Tuesday 16 November 2021

BRAPA is ...... BROUGHT-ON AS A SUB, ADDING TO MY TALLY (HO) (Hants in my Pants 2/6)


Staring down into the village well in Broughton on the morning of Wednesday 3rd November, I was getting strange flashbacks from the night before where I nearly fell into that vat of Pressed Warthog ale at Triple fff brewery.  

It had been a frustrating morning.  Up early to do one of my half dozen or so 'impossible on public transport' ticks this week, my plans to walk 4.5 miles from Mottisfont & Dunbridge station had been scuppered by 'the Salisbury Incident' (the train one, not the Russian one).

Having missed the bus to Stockbridge where I could've attempted a hair raising walk along the A30 (glad I didn't, plus I didn't know a #Pubman lived there - more on that later), all that remained was to take an expensive taxi.  At least there was a 13:09 bus back to Winchester!

It was your typical remote village, a few curtain twitchers kept an eye on me, the village phone box was now a lending library, cor you could've been in rural Cambs.  

At 11:50am, I witnessed a conversation between a jolly man who had 'youthful pub landlord' written all over him, and a dude in a car.  "Popping in for a pint?" asked the former.  "Ooohaarrr I moight" says the latter.  "You open already?" I interjected.  "We've been open since 11 moite!" he replies.  You won't find that info on social media.  Let's get our first impossible tick of the week done.

Tally Ho!  Broughton was the name, an interesting clash of styles within.  Village farm shop in feel, part dining, part traditional local, it was certainly not dark and brooding like many pubs I'd visit this week.  The bar area was especially disconcerting.  Incredibly low and deep, meaning they had room aplenty to display their village store-esque wares behind it.  It was like someone had built an area half way across the room, and called it a bar, than built a bar in the traditional sense.  I'm allowed to order the 'wrong' beer, and then taunted that I should've been patient and waited for the Exmoor Fox to go on!  It is all done in good humour but is still odd behaviour.  Pulling it through takes the barmaid an age, she's getting taunted too to go quicker with her pulling technique.  Me and Col are laughing from afar.  Jarvis the pub dog comes to settle next to us, a lively contender lacking concentration span.  The stand out moment is when a bloke (quite serious and posh looking, meeting another chap here for lunch) asks if the pub sells any biscuits!  I don't think it all my years pub ticking have I ever heard anyone ask that in a pub.  It throws the staff, who eventually flog him those tiny biscotti things you put on the side of coffee saucer.  He munches a few down with gusto and half an Exmoor.  #TasteHook   I return for a half of Exmoor myself "seeing as you've worked so hard to get it on!" I say.  "Awwww bless ya" say the staff.  BRAPA cares.

Jarv and Col ultimately fail to bond

Peculiar but nice, would be my pub summary, and it wasn't finished yet.  As I waited for the bus, a hi-vis dribbling yokel stops for a ten minute chat, and a removal van makes me cross the road - I assume he's wanting to park his van in the space behind the bus stop, but he drives straight past!  Why do people keep testing me?  Must be the Test Valley way.  Haha.  Sorry.

Back in Winchester, and being Wednesday, there still isn't a lot open mid afternoon midweek.  Basingstoke & Whitchurch to save the day?  

My train doesn't take long, I enjoy a spot of lunch and send RetiredMartin some GBG pages on the move, he wants Derbyshire and Manchester today.  Demanding.  Can't he go to the Winchester until all this blows over?  #TickersUnion kept him right in his embargo period hour of need.

The train to Whitchurch was about half an hour off, but luckily one of my two new Basingstokees was hanging off the edge of the station car park like a lady in a strappy dress.   It looked kind of extreme if that really was new accommodation tagged onto the rear .....

