Monday 14 January 2019

BRAPA - Chauffeur Wars : Megan v Martin : Who Drove it Best? Sandal to Glatton (Pt 1)

Name a more iconic chauffeuring duo 
This latest BRAPA tale begins at 4:30pm on Friday evening when after the LONGEST week at work ever (yes, I do occasionally work a full five day week!), the time had come when delightful work buddy Megan's kind promise to drive me to the GBG entry in Sandal finally came to fruition after three months of planning.

We took the train from L**ds to Sandal & Agbrigg where she parks every day before driving home to her Crofton slum, but today, she drove the two miles or so to this pub.  She'd never been in before unlike the other Sandal boozers and wasn't too familiar with BRAPA protocol as I made her pose for the pub photo.  "Ey up.  What if people are looking at me?" she whined in her local twang.  True, the pub did look packed inside and locals were blinking out through steamy windows ......

1453 / 2424.  Star, Sandal

The bar area was a weird shape, which kind of siphoned the locals into a 'holding area' at the front.  Megan, in a panic, said she'd settle for half a Carling but I encouraged her to be adventurous as I eyed up a Blackpool Bitter.  "Arrrr, it's actually brewed reet on t'pier!" said a local, turning to Megan and winking, he looked old enough to remember George Formby Snr starting out TBH.  Emboldened by the friendly chatter and smiley barmaid, Megan decided to go for gin and lemonade, but wanted 'pink' gin which I didn't know existed!  As I tried to order, Megan interrupted to make sure I was definitely ordering 'pink' gin.  "She doesn't trust me to get it right!" I complained to the barmaid.  "THEY never get it right" said Barmaid to Megan with an eyeroll and nod, "YEH!" chimed in Megan, "THEY never get it right!"  Errrm, excuse me, who are these 'THEY'?  Oh, it is hard being a poor average rubbish man in 2019, let me tell you!  Despite the busy nature of this one roomed Friday fun pub, we got the one remaining seat near the back, resplendent with real fire and some nice decor n shit.  A scruffy dog (not a twog) ran across for an ear scratch, a dalmatian looked at it like "show off", there was also a bulldog and this huge thing taller than me.  A kind old lady started talking to us about the dogs, and you have to say the locals were ultra friendly here.  I do like that outer Wakefield area for that, proper salt of the earth folk.  Our table was a bit big, our seats a bit low flung and spongy and Megan had more problems as her (real) friends realised she was out, and this ultra persistent one called 'Liv' seemed to think that if Megan could manage a BRAPA pint in the Star, she could bloody well make her way back to L**ds and get 'proper smashed'.  So she did!

Interesting shaped bar to keep the locals in their places

Friendly scruffy hound

Megan on the pink gin

Pub decor

But because she's a living legend, she still volunteered to drive me to Wakefield bus station first to make it easier for me to get to Ossett.  On the journey, some crazy music blared out.  "What IS this?" I asked, like a bewildered old man.  "Stormzy" was the reply.  I'd heard of him but didn't know he was real, a bit like the Loch Ness Monster, Rob Roy or Duncan Mackay.  Next up, it was a girl group who won American X-Factor.  Best BRAPA musical education since a certain Peter Edwardson introduced me to the work of Rory Gallagher and you can't say fairer than that.  

After saying farewell, I had a quick slash and then caught the bus, 27 mins to Ossett where I had one of those "HOW THE HECK HAVE I NOT BEEN HERE BEFORE?" pubs.   Yes, two previous trips to Ossett, FOUR pubs visited, yet never the Brewery Tap which you could argue is the most famous thing about the whole town.  Insane!  

As I crossed the road in the 7pm gloom, I was delighted to see that this wasn't like most 'Taps' (shiny and silver and cold ,like the ones you find in your kitchen, bathroom, London or Birmingham) but it was like a 'proper pub'! 

