Still buzzing from my Hants completion late on Friday, I leapt into my Premier Inn corridor, with a hop, skip and a jump, colliding with a man with a pork pie barm under his cap. A little malnourished whippet snuffled at his heels, and his tee shirt said "Rochdale, Morecambe, even Bury who don't exist, I 'ate them bluddy all!"
Accrington Stanley. Exaccctly.
How was it that during my eight days in Portsmouth, they'd managed to have THREE consecutive home games? Add to that that I'd managed to be in central Southampton the day they played West Ham in the cup. You could go a decade without this kind of football BRAPA quirk happening again.
It didn't matter to me so much today, as with my legs shot to pieces by now, I took a two minute train ride to the ferry terminal, my step count had really peaked on Fritham day, but was seriously on the wane now. Today (Saturday) would be my laziest of the lot.
This would be my third pub crossing to the Isle of Wight in the name of BRAPA. My first, on a glorious hot weekend less than two months into my pub ticking challenge (May 2014) saw me explore the train line down to Shanklin where I stayed in a cute little B&B. My trip was cut short because Hull City somehow made it to the FA Cup Final, something I'd not considered when I'd booked the trip back in January.
More recently (and I'm saving the blog for a forthcoming Christmas Special called 'Wight Christmas' as I never wrote about it at the time), I went further afield, though again, I was curtailed in my efforts, this time by Covid restrictions.
Here was how the situation looked at the start of play ......
I decided to rule out the south of the island. My Ventnor tick didn't open til 4pm, even on a Saturday. Whitwell is sadly closed at the moment (shame as it's reputedly the oldest pub on the island) and Niton's bar has just had a name change which always adds a bit of uncertainty re its GBG future.
One theme I have noticed over the GBG years is how often an IOW entry shuts down or gets deleted before the twelve months is up. On my first visit, I found one closed down after a long walk. And then, even stranger, when I followed my map to another, it wasn't just shut down but a man was building a house over the bulldozed remains of the old one! The shuttest pub I've ever witnessed in BRAPA history.
Onto the ferry and away ......
|KLO observes the safety regulations carefully despite being a strong swimmer|
Down the long pier, and straight onto a bus to Newport, very much the bus interchange for the entire island though it does have the world's loveliest Superdrug as well. I might tick Superdrug's when I finish the GBG. Them or Greggs. Or cathedrals. Whichever has a paper book listing them all.
I took a connecting bus to Carisbrooke (home of a famous castle) which was rather silly of me, it looked a good distance on my map but was little more than a twenty minute walk from Newport. And we went on a painstaking route right around the centre. I could've probably walked it quicker!
But pub one was on the horizon and with squally rain starting up, I was ready for a pint, the rusty hinges of the ancient pub sign creaking in the cold wind .......
Not that the competition would be particularly stiff today, but I can safely declare Waverley, Carisbrooke (2105 / 3668) as my favourite pub of this gentle day. Has a pub so blatantly foodie ever been so effortlessly pubby? It was a weird contradiction, but it worked perfectly. Friendly hosts, carpets throughout and a welcoming fire all set the scene. An old chap eating a giant plate of salad (he didn't seem to like cucumber) was transfixed by a plasma screen showing Vienna by Ultravox to the point where I thought he might be healthy tailor's dummy. But when he did move, he dropped the menu's twice and staggered over a chair, for added BRAPA bonus points. "I can't possibly give you that!" says the landlord of my Goddard's Fuggle Dee-Dum ...... "It is just too nice!" and he's not wrong. My Goddard's in Titchfield had been pretty lame, but this was back to Holybourne standard last October. Funny I always remember my Goddard's. He's in less jovial mood when he sees my GBG. "We won't get in that thing again, apparently our beer isn't cool enough!" he says. "Tastes lovely to me" I reassure him, and I'm hoping he'll reply "...it means nothing to me" but he misses his opportunity. Then him and his wife exchange shocked glances when I tell them the next pub on my agenda, which makes me even more curious for pub two! Lovely place, enjoy it while it's GBG.
It really was a short walk back into Newport, from where I take a connecting bus up to Cowes where I have two ticks to do.
A pretty little town, a bit reminiscent of York if York was only the Shambles, two other streets and a handy public toilet. First pub was this ......
I'm not quite prepared for the raucous insanity I walk into at the Painters Arms, Cowes (2106 / 3669). You know those ticks that are so un-GBG, they are somehow more rewarding? That was this. One ale on again, Tim Taylor Landlord this time, the only other ale that's ever on in here was Doom, and the locals, presumably all avid readers of RetiredMartin, had drunk it dry. On paying by card, I inadvertently solve a contentious debate going on around me. Is the pub's card machine that is broken, or is it the sozzled bearded lad's card that is broken? My payment goes through, and our sozzled chum is forced to face the awful truth. Not that it really bothers him, he puts his arm around his equally sozzled bearded mate (you'd think it was 11pm in here) and they both slur this football chant I've never heard in my life. "Cowes A.F.C. make you go moo moo moo, la la la" or something, I couldn't hear to be honest. I'm just glad to find a tiny table 'twixt entrance door and tabloid newspaper rack. The TTL is drinking well but next time I look up, a bloke with the EXACT same expression as KLO is sat at my tiny table without so much as a word or a glance. That kind of pub. No idea what this is place doing in the GBG, aside from the excellent TTL (so I've answered my own question) but despite feeling like I wish I was more than two pints down like this lot, you had to commend the spirit of the place.
