Monday 1 July 2019

BRAPA - June Review / July Preview (2019)

Ey up!  We're getting towards the 'business' end of the pub ticking season, my GBG now a battered, dirty, sorry, sticky mess of a book  ..... though what I do in my private life is my own business, so stop judging me.

Conceivably, July COULD be the last full month of 2019 GBG ticking if there are no printing or delivery mishaps which have blighted the Good Beer Guide Privilege Scheme in recent years.  We could roll back to the halcyon days of 2015 when the GBG arrived on the Friday before August Bank Holiday weekend.  I can dream.

June was a productive month, not quite so much as 2018 but that perhaps shows I'm learning to pace myself a bit.  Still, my main two week holiday from work saw me manage of 42 GBG ticks and pre (and post) emptives, the majority of which were in Cornwall but I continued to make good progress in Derbyshire too.

It all started in style, negotiating opening hours on the 1st at the marvellous Three Stags' Heads, Wardlow Mires.  Despite 41 ticks after it, I think I'd still put it up there as a pub of the month contender!

The first, and one of the best!

A week later, an epic day on the East Lancashire Railway (for the third time) threw up six more mainly above average pubs, and then it was to Cornwall for my third year.  Fewer GBG 'gaps' meant it was harder to have productive days without lots of travel expense, but I feel I appreciated the county, scenery, locals and even the beer, more than I had done before.

Appreciating Cornwall - oh dear!

Some pubs were stunners.  Hole in the Wall in Bodmin, King's Arms in Luxulyan, Blisland Inn, St Mabyn Inn, Admiral Benbow in Penzance, Ship Inn Porthleven and Union Inn in Saltash should be on any pub lovers list.  Plenty of others I enjoyed a lot too. 

As good inside as it looks out
Then came Ilkeston, a town like no other!  The pubs, the warmth of the people, the quality of the ale.  Afraid to say it was all a bit of a haze by the end, I had a 24 hour hangover, but it was worth it.  The Burnt Pig and the Marlpool Ale House were too of the finest micropubs I've EVER visited and I'm not always a fan of the 'genre', and even more stunning was the final pub of the day, the Dewdrop, a classic even by Derbys high standards.

Beware the Bevil!  (Dewdrop, Ilkeston)

It'd almost seem churlish to pick three poor pubs for the month, but I know that's why you read this, let's be honest, you don't want me to say nice stuff, we'll leave that to other nicer people!  I'd have to throw Church Inn at Prestwich into the mix, dreadful beer and a peculiar attitude despite having the hallmarks of a good old pub.  I probably can't really include the Crystal Palace at Thurlstone as it has been technically 'deleted' but bugger me, what a interesting strategy to go from an ale friendly rival to the Hunstman to a zero customers down and out John Smith Smooth, Carling or Guinness pub.  The Ferry House Inn in Plymouth was perhaps the most unfriendly, painful, boring pub of the month - NOT a fan at all.

Must do better

My final pub ticking of the month came full circle,  back in Derbyshire, in some style in 30 degree sweltering heat.  The Boat Inn at Cromford was my pick, but a couple more really eye opening micros in Wirksworth and Duffield again made me realise Derbyshire folk are so lucky, even their micros are brilliant!

Keeping cool with the A-listers in Birchover

Though June ended on a really sad note with the shock news that beer and pub lover, blogger, photographer, enthusiast Richard Coldwell had died.  I really enjoyed the trip to Sheffield with Richard, Roger Protz and Martin Taylor a couple of years back.  Without even getting a single 'BRAPA' pub done, it was one of the Brappiest trips I can remember!  How Martin fell UP some stairs, I'll never know.  And then, he met me and Martin in L**ds after work to take us round some of his faves, including a new one to me, the Brunswick, where he showed us this incredible photo he'd taken at the bar of these folk dressed up to the nines, and made me realise you could actually ask people's permission before photographing them in pubs!  Wish I was that brave, open and honest.  Yes, very sad news indeed.

July Review

And it all leads me into July pub-ticking with a new steely resolve to be 'the best ticker I can be' (as us proper lit bevvie kids say) even though it looks a tricky month on paper to get too many numbers out of.  Frankly, if i can achieve a tally of 27 , thus beating January's yearly low of 26 and last years July total, I'll be happy.

We kick off in some Lincolnshire hovel called 'Gainsborough' (whatever THAT means) which marks the return of Tom Irvin who's been in pre-season training and is raring to go, before a 'chiller' in North Yorkshire with Dad as chauffeur.  The 20th FINALLY sees me get back to Derbyshire, before the month ends with work friends in some non-descript Nottinghamshire town which I cannot recall. 

It all leaves me a bit anxious.  Just where will these 27 ticks come from?  I'm going to have to be 'on it' on Friday evenings too, and will really need to push myself to get to that Alfreton area IF I am to finish Derbyshire before the new GBG comes out.  Only 14 to do, but they are getting a bit spread out and rural, and some twin better with Staffs or Notts just to slow me down further.

Sorry, waffling on BRAPA strategy again!  Zzzz.  Anyway, I'll just have to 'squeeze' in a bonus Sunday or Tuesday if things are getting really bluddy desperate. 

Blog-wise, still catching up on Cornwall.  Then I'll tell you about Ilkeston and my most recent trip.  I'll release one tomorrow a bit earlier cos I wanna watch those England wimmin winning.



  1. Great work, Si. 51 new pubs a marvellous effort.

    You've got me all tingly thinking about a late August GBG20. Only thing is I'd feel cheated of a full 52 weeks of GBG19 ticking.

    Nice touch re:Richard. He loved your blog, he really did. As do we all.
    (am tired and emotional at Gatwick l)

    Go Lionesses.

  2. Talking of Lionesses, didn't Ibuleve sponsor the last women's football tournament? Always wondered what they did.

    1. As long as it's not industrial strength lubricant we can rest easy for the moment.

  3. "though what I do in my private life is my own business, so stop judging me."

    Had me worried for a moment when I saw what looks like hand cream in the photo. But I then realised it's for your wonky knee. :)

    "Plenty of others I enjoyed a lot too. "

    Cornwall certainly shined this time around.

    "made me realise Derbyshire folk are so lucky, even their micros are brilliant!"

    Don't forget; it does have the A514 (ask BBM). :)

    "Yes, very sad news indeed."

    Can only agree wholeheartedly alas. :(

    "We kick off in some Lincolnshire hovel called 'Gainsborough' (whatever THAT means) "

    All the boys are dressed in blue?

    "Just where will these 27 ticks come from?"

    From 51 to 27. Your job is definitely getting in the way. :)


    PS - "and last years July total"

    Apostrophise the years. ;)

  4. Bit harsh about the Church Inn Si. (One of mine). Just re-read your write up which is fair - but doesn't read as though it was that bad? They sorted you out, but hey ho. You don't expect bad beer in a GBG pub, but I refer you to our mutual friend Martin.