Rhyl and Prestatyn complete, three pubs down, we'd hit the halfway point in the day.
To Mold or not to Mold?
The advantage of Molding is that the town has three GBG ticks, meaning we could get the day done in one pub visit.
The disadvantage, getting off the train at Flint, bus services were sparse. Taxis an unknown quantity. And getting back from Mold, potentially just as tough with many buses final services circa 5-6pm.
The alternative? Keep going down the line, hopping off at Chester, Newton-le-Willows and Manchester Victoria for the remaining three ticks.
I was edging Mold, and so was Daddy BRAPA, though if you ask him now, I'm sure he'll tell you I forced him against his will. I was later told off by Mummy BRAPA for pushing him too hard over the last three weeks. #EvilSi (Nonsense of course, but for the sake of peace in the family unit, I'm happy to play the bit-part villain).
I have to admit though that these last three weeks HAVE been a bit much. Car days around North Yorks and Lancs have been hastily pencilled in over the wintertime!
Anyway, Mold it was. How many times can I write Mold in one blog?
Farewell Prestatyn .....
Hello Flint! A gloomy place I visited in 2013, nothing had changed, not even the rain, when I ticked off the Royal Oak as part of my 'L is for Llandudno .... Si's A-Z Aleway Adventures' day, which I'm sure hasn't been in the Guide since.
With 40 minutes until the next bus, I prayed taxis would be plentiful. They weren't! Five companies I phone, four picked up, all four said no cars available for at least an hour.
Dad walked down the high street keeping his eyes peeled. Nothing doing. I needed a wee. Time for a slow half before the bus?
Looking like quite a well appointed Marston's house, George & Dragon, Flint (3445) was quite different in reality. Note the 'gross' pub number of 3445 (sadly not net!) this is because it is a Post-Emptive as verified by Axholme Rob on Twitter after some sterling work. He tells me it featured in the 1982 - 84 and '86 editions.
Let's take a look at its previous entry .....
|Basic 'men only' bar for men doing manly man pub things, grrrrowl.|
"Spoilt for choice, lolz?" chirps our garrulous hostess, seeing the panic in my eyes as I scan the bar for signs of real ale, even a vinegary Pedigree would do. "Arf a guinness" I quiver, as do all ale drinkers in this situation. Dad orders a J20. A pissed up bloke to my right slurs "you do right mate, gotta be 'ealthy" or words to that effect. Friendliest 'most alive' pub of the day, everyone you look at says 'hi'. Keg only pubs, always the friendliest and scariest. Pubs with 20 cask ales on? You'll be lucky if they spit on you, they'll probably not notice you. It soon becomes clear Dad's J20 order hasn't been registered, it did feel like that type of pub. He wisely doesn't question it. Remember he has a new phone so his Google Maps would be more effective for navigation on his Boozy Brum Boys tour next week? Well, he chose this moment to get me to help him set up his fingerprint unlocking system. Making him the most modern man in Flint. My 'Arf er Guinness' drank well, but we have a bus to catch.
I'd like to put on record now that whilst real ale is my favoured tipple and I'll always choose it, it isn't what I most want out of a pub. I use the GBG because it is a great proper book, where you can tick stuff off. If a beer book existed called 'Britain's 4500 Most Bonkers Keg Boozers', I can tell you now, I'd be ticking the buggery out of that!
Opposite the pub, and onto the bus, the driver seemed surprised anyone would want to go from Mold to Flint. The card reader, he told me, didn't work, we were purely 'cash only around here, soz boyo'. He then told Dad his Pensioners Bus Pass wasn't valid either! We sat atop the wheel arch, as the bus bounded down bumpy country roads into increasingly leafy parts, Mold the surprisingly large town at the end of it all.
A bit like Leek in terms of bus ride, location, nice bustling town, and being a one word town with four letters. Sadly its GBG pubs couldn't compete.
First up, this oddity .....
I'd been to a Fat Badger in Harrogate once, and this Fat Boar, Mold (2016 / 3446) had a very similar kind of atmosphere, I see there is a Wrexham one too so perhaps part of a small chain. The kind of place where ladies fresh out of the sauna walk in wearing fluffy white dressing gowns and slippers, face packs on, cucumbers for eyes, and lean on the bar as smartly dressed respectful young staff carefully sculpt them a creamy cocktail with a coffee base and frosted rim, carefully placing two passion fruit segments in the top. And then, ten minutes later, you (or in this case Dad) asks for an ale and a J20 and they breathe a sigh of relief. Dad gets his card out, ready for the contactless charade, and to our immense surprise, the staff are suddenly flustered, reaching for distant card machines, eyeing us like we're the most modern men in Mold straight outta Shoreditch. Bastion, my third Big Hand beer in a row, and surprisingly for a 4th tick of the day, the first pint I genuinely enjoyed. A nice rich traditional bitter. Some awkward perched high stools look our best bet for seating, beyond that some ladies who brunch tottered between dark conservatory, patio, and a sort of out building. One loo for the entire pub? Surely not! I went outside to ring for a taxi for later. I made Chester the destination to speed the day up. Again, it was a massive trial. Even though I was booking for over an hours time, no one could do the time I wanted. I eventually had to agree on half an hour later. I returned to break the bad news to Daddy BRAPA. Another late finish!
