Thursday 20 July 2017

BRAPA - Brampton Miles & Chesterfield Smiles

Two full days recovery from Cornwall was nowhere near enough, despite my revolutionary cheese and cucumber sandwich and cranberry juice diet, but it would be nice to have a day out with Dad as I hadn't had a pint with anyone I knew in a very long time.

It wasn't a chauffeur day though, I'd give him a day off with something that would be useful to BRAPA and was easily achievable on the train.  Before too long, we landed in Chesterfield ready for action.

We've never had a good outlook on the home of the football team as crooked as their spire, dating back to football days pre-GBG, many vague memories of rubbish pubs, dropping baguettes in muddy puddles, Luke Beckett money stuffed in Jacob's cream cracker tins and police and stewards showing no interest in controlling skirmishes in the corner of Saltergate.   There was a good day around 2011/12 for a friendly match, multi levelled pub was excellent, but i chose a peppery beer I regretted instantly!  No idea what the pub was, didn't go in it today.

So the conundrum was, do we walk to the first pub in Brampton, about 1.5 miles - or do we try and pick up a bus?  I wanted the former, Dad keen to look for bus station.  A chance for early redemption as a man saw us debating it and asked if he could help - I explained our predicament and he simply waved a hand and said "sounds like you know what you are doing".  We didn't!  That was the whole point.  Weirdo.  This is WHY the town annoys me.

Anyway, we'd walked half the distance to Brampton already so I said to Dad, we may as well walk there.  We'd not seen one bus despite about 800 supposedly going in that direction!  Being a Thursday, the Tramway and currently deguided Tap House were out of action til 4pm but we found our first pub on t'corner.

The Rose & Crown, honest! 
1193.  Rose & Crown, Brampton

We were probably the first customers of the day so we scanned the ales and the helpful barman drew our eyes further to the left, where the Brampton ales were.  Interesting they weren't the "first you would see" on arrival, but am sure they have a strategy.  He seemed keen for us to try one anyway, what with his Brampton brewery shirt and all, and even paused with the pulling of them so I could take a better photo - felt like such a beer geek!  Was it even worth explaining BRAPA, probably too early in the day to inflict this on anyone.  We had the 50 gallons a week top seller, Golden Bud, Dad even broke BRAPA protocol (very Tom's Dad) and went back for an extra half, but this was as much about showing his appreciation for the quality ale than anything else, at £5.80 you couldn't really knock it (two pints I mean, not one!)  Pub was a huge old thing anyway, Brampton mirrors & memorabilia, power cables leading to toilets in case you wanted to die here, 'flower-offs' with the neighbouring pubs to see who's got the best hanging baskets etc (allegedly) and just very comfy, reminding me a bit of the Arkwright in that Duckmanton place.  Dad and I reminisced on previous 2017 pub outings, including quote of the day "That Martin Taylor was a nice chap .... and he probably still is!"

The GBG pushpins weren't behaving themselves (bad plotting!), and we must have walked straight past our next pub, though it was a shop so easily done perhaps.  Brampton was a strange place, full of hairdressers and salons, it must have the best manicured people in the world, and I saw EIGHT ladies coming out of the dentists together like they'd had the time of their life!

1194.  Real Ale Corner, Brampton

I always have reservations about shops in the GBG, and I've been to places like Arcade in Huddersfield where you can sit and have a drink, or Bier Huis in Ossett, and they lack comfort.  But this place was great because it managed to be cosier than most micropubs.  That doesn't say much probably, so actually, comfier than most 'bars' too, oh go on then, AND a lot of pubs!  Our host, a talkative friendly lady from Ayr with a Scottish little face (so I could bond with her over last summer's trip to Ayr) told us about the centuries old tradition of the Brampton Mile (one of those "there's so many pubs, let's get wasted" kinda crawls).  Apart from trying to sell us these "rare breed" bottles for £3.80 which all had species on like weird hawk moths and arctic terns, everything she said was highly reasonable although being married to a policeman frightened us a bit.   When I was in the loo, Dad explained BRAPA so I could reappear to a roomful of applause (well, in my imagination anyway).  My ale was steady, a old duffer customer finally arrived but he might have been a 30 year old who'd done the Brampton Mile a few times, and we agreed to move on before we started buying bottles.   Quality again from Brampton.

Where we sat

Ignore the jam jar, here's the ale

Just a few of the bottles
Helpfully, there was a pub on the way back into Cheaterfiddle, kind of on the Brampton border and although I needed the loo, I let Dad stop to contemplate the lack of butterflies this year.  "Look at this Buddleja, it should be full of butterflies!"  I bet not many people have said that before entering a micro pub, in fact, let me know your favourite quote before entering a micro pub.

