Monday 22 August 2022

BRAPA is .... CRAVIN' WHITEHAVEN : Cumbria Part 3 of 4

I thought I was pretty bloody clever finding a 'Calderbridge solution', one of my trickier remaining Cumbrian ticks.  So on a sunny Friday morning, I once more took the train from Carlisle along that alluring west coast line, this time as far as Sellafield.

Famous of course for its nuclear power plant and many jokes when I was at secondary school about Homer Simpson and glowing bright green like a Stabilo highlighter (other colours are available, but all are WRONG).

Yes, I thought I'd found a myriad of minor roads, navigating my way through Sellafield to the Calderbridge pub .....

I arrive in Sellafield, take a big gulp of life giving radioactive air, and set off walking .....

But what even the usually reliable Google Maps fails to tell me, is that you need to walk THROUGH the power station.  There's plenty of blokes with staff passes going through turnstiles, but sadly the general public are not allowed in.  I consider mugging one and changing into his clothes, but cameras were watching.   

In fact, I've never seen so many 'danger' and 'warning' signs in one location, and I've been to Elland Road.

I consider the long way around, but although the road looks pretty minor on a map, it resembles a busy A road/motorway with no pavement.  Where the traffic is coming from or going to, I have no idea, but it is relentless and terrifying.  

Being pluckier than a George Formby ukulele, I keep exploring and find a farm path running parallel to the road.  I hurdle one fence, but when I reach the locked gate of a farmers field, I decide I'm going to have to give this tick up as a bad job. A real shame, but Daddy BRAPA says he might drive me during the World Cup winter break, just as well, as I cannot see any solution on foot. 

Luckily, a delayed train heading south is imminent, so I hop aboard and jump off a couple of stops down at Ravenglass, just as I'd done on the previous day.

The pub is facing out onto the Irish sea, a very scenic setting.  Very still.  A woman licks an ice cream.  A man fiddles with a bike chain.  An oystercatcher looks at me judgily.  A cormorant gives Colin evils.

Like all brilliant pubs, it is impossible to describe that winning formula that made the Inn at Ravenglass (2317 / 3880) such a memorable tick.  It had no carpet, no upholstered benches, there wasn't a pub cat or a stained glass partition leading to a snug.  It was quite plain and modern, but it was quite brilliant.  An introductory chat with the barmaid about beer pronunciation put me in a good frame of mind.  I wanted an 'Iti' by Hawkshead.  "Is it eye-tie .... am I even allowed to say 'eye-tie' in 2022?" I ask.  She doesn't know, the other ale is Jarl, and that can be Jarl or Yarl, she says.  I've got no inclination to sit outside despite the majestic views.  I could probably see my old BRAPA mate North Sea Irish Dave from here if I squint and hold a mirror up to the sun.  I've talked a lot this year about piped music destroying a pub atmosphere, but here we had that rare occurrence of piped music enhancing a place.  Celtic jigs and reels and gentle folk anthems felt so appropriate, and I accidentally found myself nursing my pint and mentally drifting off to Cork or Stornoway.  The peace was broken by three Brummie beer bores, the worst type of beer bore, who beersplained Burton and Bass to our patient hostess.  One had a second home in Seascale that he never lives in, but he wouldn't class it as a second home, AND he sounded like that baddie off Line of Duty.  My cue to go, and I still can't quite understand what was so magical about this place.

Just like yesterday evening in the afore mentioned Seascale, the Ravenglass station platforms heading north and south were separated by a confusing underpass walk, and I nearly ended up in the La'al Ratty pub by mistake which no doubt will make the GBG next year.

I took the train north and I had a question for the ticket man .... "is Corkickle a request stop because if so, I want to request it".  He tells me it used to be, but has grown in popularity so isn't any more.

Must be all those tickers walking the 15 minutes to the neighbouring village of Hensingham.  

