Friday 22 July 2022

BRAPA in ..... KINGSAND QUEENS & HIGHLIGHT GREENS (Cornwall Holiday Part 8/10)

After the rigours of Bude and Launceston over the last two days, I thought I'd keep it local on day seven of my nine day epic quest to get a fully green Cornwall (Scilly notwithstanding due to BRAPA incompetence on day three).  

From a Plymouth base, Cornwall doesn't get much more local than Kingsand.  A quick hop across the water on the Cremyll ferry and a little bus ride, so quite why I decide to take the long route around, you'd have to speak to Former Si, cos Current Si has no clue.  

Perhaps, knowing how things had gone so far this week, I was worried I'd hop aboard the wrong ferry and up in Santander, and no, I don't mean Abbey National. 

All set for day 7

Kingsand was perhaps the most beautiful of all the coastal Cornish villages I visited this week.  It did feel, somehow European, like when you explore the backstreets of Barcelona or Rome.  Narrow streets, colourful houses, just a few local labourers sanding down a door, stray dogs barking and seagulls squawking.  

A lively sort of cove with a large honest face pulls me a pint of Bays Savanna at the Devonport Inn, Kingsand (2273 / 3836) but as I glance around, I realise there isn't much to it as a pub - like so many on the coast all over the UK, it is airy, foody, basic and probably designed with fly-by-night tourists in mind.  With stunning views out to sea and some really warm air (we'd reached July today), sitting on a bench at the front of the pub was a no brainer.  And for a few minutes, contentment washes over me.  This is the most relaxed I'd felt all week.  It couldn't last of course.  Some oldies with dogs perch on a high bench looking out to see, partially blocking my view, but it is only a minor inconvenience.  The real problems occur when a family walking two more dogs stop at their table.  "Ey up Jean, all right Margaret, now then Bill, you reet?" they all crow, in Yorkshire accents of course, ruining my peace.  They even end up Skyping Carly back in Castleford for live baby updates.  Everyone else is oblivious it seems, maybe because they all have dogs too, which start barking and bum-sniffing with the Yorkshire quartet.  And it lasts forever, not just a quick two minute stop and chat.  I resent it more than usual because this experience had all the makings of a calming BRAPA utopia.  But as we know, former Halifax Town player God/Jimmy Case wasn't giving me any freebies this holiday!

Having left the pub earlier than planned as a result of this abomination of the senses, I had time for a swift half somewhere else before my bus.  I opted for the Rising Sun, Kingsand because Cornwall likes putting Rising Sun's in the GBG.

It certainly has a more local boozery atmosphere, the Proper Job was well kept, and as pre-emptives go, it wasn't one of my worse shouts of the holiday.  It was only circumstances that made it a bit of a dreary experience, as I relegated myself to the empty outdoor smokers patio in the absence of any seats that I could see inside.  One of those funny situations, a few people were in, but not busy, but the way everyone was spaced apart was a problem.  This included some old blokes who'd give Sharon Stone from Basic Instinct a run for her money in terms of 'wide leg stance' (which sounds a bit like a cricket fielding position) but you know what I mean.  It wasn't even a small pub, but the layout didn't allow for a lot of appealing seating options.  Oh well, at least out here the kitchen window was open and delicious curry smells were wafting through, and the loos were at hand.  Just a bit boring, no phone signal either, Colin and a bright orange cushion for company.

Back at the week's best bus shelter, I'm soon on that painful winding coastal road once more, stopping every two minutes for idiot tourists with giant campervans.  So glad I don't do these holidays when the schools are out, I cannot imagine how delayed the buses would get.

Antony is a good interchange for Cornish BRAPA ticking (you heard it here first), so it is here that I press the bell and take on the 20 minute downhill walk to the village of St John.

This pub opened at 2pm apparently.  2pm openers make me nervous because they aren't noon openers or 4pm openers.  (THIS is sort the content you come here for, right?)  

And as I approach the village, I remember thinking 'nothing has gone wrong yet today, so what is the betting this pub won't be open?'  Paranoia had set in.  Hold that thought.

