Tuesday 12 July 2022

BRAPA in ..... MINOR RUIN AT RUAN MINOR (Cornwall Pt 3/10)

Up and in the shower at 4:30am on the Monday morning.  If you want to achieve pub ticking greatness, these are the hours you sometimes have to keep!

Not that I did achieve greatness mind, but as they say, 'it is the thought that counts'.

The thought being 'get to the Isles of Scilly, Tresco to be precise, via train from Plymouth to Penzance, walk to ferry, ferry to St Mary, boat to Tresco, pub, & wow my Twitter followers with an impressive tick'.

But my plan unravelled quite quickly.  The 5:30am train was cancelled at short notice.  That put my Scillonian ferry crossing in jeopardy.  Then, I noticed they'd sent me an email overnight with boat times.  Into Tresco by about 1pm.  But the last boat of the day from Tresco back to St Mary's was something ridiculous like 1:45pm!  The St Mary's ferry being at 4pm.

Now had I been 100% sure that the Tresco boat would dock at New Grimsby Quay, a 5 min walk to the pub, I might well have still gone for it.  But it might arrive 30 minutes walk away, on the other side of the island at Carn Near Quay, in which case I simply couldn't do it.

Once in Penzance, I trotted down to the ferry point.  The passengers were still waiting to board.  I asked two rough old salty sea dog chaps.  Neither could help me!  I couldn't afford to take the gamble.  

Back to the drawing board on that one, probably next year when I'm down in North Devon.  Going later in the week looks the better option, seems to be more mid afternoon boats.  I think I know what to do now. Staying the night in Penzance and not Plymouth might help too!

Talk about being Tresco-thick!

Time to find some mainland Cornish ticks instead that open at noon on a Monday (good luck with that!)

Plan aborted, hiding those tired eyes!

Silly not Scilly Cauli

Back as far as the scroat hole that is Redruth.  It was still only mid morning.  An arduous bus ride takes me down into the Lizard Peninsula, winding our way agonisingly around our old mate Helston and the like.  

I was aiming for Cadgwith.  And the closest stop was Ruan Minor, a twenty minute walk away.

No sooner had I stepped from the bus when I felt a trickle of liquid running down my leg.  First thought is 'I knew my bladder wasn't very strong, but I didn't realise incontinence had set in'.

Alas, no!  My water bottle lid (one of those little clip things) had worked itself loose, and my bag was swimming with water.

I crouch at the side of the road and bail out!  Luckily, no electronic devices were harmed.  A moody and quite soggy Cauli emerged, but he'd dry.  The biggest casualty was my Good Beer Guide.  Sodden all along the upper half, the counties beginning with C - M most badly affected.

Sad times

Cadgwith was a coastal resort to match inland Calstock as early contender for 'most beautiful Cornish place of the holiday'.  But all I could think about was my poor GBG, so I found a bench outside the village shop, and started the drying off process.  Luckily, it was another scorching day, the last before the rains came.

It was only 11:30am so I had time before the pub opened.  There were plenty of tourists dotted about.  But what impressed me was the stillness and solitude.  People just sat and admired.  No voices, no electronic devices.  The odd lorry was loaded up with cockles and mussels alive alive oh.  A stereotypical Cornish artist looked out towards the cliffs, neckerchief blowing in the sea breeze.  And my GBG was drying.  Slowly, but progress was being made!

At 11:55am, I took myself back up the hill for the inaugural pub photo.  The couple approaching me smiling weren't tourists, they actually wanted to get into the cottage behind.  What a place to live!  We had a nice five minute chat about people just 'being' and they told me that BRAPA sounded an amazing way to see the UK.  I couldn't deny it.  

All the while, an angry red bloke is eyeing me.  He knows I'm waiting for the pub to open, and I can tell he wants to beat me to the bar.   I'm not letting that happen!

