Sunday 9 January 2022


Tried to send this 9pm at night, but Twitter had weirdly suspended me for 12 hrs for saying nice things about Hartlepool, hence the unusual 9am BRAPA blog release time!

Welcome to the future!  2022 was upon us, and I've just got this feeling in my beer addled waters that it is going to be a great year.

By 2am, I decided it was time to de-party popperize myself and give my face a wash and get 6.5 hours of shut eye.

.... and by 9:30am, Daddy BRAPA was parked down below BRAPA Towers, ready for the first three Good Beer Guide ticks of the year.

I'd vowed never to try pub ticking on New Year's Day ever again after a dreadful day in Sheffield in 2020.  In 2021, I didn't even have to make a decision.  

But 2022, and I'd cracked.  Besides, Blackpool away is always appealing, and the chance to meet football pub away day tourist guide of some repute Jane Stuart, well, how could I resist? 

And you know what, being a Saturday gave me added confidence that pubs might actually open.

We set out over the Pennines by car, enjoying our Christmas Cake with marzipan and Red Leicester, washed down with some surprisingly strong coffee.  Daddy BRAPA was scandalised to learn I was only NOW researching potential pre-match BRAPA ticks.  "You've had all evening to do this instead of buggering about celebrating!" he moaned, like an old curmudgeonly sort.

Both required Blackpool ticks didn't open til 1pm, we were due in at 11:30am, so we needed something opening earlier.  My required Cleveleys tick (a couple of miles north of town) provided the saviour when I spotted this on their (Delroy) FaceyB ......

We parked up around the corner, and I swear we weren't even thirty seconds out of the car when two youthful urchins smiled up at us.  As I returned the smile, one commented "how splendid, are we going for a cup of tea now?"  I was shocked, I know York is probably seen as vaguely more upmarket than Cleveleys, but we were hardly suited and booted, presuming that was the implication!  All I can think of is that Dad's snood resembled a cravatte and made him look like the Lord of the Manor. 

No time to dwell on that, as we immediately noticed our so called 11am opener is looking very shut indeed, at 11:30am!


Nooooo!  How could this be?  They'd specifically advertised their opening times for NYD.  Shows, you really cannot assume owt until you are inside the pub, although even then (see Hawes on 28th Dec), you are still in the lap of the gods / barstaff.

As we stand outside, I hastily type out a message to Jane who I've agreed to meet here, saying 'change of plan, we'll retire to Jolly Tars Spoons' (which I did back in 2017) and we'll try again at noon'.

But the moment I press 'send', a dishevelled looking family appear, unlock the pub, groan 'Happy New Year' through thick fuzzy tongues, apologise for their lateness, and let us in!  "Jane, scrap that last message, we're back on!" I type. 

Shipwreck Brewhouse, Cleveleys (1990 / 3553) is the most NYD introduction to a pub tick you could ever imagine.  The bleary eyed Mr & Mrs Shipwreck explain they'd been to a party last night, and are already regretting promising to open today!  We almost feel bad being here.  Almost. "What you after,  coffee?" says Mr S., seemingly unable to comprehend anyone wanting alcohol.  When we say beer, he looks further pained and instructs their son, Young Shipwreck, to turn the beers on and serve us.  Luckily a couple of locals have wandered in too, so we feel less bad!  Dad's offered to help with setting up the chairs .....

"Mind your back, mind your back, Daddy BRAPA..."

.... but Mrs S. tells him not to, seemingly concerned he'll put his back out.  I'm no help at all, just wandering around taking photos like the pub ticking scum I am.  Finally we are settled down with pints, and a few seconds later, Jane arrives, the ball of energy this pub needs.  I know immediately she's made of the right stuff when she address Daddy BRAPA as 'Daddy' - brilliant!  I tell her it'll be a bit weird if she keeps doing it, and take her to the bar to choose a beer.  We're still stood chatting five minutes later, as Mr S. seems to have fallen asleep against a wall!  Poor guy.  He also remembers the local with the nice dog who's been here as long as us hasn't had his ale yet either and is sat there patiently!  Oops.  Well, we sit down with good pints & nice chats follow, Jane gets me another, the middle blue on goes off but the other blue one is nicer than my first.  Deceptively cosy place, and hangovers or not, the family-feel-micro that served Tamworth Tap and Brighouse Crafty Fox so well recently is in evidence again, creating a warm, easy atmosphere.  Jane does her debut green stabiloing with great precision, Dad leaves a bit early to check on the car in case those urchins have egged it, and Jane encourages me to explore that back of the pub, which has some nice hidden rooms and outdoorsy loo bits including Hull City balloons (cos they obviously secretively want us to win).  A good, amusing way to start 2022 BRAPPING.

