Wednesday 31 August 2022


Greetings.  Six or seven weeks away from the 2023, we are approaching that time of year when it is hard to do your ticking without thoughts turning to what might be in the next edition, and whether what you are doing now is actually worth it! 

A shameful 13 pubs from 1st - 26th August put me under pressure this month.  I'm blaming punk festival, train strikes and work making me work a couple of (not very) #ThirstyThursdays.

In fact, scrap that.  Let me spin it another way.  

'RetiredMartin is getting so close to the finishing line as his recent Scottish highland blogs testify, I decided it'd be disrespectful to tick with any real gusto so decided to sit back, relax, give him his moment in the sun'.  

There we go, that sounded convincing didn't it? 

The Science Bit

A fantastic 20 pub Bank Holiday weekend tick-a-thon down in Kent and SE London saved me from total embarrassment.

I ended on 33 pubs, my lowest 2022 monthly tally to date, but with 7 promising pre-emptives added in (most of which were in Blackpool), it wasn't all that bad.   If current projections remain on course, Blackpool will have more micropubs than the whole of Kent by the year 2090 - and that is a BRAPA fact.

I'm 52.4% of the way through the GBG, I've gained 332 pubs since the 2022 Guide came out (a record by 68 already) and I've visited 3920 pubs that have been in ANY Good Beer Guide.

My top 20 most visited counties are:

The far right column shows ticks done in the 2022 Guide.

Overall, it has been a brilliant ticking year so I'm too sad about an average August.

Cover Update

'On a thread, on a thread, it is hanging on a thread!'

Which pub will it finally fall off in?  Or can it hang on until mid-late October? And if it doesn't, do I put a rubber band around it?  Or do I laminate the 'new' front cover?  

Mascot Update

With much sadness and anger still being felt over the departure of Keane Lewis Otter, it is important that is natural successor Oscar the Owl hits the ground running.  8th September in Oldham looks a fitting place to debut.

One flaw with him, he's a snowy owl i.e. white, so any grime might show up over the years!

He's currently on the shelf, bonding with Colin, Pedro and Naughty Little Cousin Pumpy.  Breckie the Sheep is in the kitchen - but I can't use him because of RetiredMartin's Baa Baa Toure which is a shame because he is the only suitably sized mascot i.e. small.  Colin is a bit big boned no offence, get him on Keto, what I'm saying is that it is far from ideal when you are packing a rucksack for a nine day jaunt in Cornwall.  

Meanwhile, Alex the Apple (2 appearances in 3 years, so very much the Steve Harper of BRAPA mascots) is looking to engineer a move away from the club. 

Alex the Apple


Pubs of the month?  I'm putting these three forward for the year end ceremony on NYE.

1. Old Crown, Hesket Newmarket

2. Five Bells, Eynsford

3. Cock Inn, Luddesdown

And three that really left me annoyed and wanting to pull my eyeballs out or puke violently into the vortex.  

1. Plough, Grimsargh

2. Yacht, Bexleyheath

3. Five Bells, Chelsfield

A couple more awards to hand down.

Most Appalling Glassware of 2022 so far - Voluteer, Bexleyheath

Octagonal bottom, jam jar upper, impossible to grasp, very heavy

Most Logistically Challenging Pub Bogs of 2022 so far - Shickers, Blackpool

I know space is at a premium in micros, but c'mon, this is taking the piss a bit (so to speak)

BRAPA Bumper Blog Blitz

Sick of being behind on blogs?  Wake up in the night composing paragraphs about rural Cumbria or snotty South London in your head?  I do.  It is, in 2022 terms, a mental health issue.  I know that because #WokeSi2022.

So I've set myself a challenge.  Over the next 3 blogging nights (Thursday, Friday and either Sunday or Monday), I'm going to give myself a word limit - not sure what yet - two photos max, and one sentence max on getting between pubs, and blog 10-11 pubs.  This'll be fun.  And tricky for me!

We'll see how successful it is, but I'm not saying it is the future or anything like that.

