Tuesday 19 December 2017

BRAPA - Oh Whitley Bay, Oh Whitley Bay, We'll Sing All Day

HMS BRAPA arrived in Tynemouth on a frosty December morning, where the good Cap'n Bernard 'Daddy' Everitt and myself stepped onto dry land to find what was a surprisingly large Metro station, engulfed by a huge market on each side.

What 'Craft' really means, Geordie style

After some cheap purchases by rucksack-less Bernard (no, not these above owls), we found our first pub on the left hand side of the main road.  A sign suggested we'd actually walked into North Shields, who'd have thought it?

1184 / 1929.  Tynemouth Lodge Hotel, Tynemouth

With it's tiled frontage and promise of quality Bass and errrm Deuchars, it certainly looked the part and from the second we entered, the warmest reception from a jolly couple, you could even excuse his hideous Christmas jumper.  We joined the "100% of people today" in ordering a Mordue 'Howay in a Manger', even the two old blokes admitted they had been wowed by such a Geordie Christmas pun.  I asked if we were really in North Shields, and within seconds, they were searching for a historical old map to prove we were - you don't get that in Luton.  The pub was carpeted, warm with a much welcome fire, a sign celebrating 30 years in the GBG from 1986-2015 (and still going) - and it was all so effortless, me and Dad had to ask why so many pubs struggle to recreate this same format.  Probably because it isn't really effortless, just a wonderful illusion created from three decades of hard work.  Dad was looking upwards, wondering if he could hire a 'room' and come and live here for 6 months, and then do the same in his 49 other favourite pubs.  It begged the question how long was this 70 year old planning on living?!  I rarely say this in the world of BRAPA, but leaving was a real wrench.  We knew we'd not get anywhere better.   Even the locals said "ho'way canny lads, this is the best pub in the area" so I had to explain BRAPA quickly and run out of the door before they'd registered my words.  Superb.  

I perched just to the right of the fire

Bloke 2 served by 'acceptable xmas jumper cos pub is good' landlord

Bloke 1 reads about pubs not being relevant in 21st century and laughs scornfully

Ho'way in a Manger being pulled.

Nice frontage (the pub isn't bad either hahaha)
Back at Tynemouth station, we dodged further market stalls and made it to Whitley Bay, a kind of cold North Eastern Bridlington with no people and more dog poo on the pavements than I've seen since I went to Portsmouth in 2010 where all the men looked like their shit-filled bulldogs.

In 'outer' Rotherham on my previous BRAPA trip, I told the assembled crowd I was going to Whitley Bay and they laughed, said "ouch" and took a sharp intake of breath.  Yes, this was in the Rotherham area.  So you can see why I wasn't expecting a sparkling seaside resort.

Pub one was just around the corner off the seafront.

1185 / 1930.  King George, Whitley Bay

Okay, so the words "total come down" was the elephant in the room on arrival, but top quality 'Ghost Ships' (cheeky name!) from the local Whitley Bay brewery for £2.75 a go was the high point, beer of the day.  "Care, they might be cloudy, they're ..... VEGAN!" we were warned as though it was a brand new word to Whitley Bay, but as it turned out, they weren't cloudy anyway.  I use this beery filler to my story because there was so little to say about the pub.  Bit chilly, your typical seaside 'bar', minimal.  Dad pointed to the use of flags and banners as a means of pub decor.  "Always the sign of a crap pub, lazy when they can't be bothered to decorate properly!" he said, and I couldn't argue.  The highlight pubwise were two grand German chairs, totally out of place in here you'd have to say.  The people were quite friendly though, and randomly, "Irish Pub" by The Rumjacks (a Scottish-Aussie folk punk band) played, possibly the most random BRAPA song heard in 2017.    On the way out, I went through the wrong door and scared a woman hiding in her crypt.  She scowled as the door hit her.  It was that kind of experience.  A bit like Harbour View in Sunderland without the charm.

On my German throne telling the scariest Jackanory story ever.

Sums up our struggles here.
We carried on down the road and turned left into the town proper, where a micropub was about to make an appearance like Jacob Marley knocking at your door in the middle of the night ......

