Friday 12 August 2022

BRAPA in ...... GORTON & THE WELLIES : Annual Summer Outing 2022

Flowery Field was the starting point for a Saturday Super Six ticks in the 'burbs of Greater Manchester.

Time for a song?  

'Welcome all to my Flowery Field / With the dandelion clocks and the cowslip yield / Where insects glimmer, Stabilo green / And Goblins shimmer gaily in a GBG dream'.

That of course, is taken from BRAPA's 1969 psychedelic infused classic 'No Ducks in Dukinfield'.  Only 60 copies were pressed, 50 on purple vinyl, 10 on lime green.  The lyrics are said to have inspired artists such as The Cribs, Cro-Mags, Angel Olsen and Journey.

A cat called Mr Lynex moved into the shade under a car.  At 26 degrees the heat was ramping up again. 

Too early for pub opening, I tried to attend a non league football game (coz it is wot tickers do), but somebody moved the goalposts as soon as I took this photo and scowled at me like 'game over'.

With the pub showing absolutely zero signs of a 12 noon opening, Daddy BRAPA and I lurked around the corner, and the local graffiti struck a chord.

This was the pub.  For south/east Manchester, it appeared deliciously scruffy down to earth.

Today was the annual 'Welly Day' summer outing with a group of (mainly) Hull City fans who (mainly) used to frequent Hull's now defunct Wellington.  At its peak circa 2005-2008, it is the most I've enjoyed any pub and also felt the greatest sense of belonging.  

The first trio wandering down the street towards us were vaguely familiar.   We had Christine, who has notched up a few BRAPA appearances over the years, daughter Lizzy, and a third person I didn't recognise.  "Must be Mr Lizzy" says Dad.  I hoped his first name was 'Thin', but it was Christopher.  He has links to Chorlton and Edinburgh.  You don't hear that on Crimewatch.

The second trio followed just as the pub key started to rattle in the lock.  The familiar figure of Tom 'Clag Monster' Irvin, in a big winter coat as is his sort of trademark on hot days, with his lovely parents, Chris and Bernie.

Not before time, an elderly gent in slippers (and he might as well have been wearing a dressing gown) lurches open a door which didn't look like it has budged since the 18th century, surprised to see eight thirsty people on his doorstep!  Welcome to the Victoria. Dukinfield (2291 / 3854).  There is probably only one ale on, Dizzy Blonde, though there is a handpump turned to 90 degrees so maybe it was half on?  I don't think any of us asked.  I'm not always a Dizzy fan, but this is a good drop.  It is a particularly friendly place, and a lady comes forward to greet us and wish us a pleasant day in her Flowery neighbourhood.  I cannot relax until I've asked Christopher the question that is bugging me.  Does he prefer Christopher or Chris?  Well, in a change from the normal rules, he is only 'Chris' when his Mum tells him off!  So Christopher it had to be.  Probably just as well as we already had a Chris, Christine, Bernard and Bernie in the room.  Thank goodness me, Tom n Lizzy were keeping it original!  Oh, and today's guest mascot as Colin is STILL not fully fit after Cornwall, was Naughty Little Cousin Pumpy.  Knitted by Christine's friend Sarah, although it isn't Hallowe'en, it seemed an apt time for him to make a rare appearance.  KLO was off, Brentford had finally secured KLP.

So was the Cumbrian Way on or not?

Chris, Bernie and NLCP

Christopher psyches himself up .....

.... and there it is, his debut tick, well done my son!

We then walked to a much closer station to Dukinfield called Hyde North. reinforcing my view that Dukinfield doesn't really exist if you think about it dispassionately, even though a mate of Quosh (remember him?) claimed to have lived there.  I was like 'whatever you say mate, wink!' 

Tom then used his train expertise to help Lizzy and Christopher buy a ticket called 'promise to pay' which sounds like a way of being a fare evader without getting into trouble .... but who am I to possibly speculate? 

Tommy, give it a press, Tommy Tommy give it a press

Next up was a place called Gorton which I'd been planning on ticking for centuries.  I asked local legend John Clarke, who I'd met twice before, to join us cos he loves this next one, but because this was now our second pub due to Tom's train plan and the fact he had a meeting at 2pm, it wasn't doable.  

It was an irritatingly long walk from station to pub, but when we got there, it was in a surprisingly secluded and leafy setting as Gorton main had looked a bit grim.  