County Progress

Getting stuck into counties this late in the ticking year feels a bit silly, but that's what I've started doing with Kent and South East London.  I've got some very decent price train tickets, that's what makes it so appealing at present, being a bit skint from too many trips away earlier in the summer.

With Kent, I'm having to pretend that Faversham is the furthest point east at this stage just for my own sanity.  Dover?  Ramsgate?  Broadstairs?  Get in the sea!

I've also been pleased with my Cumbrian progress, though my remaining ticks are getting scattered and strung out.  With a new GBG on the horizon, I'll likely leave it alone now until the World Cup .... Daddy BRAPA and I are 'in talks' about a few interesting trips and I'm sure he loved driving me to Hesket Newmarket so much, could similar happen again in December?

He's been sat outside a closed Red Lion in Lowick Bridge today with Mummy BRAPA, so he certainly knows his way to that one!

I've really buggered up my hopes of getting a fully green Lancashire this year.  Don't get me wrong, East Lancs and Knott End on Sea are still on the agenda, but I've totally effed my Longridge and Silverdale hopes I reckon this time out.  Not financially viable to travel over to either for the price of one poxy tick.

A shame, but I have made great progress so cannot complain too much.

And Greater Manchester is so close, I just need a Thursday.  Sadly not tomorrow cos I'm working, but the week after, 12 noon, I'll be knocking on a bastard pub door come hell or high water!

September / October

TWO holidays coming up so my number will continue to rise before the 2023 GBG plops on my door mat probably third week of October I'm guessing.

It occurred to me I've not done a totally 'new' county yet this year so my second holiday will be in one of my zero tick places.  I'll let you guess which one from the list of 11 below and if you win, which you'll find out in early October, I've got a little prize for you.

And I think that's a nice place to leave it.

Thanks for tuning in, see you in a random UK pub on Saturday morning.  Time for Shetland (the programme, not the pub ticks sadly, how the 'eck is Tosh gonna get outta this one?) 



Tuesday 30 August 2022


BRAPA incompetence denied me a first pub tick of August on my second day at Blackpool's Rebellion Punk Festival.

I thought I was being very clever too, taking the tram all the way from St Chad's Road to Fleetwood Ferry, an arduous 50 minute ride.

But despite a note I'd made in my very own notepad reading "Care - check ferry times on Facebook page", it'd had gone clean out of my mind (too much punk making me brain dead?) and I'd failed to notice that the next ferry wasn't until 2:15pm.

Could I have caught a bus?  Perhaps.  But at this moment in time, I just wanted to get back to the festival and watch some bands.  The tram driver was quite a character. He asks me when Toyah is playing, so I pass him my programme.  And I can see the cogs whirring as he calculates how long he can delay his tram along the seafront around 3pm so he can hear a bit of her set!  

To add insult to injury, one of the worst beers I've tasted all year comes next.  I have it at the GBG listed 1887 Brewroom, which I visited pre-emptively in 2018.  No fault of the pub this ale, but this baby themed 'double rusk & oat milk IPA' sounded intriguing, a must try!  However, I found it as undrinkable as it looks.  I think the kids call it 'dank'.  Like Treguard's dungeon.  A knightmare to drink! It didn't help that there were no seats available, I hit my head on the 'poo room' sign, and the barman skipped over serving me in a moment of sheer staff ineptitude.  

Thankfully, Toyah did what Toyah does and brightened the day - and no, I didn't see any rogue tram drivers breaking in. 

As she almost once sang, 'it's a mystery how the Plough, Grimsargh (2324 / 3887) has made it into the Good Beer Guide' but it has, as I found it to my cost 24 hours later, when I met Daddy BRAPA and took an impromptu mid-festival bus trip up there.

After all, Hull City were away to Preston North End this weekend.  It'd be rude not to go to the match wouldn't it?  But what a dreadful, dreadful pub.  If you are kid, you'd probably love it.  The beer garden was basically a mini race track.  Looked massive fun.