Cadgwith Cove Inn, Cadgwith (2258 / 3821) opens a couple of minutes early, angry red man is down the hill, temporarily distracted by the poor cow who is maybe betrothed to him, so I am first customer.  Good job as I only have 25 minutes strictly speaking before the yomp back up to Ruan Minor.  My eyes struggle to adjust to the dark interior, I tell the barmaid as such, but she is one of the more disappointing staff of the holiday.  Going through the motions, viewing my 'drink only' request as an inconvenience before the hoards of lunchers and overnight stoppers arrive.   Betty Stoggs has caught my eye, though looking at the pump clip, she seems to have had a breast reduction since I saw her last in Rugeley.  The pub is a bit of a miserable dining hole trying to be old and quaint, but there is a suntrap to the front so the perfect opportunity for more GBG drying.  Poor Essex has really suffered.  Chelmsford & Coxtie Green especially, oh it is sad to see!  Crinkle cut and pissy yellow.   I nearly collide with angry red man.  He is checking his family in for the evening, so gets a much breezier welcome than I did, and sits across the courtyard with a 'soft drink' whilst his family return from wherever they've absconded to.  Possibly gone out to sea for ever.  I would if I was part of his family.  Awful man.  (He's probably really nice).  Soon, it is 12:25 so after a quick widdle and return of glass (though they don't deserve it and aren't even there to thank me), it is time to trot back up the hill, feeling that after this mornings trials and tribulations, I deserved a better first pub.  Good pint though.  Never a given in coastal Cornwall. 

Drying off gradually

Back at the bus stop (one of many confusing turning circles where you have no idea where the bus is going to arrive or depart from), a jolly man in a suit is waiting.

"You waiting for the bus too?" I ask him hopefully, I like the moral support of locals in such situations, but no, he's waiting for a car to take him to a funeral.  It wouldn't be my first flirtation with a funeral this holiday, but easily the happiest.  The lady who picks him up even waves at me as they speed off.

The bus ride back to Redruth is equally arduous, sitting on the sunny side for more GBG drying potential.  

I decide to go to Hayle next, my most westerly remaining mainland tick.  It is a long wait for the next train (30 minutes delayed too!) but luckily, as I eat lunch in the waiting room, I have a companion, Hector the station cat.

"Don't let him out of the waiting room and onto the platform!" scream the signs, but this lazy little moggy isn't planning an Al-cat-raz breakout any time soon.  Even when I open my chicken, those little nostrils don't even slightly wobble.

Nevertheless, as a train load of folk come in, one of the doors keeps getting stuck in an open position so I'm constantly up and down, pushing that door shut again.  

The train finally arrives to take me west.  I'm annoyed at myself re this next tick.  It was a semi-regular in the GBG in the nineties and noughties, and I stayed in Hayle last time out in Cornwall, yet never thought to come here!  And it was a good 10-15 minute walk on the edge of this thing called 'Paradise Park' (paradise not really something you'd associate with Hayle, a sort of more touristy Redruth). 

Quite a peculiarity in the regard that I wasn't quite sure what to make of the Bird in Hand, Hayle (2259 / 3822) .  It seemed to be positioning itself as a sort of family fun pub, the type you'd bring the kids for a pint and an ice cream after you've tickled a few toucans.  It resembles an old Yorkshire mill, it is vast and sweeping inside, and may I say, a very attractive interior.  The only customers are tight knit group of yokels who cling onto one corner of the bar for dear life.  Proper Cornish pub folk, smokers with tattoos and lager enjoying life.  I consider drinking in, but there's something quite depressing about the cavernous empty space, so more drying opportunities in the pub garden, from where I can hear the odd squawk of a parrot.  My pint of Tribute is NOT up to standard.  But just when I'm thinking this experience is actually quite rubbish, I inadvertently smile at the wrong moment, the smokers think I'm joining in with a bawdy joke, tell me 'just get back to reading ya Beer Guide!' and we soon get chatting.  Crazy bunch.  And when I go inside to find the loo five minutes later, they stop me to say they'd just been talking about my quest and are astonished I'd come this far to visit their local.  I tell them I'm quite astonished too.  Time to go.  

