Tuesday 9 January 2018

BRAPA - No Turning Back in Blackburn

Paige contemplates a pub ticking trip to Blackburn
FA Cup round 3 Saturday, "the magic of the cup", and Hull City had just avoided Crewe to send me to the marginally better (in terms of the pub ticking) Blackburn instead.  I said if we got anything away in a league one or league two town, I'd go, so here I was!

I was never gonna achieve my magic '6' allocation, but 3 or 4 would be a good outcome.

It all started smoothly as me and Dad arrived in sunny Blackburn early enough to get a swift half (which despite what my glossary said, this was a swift half and not a pint masquerading as one) in the Wetherspoons with a post office themed name I can't remember.

The scene so typically 'Spoons

Although the 'Workie Ticket' tasted suspiciously like a 'half o' Wetherspoons' it was in good nick and friendly staff, toothless locals with baggy jumpers, a nice building and the odd  Hull City fan cowering under a newspaper (probably spying on me) made for a positive experience.   I did think before we arrived "in a town of pretty much zero ale options, this Spoons must be diabolical not to get in the GBG!" but it was okay.  Pre-emptive? 

A local train took us out to Clitheroe between 11-12, where the bearded figure of Tom Irvin loomed like a wraith, but a wraith with unpasteurised milk he'd got from a farm shop, because he could.

Clitheroe looked quite a nice place compared with the black painted buildings with white crosses daubed on the doors and green skinned witches (twitches?) cackling I'd been imagining since I first heard of the town "Clitheroe".

1206 / 1952.  New Inn, Clitheroe

This was to be a rare moment of utter joy in a tricky start to January pub ticking, as a multi roomed pub led to a little bar parlour, where a group of curmudgeonly Lancastrian old blokes looked at us with mouths like they'd been chewing a particularly hoppy brand of wasp for the last hour.  I nervously said hello to the room out of the side of my mouth, until one man winked (but it could've been a nervous twitch ..... twitch?  This could get confusing!)   and we ordered some White Witch beers (I told you it was confusing) and a blackcurrant for the princely sum of £6.30ish, but still expensive for Chorley.  We retreated to the gorgeous room, front right of entrance, where sun shone in and bench seating was reassuringly worn with 250 years of Lancastrian arses sitting on them.  Dad told Tom and me an amusing tale about how too much unpasteurised milk causes testicular cancer, we stayed for another drink, a man said 'ow do' on way back from the bogs, and that was that, another surprising gem in the always rewarding East Lancs pubby portfolio.

Milk and blackcurrant, a winning combination

A pub door looking nice

Worn bench seating being the highlight

The second selfie of Tom's life after something about a scary uncle I've forgotten (probably for best)

We weaved our way through the market (Dad expecting to see a "Bob Inn" after recent Chorley and Bolton trips) and the train station was full of idiot twilds blocking the way by sheltering from the cold, on the way to the bright lights of Blackburn.

Trying to keep my calm on a busy twild and twoldies platform

We hopped out one stop early, at Wilpshire where one of Blackburn's three GBG pubs (which aren't actually in Blackburn) were located, seconds walk from the station.

1207 / 1953.  Rising Sun, Blackburn

Another no nonsense classic boozer awaited us, the type that's sadly almost becoming the exception rather than the norm on my pub ticking adventures.  We walked through the pub to the bar at the back on the right where a tall bald imposing bloke gave us a warm welcome and helped us choose between Robinsons Dizzy Blonde and more Moorhouses.   I went the latter as something always goes wrong when I have Dizzy Blonde.  The barman was just about your archetypal northern landlord, the type who'd tuck his old Mother into bed with an extra blanket, before going out and strangling a crocodile to death which is terrorising the local community, which I know sounds unlikely in Wilpshire but you'll have to go with me here.  We sat in the sun again, and I did my Hull City quiz for Dad and Tom, Tom starting well, fading, Dad coming back late on but Tom holding on.  Here's some of the answers if you wondered:
1. Jan 1947 FA CUP AWAY 2.  Andy Payton 3. The Lambada  4. Peter Swan 5. John Motson and his Sheepskin Coat  6. Wycombe v Peterborough  7. Squeaky Aussie Richard Garcia 8. Bloody Meyler.
So there you have it.  I went to order a taxi to take us to the ground as I bought another round, landlord didn't seem to dial any numbers, just summons it from nowhere in his capable manner.  A really lovely pub, could easily have stayed longer.

Model of the pub

Our view of this classic
The taxi arrived exactly when ordered, bit of a shame we hadn't really had time for the 20 min walk to the Hare & Hounds but there'll be other times.  The taxi took ages to get to Ewok park but he didn't charge us much, and unlike Bolton, some fans turned up and we played quite well (in a top half of League One kinda way) and won! 

