Thursday 11 May 2017

BRAPA - A Day in the Chilterns

Let me take you back, all the way back to Thursday 27th April (well, two weeks ago) where I was raring to go for "Day 5" of the BRAPA Spring Festival.  I say 'raring', but after the walking trauma of day 4, I'd happily have spent all day with my feet in a Radox bath, but that would surely be breaking some BRAPA 'code of conduct' ruling.  New pubs were flashing, let's play BRAPbusters!

What I really didn't need was a long walk to start things off, but I underestimated the walk from Princes Risborough station to my first pub at a place called Parslows Hillock, the 'Hillock' surely a local in-joke as the climb was knackering and steep.

I didn't get a great feel about Princes Risborough, the locals walked around with their noses in the air in a very York/Bath "we live in such a nice town, we don't have to try any harder" kinda way.  You don't get that in Morecambe.

With my back just as sweaty as yesterday and a red kite circling menacingly above (waiting for my carcass) as I took the obligatory photos, I heard a cackling of female voices from within,  I turned the old fashioned pub latch tentatively, and was inside .....

1102.  Pink & Lily, Lacey Green

But as soon as I walked towards the bar, the cackling of the two barmaids (well, they looked more like Barristas from a chain coffee shop) stopped and they went very stoic and serious.  Having said that, when all the local coffin dodgers ambled in for lunch, they got a warm welcome.  It was a typical "we don't like you unless you are dining with us" pub attitude and quite aloof.  90% of the pub was a unashamed dining mess, the saving grace was a small side bar to the front left which was a proper old fashioned pub room.  Later, when a couple of friendly old ladies came for a 'pub tour', I told them I reckoned I had the best seat in the house, but one told me that this was the room where the pub bungs walkers with muddy boots and people with dogs.   And probably twilds too.  Maybe I should count myself lucky.  Anyway, cut off from the horrid reality, I enjoyed my little room with it's books and pub games, and realised it was a homage to local First World War poet, Rupert Brooke.  I read some of his works, and quite frankly, it was as bland as 90% of this pub.  Utterly uninspiring, so I rewrote his poem about this pub.  "When I set off, the air was chilly.  But then the roads got steep and hilly.  And now I need to drain my willy,  Once I've reached the Pink & Lily".  To my surprise, as I went to the gents (labelled 'Jokers', how droll), I noticed a side room full of old Space Invaders gaming tables and fussball machines, like a mini museum.  Bizarre, and even more bizarre, I got a friendly goodbye on the way out.

My own private room!

Rupert Brooke (probably) as a twild

Might've been funny in a better pub

Random games room! 
The walk carried on, down increasingly winding rural roads though much more pleasant and traffic free than the Quainton to Oving fiasco of yesterday!  The next pub wasn't long in coming, the sun was out now lighting up an incredibly picturesque village where the pub didn't look much like a pub from a distance .....

Is this the pub?

Definitely the pub!
1103.  Hampden Arms, Great Hampden

I walked in to this creaking old tiny pub to see the now familiar sight of old duffers with their faces in the nosebag.  Still, at least this lot smiled and the pub had a proper cosy feel from the off, regardless of dining.  I'd read it was owned by some Lord or Baron or something, so when I saw the pub had it's own branded snacks, I was immediately reminded of "posh Sam Smiths".  And you don't say that very often in life.  Two young Fosters drinking dudes were kept waiting as the barmaid had gone to change the barrel on the Rebellion, which seemed to take a life time but appreciated her diligence and it was a great quality ale.  Under the circs (lack of space, foody), I thought I'd enjoy the sun in the pretty front beer garden, but the rain started immediately and I was forced back indoors in the raised dining area near the loo.  At least I could observe as one old gent discussed a trip out to see a record collection in Northampton - "a dreadful place!" chimed all the oldies in unison.  I must go back.  Regarding the specials on offer, the barmaid told the oldies that they were selling a new type of meat "but if we tell everyone what it is, no-one will eat it!"  No one ordered it.  Cat I assumed.  The conversation continued to be mundane, when out of the blue, one of the young Fosters dudes suddenly announced during an unfortunate lull in chat "Some of the things my ex-girlfriend did were unreal!"  After much choking on food and embarrassed faces, the oldies took this as their cue to leave, one old lady stopping to observe a painting of the pub by the door and asking "is this the pub that we are in?"  Well no shit, Granny Sherlock!   I left soon after, 'amusing without meaning to be' is the best description I could offer.

Pub's own snacks, quality!

Lunchtime for me!

My view towards dining duffers and bar

I saw this bloke later on (landlord?), and he had more hair (no, not like THAT!) 
I walked towards Lacey Green through this crazy little place called Speen where all these houses had horse stables and were behind large gates, bearing Arabic names like Omar Towers.

I had a slight sense of urgency because although the GBG and WhatPub said my next pub opened all day on a Thursday, it closed mid afternoon Mon-Wed and I wanted to make absolutely sure so I did the long trek and quite a pace, finally arriving and the board outside did make me wonder.....

"Open all day Fri, Sat, Sun and Bank Hols!"

