Monday 13 June 2022



Live footage from Ossett

A wedding evening-do for fellow pub ticker, the great Mr Eddie Fogden, meant I didn't want to over commit myself pub-wise on Saturday 4th June.  

I'd considered Littleborough, perhaps even straying into Rochdale for a cheeky onion bhaji at Bombay Brew, but having not sought international clearance from, or given advanced warning to my old mate Tandleman who bosses this shire, I decided to hold off on this idea and keep it strictly east side of the Pennines. 

The 'do' was occurring in Ossett, so I started in the only logical place any sane person would, Achey Shakey Wakey.   

Wakefield was looking a bit tired and rough around the edges on this overcast Saturday lunchtime.  There was barely a soul around.  I presume they'd gone in hard on the Jubilee Friday, and were all still nursing hangovers.

I've long suspected Wakefield is very much like Barcelona (bear with me on this point).  It doesn't come to life until the late evening time, and then people eat, dance, party and drink right up to 6am.

When is a pre-emptive actually an 'emptive'?  When the GBG has allegedly left the pub out of the paper edition of the book.  That was a story at today's first tick.

Jolly Tap, Wakefield is unsurprisingly empty, as the clock ticks towards 1pm, the barmaid seems both surprised and relieved to have a customer to serve.  My giant overnight rucksack probably suggests I'm not a local.  It is owned by Jolly Boys brewery, and having hammered it myself yesterday at a mini beer festival in York's wonderous Fox, I spent the majority of my 75 minutes here (a BRAPA staying in the same pub record?) slowly nursing this very nice, medicinal Jolly Collier Porter.  There is no one here and nothing happens until my final 15 minutes, I've never known a less eventful pub experience.  Eventually, a couple of groups enter, fresh from whatever Jubilee parade has been happening in Wakefield, so I go back up for a half of something pale in case someone does or says something quirky, or tries to engage with me, but they don't.  Probably just a timing issue, but most boring BRAPA tick of 2022, and not even really a tick!  Or is it?

I mosey on up towards Wakefield Bus Station, which I always think is an unnecessarily long walk from Westgate.

I board the Dewsbury bound bus and strewth, the number of dead heads on here, it really is like a scene from 'Shannon Matthews : The Musical'.  

I hop off at Horbury, where my accommodation is for the night.  I always thought Horbury was quite a posh place, so was expecting some cute little boutique hotel full of scented candles and pot pourri.  

Vic/Victoria, Horbury is probably one of the least pre-emptives I've done this year, but who knows when someone will take it over and make it crafty?  "You stayed 'ere before?" says the young guy behind the bar, as a few old blokes watching the horse racing and cricket turn round and nod silently at me.  When I say 'no' he looks a bit surprised, and gives me a 1 minute guided tour.  Four bedrooms upstairs, a bathroom and kitchen.  And a very creaky landing.  The room smells of the 1970's but is clean and tidy.  Daddy BRAPA said I should stay in pubs more rather than Travelodges and Premier Inns but this experience only makes me glad I've spent a fortune on nine Premier Inn nights for my summer holidays down south.  I keep bumping into an old lady in a dressing gown on the landing.  She keeps apologising.  Her 'partner', a hairy man in a vest, is walking around with a towel draped over his shoulders, brushing his teeth.  It is 2:30pm.  'Oh well, when in Rome' I think and go down to the bar.  The young barman seems surprised I'm hanging around for a pint.  Do I dare risk a lynching / being laughed at by asking what cask offerings are on?  Of course not.  I can see John Smith's Smooth is the closest to Cloudwater they've got on here.  I sit at the far end and watch the Test Match.  It is a pleasant homely proper pub in many ways. Transfer the Jolly Boys beers into this building with these locals, you're onto a winner.  I 'retire' back upstairs to change and powernap before the evening.  Some drunk people are playing pool, laughing a lot.  This plus a very jagged, springy mattress means I can't sleep much, but get an hour or so.  

Side door for later - just in case I lose my bearings!

Time to catch the bus to Ossett.  This part of Horbury does seem a bit grotty, my imagined cute boutique town seems a long way off.  I should've listened to Sister BRAPA.  Her boyfriend's punk band rehearse in Horbury.  In the adjoining building, a dog ate another dog.  Hence the phrase "Horbury is a dog eat dog world".  My sister reckons dogs are ALWAYS eating each other in Horbury.  

In Ossett, some ticker or other (either Eddie himself, or Jim who was also coming to this evening do) had mentioned another pre-emptive a few months back.  Time to give it a try ......

