Friday 15 March 2019

BRAPA - Norwich Without a Glitch* (Part 1 of 2)

Me at St George's Green, morning after the match

As soon as the football fixtures were published last June, one of the first things I did was marked a Wednesday night in Norwich as a 'two day off work MUST overnight stop'. 

Not because I was desperate to watch Hull City get a good pasting off a side who'd probably finish above us (I predicted we'd finish 19th I think) but I knew that despite this being about my millionth trip to Carrow Road, I still had a ridiculous number of Good Beer Guide pubs to get ticked off here.

Storm Gareth (lame name for a storm, what's it gonna do, breathe gently in your neck and give you a parking ticket?) meant an 80 mph speed restriction was in place on the East Coast mainline and we missed our connection at Peterborough as a result of actually going about 10mph and stopping in every station for far too long, grrrrr. *Glitch

No announcements, no guidance, it was left to the Sherlockian mind of Bernard "Daddy BRAPA" Everitt to get us to Ely for a swift change, which we only made because a lucky ginger toddler smiled at us, causing the connecting train to be just delayed long enough for us to run under the subway to make it.  And who should be stood on same platform but Tom Irvin!  I love it when a plan comes together, we'd deserved that luck.

After a swift Premier Inn check-in, we were straight off to hit the pre-match pubs in the swirling rush hour wind.  You cannot deny Norwich is a beautiful city, so many old churches, greens and cobbles.  People perhaps a bit smugger than your average UK citizen, but I guess that comes with the knowledge of living in such a nice place, and beats the intense self-loathing vibe that Ipswichians exude from every dark orifice. #CrowdPleasingComment

The timing of my visit was especially apt, I'm reading a book called 'Tombland' where a hunchback dude has gone to Norwich to solve a vague Boleyn murder (she was sticking faced down in a ditch with her fanny in the air) at the behest of the future Queen Elizabeth I.

Anyway, stop rabbiting on Si, I hear you say, I'm here to read about pubs.  Here's our first of SIX pubs we managed either pre or post match ......

The official opening shot

The moody alternative
1537 / 2506.  White Lion, Norwich

Our furthest point from the ground, it is the measure of a rather special pub to walk into a pretty tight main bar, be confronted by mini-twog and a twild called Jackson yapping and gargling, have tiny flies swirling around, and still find it to be a pretty classic pub experience.  Barmaid made a big difference, a super friendly host radiating charm and the mid afternoon hum of old blokes at the bar counteracted the more negative elements.  A low beamed roof and a probably not genuine old inn sign above the bar made for it all feel quite atmospheric, and Milton ales, of course!  Pint glasses were lined, you don't see that too often either.  Tom's blackcurrant was perhaps the most day-glo pint of blackcurrant I've ever seen on a BRAPA outing, he can perhaps confirm this.  In Norwich, you will find E numbers banned everywhere but here in the UK, apart from East Glasgow of course.  And that is a BRAPA fact.  Not a real fact, just a BRAPA one.   The pub actually felt more cider than ale oriented, it had more on anyway.  Things improved when a  much better lolloping pub dog called 'Dotty' replaced the yappy twog, I finally managed to squash the mini fly in the palm of my hand,  and pub snacks were delightfully basic, something I'd only truly appreciate as the evening progressed.   A great starter pub.

I was on the Pegasus if you care

Day-glo Tom drink, no wonder the dragon looks terrified

Sign that Dad had his doubts over!

Proper pub grub

Lined glass

Dotty the superior dog

Squashed fly!

Dad says cheers to the cider menu

Now, it was time to put my faith in Google Maps to direct us to pub two cos I was in a part of the city where I totally lost my bearings, though it did have a great landmark, Toys R Us:

Toys R 'Usstovitch

The next pub had a very pretty frontage, great plaster work though I was immediately getting the sense of something a little bit more upmarket ......

1538 / 2507.  Plough, Norwich

And so it proved, though a really friendly welcome here from a young bloke with a top knot / man bun, as we squinted desperately through the dimly lit interior to try and see what the Grain Brewery offerings were, but their pump clips were all a drab woody brown colour so I ended up getting 'Stout' cos it was the only word I could read!  Dad had to ask him for a full run down.  Worse was to come for Tom, no cordials in here.  Noooooo.  "I can make you up a freshly squeezed apple juice" he says, indicating a chopping board and decapitated sad apple behind him.  Yes, it was that kind of place, don't look for a beermat here because you won't one.  The ale was good, and we sat at a table which had a little game on it, as they all did.  We had a dice game, I didn't know the rules so I made them up as we went along.  Two old blokes sat near us, proper pubmen, but they had the voices
of 20 year old surfers which was quite disconcerting.  But this pub will forever be known to us as the "candle" pub.  We had three of those little tea lights on our table.  Tom (because he's wired a bit strange) decided to extinguish two on flimsy health & safety grounds despite Dad telling him to behave himself.  Poor barmaid comes over, notices they are out, and relights them (not helpful timing as me and Dad were trying to smuggle cheese n onion rolls under the table, as is the common urge in these posher pubs).   One later went out again, Tom pleaded his innocence this time, but she was back over, looking confused.  "I don't know WHY that keeps happening" I say, to break the tension.  "Might be a faulty one....." she claims (faulty tealight??), and goes to get a 'new one from out the back' as Tom looks on sheepishly..  It won't win any anecdote of the year stories that, but definitely worth telling the grandkids if you're on a long car journey around the Wash.

