Monday 10 August 2020

BRAPA in ..... WOKING 5 TO 9, WHAT A TOWN TO TICK A PUB IN (Surrey Part 6/17)

Thanks to Steve Halstead for the blog title idea!

Knaphill might've been a bit weird, but as Ed drove us to his GBG local, a more assured, confident air fell across his features.  He was confident that I was going to enjoy this one ......

Note the confident, assured air across Ed's features

When you hear the oft-used pub phrase "it is like walking into someone's front room", it isn't usually a comment on the pub itself, but rather the people, like you have disturbed them from doing their private family stuff.  An intruder in their midst.    It was a bit different here at the Crown, Horsell (1775 / 2992) which literally felt like being in someone's lounge.  It looked a bit like a pub, but there was something unashamedly unpubby in its decor/ design.  I couldn't quite nail it.  It shouldn't have worked but it did.  Easily better than the Knaphill duo.  The acoustics were insane.  Sound just got stuck in the thick carpet.  Ed knew the drill here, this pub had a 'system' where you order your drinks from the first bar, and then carry on around the perimeter of the bar, where you pick them up and pay.  The younger barmaid around this side remarked how much the hand sanitiser smelt like vodka, which might well have explained her lively slightly wired persona.  I tried to join in, but the overriding feeling was "alright mate, don't get excited, you've had your moment in the sun, sit down with your drink n shut up".    So that is what I did, in the shadow of Luke, a deer hanging from the wall with a facemask over his eyes.  Seems they put all sorts of different things on the poor creature.  Colin was terrified, having never met a deer before.  Never mind one without a body.  My new emergency beermats were required, my glass was a Doom Bar one, but being in magnanimous mood, I can forgive such details.


Col and an EBM

The lads

Ed dropped me in Woking where I had two required ticks before the late night train back to Guildford.  He left me with the warning words "Woking was once voted the most boring town in the UK".  Well, be that as it might, the 'Spoons was pretty highly charged for a Monday evening...... the roadworks outside creating the illusion that civilised society was being shielded from Tim's army. 

And isn't nice when the beer you select resembles everybody inside the pub? 

Herbert Wells, Woking (1776 / 2993) is H G Wells, and had I not been so slightly terrified of the highly charged atmosphere (I'm still not used to seeing more than about six people in a pub!), I might not have ensconced myself in my two seater perspex dome and actually discovered the quirks such as the invisible man in the window, the time machine, and the button to make the ceiling clock go backwards.  Well so says Sir Quinno when they allow him to cross the Berks/Surrey border for his once a year special treat.  I was too busy prising my GBG off for the table - it had got stuck - and trying not to analyse the stains on the way back from the gents too closely. An infrared torch could've been instructive. Having said this, you just got the impression at the bar that this was a tightly-run-ship of a 'Spoons on the whole, they actually use this one as a template to base their training on.  The carpet was a contender, and the locals were good value even if my perspex bubble didn't allow for overheard conversation snippets sadly, and I lost what notes I did make, so I just sat there trying to drink a bit quicker and not to sweat too much- <insert Prince Andrew local Pizza Express joke here>.  I left though, at least, feeling strangely alive!  Just as well considering where I was due next ......

Carpet of the week?

A tightly run ship

Bricking it

And that invigorated feeling that you can take from a boots n braces 'Spoons was the perfect breeding ground for my final venue of the evening, the only Club in Surrey in the GBG.  Ey up!  You never quite know what to expect, getting in is usually the first obstacle.  

Under the railway bridge i went (getting lost just once!), down an unlikely looking side line, and there it was.  Now where was that button that someone on Twitter had told me about?  No need to worry, a local was exiting and held the door for me.  Phew!  Or so I thought ......

It takes Courage to enter a club (ha ha)

All eyes were on me as I squeezed between darts and pool table to the heavily perspexed bar at the Woking Railway Athletic Club (1777 / 2994).  The barman furrowed his brow.  "How can I help?" he asks.  Did he think I was lost and looking for directions?  Had an Amazon parcel or a Deliveroo to drop off?  "I just want a pint please" I squeaked.  "You's a member?" he asks, disbelievingly.  "I'm in errrrrrm CAMRA ..." I breathe out of the side of my mouth like a bloke buying nudie mags from his 80's newsagent top shelf.  "Can oi sees your card?" he asks in the voice of Tony Cottee.  Took me ages to locate it in my wallet, I've not seen in it myself in months but luckily it was there.  Relief all round, and the next ten minutes is me explaining BRAPA to him which he seemed to genuinely find interesting.  Lovely guy, and seemed the type who'd not humour someone for the sake of it.  Suddenly, he says "well, you can't stand here actually!"  meaning the Covid 'no one at the bar rules'.  I retire to a seat facing the bar, and perhaps he felt a bit sorry for me, because every time one of the locals of was slightly sober (it didn't happen very often) appeared, he introduced me and I had two nice chats with moustachioed chaps in 1970's cardigans about Surrey pubs.  Then I rang Mummy BRAPA and randomly put her on loudspeaker so she could join the chat!  I think I was getting a bit tipsy myself to do that.  She wants the 'tick' too now.  I should mention I paid for my drink using cash, for one of only two times out of 51.  I noted down some incredible overheard chats from the locals, but sadly deleted them all cos I'm stupid.  Everyone was very friendly here once I'd got settled in.  Getting out of a club is never easy.  "Press the button on the wall to release the door!" they all shouted.  I pressed a button.  And plunged the club into darkness.  The light switch.  Damn.  The landlord came over to help.  I laughed sheepishly and scurried off into the night, glad I was drunk!  Top place. 