Me with Dad's now famous carrier bag
1186 / 1931.  Dog & Rabbit, Whitley Bay

Well, well, well, despite the name and the type of pub it was, this was pretty wonderful from the moment the landlord (masquerading as a Texan hardcore punk band roadie) cleaned the windows energetically on arrival.  Then I noticed a carpet, something more micropubs need in my opinion, give 'em that "lived in" feel a bit quicker.  A friendly but watchful barmaid of red headband and lipstick served us whilst an "old character" with ponytail and army trousers told us he was 'quality controlling' the beers so he was working really.  We sat and enjoyed the warm comfort of this friendly little place, as nice Nosferatu (thanks Cooking Lager) tottered around and a man at the toilet made a comment about the weather, there was room for two side by side in the gents, in a micropub, another sign that this wasn't gonna score very highly on my micro bingo board!  Dad then made the 'schoolboy' BRAPA error of leaning back in his seat, smiling, letting out a sigh and declaring "this is really nice, so calm and relaxing".  With the vortex now open, it was no surprise to me when 5 seconds later, a chap walked in with his bobble hatted wife (twife), twild and twog.  The twog was yapping all the way to the bar.  "Don't worry, it shuts up after a while!" declared the bloke, to which I asked Dad whether he meant dog, child or wife.  The twild was exploring the premises like Martyn Hillier on a watchdog inspection, turns out he was called "Noah".  "NOAH, UGH, WHAT A NAME!" shouted me and Dad in unison, temporarily forgetting micropubs are small.  I coined the term "Noah's Bark" which summed up this group of interlopers, and it was time to depart.  Top pub.

The vortex family 

Most of the pub legends in one photo

Typical micropub humour
We made our way back to the station, hard part of the day complete, still three pubs to do in today's quest as we travelled back down the line towards the 'Toon.  Join me tomorrow for the write up of that one, am trying to split my Saturday's in two to make reading them a bit easier! 

Lots of love and beery kisses, 



  1. "Most of the pub legends in one photo"

    Good Lord! He does look like Nosferatu!

    " A sign suggested we'd actually walked into North Shields, who'd have thought it?"

    I checked Google Maps. The clue is if you're north of the river then you're in North Shields (as opposed to South Shields which is south of the river); so.... :)

    Oh, and I would have made an exception and stayed for a second pint at the Lodge.

    "but top quality 'Ghost Ships' (cheeky name!) from the local Whitley Bay brewery for £2.75 a go was the high point, beer of the day."

    Which just goes to show, as you (and Martin etc. point out) great beer but so-so pub. The other way round wins out every time. :)

    "I coined the term "Noah's Bark"

    Good one! (thumbs up)

    Oh, and tell your Dad from me, he jinxed it. :)


    PS - "Lots of love and beery kisses,"

    Oh ok, just this once. But you have to promise no bloody full frontage! (LOL)

    1. Tynemouth is an entirely separate (and distinctly posher) place situated to the east of North Shields.

      As you might expect, I'm drooling over the Tynemouth Lodge Hotel, although it's a bit far for a day trip.

    2. I was (partly) taking the p*ss, but you can see why. I just looked up directions from 101 Tynemouth Road (North Shields) to the Tynemouth Lodge (Tynemouth) and it's a mere 449 feet!
      (granted the fact that only the Tynemouth Golf Club separates the two should have been a clue)*

      * - the UK version of the "other side of the tracks" :)


  2. Technically, the Lodge is in Tynemouth because it's east of the Pow Burn - the stream that runs through the valley/park next to the pub - and because North Shields was historically part of Tynemouth Borough. Confusingly, it's named after a long-demolished hall that was in North Shields. Anyway, I've been drinking there since before BRAPA was born so it's pleasing to see a great review. I'll be letting Damian - the Christmas Jumper Manager - and Yvette know their efforts were appreciated! I've no idea why the King George is in the GBG: Their cask beer is usually cloudy a bit tired, like the pub. If you'd had the Bass or Northumbrian Blonde in the Lodge, I'm sure either would have been your best pint of the day. Ghost Ships is named after three cargo ships that were laid up in the anchorage off Whitley Bay for months - the local rag misleadingly called them that. That annoying twog and others is always in the Dog and Rabbit - good beer but typical micropub so I tend not to bother. The Left Luggage Room not far away is miles better and bigger but charges 'Craft' prices.