Friday 16 October 2020

BRAPA is ..... IN THE LYNE OF DUTY (North Hants / Surrey Part 3/10)

Not even Ted Hastings could've got to the bottom of the bad luck that blighted me on Sunday 4th October, my second day of pub ticking in the area in and around Basingstoke.  

Every time I go away for any period of time, one day stands out as the unlucky one, it just doesn't usually hit as early as day two!

The signs were there as early as breakfast time, my first in this Premier Inn masquerading as a Travelodge.  I stood in the rain for half an hour because they'd forgotten to book me a table.  When I did get in, I got a totally incorrect order, as did every table around me.  "Sorry, our 'chef' is having a bit of a moment!" apologises the Eastern European masked warrior serving me.  When my brekkie came back, I decided to ignore the mountain of mushrooms, and pretended it was right this time.  This was mainly because I'd heard the 'chef' screaming at the poor girl .... 'Bn' was short for bacon, NOT beans apparently.  "Have they got it right this time?" asks the radiant lady opposite with chewed shrew of a husband.  "Well yes" I tell her, "but no knife and fork!"  I ate my fried egg with a used teaspoon before I could get someone's attention.  Good job I don't do Tripadvisor reviews isn't it?  

'I thought you wrote about pubs?' I hear you saying.  Common misconception.  Despite the ongoing rain, I was still in fairly good spirits as I boarded the train to Reading, where I changed for the aptly named Virginia Water.

Sounds simple eh?  Well, that was until the electronic board, robot announcer and real life muttering announcer ALL failed to mention Virginia Water as a stopping point.  "Sunningdale ..... Egham" it said over and over again, not sure where Longcross went either!  I walked length of train to try and find a guard so I could check, but no one.  It wouldn't have been so bad if I wasn't due to meet a Twitter debutant at 12 noon at V.W. station for a life to a pub. 

I had to take action.  I couldn't have the train whizzing past him, so I tried to to take preventative action and tell him to meet me at Sunningdale instead to be on the safe side!   Problem was, he was already at Virginia Water when he saw my message, and it turned out the trains do all stop at V.W., so I needn't have panicked.  He told me they just don't always announce it!

I felt rather silly when I hopped into his car, but hey ho.  This was Andy Collins, and he seemed a forgiving type.  A lesser #PubMan may've given up on me.

But we set off for the rural Surrey outlier, him giving me the local history en route, the teetotal W G Tarrant stopping pubs being built in the area for example.  

Luckily, this one had slipped through the net ...... 

One of the main reasons I'd opted to stay in North Hampshire was that I was in striking distance of the three Surrey pubs that eluded me back in late July, and Royal Marine, Lyne (1870 / 3087) was one of them.  The one pub that had most people going "never 'eard of it!", even when I spoke to most locals on the subject.  It closes all day Saturday, for added trickiness, and was only open Sunday 12-3.  It was a beautiful old pub, no wonder Andy had volunteered to take me there, he KNEW, if no one else did.  The ale range might not appeal to beer enthusiasts (Speckled Hen or Ruddles), but I went for the latter and can honestly say I really enjoyed it!   Didn't taste like the last time I had it in a L**ds Wetherspoons.  We perched at the smallest of tables, Andy told me about his crazy year involving his house burning down and the rebuilding process (kitchen back in use for when he got back for dinner later!) so next time you hear people moaning about 2020, its been worse than mere lockdown for some.  Soon we got into an animated discussion of the GBG pubs in the local area, and I was conscious of this couple behind me having lunch. I thought it was probably cos my arse crack on display, putting them off, but I was at the wrong angle to pull up my trousers.  Eventually, the bloke reveals himself (not like that!) , tells us he is the North Surrey CAMRA main man, and he's sorry to eavesdrop but some of the pubs we've been discussing have been the pubs there is most debate about for GBG 2021 inclusion! "Intriguing!" I say, but he refuses to reveal any more, spoilsport.  But the fact he's in here, saying how nice it is, makes me think at least this one will be in the forthcoming 2021 edition (which as of today, I'm hearing, has landed in certain parts of the south).  Great pub this, one I'd definitely recommend to any pub lover.