1454 / 2425.  Tap, Ossett

Like all good pubs, the bogs were in the porch way of the entrance cos OF COURSE I needed to go again by now.  Even better because it gave me a taste of things to come.  No, I don't mean the beer tasted like piss but rather, one poster advertised their new ale 'Yorkshire Brunette' (cos the blondes have had it their own way for too long) and the fact the beer is brewed 1136 metres down the road.  Call yerself a Tap?  Am afraid this isn't LocAle enough for me.  Into the bustling cosy bar with side rooms off in each direction, the lovely landlady called me 'luv' and pulled me a Yorkshire Brunette (so to speak) which she topped up twice even though it barely needed it, hope she didn't think I was TWAMRA.   In addition to looking for a nice seat, I was half looking out for another work colleague, this time Bryan Longbottom, the bank ale legend who does a kind of Amsterdam version of BRAPA which involves errrm, other 'activities' that BRAPA hasn't sampled in Maidenhead or Slough.  In the gloom, I saw every bald head as a potential Bryan so smiled at them all but none were the full Bryan, so I settled in the corner and listened as a Denim Acorah made pub platitudes like he had some "what to say in a pub" phrasebook.  Suddenly, two excitable wine ladies plonked (excuse thee pun) themselves down.  I was like "ey up, you alrite?"  I was a bit surprised they'd not said "is anyone sitting here?" or "can we share your table?" but this lack of preciousness was brilliant in its own way.  They just said "we'll be alright once we've had a glass or two of this!"  This was my chance to say something witty or clever, but Denim Acorah got there first with a line straight out of his book and made them laugh,  typical!  I slunk back into my seat and hid behind my GBG til it was time to catch my bus back to Wakey.

Flippin' Denim Acorah being quick witted!

The ladies who wine

And then, it was back to York as quick as I could as I had an early start tomorrow.  Annoyingly, I kept JUST missing train connections and the like, so it took a while .......

Fast forward to 8:30am on the Saturday and I was down to Peterborough where I was meeting Martin "RM" Taylor (or chauffeur #2 as he may also be known for the foreseeable future) 

So we're just pulling into Peterborough station and a bit even I won't try and make amusing as someone jumps onto the line, we break suddenly but hit them.  "Oooh I'm on the train and there's a sombre mood" report the bleeding hearts of Twitter, when in truth, a few plastic Liverpool fans with surprisingly South Yorkshire accents were saying if they saw him and they missed kick off at the AMEX, they'd push him back onto the line which I didn't think was very charitable under the circumstances.  

The upshot of all this from a BRAPA perspective, poor Martin ended up drinking about 58 coffees across the Drapers Arms and Waitrose, so when the doors DID get released, he was waving frantically at me across the car park in super speeded up motion like summat off a Benny Hill sketch. 

No matter, we were soon en route to Whittlesey, where they'd decided to add to the three pubs I'd done in the summer with a little Wetherspoons addition just to make life that bit more trickier than it needed to be.   Martin decided to park in the tightest car park spot ever in a kind of "I bet Megan couldn't do this" kind of way and I ran off pubwards ......

1455 / 2426.  George Hotel, Whittlesey

First thing that struck me, the main drinking area was your usual fairly dimly lit arena, but the bar area had a kind of conservatory style roof so it seemed airy and pleasant, how strangely un-Spoons, but I couldn't ponder this for long, as a trio were kind of hovering a few yards from the bar.  It was impossible to tell if they were trying to get served or just having a little "pre-going-to-the-bar-conflab" so I edged in front of them and took out my 50p off voucher.  I could feel their eyes on me, but the perfect ale was on, so I said fairly loudly "Pint of Village Idiot Please!"  It was my most passive-aggressive beer order since I ordered the pint of Hopeless Twat IPA in Doncaster four years ago (not really, it was Useless Wanker DIPA).  It was good whatever, as I got 65p off rather than the usual 50p, and those chumps are probably still stood there opened mouthed now.  'Spoons can be a joy for the pub observer, and I found myself opposite a family playing Uno.  Well, talk about aggro.  The Mum accusing the son of cheating, then when Dad took the younger boys up to the loo, she menacingly whispered in his ear "You finished arguing yet?" and "we'll draw a line in the sand under your cheating!" as she filed her nails in a psychopathic way.   Later, he sneezed and as his Mum reached for a tissue, he accused HER of looking at his cards.  Epic.  And if that wasn't all enough, Martin ran into the pub, took a quick pic of me, and jokily sprinted off, leaving the table behind gawping at me wondering what was going on! 

The beer that mattered - £2.15 - 50p = £1.50??

Lady sits on last surviving 'Spoons pet and squashes it to death

Uno controversy

Piccie on the way out, thanks to Martin!