Dad had gone a-wandering by now, Littlehampton style, but I soon found him knocking on the window of a little cafe where he was enjoying a life-giving coffee.
It had at least given me chance to observe the true stripped back blurry Mold.
Our next pub looked more like an amusement arcade ......
And I was still cooing "ooh, doesn't feel much like a Wetherspoons" as we walked through the narrow dimly lit, booths on each side entrance at the Gold Cape, Mold (2017 / 3447) though it did in fairness, open up into the Spoonsiest Spoons ever. It is actually called the Gold Cape because they found a 4,000 year old solid gold cape under this pub, which is funny because most people were obsessed with Bronze, knifes, beakers and spearheads around then. The cape was discovered in 1831, and it first appeared in GBG the following year, Tim Martin cutting the ribbon with William IV and Eliza Courtney. BRAPA fact. I'm talking shite cos there's not much to say. A 'Spoons fifth tick of any day is gonna be like that. My Peaky Blinders beer was like razorblades in the throat. It wasn't busy enough to be fun, or intimidating, the place had partitions a plenty which made observation difficult (yeah ok so Dad had Boris and Theresa sat behind him but what of it?)
|AND I forgot my 50p off vouchers|
One pub to go before our taxi, plenty of time, and ended up kinda glad I'd not had to drink at 25 mins a pint cos I wasn't massively enjoying my beer today.
|Dad distracted by dog insanity at crucial moment|
Easily the pick of the Mold trio was the Mold Alehouse, Mold (2018 / 2448)
, not because it had loads of beer choice or anything so crass even though it did, but I just really really liked the building in which it was situated. Reminded me of taking my cats to the vets when I was younger, Grade II listed and some sort of chambers of secrets. Taxi lady didn't have a clue when I said where we wanted picking up from the Mold Alehouse, but as soon as I said Earl Chambers, she was like 'yup boyo'. Someone tells me this used to be the Chester Chronicle offices too. Disservice to call it simply a 'micropub'. We probably missed some sign on entry, fighting our way through the lively wide-eyed crowd to the bar. "MASKS ON!" came the cry. We apologised, as my sister found on a recent trip to Scotland, rules still a bit stricter outside England. I later put on Twitter we'd been told off, the pub saw it and said it was hardly a telling off, just good job we didn't order Fosters! Oh how we llol'd (laughing out loud in Wales), we'll call it a stern reminder then! Happy place though, ale of the day, no idea what I ordered (not Fosters) but hardly matters six pints in does it? Hardly going to be fire up the ole' Untappd at that stage of the day. Sad that out of six GBG ticks, I'd only enjoyed two pints. But a positive note on which to end, if you are only in Mold for one (I can't imagine such a scenario), I'd pick this.
|Smile like Daddy BRAPA and the world smiles with you|
|BRAPA Window Of The Year (WOTY) contender|
The taxi back to Chester did its job, and I'm glad I was six pints in to numb the cringe of the bit where our driver started speaking on his crumbling marriage and being a captive audience, we had no choice but to sit through it.
I did briefly contemplate my 'Cavern of the Curious Gnome' debut, with the next Manchester-York connection not for ages, but I agreed with Dad when he said let's get out of Chester and start getting back towards Manchester (psychologically as much as anything, to feel you are getting in the direction of home).
Even six pints in and tired out, the tickers brain never stops ticking over, and bit of mental maths later, I realised we could jump out at Newton-le-Willows, have 40 minutes to get the pub done, and get on the connecting train which took us straight through to York. Top planning! Especially as it wasn't far from the station ......
We wished a pleasant evening to the assembled bouncer crowd, and walked straight in to my first Merseyside tick in yonks, Kirkfield Hotel, Newton-le-Willows (2019 / 3349). It was surprisingly dimly lit, but I approved, with all the hustle and bustle you'd expect from a Saturday night. Salopian's often drink well, and this Charm Assault was no exception, though I tried to order it in a tongue-in-cheek swaggery charming way, I'm glad looking back that she didn't seem to notice. It was cosy and carpetted and felt kind of clubby, the GBG entry bangs on about coming here for breakfast (well mentions it briefly) and you can tell they were struggling for things to write, as am I. It had a few 'themed' areas, we were in Headingley which confused us a bit with its print of Vinny Jones grabbing Gazza's balls, I s'pose VJ played for L**ds but beyond that, hmmm. Safe to say though, one of the best pints of the day and a happy, cosy place.
And there you have it! Was that my final pub tick using the 2021 GBG, with the 2022 supposedly being sent w/c 25th Oct which is like now? Exciting times. Get your Stabilos ready. Bring on the cross-ticking.
Don't worry about your Dad, dude. My father went to his mother-in-law's funeral at a pub, complained about the beer, complained about the people, and complained about the walking he had to do to the toilet. And he was only 58. Bernard is a trooper.ReplyDelete
Nice story Matthew. I don't feel so bad about my all day complaining now.ReplyDelete
George and Dragon, Flint was a real cracking pub, despite no real ale.