North Yorkshire. It is a bugger to pub tick. Even when you live there. When I completed it in full, back in 2017, Mummy BRAPA made me solemnly swear that I'd leave it alone and pursue other counties. I solemnly swore.
But when Daddy BRAPA says it was a nice convenient area to chauffeur me around on those blank international weekends, when we are both at a loose end, and lacking direction, well .... you can't look a gift horse in the mouth, can ya?
It isn't even that rewarding pub-wise. York is great of course. But the majority of the more rural 'pubs' can be rather dull and dining driven. You have to get north of South Northallerton before anyone behind a bar will treat you like a human being, usually.
11am non-Wetherspoons openers are always fraught with danger, even if every source says this is when they open. So we were in luck as we sat in a pub carpark eating our breakfast, to see a barmaid appear, pub keys jangling in hand, having a bit of banter with an old bloke who moved sneakily from one car to the other, the oldest dogger in Richmond perhaps?
Time to go and investigate (not him, the pub) before we got drawn into anything regrettable.
|Distinct lack of sun. Oi, Holly Hill I want my money back!|
Holly Hill, Richmond (1939 / 3368) would prove to be one of the stronger pubs today, a nice unpretentious out of towner, sat on a hill, helped by our friendly hostess, who I'm assuming is also called Holly Hill which definitely helped her during her job interview here. A smashing pint of Wensleydale Gamekeeper is easy to adapt to, despite the flask of coffee we've just shared, and the presence of Colin gets us chatting with the locals when a farmer who used to be a publican shouts "grown man taking cauliflower around the pubs with him, there must be a story there!" And despite making the faux-pas of admitting I like cats more the dogs (which was somehow relevant to the backstory of BRAPA, but upset Holly) , all is well as the bloke reels off about 600 pubs in the local area he wants me to try despite them not being in the GBG. Richmond is difficult enough on its own, I came here last in 2016 and it is one of those towns which puts a different pub in the Guide every year. This though, I'd like to think, could become a regular entry. Top place.
|Defib and a broom getting in the way - two ticks on the rural N.Y. bingo card|
Well maybe not glorious, but reassuringly trusty and true, like Kevin Sheedy's left foot, Chequers Inn, Dalton-on-Tees (1942 / 3371) was I think a Marston's, which you don't get too many of up here (do they own Jennings now? I can't keep up) and I was sad to see we were the only customers. I like to imagine the locals knew it was closing soon, so didn't think it was worth the bother, but as soon as the evening session kicks off, 6pm ish, they'll all be down here in their gladrags dancing the night away. The barmaid was a canny lass, and I get a pint of Dizzy Blonde (in a Boondoggle glass!), an ale I haven't see in ages. Looking at the pump clip, she's no longer simply posing in a skimpy red dress, but very much like Elsie Mo, she's in a second world war fighter plane (fitting as this is pub 1942) - wot a coincidence! It isn't always an ale I enjoy, but kept well here. Other than that, Dad's comment 'quietly comfortable and homely' was accurate, but shows how pubs need people to be truly 'BRAPA eventful' as you cannot always rely on a fixture or fitting falling on you sadly.
|Incredible shrinking Dad next to normal sized bench and tiny picnic table|
King's Arms, Sandhutton (1944 / 3373) was a pleasing, if somewhat hazy experience for me. Dad, supposedly the sober one, looked to be flagging too - see below, but at least a cracking pint of Rudgate restored him to his normal height. Such great ale, combined with the lovely barman " ... if you need me, I'm polishing the cutlery in the other room so just ring the bell" made it easy to forgive any pubby shortcomings, the fact it was a bit dining twee like so many pubs just off the A19 / A1(M) but overall, all I have are hazy happy thoughts when I think back to this one.
|"Concentrating on the difficulties ahead"|
|Time for the ceremonial destruction of our Two Together Railcard|