My last Thirsty Thursday for quite some time.
Sad times, but I've purposefully decided not to do anything on Jubilee Thursday unless I have a late change of heart, and work have asked me to work the following two due to 'staffing issues'.
I've agreed to because ya know what, I'm a team player! (Oh, and they're gonna give me a Wed n Fri in July so I'm thinking 'long BRAPA weekend woohoo').
It was an early train over t' Pennines, I needed my Arctic coffee to wake me up, squally rain was bouncing off the windows by the time we reached Burnley Manchester Rerd.
The plan was to get to Preston, wait 40 minutes for the Ormskirk train to take me to Rufford, from where I could catch a bus to one of my more awkward outliers, the Eagle & Child at Bispham Green.
Best laid plans eh? Myself and the five other passengers are firstly told the train is delayed. And then we are told it is going straight through to Ormskirk, not stopping anywhere else. Fuming! I'm already peed off that the other five passengers all amiably chat to each other, but leave me out! AND they all were going to Ormskirk so were totally unaffected by the announcement.
Time to think on my feet. Adaptability was a weakness of mine pre-BRAPA, but something I've honed over the years.
Bamber Bridge is a 12 noon opener, and only a short bus ride away, so I leg it over to Preston's gigantic bus station, frantically texting Preston pub royalty, Matthew Lawrenson, re the change of plan as he's once again braving the BRAPA invasion.
Little do I know, he's nursing a pint in the famous Black Horse, so when he hears of my bus time, he necks what he can and races over, Indy 500 style, just managing to catch the same bus. I HAD heard a heavy breathing behind me, but had assumed it was the local sex pest. Preston surely has one. Matt's lungs have not been the same since Covid, and the run hasn't done him any good, this cough doesn't sound clever. Question is, would you wanna die in this next pub?
Unassuming minimalistic micropubs of minimum comfort, character or money spent on them are fast becoming de rigueur for my quest to complete the 'outer Preston' GBG set. I'm a tad disappointed. After all, I'd always associated this part of the world with fab boozers. Beer Box, Bamber Bridge (2222 / 3784) isn't 'rubbish', I just cannot imagine wanting to stay here for a session even if I wasn't a ticker. Could this really be a Prisoner Cell Block H themed ale we're about to order? 'He Used to Bring me Roses'. Funny because Prisoner is something me and Matthew both watched and often refer to! Sir Quinno is the only other pub ticker I know who loved the show. The landlady seems nice, I'm detecting a much rounder East Lancs accent. Surely Bamber Bridge is still classed as 'West Lancs'? Mid at worst. I have a question for her. 'What the heck has happened to the Brig n' Barrel?' This is, or was, the other 2022 GBG tick which I noticed ceased to exist as of 6th May. She tells us it's gone into liquidation, compares it to a former flower shop next door, and suggests they've not been business-savvy enough in the way they've dealt with things. Interesting! We sit down, enjoying our ale immensely, but Matthew's cough is getting worse. At one time, he 'goes to the wall'. Never a good sign. I associate 'going to the wall' being like when elderly elephants go into the forest to die. We get a late moment of drama, as a beer delivery man cannot control his wheely thing and trashes the pub skirting board by the entrance. 'I BET we get the blame' I say to Matthew, when bloke refuses to own up. Beer Box, if you are reading this, in the words of Shaggy, it wasn't me!
I manage to find a bus which takes us to Leyland (a 1pm opener) so we decide this is a logical next step. Okay, so it involves talking to a friendly local nutter at the stop, and the bus is delayed and the traffic is backed up because the level crossing is down.
But we soon wend our way, rather painfully around all the housing estates, towards Leyland. This town is another BRAPA debutant for me. It has had up to 4 ticks in recent GBGs I've noticed, but only one this year.
Owned by the same folk as Preston's Plug and Taps, one of Matthew's go to pubs, so he knew what to expect here at Market Ale House, Preston (2223 / 3784) , and like the P&T, it was bigger than you're expecting with lots more gents loos upstairs than you are used to seeing in your average micropub. Two well oiled blokes must've seen our outdoor photo, and ask if they're in it. I try zooming it but it is inconclusive. There was an ESB on, but I (probably wisely) talked myself out of it in favour of some Rivington pale. We sit in the new extension because we can. The music is non stop Beautiful South. Matthew says P& T play them wall to wall (woman in the wall?) too. And Paul Heaton didn't even put money behind the bar in either pub as part of his grand recent birthday gesture. Ungrateful! Before we leave, Matthew goes for a quick chat with Jack the owner, who seems impressed with our attempted elaborate crawl. Matthew pushes the exit door instead of pulls, so gets sympathy from the nice lady who served us. So at least we ended with a bit of a flourish. Oh, and the cough is improving.
|Always seems funny to me when micropubs do their own tee shirts, like you'd really really have to love a pub to buy one surely? Or are there tickers who collect pub merch as a sign they've been?
|Swerving the ESB
|That's because they are embarrassed they're not as good as Yorkshire crisps
|I feel the same. And in my haste, I miss the Titanic Cappuccino.
|Accidental drip tray shot - evidence of my trauma
|Could've been Emberesque if it weren't for the proper Lancs folk
|KLO wants the squid
|The boring shot
|And the amazing one
Unconvincing at best, the classic football chant "you don't know what you're doing!" at worst. That would be my assessment of trying to get served in Hesketh Arms, Rufford (2225 / 3787), though we timed it badly. A slim angular well spoken gent is complaining that the staff have messed up his food order. This seems to throw the entire staff into a spin, and the conclusion is there is suddenly no one at the bar to serve anyone else drinks, as they all run off in a foodie direction. Matthew's round anyway, so being at my most impatient when I'm waiting for a pint, I go for a wander around the pub and take a couple of photos just so I feel I'm doing something! Copper Dragon Golden Pippin is the surprise selection, a serene golden fruity dream when I used to first see it in my early days of real ale. They've gone bust, and risen from the dead, twice. Unsurprisingly, the beer by now has lost all of its 2005 magic. But the pub itself had some nice nooks and crannies, carpets, genuine old feel, and staff were smiley when you could locate them. One of the more pleasant pubs to nurse a pint in of today's selection.
|This isn't the time for amazing action shots Si
|Ok, but be quick
|But my suburban sportswear went down a treat