Colin makes sure our debutant is doing it right

A proper pub, living and breathing

Not often you get a Ruddles on a Fosters tray and find it the most glorious thing ever

After a bit of brief football discussion (Andy's a Pompey fan, the pub is a Crystal Palace fan, conclusion, let's all slag off Southampton), I was beginning to think today was gonna be a good one.

Andy kindly said he'd drop me in either Chobham or Camberley.  Having done zero research, I chose Chobham.  A mistake it'd prove, but it sounded a good idea at the time.  

As we drove along rural flooded pavementless lanes, I didn't know these'd come back to haunt me, and recent good pub fortune continued when we noticed highly pre-emptive but not often open micropub, Horse & Groom, Chobham was open.  Andy joined me.

And thanks to the kind BMW driver for stopping to allow Andy to take this shot

Green for go!

There was only one indoor space left, perched by the back door, where a tiny square astroturfed garden offered more, but it was damp, so it was fortunate we just got in.  I deployed the BRAPA pre-emptive tactics of just ordering a half as I knew I wanted to get to five other pubs.  The lady who was sat in front of the blackboard displaying the beers was currently away having a piss, so we could see what was on.  No idea what I got, 'twas nice but beer in a half glass never tastes quite right does it?  The guv'nor was a gentle soul, and became about the 5,000th person to recommend me the Prince of Wales in Farnborough.   Used to be a hairdressers, ahhhh 'Groom' , I've just got it!  So that was brief.  But probably more like how most pub tickers experience pubs!  

I said farewell and thanks to Andy, who crossed the road back to his car, heading off for his Sunday dinner whilst I approached the real reason I was in Chobham, the very much 'in the Beer Guide' White Hart .......

But as soon as I got through the door and asked a long haired guy for a table, he told me no room at the inn until this evening.  Noooooo!  The signs had been there, not literally.  Andy hadn't been able to find one single space in the pub car park earlier.  Sunday lunch.  Brunning & Price.  Centre of town.  Oh dear!  

I perched under the awning, seeing Andy's car disappear into the distance.  Time to get a bus.  NO Chobham buses on a Sunday, noooooo! 

Retreat to the Horse n Groom and ring for a taxi?  That would've been sensible.  But since when has BRAPA been sensible.  I decided to walk in a Wokingly direction til I could pick up a bus.

I considered ringing 'friend of the BRAP' Ed Wray who lives locally, but I could just picture him feet up on his sofa drinking his 14th can of Raspberry Thirsty Thurstons Sour with the Formula One on.  He later saw me moaning on Twitter, and said he would've come for me, but I was back at Woking station by then! 

For now, I just walked, and walked, and walked a bit more.  The key lane was called Carthouse.  

About two thirds of the way down, probably where the water crosses it, it was totally flooded .....

Not THE flood, but a similar one further down

I hesitate and a car comes through.  This spirited Asian dude winds down his window, sulky wife dressed up to the nines in the passenger seat.  "If you're worried about going across, you'll be fine mate!  Just stay on the raised bit on the left."

I'd been hoping he'd offer me a lift, somewhere, anywhere!  Oh well, it was encouragement enough.  At least no more cars came through, but I couldn't stay on the side forever, and soon I was ankle deep in water, I could feel what felt like fish swimming through my toes.  Freezing.  I was so fed up.

Finally, I went around a Trading Estate with a Screwfix and found a cut through and a bus stop!  Hurrah, I was in Horsell, now how did that happen?! 

I didn't have long to wait, and soon I was at Woking station.  After refuelling on Monster Munch and Dairylea lunchables, the lunch of kings, I finally boarded a train to Farnborough.   It was the wrong train!  One of those that split into two.  I managed to run for the right one just in time, where the most over-zealous ticket inspector was actually writing down the numbers on people's tickets!  

4pm by the time I was in Farnborough.  Last orders rung at 9:20pm.  5 pubs still to do.  This was gonna be like Challenge Anneka or something now.   And Farnborough's trio couldn't be any more spaced apart if they tried!  

I'll tell you about the first one before we call it a day, as I'm aware this must be a trial to read.

