All aboard the Polesworth Express for the annual BRAPA Christmas Special, and with Daddy BRAPA and Colin the Cauliflower in tow, we'd arrived in Birmingham/Tamworth so deliciously early, we really needed a pub that opened before noon.
It's a funny thing, the pre-noon GBG opener. Such a common sight when 'researching' pubs for pre-match away days in that Hull City golden era circa 2003-2009. But nowadays, and I noticed it a few years pre-Covid so we can't blame that, it is increasingly rare to find any non-Spoons pre-nooners.
I had to look at 13 (THIRTEEN) pubs before I found a solution. Hence this unexpected foray into Warwickshire, about 20 minutes outside today's key destination, Tamworth.
I got my 'festive' on, as the bus pulls up 10:56am. I'm just praying it will open up as expected.
The landlord pokes his head into the fresh air, before taking a long drag on his cigarette. He looks exactly like the kind of guy you'd picture running a proper boozer. His face is gnarly but kind, and Dad asks "I don't suppose you are open already are you?" to which he replies 'yes'. We're in! Bull's Head, Polesworth (1979 / 3542). And to our astonishment, the pub is lined with similar characters, half way down their pints, nicely settled into a session. This pub certainly hasn't just opened. Fabulous. The one ale on is Lit, no sign of the pump or brewery, it just sort of appears by magic through a hatch, a pale ale of startling quality, the lacings especially on Dad's glass tell their own story. Overheard anecdotes include "... and then someone stuck a shotgun in his face and he shit him sen". A loud lady asks for a packet of crisps from a seating position. The landlord casually launches them at her from the bar and it hits her in the side of the head, to which she cries 'oiiii'. That'd be a lawsuit in Chorlton or Hebden Bridge. The guv'nor comes over for a chat as we leave, he's seen my GBG and asks if we are doing EVERY pub in it .... today! Definitely a BRAPA FAQ. The answer sadly, is no. "Six does the trick" (my new catchphrase in this situation). What a great way to start. I thought about my chum, the wretched John Depeche Modem, and his views on the GBG not choosing the 'realest pubs' and I sort of wish he was here. Sort of.
|What's my (p)age (in the GBG) again?
Rather irritatingly, Google Maps had "invented" a bus in addition to the hourly one listed on the actual bus stop and the oft reliable bustimes.org
Despite being 90% sure this was some kind of 'bollocks made up ghost service', Dad was right, imagine if we didn't look for it and it sped past the stop, then we'd feel silly.
Predictably though, it didn't show, and 7 minutes later, I suggest we start walking in the direction of our next closest pub, in a place called Dordon.
A 35 minute uphill walk, and if there was one pub today I was nervous about opening at 12, it was the Mini Miner, though my confidence had grown when I saw a Facebook post supporting all the other online hours (noon).
It was one of those temporary looking micros in a row of shops, and a sign emblazoned on the front revealed the awful truth ......
|You'll not see 3pm Saturday anywhere online kids, so please note this on pg 425 of your copybook
Dad was cross with me for not ringing ahead, understandably, and herein lies the reason why solo pub ticking is best, it is only yourself that you disappoint!
|Dad proper 'inked' the GBG entry, nearly went through the page! I gave him an official warning. He said it showed how much he was enjoying the pub
|I wonder if he's called Chris and this bunting is up for him?
Time to hop on the bus to our other little outer village of the day. I'd considered a taxi to the bus free / surrounded by water village of Elford (someone pointed out the Elf-ord Christmas link I'd never thought of), and a bus to Whittington, but decided to leave this duo for now in favour of Fazeley.
|Coat weirdly half open from bottom, but not for urination ease I promise (sorry Newark)
Back on the bus back to Tamworth then. Join me some time in the early new year for the traumatic part two. I betcha can't wait, I know you love it when I suffer!