Post Match Disaster

Buoyed by the pre-match pubs and win, I said goodbye to Dad on the way out of the ground and wandered towards south west towards Livesey to visit the Black Bull.  Now the fun really started.  I got so far down Heys Lane, burnt off the final few homes fans,  when in the puddles and dark, the pavement gave up and with cars whizzing past and not even a grass verge, I decided not to risk my life and try and approach it from Gib Lane, which meant an extra mile walk through Livesey's giant housing estate.

Gib Lane was closed to traffic, good news for me, so in the pitch black, I squinted past road signs and pot holes and crossed a busy road as the GBG App told me to do down a little track.

Past more pot holes, two cattle grids and under some sizzling pylons I went.  "No wonder they call the road the pub is on 'Broken Stone Road'" I thought, but soon, a mad dog barked and I'd entered a farm.  The pub must be plotted wrong on the GBG App!  Noooooo.  I was amazed the owners didn't come out with a shotgun.

I then realised why they hadn't - when I walked back up the track, they sped past me in their car coming back from somewhere.  I jumped into the soggy muddy field and ruined my shoes!  Then I realised the main road I'd crossed had been "Broken Stone Road" and the pub was out to my right.

But with even more pitch black no pavement, cars doing about 70 mph, I thought it wise to give up and head back up Gib Lane and begin the arduous walk back to Blackburn, beaten.  Ugh.

Had I known that the pub was actually on the corner of Heys Lane and Broken Stone Road, I'd have braved the slightly less scary pavementless walk at the beginning.  Arrrrgghh!  To be fair to the GBG, the description tells you where it is TWICE even if the red dot was wrong.

I decided to veer slightly North in the hope I might find myself nearer the other pub, the Hare and Hounds than I thought, but when I saw a Station called Mill Hill with a train delayed just long enough to get me back to the centre, I had to stop and wait.

But then the train got more delayed, and more delayed, and more delayed.  And one man and his mate were banging on to this poor little kid about how well he needed to perform in tomorrow's Sunday league game.  They were AWFUL.  Poor kid gave zero shits, but they were on and on in his ear about tactics, even diving for pens and taking the man before the ball if he needed!  

This plus the fact it was getting 10 mins more delayed every 5 mins meant I decided to try and make the 33 min walk back to Blackburn in time for the 18:57 to L**ds.  Problem was, it was already gone 18:30.  

I'd half given up and was thinking pre-emptives again when I saw the station sooner than expected - it was bang on 18:57, had I just missed it?  Amazingly, it was 3 mins delayed (first bit of luck all evening) and I sprinted up the ramp to get it!  Phew, saved me ages plus a change at Todmorden!  I read a Superdrug magazine for what seemed like hours - "Why Little Mix Love Christmas" and "5 Things You Didn't Know About Your Vagina" being the highlights, as an aggressive Strongbow man fell asleep and shouted at the train for being noisy.

Changed at L**ds, and was home in relatively decent time, starving, couldn't even be assed with York Tap.  Two more pubs, but slow progress so far in Jan and continuing Northern Trains strike on Friday means my Kimberworth plan could be in jeopardy.  

It can only get better!



  1. Not sure I'd recommend trying to walk to the Black Bull in the dark! For somewhere listed under "Blackburn" it's actually quite a way out of the town in the proper countryside.

    Am I supposed to know who Paige is?

    1. She's in Neighbours so probably not Mudgie. Yes, I don't think I really appreciated the location of Black Bull, perhaps they should list it under Livesey instead (which they probably will next year cos GBG always change locations to confuse the cross ticking process!)

  2. Rotherham and by extension Kimberworth on a strike day is doable, but not by the conventional route. Assuming 16:00 finish, I'd do the 16:15 Kings Cross as far as Donny, for a plus 4 onto the 16:19 scabs' special to Rotherham. It is cross platform at Donny, I'd expect the dodgy connection to make. You then have 123 minutes in Rotherham before the last train back north, or alternatively can double back via Sheffield. In the event that the connection at Doncaster doesn't make, then the X78 is a painful alternative from the adjacent bus station. Alternatively, do it Thursday instead.

    1. Cheers Tom, I think that answers my question about whether I will do Kimberworth this week! Thursdays are out of the question as that is "York Gang" dice night.

      I looked at South Manc for alternative but I think some of their trains are on strike too (perhaps also Northern) but it's okay cos I have another back up idea. Prize if you guess it before I go (do you like Freddos?)

    2. I knew you did something before the Green Owl quiz!

      The vast bulk of south Manchester locals are Norman Rail, for future reference on strike days Stockport will still be achievable by the multitude of other operators stopping there.

