Saturday 1 January 2022



BRAPPY New Year all!  2022, wow can you believe it?  Well I can't, especially as it is 19:41 on New Year's Eve when I write this intro, a can of 'Shifting Tides' by Burnt Mill to my right, some cherry tomatoes, Wensleydale cheese from Hawes, chutney and crackers to my left.  

The mascot gang including debutants Reg the Drunken Monkey and Chris the Woke Cow are arguing over who should go to Blackpool tomorrow.......

Alex is like "WTF Col, bit presumptuous packing yourself already!" 

2021 was a much more 'normal' pub ticking year than 2020, if anything in the world of BRAPA can be considered normal.  Of course, we got off to a very lockdowned start, and even now, you are not quite sure what new restrictions might be lurking around the corner to scupper early 2022 ticking.

My grand total ends on 379 new ticks for the year, plus 12 pre-emptives.  I'm very happy with that, yes there are tickers out there who'll end on astonishing totals, but in the grand scheme of the lifelong quest I'm undertaking, I've got to be chuffed.   I beat my 2014-2016 totals when pubs were open 365 days, and easily surpassed the 258 I managed in 2020.  'A pub a day keeps the doctor away' (+14) as they say.

I ended 2020 on 1735 pubs, and I'll begin 2022 with my 1990th pub, that's gotta to be progress hasn't it, especially when you consider the 'loss' that always occurs during the yearly cross-ticking.  

Anyway, enough of the boring science bit, on with the review.

January - March

Errrm, not a lot going on here!  Pubs as shut as shut could be, dead as a Dodo, and I'm not even talking the micropub in Hanwell I STILL haven't visited.  It seemed there was no end to lockdown in sight in those bleak midwinter days of Jan-Feb.

Fear not though, for those of you who followed #WWWSI will be able to recall, amazing how much fun you can have with a dice, a bag of Wotsits, a TDK tape, a bottle of red wine, some elaborate cuisine, and a good old Western film.

And no, I didn't know my hat was drug themed.  I just thought it was a nice pretty floral pattern!

Even #WWWSI bored me after a while, but have no fear, #SiFiPieFri was just around the corner.  Yep, you guessed it, me watching Sci-Fi films whilst eating a pie on a Friday.  Genius!  How have I not patented these things?   Twitter decided what ales I'd drink from a list, and I ate Pom Bear crisps, then Scampi n Bacon fries, though looking back it should really have been Space Raiders.  Fail.

All those exciting Tiny Rebel cans and Twitter make me drink 'Yorkshire Bitter'.  #PubMen

At least March provided optimism.  More sunshine, pubs re-opening albeit outdoors only in April, and further getting me in the mood was CAMRA's 50th birthday celebrations, for which the lovely Laura Hadland interviewed me (a year previously) about what it's like to be a weirdo pub ticker in her fab book which I kept reading whilst I was supposed to be doing important banking stuff .....


The anticipation of Monday 12th April didn't quite match 4th July the previous year, but it was close.  I booked the day off work (should've been a free 'life event' day for a guy like me) and the #PubMan to end all PubMen Martin Taylor offered to drive me around a few required South Yorkshire ticks, along with wife Christine, and of course, that cheeky little Cauliflower.

I couldn't get into the whole 'outdoor only' ticking malarkey.  Unseasonably freezing weather, a constant worry of whether they'd have the space to accommodate you, pre-booking fiascos, and even more importantly to me, the feeling that I wasn't really 'experiencing' the pub by simply sitting outdoors or in some dodgy flappy brown stained marquee. 

Total Ticks - 3(!)

Pub of the Month - Roland Arms, Aston.  As GBG ticks go, it was utterly dreadful, but as a first day back pub experience, the three of us found it quite hilarious.  A lack of cask meant John Smith's Smooth was my first pint back (I loved it, don't judge me!) but they couldn't even sort out Martin with a soft drink without a faff.  Staff were lovely but clueless.  The locals were loving it, a group of about 12 ladz drank about 77 pints of Stella in the half an hour we were there.  An experience I'll not easily forget!


Hull City's unexpected promotion from League One helped distract me from the fact that I was immensely frustrated by the lack of indoor pubs.  

