Tuesday 11:30am, and Father BRAPA picked me up from the Yorkshire Bank after a good 3.5 hours of Static Data joy. I like Static Data. It doesn't move. We were Blackburn bound, and what an opportunity this was to get some awkward Lancastrian ticks in before the match.
Even with the benefit of Dad's car, planning seemed a struggle with so few pubs open before 4pm on a Tuesday, if it all. I had a vague plan which meant starting at Accrington's Canine Club and moving on to places like Wheelton and Darwen.
I'd even rung the BRAP-elusive Black Bull on the outskirts of Blackburn itself to see if despite normally being closed on a Tuesday, they make a concession when Rovers are at home. A man with a healthy Lancs burr told me they don't. My THIRD Black Bull fail, I WILL get you eventually!
With Storm Ciara blowing a gale, we had snow one minute, bright sunshine the next, and Dad took an 'educated alternative route' which saw us climbing up past the likes of Ilkley and Skipton, where we passed the front door of three former BRAPA pubs - the rather nice Flying Duck, touristy Woolly Sheep and eminently forgettable micro snoozefest, Early Snores.
Further north than anticipated, time to pull out the battered GBG and reassess the options. Clitheroe made most sense, two pubs needed, both open noon apparently. You have to adapt in this game.
But it wasn't a great start when we saw this .....
Dad thought he could see a man sat in there in the dark! But no need to get upset, it was already gone 1pm and a 'Beer Hall' with shitloads of handpumps was lurking about 10 minutes away.
Some accidental photobombers got their BRAPA moment of fame .......
|Steady on tall stringy people, Bernard is trying to pose .....|
|.... and then there were none (unless you count Dad)|
|Big circular bar - take your walking boots|
|Tried to choose a weather appropriate ale but it backfired|
|Dad looking holy in our peaceful side room|
It was just gone 2pm ..... and good as their word, the Ale House, Clitheroe (1720 / 2937), was now open .....
And cosier than it appeared from the outside too, I was a fan of this place, certainly one of the stronger pubs of the day. I suspect some locals had come along a bit before 2pm, seen him closed and sat in the dark reading his paper, banged on the window "ey up lad, get yersen oppen!" (or whatever they say in Lancs) because the locals at the bar and a couple in the side room looked nicely established and settled into their drinks. I enjoyed asking for 'Two Girls Blouses' from that Problem Child place in Parbold I didn't massively enjoy a few month back, and it was quality stuff and locals smiled warmly and talked about going back to sheds in Darwen to touch them up with a fresh lick of paint. The loos were interesting cos when I set off upstairs, I heard a bar local say he was off for a pee and he set off following me. But he must've found a magic tradesmen's staircase for I heard a neighbouring toilet door lock when i reached the top. I've long since given up trying not to look like a first time visitor on these pub trips, and this is exactly the reason why. Is there really a second staircase? Comment below if you know, it is slightly bugging me. Great pub this.
I knew I was expecting a lot of Dad's chauffeuring skills next, as we continued west out of Clitheroe and almost ended up in Preston for heaven's sake! Also his SatNav was obsessed with the M6, whether we needed to be on it or not, and this was compounded by roadworks and heavy pre-rush hour traffic. Ugh.
With some relief, we parked up at pub three. I'd even found the zip for my coat! Things were picking up ......
Hang on, there was something slightly familiar about Haighton Manor, Haighton (1721 / 2938). Rural location. Plush grounds. Former country house hotel. Roaring fire and rugs on entrance. Quirky Victorian prints on the walls. Uniformed staff trying to look authoritative but failing. House beer. Men in suits stood next to farmers with sleeping dogs. Oh yes, it just had to be a Brunning & Price. In a 'pub moment of the day which amused me far more than it should, Dad sensibly orders a coffee, and as she gives him the options, he chooses cappuccino. She's not concentrating though. "Did you say latte?" "No I said cappuccino (though to be precise, you said cappuccino and I said yes!)" replies Dad. Then Whitney Houston belts out "I Feel So Emotional" as Dad's cappuccino arrives and he theatrical plops a sugar lump into it, our hapless barmaid returns to try and light a candle for our table but nearly fails and sets the table alight. Oh I don't know, it might not sound much in retrospect but I didn't laugh this much in Clitheroe, and certainly not Blackburn later on. The Brunning & Price Spotify playlist then blasts out a bit of Billy Joel, Queen and probably Savage Garden and Runrig. Dad suddenly looks shocked and exclaims "WHY DO THE BEERMATS HAVE A PICTURE OF THE CORONAVIRUS ON THEM?"
"Errrm Dad, that is the Lancashire rose" I tell him gently. Though similar effect on us Yorkshiremen, I admit. Warm and amusing with good ale, Haighton Manor had done the job for us.
|Dad plops theatrically|
Still time for two (three if I was very lucky) pubs, as well as the match. Could Hull City win? What would our pub of the day prove to be? And why did a man start chasing us down the street, shouting?
Find all of the answers to the questions you never asked, and more, tomorrow night in part two.