Thursday 9 June 2022

BRAPA ..... FIDGETS IN THE SPINNERS : From Adlington to Rivington

My favourite #ThirstyThursday since my Whitby/Robin Hood's Bay epic back in the wintertime nearly didn't happen at all.

Jubilee Thursday didn't whet my appetite like a bog standard Thurs.  Street parties, everyone off work, likely transport chaos, not to mention the old pub ticking unknown quantity - Bank Holiday Opening Hours.

But what if some-time Pompey pub ticker Andy Collins was right and Bank Holiday was actually a chance to capitalise on more generous opening hours?  It sounded na├»ve to me.  But guess what?  He was only bloody right!  A tick that has only just reopened after months of closure, specifically says on Facebook that they are opening for the whole weekend.  Lovely jub'lee!

People dawdled at the entrance to Manchester Piccadilly's 'legendary' platforms 13 & 14 (you know, the ones that are a mile walk down a flat escalator) and I got shouted at by a chav bloke with a baby for pushing in.

I made the Adlington connection with seconds to spare no thanks to these laborious shit-wits, in what I hoped was a very walkable four pub circular tour in the sun.

Pub tickers in Adlington - beware.  There are two Spinners Arms.  Good 'Bottom Spinners' which always makes the GBG.  And evil 'Top Spinners'.  Don't go in by accident!  I passed it early, and gave it a good booing for being so bloody evil ......

Boo that pub!  Love a pantomime villain on a BRAPA day.  Your Ukrainian bins won't help you now.

If the first pub had really been in Heath Charnock like the GBG said, it would've been an easier walk.  But we know the GBG loves to mislead visiting simpletons like myself.  According to the pub it is actually in a made up sounding place called Anglezarke.  

The walk is undulating but pleasant.  People smile.  I pass a Bay Horse, cross the M61 waving at all the Blackpool bound day trippers, then onto Nickleton Brow which weirdly becomes Nick Hilton's Lane. 

The pavement runs out eventually but the cars are respectful, the scenery gorgeous, a cow moos at KLO, and the pub soon comes into view .....

I tackle the Yew Tree, Heath Charnock (2233 / 3795) first because it normally closes early afternoon at 2pm on a Thursday, and as unlikely as that seemed today, I couldn't afford to take any chances.  Social media wasn't telling me otherwise.  I arrived at 12:07 and already all the outdoor seats with a view onto the fields were taken.  I manage to overtake Dog Hippie Family (think Lancastrian Shaggy from Scooby Doo) that you can just about see in the above shot, and a cracking pint of Black Edge West Coast is pulled.  But not before I try to hold the door open for a staff lady struggling to balance a tray of drinks to take outside.  "Good timing!" I say, holding the door.  But nope, she prefers the misery and tells me to go on ahead, and that she's spent her whole life struggling with the tray/door scenario and why change now?!  EVERY indoor table is decked out for dining bar one close to the door.  This really is more restaurant than pub, so I'm glad to take an outdoor seat, albeit in the car park.  None of the customers give the remotest shit about the gorgeous views, an absolute waste them nicking the best seats.  Misery tray/door woman spies KLO and comes over.  She sounds Spanish.  She tells me "much better than actual kids or pets, lower maintenance".  KLO looks ready to bite her finger so I wrestle him, Emu style, to the ground.  I chat with her a bit more, but she has work to do, so I said goodbye, hoping she has plenty more door/tray challenges ahead.  I neck the remnants of my Black Edge, take my empty glass back to bar, it's hard to put it down cos they've still got perspex screens surrounding it.  I go for the gents for something vaguely rhyming with Yew, then I'm outta there.  Nice start.

I'm now actually glad that I'm not in Heath Charnock proper, because it makes getting to Rivington on foot a whole lot more appealing.

More lovely quiet winding lanes, combined with vast reservoirs now, this really is the life, I'm loving today so far.  A rural pub crawl I'd readily recommend.

