Sunday 28 February 2016

BRAPA - Malton, Scagglethorpe & Leavening

A pleasing scene at the Ham & Cheese
After the high standard of Ipswich pubbing on Tuesday, I didn't think the quality would be quite so good today.  After all, rural North Yorkshire is hardly been the most 'giving' of pub places since BRAPA began, so I was skepitcal to say the least.  It was a 'Dad chauffeur' day though, so at least I could sit back and make no effort whatsoever!

Staking out our first pub, from the safety of the car!
824.  Ham & Cheese Inn, Scagglethorpe

Scagglethorpe was just off the main Scarborough-Malton road, and we had to wait for 11am opening, but Dad noted lights on and smoke billowing out of the chimney, good signs that they were on the ball.  When a member of staff arrived in a car, we took our chance and ambushed the pub.  We were greeted by Arthur the two year old dog, who may as well have served us because the other staff were occupied by decorating for a 40th surprise birthday bash.  Luckily, an outgoing young barman appeared and he was a friendly soul, quizzing us on Brass Castle brewery who made the local 'Ham & Cheese' ale which I'm glad to say, didn't taste of ham and cheese.  We sat in front of a roaring fire (the best of all 4 we saw today) on some low leather settees whilst the decorating continued.  Arthur came to sleep at our feet but we suspected he was a gun dog, for every time a balloon or party popper went 'BANG', he ran to far end of the pub looking for the obligatory dead pheasant.  And then he'd return to us, looking rather sullen.  Some regulars came in and asked for a pint of the 'usual', which here was Brown Cow by Farmers, probably the best 'regulars' ale I've ever seen - it's normally John Smith's or Fosters in this situation.  If you were being ultra picky, the clarity of the piped music (high fidelity, Dad said) was a bit intrusive, and there was no complimentary fresh ham & cheese pieces on the bar.  Dad had accidentally parked in front of a driveway, so after taking the non-threatening note from the windscreen, it was time to leave Scaggs for ever and ever.  Very good pub.

Arthur makes an early bid for pub pet of the year in Scagglethorpe
Malton was just 3 miles away, but I had two new ticks to do despite having gone there on my "F is for Filey" day in 2013, and once before, when I had a job interview working for a boiler company!

It was farmers market day so all you could hear was 'cock-a-doodle-doo' as we walked up to our next pub and we then had a BRAPA first as my pub photo was put on hold as a farmer who looked like Father Jack (RIP) carrying a box of hens walked past.....but finally we were in.

Mind the hens!  Dad arrives at our second pub.
825.  Spotted Cow, Malton

And this was our pub of the day, mainly because we chose to go into the empty tap room, with another roaring fire, low beams, old bric-a-brac, truly one of those magical old pub rooms which felt it's 300 years old.  We were served by a characterful old landlady who was busy working and ordering (bossing) around her teenage assistant, a malnourished looking girl in a Sunderland Bidvest home shirt.  We spent much debating whether this was a Marston's pub (it served their new world pale) but also a Roosters Blind Jack (named after the fantastic Knaresborough pub of similar interior) which went down nicely, whilst Dad decided to be 'good' and have a J20, though our ordering of these has always been reluctant since the Nag's Head in Preston fiasco.  There was lots of references to an old brewery called Rose's and some interesting ornaments - Dick Turpin, Florence Nightingale, Larry Grayson playing cricket and General Napier.  All of whom presumably got drunk in here, together.   Landlady smashed a glass just as we were leaving, we didn't cheer, this was certainly not Wetherspoons on a Friday night, and it was time to move on.  

Mirror and ornaments at the Spotted Cow
The silence in the street told us one thing, the chickens had all been strangled, mutilated and the farmers market had finished.  Why they hadn't all come to the pub was anyone's guess, but probably a good job my vegan sister hadn't come along to witness the blood thirsty scenes (well, in my imagination).

Pub three, me and my orange garb are going in! 
826.  Blue Ball, Malton

And it was another multi-roomed, low beamed heritage cracker from Malton, I had no idea this town had pubs so good apart from that Crown/Suddaby's thing and the one in Old Malton which might have been called the Royal Oak.  Anyway, this slightly more modernised but it had one of the smallest bars I have seen in any pub, EVER!  A friendly older lady shuffled around it, and you could
forgive them for not having their much anticipated guest ale on, I doubt there's room for 3 handpumps even!  The more characterful rooms around the bar were sadly full, so we sent to a charming little lounge with nice carpetting and of course, a real fire though in here, I was getting a draught from some ghostly presence to my right (not Dad) and it had only just been lit so wasn't generating a great deal of heat.  We were facing 3/4 of a female University Challenge team (Malton College?) who were discussing travel and boring stuff but had some very nice food.  Sadly for our own sandwich expectations, they had a Nazi style "don't eat your own food on our premises" sign which is something I simply would not do if I ran a pub (RIP the Welly in Hull!)  But then again, I'd only do simple bar snacks.  If you ordered the game, you were warned it might contain the shot.  If you ordered the kangaroo or ostrich, who knows.  I wondered if such creatures had been bouncing around at the farmers market earlier.  