Two pubs only and we were already approaching early evening.  I'd suspected Cornwall would offer slim pickings, especially now I was getting closer to the conclusion of the county.

I took the train as far as Truro, and waited patiently for the Falmouth stopper to arrive.

Good ole' Falmouth, the only Cornish place I've been to every year, and it had two newbies in for me this year too.  But timings were tight, and suddenly, I'd gone from two pubs in twelve hours to needing to do two pubs in under one hour!

First up, we had this little beauty .....

And it is so reassuring as a pub ticker to come to a town for the fourth time, following hot on the heels of classics like the Seven Stars, Beerwolf Books and The 'Front , and still find a fantastic boozer such as the Seaview Inn, Falmouth (2260 / 3823).  The big draw here is the healthy mixture of old & young customers, and sure enough, a large group of twentysomethings were sat on tables at the front, whilst a more grizzled older crew prop up the bar inside.  I stayed indoors this time, a traditional peaceful pub atmosphere, whilst the Treen ale was drinking well, and a distant clanking of pool balls can be heard.  I even wondered if I could hear an owl, but that didn't seem to make much sense.  Being in the top right hand corner of page 63, this was my most water damaged tick yet and it turned the Stabilo a sickly shade of yellow green (seasick?) after I'd coloured it in, having initially started as a deeper green. I predict highlighting my GBG is going to be fun for the rest of the year!   A great pub this, but I couldn't afford to linger.

A tricky water damaged tick

If you are at all scared of heights, try to avoid the most direct route to our next pub in the centre of Falmouth.  These slippy, crumbly, steep, gravity defying steps, and loads of them, were quite frankly terrifying, and my descent wasn't helped by three ultra confident young German women behind me galloping down without a care in the world!  It would have made a great photo but I was far too scared.

Perfectly positioned for a swift hop aboard the U2 bus (because I like living on The Edge .... sorry!) towards Redruth in 27 minutes time, my remaining Falmouth tick was this.

The friendliest and most genuine staff you could hope to greet you in any pub, plus one of the finest pints of my entire week, made up for the many shortcomings which would normally irritate me in a lesser pub.  Pennycomequick. Falmouth (2261 / 3824).  The guys who served me, imagine The Levellers in their pomp, revealed that the Seaview was their favourite pub as I gave them the BRAPA manifesto, meanwhile the barmaid had the nicest green jumper I've ever witnessed in BRAPA history.  The seating and table layout was a disgrace, and I resorted to sitting on a bench, no table, just propping my pint alongside me.  But wow what a pint it was, Shot in the Dark 5.4% St Austell limited edition.  Dark, hoppy, spicy.  That's what the pump clip said and I'm sticking to it.  I'm too young to remember 80's wine bars, but I wonder if they were like this.  The blues and jazz music went absolutely nowhere, but at least it had turned to something resembling Samba by the time I'd left.  The crowd were generally young to middle aged funky types, so it was nice to see The Toad of Toad Hall propping up the bar against the odds.  Respect to that man.   Once again, Falmouth had left a positive impression on me. 

I saw the U2 waiting across the square so dashed for it, I didn't want to be a Bozo Bono at this late stage and miss it.  The reason I wanted to get the bus out of Falmouth towards Redruth was that there was a pub on route in the brilliantly named Ponsanooth.  

I was starting to feel like I was salvaging something decent from a terrible start to the day.

Never relax in this game and as I press the bell, and the driver pulls up directly outside the pub entrance, I notice the pub looks dead as a doornail.  I ask the driver if he agrees.  "Don't think it opens Monday mate" he says.  "In that case, I'll stay on to Redruth" I reply.

Sad face as I trudge back down the bus, the two other passengers look sad for me which was some consolation.  And I guess I'd done well to not get off the bus and fortunate it stopped so close!  I check my notes against the opening times, and I admit, in a rare BRAPA opening times misstep, I'd overlooked the Monday closure .....