The pub bin was not for opening, which it told us on arrival.

Christopher really had the pub ticking bug by this stage, you can just tell

Bit of an inauspicious start to life at the Vale Cottage, Gorton (2292 / 3855) as a DJ is going 'boom boom boom' behind some decks like some Mancunian Outhere Brother.  I'd not even got chance to reply "let me hear you say wayyy oooh" when a bloke who might've been the landlord strides through from another room and tells him to pack it in!   Relief.  Because DJ's rarely improve nice pubs.  Daddy B gets me a Moorhouses Straw Dog, excellently kept, and we sit down in carpetted benchy splendour - a pubbier pub we wouldn't find all day.  I'd been told I'd enjoy this one, and I did.  Although the seating means our group gets split into two, I'm lucky enough to witness Tom's heartwarming TED Talk on depression in Barton-upon-Humber, and it is almost certainly a coincidence that rates have risen since he moved into the neighbourhood.  I have a nice chat with the DJ in the gents, seems he'll get his chance to shine later on, can I request Doop, Swamp Thing and Barbie Girl? 

DJ, DJ stop the tunes

"Served in a minute, Daddy B is getting served in a minute"

And Lizzy levels it up at 1-1.  Top ticking.


It is a more picturesque walk back to Gorton station because some smart arse found a different route down by a river or something, but at the station, Tom's train senses are tingling, he cups his ear to the wind, and reveals our train is still in Manchester!  Grrrr.  

Not to worry, Daddy BRAPA tells me a rude limerick to pass the time and it soon sets off so we manage to stay on schedule.

Next stop, Romiley - another BRAPA debut 'burb.  Now if I'd named the micropub, I'd have called it the Romiley Brew-Kaku but I didn't so it isn't. We also spied a station pub which looked pre-emptive, but no time to take our eye off the 2022 prize.

Single file please

Tommy, give us a wave, Tommy Tommy give us a wave

Jake's Ale House, Romiley (2293 / 3856) is the kind of Micropub you can really get behind.  Crafted with care, thought and love, that much was evident.  Even the bar blockers, who threatened to be annoying, span round like the girl from the exorcist to say hi and recommend a beer brewed a 'stones throw from where I live' which presumably is near here.  Chadkirk was the name (of the brewery, not the man, though he may well have been called Chad Kirk, I didn't ask).  And well kept stuff.  The staff look you in the eye, and although I never feel totally comfortable being part of such a large group in such a narrow place, it kind of felt welcoming.  The place has depth and character, I use my BRAPA skills which you can't teach to find an empty back room which looked like it had been designed with our group in mind.  Lizzy goes to buy sandwiches because she can.  Tom's blackcurrant looks odd.  There's bikes and guitars and quirky stuff.  Rare for a micro, it almost looks like it has been designed with pub lovers in mind.  Good experience.  

Wish they'd had this sign up in Yorkshire Bank in my L**ds days!

Shades on for extra coolness, or is my green Stabilo blinding, Christine levels it up at 1-1-1

Having all got a turn on the Stabilo, Christine, Lizzy and Christopher decide to head in a Manchesterly/Chorltonly direction.  Chris and Bernie also decide to call it a day on the BRAPA front, I hope they weren't too sad they didn't get a go with the Stabilo.  There will be a next time, there always is. 

And so here we were, the OG squad - myself, Daddy BRAPA and Tom.  Train not to Bredbury, but to a station even closer to our Bredbury pub which I forget the name of.  A decent walk, and for the first time today, we had to show a bit of urgency if we were to get to pub, neck pint, and get the bus required to meet that Pub Curmudgeon in the backstreets of Stockport for the time I had agreed.  Yes, I was feeling the pressure!

Tom and I strode ahead whilst Dad sauntered like a man with time in vast reserves. 

The pub stuck out on a main road glaring at us as if to say 'you what? you what? you what?'  

I wanted to love the Arden Arms, Bredbury (2294 / 3857) truly I did, but it felt a bit 'all mouth no trousers for my liking'.  Loud, brash, of course you've gotta commend any pub that delivers local characters and an army of barmaids with foghorn voices and bright personalities, not to mention a community feel (or the fact everyone was either related, married, a couple or any combination of the three).  The ale wasn't good, which isn't ideal when you're drinking quick due to tracking a bus hurtling towards you along a main road.  Seemed the pub was having a go at being a roadside dining destination whilst still wanting to be a 'local' and it didn't really convince at either, diluting itself in the process (if that makes any sense!)  Still, a tricky tick to get done as far as South Manchester is concerned and we'd ended up timing it quite nicely for the bus. 