The staff were pleasant enough, but the Plough was dining boredom (but with zero customers), it felt dirty, the swarm of flies around our heads forced us outside, where a wasp then attacked us!  And the beer was even more unforgiveable than the Baby Cakes in that there is no way it should've tasted as sour as a Duchesse Boing Boing.  I tried to convince myself otherwise, but Bank Top rarely do ales like that at 3.6%, and no one Untappd was describing it as anything other than a standard bitter.

The game was equally dull, and as tends to happen with PNE this season, and finished 0-0.  I melted in the first half, moved to sit next to Daddy BRAPA in the second, but we mentally didn't emerge from the dressing room and were hanging on for the point against distinctively average, flag waving opposition.

My legs had gone and all the energy was sapped out of me by the time Cockney Rejects finished a few hours later, a band I usually real get into what with his cheeky chappy West Ham Scrappy Doo ex-hooligan persona, but I just wasn't 'feeling it' and couldn't stand up long enough to hang around for Cocksparrer, a band I like even more, especially since I've started listening to their 2017 album.

Only one thing for it, head back south towards my Travelodge and tick off a couple of pre-emptives in the vicinty.

The first was a real duffer called the Bloomfield Brewhouse, five handpumps turned around and just this ultra meaty thing from a place called Ansdell 47 was on.  It was scary Saturday night karaoke fun, some of the singers were quite good actually but I hid behind a pool table, where shock horror I dropped my pen and couldn't find it despite ages scrabbling around on the floor amongst crisp and scratching crumbs! 

A punk lady did end up lending me her eyebrow pencil so I could keep up with my punk rock alphabet challenge, which is more punk than using a Bic biro if you think about it.

I'd end up ticking 18/24 letters of the alphabet by the final night, it could've easily been 21 with a bit more discipline.  Gives me something to strive for next year, if  there IS a next year!  Not decided yet whether I'll come back in '23.

Back to the Saturday evening and Shickers was a much more impressive pre-emptive.  Lovely old guy, and three gents and this huge dog which must've been half husky or something all chatting in companionable splendour, often throwing me a smile as if to say "feel free to join in our wonderful chatter" but my lack of energy meant I simply wasn't in the mood for talking so just nodded along as they discussed Chloe Kelly, euthanasia and Americanisms.    Not all at the same time.  

If this place doesn't make the 2023 GBG, expect to see it in 2024 if it still exists by then (just been watching the BBC news about every pub closing down because of the energy crisis, which'll sure make ticking easier!)

I'd have an even better Shickers experience the following day which I'll talk about at some point in the future but this was a nice gentle introduction to the place.

Sunday was the final day of the festival, but it began with a pub tour courtesy of Blackpool legend and all round good egg Jane 'BlackpoolJane' Stuart.  As far as I'm concerned, she's as synonymous with the town as the Tower, Jimmy Armfield, Pete and Sophie off Gogglebox, and fifteen year olds with burning prams asking you to pop into the offie for a bottle of Voddie but I'd hate to casually lazily stereotype so I definitely won't be doing that.

Pub tick number two was incoming, but where was Jane?  Not on my bus.  I peered out from the top deck at each stop like an eager beagle looking for its owner, but the only passengers getting on were a steady stream of pink haired ladies called Vera.

Wrea 'Ray' Green was the destination, a 'PR' postcode Jane had messaged me with some trepidation, as if worried her skin might blister and burn.  But it looked innocent enough, and very green (the place, not her skin), complimenting my jacket almost as perfectly as a Stablio.

Finally, I check my messages and Jane tells me they opened early and she's walked straight in and has drink.  In a GBG club?  Unprecedented times.

And sure enough, Jane is sat there is Wrea Green Institute, Wrea Green (2325 / 3888) looking chill as a cucumber.  I'm asked to sign a guest book, an inconvenience Jane didn't have.  I knew this jacket made me look dangerous.  Two Marston's are on, so I grab a 61 Deep and am forced to apologise for selling Keane Lewis Otter down the river before we can exchange pleasantries.  My improvised Josh Bowler/Moler analogy was a thing of beauty which didn't get the credit it deserved.  As GBG clubs go, this is certainly one of the drabber I've witnessed, and I was glad of Jane's company because it would've been hard to find anything to say about it.  Just too modern and airy to have a Dartford or Urmston or even Birchanger level of atmosphere that you could really sink your teeth into.  Still, a tick we'd been talking about since New Year's Day when we first met in Cleveley's Shipwrecked, and although being mid punk festival, there was no GBG or Stablio or Cauliflower, mentally highlighting it felt so good!