Jane's debut ticking actually looks like Col's getting a colonoscopy and Dad and KLO are the mad assistants

Dad drives us down through Blackpool where Jane tells us some of the next Star Wars is being filmed on a Cleveleys beach, and weirdly, in the mild sunshine with that low sun, there is a sci-fi atmosphere about the place.  Very Tatooine, if that's how you spell it.  Maybe our next pub would have weird jolly monsters playing trumpets and sax music?

SatNav is being a bit of a pain, but we get to grips with the mean streets of inner Blackpool and soon we are at pub two .....

Cask, Blackpool (1991 / 3554) is the uninspiring name, but a surprisingly quality place as the exterior is dull as dishwater too.  One that speaks for itself rather than offering any fancy flouncy bells and whistles.  I'd still be painting it Tangerine and renaming it the Benny Burgess Tavern if it was me.   The guv'nor greets us like old friends, you'd think that might be the Jane effect, but even she hasn't been here since opening night a couple of years back.  Funny how often you are talking about a beer, and then it randomly appears, like marching through South Sheffield with Mick Citra where he starts saying "you know wot beer I fookin' hate, that fookin' Titanic Plum fooking Porter" (I might be paraphrasing him), and then it randomly is on at the next pub.  Today, Jane had been telling us about her highly anticipated trip to Hartlepool (which she's at now as I write this!), and lo and behold, what pops up but Camerons!  And I mean, far be it from BRAPA to get bogged down in beer, but my goodness, the quality, the sheer unadulterated quality, I don't do NBSS but gold star A++ and an apple to the teacher if I did!  Fabulous.  I challenge Jane to get a better pint in H'pool.  You could just tell the bloke was the type who'd keep his beer in peak condition.  The place is warm, always my second biggest concern of Micros in January now I'm over 40 (the first is 'being open' which is making me nervous about my Stoke trip tomorrow!  I wrote most of this on Fri night)  In the absence of Tom Irvin, time for a bit of Allam Out in solidarity with the ginger minx.  

Our final pre-match pub is, I'm happy to say, not too far from Bloomfield Road so we meander towards it I'm glad to see that as a home fan, Jane is even more confused by this banner than me .....

To give it the full Good Beer Guide name, No 10 Ale House & Thai Kitchen, Blackpool (1992 / 3555) offends so many BRAPA sensibilities of pub naming conventions, it actually isn't funny, even the Kevin Stewart Beerhouse would be preferable.  But the pub is, so I can quickly forgive anything as inconsequential as the name.  It is a different kind of beast from today's previous two boozers, which had a relaxed, considered air.  This has a bustly, jostling style pre-match vibe , without ever being overwhelming.  The staff are welcoming and bright as buttons (you can't go wrong with folk on the north west Lancs coast), and soon we've got pints of that not very orangey Chocolate Orange Stout by Ossett we get a lot in York (my friend Krzbii worked out you have to lift your tongue and put a bit underneath to taste the orange, but even that didn't work today!)  A bouncery type lurks by the door to a more 'sit down' foodie area, but he makes no attempt to stop us going in.  I obviously look less like a 'lad' today.  I make a total mess of going to the upstairs loos, whilst appreciating how much this pub feels like someone's house up here (I think it is the carpet).  I stand on a blokes foot.  I accidentally wander into the Thai Kitchen.  I don't realise the door to the main urinals is just a bit stuck, so wait for ages for a blocked up seasider to finish his poo.  Didn't need to.  And I didn't need to add an unnecessary layer of drama to a fine pub experience!

Nice to see a pub supporting BRAPA

A short 20 minute or so walk to the ground follows, Jane continuing to be an excellent host and tour guide, dropping us off at the away end, for what I'm ashamed to say is my first game of the season!

In fact, my last game before this was on 11th Feb 2020.  It was like I'd never been away!

Away to a Lancastrian team beginning with 'Black...' , better team in the early stages, didn't take our chances, came out second half like a bunch of tepid kittens, never looked like scoring til last 10 mins, when I decided to move Keane Lewis Otter from bag to pocket, we had a bit of a late flurry, but it wasn't to be, immensely frustrating, just a load of angry people around me shouting into a void of East Yorkshire despair.  This is why NFFD's are a more favourable way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

To 'let the traffic clear' (which is Dad football speak for 'go back to the pub', we popped back into the No. 10 for a 'cheeky half' (which is 'me' speak for 'a pint'), remembered that Hull City losing is water of a duck's back, and by gum, the standard 3.8% bitter we got was fabulous and the barman remembers me.

A cracking day!  Lovely to meet Jane, great company #PubWoman , any tick on NYD is a bonus so to get three was great (tempted as I was to get Dad to fling me out of the car at Rivington or Heath Charnock on the way back), and I'm looking forward to coming back to this part of the world for a bit of Lytham, St Annes, Knott End, Freckleton and Wrea 'Ray' Green later this year.

Take care and thanks for reading, I'll be back tomorrow or Tues with tales from the always good value Wigan and Chorley.


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