The pub comes into view, a cheery chap who has a St John's sweatshirt on and screams 'I'm the guv'nor' (not literally, that might be intimidating) declines my kind invitation to be in this photo:

His first words to me, totally out of context, "1600."  "What?!" I cry.  My heart sinks.  He explains he means the year it dates from, NOT the opening time.  Phew!  I wish people wouldn't do that kind of thing.  He leads me through to the bar ......

Now THIS is a pub.  St John Inn, St John (2274 / 3837) slightly reminiscent of the Bush Inn Morwenstow from yesterday, but this is a touch cosier and more joined up like the Blue Peter at Polperro.  Bass is the beer (take that Botus Fleming!) so we chat on legendary beer itself - something I've learned to do quite comfortably since I hit my forties, and then we move onto BRAPA and his story of reviving this pub from the dead, eight years ago.  Mrs St John who'd been creaking around upstairs like a friendly ghoul comes down to join in the tale of them both working hard full time jobs, but doing this place up on evenings, weekends, at times with no heating, water etc.  But they had a dream, including Bass which had been on in here back in the fifties and he's proud to have back on now, and wow haven't they achieved a lot in a short space of time?  There's a camping/glamping area out back which she takes me out to see.  Marquee too.  They've not got a chef yet but they take me to see the most intimate gorgeous dining room in a pub I think I've ever seen.  I've never been one to encourage dining in pubs, but here, it'd be a waste not to add it in.  I let him do the GBG greening, as they've really enhanced for me what would've been a great pub experience anyway.  Best this week? 

That is one of the true joys of pub ticking, finding an unlikely gem in a remote location that you've approached with zero expectations because it doesn't have a pre-existing reputation.

Back up the hill to Antony, and again with time to kill before the bus, let's pop to the village pub for a quick pre-emptive half.

The Carew Arms, Antony is in many ways the antithesis of the St John Inn, a harsh, bright shiny metallic dining pub with plasmas and high tables galore.  It achieves in one important way however, a fantastic reception from the barmaid which has been one of the more pleasing themes running through this entire Cornish holiday, and all others.  Don't believe the doubters.  Cornish people are good people and don't 'hate outsiders'.  Four trips now, I can only think of one GBG pub where I've had a full on 'this is a local pub for local people' style reception.  I decide to opt for a keg stout from St Austell called Mena Dhu which I keep seeing all week and has piqued my curiosity.  Decent drop, Carlsberg glass didn't help.  Barmaid reassures me with some timely local bus knowledge, a few chef style folk come over and give Colin a sniff around the florets, and that was that.

If you are surprised with how smoothly today had gone so far, don't worry, moment of BRAPA lunacy to follow.

It isn't that I wasn't concentrating.  I was painfully aware that the buses were speeding down the road, two were due at similar times, and I had to avoid the 70 going back around the corner to Kingsand, and make sure I get the 75 in the direction of Crafthole (real place, promise). 

The 70 appears, I'm about to stick my hand out, realise, wave bus on, driver smiles, jobs a good 'un.

75 appears a couple of mins later, full of schoolkids ugh, but that's another trope of a BRAPA holiday.  I'd been told by the kind barmaid in the Carew that there wouldn't be many schoolkids on this service.   And at least this bunch weren't as rowdy as the Southampton lot, no hair bobbles flicked at my earlobe today!

So imagine my surprise, when at the Lower Tregantle turning, we continue down to Kingsand.  Noooo, I just don't understand it.  My Crafthole tick is in tatters. 

As we get out to some remote middle bit called Millbrook and Insworke, I ask the schoolgirl with metallic mouth next to me just what the bloody hell this bus is doing.  Understandably, she looks a bit terrified but confirms I shouldn't panic and we will end up at the Cremyll Ferry after this.  The lady next to us confirms this, she is going over to Plymouth with Scruffy the dog.  I thank them both and feel a bit more relieved, though I need a wee, but Scruffy's owner says there are public loos near the ferry.  She then tells me "you were in my pub earlier.  The Rising Sun in Kingsand!"  Small world.  Especially in Cornwall. 

I glance up at the bus when I get off.  It says 70, not 75.  So presumably I got the wrong one!  I'd actually prefer it to be a result of my own stupidity than the buses doing something weird again.

