I had a half an hour wait in York station, time to contemplate the journey ahead. As I dozed off on a Pumpkin cafe settee which would be to the envy of most Buckinghamshire dining pubs, I vaguely wondered if even premier pub-tickers Martin Taylor and Duncan Mackay had been to tonight's pubs. Would they mind me getting them done before them for once? So no surprise when I opened my eyes to be greeted by their minders:
|"Taylor & Mackay have sent us"|
The chap on the right, representing Taylor most probably, was brandishing a can of lager. Surely he wasn't going to beat me to death with it, oh how deliciously ironic that may have been. A GBG (WITH the breweries pages) would've been better of course. Thankfully, there was a side door and I made my escape to platform 9.
Northallerton wasn't far enough away, but was still relieved when I exited the railway station with no one following me.
I feel I know this pleasant North Yorks market town like the back of my hand, for in my formative BRAPA year, I spent a lot of time there. Not just ticking pubs in that area, but using it as a bus terminus to the Dales.
The buses departed from the iconic but very closed looking Buck Inn, who'd have thought that 3 years on, I'd be back here visiting a pub on each side? The first, just off the main drag very much stood alone and looked delightfully mysterious ......
|The John Smith's lantern seemed to bode well|
1208 / 1954. Oddfellows Arms, Northallerton
It did what it said on the tin, a pub called the Oddfellows full of odd fellows! I felt a bit ashamed I'd incorrectly assumed this would be a micropub, such are my expectations of 2018 pub ticking..... As it was, I entered a bit nervously, this was a proper locals boozer and I wasn't mentally prepared. A gaggle of 4 odd fellows formed a semi-circle around the handpumps, they weren't shifting for a no-mark like myself, and I had to smile weakly and peer through the gap, hastily choosing the easiest one to read & say. They were already ribbing the polite, non-local sounding landlord about using his mobile phone and being anti-social. So much so, I had to wait patiently for Mrs Oddfellow to become available to serve me. She was nice too, but wore a jumper that was a shade of yellow that makes the eyes bleed, and believe me, I own some pretty bright clothes myself! The only time I've seen this shade of yellow before was on my school newsletter, the "Fulfordian" circa 1990-93. Speaking of bright clothing, I'd been told in the week that the colour orange is the most likely to incite violence, which may explain why weird pub stuff happens when I have my orange scarf on. I sat next to a man who seemed to be doing the pub 'accounts', usually a bad sign for the pub for the last two times I've seen it (Hen & Chickens, Bolton ; Bird in Hand, Princes Risborough) the pub has disappeared temporarily from existence soon after! He later brought himself into disrepute by playing online fruit machines on his phone, probably spending the pubs money. A friendly young man said hi as he dashed to the loo, the locals chatted on 'Farage', 'Lady Marmalade' and "that Gino Duh Campio" (sic) and all was well til a starey woman with dry elbows appeared and joined in the local 'bantz'. "Do you do Prosecco by the glass?" was the least surprising thing she said, and the local semi circle had plenty to say on this issue about the landlord's prosecco pricing. She wanted some crisps, but demanded to see every box and read every bag cos she had a sesame allergy. Of course she did. And it was time I left.
|The semi-circular gang think of something witty to say, note the background jumper|
|Sesame elbows lady scans the crisps as her man friends try to infiltrate the semi circle of odd-ness|
Back around the corner, another look through the window of the Buck Inn (all I could see was dark despair) and to the narrow alley leading to pub two. As I stood to take the picture, a long queue of people were waiting patiently to get into the restaurant area of the adjoining chippie. "Sad bastards", I thought, but they looked at me in the same manner as I photographed the pub!
|Not brave enough to turn the camera any further left!|
1209 / 1955. Little Tanner, Northallerton
A bit of an awkward door handle and a smile at some blonde woman made for your much more traditional micropub entrance, but beware, as the GBG tells us "virtually a micropub" so not ACTUALLY. And to be fair, it wouldn't score much on my bingo card. I didn't see one twog, it had piped music, the locals hid behind mobile phone screens happily anti-social with no guilt, and not one board game or charity shop book in sight. The barman greeted me with a peculiar "hi guys!" I looked around myself in comedic fashion, giving him a 5 second window of opportunity to admit his mistake and make a joke out of it. Sadly, he didn't take up the opportunity and that awkward "I KNOW WHAT YOU SAID" elephant was in the room for the remainder of my stay, perched against the wall facing the bar under a hot light. The place had a homely feel, warmer than your average micro, and good atmos especially whilst blonde Mum was here with unspecified aged brunette (fellow Mum or her daughter? impossible to tell) whilst the two twilds were "wired for sound" but not in a Cliff Richard way luckily for them, allegedly, hogging the leather settee, otherwise bored shitless by Mum's boozy Friday session on the sauce. An old man then touched the brunettes bum (eeeek) and they left with the twilds, but not after the friendly blonde had to down her wine, but told our double sighted barman to wash the glass well afterwards because she had tonsillitis. My beer meanwhile tasted like a nice version of sick, with a tropical tang. Soon I was left with the twentysomething blokes, who slagged off Irish racecourses in loud voices which stopped me staying for another half.
|The barman of "hi guys" fame, and a no nonsense local.|
|A piano to sum up the ethos of this "virtual" micropub|
|Smiling tonsillitis blonde, flanked by unspecified brunette and a friendly man they might know.|
|My pint and gloves, plus background twilds wired for sound.|
So now I was in a quandry of being half a mile from the station, but once I'm there, I still have about a 35 minute wait for my train, in the freezing cold. So when I saw this below sign, I had to think "maybe I love the idea of pre-emptives after all"......