But where was the pub?  Blowed if I could spot it.  I found an Old Dean Windass smoking outside, propped against a shopmobility scooter by an open door.  Promising.

"Is this the Globe?" I ask.  "The Globe?" he replies.  "Yes, the Globe" I confirm.  "Oh aye" he says, he points, and there is an etched inner door confirming.  "Thanks" I say.  "The Globe" he says.  "Yes, the Globe" I reply.

"The Globe"

I'm not entirely surprised to find a rumbustious tight little sweat box of a main bar at the Globe, Hensingham (2318 / 3881).  I get my elbows in between two scrawny old gents in the Old Dean Windass mould, just scrawnier.  "Got 'otter hannit?" says one.  "Eh?" says the landlord.  "You deaf or summat?" says the local.  Oh, 'hotter', thought he was talking about my ex-mascot!  A second man accuses a bloke with a shadowy face of giving him duff racing tips.  He then whispers something to me I cannot understand, he nudges my arm, laughs, giving me an ear full of nicotine coloured phlegm.  You didn't get this in 2020/21, gawd bless the return of standing at the bar.  Sanitised pubs?  Knew it'd never catch on.  Table service is for the weak.  The landlord gives me a pint of a 'new' beer called Trail Hound, the Caffreys was tempting however, a staple of my 1997-2001 era, you don't see it much now.  A couple more blokes says "alreet" as I take my beer around the corner and nestle (hide) between fruit machine, gents loos and pool trophies ..... 'Whitehaven & District Super Pool Winter League Divison 3 Winners 2009-10 .... you'll never sing that'.  A couple of kids crash through the doors, followed by a stressed Mum.  Quite why kids in 2022 have got 80's mullets I'm not sure, gearing up for tonight's Neighbours finale?  Tribute to Scott, Shane and Mike?  Or is Hensingham stuck in the eighties?  I can only speculate. 

Still more impressive than the Carabao Cup

At the bus stop, I'm facing a hair salon called 'Clipso' and pull out my phone to take a photo to send to my work colleague hairdresser who uses our banking system Calypso, when the bus hurtles around the corner and I drop my phone in the road and nearly headbutt the bus.  

No one bats an eyelid, and that is because everyone on this bus is battier than me!

A bit of a culture shock after two days of serene tourist locations, this Whitehaven/Workington area felt a bit edgier, like a Weymouth or a Portland or a Wrexham.  I wish I'd taken notes, some of the comments and bellowing to each other up and down the bus were BRAPA box office. 

Some of them even get off the bus at the same time as me, turn in the same direction, and obstruct my progress towards the pub so all I could do was stand back and take the photo, far too terrified of them to say 'excuse me please'.

I finally get inside the Candlestick. Whitehaven (2319 / 3882) and there's a gentle weekday mid afternoon lull, everyone dotted about the bar, the silence punctuated by the odd sarcastic comment.  A bit like a West Cumbrian episode of Cheers.  Double pink gin lady claims that men can't do two things at once.  "We're not gonna take that are we lads?" pipes up the bloke next to me, aware that she's taking a bit of a risk making such accusations as the only women at the bar.  "It's too warm to multitask" is my contribution, thankfully it gets a laugh cos it was a bit lame.  Then the barman, a Penrith Panther, tops up my pint AND takes my payment at the same time.  "SEE!" he cries, "I CAN multitask".  He deserves a round of applause cos poor innocent men's brains just aren't wired that way, but instead, I wander off to the far corner, the only customer further from the bar than Mrs Pink Gin and friend. The Narwhale Blonde (that's the beer) is stunning, and for quite a wooden open planned sort of pub, it had a fair bit of character.  Time to leave though before I get roped into an impromptu karaoke session. 

Mauled by the panthers ....

I never saw this man again so possibly a ghost

There's a Mrs Double Pink Gin in my pint

Annoyingly, my next pub doesn't open til 16:30 which is going to make me really tight for the 17:00 train back to Carlisle (no way I can miss the 9pm Neighbours finale, absolutely no way, so I wanted to be back in the vicinity soon as possible). 