On the way down the street, a man attaching a canoe to the top of his car said hi.  'You taking the piss mate?' I nearly said, thinking it was some reference to my flooded walk.  

Here's the pub, didn't look like one ......

And it occurred to me that this was my first Wetherspoons visit since the extra 'no one at the bar / facemasks when stood up' rules have come into play.  Tilly Shilling, Farnborough (1871 / 3088) was the name, and a barmaid 'greeted' me on arrival to make sure I had the App, did the Test n Trace and generally knew the drill.  Then she pointed a lazy arm (terribly tattooed, like someone had attacked her with a date stamp) in the direction of the table she wanted me to sit at, which could've been one of about five different tables, so I took my pick, and she didn't care.  Even in a 'Spoons, that unique lazy Sunday afternoon lull hung in the atmosphere.  It's a very nice time in the week to be in a pub, perhaps the best, sadly a couple of hours earlier is probably the worst!  A pair of 'characters' who looked like they belonged in the Crossroads Motel shared a bottle of Malbec and smiled.  A family full of Twildery couldn't keep still.  My Conwy ale came quickly, it was brown, bubbly and lively.  Good quality.  A group of teens came in and asked for lager.  They got ID'd.  You could tell by their astonishment that they'd been hoping that wearing facemasks would prevent such stringent measures!  In the loo, the tap came on with such force, it spilled all over my crotch.  Just when I thought today might be improving.   I took the long darker way back to my seat, pulling my top down as far as I could!

Would my day get any better?  Would I manage to get 4 more pubs in before last orders sounded?

Join me on Sunday for Part 4, if you dare!



  1. Don't take this the wrong way, but why do you always eat the Premier Inn breakfast when you stay in a Premier inn. I find that weird. Why not go to a cafe and eat proper breakfast. Is it because you'd feel faint if you had to walk somewhere for breakfast ? Honest question.

    1. Is the breakfast included in the room rate? I have never stayed at a Premier Inn, partly because they are expensive, partly because I think Lenny Henry is a wanker, so I wouldn't know. The other cunning plan of course would be to go to any required 'Spoons, pre-emptive or otherwise, where just sitting for breakfast would get the pub in the book.

      On a Reading - Waterloo I would expect the guard to be in one of the middle cabs. Try knocking on the door or collaring him when he goes on the platform at a station. On some of the modern contraptions they have on there you can't walk right through.

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  2. "BRAPA is ..... IN THE LYNE OF DUTY"

    I can't decide if your titles are getting better or worse. ;)

    "Good job I don't do Tripadvisor reviews isn't it? "

    YELP's where it's at. You can even snitch on businesses now!

    "I was still in fairly good spirits as I boarded the train to Reading"

    Your mask looks like you squashed one of those poisonous South American tree frogs on it. :)

    "He told me they just don't always announce it!"

    Fer fook's sake.

    "It closes all day Saturday, for added trickiness,"


    "(Speckled Hen or Ruddles)"

    I actually had 4 500ml cans of Speckled Hen in my fridge just last week.

    "Didn't taste like the last time I had it in a L**ds Wetherspoons."

    Maybe L**ds had something to do with that. ;)

    "the bloke reveals himself (not like that!)"

    (slow golf clap)

    "Colin makes sure our debutant is doing it right"

    Pfft. He's trying to get a free sip of beer.

    "No idea what I got, 'twas nice but beer in a half glass never tastes quite right does it?"

    Hard to say mate. Over here, 12oz is the norm. ;)

    "NO Chobham buses on a Sunday, noooooo! "


    "Last orders rung at 9:20pm. 5 pubs still to do. "

    Tricky that!

    "Here's the pub, didn't look like one ......"


    " I took the long darker way back to my seat, pulling my top down as far as I could!"

    I can relate to that (and not just from the tap being wonky)! :)

    "Join me on Sunday for Part 4, if you dare!"

    I shall!


  3. "I was ankle deep in water, I could feel what felt like fish swimming through my toes. Freezing. I was so fed up."

    Just think of it as character building.

    1. I think Simon already has character enough. And I don't mean Colin.