Friday 14 January 2022


A rare Saturday outing for KLO

Crossing the Pennines last Saturday morning, somewhere 'twixt Marsden and Greenfield, I looked out of the train window where the sleet was coming down sideways.  I remember that the breakdown of today's six required pubs is, in footballing terms, Micropubs F.C. 5-1 Old Pubs Athletic.  All are in the Stoke area, and I can't help but feel a pang of guilt as I look across at Daddy BRAPA, currently enjoying a long run of consecutive appearances.  Do I break it to him now or later?

At least buttered malt loaf, cheese and coffee make everything okay

Keane Lewis Otter looks defiant.  But I bet Colin the Cauliflower is delighted he is in the wash and gets to sit today out.

After a walk across Manchester thanks to some idiotic ticketing on my part, we change at the Picc.  The sleet has turned to torrential rain by Congleton.  Like someone has tipped a hundred buckets of water over the train roof.

Yes, I had serious doubts that today would be a classic.  But then again, to underestimate the micros would be to underestimate the friendliness of Stokie folk.  Micros live or die by the people within.  And if 2021 Staffs ticking taught me one thing, it is that there's some good blokes in Stoke, no joke.  And women too, but they don't rhyme.  But don't worry ladies, at least the Colmore wants you ('get over it Si' 'NEVERRR'). 

The rain has eased by 1% as we reach Stoke, so with twenty minutes til noon, we make the bold decision to walk through Stoke 'proper' (one of the six grey gloomy estates towns - we do ourselves a quiz, the only one we didn't get right was Tunstall).  

I'd checked social media thrice for this one, everything pointed to 12 noon.  Guess what? 

SHUT PUB ALERT!  We are well cheesed off.  And very soggy.  'Oh well, we'll just have to come back later' I tell Dad.  Problem with being a pub ticker, you can't afford to have any standards.  The Simon Everitt in me says grumpily "if they can't bloody list their opening hours correctly, they don't deserve my custom" but BRAPA in posh Victorian child voice says "oh gosh, it's in my Guide, so we must go back father, oh father, we simply must!"  I hate BRAPA.  

A long trek back down the main road with the wind now lashing into our faces for increased sogginess, a selection of bat shit crazy locals at our bus stop, all with brightly dyed hair, lip piercings and Netto shopping bags and Aldi buggies, advise us to hop on the next bus for Newcastle-u-Lyme.  Or 'Newcastle', as the locals confusingly call it like they've never heard of that place up north.

Low point of the day is this bus journey, it takes an AGE to negotiate the hospital, treating it like a town in itself with a plethora of different stops within.  Burns Unit Ave, Paediatrician Way, it had it all.  Bus driver is a right dude, and has Stock Aitken and Waterman hits blaring out for us all to 'enjoy'. 

"Today has had everything you'd expect from a BRAPA day ...... except a pub and a pint!" I tell Dad. Well, that got a laugh.  Gallows humour was the only way at this point.

Everything changes when we reach Newcastle-under-Lyme, as Robbie Williams once sang.  The rain is easing, and N-u-L feels like it is a nicely self contained town in its own right, outside the Stokie Six, which I should remember from when M.Lawrenson gave us a guided tour around here a few years ago, but didn't.

And tears form in the corner of my eyes as I spy our next pub is open, tucked down off the main road near that Lymestone Vaults thing I did on that previous trip ......

Wellers, Newcastle-under-Lyme (2001 / 3564) really lit the blue touch paper in terms of locals with bags of character, transforming a neat and tidy well run Micro into something resembling an old boys boozer with roaring guttural laughter, and unlikely tales and anecdotes aplenty.  If it wasn't the smartly dressed tubby Rod Stewart and lady friend (wedding?  funeral?  or just very stylish folk who dress up for the pub?), it was the bloke with the white van who'd spent the last week travelling between Lyme Regis and Bournemouth, selling sunglasses to unsuspecting Dorsetians.   The guv'nor was a bit less 'grrrarr' but knew when to mix it with the lairy ones,  a top guy, and the Weale ales were cracking. I assumed Weale ales and Wellers must be an anagram, but no 'r', Dad tried to link in Keith Weller, what with one of his former clubs, Millwall, on the tele losing to Palace.  But of course, it was Paul Weller, arty picture of him above the tempting sounding Oatcake Gin.  Was he from Newcastle?  I couldn't see he was, maybe he played his best ever gig here?  Hadn't realised how damp I was til I'd sat down, could've wrung my coat out, but the rain was easing and maybe now today could really get going.

Content at last!

Weale Ale .... oh, sounds like 'real' ale, just got it!

Mind the sanitiser KLO

Joke : What's Paul Weller's fave flavour vaccine?  Mod-erna  (thanks!)

Across town, under this totally confusing multi-faceted underpass / subway monstrosity, and pub two was situated inconveniently on the other side, almost like it had been a canalside inn there for centuries longer, before evil town planning occurred. 

Gizza a wave Daddy BRAPA!

Boat & Horses, Newcastle-under-Lyme (2002 / 3565) , and the boat gets my vote from the moment we walk in to this atmospheric old pub, greeted by Dan the host who apparently is great in every barmanly way possible, apart from the art of fire-lighting.  I'm always gonna order the Bass (it is Staffs BRAPA law) but that doesn't stop a elderly couple behind us saying 'spoilt for choice in 'ere!' as there's a good selection on.  We take a seat next to them, obviously a highly educated pair who moved around the country but wound their way back towards their home.  He tells me how he first used to come in here in 1953, when his Mum sent him to buy her off sales beer as a 10 year old lad.  Otherwise, he wasn't allowed to come in here for many years as it had a rough reputation, hard to believe today.  It's such a nice tale, only right I give him the honour of wielding the green stabilo - like his lifelong association with this pub has come full circle, or something, if BRAPA was hugely significant.  Course it is! 
The otter is down!

Ticking with aplomb

Dan, possibly thinking he needs to light a fire

"Please close the door!" kinda loses the French allure

What a pub!

Time to negotiate the evil subway/underpass and try and find our way to pub three.  I'll tell you about that, and the others, on Sunday.  See you there, 9pm.

Best get to bed now, I'm off to either Staffs, Herts, Lancs or North Yorks first thing tomorrow.



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  2. Weller wrote "Going Underground" about the underpasses in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

    Some people think "Town called Malice" was about Stoke. But it was actually about Alice Springs and the m" was a typo.