A bad mistake on my part, Harrogate was always going to make me pay for using buzz words like "snobbery", "pretentiousness". "fakery", "Betty's Bullshit" and of course, calling it a "Poundland Bath .... more Spar than spa town". A girl called Amy stood at the locked key cupboard (waiting for it to unlock so she could put a key away, such is the fun we have in Yorkshire Bank), watched my rant with a nervous curiousity. Bet she lives there!
The first thing to go wrong was all down to my own idiocy. Dozing off as the train chugged along, I suddenly woke with a start, seeing the letter "H" through the condensation of the train window, and lots of people getting off, I barged past an old lady with weird perfume and joined them. The train chugged off, I was at Hornbeam Park!
After a 30 minute walk, I finally made it to pub number one. It was near Betty's Tea Rooms and that irritating grassy bit in the posher than posh area of town, on the corner of Montpellier Hill and Montpellier Street so you can guess the name......
1205 / 1951. Montpellier, Harrogate
The only customers when I arrived were two middle aged couples sat in the front bar, I smiled at both but nothing doing so I sloped off to the bar where a man was looking expectantly at me, under his receding hairline and interestingly cut sideburns, with an air of the ageing Michael Vaughan. I scanned the three Theakstons ales before opting for a Tim Taylor Landlord. I had £3.65 in change in my pocket, and speculated in my head whether this would be enough, or would I have to break into my tenner? £4.40, not even close. I wonder what the Old Peculiar would've cost? I suppose he was wearing a pristine white shirt, maybe that accounted for the price. I walked back into the main bar for photography / conversation listening purposes, and "Pass the Dutchie" started playing, like I was a Dutch / Jamaican darts player walking into the arena. More couples of the same ilk started appearing, including an OTT woman in pashmina and her friends, which led to lots of sloppy cheek kissing, "darlings", wafting perfume scents and hushed comments like "you know where you are if you need us". Even for Harrogate, this was a cruel stereotype of the inhabitants. A tanned man with a scarf demanded a stool so he could sit at the bar, and a barman had to get one from the other room, letting in a cold draught. Otherwise, this was a cosy bare boarded pub, nice atmosphere in many ways. The beer was a bit fizzy, and Old Vaughan kept looking at me suspiciously. Milli Vanilli played now, it was filling up, so I left, managing to just sneak in to a gap to return my glass to the bar.
My last couple of trips to Harrogate, I remembered, had been fairly positive. I enjoyed Major Tom's Social Thing, and the Devonshire Place thing was full of surprisingly jolly well humoured regulars. A lesson to remain more open-minded.
So as I turned the corner, I had high hopes for my other 'tick', Harrogate's first micropub being a step up from the Montpellier.
After all, they'd started following me on Twitter even before they got in the GBG. Before I fell asleep on the train earlier, I thought it wise to check their timeline. It was full of times they'd opened on Monday's in December even though they don't normally, not abstaining from alcohol in Jan, and extended last orders periods due to the Knaresborough Mummers playing!
So you can imagine my surprise when I located it and saw it in darkness with this sign in the window:
|The Little Fail House|
Bit disappointing they'd not put this on Twitter, they must only specialise in good news stories about their pub! So frustrating, but hey, them's the breaks - an occupational hazard of the pub ticker if you like. And we know Micro opening times are more unreliable than your average pub. If micro owners were bolshy football fans, they'd probably chant "we'll do what we want, we'll do what we waaa-ant, we are a Micro, we'll do what we want!"
An easy one for me to get back to at no extra expense (my York-Leeds train pass covers Harrogate) but I think I'll wait to see if it makes 2019 GBG as I don't like chasing pubs around like one of those Americans after a Twister. Besides, I've got plenty of Friday options for the time being.
There'd been more pain to come in Blackburn the following day, which I'll tell you all about tomorrow!