Dad, post butterfly observation.
1195.  Chesterfield Alehouse, Chesterfield

What I liked about the feel of this place was that even though it knew it was a micropub, and it said it outside, it had a sense of "we're too cool to be associated with that crowd" and had a very rock n roll air, and almost hipster enough to out-hipster the hipsters, which is like a double negative if you think about it, but in a good way.  I'll stop rambling.  Up some little steps to the bar, barman looked interested (errr no way I'm trying a beer with coconut and pineapple in it mate!), nice red walls offering warmth (best pub colour, apart from lime green and salmon stripes, obviously), a surprise upstairs room to upset the purists.   Even a free cheese and biscuit session on a Tuesday - "I'll have to bring yer mother 'ere", a classic stock Dad quote which if he followed through on the promise, my Mum would need to have her own GBG and highlighter pen!    Oh, and our favourite feature, some striking portraits of what appeared to be a band, as we're not sure that young Lenny Henry, Robert Peston, Ian Brady and young Joan Bakewell have ever toured together.  It was that kind of place. 

Next up, a short stroll around the corner back into the market place.  Could've sworn I visited a Chesterfield market pub circa 2000, but am sure it wasn't this one......

Why is Dad hiding? 
1196.  Market Pub, Chesterfield

So I asked Dad why he hidden himself in the doorway, obscured by a couple of hanging baskets.  Turned out he was embarrassed in front of the nice ladies sat outside, aaaah.  We walked in, it was exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from a market place pub in a proper town, bare boards, dimly lit, the kind of place you feel you can almost still smell the smoke of 10 years ago.  The barman looked as us like "ale drinkers, crikey me!", a couple of locals made jokey Derbyshire noises, and I made a song and dance about ordering a pint of Titanic Stout in hot weather, like I thought I might get some special pub recognition award.  No one cared.  No one cares in Chesterfield.  Originally, we sat in the lighter right hand bar, very pleasant, even when Mr Vesty Tattoo did the teapot, as Martin elegantly put it.  But we went to sit outside as we were hungry and felt smuggling our snacks might be easier out here, as this was definitely not a non-food pub.  It was very peaceful watching the market stalls close down before our eyes, and in the sun, you could almost be in Lisbon or Rome, well if you had 10 more Titantic Stouts.  One thing that did catch my eye, "Harry Potter Murder Mystery Dinner" - I don't know where to start with that.  I've read the books, watched the films, and they are not remotely 'murder mystery' in a say, Poirot or Miss Marple way.  And combined with the fact that Chesterfield has the least number of Potter enthusiasts in the UK (an official BRAPA fact), it just seemed bizarre.  But then the whole place was kind of quirky, without meaning to be.

We continued our meander back towards the station, where we happened upon pub 5 ......

1197.  Rutland Arms, Chesterfield

My enthusiastic pose was soon a thing of the past when we walked in, a pretty soulless dining pub with the clutter of knives and forks and menus obscuring the tables, a big screen emitting some eerie music, and I don't mean in a good hallowe'eny way.  We stood at the bar for a while, before the blonde girl who'd been sat at a nearby table, heaved herself up with a bit of a sigh and decided she'd serve us.  Our sausage rolls had only made us want to soak up the ale even more, so not long after sitting down, Dad was back on his feet to get two bags of crisps.  Oh dear, she wouldn't like this, as she'd gone back to sitting and eating and reading, but the transaction was performed with the utmost delicacy and we weren't barred or anything.  You know, when some people don't seem to get the concept that they WORK in a pub, and they are not just a customer in their own right.  And we've seen from the Seven Stars in Falmouth what poor staff attitude can do to an ace pub, so in a limp one, it just exacerbates the misery.

Worst toilet selfie of the BRAPA year.

Dad's "brave face" expression say it all.  
Even closer to the station, was our final pub of the day, we'd done well for time, still plenty to spare before the train home .....

1198.  White Swan, Chesterfield

From the mosaic entrance way, to the chirpy barman and the Raw ales (their brewery tap I believe), this was a better experience within seconds of arrival in t'Mucky Duck.  Well, I remember me and Dad agreeing this was far better than the Rutland as we sat at the far end on black leather sofas and craned our necks to see the looming crooked spire of the church directly above us, Dad at a better angle to get a better picture than me.  But then it hit me, I couldn't finish my pint (Dad was already on the lime n water) or remember anything else that happened here!  Add it to the "pubs I owe a revisit in future" list like Cross Keys in Chester, Black Lion in Leighton Buzzard, Combermere in Wolverhampton and probably a few more, due to hazy or half-arsed BRAPA performance!

A more deliberate photo than you'd think.  Is this an owl looking at me?

My failed attempt at Spire piccie.

Dad's better view of the drunken spire.
 The train journey home was more memorable, Penn or Teller blocked me from getting to the loo, a student girl accused me of being harsh, and then we chatted with a nice girl from Malaysia who's got a BRAPA card so is probably reading this as we speak.

Back in York Tap, Dad said bye and went to the loo and I joined two friends for a brief cameo,  but it was my turn to be on the pint of lime & water (told you I was feeling it!) before a short wander home.

I'll be back for last Saturday's write up as I continued the Cheshire quest.

Cheers, Si

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