      I won't entirely guess. However, I will apply logic to reduce down the alternatives. You are clearly restricted to avoiding Northern. You have previously stated that you may mop up some of the easy North Yorks requirements. Without actually knowing which of four equally likely towns have a new entry, I will go with the most likely of them to have a new entry based on the fact it has more pubs and say Scarborough.

      Assuming Freddos are the little milk chocolate things shaped like a frog, then yes I do like them.

      I'm not sure if you will see this as a good thing or a bad thing, but the reason your 18:57 Blackburn - TWS was delayed was because it was following the Preston - Colne (actually pined at Burnley Central) stopper which is the train you were waiting for at Mills Hill. When it was steadily getting later, it hadn't actually left Preston.

  3. "I'd been imagining since I first heard of the town "Clitheroe"."

    You do NOT want to know how I first read Clithertoe. Let's just say one shouldn't assume the syllable change is between the 't' and the 'h'. (rolls eyes)

    "(but it could've been a nervous twitch ..... twitch? This could get confusing!)"

    Took me a second (or two!) before I got that. :)

    "Dad told Tom and me an amusing tale about how too much unpasteurised milk causes testicular cancer,"

    Not sure exactly why but reading that reminded me of the joke about the woman taking a bath in pasteurised milk. ;)

    " I went the latter as something always goes wrong when I have Dizzy Blonde."

    Must - resist - the urge - to comment. (bites tongue)

    " We sat in the sun again,"

    I say! You lot are tougher than me. I prefer to sit under the sun's warming rays. Sitting right in the bloody thing would be a tad on the hot side for me.

    "Here's some of the answers if you wondered:"

    Ok, that reminded me of a Monty Python skit:


    "cars doing about 70 mph,"

    Aha! (this is just to annoy Mudgie). Newspapers report temps in Celsius, Tesco shows its beer in millilitres but speed is reported in MPH? Sheesh :)

    "in time for the 18:57 to L**ds."

    Back to form I see. :)

    "5 Things You Didn't Know About Your Vagina"

    Si mate, there are five THOUSAND things I don't know about my vagina; the main one being I don't know where the bloody hell it is!*


    * - I could say it's having a nap next door but then Martin would try to remote ban me from your blog. ;)

    1. "but speed is reported in MPH?"

      Apologies for taking this off-topic, but speed limits in this country continue to be denominated in MPH and road distances displayed in miles and yards. And I'd say there's no chance of that changing in the foreseeable future :-)

    2. Great observations as usual Russ, thanks!

      I'll have to let Dad tell the joke, it really was quite good. Involved 'Diabolical' if you can work it out from that!

      I def walked into that Dizzy Blonde line without realising.

      Yes, amazed I forgot to write L**ds last time and quite ashamed.

      And re the article ..... it's probably somewhere near Clitheroe. Ahahahaha. Thanks.

    3. "I'll have to let Dad tell the joke, it really was quite good. Involved 'Diabolical' if you can work it out from that!"

      I can't, but that's ok. What's life without a little mystery? :)

      Your 'Da' can tell it in person if I ever make it over there. (heh)


    4. Although rail distances are measured in miles and chains.

      The conversion to metric units, apart from in cases where it has essentially been ignored, for example 568ml bottles of milk, has been one of the great rip offs of the EU era.

  4. Disappointing you haven't banned Russ yet, Si.

    Mudgie, Paige is a typical Blackburn lass currently chasing Si into Burnley for taking that photo.

    How can you get to 38 without having been to Clitheroe !

    1. It's something I often consider Martin (not really Russ, you are great, but surely mph is the only way to record speed?)

      Paige can chase me into Burnley if she wants, she's just had a baby stolen which sounds just like something that would happen in East Lancs.

      I know, can I get to 39 before I do Colne? That's the Q.

    2. I'm used to Martin's dry humour so no worries getting a dig in now and then Si. (LOL)

      As for MPH, I pretty much agree. Was just pulling Mudgie's leg. :)


    3. I just read this properly and realised I need to feel sorry for Si, so I felt sorry for Si. That pub will probably be listed under Greater Burnley (Blackburn south) next year.

      And Russ's comment at 00:21 is one of the great blog comments, nearly died laughing (again).

    4. "And Russ's comment at 00:21 is one of the great blog comments, nearly died laughing (again)."

      (shuffles feet and puts on his best Midwestern drawl)

      Awww, shucks. ��

  5. "How can you get to 38 without having been to Clitheroe !"

    (I should really quit while I'm ahead, but...)

    Surely 38 is a bit too soon for Clitheroe?

    I mean, I would've bet he wouldn't get until... 69? (heh)

    Cheers ��