There's not a lot of Stockport pubs I've heard of but not been to these days, so I was quite intrigued to hear an old name The Nursery was back on some kind of form.  Tim Thomas's wife Meg did her formative drinking here, so for that reason alone it should have a blue plaque.

It was tucked away north of town, this was 'peaceful' Stockport, in fact it'd prove an easier walk to Heaton Chapel for the onward train later.

Hydes done relatively sympathetically, would be my view of the Nursery, Stockport.  Sometimes as a pub lover, it is of benefit not to have seen what has gone before!  With corridor, beer hatch, and different rooms, or indeed 'drinking spaces', the layout (not to mention a decent carpet) certainly was the type that will always meet with my approval.  Although the two corridor bar blockers are very much aware of Daddy BRAPA's attempts to get between them, they have no intention of moving.  And that allows our old mate Pub Curmudgeon just enough time to arrive.  "Pint?" asks the still waiting Daddy BRAPA.  "Of course, it is what I do" says Pub Curmudgeon, flicking his hair nonchalantly out of his eyes, though I may well be making that up.  I've gone wandering and found a large back room. Somerset have done what they always do and lost in the finals of a cricketing competition (upsetting me since 1991).  The Hopster is going down well, though Mudgie suggests it could be better.  But he's not experienced some of the ales I have of late.  He tells us how the pub used to look before more recent zhuzhing up.  And yes, it did sound better.  And yes, the plasmas do seem a bit pointless.  But overall?  Well I'd be popping in the GBG 2023 personally.  Time to say farewell to Mudgie, it has been a nice cameo.  One pub to go!

No way through for Daddy B.

Useless as always

What a time to be alive

Slightly surprisingly, even Tom decided to say goodbye and go the other way once we reached Heaton Chapel.  That's when you know you've stayed out late!  Also explained why his detailed of agenda of the day became decidedly sketchy around the Hazel Grove finale.

I broke it to Daddy BRAPA it was going to be a late finish.  He wasn't happy, but he had to go along with it, we were on a two together railcard after all.

Here was the last pub:

Despite a smiley welcome from the lady behind the bar, and a similarly personable greeting from the late arriving bloke who seemed to be struggling with the heat, Grove Alehouse, Hazel Grove (2295 / 3858) was a fairly limp end to a day where the stronger pubs had generally been earlier on.  Unlike today's other micro, Jake's Alehouse in Romiley, this place lacked any discerning interest, the sound of traffic on the busy main road outside was all you could hear.  Barely a customer in sight, and the ale, a delicious sounding Double Chocolate Fudge Stout from Tiny Rebel, tasted decidedly warm and limp, with little trace of the flavours expected.  The rave reviews on Untappd suggest it is generally better than this.  Not ONE person describes it as a mixture of raw meat and Baby Bio, the flavours I was getting!  Anyway, time to get ourselves back to Manchester, this train wasn't going to catch itself.

With plenty of time before the next York bound train from Piccadilly, Dad decided he'd go for a coffee whilst I crossed the road and went to the Bull's Head because after all, it is my Parcel Yard of the north in that 'it gives me an enormous sense of well being'. 

Sweating buckets as I approach the bar, I remark that it had been a struggle today in 26 degree temperature, how the flippin' eck am I gonna cope if it is 40 on Tuesday?!  Barmaid laughs, not sympathetically.  Not even with me.  More AT me!  Mocking me lameness.  But it is still my favourite pub within a stones throw of Piccadilly station.

So there we have it, I found Dad lurking along platform 3, and it was a straightforward journey home.

An enjoyable day, nice to see a few friendly faces, and I'd say the pub and beer standard was slightly above our outer Rochdale day the previous week, but more evidence that cask struggles in this heat, even if you are GBG.  Only FOUR pubs left to tick in Greater Manchester, and if any of my three trains tomorrow morning get cancelled, they COULD be a late back up plan.


1 comment:

  1. I must say that Rawtenstall and Bacup are outside my bailiwick, but on balance I'd call it a draw. And I think cask is suffering from the heat somewhat.