Time to take the bus back into Blackpool for a bit more pre-emptive ticking.  Jane has already blogged brilliantly about it so I don't have to (I will of course, but not until I'm a bit more caught up with August - it is now doing my head in being a month behind on blogging!) but we did Thirsty? , Cask & Tap, Waterloo and went back to Shickers before I finally got some late punk bands in.

Tomorrow, I'll be back for the month end review.  Then, I'm going to blitz August in three succinct blogs (that'll be a first!), then we'll see where we are re Blackpool.   But now, time to load up the iFollow and see what we do at QPR. 

See you tomorrow chums, 


Thursday 25 August 2022



Wednesday 3rd August 5pm, all aboard the Blackpool North bound Northern Fail stopper for my 19th (nineteenth!) trip to Rebellion Punk Festival (previously of Morecambe and known as 'Holidays in the Sun' and 'Wasted') but for many years now, based in Blackpool Winter Gardens.

This time though, it was a bit different.  Like most BRAPA trips, I was travelling solo.  Billy No Mates.  The solid gang of six or seven us who used to go couldn't make it for a variety of reasons.  Luckily, I'm used to keeping myself amused!

So I did something incredibly 'ticker-esque' and devised a challenge to try and watch a band beginning with each letter of the alphabet!  Punk effin' rock!  I'd done similar at Manchester where I'd achieved 16/26 letters, but with an extra day in Blackpool, could I get a clean slate?

Well no, cos there was no 'Q' or 'X' bands, unless I cheat and go and see 'Xploited'.  Just like BRAPA, I had to strategise when there was say, only one band playing beginning with a certain letter.

No sooner had I arrived in the Tangerinest town on earth, walking down to the Travelodge next to the football ground, when I had to be diverted down a side street cos some punks had set their B&B on fire .....

I'd done the same in 2011 so couldn't say much (a faulty toaster at 3am meaning the whole building had to be evacuated, fire brigade called, people carrying crying babies outdoors in the middle of the night, gosh I felt guilty even though it wasn't strictly my fault!)

And then it came into view, the one thing in Blackpool which makes me more nostalgic for the town than anything else .... the camp parrot at Coral Island.  The day they remove him, the day Blackpool has lost all trace of itself.

I checked into my hotel and then was straight back out to Tesco for a giant bag of food to sustain me for the next few days, trying to some extent to stick with my quite successful recent Keto diet.  Jimmy Armfield didn't condone it, but he went along with it .....

"Everywhere selling alcohol should be considered a pre-emptive" a wise man once told me.  Well, Tom 'Clag Monster' Irvin anyway.  So I head down for a late night pint at the Travelodge South Shore, Blackpool.  In the lift down, a sweating Dad was coming the other way armed with toilet rolls under each arm.  "Looks like a fun evening you've got planned" I comment.  He shakes his head sadly.  "It's for the kids, they're having a nightmare".  

Say no more mate, say no more.  We've all been there after that unwise 7th ESB. 

Down at the bar, a gang of Scottish people are getting pissed.  Scottish people crowding into Blackpool is a theme I notice every August.  A kid at the bar wants to colour something in, there are some coloured pencils in a pot next to me, I pass him one, he's not at all grateful.  Twild.  

Bottles of Pedi and Spittie are the craft offerings .....

I go for the Pedi, she pours it into a Beck's glass of peculiar shape which doesn't impress me much, but it is an enjoyable bottle in the airy, bland surroundings. Needs a carpet and a snug or two this boozer, I can't see it making the 2023 GBG.

Fast forward to Thursday morning, #Day1 of the festival.  I'd slept well and was raring to go.  Fewer seagulls keeping me awake in the night than in Carlisle last week, weirdly!  And more fresh air.  No need for a noisy fan on all night.