Fate, which decrees I spend maximum time in Redruth in all circumstances, told me I had to wait 55 minutes for the next train back in a Plymmie direction.  Time for a pint?

Sadly, the real ale revolution is still to hit Redruth.  Only two pubs listed doing cask, and the one with the more positive reviews was also closed on a Monday.  That left this .....

Oxford Inn, Redruth is probably what you'd call a highly optimistic pre-emptive, in that it is unlikely to ever trouble the GBG compilers in its current form.  Having said that, I don't see why not when you consider the Dartmoor Jail Ale was a much better pint than some I had this week, including Hayle earlier on.  It was exactly the kind of pub where a toothless old bloke in a beanie hat with a wheezy laugh is going to jump on you the second you arrive at the bar.  He points up at Barry White on a giant plasma showing hits of the 70's.  "Top shagger!" he observes.  You don't get this at Cadgwith Cove.  A giant one legged man who must be former army or something wanders around giving everyone a bear hug.  I've found a bench well away from the bar at this point!  Oh, and of course it is the sort of pub where if you need a wee, you have to run the gauntlet of pool players.  But I feel brave enough to offer a few tips to improve their game on my way past, and I don't get murdered.  You know what, I quite enjoyed this.  You might make an A.Wingfield / B.Beermat of me yet!

As the train pulls out of Redruth, Plymouth bound, and I hear the stops announced, something suddenly occurs to me.  Could I get a 5th tick in even at this late stage?  

A few taps of my phone later, I realise it is on.  48 minutes in Lostwithiel, the pub is a six minute walk, that leaves me with 36 minutes pubbing.  Perfect!  

I nearly miss the stop because it is one of those short platform affairs where you need to be in the front 4 coaches and I'd obviously not been concentrating.  Thankfully, the train waits for long enough for me to get forward and off ..... phew!  

Frustratingly, I ticked Lostwithiel regular pub The Globe last time out in 2019.  Who'd have thought a place this small would've gone and stuck in a second boozer?  

21:30 and in the summer evening twilight, I enter the Royal Oak, Lostwithiel (2262 / 3825) and it is one of those slightly disjointed scenes, open doors, courtyards, corridors, people littered about, some smoking, some wander around with drinks, but the main thing is it is quite busy and lively, and that is what I like about Cornwall, people use the pubs, even on a Monday night in Lostwithiel.  You feel like last orders would be nigh if it wasn't so popular.  Doom Bar Extra Chilled is piquing my curiosity for all the wrong reasons, but a Totnes man on my Twitter keeps getting upset with me for ordering 'the wrong beer' so I play safe and go Proper Job, probably the most reliable standard ale you see regularly in Cornwall.  It is a good drop, and I take it to the far end and settle down to watch a bit of Sue Barker, whilst she's still with us!  It is hard though not to get distracted by a loud Luxulyan lady having a rant about why she's been overlooked as the village Carnival Queen this year, besmirching the lady who has been selected!  Reminded me of something from 'This Country'.   Much as I was enjoying myself,  I didn't want to relax and risk missing the last train to Plymouth.

It had been a ridiculous day from start to finish and there was almost one final ridiculous twist.

I couldn't quite remember which platform was going east, so I cross the track to look at the board.  At the same second I realise I'm on the wrong side, the barriers come down.  SHIT!  I'm gonna be lost in Lostwithiel aren't I?  

But my saving grace, a bloke in a signal shed above me opens the window.  "You okay there mate?"  "Not really, I've just realised I'm on the wrong side and I'm supposed to be going to Plymouth!" I shout up at him.  "No bother!"  He presses a button, and the barriers temporarily swing back upwards.  I try to express my gratitude in a series of manic waves, and scuttle across.  

Back in Plymouth 22:59, I'd been awake since 04:30.  What a crazy day.  And it wouldn't be the last.

Join me on Thursday or Friday for Part 4 as the weather turns and I experience one of the scariest boat trips of my life, leaving me soggier than a ruined GBG.


1 comment:

  1. Hope you're not referring to me as Totnes bloke!