  Now, it was time to get the trickiest and furthest one of the day done as we tootled out towards Wisbech, I'd never been here before but Martin must like/hate it as he recommended it to the Southworth Bros.  The traffic was irritating, the sky was Fenland grey, the town may have been pretty, but all I could see was a muddy banked river which reminded me of that walk from Bristol to Ashton Gate.  But you could see pub number three from across t'way so I waved at it.  

"Hi pub no.3, won't be long, please keep your beer in good condition ......"

As Martin can vouch for, I was PROPERLY excited about Leverington.  

Reason for this, when in the Jolly Sailor at Ramsey earlier this year, I told a local I needed to do this pub, he said the place was inbred, and instead of the Rising Sun, they call it the Falling Moon.  (Yes, this coming from a person from Ramsey).  And then he actually HOWLED, like a werewolf.  Wow. Anyway, I'd been saving that one for today, and as I said to RM, the magic was almost gone when I saw motorised vehicles in the village! 

The pub car park seemed to suggest we'd be the only customers, unless everyone had walked a mile or so from Wisbech.  Don't be silly, people NEVER walk ANYWHERE these days!

1456 / 2427.  Rising Sun, Leverington

And whilst we were the only customers, it was immediately clear we were going to have an ultra positive experience, when following on from similar legends in Comberton and Little Gransden, our landlady Maggie put herself up for an early 'BRAPA barperson of year award' with an inspired display.  Tasters of the ales before I could say "I don't really do tasters", the kind of pub running ethos you just wish everyone had, hell she even made a beer festival (Peterborough) sound totally appealing and as Martin pointed out, especially when you are a pub ticker, beer festivals don't really excite.  She was from Bellerby in North Yorkshire though no trace of it in her accent, Martin asked her about the flag on the wall which was Wasps who are a rugby union team, whatever that is.  "I thought it was Watford before!" said Martin, though he should know Watford + positive pub experience cannot go together in any way.  "Don't you be slagging off rugby on your blog review" said Martin in front of her, knowing full well what I'm like.  Come on maaaan, as IF I'm gonna start slagging off those posho egg chasing Coventry dwellers?  Well, I'm not AM I?  Her 'the time I nearly licked Lawrence Dalllaglio anecdote' was probably the highlight.  She was ably assisted by smiley background barmaid Becks/Bex/Becky/Bec (possibly related to Tooting Bec from last week who'd swallowed a trumpet on the London underground), a sort of less sulky Fenland Olivia Deeble. It was a great experience, and I got Maggie to do the highlighting (the sort of Hollywood Handshake of BRAPA) and I'm sure I heard her utter "oh good, a green highlighter pen, I'd never use pink or yellow"). 

Maggie does the honours

The Wasps flag of much contention

IBS Support Group in a Brewery Visitor Centre, I love it!

Bogs you could probably eat your dinner in
So there we go, back to Wisbech it was for pub three.  And then three more.  Join me on Wed or Thu for that for I have got a Christmas dinner tomorrow (seriously) , don't expect my memories of the rest of the pubs to be much good cos Martin took more notes and drank more coffee.

Lots of love, Si


  1. I think those memories from Ramsey are repressed and can be restored by hypnosis. Lucky I took a recording for the Fens Fuzz.

    Which of us was the best driver then ? I only killed two pheasants (or was it peasants).

    1. So worried I won't be able to do Ramsey justice, 5th pub always hardest!

      Both were amazing drivers, more peasants in Sandal, more pheasants in Glatton.

  2. "she drove the two miles or so to this pub"

    Two miles? Good heavens! Did she have to tank up along the way? ;)

    "and locals were blinking out through steamy windows"

    Which were steamy due to the locals looking at Megan posing. :)

    "Errrm, excuse me, who are these 'THEY'? "

    Anyone not of the feminine persuasion dear boy.

    "and some nice decor n shit."

    You can't go wrong with shit for decor.

    "Pub decor"

    Definitely shit that.

    "Best BRAPA musical education"

    Her car, her music dear boy. :)

    "(shiny and silver and cold ,like the ones you find in your kitchen, bathroom, London or Birmingham)"

    (slow golf clap)

    "and the fact the beer is brewed 1136 metres down the road."

