I did it in closer to one hour, but despite my fast paced walking throughout, the temperature remained perishing. On the outskirts of town, a man hobbled out of an off license, breathed queerly, and told me it was the coldest day for a long time. I said 'aye' cos I assumed it was the kind of thing Carlisle men say.
I'd also like to say a big thanks to the understanding drivers, who didn't try to mow me down, and swerved into the middle of the road where possible to keep me and my dream alive of one day ticking off every pub in a given Good Beer Guide.
Anticipation for pub five had been building, and herein lay the problem, a GBG regular with glowing write-ups, it was perhaps inevitable I'd be disappointed .....
Having enjoyed the Howard Arms so much back in 2004, I kind of presumed King's Head, Carlisle (1629 / 2846) was the modern day 'best real ale pub in Carlisle' but it didn't feel that way. Despite a warm atmosphere, there was something very wine bar about the place. Middle aged couples perched on high awkward barrel seats with nowhere for your legs was the order of the day, the music was terrible and although Heart of Northumberland in Hexham would be a cruel comparison, it wasn't a million miles off. I tried offering a stern looking blonde lady a stool, her husband had plonked his lager on my table, but she told me she'd been sat down all day and fancied standing up. With the low beams, nooks and crannies, this pub wasn't for standing in my opinion. My stout by those Cumbrian Legends was warming, and the beermats interestingly advertised the pub I was visiting next. Perhaps a late Saturday afternoon / early evening wasn't ideal visiting time, and I imagined Martin Taylor sat here alone on an innocuous Tuesday afternoon in Feb enjoying it muchly. Signs after all DID say kids and dogs were banned, so surely it should've felt pubbier than this!
|The hand of a lady who isn't for sitting|
|Man on left definitely did something amusing but I forgot to write it down|
|He's the one in the middle|
|Didn't I have this in Birmingham's Cherry Reds?|
|The anti-Dizzy blonde|
|Paper Mountains pump clip with arm growing out of it!|
So I can't really say I enjoyed this trip to Carlisle, but I will be back before August 2020 to do the Spinners and those GBG pubs to the east/south of the town, so plenty time for it to redeem itself.
A more reliable, fantastic town in the north is Darlington. Brittania, Half Moon, Olde Vic (RIP), Quakerhouse, Snooker Club, bona fide classics. Don't forget that Mediterranean place, the first to give me a free pint for simply being BRAPA. And I'll always have a soft spot for down at heel dosshouse, Hogans, my first Darlo pub ever. Okay, so Hole in the Wall and Number 22 bored the shit out of me, but you can't have it all. Even that 'Spoons with the Club Sandwiches is decent.
And it was Darlington I found myself the following Friday evening, and what a 'fun' concept for me to change at York like it is some weird foreign city!
I'm sat there in Filmore & Union, enjoying a coffee on the astroturf before 'la connexion', when a man random starts barking "SHIRLEY, SANDRA, SHEILA!" at his missing wives, making everyone jump out of their skin. I hoped it wasn't going to be one of those nights.
Squashed on the train, a businesswoman pressed her mobile phone against my face and 'talked shop' all the way to Darlo. What did we learn? Well, she doesn't want to tread on Hannah's toes, governance is all important, and it is imperative we don't get into this position again. I couldn't agree more, I thought, as I squeezed off the train into the cool slightly intimidating Darlo night air.
Pub was further from the station than I'd like for a micro, but here we go ........
|Blurry, but not quite Fat Gadgie levels|
|Took this one on the way out to compensate|
With my York train delayed slightly, all I could do was pop into my original Darlington favourite, the quite rough, spartan Hogan's. With beer on like Magnet and Imperial, which I ended up having a (very excellent) pint of (cos no way I could order a half with these nice gents at the bar!) , you had to admire the time warp that this pub is stuck in. Someone had kicked a hole in the toilet door, last time I was in here, I saw a woman get punched by the fruit machine, but she punched back twice. Oh, and am sure it was the same barmaid who served me in 1999 when Father BRAPA told a story about Quakers to John Watson on their first meeting, a historic moment in my pub history!
Anyway, a busy day was planned back in the North East tomorrow, which I'll start telling you about tomorrow. I'll catch up on these blogs one day, promise!