I didn't know about this pubs existence back then, but it stood looking old, majestic, a little bit self important, but most importantly, open!
As I stepped up to take the above photo you see, to my right, a band who must've played here the previous night were shovelling their equipment into a van. They glanced at me, like they wanted to be the focus of my attention. I wonder if they were famous, or just thought they were? Inside the Schooner (1628 / 2597), initial impressions were great as I saw the old carpet, nice woodwork, bench seating, stained glassed screens and the smell of good honest grub. But this pub reminded me very much of the Rose Villa Tavern in the West Midlands on a smaller scale, because for all the old pub beauty, a feeling they were hellbent on fucking it up by trying to be 'everything to everyone' with gaudy yellow walls, fairy lights, musical decor, and a modern conservatory extension which didn't fit. And all washed down with poor quality ale, very farty. Perhaps there was an air lock. I don't know how these things work. Staff were pleasant but functional, lacking the personal touch of the Dolly Peel earlier. The staff and band seemed to be at an awkward farewell stand off (very British!), in a semi circle right by my table. "Soooo I guess we'd better go then". "Yup". "Well, been nice having you". "Well, good luck with everything you are doing to this pub", "Well, cheers for last night, come again". "Yup". "Bye then". This went on in a kind of loop for a good 15 minutes. The blokes wore hats and had swaggers like folk rock Paul McCartneys giving invisible blowjobs to their better selves. The ladies all elfin features and ethereal voices, like comedienne Lucy Porter and Dobby from Harry Potter lost in a cave on the Emerald Isle. Can you believe I'd had less than two pints when I made these observations? Neither can I.
|Invisible man pulls my dodgy Tyneside Blonde|
|Stones glass probably the highlight|
|Some really nice features ....|
I carried on my walk through Gateshead til I got to my third pub of the day. Also open! Was really cooking on gas now. Though a bit of a struggle to find, directly under a railway arch, proof that the 'Toon is spilling its guts into Gateshead, looking for a new breed of Split Chimps.
|Train passing overhead as I take this photo - how bloody fascinating!|
|Looks a bit like an old pub from the outside, but don't be fooled!|
|Birds eye view of bar from up where the loos were|
|Not much gannin' on 'ere is there?|
I was pleased to see I could walk to my next pub, in Newcastle centre, in just 11 minutes over the river.
Slightly less pleased to see it was also built into a railway arch, but apparently the Split Chimp started life in this location before up-scaling, and i LOVE that place, so no reason to form too many pre-conceived notions before entering ......
But the Box Social (1630 / 2599) never really did it for me, a shame cos I love a good box, and I mostly enjoy being social! A functional bar dude served me some liquid fuzz which was top quality and certainly more enjoyable than my last couple if a bit crazy hoppy, and with him also glued to his phone, I was glad to find an upstairs area with the all important 'Lads Netty', a bit more warmth, and three blokes have a natter by the Netty. Problem is, second they saw me, they were like "Ho'way lads, let's drink up and leave". Oh dear, I didn't EVEN have a BRAPA logo showing. Alone again, only a bit of quirky shit beer artwork and a wonder of how anything made solely of scaffolding planks could survive in the next 100 editions of the Good Beer Guide kept me amused for any period of time. For me, it all felt a bit like being in a BrewDog, with a degree more honesty, a concession to cask and marginally more punk.
|I don't really understand ......|
A bit forlorn then as I sloped the 20+ minutes up through toon towards Haymarket to my fifth and final tick of the day. But I couldn't afford to walk too slowly, I was on a cheap fixed ticket back to York at 5:30pm and had to ensure I spent a good 25 minutes or more here to do it justice.
Again I saw it was a Micro, and again just delighted to see it open ......
|Accidental shot of me crossing the threshold but I left it in anyway to prove my shoes were proper Mackem!|
But despite my low expectations after a couple of below par experiences today, I ended up enjoying Town Mouse Ale House (1631 / 2600) quite a bit. In a sense, the day had come full circle. For the first time since my opening pub (the Dolly Peel at South Shields), it was the warm welcome you associate from the North East folk (and the main reason I chose Sunderland University back in '97) that really set the scene for a rewarding pub tick. Barmaid asks how I am, almost like she actually means it, and as I order the stout, the locals go 'coo' and 'ahhh' in an assenting murmur. I say I must've chosen well and the main protagonist says 'aye' but then turns his back in a kind of 'I'm friendly but I'm not talking to you the whole time' kinda way which suits me fine, cos I could perch by the window and observe. Barmaid obviously ran the show, and the way her and the locals played off each other whilst those further back chortled felt like a finely rehearsed stage play. A lot of warmth and gentle humour. One downside when I went to loo, and a man let me past rather too apologetically, and when I got inside the single cubicle he'd just vacated, I discovered why. Twitter rascals Lager, Lizards and Quinno tried to blame me for the smell, but I protest my innocence! But this was a fine atmosphere and cracking stout, meaning I could leave much happier than when I walked in! Give this one a try if your up in Newcastle looking for a new pub experience.
|The kind of bar blockers even I can love|
|That mucky old church from out of the window|
|View towards the loo, everyone looking innocent so far|
|In the loo and not enjoying it|
So, that frustratingly leaves 9 Tyne & Wear ticks. Too many for one day, not enough for two. I wouldn't mind getting back to do six of them one day before the end of August, but of course I have to prioritise Derbyshire.
If I do, I'd probably do my remaining two in Sunderland ticks now I know we won't be playing them in the league next season, but leave the Houghton-le-Spring 'Spoons which might combine better with County Durham. That'd mean four more, so perhaps Whickham and Swalwell as both not bad from the MetroCentre, I'd like to have another stab at the Old Fox in Felling (and am sure the locals would like to have a stab at me), and maybe my one remaining tick in Newcastle (Wylam Brewery). This'd mean leaving High Spen and Byker's Tyne Bank Tap Room, but maybe its best to see if places like that get in for a second consecutive year as I guess they are both debutants.
That's the boring science bit anyway!
Now I have to think do I have a crack at Chapel-en-le-Frith, possibly combined with Blossoms near Stockport on Friday, or summat more Mancy instead like Burnage or Gorton? OR stay home and admit defeat for May and write my month end review! 29 ticks in 29 days, could I make it 31 in 31?