If you believe the above paragraph, I'd also implore you to believe this next one.
I was in my local supermarket, Sainsburys (of course, darling) eyeing up the heft of some over ripe lemons (it was 10pm and stocks were low, York likes its lemons). Suddenly, a masked man reminiscent of Dick Turpin approached, touched my chest, thrust four pieces of paper into my hands, whispered "I wasn't here" before disappearing into the ether, but not before tumbling over a few shopping baskets hastily stacked by the door. The pieces of paper are marked "North", "East" "South" and "West", each sealed with candle wax and a White Rose. Inside, names of Yorkshire pubs and Yorkshire places, some familiar to me, some less so. They are scrawled in an old fashioned font, a kind of 18th century Comic Sans. A voice on the wind wails "Honour these pubs, as soon as possible, you must be more BRAPA, Siiiiii ...." and fades into the York night sky.
|Don't reveal the contents of the new GBG or this might happen to you.....|
I awoke the next morning, 6am, to swirling rainstorms, where I'd booked a 'half-day' at work to give me more scope than your average Tuesday night. Grave schoolboy error on my part though, few pubs open before mid afternoon on a weekday (how did I not remember/check this?), so I stayed on an extra hour to shift some very stubborn "Static Data". It's the work we do.
I needn't have worried about being 'early for t'pubs'. "The line is flooded" came the train announcement on the infamous but BRAPA friendly Manchester Victoria stopper. 29 mins and some lemon based lunch later, we were moving. But by Bradford Interchange, even worse delays as a train had broken down near Walsden. Would I ever get to my first planned destination, Mytholmroyd?
The wait went on, the guard told me he wasn't feeling confident. I jumped off, bought a can of San Pellegrino with a tenner so I had bus change, and legged it around the corner for the bus to Thackley. En route, I dropped the fiver. Bugger! Not a lucky day so far. It was 2:30pm by now, just about enough change for the bus.
I finally got to Thackley, a place I'd only heard of from listening to non-league football results on Radio Humberside in the early nineties, you know the type, Gwilym Lloyd reading them out, "Hall Road Rangers 3, Armthorpe 1 .... Skirlaugh 7, Thackley 2. Goole Town v Stocksbridge Park Steelers postponed due to the town being hit by zombie plague."
So it was nice to pass Thackley F.C., and a bunch of smiling Mum's setting off to pick their kids up from school, as pub one approached .....
Commercial Inn, Thackley
I entered the near deserted pub to find 'Mamma' and 'Nanna' sat to the left hand side, both gave me a cheery hello as I entered. It felt like the kind of pub which strangers didn't go. Take that Soho! I'm no beer blogger as you know, but was interested to see that WhatPub mentioned this pub did "AutoVac" which I've never seen advertised as a thing before, and Mamma pulled my pint of Bingley something with such gusto, it overflowed about 10 times over, her hands etc. delightful(!) Beer tasted ok but had that taste I associate with York's Hop Pizzeria, and took a long time to clear. Still, worse problems lay ahead. 'George' the pub child was rapidly descending into legendary twild status, having a tantrum cos Dadda had gone through a door. Nanna shouted across "this weather doesn't know what it wants to do does it?", she was wonderful with more than a hint of the Les Dawson about her, thickest green eyeshadow ever witnessed in a BRAPA pub to date. After much forced weather chat, George appeared and Nanna gave him some chocolate drops, probably designed for dogs. Bad mistake! George was wired on a sugar rush running around like a bat out of hell, with Mamma and Dadda arguing and doing pub things (probably) behind the bar. So George exited the pub. "Oh well, probably for the best" I thought, but Nanna didn't agree and looked concerned. "Do you want me to get him back?" I half-heartedly offered. "Ooooh yes luv, mi legs don't move as fast as they used to!" she says, so I find George hovering in the porch, and lead him back to pub 'safety'. Dadda, quite a hapless individual, didn't say thanks, so I glared at him like "that's how to review your pub and do YOUR parenting all in one go!" Nanna said thanks, and it should be noted that "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" played, possibly a nod to the debut of my red and white BRAPA shirt and Adidas Gazelles combo. Not the kind of pub that I'd expect to appreciate this, I'd have been far better off debuting them in say, Manchester's "Pie, Soup and Wank Kitchen" or Bristol's "Pretentious Mechanical Goat Beaver" but there you go.
|I WAS trying to get a good pic of Nanna/George but too impossible!|
The bus back was delayed a bit due to school chucking out and some roadworks, but as I headed back towards Bradford, Wibsey (where there's a micropub, so fake Dick Turpin reckons) was an option, yet the lack of cash and need to not waste my Mytholmroyd train ticket meant I hopped off in Bradford and got back on the train line, with the first batch of commuters finishing work.
