August was finally (and thankfully) at an end with three late ticks, in rural County Durham, in the car with Father BRAPA last Saturday.
Our fourth pub was perhaps the most nerve-wracking for me, having a mid afternoon closure even on a Saturday, and being in such a rural location, it definitely had a feel of the 'now or never' about it. Relief then, to see it looking open, and nice too, that for the first time today, Dad joined me from the outset ......
|The Six Alls? Carlsberg (it burps you all), Tetley's (it Yorkshire's you all) errrm sorry (laboured humour on my part!)|
|Back on the Rivet Catcher|
|Even got an apology for the Banks's glass!|
It didn't help that locating the pub was a struggle, finally finding it hidden down here ......
I'd stayed the night in the Old Well Inn for a serendipitous accidental GBG tick on my 34th birthday, as I was up for a wedding in Greta Bridge, so it was just the micropub I was after today .....
With shopmobility scooter outside and a delightful carpet off-shoot of Wetherspoons, perhaps, not to mention a warming red colour scheme, Firkin Alley, Barnard Castle was what you'd call 'a micropub done perfectly' and with the warm welcome of my previous four pubs today extending into this one, the sense of well being was 'real'. "You'll be attracting wasps wearing that!" said the affable young male business owner of lengthy beard, to chuckles from the locals at the bar, with a few comments like "fair play to ya for wearing it, lad!" About time my jacket got the recognition it deserved. When I wore it for a match at Selhurst Park, Hull City fans simply thought I was a steward. I've never directed so many people to the bogs and pies in one afternoon! I digress. I did wonder if the guv'nor's beard may double as a beehive, but it might've been a weird 'comeback' so I held my tongue. Our initial love of the indoor cosiness was tempered as about four dogs arrived on mass. As individual hounds, all were cute, amusing and loveable but the sum of the parts was a clusterfuck of twog insanity. Like Dad read my mind, he considered sitting outside, and being the legendary host he was, our bearded friend helped us get settled at a table in the sunny breeze. Much nicer. Dad spied the pub was hosting a beard competition (I think!) to coincide with National Beard Day (hmmm, wonder who'll win that? I ask with sarcasm) and Dad struggled with the phrase 'bejazzle' so I hypothisised it might be based on 'vajazzled' which was a fun one to explain to him five pubs in. Quality place, this, get yourselves down.
|Bloke struggles to achieve the right level of yellow|
|That is the carpet you want to see in a pub|
|Locals and lovely stout|
|Oh, it is today! Wonder who won?|
As we drove back down the A1 (M), I admit I dozed off but when I came to, Dad had turned off for the bonus pub I never believed we'd manage, back in North Yorkshire, a preemptive of the highest order in a place no one has ever heard of (think Dukinfield or Lydgate) called Burneston.
Despite being painted a hopeless shade of grey from head to foot, it complimented the jacket and we pulled up in the car park, and wandered around the front ......
Woodman Inn it was called, and we followed in a couple who were stopping overnight here. "Just bear with me a minute gentlemen" says the personable American owner with sculptured tache'/beard. "We've never been described as gentlemen before!" sobs Dad, almost with tears in his eyes, and for a second pub in a row, staff and locals comment on my jacket which I claim is a tactic to help me get served first even when it is three deep at a given bar. No such problems here, and the American returns for some classic hospitality, reminded me of everything good about North America. Russ, Mark Crilley, the Southworth's, a bit of Nick Bruels (not sure which bit), and a dash of Captain Jackson from Ripper Street, with fewer autopsies though cut me open and I'd bleed yellow. Something to do with my liver I guess. Pub wise ,homelier than I'd been expecting from outside but didn't hold up hugely against our rural Durham classics, yet nice enough.
GBG Alien Autopsy
After a nice meal of minced beef, cheesy mash and peas with Mummy n Daddy BRAPA, I required their assistance.
For when I'd extracted the brewery section of my new GBG the previous night, I'd made a bit of a 'hash' of it. Now I'm not blaming the two pints of Saltaire Blonde and three pints of Shipyard Pale I'd had in Hedley Verity, L**ds , I think the binding is a lot better this year!
But the upshot was, I'd not got the pages out 'right to the spine' leaving a horrid clump of 300+ page ends. Luckily, Dad had the kind of multi-purpose tool selection you'd expect from a handyman 71 year old legend, and Mum had a special guillotine (ooh la la) and a keen artistic eye.
I wish I'd taken photos, it was quite the scene on the Everitt living room table. Dad did amazing extracting the clump, but Mum said there was nothing could be done for the back of the book, she had to take it off with the guillotine and reattach it with sellotape. Fine job, I felt like an exasperated parent hoping their twild's tonsil removal went hitch free.
Would it stand the test of time? Or would further surgery be needed? Find out in a forthcoming blog. Join me tomorrow/Monday night for the long overdue August Review / Sept preview.