As I bade farewell to pub 2000, there was no looking back, there never can be in this pub ticking game. Onto pub 2001, infinity, and beyond.
I marched Dad and Tom across a road we didn't need to cross, then down the wrong street. Nice to see that 2000 pubs and 7.5 years later, my navigational skills are still terrible. And as for my left from my right? Don't have a clue mate.
It was easier to cross back the other way, so no harm done. As I loiter for the outdoor photo, an approaching lady lingers at the edge, not wanting her BRAPA five seconds of fame.
She overtakes us and goes in first. "My 2001st pub visit!" I tell her. She looks at me like a world weary worn woman who is sick of random weirdos quoting pub stats at her. But fear not. King's Arms, Horsham (2001 / 3430) supplies further evidence that the town is managing to keep it traditional. The sun streams in, the atmosphere is happy, and without being multi-roomed, there is a 'split' feel to the place, offering the feeling you can 'get away from it all', not a bad thing when the boisterous Horsham F.C. fans are in town. I look to see which opponents are making them so giddy. Potters Bar Town, home of my recent joyful 'Spoons experience. "You're getting taught by the Scholars!" On a day of fabulous bar staff, this woman is my favourite, her sense of humour drier than some dry hopped something or other. She agrees that it is reasonable of me to assert that if I'm going to be the spokesperson for our little trio (i.e. shouting out the drinks order), I should be absolved of ever having to buy a round. Sadly, Tom and Daddy BRAPA didn't share her view. Our beer was a puzzler. As in, I thought it was dreadful. Not the quality. Just the style. A Black Cherry mild by local Kissingate. Presumably an ancient one. I know mild is, by all accounts 'mild', but this was just like sweet cherry water. I thought I'd picked up Tom's pint by mistake! Perhaps a centuries old recipe that just doesn't translate. In any case, yuck. Still a fabulous pub. My fave today overall.
Into the bowels of Horsham for our last two pubs, by which I mean the town centre, a welcome relief from the utterly depressing concrete ring road main drag.
Colin said hi to a few old rellos:
|...and a second nod to rhubarb in quick succession
A risky cut through, right through the middle of an indoor shopping centre rarely ends well on BRAPA days, but I emerged from this one fairly unscathed. Tom, who likes places with amplified acoustics for inappropriate football chanting purposes, managed to hum a few strains of the classic "Shopping Wankers" (B-Side to 'BRAPA 2000'). I was about to tell him off, but the way that a woman with young children moved to the side for us as a result, letting us pass, really helped with the BRAPA progress.
|Shopping Wankers of Horsham / I wanna pass, they say 'ov course son'
|Horsham Mobility Mafia Mob
|Corona world domination
|Tom n Dad at the bar
|Odd outdoorsy bit
|Dry your eyes lads
|NINE in Worthing though, so it'll probably even itself out
It is evident long before we get back into the centre of town that achieving both remaining ticks is going to be out of our reach, and this was the problem all day.
No matter how we twist and turn to try and achieve the six ticks, it is always just beyond us. Does make you wonder if West Sussex is just a bit much of an ask on a day trip. But I think we are returning in November to try again! More confident as we are booked on more 'generous' trains.
One pub is beyond the station, but the other, we are passing en route, is just about achievable.
|Shopmobility scooter outside - beats a Cask Marque sign any day
George Inn, Littlehampton (2004 / 3433) and as I turn around as we approach the bar, Tom informs me that Dad has decided to give this one a miss too! Not sure if he wasn't on drinking form, or whether he has a special clause written into his BRAPA contract that forbids him from visiting Littlehampton boozers, but whatever, he'd gone to explore the town. A dreary range of beers is cheered up 1% by Adnams Broadside, one of those strong ales I can drink easily for some reason. They say (well, BRAPA says) if you want to gauge what a town is really like, a trip to the Wetherspoons is your litmus test. As Tom and I spy the one empty table in a sea of insanity, as two pubbers who've seen quite a lot over the years on our travels, it is fair to say we are left pretty well speechless at the general atmosphere here. It isn't a criticism, it was fantastically rugged. There's this young kid just sat alone at a table for ages. He has the face of a much older man. A bunch of other kids come n go, occasionally murmuring a few words to him. I'd pitch this piece about half way between Oliver Twist and Bugsy Malone. I'm scared to go to the loo in case the massive ten year old Sumo steals my lunch money. A "responsible adult" finally appears. About my age, I'm shocked when the kid calls him Grandad. Balding, but not Claire. I'm even more depressed when 'Dad' arrives, a tracksuited scrawny tattooed 24 year old. If this kid is 8, and Grandad is 40 .... I'm trying to do the maths. Eventually feeling brave enough to go to the loo, my progress is blocked by two ladies who look like they could knock me unconscious with one punch. "How's ya kids?" asks the first. "I don't 'av kids, I have 4 dogs" replies the second disturbingly matter of fact. "Oh, well I 'av twins!" says the first. I have a full bladder. I didn't say that. Wasn't brave enough. Dad texts, he's waiting outside. If only he knew what he'd missed.
Back on the train, waving to the Littlehampton pub we have missed (Steamboat or something), I'm still half thinking of ways I can achieve the elusive sixth pub. Crawley would be an option, but the train doesn't stop there.
I'm wondering about getting back into London, Clapham Junction has a 'Spoons I need. But is there time?
Maybe my travel companions can come up with a solution?
OH FORGET IT!
Besides, there is one very pleasing plus point about getting back to King's Cross with over half an hour to spare before the train isn't there? It begins with an E and ends in a B.
An exhausting, but weirdly very fun day. Thanks to Dad and Tom, and the folk of Horsham and Littlehampton.
I'll be back either tomorrow or Wednesday to tell you about the time I went to Brinsworth, in South Yorkshire.
For now, sweet dreams, and I'm off to watch Prisoner CBH episode 451.