1104.  Black Horse, Lacey Green

First off , relieved to see it open (pubs really shouldn't let me get a foot in the door!) and the barmaids ever-so slightly cagey manner did lead me to ask "do you open all day Thursday?" and the answer was no, so I showed her GBG and the online edition to prove I wasn't some mentalist visitor.  She took it seriously and went to tell 'main lady' as we'll call her, to investigate.  It was chucking out time for the lunchers, and I was just in time to see a whining Twild ask Posh Mum what type of dog she'd like if he was allowed to have one?  "A hairless one" was a pretty classic off the cuff reply, and I already knew this pub had a cheeky humour about it by the signs up in the pub like "Piss off, I'm busy", "you're barred if you come from Donny" and "are you Doctor Allam in disguise?" (I may've made two of these up).   Then a bunch of young women went to the bar to pay for their lunch and they split the bill about five ways, and I wasn't the only one rolling my eyes!!   And at 2:42pm, an old bloke called Dave with a zimmerframe (who was sat near the door) got up to leave to ensure he was outside by 3pm.  Slowest man ever in a pub since a 1999 Irish pub in Hayes.  Pub had a very homely feel and I'd been perched at the bar to see if there was anymore comeback on the Thursday mid arvo closure issue, and 'main lady' appeared and I had best chat of the week with her.  Like all good pubs, they blamed the local CAMRA for the 'admin' error, she took my blog email address (I'd left my cards in my hotel room!), she had exactly same opinions on Pink & Lily as me, and even went so far as to say I should run/own a pub cos I'd know what people want!  Can you imagine?  It'd be "no dogs, no twilds, no jam jars, no food, etc etc, I'll do a separate blog on that!  Anyway, in good spirits, I left for next pub which had been highly recommended by all.

After a very short walk (by the standards of this trip), I saw the next pub peeping out from behind the trees just as the schoolkids were all being chucked out of the local school.

1105.  Whip Inn, Lacey Green

I walked in to what at first seemed to be an incredibly calm mid afternoon lounge-like pub environment, until an enthusiastic short-haired tattoo lady popped up from nowhere, with all the gusto of a Kids TV presenter on crack who used to be in a punk band,  If you can imagine such a thing.  Anyway, I took my pint of Village Idiot (best pint of my Bucks holiday?) to a table facing the bar and tried to be fairly conspicuous, plus I was exhausted again from another 10 miles of walking over the last few hours!  The pub telephone kept ringing, and I got the distinct impression it was staff phoning in sick, though someone called 'Kate' (possibly a false name) eventually rang to book a meal which seemed to be a relief to our jolly hostess.   An old chap with a bad cough who looked like he belonged in the bible and seemed to be known as 'Bod' got into a debate about with our barmaid about whether Surfin' USA was ripping off Sweet Little Sixteen.  It was.  Barmaid was right.  Bod was stunned into silence, apart from the coughing.  A few old couples appeared after that, I think they were quite friendly (I forgot to make any notes though remember chuckling with an old woman about something weird her husband had done) and the toilets had a huge chart about the key to happiness in life, which actually read like the BRAPA code of conduct.  It was time for a bus back to Prinny Rizz. 

Bible Bod has lost his music quiz, but not his cough
It was gloomy, grey and raining again when I stepped off the bus, packed with teenagers, at Princes Risborough, in search of a pub that someone had described earlier in my holiday as "unvisitable 3 months ago, but might be better now, if you're lucky!" so I could hardly wait.....

1106.  Bird in Hand, Princes Risborough

I walked into this dead feeling Greene King pub where a young Fergal O'Brien had escaped the Crucible to serve me an ale called "Bring Me Sunshine", and quite rightly did not appreciate my attempt at a "need a beer like that on a day like this!" joke which was crap and lazy, though a polite smile might not've been beyond him!  To be fair, he was watching a re-run of "Coast"  - probably one of those ten minute snippet features, for he seemed eager to get back to it.  He later turned over to The Chase where Rick from Stockport was floundering like you'd imagine of someone called Rick from Stockport over 100 miles from his nearest pint of Robinsons.  Apart from a peculiar selection of Greene King memorabilia locked in a green cage, like artefacts from a museum, the only thing curious about this pub was the other 'customer', though I think he might've been an auditor here to close the pub down.  He sat at a table on his own, not just with his laptop out, but with a huge elaborate printer which he kept using to print noisy elaborate documents.  He had a clip on (probably) tie he kept adjusting.  Occasionally, he'd whip out a calculator or a notepad and ask an increasingly nervous Fergal some awkward questions like how well a particular drink was selling.  I honestly felt like I was witnessing a pub in it's death throes!  The Chase finished, and it wasn't only Rick from Stockport who looked upset, as I decided it was time to find a train back to Aylesbury.

The Greene King museum 

Let's get another document printed before The Chase finishes!
So that was a depressing / amusing end to pub ticking, another trip to Waitrose and early night for me before the final Bucks push on Friday!  I'll try to write that one up very soon, and apologies for how far behind I've been with my pub blogging.  Birthday week is always a tricky one.

See you soon, Si




1 comment:

  1. God almighty. What a depressing read. Please don't publish anything more.