A few yards away was a much more stereotypical GBG 2022 tick ........
The strong smell of second hand garlic the first thing I notice about Cowes Ale House, Cowes (2107 / 3670) which in stark contrast to the Painters, feels a tad gloomy and detached. It has the real ales of course, but what is real ale without laughing, smiling faces to enjoy it and create an atmosphere? It is very much a family affair at this time of day, a little girl on a bar stool asks me what 12 x 12 is which I mishear as 12 + 12, but it is ok, because when I say '24', she knows I'm talking pure apple sauce. Besides, Grandad and a possible mad uncle who keeps making 'wee wee' and 'poo poo' jokes to keep her entertained (bit like a BRAPA blog) are around to set her straight. Mummy Cowes gives me a pint direct from a barrel (not her teet) and I take it to a cushioned booth. Although the seating in 75% comfier than most micros, the tall wooden backs have the downside of blocking you off from the pub, so when you hear distant comments like "what happens in Portland stays in Portland", you can't look over and nod in recognition. Having said all this, a scuba diver who hasn't slept for three days and is after a pint of Guinness comes in (I promise I'm not making this up like the Accrington bit), sticks around at the bar, and bonds with Mum and Grandad on the basis of being encouraged to try canned Guinness for the first time in his life. Bet he'd give this place a right positive write up if he was a blogger 'Guinness and Scuba and No Sleep Adventure - GASANSA'. Catchy.
Further bad news follows as I was banking on a little ride on the Cowes foot ferry to help me get to Wootton, but looking at the buses, you have to go all the way back to Newport, and back up on a slightly more north easterly route. Grrrrr.
So I do that, hop off, and then I really feel the day is unravelling when I see this ......
SHUT PUB ALERT, Cedars, Wootton and the little smiley is quite frankly annoying.
I have a look at their Facebook, and if you scroll down about 15 posts, there it is, evidence that they had announced that this was going to happen. Of little consolation to me anyway. Someone on Twitter says it looks like Fawlty Towers, but at least Basil generally kept that open, even if it was on fire or whatever ....
Oh well, at least the next bus to Ryde was only a 9 minute wait as the rain starts up again. My 100% record of at least one pub fail every time I come to the Isle of Wight continues.
It's a funny place IOW. Not always the friendliest, but with its fair share of older characters. I've never known a place have so many ill folk either, be it obese, wheezing, limping on crutches, on zimmers or any combination, and I don't just mean the elderly, I've seen teenagers and young adults who should be in their prime wobbling around like Tiny Tim.
Anyway, if you've never been, I'd still recommend it. GBG Islands are always fun. One more pub to do, back in Ryde. I'd booked myself on a very conservatively timed ferry, and as usual, time has raced away from me. Shame as the previously listed Railway pub was another I wanted to check out in Ryde.
I nearly came to this next one in 2020, and without ruining my Christmas special, without even getting a pint, I kind of enjoyed that experience more than this one today!
The GBG write up certainly embellishes the truth regarding what you'll encounter at the Solent Inn, Ryde (2108 / 3671), making it sound like a cross between a classic heritage inn in Burton and one of the oldest pubs in Cornwall. Perhaps entering through the right hand side with the legendary 'alarmingly' sloped floor would've helped, but as it was, I found myself in the left where the drinkers, old bloke getting to grips with his new scooter, debutant barmaid and lovely landlady (who I recognise from 2020) were all found. That was the frustrating thing about this pub, it had all the hallmarks of a back street boozer, it even had outdoor loos for heaven's sake, but the style and decor was so bland, it was hard to feel the true core of the pub. I wasn't a huge fan of my Tribute either, never the best ale in the world, but I've had it a lot fresher than this. When scooter bloke tried to leave, the entirety of the pub furniture had to be rearranged after his first attempt saw him nearly mow everyone down, so that caused a bit of enjoyment and led to a brief chat with the landlady, but on the whole, this was symptomatic of a day that had started with quite a bit of joy and hope, but descended into mediocrity.
That pier at Ryde always catches me out with how long it is, and I had to jog for fear of missing it, the Tribute sloshing around inside me.
I hope that next time I'm back on the IOW, it'll be to green it up in full, hopefully with no pub closures or unexpected spring cleaning going on. I always like getting the ferry across, nice change of pace, feels kind of soothing and liberating .....
I then realise that I've only ticked 4 pubs done today. Wow, and I was more than ready to head back to my Premier Inn which I think shows that this epic Hants holiday had just gone on a bit too long.
I've had so many shop bought goodies over the week I decide to 'treat' myself and go to Kens, the funny looking chicken shop around the corner and order errrm .... a double cheese burger! I ask the older lady waiting if she wants to sit down, but she tells me she'll fall asleep if she does. I know that feeling!
Burger n chips were lovely, probably nicer than it looks! And I did soon fall asleep. I had to be up early for a train to London, but not York, cos I couldn't get a train back on the Sunday due to engineering works, so you know what that means .... yes a London BRAPA day!! My poor liver.
Join me for tales of that one tomorrow. I will catch up on my blogs. In 2030.
Tek care, Si
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