Queen's Arms, Basingstoke was a reassuringly basic boozer.  On another day, it could've joined every other Basingstoke pub I'd ever been to in the realm of 'borefest', but this experience was different.  It all starts as the landlady serves the small Irish regular to my right a pint of Kronenboug instead of his regular Fosters.  "Not sure I can handle Krony anymore" he says, the first time I've heard an Irish person question their tolerance of booze.  She kind of blames the fact that she's also serving me, but it leads to the three of us stood at the bar in mid weekday afternoon splendour having a very pleasant chat.  He wonders what my accent is, which opens up plenty of BRAPA chat.  They are both massive fans of Swanage (first time I've heard this too) and we all relive our experiences of the Square & Compass at Worth Matravers and replacement buses driving you to your front door.  Well, he downs his drink and leaves, and just as I am also saying farewell, two new blokes walk in, and open conversation with the landlady.  The circle of pub life.  This pub definitely had something about it.

Orange Doom Bar, mmmm, like an Orange Kit Kat?

The pub being boozerish

Did the Irish man get the lager he wanted?  'Fraid not

I still had another Basingstoke pub to do, SIX in the Guide, but make no mistake, even if you are one of those people who call it Amazingstoke, it isn't exactly Winchester pub town quality.  Happier than Andover, but then again, where isn't? 

But no time for the Basingstoke pub yet, I had a prior engagement at Whitchurch, well once my phone stopped being a nob and let me download my ticket.  I ran for the connection, phew!  

The first one was a decent trek away from the centre, and I nearly walked past it, it looked more like a convalescence for French nuns than a pub, but maybe it was just me ....... 

Can you see her hiding in the doorway?  I did encourage the chirpy barmaid at the Prince Regent, Whitchurch to embrace her 5 seconds of BRAPA fame, but she sensibly declined.  It was an honest type of boozer, not unlike the last, but most notably fellow pub ticker Eddie Fogden was in town for his Hitchcockian cameo, before a football ground tick / Wonston Arms debut.  He had me a pint of Crop Circle on the table when I arrived, what a gent, it is nice once in every ten pubs to walk into a pub and see a friendly face.  It was his first time seeing the new 'under embargo' GBG, and soon this equally chirpy bloke comes over and is shaking our hands, slagging off the other Whitchurch pubs, especially the one I'm visiting next.  Cross town pub rivalry.  I love it.  A lovely smell of curry is emanating from every pore of this pub making us hungry.  Eddie has a lift so has to dash, so all that remains is to hear our elusive barmaid telling Mr Rivalry about how horrid she was to her Mum when she was a teenager.  Decent boozer, but I dunno, something about it that just felt a little tired.

A quick march into the centre of town brought me to our other Whitchurch tick just as dusk was starting to fall on day two of BRAPA.

The writing was on the wall quite literally as I stepped up to Kings Arms, Whitchurch.  A pub I found  dull as dishwater and it left me cold, or at least the beer did.  I'd love to agree with the bloke in this last pub, who branded it a 'joke' but the place was such a soulless limp lettuce, I couldn't summon the energy to have any particular hatred for it.  It'd be like kicking a disinterested kitten.  'Posh dog snob' walks in at same time as me, and nearly ends up buying my pint, a usually excellent 'Village Idiot' kept at an icy temperature so you couldn't really taste it.  "Very apt!" smirks PDS as I order it.  First I think he's meaning me!  But then he rolls his eyes at the cackling student ladies, who's laughter is torture in the cavernous acoustic nightmare that is this pub.  The staff lack any semblance of humanity.  The Prince Regent was hardly a pub of the year contender, but compared with this, it was a gem.

"A better pub - 0.5 miles"

Just say no

Col tries to add a bit of irreverence to proceedings

It was drizzling with rain, and the rush hour traffic was out in force as I wait for the bus to Overton.  Already in a bad mood from the last pub, some total idiot parks in the bus space, runs off down an alleyway for a piss, and then for an encore goes to buy a sandwich from the Co-op behind me.  The bus is just coming down the road as he emerges, so he runs around, hops in and drives off just in the nick of time.  I mouth 'wanker' and give him ironic applause, he sees me and starts gesticulating like he wants a fight, but I have pubs to do and he looks like he goes to the gym.