Much confusion at Winter Gardens as I join the queue for the wristband exchange just after 11am.  They've moved the entrance right around the other side since my last visit in 2018.  It doesn't work as well.  I tell a doorman I'm not a fan but even the word of BRAPA can't change the entire set up of the festival.

I hand over my paper ticket for the last time, the end of an era. Even this festival, which is quite retro anyway let's be honest, is going digital in 2023.

No bands due on for an hour so I head to old favourite Churchills which surely has been in a GBG in the long distant past .... it is rammed with punx.  Hobgoblin Gold is the only ale that is on, quite decent stuff, I have no alternative but to stand at the bar without being a bar blocker.  It isn't the funnest drinking experience of the weekend and hard to get a sense of the pub.

Back in the venue, I have an explore.  Yes, they've spent a fuck tonne of dosh on Winter Gardens in recent years, the entrance resembles a posh hotel lobby in Dubai but thankfully most of it feels pretty unaltered which is good, because it is a beautiful venue.  Spanish Galleon and Empress Ballroom for example, amazing.  If the bands are dull, you can look upwards and admire.  Hidden tunnels beneath it too, but I'm yet to find one.   

Mr Large gives me a bit of encouragement .....

And I must admit, I do enjoy these early stages of the festival before everyone has got in.  Not sure many people come to a Punk Festival for a bit of peace and quiet, but I revel in it.

My first band are On the Huh, never heard of them but 'O' is a difficult letter to go and get a result.  I'd been listening to their new E.P. Peep Show to get me in the mood this morning .....

The crowd soon get warmed up to them, they're a good solid outfit, jolly chaps obviously loving their moment in the spotlight.  Two giant blokes, one who is about 7 foot tall and 20 stone with a floppy mohawk throws his weight around, and another skinny one in a suit keeps bouncing off him.  Nice to see but 12:30pm on day one of four, conserve your energy lads, long weekend!

I'd be happy with this carpet in any pub

It's only their 7th ever gig!  So we'll forgive them the odd false start and a few nerves.

Lead singer wants to do some pantomime style humour ".... being in Blackpool and all that".  "Where's my setlist?" he asks.  "It is behind you!" we have to shout.  "I can't hear you!"  "IT'S BEHIND YOU!"  This is why we come to punk festivals.

Straight onto the next, over at the Arena stage, and V is for Vomit. They are far too nice and like a bunch of Dads to be scary and puke on stage, which of course is what I'd been hoping for. 


The former Almost Acoustic stage is selling some keg Sharp's Atlantic which I see as a win so I grab a pint and go upstairs to the Spanish Hall where the current Almost Acoustic stage is (little do I know until the final day that a brewery called Farm Yard or something have a stall selling proper powerful crafty stuff - epic fail on my part cos the Sharp's keg soon runs out and I resort to stuff like Worthington Creamflow which is ugggghhhh).

The next band is a letter 'M', fewer M's than I'd expect.  Music in our Underpants is the name, proper bonkers camp cabaret stuff, and yes they do play in their underpants.  One fan takes his trousers off in a show of unity and runs to the front to join in.  Anything goes here.  They play some cracking covers, Ghost Town by The Specials is my favourite.  Very intense wailing!

And when you aren't watching the band, you can admire the stunning Gulliver's Travels venue.  It's been out of use the last few years I've been to the festival, so great to see it back.  Another winning carpet too. 

A couple more bands follow, a man with a double bass slags off Wetherspoons so I go downstairs to watch the excellent Knock Off ('K' was a particularly tough letter) but I need a sit down by now, I'm not as young as I used to be! 

Before Blackpool's craft & micro revolution of the last 5 years, circa 2006-15, there was really only one brilliant pub offering a great selection of ales in town, and that was the Pump & Truncheon.  How many pints I've had in here over the years I shudder to think, must be York Tap levels.