This stretch of Whitehaven is actually quite pretty, bars dotted along the harbour.  Doesn't do any harm to go and have a quick look at my pub in case it has opened early .... Friday, sunny n all that .....

And for once in my BRAPA life, I'm in luck!  Vagabond, Whitehaven (2320 / 3883) is open and already serving people at 16:21.  I think the sign said 16:00.  A lot smaller than the Candlestick, but I think I recognise some of the wooden fittings.  'Clomp, clomp. clomp' go anyone's feet who move around the pub with purpose.   The barmaid has one of those 'permanently terrified' expressions, and rightly so too when a load of Yorkshireman come in later.  How do I know?  They keep telling everyone, bit like vegans (but not my sister in case she's reading). But my Keswick Thirst Quencher does what it says on the tin without being anywhere near as satisfying as my Narwhale.  And did you know the pub sign is based on the Bob Dylan album Nashville Skyline?  William Farrell off of Twitter (not Will Ferrell) taught me that, thanks Will.  I prefer Bob Vylan personally.  Right, time to find some Cumbrian lamingtons before 9pm.

Back in Carlisle, I realise I've played it a little too safe in terms of timings and felt like I had another pub tick in me.

First, I saw this intriguing thing in Carlisle station which I think has been in a previous GBG but not while I've been up here ......

I go in, surprised how quiet it is, quiz the barmaid, she tells me the bar has closed early (6:15pm on a Friday?!) but there are bottles available in the fridge.  Not sure it is what she's expecting, but I pick out a San Pellegrino I've never seen before, no time to even sup it because the next Newcastle bound train is upon me.

I hop off after just one stop in the village of Wetheral, a pleasant sort of place with a village green and attractive stone mud huts which the locals probably dwell in.  The pub appears in the near twilight, plonked happily along one corner ....

Wheatsheaf, Wetheral (2321 / 3884) is rammed with laughter and pungent body odour, as all good pubs should be at 7pm on a Friday evening.  After admiring the carpet and getting the first of two Great Corby's that are on, I overhear a lady trying to drum up interest in the Neighbours finale but her friends are failing to show a satisfactory level of enthusiasm.  It just gets one of the blokes fired up about how much he 'admires' Marilyn from H*me and A*ay.   It is rare I'll join a conversation without being invited, but special circumstances and all that, and to prove I have absolutely no shame, I tell her I'll likely be balling my eyes out for the full hour!  Shame I have to go and spoil all my good work by treading on a sleeping dog on the way back from the loos, and what a drama queen, yelping in 'pain' so I have to spend the next half an hour apologising, every time the dog whimpers.  A cat would've brushed this off with an air of the 'what of it', no human sympathy required, but this little blighter milked it for all it was worth!  But it didn't alter my view of the pub,  I was impressed with the cosy intimacy and lively village community bantz.  

I spend the train journey back to Carlisle on Just Eat ordering a chicken kiev pizza, with garlic dip, garlic and cheese mushrooms and garlic bread!  Was I worried a vampire was going to break into my hotel and want to watch Neighbours with me? Keto diet in tatters.

And then I trotted down to Tesco for CRAFT CANS!  Spot the odd man out,

Pizza comes 8:59pm so I race downstairs, fast as the wind could take me, luckily there's a bouncer (not the dog) on the door tonight and he swipes the card and holds the door and presses the lift for me on the way back up, what a gent.  As I enter my room, the credits are just rolling.  

Here we go, this was gonna be emosh!  And it was.  But there's no pub n beer / Neighbours crossover so we'll leave it there.

Join me tomorrow to see if I survived the night, and if I did, what happened on day 4 and why was I so lazy on my final day of this mini Cumbrian break.

Hooroo mate,



No comments:

Post a Comment