In fact, once at Overton, some mental maths tells me I only have 25 minutes absolute max ...... a bus journey made more painful as a girl demands to know where her boyfriend has been.  He won't tell her.  She has tears in her eyes.  'Sorry lass, I think you might be going out with a pub ticker!'

Old House at Home, Overton was more like it.  The pub that today had been crying out for.  Homely, or is it housely, old, I guess it did what it said on the tin.  Roaring fire, welcoming guv'nor, a few raggedy lined red faces, gents in hi-vis and paint stained overalls.  Every late October / early November, I deliberately ensure I fall for the flashing LED Hobgoblin pumpclip, and here was my one and only opportunity.  Perhaps not the easiest pint to neck, but hardly ESB is it?  I slightly betrayed my unwritten BRAPA code of conduct by seating myself with my back to the customers, focused on pint and fire, I could afford no distractions, plus I had to allow myself a toilet trip!  So under the circs, very little to add other than it evoked some of the memories of my Winchester pubs last night, just a shame it was such a rushed job! 

I timed the bus just right, and soon as back in Basingstoke.  The question now was 'final tick in Basingstoke?' or 'final tick in Winchester?'  It depended how the trains were timed,  And one to Winchester was imminent so that was what I went for.  

Fulflood Arms, Winchester sure was a tricky place to find, seemingly tucked away down a series of sidestreets in the opposite direction to everything else in town!  It felt a never ending walk.  Especially as Daddy BRAPA needed me to 'phone in' my Hull City prediction for tonight's exciting clash at West Brom, where predicting an 8-0 defeat seemed the safest bet.  He needed me to do this before Mum put his tea on the table.  I got there just in the nick of time!

A Winchester brewed porter was the perfect night cap, and after a quick chat with Daddy BRAPA, I soon secreted myself into one of the delicious dark corners, behind some sturdy looking old beams.  Winchester had delivered yet another classic on which to end my Winchester GBG section.  I fell into the same kind of half hypnotised state I had done in the Hyde Tavern the previous night, listening to the varied conversations of the three young quirksters (no, not Pauline's kids) at the bar.  If they weren't talking about Patrick Viera, they were talking about Goldcards.  And if they weren't talking about either of them, they were pleased that lino seemed to be making a comeback.  Unless I misheard and they meant Lion-O from Thundercats which would be even more spectacular.   

It'd been a long day, and I was glad to be able to grab a bag of food from Tesco (STILL no individual packs of crisps, what is going on?) and retreat to my Travelodge.  Hull City amazingly only lost by 1.  Time for some shut eye, some even more difficult pubs coming up on day three.  

Join me on Thursday for tales of that, because this week, Thirsty Thursday is (insert word for thirsty beginning with a 'W') on a Wednesday.



  1. Thanks for sending me those pages, Simon. I did actually go to the Malt Shovel in Derby (well, Spondon, lazy geography as I see they've kicked Cask Ancoats out of Manchester) so I did use it.

    I always wondered how you'd get on with those pubs between Basingstoke and Salisbury off the A30 so you've actually done really well and I'm not being patronising.

    Glad to see you had an extra half in the Tally Ho when they changed the barrel or whatever; if you just pop in a pub and neck a half in 5 minutes and leave you miss that little joy, don't you ?

    Are you allowed to call a barmaid "chirpy" ? Do a twitter poll and see what Beer Twitter says.

    1. Martin, it is surely acceptable to call anyone 'chirpy'.

      Orange pieces of cardboard obtained from real life people in real booking offices don't have issues with being downloaded or other similar new fangled bollocks.

    2. It might be acceptable in 1870, but it's 1986 here in Yorkshire and definitely probably unacceptable now so best Simon asked Twitter, I think.

  2. Wet Your Whistle Wednesday.