Ferry time then, and yet again, I've failed to do a pub on the agenda, and like Tresco, Ponsanooth, Chilsworthy and South Petherwin before it, my remaining ticks are getting spaced out, making life harder, and three pubs a day is now often all I can achieve!

Scruffy on deck

Might be Plymouth

I think we drop a young lad at the Barbican, and then the ferry does a weird semi circle and drops the rest of us at Stonehouse, where years ago I lost my hat in a great pub called the Artillery Arms and a nice man chased down the street to return it.  

I realised I was now going to have to do something a bit outlandish from here to salvage something from another tough day, it was already late afternoon / early evening, and I'd only got two ticks.  Where does the time go?  And I never wanted to be back in Plymouth at this time.

A bus and a long train ride take me right down back to our old mate Redruth.  Let's have another stab at Ponsanooth on the U2 bus seeing as it only opens 5pm and is my furthest west pub remaining .......

19:21 when I arrive, but at least the pub is open this time.  Welcome to Stag Hunt, Ponsanooth (2275 / 3838), the most water damaged of all my Cornish ticks after the GBG leaky water bottle incident.  Outer Truro/Falmouth/Redruth LOVES sticking a random pub in the GBG that hasn't been in since the 70's if at all.  I seem to do a different one each time I'm down here.  It is a pretty old skool sort of place for all the evening 'reservation' signs, though these seem more to do with a forthcoming quiz night than dining.  Blind Sooty charity tin, and a Labrador attached to an old farmer resting its chin on the table are signs you are in a real pub.  Treen's always seems a safe pair of hands beer-wise down here, and the Sunbeam drinks better than Banks's Sunbeam in recent years.  I ask the guv'nor if he'd rather cash or card.  "Or green shield stamps - ho ho ho" he laughs so I laugh, but I'm thinking 'what the hell is a green shield stamp?'  Something from the olden days maybe?  A staff member who looks like a tattooed Mrs Punch keeps eyeing Colin with great curiosity.  I keep smiling, hoping she'll ask but she might have some Cauli-phobia because she keeps her distance until he's back in the bag!  Only then does she talk to me, can't remember about what, but it wasn't cauliflowers. 

Tricky water damaged place to go and get a result

Don't scare the barmaid Col

My mood - reflecting on a Crafthole fail

Wave to Blind Sooty

The U2 bus does what it should and turns up on time, and soon I'm back in Redruth.

Redruth being Redruth, I have an hour here before the next train to Plymouth.  Typical!  Time to check out the only other cask ale selling pub in town:

Red Lion, Redruth gets generally more positive reviews than the Oxford Inn I visited a few days ago, and whilst it is true that there are no pissed up Barry White enthusiasts, or one legged huggers in here, I felt less relaxed here than in the Oxford.  I was more sober today though.  The lad who serves me barks in my face, in a friendly way.  When he signs into the till , it transpires that one of his colleagues has amended his name to 'Cunt'.  Red Lion banter of the highest order!  It is lively around the pool table, the smiliest customer is a young Rekorderlig drinking woman in a Newcastle Utd top.  Of course, a holidaying Geordie family appear from a space/time vortex somewhere just south of Byker and congratulate her.  She says something about liking the colours black & white I think!  You can go off some people.  "I'm not chubby, I'm Gigantamax" says the tee shirt of the largest pool player.  I think it is Pokemon humour. The loos of course are squirrelled away behind the pool table in the far corner and I have no desire to explore.  Seems an odd pub to have their own branding and merchandise, but that seems to be the case.  It's a pretty rough n ready boozer, but obviously a happy community pub.  Still, I'm not feeling the need to stay for a bonus half.  If anywhere in Cornwall needs a micro, I'd say it is Redruth.  

Back at the station, our old mate Hector the cat is out on the platform, trying with some difficulty to reverse out of a kennel cos he's eaten a few too many Dreamies ......

And then it was back to Plymouth.  Another slog, more slow progress, but three pubs at this stage is valuable and leaves me with only six mainland Cornwall pubs to do in two days.  Which would be easy if you were in say, Surrey or Derbyshire. 

Until next time, where we get back to Crafthole and I do arguably my hardest tick of the week, good night and have a lovely weekend.  Keep it pub.


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