Wednesday 28 November 2018

BRAPA - Winter Woollen Wonders Part 2 of 2 - Last Mango Milkshake in Halifax

Oh dear, it has got to that stage hasn't it?
Halfway through my Saturday with work buddies Jason, Piper & Rich and it was time to do one of those things that has never made anyone cry before, and that was 'leave Bradford'.

Jason knew where the nearest taxi rank was, having worked in this City back in the 90's, but problems ahead as I said to our lively taxi driver 'Wainhouse Tavern, in an area called Pye Nest or Kings Cross near Halifax' and he looked utterly confused.  "Do you have a post code?" he asked, so I dug the trusty Good Beer Guide out of the bottom of my rucksack, all crumpled pages and covered in pastry crumbs, so I start saying "H".  "A?"  "No, H".  "Aaaaa?"  "NO, H AS IN 'ALIFAX!"   Five mins later, HX2 7DR was finally in the Sat Nav and we set off.

Jeez this was gonna be a long journey, and it literally was.  Mine and Rich's poor bladders, the traffic was bad, and the pub itself was nearer Sowerby Bridge than the 'Fax.  Actually close to one of my all time faves, the Big Six.  I wanna go back.  But there's no point!  Relief to arrive, semi rural location, pubbiest pub of the day, hurrah!

Nice cobbles, now let us piss.

1400 / 2373.  Wainhouse Tavern, Kings Cross, Halifax

Two further reasons to celebrate.  First, the obvious 1400 landmark, only 100 pubs away from the magical "one third of the Good Beer Guide complete".  Some time in March perhaps? (month, not shit Cambs town).  And secondly, this was my 402nd GBG tick of 2018, breaking the 401 record I achieved in 2017.  We noticed the back of the pub was reserved for Chris & Donna's wedding.  Now we all know a Chris and a Donna, and they're always doing things like marrying each other and reserving back pub rooms in rural Halifax.  All the classic BRAPA days involve me making an unwise ale choice at some stage, and it was the deliciously dark Jennings Snecklifter that killed me here.  Great ale, but when did it start tasting as alcoholic as Old Peculiar?  When I became a 3.8% pale ale drinking fanny, ayeeeee (said no Beer Writer of distinction ever).  The pub itself was interesting, a bloke eyeballed me (behind my back according to Piper) for taking a photo of the folk at the bar, a dog had a big dick, and Rich wanted a round of crisps and when the friendly barmaid asked which flavours, he replied "dealers choice, but make 'em meaty!"  I laughed, and our selection of four somehow included cheese n onion, salt n vinegar and fiery prawn or something.  A bloke leaned over, "I'm not trying to block out yer sunlight!" he exclaimed.  And then he drew the curtain.  Fully.  I couldn't stop laughing, this pub gave me the fits, and it might not have been entirely down to the Snecklifter. 

Congratulations ..... for shutting half the pub off guys, hope you had a great day (I'm joking, I love them)

Bigger dick in real life (that's what we all say)

"I'm not blocking yer sun out or anything, I'm just gonna fully close this curtain". 

Pipes has a chug on her Sneck, background locals are so Wainhouse, love them

Nearly asked this bloke about his gorgeous fleece, but woman on lefts husband (out of shot) was less happy

Man floating on a sea of crisp packets
Staff had been first class in here, and ordered our taxi back into 'Fax no fuss at all.  Of course, our taxi driver had never heard of the next pub until I said it was very close to the Victoria Theatre, where I think we went to another pub the other year.

1401 / 2374.  Alexandra, Halifax

"Very much a micropub..." begins the GBG description.  No 'very much' about it, this was the quintessential micro to give Hillier (not Hitler) sexy dreams.  And I don't mean about pizza ovens.   Yes, after recent 'wow-factor' micros of a traditional pub nature (New Royal Mail, Thorngumbald) or just expertly done cosy classics (Lazy Landlord in Liscard) I was starting to 'warm' to them, but unless you go to the White Swan in Digbeth to go "phwooarrr, heritage!" and drink cloudy Marstons whilst some ancient leprechaun prods you in the cheek, then you won't go in a colder pub this winter.  It wasn't all bad, the barmaid was a gem, and deliberately having just the two beers on seems somewhat commendable, but beer is a minefield isn't it?  I don't have a clue.  Here, it was a toss up between Kowabunga and Ghyll.  I didn't know how to pronounce Ghyll, so I went Kowabunga, I did like those Turtles back in the day, Donatello was my fave, no relation to Donna from the last pub (that award has never felt further away at this point).  But then the Kowbunga went off, she was oh so apologetic in her hat & fleece , but we didn't care, just I had to ask how to pronounce it.  She didn't really know either.  Or was trying to make Stupid Si feel better.   We climbed up a narrow staircase and comparisons were drawn to Hard Times & Misery in Liverpool, but this had a bit less to it.  A couple heard me complaining about the freezing metal seats and told me to pull that blanket closer, they seemed very empathetic.  But as I wrapped it round, I started to itch.  Fleas?  That was the consensus.  Then I drank my Ghyll.  It tasted like beer, end of another wonderful BRAPA tale.

