The BRAPA Board of Directors gathered on Sunday evening for the Annual Strategy Meeting (ASM), to discuss which counties I'll be focussing on mostly during the coming twelve months.
The bouncers ensured that no riff-raff wandered in off the street .....
|"The place needs more ladies"|
('Get over it Si' I hear you say. 'Never, NEVER, NEVVVERRR' I'd reply).
Keane Lewis Otter sent his apologies (he'd had way too much to drink in Blackpool yesterday and is still recovering) so only Chris the Cow and Reg the Drunken Monkey were available to advise. Oh dear!
Now I'd like to start by saying that just because these are the 'main' ten counties I'll be concentrating on, it doesn't mean I won't randomly pop up in a Suffolk town, Walsall, North Wales or a Northumbrian coastal place in the coming year.
I'd considered the 'scatter gun, tick anything' approach, but my brain has to compartmentalise stuff, it's in my DNA, and I'm too old to change now!
So after a Cadbury's Mini Roll which annoyingly had 'Roll on Christmas' written on the wrapper and a cup of M&S breakfast tea that Mummy BRAPA had palmed off on me because she had worries over its strength, it was on with the show.
The way I'm trying to approach this ticking malarkey is to get counties 'fully greened off' once, then leave them alone for a few years, let new 'white bits' appear, and move on to the next county. Of course, it doesn't always work out like that, but it gives me order.
1. NORTH YORKSHIRE
When I fully greened North Yorks at Melsonby in April 2017, I vowed to 'leave it alone' for a while so I could focus on new 'un-greened' counties, and wasn't constantly chasing my tail.
But unlike the likes of Cheshire, Derbyshire and Buckinghamshire, North Yorks is on my doorstep so harder to ignore. And if you've seen my recent BRAPPING, you'll know I've really been going for it with recent trips to the Dales, Middlesbrough, Harrogate and the like.
What Makes Me Nervous- Appleton Wiske. Ugh - terrible opening hours (6pm on a Saturday, I ask you!) + rural location on no bus route (or even close to one) means this is my hardest tick to get done.
What Makes Me Happy - Daddy BRAPA's ongoing commitment to 'local' chauffeuring after I've forced him to stay in Stoke til 8pm for a fifth consecutive Saturday, so that he begins to view driving me to Starbotton as 'a nice gentle break'.
I thought Herts'd be a piece of piddle after Essex, and it probably is to some extent, but that isn't to say it will come quietly. The constant struggles getting from York-London due to engineering works hasn't helped, the 'cross-ticking' exercise wasn't exactly kind.
Flaunden? Bridens Camp? They're just making places up now aren't they? A return visit to Hemel Hempstead to do a 'Spoons? CAMRA are laughing at me aren't they? On the plus side, I'm only 5-6 trips from competing it if everything goes according to plan (it won't!)
What makes me nervous - Ware. I read that more online porn is watched in Ware than anywhere else in the UK, so it is going to be hard to look people in the eye when I make it to the Crooked Billet.
What makes me happy - BRAPA Person of the Year 2021 Simon Dewhurst, and perhaps also Daddy Dewhurst have kindly volunteered to drive me around another super six.
The efforts I put into mid and north Hants back in November means I MUST get it fully greened before the 2023 GBG hits us in October.
Southampton still needs more work, and Portsmouth is the key place. Another epic BRAPA holiday down there, and I might, just might, be somewhere near completion. Also, Pompey could well be do-able there and back in the day, IF I can get back to the days where you can get an early train, and a late one back out of Kings Cross without having to pay a stupid amount of money.
I keep saying it, but this HAS to be the year I finally get it greened in full. I think I've been 2 or 3 pubs off for the past 2 or 3 GBG's! That has gone back up to six. I can't say I wasn't tipped off about Fram Ferment or Spennymoor's new micro as pre-emptives, but I ignored that advice and am now being rightly punished! Shildon and Beamish, I could never have predicted. Kip Hill is my own fault for being lazy, but happily. it pairs nicely with Beamish.
What makes me nervous - Red Lion, Cotherstone. I'm actually getting sick of writing how I promise this will be the year I finally go, but this year I mean it! Honest guv. I've stood outside it and had a photo, but I guess I can't count that? The Red Lionness would. Oooh, bitchy Si! Like Appleton Wiske, the only day it opens during the day is a Sunday, which is the one day of the week the bus doesn't run. Cheers Red Lion. Keep your locals happy, don't worry about poor BRAPA. Ooh my sense of entitlement is strong tonight!
What makes me happy - Shildon - one of those towns you hear of but never go to even though you want to cos you imagine everyone has one tooth and wears a vest in winter. A canteen bar & kitchen with bonkers opening hours that sometimes revolve around breakfast is bound to be an exciting memorable tick.
Three consecutive summer holidays here 2016-18 staying in the middle or west of this county (and getting it all green with the exception of St Kew Highway and the Isles of Scilly) mean that despite three years away, it is still looking pretty green and the best pub ticker of the lot, Duncan Mackay, even dubbed me the King of Cornwall (or similar!)
I want to get back on it this summer, not peak summer obviously, but this time, attacking it from a Devonly direction. Ten mile walk to Morwenstow anyone? (You're not invited unless you have a car (I'll buy you half a Tribute and a J20) , so don't see that as a genuine invite. Thanks, love you really).
What makes me nervous - Cornwall is a RIDICULOUS county to get around on foot / by public transport. The number of times I've nearly been run over, by car or sheep, accidentally walked 15 miles, or nearly got stranded 10pm in Indian Queens or Nancenoy, I can't tell ya. Still, I love the challenge.
What makes me happy - Checking in on Twitter at the Finnygook Inn at Crafthole and have people think I'm just making it up now.
7. GREATER MANCHESTER
LOOK AT MY MAP COLOURING, JUST LOOK AT IT! The highlighting represents my mental unravelling when I think about tackling this vast and hugely popular county to a conclusion.
I've neglected it for too long (my last tick was in 2019), and back in 2018, I was actually getting close to completing it, but I've lost 10-15 pubs a year since, and I deserve to as its a county which loves new micros and throwing in the occasional Joseph Holt's only pub.
I'm going to attack it from the west, and have some kind of emotional finale somewhere like Littleborough, Dobcross, Stalybridge or Rochdale, one balmy summer's evening (or that's how I'm picturing it anyway).
What makes me nervous - That 'under the microscope' feeling when tweeting / blogging anything in that Outer Manchester area. Fuck up, and you'll be cancelled quicker than a Hull City season pass when the Allam's announce they've decided to stick around for another ten years and the Turkish takeover was all an elaborate hoax.
What makes me happy - Bumping into a few of the legendary GMR based #PubMen and #Pubwomen (oops, I mean errrm #PubPeople) who make up such a big section of #PubTwitter.
In a similar vein to GMR, expect I've been too lazy to ever make a concerted effort to 'get Lancs done', it has suddenly occurred to me what a vast, varied, rewarding pub county it is. The people are cracking folk too, the ale often kept in top condition, and my fab trip yesterday to Blackpool only crystallised in my mind the need to really push for Lancs in 2022.
I'm even thinking it could be a nice little venture for myself and Daddy BRAPA to save us from all those painstaking London days if the trains continue to misbehave.
|I've also done two out of three in Hereford if it helps!|