One of these evenings, I'll log off after work and think "ahhh, up to date on my blogs so can just have a relaxing evening watching Neighbours and Prisoner Cell Block H!" but I'm not, so I welcome you once again to another diatribe of pubby trials and tribulations.
When was I last up to date? Well, unless you count the 12 hours and 11 minutes from 11:59pm on Fri 25th June to 12:10pm on Sat 26th June, you have to go all the way back to Thursday 13th May when I told you about Hanging Heaton Cricket Club.
Last Friday (the 13th for the superstitious amongst you) found me at Dewsbury bus station. Just FOUR remaining West Yorkshire ticks. The aim was to get to three tonight.
5:30pm seems a funny time to flog someone a 'day ticket' on the bus, but the driver insists it is for my own good, and if you can't trust a bus driver in Dewsbury, who can you trust?
We went south on a 20 minute meandering bus route through Thornhill where I did the Saville Arms a few years back. It became Thornhill Edge at the bottom. The views were magnificent, with this majestic flat roofer perched precariously on the edge of a hill .......
I've been saying this a lot in recent weeks (Lockwood's Shoulder of Mutton, Shipley's Beehive), but I am staggered to keep finding so many hidden classics in West Yorkshire which have not appeared in at least the past six editions of the greatest book on earth. Add Flatt Top, Thornhill Edge (1905 / 3334) to that list, and if you've never been, give yourself a good talking to, and then book a trip. I grew up believing all flat roofed pubs were rubbish and dangerous. Well not this one! If you can think of any other flat roofed classics, please let me know in the comments. A pint of Tetley's 'cash only' (not the actual ber name) is a great drop. The locals are wired, a heady concoction of lager and West Yorks hospitality. Someone folds up an empty Wotsits packet. The guv'nor causes a ripple of controversy for turning the test match off cos Pointless is on. Neighbours is on Channel 5? I best not say it. My GBG & Stabilo are attracting much attention, and as the 'pub character' (probably only in his twenties, they breed their #PubMen young around these parts) is almost sat on my knee quizzing me, and then deliberately misinterpreting my comments and shouting them to the rest of the pub, for comedic effect. Oh how we laughed (well, they did).
Example 1 (addressing the landlord) : "He says this the No 1 pub in Yorkshire in his book ..... But it's the first he's been to .... ONE OUT OF ONE!" (roars of laughter).
Example 2 (addressing the pub) : "He says this is quite edgy for a Good Beer Garden pub!"
Yeah, he seemed to think it was a Good Beer Gard(en) I had! Perhaps understandably, as he tells me to go and stand on the pub viewing platform / beer garden. "Best views in Yorkshire these .... that'll be 25 quid mate hahahahaha". Oh what a character. I thank everyone on the way out. One bloke asks if I write about my visits. I admit I do. "I'll give you something to write about ..... we hate strangers!" his mate says. I laugh. He keeps a straight face.
|Another one bits tha' dust
Determined to make use of my day ticket despite the locals insistence I book a taxi to Horbury, I got myself back to Dewsbury, had a wee, and jumped on the connecting bus.
A 15 minute walk from the centre took me to Horbury Junction, hidden away with only a single pavement and bridge over a river to try and create the illusion you were in North Essex. Nessex.
This next pub was the reason I was doing a rare Friday night BRAP, being only open Fri-Sun .....
Calder Vale Hotel, Horbury Junction (1906 / 3335) was a real fascinating 'curate's egg' of a pub. It had so many facets to it. Initially, I had a few reservations, entering through the back of the pub, their 'Hop Garden' which was full of unruly Twildren rushing about, exhausted parents unable/unwilling to stop them. A huge beer list from their own Luddite brewery found me supping this glorious Milk Stout with a real smokiness to it. Beer of the month contender. It is served by this very interesting pairing, two guys who look very brainy, you could imagine them more sat on an Only Connect team than running a West Yorkshire boozer. One bemoans the out of date CAMRA mag I've picked up (O to K - Ossett to Kastleford ... mega lolz, who says CAMRA folk don't have a GSOH?), but I tell him I'll cope! Plenty of restrictions in place still, so he brings through my beer, to an empty back room, glorious smell like an old library, stuffed creatures on the wall, small grandfather clock, a random washing machine lurking around the corner, gurgling at me, making me need the loo, which has a satisfying chain to pull. The longer I am here, the more I enjoy this place. The garden is empty by the time I leave too.
A nice 15 minute power walk takes me back into the centre of Horbs, where my penultimate West Yorkshire tick is situated, the sun setting on this surprisingly warm evening:
Cherry Tree, Horbury (1907 / 3336) is another home of a local brewery, Horbury Ales this time, and whilst nowhere near as quirky or characterful as the previous two pubs, it is immaculately done out (presuming it is a recent refurbishment, feels like it) and I guess the acid test is yes, if I lived in Horbury, I'd often pop in for a cheeky pint. Nice and unthreatening. I suppose the most unnerving element is the barmaid's maniacal dancing, most notable to Queen's Crazy Little Thing Called Love. A bit like something from the Exorcist crossed with David Brent. Her colleagues 'enjoyed' it anyway, and I sat opposite with my none too threatening pint of of something with a green pump clip, not sure if I'm allowed to notice or not. The place feels wine bar as much as pub, a bit like something you'd find in a Kendal or a Penrith or a Matlock. You know the sort. But above all, people still called each other 'luv' and it still felt unmistakeably West Yorkshire.
Delighted to have got myself back on track re bus/train connections (it had been a bit of a struggle back before Horbury Junction), I was at the bus stop five minutes early (20:28) for the 20:33 to Wakefield. But it didn't show! No explanation. Just vanished. Friday 13th?
20:50 instead so not too long to wait, but it meant I missed the Wakefield-L**ds train I wanted, but as it turned out, I still ended up on the same L**ds-York connection so no real damage done.
Back home for 22:15 and a late lamb hotpot & cup of tea, all set for a 'key' day in Essex tomorrow, which I will tell you about tomorrow, maybe in two parts now I'm catching up, keep the word count reasonable!
See you tomorrow or Fri, Si