But Monday 17th May was the day, I'd booked the week off work, and I headed down to Surrey for 'unfinished business' having come so close to 'fully greening' the county a year ago.  The cross-ticking here had been particularly cruel.  I wasn't the only one excited as I packed the BRAPA bag .....

And so it was, that on 12 noon, Monday 17th May, I walked into the Haycutter, Broadham Green, a classic rural Surrey posho Brunning & Price, and sat down with an indoor pint whilst posh oldies who'd pre-booked scuttled around ordering champagne and sea bass.  Always the wrong type of bass.  

In normal circumstances, this pub would've bored me to horrible tears, but I was in heaven.

Isn't it ..... errm .... wonderful? 

I actually remember taking my jacket off because it was 'warm enough' without it, feeling immediately like I'd removed a layer of clothing I shouldn't like some pub ticking temptress, and looking quickly behind me, and putting it back around my shoulders!

Yes, being inside a pub again would take some adjusting to. 

As you can imagine, the floodgates opened after that and I was ticking like a man possessed.

By the end of the month, I was on holiday again, this time embarking on my biggest challenge of 2021, THE FULL GREENING OF ESSEX.  It was early days, but I'd made a good start on that sunny Bank Holiday weekend.

Total Ticks - 55 (4 in the first half of the month, 51 in the second half!)

Pub of the Month - Admiral Hawke, Sunbury.  Surrey isn't the most rewarding county if good old fashioned boozers full of crazy characters is what you like, so this place totally surprised me. I squashed in amongst the locals who told tales of how their leg tattoos had come to be, a lady got scared by a spider, and I paid in coins for my drink - almost unheard of in these times!  I left with a beaming smile.


June was a lot steadier by comparison for the most part, remembering I do have a liver to think about. Who decided drinking pints instead of halves was a good idea? Oh yeah, me.  

I'd not got into the 'Thirsty Thursday' routine which would serve me so well during the latter half of the year, but I at least encouraged Daddy BRAPA out for a bit of pub ticking fun, like here in East Yorkshire at Bridlington's wonderful new entry, the Old Ship Inn.

12th June was an important day for me in the whole 'Essex quest' as I got to meet the wonderful Simon Dewhurst, and his lovely Daddy Dewhurst, who drove us around some awkward pubs in the Epping Forest area on a warm day even though I'd picked up a bug so couldn't enjoy my pints as much as usual!

Theydon Oak, Coopersale (Wales are playing in the Euros on a giant screen but no one cares)

More on Simon D later.  My mystery illness led me to have a week off work where all I could do was watch the Euro 2pm kick offs in my sun on the balcony, and I found takeaway pizza was the only food I could keep down.  Was an awful time I'm sure you can imagine.

Luckily, by month end, I was recovered and a good job.  It was time for the annual gut-busting liver-busting epic TWO week holiday!

Essex of course was the destination, it was a fabulous time, one of my favourite periods of ticking in 2021, the pubs so rewarding.  I feel a couple of awards coming on.

Pub Ticker of the Year - Eddie Fogden

Eddie was down in Essex at the same time, and we had some classic days out in late June.  He is SUCH a prolific ticker, has such a great intensity too, that Monday he planned for us where we got loads of awkward 12 noon openers done was superbly researched, and his end of year numbers will be huge.  #PubMan

Cricketers, Littley Green (the one with the evil staff but great beer and amazing looking food)

Pint of the Year - Ridley's Rite, Andrewsfield Milibar (the only ale on, I'd been anticipating this tick since 2017, and I wasn't disappointed.  Unique, great guv'nor, I thought it might be a bit crummy but it was actually great).

Total Ticks - 45

Pub of the Month - Woodbine Inn, Waltham Abbey. The way the landlord, with broken leg, still hopped out of his chair to make sure me and Simon D were being well looked after was actually quite touching!  The locals were an astonishing crew, with a brand of Essex accent I couldn't understand.  So many pubs could be my pub of the month, but this one left me most awestruck.

Don't turn around Col


My Essex holiday was still in full swing as June became July.  You know what we haven't had yet?  The bit where BRAPA gets very drunk and does something foolish.