Stout and the closest thing to a beermat

A dice game, always the best sort

View to the bar

Cheese plank (not Chris Martin)

Dudes sounded like surfers in their 20's

Freshly prepared apple juice

Tom being mischievous with a straw
As we edged slightly closer back towards Carrow Road, it was time for pub number three ......

1539 / 2508.  Coach & Horses, Norwich

Not to be confused with the other GBG listed Coach & Horses a lot nearer the football ground which I've actually been in three times, this historic central town version was probably caught somewhere between the previous two in terms of 'pubbiness', not quite White Lion standards, but a brief exploration of the pub saw some really nice areas of bench seating, etched screens, and crooked beams.  Yet, in the part we sat on this quite busy evening, we were hampered as a blousey bunch of ladies (who I dubbed  'Loose Women' at the time) had an extravagant multi-course banquet laid on which was all very impressive, but did nothing for my interpretation of the pub hubbub!  My ale didn't help either, I ordered something dark from a local brewery called Winter's called Geniuss and it was quite dreadful, like drinking watery peat.  I don't blame the pub, it was kept fine, just not to my taste, Dad had a pale from same brewery that I later had and was gorgeous so just one of those things!   Not the first time I've come to Norwich and not been impressed by local brews actually.  "I'm hosting a party on 15th November and you will all receive an invite in due course!" declared one of the Loose Women, which was met with exciting whoops and hollers.  Dad reported they were discussing the original 'Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini', occasionally quoting lyrics.  I prefer the Timmy Mallet version of course (I'm the Pinky Punky of my day) but how did I let this pass me by?  Anyway, the LW amazing feast was too much for Dad, who made the inspired decision to order us all cheesy chips and an extra pint, which was a great move, cos moving to a 4th pub before kick off may have been pushing it.  Decent pub this one. 

Didn't enjoy my first pint here

Dad looking like a man who's going to make a good cheesy chip decision shortly

Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot diners

Cheesy chips, all gone!

So there we go.  Time to get to the football.  Could Hull City do the impossible and win?  Could we get a post match pub in?  Would it be any good?   And what of tomorrow morning before the 11:57am train back to York?  Could we REALLY squeeze two more ticks in?   



  1. What's happened to Tom ? Is it curable ? Does he sleep in the cupboard at the Premier Inn ? All will be revealed.

    1. 1. How long's a piece of string? 2. Absolutely not. 3. No, he stayed at a proper £28 a night place with a bed and a roof, and slagged us off for booking into a Premier Inn. John DepecheModem would be proud.

  2. "it was left to the Sherlockian mind of Bernard "Daddy BRAPA" Everitt to get us to Ely for a swift change"

    I'm guessing that was due to his vast knowledge of the train tables. :)

    "And who should be stood on same platform but Tom Irvin!"


    "(she was sticking faced down in a ditch with her fanny in the air)"

    I thought fanny over there was the front bottom, not the back one?

    "you will find E numbers banned everywhere but here in the UK"

    Eh? (I may have asked this before but, if so, I've forgotten).

    "I finally managed to squash the mini fly in the palm of my hand"

    Did you look to see if it had a tiny human head? ;)

    "Day-glo Tom drink, no wonder the dragon looks terrified"

    Crikey. That's blackcurrant?

    "Lined glass"

    I'm drinking out of a lined glass as I type this. But it's a Belgian glass, lined to 25cl and has M17 0113 whereas yours was M16 0846.

    "Toys R 'Usstovitch"

    LOL (slow golf clap)

    Bought many a He-man, Thundercats or or GI-Joe action figure from their stores back in the day when my lads were wee ones. :)

    "but definitely worth telling the grandkids if you're on a long car journey around the Wash."

    Pfft. They'll be glued to their iPads or whatev. :)

    "A dice game, always the best sort"

    Yep. Games of chance are good for everyone to have a fighting chance.

    "Tom being mischievous with a straw"

    Did he already do something to a napkin in the foreground?

    "Dad reported they were discussing the original 'Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini', occasionally quoting lyrics."

    Blimey. At least they weren't wearing them!

    "who made the inspired decision to order us all cheesy chips and an extra pint,"

    Good man your Dad (and that explains how you had that second pint after watery peat). :)

    "Could we REALLY squeeze two more ticks in? "

    I was going to say three but you had two pints at the final pub before match time.


    PS - "because you won't one."

    Either and 'find' before one or change won't to want. ;)

  3. Wish I'd come up with Toys r'ustovitch first.

    1. I had a feeling you'd think that at the time when I took the photo with the Russtovitch tribute in mind! Tom n Dad just groaned and rolled their eyes.

  4. I am intrigued about the "freshly squeezed apple juice " Squeeze an apple ? Good old Dad for getting the cheesy chips -it's a parent thing -I often have snacks in my bag for my 31 year old ,just so he doesn't go hungry

    1. I wondered that when I wrote it, what do you do to an apple, press it? There wasn't much pressing going on. He might've sat on it, stabbed it with a knife and then put it in a glass, it was too dark to see.

  5. Thanks Quill! They aren't actually facts, they are BRAPA facts ;)