Legends kicking back at the Railway Athletic

Timid 2014 BRAPA would've probably gone to sit over there!

Who turned out the lights?  That'd be me.


This was my latest finish of the holiday, too late to even call in for any food, so it was a case of being creative with my leftovers and make a mental note to not finish this late again in the future!

Tuesday would be a trying day, even if I only got 5 pubs done.  Join me for tales of that tomorrow night at the slightly later time of 11pm approx (cos am going to an aceYork pub with my friends group for first time since lockdown was lifted, woohoooo!)



  1. "Thanks to Steve Halstead for the blog title idea!"

    (slow golf clap for Steve)

    Oh, ok... actually, well done Steve! (in all seriousness)

    "The younger barmaid around this side remarked how much the hand sanitiser smelt like vodka, which might well have explained her lively slightly wired persona."

    You could've gone all Rudolph Valentino and licked her fingers to confirm that. :)

    "with a facemask over his eyes"

    I've been tempted to wear a Zorro mask over here for a face mask but my wife was dead set against the idea.

    "Col and an EBM"

    Sigh. I've been away too bloody long when I don't know who (or what) EBM is. :(

    "the roadworks outside creating the illusion that civilised society was being shielded from Tim's army."

    Pretty sure that many folk find that de rigueur, so to speak. :)

    "And isn't nice when the beer you select resembles everybody inside the pub?"

    You sure that wasn't a fancy mirror? (kidding!)

    "An infrared torch could've been instructive."

    Ultraviolet dear boy; at least with regards to hotel bed sheets and Las Vegas.

    "insert Prince Andrew local Pizza Express joke here"

    (slow golf clap) -- Well done! (doffs hat)

    "Under the railway bridge i went"

    Seguing nicely from the Troll beer just prior. :)

    "like a bloke buying nudie mags from his 80's newsagent top shelf."

    I... resemble that remark. :)

    "I had two nice chats with moustachioed chaps in 1970's cardigans about Surrey pubs."

    Good thing it wasn't 1980's cardigans, eh! (hint - nudie mags)

    "I paid for my drink using cash, for one of only two times out of 51"

    Blimey! I'm still taking cash on my wife's lunch truck since this whole bloody thing began!

    "Press the button on the wall to release the door!"

    At least you didn't release the hounds!

    "Who turned out the lights? That'd be me."

    They have postcards like that; Toronto at night and such like. :)

    "Join me for tales of that tomorrow night"

    I shall do my best; and hopefully it won't be six bloody months from now!


    1. Hey Russ! How's tricks??

      I definitely would've licked her fingers, probably. Well, in a non Covid world. I'd back you up on the Zorro mask. Film is on my 'to watch' list.

      EBM - Emergency Beer Mat.

      Green is my fave colour so if I was a troll, I'd be a green one.

      Ultraviolet, yes! I knew I'd not quite got that right.

      DaddyBRAPA sometimes asks if he can pay in cash, and the results have been surprisingly 'yes' a lot of the time.

      Haha, seriously re the postcards? I had a postcard from Maidenhead that was actually taken in the daytime. That surprised me.

      Great to have you back, missed your comments almost longer than my blog, and that's saying something haha :)

    2. "Hey Russ! How's tricks??"

      Like almost everyone else this year, things are a bit... surreal. I swear at times it like reliving Groundhog Day; over and over again.

      Things are not too bad, all things considered. I can't believe this the first time I've posted on my fave Brit Beer blogs this year! Just fell into a rut. You know how it is. ;)

      My wife's catering business completely cratered but we've managed to keep the lunch truck going... even picking up a bit more business as folks find it easier to buy hot food from us at their place of work rather than drive and wait in a drive through. But trying to shop for what is basically the equivalent of food for three dozen daily hasn't been easy. It's either not in stock, or you can only buy two or people give you the evil eye for buying so much, or you wait forever to get in, then get out!

      So, exhausting. And to top it off, my muse deserted me. :)

      Still a bit hairy scary right now. But I shall endeavour to peruse you and my other fav 3 at least 3 times a week. :)


  2. In the early 80s the Railway Club was a favourite of the local CAMRA branch. This was pre-Spoons, of course. They had a partial tie with Trumans and featured Trumans Mild, a very rare mild outlet in Surrey.

    Trumans ran a contest asking for the best answer to "How many hops are there in a pint of Ben Truman?" Some wag replied "as many as a dead frog."