Friday 16 February 2018

BRAPA - Thanx for the Manx (Part 5 of 7 - Wednesday Pubs)

I'd spent the first four hours of the day failing to visit ONE pub (see part 4 of this Isle of Man special).  But 3pm and finally I was in a pub that had been open since 11am, I'd just been looking at the wrong door!  Oops (I've only been doing this for nearly four years!)

The barmaid and Kyle, wait for the return of Bobby-Billy

1245 / 1991.  Falcon's Nest Hotel, Port Erin

Up a couple of steps, around the corner into a basic but cosy hotel bar with roaring fire in the corner I went, and a man at the bar said "'ello mate" without really turning around.  I said 'hi', assuming he was just one of these typically friendly Manx pub men, when he suddenly looked surprised and said I wasn't the Czech brewer he thought I was.  Apparently,  if I had blonde hair and an Eastern European accent, I'd have definitely been him!   Anyway, he introduced me to each person in the room individually in a kind of "he brews your beer", "he transports your beer", "she serves your beer" kind of way which made them all laugh.   The barmaid who's name I forget, Kyle, a young lad called James, and a lady called Ingrid who does a bit of duet singing with the Billy-Bobby character.   They gave me a sample.  Get them on Britain's Got Talent!  Or not.  They were very interested in BRAPA, and it was the most captive audience I had all holiday.  Back in 2014, a scene like this would have terrified me, but I revelled in it today.  Sadly, I had to drink quite quickly cos my bus was due and Billy-Bobby had gone out for a fag so I didn't get to say bye, but James was getting the same bus as me and I'd told them I had no idea where to press the bell in Port St Mary! 

"Dave!  No more coal or logs on fire after 9pm".
Kyle told me that James was off at the stop just before me, but being the young legend he was, he stayed on an extra stop to ensure I was off right outside the pub.  You don't get this type of service in Luton Town Centre.

1246 / 1992.  Albert Hotel, Port St Mary

It looked like a wonderfully traditional Isle of Man pub from the outside, and it had a superb mid afternoon hubbub within.  I entered to find the locals engaged in a good ole' slagging off of Jennings Snecklifter.  "It's all sweet, and dark, and liquorice .... urrrr" said one man.  I whispered to the barmaid that I actually was a fan of the beer, she looked at me with those "don't you dare say that any louder" eyes.  The conversation must have started because Jennings Cocker Hoop was the new guest ale on.  People treating it like some continental Pineapple Wheat Saison, so I had to pretend I'd never heard of it and was excited to try it (despite my Snecklifter admission).  This is what happens when you put English beers on in proper Isle of Man boozers.  "Cocker 'oop?  Who are you calling a Cocker 'oop?" said the man every time anyone went up to get a pint of it.  "Why are all these sticks, hats and coats all over the place?" asked one old gent, temporarily forgetting him and his friends inhabited 85% of the pub with their harbour view, and they almost certainly belonged to him and his mates.  "Never go drinking in Norway" the barmaid randomly warned some bloke.  A couple behind me chuckled, I sat at the bar throughout, undisturbed, they were enjoying it as much as me, a real "moment of contentment" in the week was this pub.  A man, to my horror, started piling £20 notes into the fruit machine.  The barmaid saw my surprise "oh, people put a lot more in than that!" she told me, just as he hit the jackpot.  Real feel of quality about this pub.  

Great pint of Cocker 'oop

Locals being incredible

Fruit machine, poised to have it's guts spilt

The other Port St Mary pub (I'd given up on the Railway Station Hotel for today, possibly a mistake, but was still an hour off it's supposed opening time) was a mile or so walk, around the corner along the shore line to Gansey.  I gave my Mum a ring to report on my progress as I'd rung at the height of my trauams earlier, and wanted her to know I was still alive!  The wind was blowing a gale.