It's about to go off any second now!
I did like the staircase and decor

Rare Jason shot, and the bloke of the empathetic couple

This was it

Still itching now
Following the GBG App to this sixth and final pub of the day proved a bit problematic.  Piper's knee she didn't like to talk about wasn't getting any better despite the alcohol intake, so the other three loitered as I walked around the perimeter of a strange building to some weird side entrance.  "This could be it!" I declared finally, and they caught me up:

For fans of Prisoner Cell Block H

1402 / 2375.  Square Chapel Cafe & Bar, Halifax

But it was no Wentworth Detention Centre once we were inside.  "This can't be it" said Rich.  "What is this place?" said Piper.  "Bloody 'ell Simon, where ye taking us now?" growled Jason.  "Bear with me" I replied, after all, it DID have cafe in the name.  Ever been to the weird Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff?  Or any of the ones in Tyne & Wear.  It was like them, only you somehow never really expected to find a bar selling real ale.  A twild looked up from his colouring book and glared at me.  A Mum with a coffee and a tan told her daughter not to play on the floor.  Two students on laptops probably talked about Jellyfish DNA and Polyfilla.  A blousey lady with the most floral blouse ever stared accusingly at us as I skirted around the seats.  She heaved her huge bosom in an exasperated manner.  Only a visit from BRAPA can lead to such bosom heaving, and I don't even mean that in a good way.  And finally, through a gap of bald heads, a bar!  What a moment.  I could've cried.  I went to find a seat and a loo as our Stodfold Golds and Rum Porters were wheeled out to the kind of table where I thought someone was going to make us write down ten motivational words on a flipchart and start some blue sky thinking.  And then, a voice behind me.  "BRAPA isn't it?"  This was Luke, who says he sometimes reads my blog.  How nice, so he sat with us and whilst I wasn't at my coherent best, he advised me Hull City were 2-0 down and Bradford were actually winning.  I asked him about pubs in the 'Fax and he told me something I'd be thinking since the 2019 GBG came out.  Halifax, this wonderful pub town as proclaimed by me and Martin Taylor last year as one of the best, has gone too far into the modern newbies, and sacked off those classics I loved like Three Pigeons, Gun Dog and that other one I can't remember.  Soon, it was time to leave this weirdness, time for a post or pre-emptive before the train? 

The only surviving shot from our time in the Square Chapel

Very hazy what happened next, but it seemed to involve time being too against us to get to the Three Pigeons as I'd originally wanted, so we ended up in this hotel opposite the station, perhaps called the Station or Railway or something.  The hotel receptionist became our barmaid, not a cask beer in sight, what did I even have, Guinness?  Doubt I drank it all, but friendly place, and it soon became clear our last train of the day to L**ds had been cancelled (on top of bloody Northern Rail strikes) so we had to dash for this one!

Ugh, typical end to the Heavy Woollen day, I fell asleep on Piper's arm, Rich went missing and no one could find him, and Jason prowled the vestibule like a caged tiger.  Rarrrrr.  Back in York, I got fish n chips and watched darts on ITV4 for about 2 hours and then a YouTube documentary on the Old Firm for no apparent reason, and was still in bed by 9pm.  Phew!  What a day.  Only TWELVE West Yorkshire ticks remain, gonna keep chipping away every Friday.



  1. Oooh, controversial views on the 'Fax. Of course, like Leeds, you can always ignore those horrible modern beer bars and stick to the proper Old Mens pubs, can't you (he says pointedly).

  2. Good read as ever, Simon, interesting to see your take on a couple of my regular haunts!

  3. Love a story with a happy ending...
    ..and congratulations on those milestones...very well done...

    Not sure what to think about the Arts Centre bar getting in the GBG - if it's doing good beer I suppose it's fair - but guess it didn't have much else going for it...
    .. waiting with much anticipation for the local leisure centre bar to
    have it's day in the GBG I can just imagine the description now...'beautiful views of the swimming pool and the gentle aroma of sweaty sports socks'...

    PS - think I could see the fleas on the blanket when I zoomed in on the photo…but rub on a pint of Doom beer and that should fumigate them...

  4. "Mine and Rich's poor bladders,"

    I believe Martin can give you some tips on incontinence pads. :)

    "breaking the 401 record I achieved in 2017"


    "this pub gave me the fits, and it might not have been entirely down to the Snecklifter."

    High praise indeed.

    "so I went Kowabunga, I did like those Turtles back in the day,"

    Don't forget Bart Simpson.

    "she was oh so apologetic in her hat & fleece "

    Crikey. If the barmaid needs to wear fleece and a wooly hat you can bet it isn't too bloody warm in there!

    "I did like the staircase and decor"

    But did your dodgy knee like the staircase? ;)

    "A Mum with a coffee and a tan"

    Is that like a Black and Tan?

    "She heaved her huge bosom in an exasperated manner. "

    I take it the floral display on her blouse seemed to bloom when she did this? ;)

    "And finally, through a gap of bald heads,"

    The vision of a heaving bosom coupled with bald heads makes me want to go have a lie down.

    "Back in York, I got fish n chips and watched darts on ITV4 for about 2 hours and then a YouTube documentary on the Old Firm for no apparent reason, and was still in bed by 9pm. "

    By my reckoning you had 7 pints then before, what? - 5pm? :)


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