BRAPA Pub Award for Services to BRAPA - Victoria, Colchester (after a wonderful night drinking a few 'extra' beers at the end of an already long ticking day, I leave my GBG behind on the table!  Luckily, they have the presence of mind to look in the cover where I've put my name and mobile number. Back in the Travelodge, my phone buzzes, I race back to the pub, and collect it. I can't be more grateful.  Lovely people, and one of my favourite pubs of my fortnight down here. 

I might be drunk, but I've got it back!

And just as well, straight onto Cambridge to 'attack' Essex from the north, including a trip to the town I grew up in, Saffron Walden, which was weirdly emotional.  The pubs there were bonkers and not at all in keeping with the pretty little market town it is.

Best Overheard Pub Story of the Year - King's Arms, Saffron Walden (I end up sitting with this crazy group, one lad is from Macclesfield, but it is the local lady's story about how many times she had to stamp on a dying pigeon with her welly boots on which kept slipping due to the wet weather, that really captured my imagination). 

They may look nice and innocent from here, but they weren't!

#PubMan 'Above & Beyond' Services to BRAPA Award - Martin Taylor  ( What a guy Martin is (not Guy Martin), he was down in Cambs supposedly to visit his folks, Christine wanted him back in Sheffield not too late for tea, and he still offered to drive me around the 'Belchamps' one of north Essex's most rural outposts.  He was within his rights to tell me to bugger off, but he knows BRAPA will reward him in heaven.

Oi Martin, Belchamps are this way!  Come back!

The Oakham Citra in the Red Lion, Belchamp Otten, was another pint of the year contender

Phew!  July was an epic month.  A few days ticking in North West Wales followed, where I got to meet legends like Patrick at Patrick's in Bangor and the Bay Hop Colwyn Bay chap from 'Boro.  SUCH A friendly part of the world.  Did some right hilly walks too. 

I got some of Yorkshire bottomed out, as Thirsty Thursday's started to become a 'thing'. 

Simon D then took me to some staggeringly remote places like Langley Lower Green and Chrishall as the Essex finishing line finally came into view. 

And we ended in Hertford, with the man, the myth, the legend John Depeche Modem where the pubs were surprisingly strong.

Total Ticks - 60 (breaking the 3 year old BRAPA record of 59!) 

Pub of the Month - Albion Ale House, Conwy (it quite simply had everything, plus I kinda 'had the floor' and was waxing lyrical on BRAPA to anyone bored enough to listen).


We needed to 'come down' after such a hectic July, my liver was crying for its bed and cocoa and choccy biccies by now.  

An amusing day in Preston was a rare foray in Lancs with some of the UK's most eminent pubmen .....

Vinyl Tap, Preston (bonus extra photo from the vaults of Daddy BRAPA)

I got some awkward Essex outliers done I'd missed earlier in the year to pave the way towards my big finale, and then a cracking trip to St Albans got me thinking 'oooh, Herts could be a good county to get done next?'.  Dad being called on stage to join the band in an 'I Want to Break Free' Queen rendition at the Farmer's Boy must be a yearly highlight for him.  If only he'd brought his leather hot pants!

But it was the late August Bank Holiday weekend which provided perhaps the highlights of the year.  

BRAPA Person of the Year Award - Simon Dewhurst (yes, how can it not be?  No way I'd have completed Essex without him.  Shame he wasn't with me for the ultimate Bures Hamlet finale, but the awkward stuff we did the previous day would've taken me like a week on my own!) 

Simon gets his Stabiloing game on at the slightly odd Bell Inn, Great Bardfield

Last Essex tick!  Eight Bells in Bures Hamlet.  Celebrating with a Sarson's

Total Ticks - 37

Pub of the Month - Three Horseshoes, Duton Hill (totally secluded south of Thaxted village boozer, with so much Butlins memorabilia, an amphitheatre, Scottish guv'nor, curmudgeonly locals, and great ale, this is an astonishingly good pub.


Gosh, 10pm and only had one can of ale and only just putting the jalapeno poppers, halloumi fries and garlic mushrooms in the oven now!  Got a second can, Sleep by Beak, a 8% DIPA,  Hope it tastes like Bass or TT Landlord, yum!   

Anyway, speaking of Bass, Staffordshire (along with Herts became the new BRAPPLE of my eye now that Essex was completed - for now). 