1247 / 1993.  Shore Hotel, Port St Mary

I walked in to find a surprisingly upmarket foodie place, where a businesslike man in pristine white shirt (always a bad sign in my eyes, however jealous I am of someone who has the time to separate their whites and colours on a regular basis!) served me something dark and wholesome, very much the Snecklifter of this pub.   Take that locals in the Albert.  The three locals gathered by the bar, two blokes and a lass smiled politely, and I took the ale to a table to the right.  Easily the highlight of this pub was the toilets, possibly the only highlight.   An interesting picture of three gents, probably someone famous but no idea, above cut out beer kegs with handpumps just above them.  The fun bit was, when you finish weeing, give the pump a yank, and water squirts out into the urinal keg to clean it.  Ingenious, why more pubs don't do this, I don't know.  Meanwhile, the loudest of the three was a southern man, who kept bringing the conversation back around to his hygienist view on the unusual rain in the south of the island.  I'm seeing mine tomorrow, and will be asking her view on snowfall in Selby.  My rucksack toppled onto the floor.  Our white shirted friend laughed aloud.  That is how little happens in here.  To top it off, an average experience became below average when a Tesco delivery arrived, wine for the restaurant apparently.  The front door was propped open as crate after crate was brought in, whipping in a freezing wind.  So many crates stored in the narrow corridor, no way back to the loo.  The locals told me where the bus stopped.  It was warmer out there!

Brilliant toilets

Man in the mirror

Pristine white shirt probably ringing someone to say my bag has fallen down

The bus was a tiny bit late, as darkness descended and squally rain and wind hit me full in the face.  I jumped off at Castletown, where I had plans to just do one pub, and it wasn't the Sidings which everyone had told me was brilliant all throughout my holiday.  No, this one had barely had a mention .....

1248 / 1994.  Castle Arms, Castletown

Or the 'Gluepot' as it is also known, this is the only pub which features on a bank note, albeit an Isle of Man bank note, a fiver I think but correct me if I'm wrong.  I won't care though.  A young lass served me and a friendly greyhound came bounding up to me, but ran off as I tried to stroke it / balance my pint on it's head.  "He doesn't like being touched on the head, he got treated badly as a puppy", said a voice from the corner seat next to where I'd squeezed into, this was a full on cosy comfy traditional pub, just the tonic after the Shore Hotel, and the only time I felt happy all day along with the Albert in Port St Mary.   The voice belonged to a body (as they often do), the body of a cheery fellow from Wallasey who seemed impressed I knew it was "somewhere near Liverpool", we chatted and he showed me historic photos of the pub and I explained BRAPA, gave him and his more watchful wife a card, and feel bad I can't remember their names so sorry if you are reading!  Someone brought a baby into the pub and our previously restrained young barmaid was cooing over it like it was the second coming.  And Mrs Wallasey whispered EXACTLY what I'd just been thinking, along the lines of "Shame she can't put that much effort in with adults when she's behind the bar!"  Nice it isn't just me who has these thoughts.  The rest of the experience can be summed up in one conversation between young barmaid (YB) and an older lady, perhaps the baby's Grandma (BG)....
BG : "Where did you get your short legs from?"
YB :  "Urrrr, haha, well .... from my Mum, she's small too!"
BG : "Nooooo, I mean yer leggings!"
YB : "Ohhh, not sure, but Peacocks are very good".  
Really good pub this, but could have been even better. 

Pint and dog which had tough upbringing

Mr & Mrs Wallasey, nice couple to chat to and similar thoughts as me! 

The bus took me back to Douglas.   It was pitch black now, my bladder had just hung on, I relieved myself in a disused car park, but knowing I'd only done four pubs so far, I calculated I needed two tonight in Douglas to keep on track.

It'd been a hard unforgiving day, and it was about to hit a new mood low!  My sister had been messaging me, asking after my progress and joked she'd sent a 20 something young lady called Sheila to keep tabs on me, make sure I was behaving, so imagine my surprise when a 20 something young lady appeared out of the dark, waited for me to take the below pub photo, and then raced me to the bar! 

1249 / 1995.  Prospect Hotel, Douglas 

The pub seemed upmarket for Douglas, but still managing to retain a history and quality.  Sheila had been served first, and had ordered coffee.  As the machine was chugging away, squirting and spluttering, a bright young bar chap appeared from nowhere and served me a pint of beer.  Sheila was eyeing the welcoming leather armchair by the fire, so was I.  Pint finished being pulled way before coffee finished chugging, so I got the seat. Lesson - coffee pub drinkers never prosper.  But then I felt bad, poor Sheila.  Her eyes were boring into the back of my head.  It was a fake fire anyway.  The hottest fake fire ever.  I was beginning to sweat.  She can sit here if she wants.  Too late to ask now. Oh dear, just please stop staring Sheila.  And don't tell my sister I've done wrong.  And then in total tune with my rapidly descending mood, I received a private message - a rare 'unhappy with BRAPA' message from someone who didn't approve of my blog & twitter check ins due to the invasive and at times creepy nature of my photos.  Ouch!  It was a fair cop to be honest, and I made a mental note to be a better pub blogger in this regard in the future.  With Sheila's eyes still boring into my head, she was probably shivering from the lack of warmth,  I felt like the lowest specimen on earth, and only myself to blame.  Very much like all of today, master of my own downfall.  A shiny bald headed dude and his mates laughed loudly from the far room, why couldn't I be having fun?   Time to move on, write this one off, and no fault lies with the Prospect Hotel.

