Sunday 7 July 2019

BRAPA and .... the Mystery Pub Ticker of Polbathic (Cornwall Part 11)

Sunday morning, my penultimate day of 'Cornwall : Year Three' and after a relatively healthier brekkie (I also had some fresh berries but they were unphotographable like a fruity vampire) ........

Tiny Muffin or Huge Yoghurt?
But pub ticking wise, I had to improvise!

Yes, you can imagine what Sunday bus services are like in Cornwall if you think of their Mon-Sat bus services and square it, times it by 7 and add a zero.  And with only three pubs left to do on my 'wishlist' for the week, I could afford to spread my wings a bit further east, having finished the west of the county late last night in Penelewey.

The trains were running again (in a weird quirk, Saturday is the ONE day of the week that the Newquay-Par Atlantic Coast Line doesn't stop at Quintrell and the like, even on request!) so I shinned it on down to Par and started travelling east towards Plymouth.

Just after 11am, I came to a stop called St Germans where I'd spied a GBG pub in a place called Polbathic about a 20 minute walk away.  Dad told me Polbathic was famous for an owl sanctuary, though I saw no sign of it sadly cos I love a good owl or two.

The above sign was near St Germans on the leafy pavementless drag down to Polbathic, so I knew I was on the right lines.

But who was this striding out 100 yards ahead of me?  A man with a large rucksack and a sense of purpose.  A naturally slim man but with a 'healthily' developed beer belly from years of ale?  Where COULD he be going apart from this same pub as me?  Yes, I was calling it early, he was a 'pub ticker'.  Or was I getting carried away?

But if so, who was he?  He wasn't Duncan Mackay. He certainly wasn't Martin Taylor.  No one is.

Could he be the mythical old bloke from Brighton who has a wife who acts as his BRAPA secretary?  Nah, he looked too young and independent for that.  Or what about the bloke with the funny single syllabled name (Grunt?  Glob?  Snook?) who hails from Halifax but now lives in Wilmslow even though he hates the place with a passion?  Don't we all mate.

Yes, you do hear whispers on your travels about people doing 'the same thing as you' but as me and Martin say, "if they ain't on social media, do they really exist?"  It's like a tree falling in a forest and making a noise.  Or something.

At the Polbathic turning, he momentarily vanished.  The pub, of course, a 12 noon opener on a Sunday, was still closed so I had 15 mins or so to hover.  I saw our new hero walk quickly past me looking slightly confused/put out.  He MUST have been looking to get in the pub.  There was nothing else here.  Apart from phantom owls.  It was a pub on a shitty desolate road.  I ended up being reduced to laying in a hedge on a county lane taking selfies.  Oh dear.

Oh dear oh dear.  At least I could amuse myself that there was a place nearby called 'Crafthole'.  I hope it has a pub in the GBG one day so I can do a 'joke'.

Anyway, 11:58am and I'm getting impatient so I walk around the corner for another look at the pub.  Still closed.  An old man in a car gives me the thumbs up as if to say 'I'm in the same boat as you, son, be patient' so I cross the road and take the photo ........