Prop 'Ur Baa, Ossett was everything the Jolly Tap wasn't - eventful and laugh a minute!  There'd been a Jubilee Beer Festival in town.  Everyone was very well oiled.  "We're not always like this!" croaks a local lady seeing the fear in my eyes as I wedge in at the bar.  I'm served by the owner who gives the pub its name, a former rugby prop.  I think the 'baa' thing might be because we're in the Heavy Woollen part of the world.  Both times I'm at the bar, he manages to eschew the virtues of rugby league as the best sport in the world.  His former playing days can be seen on the walls.  But it is England football on the screen above us, and Hungary score a penalty the moment I arrive.  Someone jokes it is my fault.  There is virtually no room, so I 'prop' myself and wedding gift on this tiny stool between rooms.  Then 3 idiots come and stand directly in front of me, blocking anyone walking between rooms, and it becomes me who has to move cos they have no spatial awareness!  When they finally leave, I rant to the two husband and wives opposite about it.  Nice folk, two from Dewsbury, two from Ossett.  I warm to the women more, mainly cos everything I say makes them laugh.  One of the blokes measures me on the height chart behind.  5 foot 9?  I've grown 2 inches then.  An old lady in homemade purple dress, brandishing Union Jack helium balloon wanders in, the quintessential British eccentric.  She sits by these two unsuspecting lads and talks to us all.  She can't walk very far due to a recent knee operation.  We believe her, but she still lifts up her skirt a bit too far to show us all the operation scar!   I decide to stay for a second pint, I'm loving this place, and being fashionably late is cool right?  One of the ladies show me photos of their homemade hats they've been wearing today as part of the festivities.  Scrolling through on her phone, they go one photo too far, inadvertently showing me one of a bloke in this very pub with very short shorts (think Steve Hodge World Cup 1986) sat in the corner.  Papping strangers with unsolicited shots?  Could never be me.  "We can send it you for your blog if you like?" one whispers.  I politely decline, they tell me to keep my voice down, worried he'll cotton on.  Doubt it.  It has been wonderful, but time is getting away from me.

It is a good 20-25 minute yomp out of Ossett central to the Ossett Brewery Taproom, situated right down the bottom near Brewers Pride pub which I visited in my debut BRAPA year.

Eddie chose the venue partly because it might be slightly pre-emptive, showing what a top pub ticker he is.

Despite strict instructions not to go to the Brewers Pride by mistake, I still manage it, and the barmaid's already started pulling me a pint before I realise I'm in the wrong place - oops.

Never mind, she directs me, and a very mean cat is acting as bouncer .....

 ..... I follow the boom boom boom of classic 80's tunes, towards something that looks like a brewery .....

Ossett Brewery Taproom at last , just after 8pm.  Eddie is thankfully one of the first people I see, hard to recognise him without hi-vis on.  He introduces me to wife Becca, resplendent in red, and they seem tickled by my #WWWSI inspired gift.  Daddy Robertshaw admires my green jacket, trying to work out if I'm more Davis or Walker Cup.  I need a pint, and all the ales have been rebadged with Eddie and Becca in mind.  I laugh and comment on each one, the poor bar staff being very patient as I try and  explain them as best I can.  They look at me like "Si, nobody asked".  I then see the only other person I know here, Jim Brunt, off of pub ticking fame.  Third time I've met him.  Nice man.  We have a chat on the intricacies of Stalybridge, then he introduces me to his wife Cathy, of Northern Ireland fame, and I grill her Louis Theroux style on what it is like being the other half of a football ground AND pub ticker and is she going to mentor Becca re 'how to cope'?  She encourages me to get some of the  delicious homemade pie which is the inspired food choice at this do, and a kind one-eyed man and his malnourished assistant serve me some cracking cheese n onion.  Cathy eats the crust and leaves the filling, and I do vice versa because #Keto.  It is cake cutting time.  I'm the only one facing the wrong way.  I'm too full for cake right now, but I don't get another chance cos these greedy ladies scoff the lot in 5 minutes.  I buy Eddie a pint of 'Fogden's Bond' (Yorkshire Blonde) and I get one to do with pet guinea pigs and Amarillo which has no Eddie themed name.  Then I get chatting with this 'character' with fluffy sideburns who really could be a stand up comic.  We chat to Eddie's neighbours, a lovely duo.   Time has totally flown and it is about 22:30, I can't find anyone to say bye to so I leave, but the neighbours put me in their taxi and I swear, if hubbie says ' the brow of the hill' one more time, am gonna strangle him.  They very kindly ask their taxi to take a detour to get me back to the Vic and won't even let me give them any money!  Lovely stuff.

"Oooh you might just get in for last orders, light is still on!"  says Mrs Neighbour as I hop out of the taxi.  This'll be interesting at 11pm considering what Vic, Horbury was like at 2pm!  He confirms he's not called last orders yet and he's okay to serve me, but not before a lady engulfs me and everyone at the bar in air freshener spray.  "Someone's either just farted or shat themselves!" she explains.  Well, you don't get that in your New Forest Ember Inn.  I opt for Carling's take on Strongbow Dark Fruits this time.  It is the nearest I can see to Duchesse du Bourgogne.  "Yeeee look likes a goblin in tha' green jacket!" slurs a drunk and slightly aggressive man, pointing at me.   "I can't deny it" I reply, giving him a nice smile to take the edge off.   And sit back in my 'safe seat'.  The music is like something from a SeetheLizards TDK mixtape.  Air freshener lady hushes everyone up as Lee Marvin launches into 'I was born under a wanderin' star' after that very long intro.  Next up is George Formby's 'When I'm Cleaning Windows' , the whole pub sings along.  Superb.  Soon, everyone files out and I explain to the barman I'm staying the night here. He looks sad for me, and unlocks a door near the pool table.  One last bump into dressing gown lady as I have bottle of lemon barley and then brush my teeth.  I don't sleep well, but hey ho, fun experience, cheers to Eddie and Becca for inviting me, here's to many ticks in Coniston - ooops I mean a happy honeymoon.

Join me on Wednesday, and I will tell you what the Morecambe area has got to offer GBG wise.

Until then, goodbye, Si 


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