It was my second BRAPA trip here, unless you count walking to Cragg Vale, so I turned right out of the station and found this on a junction near yet more roadworks ....... crossing was fun .... I had exactly 27 mins to get this done!
|Finally in sight, just a few hours late!|
Dusty Miller, Mytholmroyd
It looked like a pub, it had a pub name, and it felt (pretty much) like a pub, but something was missing it was hard to put your finger on, leaving the experience all a little sterile after the whitewater ride of Thackley. Perhaps that was it, "water". All this flooding talk might have set Mytholmroyd on edge as they were near obliterated Boxing Day 2015. It might explain why it took 4 attempts smiling at the barmaid to get the corners of her mouth to slightly upturn. I'd walked in to the line "Can you go to church for me this week?" where barman was trying to get barmaid to, what, cover for him? Strange. I paid £3.10 for a pint of something West Yorkshire with a fiver (not the lost one) and gave him the extra 10p. Nearly didn't get my change! £5.10, 5p more than Red Lion in St James's on Saturday, and all those bad memories came flooding (excuse the pun) back. The pubbiest room was taken over by Walking-Branson and his walker-wife, they didn't like me exploring the pub, but for what looked like a traditional pub on the surface, there was an amazing lack of decent pub seating and tables. Two locals watched that ITV gameshow based on a Bridlington amusement arcade, and their well-behaved dog got lots of love and even a treat (probably one of George's chocolate drops) from sour faced barmaid. We need a pub rule where BRAPA gets the same love and fuss made. Lost on the way to the loos on the way out, I went into the pub garden / car park to find a fish n chip van sitting there, doing a better trade than the pub. A nice way to end an otherwise limp experience.
|Keep your eyes on the fries luv, this is just a BRAPA photo.|
|Visiting dog bored of ITV|
After a quick sprint back to the station, the train was a few mins delayed anyway (obviously!) but it was only a matter of minutes before I hopped off again at Sowerby Bridge.
Now I was going to rant about how many different pronunciations they are of "Sowerby" but later on, #pubman extraordinaire Quosh told me it is "Sawby", and if you can't trust a man who effortlessly straddles the boundaries of Stalybridge and Ashton-under-Lyne, then who can you trust?
It was also reassuring to note that Mytholmroyd had appreciated my visit more than I'd realised at the time .....
|ABOUT TIME! (With thanks to Matthew "seethelizards" Lawrenson)|
Despite this being my FOURTH BRAPA trip to Sowerby Bridge, I still managed to walk the wrong way out of the station and do a circular tour up this steep hill for no reason, only worth it if you are going to Shepherd's Rest, which I wasn't. People-wise, I've always found SB a bit of a mixed bag. Puzzle Hall was one of the most amazing friendly pubs ever, yet on the same road, the Works (just 3 months later) had one of the most idiotic clientele I've ever witnessed on a BRAPA day out.
I wasn't expecting too much from the next pub, 'Brew House' never has positive connotations for me these days (you'd think it would, but no), maybe I'd be surprised .....
Hog's Head Brew House & Bar, Sowerby Bridge
And I was! Despite being huge and some of the newness smell still lingering, it's wooden benched dimly lit atmosphere and smiley locals made for a really great atmosphere. At the bar, two scrawny small blokes with an equally scrawny twog had decided to make this their domain, certainly not the target audience, and why, in my mind at least, Sowerby Bridge is slightly more in touch with the real world than it's Hebden neighbour. A chirpy barmaid with rounded bottom and sunny personality watched amused as I tried to pick between the masses of onsite brewed ales, I went for 6-8 weeks "because I like the name" so she told me when the main guy was building it, people kept saying "how long til you open?" and he always said "6-8 weeks". Haha! That's the kind of top bantz that Dele Ali and Kyle Walker could only dream of. And I noticed the scrawny twog was censoring his master's sentences, when he told an improbable tale "Once, at Manchester Airport, I had to get a guy by the scruff of the neck and give the "WOOF!" a thick ear". I sat on a bench in the centre of the room, and noted the pub was somehow a cross between York's House of Trembling Madness and Louth's Gas Lamp Lounge, but set in a cosy Pret a Manger doubling as an aircraft hanger. Sure you know what I mean now! A Barcelona shirted man came in and smiled at me a bit too much, unnerving, but amusingly, a suited post-work couple swaggered in - you could tell no-one liked them straight away, the girl screeching "WE'LL NEED A BIGGER TABLE FOR ALL THE FRIENDS WE'VE GOT WHO ARE DEFINITELY JOINING US LATER, HONEST!" so the pub could hear, before sitting on a sad bastards table in the corner. Music was terrible, some of the worst cover versions ever like you were in a TV programme where they weren't licensed to use proper original tracks. But all in all, a great success.
|View from the bar.|
|Piss off bloke, you are in the way of my photo, not the other way around!|
|Barca couple friendly but a bit starey - I did say bye though and they said bye back aaah.|
On the way, I spied what I thought was a micropub open for 3 hours a week (3am-6am Thursdays) under a railway arch selling only Fosters and one mystery ale, it had no front door but lots of characterful moss and rust - it'll be in the GBG soon I'm sure so I will be back to visit it then ......
I was VERY tempted to go to Halifax on the way back but time was ticking on. The angel in my head said "don't do it Si, you have a busy day with meetings and visitors from Scotland tomorrow and you want to feel ill" but the devil said "Pah, 3 pubs, is that all you managed for a half day? No wonder your numbers drop. You are an embarrassment to pub ticking. Alan Winfield is laughing at you now. He'd have done 28 in Sowerby Bridge alone this afternoon. Pathetic. You''ll never finish it! You see Duncan Mackay and Martin Taylor? You are the poo on their shoe!"
I don't like the devil, he's a bit mean. But I went angel and glad I did, the 'Fax can wait, it always does.
And on that note, see you for a bonus pub write up on Friday!