But before I can blink, old bugger has jumped out of his car and has somehow got in a side door before me! So here I was, Halfway House, Polbathic (1659 / 2631) the second person to be served.  Two friends of the old bugger arrive third and fourth.  One is called Bob.  "Congratulations are in order we hear Bob!" says the barmaid.  I raise my eyebrows expectantly.  Has he just become a Grandfather?  Had his hip replaced?  Finished the last season of Game of Thrones?  Alas no, barmaid, nicely including me in conversation, reveals he won the bonus ball last night.  IS THAT IT?  Oh hang on, no, he isn't buying anyone else a drink.  Fuck off Bob.  I spin round with my pint, beautiful pub this.  Pool table, old piano, a good hubbub even at this time. Sadly, my honey beer was a little bit tired.   And then HE arrives.  Yes, the sixth coming.  Pub ticker extraordinaire.   Blink and you'd miss him, he orders his pint swiftly, silently, sits at a table, pulls out his newspaper, and engrosses himself in it.  Where's his Good Beer Guide?  Where is his highlighter pen?  Why isn't he taking photos?  Why isn't he observing the locals weird behaviour and making notes?  Is this ALL pub ticking IS to him?  Coming into a pub, buying a pint, sitting down, reading you paper and leaving?  Sad life!  By 12:10, no exaggeration here, the pub is heaving.  Mainly locals (god knows where they came from).  It is kind of great, shame they are bar blockers, but in the same respect, glad they aren't all diners.  In all the mayhem, I almost forget "Twild of the Holiday" (TOTH) is in our midst.  Pool playing, nearly ripping the green baize, having a strop, refusing to concentrate on his Sunday dinner, refusing to eat any veg, wants to look out of the window, back chatting the staff at one point!   Mum laughs meekly, she has no authority, 'oh well, boys will be boys, lol'.  The little cunt.   'SEE WHAT YOU ARE MISSING WITH YOUR BACK TURNED, DEEP IN YOUR PAPER, FELLOW PUB TICKER?' (he can't, obviously, that is the point).   I'm celebrating meanwhile by the old piano.  Wish I was the ghost of Chas Hodges, I'd give 'em a tune.  I've ticked off a whole page in green in Cornwall for the first time.  You may scoff mystery pub ticker, but I've only been doing this for 5 years so behave.  Still a long time til the next train, I go back to the bar for a half.  Dartmoor IPA this time.  Much much better, glad they can keep ale, a couple of local lads help me get served and we joke about how busy it is.  OI TICKER, THAT'S HOW YOU HAVE BANTER WITH THE LOCALS.  Our ticker goes back up for a full pint, don't think he says much.  Piss off Mr Full Pint Bollocks, you ain't impressing me.  It is Father's Day. A man pulls out a key-ring with "Best Dad Ever" inscribed on it.  "This is what I got!" he proudly tells his mates.  They look embarrassed.  I feel embarrassed for him, then realise I forgot Father's Day altogether cos everyone is on holiday, oops.  I make a mental note to get my Dad the nicest key-ring ever.  Our Pub Ticking friend remains balls deep in his broadsheet.  Surely he's off back for the same train as me?  I decide to make a head start and stroll back in the sun to St Germans.  I take my half glass back to the bar, put it on the end by the door, next to some local.  "WOAH, WOAH!" he exclaims, "I'VE GOT IT, SLOPING BAR, THAT WAS CLOSE, NEARLY SMASHED".  What an utter prick, it was a flat bar and that glass wasn't going anywhere.  Fuck's sake.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?  Great pub, you should visit.

Where I'd sit

Bob, old car bloke, and other early arrivals

Pool table, before twild almost tore the cloth

Busying up - bearded hat local (probably from Crafthole) was guy who helped me get my half

A page complete in Cornwall - sending out a warning sign to evil pub tickers everywhere!

Back at the station, the long wait is compounded by a pretty hefty delay.  A teenage girl looks pissed off.  Another girl smiles, but she looks fed up.  No station bog, I have to go behind a disused building on the quieter far side of the station.

And then HE arrives,  A look of pain and confusion on his face.  I know that look.  Worried train delays will cut down pubbing time plus the urgent need for a widdle cos you've drunk 2 pints quite quickly.  He disappears for a bit.  I know Pub Ticker tricks of the trade, he's found a country path behind the station to piss down.  Good lad.  

Train arrives.  Course he's getting on it.  Does he recognise me from the pub?  He doesn't flinch.  Cool customer.  Will he get off at Saltash like me and do the pub there?  If he does, I am gonna try and talk to him!  .

Oh, and a bit like my breakfast berries, I realise he doesn't appear in any photographs.  He was really there.  I think.  



  1. I like Bob. If I won the "Bonus Ball" (is this soccer ?) I'd give you a lift to a remote pub but I wouldn't buy you a drink.

    All honey beers are tired. Bees get worn out making honey.

  2. Heard a story on Saturday about a horse that walked into the pub and ate some of the green baize from the pool table thinking it was grass.

  3. Was it Gillingham, Tim?

    In 1999 therw I was chased into the back entrance of the Barge from the pub garden by an unfriendly sheep. It's always Kent.

  4. "Tiny Muffin or Huge Yoghurt?"

    If those are nicknames are for 'you know what' then put me down for huge yoghurt. :)

    "cos I love a good owl or two."

    First fruity vampires, now werewolves? The two don't mix doncha know. :)

    "He certainly wasn't Martin Taylor. No one is."

    Not even Martin. :)

    ""if they ain't on social media, do they really exist?""

    I don't do Twitter or Facebook. Yet... I persist. :)

    "I hope it has a pub in the GBG one day so I can do a 'joke'."

    Has that ever stopped you before?

    "Two friends of the old bugger arrive third and fourth."

    What happened to your 'ghost'?

    "Finished the last season of Game of Thrones?"

    Pfft. That's EASY!

    "And then HE arrives."

    The excitement is palpable.

    "Why isn't he observing the locals weird behaviour and making notes?"

    He'll just crib that from your blog.

    "I've ticked off a whole page in green in Cornwall for the first time."


    "then realise I forgot Father's Day altogether cos everyone is on holiday, oops."

    Oops indeed! (and after all your father has done for you!) :)

    "I have to go behind a disused building on the quieter far side of the station."

    The joys of being male.

    "I realise he doesn't appear in any photographs. He was really there. I think."

    This was your first pub of day, not your sixth? ;)


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