Tuesday, 1 October 2019

BRAPA - September Review / October Preview (2019)

Good evening, 

34 pubs for the month isn't strictly a 'bad' total (over a pub a month I always consider to be 'a result'), but with a new GBG in hand, and I think back to last year's 59 and the 'golden' age of Project Calypso, I can't help feeling I didn't really push myself quite as hard as I could've done in September.

The highlight of the month :  Cumbria has finally 'arrived' and 10 of my 34 were done right at the end of the month.  And some of these which I'll be reviewing in the coming days really feel like GBG 'long termers' rather than flimsy fly by night debut micro pubs, craft kitchens and beer halls that the more experienced pub tickers probably have to endure more often than me.

My first official Cumbrian tick - Cumberland Inn, Alston

It is a funny conundrum really - I'm kind of jealous of Martin and Duncan for being so far on with their GBG ticking, 85% complete or whatever whilst I scrat around 33% complete wondering if I'll ever make 'real' progress!  But then again, Martin often comments he's jealous that I've still got all these classics to see for the first time!  A sign that people are never happy perhaps. 

Also in September, I managed to make rare inroads into Northumberland, got a step closer to North London and Tyne & Wear completion (not much left to do in either of them now) and a football day in Luton was a real shining light in a pretty low key month, and how often has Luton been described in such glowing terms?  Oh, and as for Friday nights, I have started mopping up the West Yorkshire newbies, or at least those that haven't been in a GBG since 2014 BRAPA's starting year.

Glowing in Luton
Pubs of the month based on my experiences?

Wallace Arms, Featherstone
Manor Arms, Broughton-in-Furness
Old Friends, Ulverston

And special commendations to Great Northern in Luton for having one ale and still being a great session pub, and Knowl Club in Mirfield for being so friendly and nearly having a pint bought for me!  And in fact, about 5 or 6 of my Cumbrian recent visits could be in the top three.

The excellent understated very friendly Wallace Arms in Rowfoot, Featherstone

On the downside:

Heart of Northumberland, Hexham
Bohemia, North Finchley
Cask Lounge, South Shields

Feel a bit bad for including the bottom two, nowt wrong with them really, just made me personally feel like I was dying inside, whereas the Heart I have no problem saying really was hell on earth where part of me did die and is now embedded in the wall of that pub, or something.

All you could do was focus on the Bass mirror and finish your pint

But away from BRAPA (sort of) the month ended badly as I was made redundant on 24th.  Bit of a shock I can tell you, I thought we'd just move buildings, but when they rolled out the boxes of Kleenex, we knew the 'announcement' was going to be worse than expected!

Anyway, I'm not going immediately (no idea on date, some time before Sept 2021!) and with my job going to Clydebank, it didn't take long for my BRAPA brain to start whirring and I was one of the first to put my hat in the ring to train up those who'll be taking my job!  All expenses trips to West Glasgow for pub ticking?  Every cloud ......

Drinking 'alternate letters of the alphabet' at York Beer Fest was a non-BRAPA mid month highlight 

Clydebank itself doesn't look a very nice place to live from a quick Google search (if you ask it, it replies 'LIVE IN GLASGOW'), though I'm not ruling out relocation.  Get Scotland banged out (I hear Greenock is nice this time of year!), with Cumbria and Northumberland, quit, then get a job selling black bin bags and corned beef in Bristol Asda?  Career plan.   

Oh, and my uncle died which was sad for the fam (funeral yesterday, Red Lion at Cotherstone not open, done Romaldkirk before, so had cup of tea in the reading rooms) and now I've got the 'flu and am off work (woman-flu, not man-flu). 

October Preview

On the bright side, though hard to picture at moment with achey limbs, snotty nose, razorblade throat and throbbing head, October promises to be a fruitful month.

Mid Oct sees the official BRAPA Autumn Holiday, and I'll be back up in Cumbria for 5 or 6 nights to get a big chunk of pubs in the more touristy Lake District area 'greened up'.  Really looking forward to that.

Before that though, a trip down to London (still got some freebies left) and I'll either be doing North, East or West as I'm nearing completion of them all for the first time and need the morale boost of getting my numbers up.

Post-Cumbria, on the 19th, we have another special with our 'Stocktober' trip to Stockport.  starting at Blossoms 11am, then Hope Inn, Magnet, Petersgate Tap and Railway are all on the agenda, plus one 'dealers' choice though not sure who the Stockport dealer is, but if you live local, feel free to come and say hi and buy me a pint!

And then my Hallowe'en Special ends the month on 26th where I'll be down in Stratford-upon-Avon tracing the history of my most mysterious beer mat.  There'll be excruciating Macbeth puns throughout and tales of a ghostly pub, so make sure you read the blog for that one!

Anyway, plenty of light at the end of the tunnel.  Time for my late night lemsip, cough cough cough.



  1. I say relocate. I've said since the start of BRAPA you need to do it at least twice in the project. Glasgow would be a good BRAPA base. Concentrate on northern England and the midlands in the meantime.

    Seriously Si, hope you're ok with the redundancy news and your uncle in a short space of time. If you need anything or want to talk, anything like that, you know how to get hold of me.

  2. The Heart of Northumberland used to have the far better name of The Heart of All England. Sadly it closed and got bought by a bloke who inevitably turned it into a foodie venue to compete with some of the local (very good) gastropubs. It's failed to come close so it's neither a good pub or a good restaurant.

  3. When one door closes another one opens; it’s usually a Wetherspoons - but not always x