    Good lord, that's a very small brewery. I'm assuming that the measurements are all less than a metre? Otherwise it would be more accurate to say it's brewed 1136 - 1145 metres down the road, or some such. ;)

    "Am afraid this isn't LocAle enough for me. "

    (previous slow golf clap rescinded) :)

    "and pulled me a Yorkshire Brunette (so to speak) "

    After some recent comments on Martin's blog I'm trying to show a little bit of decorum so... no comment.

    "this time Bryan Longbottom, "

    Wasn't he in the Harry Potter books/films?

    "but none were the full Bryan"

    Bloody good thing his name isn't Monty, eh? :)

    "two excitable wine ladies plonked (excuse thee pun) "

    You are now at negative two slow golf claps.

    "but this lack of preciousness was brilliant in its own way. "

    Interesting. Was commenting with Martin at his blog recently on what size a table has to be before folk can sit down without asking.

    "The ladies who wine"

    And the hole gets deeper and deeper.

    "as someone jumps onto the line, we break suddenly but hit them."

    Crikey. I bet they were feeling a bit run down for the rest of the day.

    "in super speeded up motion like summat off a Benny Hill sketch. "

    Hmm. RM in a Benny Hill sketch. :)

    "Martin decided to park in the tightest car park spot ever in a kind of "I bet Megan couldn't do this" kind of way "

    I'd guess that Megan is tighter than Martin.*

    * Scratch that. Martin is probably the bigger 'tight'wad. ;)

    "as a trio were kind of hovering a few yards from the bar."

    More of that 'feet don't touch the ground' business that Martin's always banging on about?

    "The beer that mattered - £2.15 - 50p = £1.50??"

    Coincides nicely with the name of the beer. :)

    "people NEVER walk ANYWHERE these days!"

    You do read Martin's blog, right? ;)

    "especially when you are a pub ticker, beer festivals don't really excite."

    I think the term 'pub' ticker kind of gives that away.

    "(possibly related to Tooting Bec from last week who'd swallowed a trumpet on the London underground)"

    Here's me not being rude, or resorting to a double entendre. :)

    "I'd never use pink or yellow"

    Who uses yellow?

    "Bogs you could probably eat your dinner in"

    Which would probably explain the IBS support group. ;)

    "Join me on Wed or Thu for that"

    Phew! I could use a bit of a breather catching up with you lot. :)


    1. You showing decorum Russ, I just can't believe that ;)

      Does Duncan use a yellow highlighter, I could be wrong?

      I wonder if there are any beer festival tickers out there, it has got me thinking.

    2. "You showing decorum Russ, I just can't believe that ;)"

      Sigh, 'tis true.

      Next time you're in Martin's company ask him about one of my comments he deleted. ;)
      (and I hinted that such would happen when I wrote it)


    3. The comment I deleted would possibly even have been thought too much by Simon. It's been donated to the next mission to Mars.

      On beer festival tickers, some "folk" spend all their spare time visiting festivals, mainly the big ones. They're all dreadful. Even worse, there are people who never attend a festival as a punter but just like working behind the bar. Weird.

  3. On folk sitting down uninvited; having breakfast and using laptop in Atherstone recently on one of those tables for two against the wall, when an Old Boy comes and plonks down on the side of the table with pint and paper, and says not a word. There were plenty of tables in the main area of the pub. What can you say ?

    1. Tell him the seat is being used by your imaginary friend Harvey. :)

    2. You were definitely in HIS seat. Reminds me of when a Celtic fan with headphones nearly sat on my knee in Altrincham in 2012 (before it became hideous pubwise).

  4. Rory Gallagher reference shows rare Taste (get it?) for such a young pubman.

    1. Those of us who are of a certain age get it! Still got an old vinyl copy of "On the Boards" kicking around at home.

    2. I am glad I mentioned him, you can rely on an old Mudgie reference to excite!

      And I don't get the reference, and don't know whether to be ashamed or pleased. I thought he'd sound more Irish was the only thing I can say!

  5. I thought that RM was rather precious about his image and made all reasonable attempts not to reveal it in his own blog but you've outed him to the world! Did you have to seek permission?

    1. It's a good point Clive, I waited til last pub of the day (by which time he'd taken about 15 photos of me) and got him in a super relaxed state peering at tropical fish, murmured "just doing a quick photo" and he half assented, so I thought 'job's a good 'un'.