Best quality pint of Landlord I've had in ages, at the Blue Ball.
Our final and 'key' pub of the day was in Leavening, about 5 miles south of Malton in no man's land going back towards York.  It was one of those "how on earth do you do this on public transport?" places a bit like Ellerton's Boot & Shoe from last year.  

Arriving at our final pub of the day, note my Sainsbury's sponsored  BRAPA survival kit bag!

827.  Jolly Farmers, Leavening

And just like Ellerton last year, we entered the pub expecting to be the only people there but found an absolute hive of activity.  First thing that stood out, the barmaid's pink jumper.  I've never worn pink, it's always seemed weird, but I had a sudden urge to get one exactly the same (Dad said I should ask for it, she'd probably say yes, but I didn't want to give her the wrong impression!)  Second thing that stood out, real fire number FOUR and there's the full house - bingo.  We sat in the main bar, though again there were a few side rooms off although I think these were more done out for dining (spit!) but the pub had a lovely atmosphere.  The door through to the loos had a sign "shut that chuffin' door!" and you could see why, as it just kept opening itself.  The pint of Wolds Way from localish Wold Top brewery was really good, and with a menu saying 'bar snacks', we caved in and were soon eating black pudding fritters which were just what you need to soak up the ale/J20.  The locals were getting very impassioned in a Trump v Obama debate, which I found hugely entertaining and irritating.  Maybe they are conscious of their lack of globalism living in such a remote place, but my response to them would have to be "Who gives a shit?  Enjoy it.  No-one's bombing Leavening any time soon!" This view was backed up by a friendly local woman who got talking to us, and compared this pub to the fantastic Goodmanham Arms in that place I can't remember(!)  You can definitely draw parallels, it is that good. 

If you are going to the loo / play the piano, be careful re the door.
So, that was that.  All the country through roads were closed so we had to go all the way back to Malton to get to York just to accentuate the remoteness.  But who'd have though all 4 pubs would have been this good?  I think I need to start being kinder about my home county.

Right, I'm off to order a pink older ladies jumper from Bon Marche.

Pint, fire and pink jumper - perfect stuff at the Jolly Farmers

Oh, and see you all tomorrow for the month end review.



  1. I suspect the majority of hens will have been sold for egg laying, so they are all fine. The majority of cocks are in the shit though.

    Is Father Jack dead again? I quite like farmers markets as they are a good source of cheese at fair pricers when not over gentrified as the Manchester one is.

    Even if eligible, I trust that wearing a Blunderland shirt disqualifies Spotted Cow from the brunette competition.

    I've been wondering the same thing about how to access Leavening by public transport. There is a gronk that I require for sight next to a farmer's barn there, I suspect the way is the 6 mile walk from Malton and back again. Even on a Tuesday when the bus runs it's a bit of a bastard. The question is, do I do it or gamble on it being restored as per the stated plan or take the stride?

    1. "the majority of cocks are in the shit though" - honestly Tom, sometimes only you could come up with such a sentence and make it believable.

      He is, RIP Frank Kelly. Been watching Father Ted repeats as a tribute.

      Errm, she was blonde, and probably more importantly, about 13, so without wishing to call you AJ, we'll leave this one alone.

      I don't know what a gronk is but it sounds great. I'd walk 6 miles to see a gronk. Don't gamble, take the stride.

  2. Lovely piece; the Landlord pic especially. Great Dad you have there.

    Those will all be new pubs for me as well; though I'd cracked Malton when I did the train from York 2 years ago but two newbies. Didn't look the place for change.

    Thanks for reminder on month-end stocktake. In Cornwall today trying to put a gloss on my February.

    1. He's a top Dad, hope I can preserve him in a freezer when he gets really old so he can drive me to the Shropshire Anchor in 2042 at the fairly young age of 95.

      You've got a lot to look forward to with those two, but not the Sailmakers and Nag's Head in Preston!

      Can't wait to get cracking on Cornwall, not done one GBG pub there yet, you are having a good productive month again.....

  3. Four wonderful pubs. Great ales (and J2O). Pink will be tame next to your lime greens, black and amber stripes, and red leather. Go for it - as if anyone could stop you. Could move in to the Spotted Cow for a week or two.

    1. I'm hoping the pink jumper I have just ordered from HoF will go with my lime green sports trousers John Watson bought me two birthday's ago! Spotted Cow Tap Room - pub room of the year contender? New category perhaps.