I'd seen off Ripley with varied results, Swanwick had been fun, but back in Alfreton, I realised I had over an hour to wait for the next train back to L**ds - the last train of the night no less!
Thanks to RuRAD (the Rural Real Ale Drinkers mag for Derbyshire), I was aware of a couple of pre-emptives in the town - both Micropubs, it is the safe way to go in the current day and age so headed for the one closest to the bus station. It was 15 years to the month (21st July 2004) since I visited an Alfreton pub before a Hull City game, I'll tell you about that another time, so it was long overdue........
What's Your Poison (no question mark on the pub sign) immediately displayed that classic Micropub behavioural characteristic of being friendly as long as you don't try to speak to the locals. They all turned around, gave me expectant watery smiles, like a midwife expecting me to dilate any minute, but as soon as I opened my mouth and said 'hello', they all closed ranks and looked like 'steady on son, what d'ya think this place is, a pub?' When I pointed this out on Twitter, Martin Taylor said "friendly as long as you don't talk to strangers is actually the legal definition of a micropub" which gained him about a billion 'likes' though one guy used it to wax lyrical on the Dodo in Hanwell, which actually DOES have friendly locals apparently. Matthew Lawrenson meanwhile didn't recognise the pub font, Liquid Len made an obscure poison/poisson joke, and I thought we were perhaps getting away from the here and now! So I went for a piss, and the bogs were bigger than the bloody pub itself. My Dancing Duck beer was served in a Bass glass, that'll irk the purists. And it's a reet good laugh.
|'Ay up', this ain't right!|
|Bigger toilets than 97.4% of UK micros, and that is a BRAPA fact|
|Encapsulating the 'joy' of the micropub in one photo|
|I know how ya feel lass, zzzz.|
Ben, Christine and Chris Irvin (that is 'Tom's Dad' to you, so av some respect) were in Draughtsman, and Tom was already on the rickety little train which, when we joined him, felt a bit like being stuck in a packet of Pringles, only saltier.
I kid you not, the 20 minute walk from Gainsborough Lea Road to the centre of town is perhaps one of the dullest most soul destroying BRAPA walks ever, and I've been to Wrexham, Donny AND Maidenhead (in the same year). Even with good company like we had today.
One recurring quirk I noticed in Gainsborough was that it had a lot of blue plaques, but they were all tenuous links like 'the brother of a writer you might have heard of having a wee against the wall of this building in 1814, before going somewhere better like Lincoln', that kind of thing.
The four GBG listed pubs were at least all central, and we started with the 'Spoons as much to get it out of the way as much as it being an early opener.
Sweyn Forkbeard (1677 / 2650) was presumably the local viking chief, fitting as this was a potentially Viking-esque cauldron of aggro, for on the journey, Ben and I had discovered that Lincoln were away to Gainsborough in a 'friendly', and the Imps fans were one of the most aggressive set of supporters we witnessed in our Hull City League Two days all those years ago, and those million defeats at Sincil Bank still scar us! The few red and white shirts shambling about looked far too immobile to cause any trouble today, and I ascended 51 flights of stairs to find the bogs in classic 'Spoons style. The ale was well kept, but the pub left very little impression on me. Dad rated it quite favourably, for being a 'newer build' (possibly) made it cleaner feeling too, but I prefer those lived-in 'ancient' North London 'Spoons from the late 80's where I just feel they took a bit more care and craft over the design and features. Anyone who has been to the New Crown in Southgate, and THEN been to the Hain Line in St Ives will know exactly what I mean. You know how 'Spoons menus slightly differ depending on the part of the country you are in? Well Ben spotted a good Lincolnshire breakfast option here - MDMA Porridge, now that is a new one on me!
|5 consecutive years. Watch it drop out now in typical BRAPA luck.|
|Ben and Chrissy put a brave face on proceedings|
|The pub at large. Not sure if that bloke is praying or on the Spice.|
Onwards and upwards then (we hoped) and with that football fixture on the cards, we thought it wise to do Blues Club (1678 / 2651) next as it is actually attached to the football ground and we thought it might get busy later.......
|Who said BRAPA has sold out?!|
|Me, Tom and the promise of some enticing beers (fun fact .... Corrs always makes me sneeze)|
|Stood 4th from the left|
|Pre-match training for the modern day Bennyworth in flats above the ground|
Well, I can't give you too much Gainsborough all in one go (you might burst with excitement).
Join me for part 2 (or is it 3?) tomorrow night for more fun n frolics, the best pub was yet to come, and don't forget a cameo from Retford's pub of the year.