Stumble Inn, Northallerton
You can't make it up can you, after slagging off the concept of the "pre-emptive tick" in my End of Year Awards Blog, I have now done THREE in the first 12 days of the new year. And despite looking like a fried chicken shop from the outside, it was my pub of the night and surely a good bet for 2019 GBG inclusion. I wandered in where there were smiles and nods from all around, and then a confused barman appeared, he'd heard the door go but because I apparently "blended in" so well, it took him ages to see me. I told him that's a compliment, especially as I was wearing odd gloves, a biker jacket and orange scarf plus my hallowe'en socks (I did have trousers on). This'd be a theme that'd repeat over the weekend and begs the question, once you've walked into so many new pubs, do you really start to just blend in? One for my fellow pub tickers. My next decision wasn't so clever as I went for a session ale about 3.5% but when everyone else got either of the ales over 6%, the locals at the bar loved them for it, so I was somewhat of a weakling pariah from the off! A friendly pair of southern visitors had been taken under the wing of the locals too, and you could tell they were loving & completely surprised by the northern hospitality. A contender for pub pet of the year arrived next in the form of a gorgeous dog, stunk a bit of dog (you can't blame it for that) but very friendly and well behaved. I also liked the owner, an awkward recluse - not your typical micropub dog owner who simply uses his pet as a vehicle to boost his own shitty ego by basking in the reflected glory of a dog's cuteness. I hope that makes sense. I see it all the time in pubs and HATE it, I'm like "get your own personality dude, you're not the one being fawned after". The locals were ace, great rant on "rip off Britain" and 'where there's a blame there's a claim" culture, and I particularly liked the line "ugh, Barrow-in-Furness is one of those places where the nightclubs only open on a Tuesday and a Wednesday!" Cracking pub.
|Beer probably needs another top up but not going back again!|
|Description of "Snug", but not very snug-like pub area IMO|
|The southern visitors are LOVING it|
|Bald locals being very amusing|
|A really good dog|
Unfortunately, it soon became clear I'd underestimated the walk back and before I bloody knew it, I was racing up the ramp only to hear the whistle. I'd missed the train. What a dickhead I felt. I'd had all the time in the world earlier. 80 minutes til the next train to York. Arrrghhh.
Only one thing for it, another pub. But on the way, a station taxi driver wound his window down and said "missed your train then mate?" TOTAL TWAXI. Grrrr.
And sadly, I'd been to this pub before pre-BRAPA in 2013, but I must say, with my "BRAPA eyes"
on, I enjoyed it a lot more this time around ......
Station Hotel, Northallerton
The reason I didn't like it last time (apart from a furry pint I pretty much expected) was that me and two friends were sat in a room making fun of Liverpool's woefulness on a televised football game. When ChrisB (Crispy, Krzbi) went to the loo, I (being the loudest obviously) made my 5th consecutive anti-Simon Mingolet comment due to his ineptness, when a previously quiet plastic scouser sat behind us told me to keep my comments to myself! Having had a good few pints in Tithe, Tickle Toby, Standard amongst others, I was brave enough to tell him it was a private conversation between me and Clare, and (remembering a line used by Tom's Dad, Chris Irvin) if he cared that much, he'd be at Anfield himself and not sat in a pub in Northallerton. He actually shut up. Of course, when Chris Irvin did it, it was even better as we were in Hull's once brilliant, now shit Hole in the Wall when plastic L**ds scum used to come in wearing L**ds colours, and sit there watching their Premier league heroes in the Sky lunchtime kick off whilst we were scratting around in League Two before a home game v Kidderminster or someone. And you wonder why I hate the White Shite!
Today was better, despite yet another semi circular gang (must be a Northallerton thing) blocking my entrance, to the extent where an older twild of dubious parentage stared, looked confused, and comments to an old man "we don't know 'im do we?" to which he was quickly told to shut up. I barged through with a smile on my face, located the one handpump, a beer mysteriously titled "Jennings" and nothing else. After a few smiles, I sat down by this roaring fire to watch the Shitfield derby, further evidence how poor the Championship is this year, all bluster, no quality, but still both sides better than us on the weekend's evidence I hear. The pub felt like a proper old skool station pub, huge, sturdy, nice features (loved the loo area), stuff I didn't notice in 2013. Beer was good too, probably Cumberland though I usually hate it (was not dark enough to be Snecklifter) but had I been drinking a beer celebrating BRAPA they'd brewed on the sly, I'd never have known. As time went on, the old Grandad Jim introduced himself and we had a chat. He took it a bit far when he made me add his number to my mobile, so I could ring him for a York drinking session. Hmmm, and when they left, he did that "call me" hand sign with imaginary phone to ear like a pervy dude chatting up some angry babe from Whitfield. You know what I mean.
|An unspecified Jennings|
|Nice loo corridor floor|
And that was it, what a good night! And PLENTY to tell you about Bucks and London tomorrow I have warned you now.