Before that, a couple of good BRAPA days had been had, the stand out one being Alnwick-Alnmouth-Amble-Morpeth.  I could really get into Northumberland, shame it begins with an 'N' so probably won't be about 2025 til I really start caring about it!

Beer garden at Cock n Bull, Amble

Dad's shoe/shorts combo took the pressure off me from getting the usual fashion faux-pas Twitter comments!

Can't really remember what drove me to stay a few nights in Stafford, but I'm glad I did.  Got some very solid pubs done .

BRAPA Weird but Great Pub of the Year Award - Swan, Stone (a funny lady waiting for it to open who tried to stroke a bag thinking it was a dog, a local man showing me rude jokes on his phone, a crazy barmaid with a frozen blue rubber glove, Colin fitted in perfectly, and so glad Matthew 'See The Lizards' Lawrenson turns up against the odds to witness the whole thing!) 

BRAPA Town of the Year - Leek (Wow, colour me impressed!  I know it's a long bumpy bus ride, but I promise you, it is worth it - all 4 GBG entries were well above average). 

In the Blue Mugge, and I couldn't be happier

Total Ticks - 51

Pub of the Month - The George and the Dragon, Gnosall (Thought it might be a micropub, looked a bit more pubby, had a perfect atmosphere on a sunny Sunday lunchtime, all age ranges, chatting and laughing happily.  I end up stood at bar chatting to guv'nor, what a top guy, he signs my GBG.  The Cobs (if that's what they call them in Staffs) made by his wife are stunning, perfect with a pint of Holden's Black Country Mild.  I feel SO bad for them they got de-guided in the 2022 edition and I'd love to know the reasons behind it because it seems so unfair!  Can only be someone in the local CAMRA had a bad pint I guess?  Boo!   New Inn, Newport in ahead of this, do my a favour, two bit Joule's nonsense.


We were rapidly approaching the business end of the season now, with all pub tickers having one eye on the release of the new 2022 GBG, which was due to all Privilege Schemers (well unless they'd moved to Sheffield mid year - schoolboy error) around the final week of the month.

Ooh hang on, first batch of the snacks are ready ......

Mmm, beiger than an Ember Inn on the outskirts of Sutton Coldfield

Where was I?  Oh yes, October. An overnighter in Hertfordshire confirmed to me that this really is the county I want to focus on now.  BIG THANKS to 'Stephen Pie' Coxy for driving me around the rural pubs west of Stevenage area despite having a bad hangover and having to be patient with my pint drinking!  The good news is all six pubs we did remained in the following GBG.

BRAPA Pub Pet of the Year - Lulu

Strathmore Arms, St Paul's Walden

A week later in West Sussex quite randomly, I achieved my 2000th net GBG pub at the Malt Shovel in Horsham, hurrah!  

I even made a '2000' card!

Fitting that Tom 'Clag Monster' Irvin should be with me for this moment.  He was the original BRAPA supporter back in 2014 when no one else had heard of it.  He even joined me on one of the two BRAPA 'trial runs' when I was working out whether this is really want I wanted to do with my life!  His train knowledge over the years has been second to none, saved me a a fortune, he's a really top friend, unique, so sincerely, thank you Tom.

October chugged on towards the moment we'd all been waiting for, the thud of the new GBG on your doormat.  Always later than you want, but them's the breaks!  St Albans to York, long way.

Total Ticks - 38 

Pub of the Month - Dog & Partridge, Marchington (we met this lovely duo, the Clever Colin was drinking well, it was just a very warm and cosy rural local boozer). 


(11pm, getting close now, remind me next year to start this blog more like 6pm, has been proper 'against the clock' stuff this, like a 25 minute pub visit when you got a bus stop to get to as well). 

'Twas actually Monday 1st November , shortly after lunchtime, when the 2022 GBG finally 'drops' (on my doormat whilst I'm working.

I'm off for the BRAPA Autumn/Winter Holiday in Hants the following day.  It looks like I've timed it superbly, but to tell you the truth, I got bloody lucky.  And then pulled an almost all nighter cross-ticking all the way from Bedfordshire-Lancs, plus Yorkshire!  

