pub once.  We even popped in for a swift half when we were too early back from an away game, but with old men playing noisy dominoes in OUR seat, it felt like OUR pub had been invaded (we never really see anyone but the local radio that gets piped through has often been hilariously bad).  A bad run of unreliability for food/opening and discovering how many other good East & North Yorks pubs are for lunch (as a result of BRAPA) mean we haven't been here in a couple of years now.

Me at Greyhound, March 2012.  Later that night, I went to Leeds beer festival.
266.  Angel, Scarborough

'Twas half way through a 'York gang' Bank Hol day out to Scarborough with my sister Lu the only absentee due to moving house.  The date was 6th April 2012 and this was the most 'local' pub that we went in all day, slightly reminiscent of the recent Alma visited on the 2015 Welly day, but lacking the same cosy charm.  It was quite 'rumbustious' (I think the word is) with crazy one toothed locals keen to engage in conversation in between leaning on the bar and watching the latest horse race they'd betted on a specialist horse racing channel.  I feel like I've been to pubs like this in every downtrodden seaside town in the country.  The range of ales was promising, but most were standards we'd had before.  The pub had a nice central bar and some nice old features and decor from what I can remember.

Krzb, John, Jig, Lisa and Clare in the Angel on our Scarb day out.
267 & 268.  Cellars / Valley Bar

Again as part of our Scarborough day out (see above), I cannot remember which is which,  But don't blame me too much, plenty of reasons for this.  Firstly, they were next door to each other.  Secondly, they were our last pubs of the day so I wasn't as sharp as I had been earlier.  Thirsly, they were both down from street level.  And finally, they were both competing for pub of the day, despite the relative short time we spent in each with trains back to York awaiting.  The first one was more homely, cosy and loungey.  It had split levels to some extent and we sat not far from the bar behind some bannister style railings, that's my main memory.  The second was quite small, felt even more underground, was a bit less comfy and more of a drinkers place - the beer selection was even more impressive, and the barmaids were very pretty (beer goggles?) but it wasn't quite so friendly.  We perched on the edge of a bench style table, all in a row.  I probably preferred the first overall, from the description in the GBG, I'm thinking Valley was first and Cellars second but can't be sure.  But I don't care too much,

269.  Thirteen, Settle

Back on the "R is for Ribblehead" day on 16th November 2013 with the redoubtable Krzb Britain and as we wended our way back towards York, it felt rude not to have a couple of post Ribblehead drinks.  This rather interesting place was a cross between a museum and a wine bar with illuminated old glasses and bottles in little alcoves in the wall (see below).  The barmaid was very friendly, and very bored (the two often go hand in hand) as she told an old local at the bar, who had a frail puppy dog with a muscle weakness in one of it's back legs, not helped by the cold stone flooring.  For a pale ale, my Hetton by Dark Horse brewery tasted a bit like coffee, but me and Krzb were about the only non-coffee drinkers in the building.  I like how the GBG says you are welcome here as much in hiking boots as high heels - I think that sums this place up pretty perfectly.

Thirteen in Settle, hiking boots and high heels.
270.  Narrow Boat, Skipton

Part of mine and Lucy's 'sibling day out' in Skipton on Sunday 23rd June 2013, we'd had some lunch in a pub I can't remember the name of, then had a good explore of Skipton Castle before a cup of Earl Grey and the walk back towards the railway station, via the canal (hence the name of the pub).  Lucy had been here before, but for me, though I didn't admit it, the most highly anticipated pub tick of the day as it was one of the remaining Market Town Taverns I needed to visit (a mini challenge in itself).  It had all the hallmarks of an MTT, Yorkshire guest ales aplenty, bare boarded drinkers feel and I believe we sat in old church pews.  This may explain why my sister got onto a higher plane and asked where I saw myself in five years time, not quite the question you want on a lazy Sunday afternoon but she's always been a challenging character!  My answer, "in a pub like this enjoying the peace and quiet" didn't exactly go down well at the time.  There was also a strange smell of sick in the pub air I couldn't quite get over, so all in all, not the best ever MTT experience I'd ever had.

Me and Lu enjoy a happy pint in the Narrow Boat (probably before I answered her question!) 

Well, that was an enjoyable ten to review in my home county.  I will be staying in North Yorkshire for the next ten where we will be back in Harrogate, Scarborough and Knaresbrough before a quick trip to Yarm and a cheeky West Yorkshire finish in Bingley.

See you soon, time to brush my teeth - dentist tomorrow.  Yipes!



  1. I have some questions to determine the aceness of the computer game:
    1) Did the pub serve real ale
    2) This is clearly the most important. Did the pub serve blackcurrent squash. Were the bar staff competent at serving it? I can see this latter point being a problem in America.
    3) Did the accuracy of your shot at the baddie diminish proportionately with the length of time spent in the pub?
    I saw baddie and started reading the work Billy and immediately landed on Billy Sharp. Do I require professional help?

    The helping of Tartare sauce in the Tithe Bar is appallingly small. It barely covers the bottom of the ramekin.

    The 23rd June 2018 is a Saturday. May I propose that we organise some form of day out involving being in a MTT at exactly the same time that Luch popped the question. Preferably invite Lucy along, obviously. With a bit of luck they will have a new pub and you will be able to prove yourself right. Or is there even a new MTT you've not been to yet that you could save for the occasion? Welly Day out with guest Lucy appearance I think it should be.

    I've given up on the dentist. I got fed up going. You can laugh at me in a few years when that and all the blackcurrant come back to haunt me.

  2. 1) I think in my mind, yes.
    2) I assumed 'sarsperella' was the drink of choice, served in a very lazy way.
    3) I had to quickly twist round so often got shot first, but in the back, which meant the game declared the shooter a coward I seem to remember. So I had the moral high ground, but was dead.
    And yes, you need professional help for seeing Billy Sharp in the wording.

    I seem to remember Krzb commented on the small tartare sauce serving at the time.

    I like the 23/6/18 idea. I must go on the MTT website to see if they have expanded their mini empire, I only have Wetherby's one left as far as I know and really want to get that one done soon to finish West Yorks.

    I think purple teeth and ginger beard would be a good look for anyone.

  3. So, where were you in 5 years time ? Toddington ?