Warmest fake fire underneath 18th century Roy Hodgson

Shiny people from a distance having a nice time
Guilt and pain in my eyes, as background Sheila (in soft focus to obscure identity) plots my deserved demise

It had been a very enjoyable, quality pint.  That is something I should've added, as I walked to my last pub of the night.  Let's just say I felt like an anarchist at this stage, as I was brandishing renegade Bushys stickers en route to an evil empire! 

1250 / 1996.  Hooded Ram at Clinch's, Douglas

Nicknamed the 'Hooded Sham' by some of the locals I met earlier on my holiday, these upstart brewers apparently have this millionaire bankrolling them!  This was a new entry in the GBG, meaning not even legends like Duncan Mackay have visited, so an interesting 'tick' in many ways.  I followed four young people in, well-heeled posh speaking hooray Henry's of the highest order, though they held a door open for me and when I wished them a good evening, the blonde girl said "why helllooooo" which seemed a bit Ab Fab for my liking.  They sounded like just the sort of clientele the folk of Rovers Return told me I'd find here, very different from anything I'd encountered so far on this island!  As they took their champers and curry (winning combo) to a posing table and managed to get in a Harry Kane mention for about the 15th time this holiday "he's a footballing god darling, you must watch the documentary on how he reached 100 goals, it is inspiring" enthused one of the young men.  Pretty sure Manx folk are gonna bin off Mark Cavendish and adopt Harry Kane in his place by the end of 2018, well either him or Danny Graham.  True to my promise, I stuck a nice big Bushy's sticker on the wall of my booth seat.  Then the barman marched over, uh oh, was I rumbled?  "Would you like me to change your beer sir, it is the tail end of the barrel and can change it if you want?"  I said I was okay and moved my Bushy's sticker to a less prominent 'under table' position, guilty again!  I'd assumed the cloudiness was due to it being unfined or summat, it was called 'Mosaic' so you couldn't taste much over that anyway.  Credit too him.  An okay experience.

Ordering my Hooded Sham

The gang mind their horns and get ready for curry and H.Kane chat

Bushy's fight back
 Still feeling a bit forlorn, I thought this would be a good night to try out the hotel bar at Ellan Vannin, where I'd just been coming and going without seeing anyone.  As usual, some laughter and voices were coming from the bar so I strode in to find an old bloke trying to flirt with one of the hotel staff.  I asked her what was on (all beers were Hooded Ram bottle funnily enough) so I got an IPA, her favourite she says.  "I've just got something to do in the other room" she adds and disappears.   "What are you drinking?" I ask the bloke. "I'm just leaving actually!" he replies.  And for the next half an hour, I'm sat there alone, with my beer and a big jar of Fruity Pops to keep my quiet.  A fitting end to the harshest day of the holiday by far! 

Let's hope for better luck on Thursday.  At least I only had NINE pubs left to do in 1.5 days.



  1. "I'd just been looking at the wrong door!"

    Not to worry. Martin did the same thing on his first pub back from Malta. :)

    "just as he hit the jackpot."

    Probably just got back what he'd put into it. (heh)

    "Easily the highlight of this pub was the toilets, possibly the only highlight."

    Doesn't say much for the pub if that's the highlight. ;)

    "The voice belonged to a body (as they often do),"

    Pfft. In this day and age it could just as well be a new Alexa or Siri or some bloody such.

    "from someone who didn't approve of my blog & twitter check ins due to the invasive and at times creepy nature of my photos. Ouch! It was a fair cop to be honest, and I made a mental note to be a better pub blog."

    Meh. Just get Photoshop and put big black lines across their eyes before posting, sort of like what they did on Monty Python with the show "Blackmail". (LOL)

    "(in soft focus to obscure identity)"

    See! Easy peasy.

    "which seemed a bit Ab Fab for my liking."

    It's a bit scary that I understood that.

    "At least I only had NINE pubs left to do in 1.5 days."

    Easy peasy! :)


  2. The gents above the keg/handpull urinals are those fine Isle of Man exports the Bee Gees, oddly making their first appearance in this series.