Hants was a superb holiday, and can we give Winchester a reward for most underrated pub town of the year?  Some amazing GBG ticks there.  In fact, six out of the seven were all well above average.  Hyde Tavern, Black Buoy, Fulfood Arms, Albion, Wykeham, get yerself there!   In the days, I tried to get the rural mid Hants pubs done.

Only Farnborough's Goat in the Garden (closed to the general public at the time of my visit due to a noise complaint, goat got out?) evaded me north of Chandler's Ford and by the end of the week, my progress was so good, I spent the day ticking Southampton which was never in the plan!

Massive thanks to Mick Citra and Andrew Mackean for helping me get about - couldn't have done it without you.  

Here is everything you need to know about mid Hants ticking .....

I'd like to say I slowed down a bit after that, but no chance!  Back in West Sussex with Tom and Daddy BRAPA, then there was more from Staffs as that Stoke area continued to surprise me with some top quality, and I got to meet Six Towns Mart totally by chance which was perhaps that greatest BRAPenstance moment of all time.  

Meanwhile, Thirsty Thursday's were really building up now and I was finding a new found appreciation of my awkward home county of North Yorkshire.  And our old mate Simon D proved he isn't just an Essex flash in the pan by taking me around some awkward East Herts stuff.

Wankered with Irvin at the excellent Anchored in Worthing

Thirsty Thursday fave Keane Lewis Otter makes friends at Pot & Glass, Egglescliffe

Barman wants a pint - the unique Queen's Head at Allens Green

Spreading the BRAPA word at the surprisingly classic Unicorn in Hanley

The standard of November I noted was much higher than those I'd visited in October.  New Guide or just coincidence?  Probably the latter, as the 'churn' had been so slow, most of the October dross I'd visited was still in the Guide.  Not that I'm complaining, all good for my figures, if not my figure!

Pubs Visited - 61

Pub of the Month - Wonston Arms, Wonston ('best little pub in Hampshire?'  You'd better believe it!)


Ugh, is there a more frustrating month for the humble pub ticker than December?  

A pub is for life, not just for Christmas, you know that, I know that, but half the world doesn't.

And if they aren't blocking the place with their nobheaded Christmas jumpery ways, then I'm doubly frustrated because I never have any time off work when every one else does, AND work is always really busy!  AND everyone I know is off, and wants to do fun stuff!  

Cry me a river, I hear you say, but let me moan, it's 11:25pm on NYE.  You know, I'm almost tempted to take a Scottish football style 'winter break' from about 18th Dec - 1st Jan.  But then again, maybe not.

It all culminated of course in one of the most astounding moments of the year when the Colmore, Birmingham, refused me entry because "guv'nor says we've got enough lads in, and wants more women in!"  I've still got to blog about that one so I won't spoil the details, and Thornbridge did email to apologise, but it summed up Christmas time pub ticking more than any other single moment.

But hey, let's turn that frown upside down, as Chloe on Neighbours would say.  There were some cracking pubs still, and the end of year trip to the Yorkshire Dales surprised me with the quality of its boozers, and yes I do mean boozers rather than gastro dining nonsense which hasn't been the case on previous visits.  

Daddy BRAPA gets them in in Redmire

And how good is Tamworth and area as a pub town?  Absolute crackers, and that's just the locals.  And earlier in the month in Dickensian Central London.  Atmospheric and old pubs of the utmost quality.

Artillery Arms, Old Street.  It's a yes from me!

Pubs Visited - 29

Pub of the Month - Three Horseshoes, Fazeley (still crazy after all these beers)

Right, thank you for reading!  Enjoyed writing that despite the time constraints!  24 minutes til midnight, so I'll put Jools on and try and get in the spirit, ring the family, have a Bucks Fizz, do a Party Popper from Scunthorpe (the worst type of Party Popper) and I'll be back to re-read through this, add a drunken piccie at the top, then bed, then Blackpool, hopefully first pub of 2022 from noon.  Never stops does it?!  But I'd not have it any other way.

Happy New Year, Si 


  1. Brilliant stuff. I feel I lived most of that with you. How many times did you hear "Torn" though, hmm. That's what Mr Crilley wants to know.

  2. Pedant mode on, if you are on a Real Ale Adventure does having a pint of Smooth count as a tick, surely a re-visit is necessary.
    Pedant mode off, I thought I recognised a familiar face in the No.10 Alehouse!!