I was saddened to hear it had recently been blanded out into the No 13 Bonny Street (why pubs think just naming themselves their address is cool or clever I'll never know, but I have a problem with Blackpool's micro naming too - way too many dull names which turn out to be excellent venues. Stop playing it safe micros, it isn't in the Blackpool spirit). 

I went to explore, worries what I'd find .....

And to some extent, I was reassured by what I saw.  The pool table remains, woohoo!  The general shape and feel of the pub is still there, you couldn't say 'it was a shadow of its former self' or anything too dramatic.  In fact, the Dark Star Revelation was a revelation, a better kept pint than I'd had in here on my last few visits to the P&T.

The had however removed all the police paraphernalia, which added character and humour and was a nod to the past police HQ.  And it was uncharacteristically quiet as a grave.  You'd always find the more discerning real ale drinking punks flocking here.  Not anymore, not now they've got stuff like 1887 Brew Room, Albert's and the excellent brand new Cask & Tap, all closer to the venue, and better.  I'll visit all of those in parts 2-4.

I was hungry by now so got a nice big bit of fish from my old favourite Micky Finns, it is tradition, now this was one time I was really missing my friends being here cos we always used to come here, I even recognise the bloke.  Lovely stuff - Keto-tastic ....

Back at Winter Gardens, I'm interested to note that they've renamed what I've always called the Galleon as 'The Old Victoria' but it'll always be the Galleon to me.  One of my favourite rooms in Winter Gardens and normally quite quiet too.

Time to watch a band I knew and could properly singalong to ... B was for Bouncing Souls and despite not knowing anything they've done since 2006, and not much post 2001, they played a proper crowd pleasing greatest hits set and I was lovin' it ..... though I'm a bit old for moshing or pogoing these days so I just did this weird booty shake hip wiggle thing but it was fine cos this couple even older than me joined in, I might call it the Stymie Shuffle!  Or not.

It was boiling in the Empress Ballroom, I had to get out of the venue again (not great form when you've set yourself a pointless band A-Z challenge) so I visit another of our old stomping grounds, and always hugely popular with the punks cos they put piped punk on at deafening levels, sometimes even put live bands on at pre and after parties, and the staff sometimes dress up for the occasion.  Yes, the Rose & Crown is a pub that really embraces the festival.

I was SHOCKED when it appeared in the GBG a few years back, ale is always decent but Bombardier in polycarbonate all I got for about 10 years.  They had a Blackpool beer on today, but I got told off by a real Miss Bossyboots for failing to read the 'Cash Only' signs.  I was later told by a barman in a 'card only' pub that they were probably doing a dodgy tax manoeuvre or something.  I couldn't possibly comment.

After a nice chat with two Norwegian first timers about Blackpool friendless, Turbonegro and the venue layout, the sun was setting on day one and it was time to check out the brand new shiny outdoor R Fest stage, holding 15,000 (allegedly).

'Twixt Blackpool Tower and the sea, covering the prom bit where they have all the comedy quotes on the ground, the annoying organisers made us walk a long way around and then through some turnstiles (sadly not the band Turnstile) where I got a full body search, front and back!  

I get chatting with a drunk Irish man, he warns me there's a fascist march in Blackpool tomorrow (I didn't ask) but leaves me with the parting words "but then again, you probably are one yourself for all I know! Bye!" 

With about 5,000 portaloos to the right, I have a quick wee and then go to check out the ale situation to the left.  

The staff are ace out here and they have a few Marston's bottles on so I get a Wainwright and start making my way towards the front, which is like another mile walk, where another band who's songs I actually know well and like are headlining.  

Yes, L is for the Levellers and it was an amazing way to finish the night .... though I stupidly didn't think they were coming back for an encore so was in a portaloo again when 15 Years started up and that's one of my faves, so I had to enjoy them from about a mile away.  Might have to take a pair of binoculars next year.

So that was a cracking first day.  Join me tomorrow morning, I had my sights set on an actual BRAPA pub tick, and of course, plenty more bands beginning with various letters of the alphabet! 

I'm going away for the Bank Holiday weekend so see ya next week for part two.

Thanks for reading, Si