I'd not really heard of Rivington until lockdown when I had a wobble late 2020 and got into the craft can scene.  Rivington had some of the most interesting, I remember a chilli one with a funny name - something like "I'm Chaining Terry Waite to the Nearest Heater".  Hipsters eh?  Love a bit of 80's retro.

My next 'pub' was nothing to do with the brewery, but is the one I mentioned in the intro, just over the bridge ....

The Rivington (2234 / 3796) formerly Rivington Bowling Club, as you can see from the handsome lawn above, has recently reopened and rebranded itself, presumably to distance itself from old codgers, but that didn't stop the bowling from being the focal point.  "Nice to see old people having fun!" sneers a lady in a blouse balancing a strawberry scone and cup of coffee as her cyclist boyfriend tries to keep tearaway daughter off the green.  Where's the jack though?  Different type of bowling, or has it gone missing?  I'd rather jack, as the Reynolds Sister famously sung.   I enter the building to the rear, where two Abbeydale pumps are smiling back at me.  Knowing I have a responsibility to my fellow tickers, I congratulate the barmaid on the recent reopening even though her reaction suggested she didn't build it single-handedly.  In fact, it is merely a pre-amble on my part so I can ask about opening hours, and for once, be the 'man in the know' on the pub tickers WhatsApp group and 'give something back to the ticking community'.  Fri-Sun 10-8 if you wondered, likely to be extended when the refurb is fully complete.  I take my drink to a picnic table, twixt reservoir and bowling green, and it really would be quite idyllic if a strong wind wasn't trying to rip the GBG pages to shreds!  Two young men sit opposite me with tiny lattes, ice creams and a bowl of chips, and I marvel at how little the twentysomethings drink compared with my generation.  The last of the big drinkers born circa 1979-83?  A Mum behind me spots some body boarders and tells her daughter that's what they'll be doing on holiday.  "Not ALL the time Mummy?" whines the poor girl.  It isn't all lah-di-dah though, two blokes, one with a tattooed face, sit near me with two burgers in polystyrene trays, just to redress the balance.  Fun place this for a visit, well done the Riv!

Back over the bridge and in the direction of Adlington (by degrees), was our other Rivington tick.

What a peculiar set up!  Caravan park?  Thought I was in the wrong Aussie soap, i.e. Summer Bay (spit!) 

They really have done well for themselves out of their craft cans in lockdown haven't they?  I never did quite work out whether there was a jubilee festival on here or whether this was the summer norm.  Food vans, kids having fun, but no extra beers that I could see, so it was a really hard one to judge ......

Alright guys, settle down!

I locate the building, Rivington Brew Co Tap, Rivington (2235 / 3797) which reminds me of a sort of dilapidated French rustic farmhouse which Jim Bergerac would stumble across and convert into a little love nest.  Everyone is queuing orderly for Rivington beers, couple of cask offerings, served in those horrid wobbly plastic 'glasses' you get at the cricket, which don't do much for any beer's taste.  There's no real furniture in here, so being outside amongst the crowds is a no brainer.  Assume they either have another bar I didn't see, or make this room a bit comfier when the weather is less glorious.  It is a popular place, and I found myself going round in circles (which funnily enough is the name of the beer, I couldn't see the Terry Waite one) trying to get a bench.  Finally, I perch at the end of a table so big, I don't feel obliged to ask the quartet if I can join them, though I do squint and smile vaguely at them.  One of the man has just had an argument with the staff about the drinking vessels and is ranting!  "Nice to people watch" says one of the ladies.  'Alright, just a bloke with an otter and a green stabilo, nothing to see here' I want to reply.  There are some little horses in a field to my immediate left, and a few kiddies come to look at them.  They have silly names (the horses, but probably the kids too).  I find some rickety portaloos and bond with a man over pissing in the dark, as there is no light.  Weird place this, I never quite 'got it'.  I'd favour the Bowling Club.  Probably another sign I'm getting old!

Time to stride out back to Adlington, which again is a pleasant walk due that happy combination of good weather, pavements, and smiling locals.

But what is this coming over the hill?  Is it a monster?  

NOT evil Top Spinners again.  Boo, boo, begone with ya!

I carry on through Adlington, and soon, for the first time in my life, nice friendly gentle Bottom Spinners came into view, looking very encouraging ......

Mega lolz on the way in

Remember in Elford before the taxi disaster, I talked about the moment of contentment where the day really peaks, leading to an inevitable slump?  Well that was here as I walked into the delicious Spinners Arms, Adlington (2236 / 3798).  Dark, carpetted, warped beams creaking with age, woodie partitions offering character and privacy, yes if I were a rich man, I'd build a living space based on a pub like this.  The beers on are a kind of greatest hits of the beers I like, and I opt for Jarl - the barmaid is very chirpy, calling everyone 'lovely' even the moody codgers shielding from the jubilee festivities at the local church.  I chat with her over the 'Jarl'/'Yarl' pronunciation.  She says she's chill either way on the topic.  I trot over to nice quiet side table to the left, only problem is, my Jarl tastes farty, you know that kind of air lock type of thing.  I'd been SO close to getting the Oakham JHB too, and my Twitter mate Adlington Circular, who sadly escaped to Chorley so couldn't meet me, told me they had it last night and it was glorious.  Grrrr.   And then I notice my train is cancelled!  Grrr.  Next one ain't for two hours.  Time to think, quick.  Go up the line to Preston, get back home from there, and if any guards argue, tell them there was nowt I could've done.  Problem is, having to spend this much time researching my revised plan means I couldn't relax and fully enjoy this glorious pub.  

Just the one indoor photo really shows I was distracted!

The Preston leg of the journey goes well, no ticket guards.  I have about an hour until the next York train.  So I wonder if recent regular BRAPEE Matthew 'seethelizards' Lawrenson is up for a pint in the Old Vic?  Silly question? 

Big fan of this pub, seems a bit smarter than I remembered it on my 2006 debut playing pool with my sister's ex and waiting for Daddy BRAPA's delayed train to chug over the hills before Hull City probably embarrassed themselves at Deepdale.  My 2019 visit was rushed and heaving, and my 2011 visit I cannot remember.  They still have the Perspex up, but the Ju-bee-lation is drinking very nicely and washes away the taste of that dreadful Jarl.  The punters are still the funny, lairy old buggers I seem to recall on my previous visits here, most are bald of head, strong of wrist, weak of heart.  Matthew arrives and we have a pleasant pint together as is always the case. Some wise man once told me you can't come to the Old Vic without 'something happening' which sounds a bit like my entire pub life to be perfectly honest!  But I thought I'd evaded all danger until a trip to the loos on the way out.  There's a bloke at the trap next to me, says hi, laughs nervously, then out of the blue says "don't worry mate, I'm not a willy watcher, I just get stage fright!"  Something I've never struggled with, I can piss anywhere, as I'm sure long time readers will know.  My sister's ex, who I played pool with on my debut and favourite visit here, was also a famous 'stage fright' sufferer.  Isn't it nice when pub life comes full circle?

Matthew tries to help me get back into the station without encountering any over zealous ticket inspectors, I can't quite avoid them but they don't look at my ticket.  

And the bloke on the train scans it without looking even though it clearly says Manc-York and his machine gives out a happy beep.  Maybe it was valid after all.  In fact, it would've been cheaper to come here via Preston in the first place.  Oh well.

We've had a couple of BRAPA casualties in recent weeks.  Don't worry, nothing as serious as Colin, KLO, Pedro, Alex or Naughty Little Cousin Pumpy, but my 'lucky' wonky eyed owl clock pendant died on the day I finished Hertfordshire .......

And today, my fake Oakley wraparound 1998 sunglasses snapped in half.

Time for a tribute pint in the York Tap to remember them by (not Tribute, but this possibly Rancid themed beer, luckily not rancid)

Thanks for joining me, and I'll see you next time to tell you about an exclusively pre-emptive Saturday including a wedding evening do and an overnight stop in a dodgy cask-free pub.  What fun!

Bye for now, Si 

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