Thursday 11 August 2022


With the heat ramping up in readiness for the record breaking temperatures a week from now, I found myself in Rochdale for a Saturday six tick extravaganza.  

Daddy BRAPA was here, and so too, was third choice mascot Pedro the Plum making a rare appearance.  Colin was still on spin dry following our Cornwall epic, and with rumours that Keane Lewis Potter would be leaving Hull City, his namesake Otter was left on the shelf , 'free to speak to other tickers'. 

Pedro puts a brave face on, but prefers Plum Porter

We started in Littleborough, loitering impatiently between pub entrance and street corner which seems to be the standard BRAPA position at 11:50am on any given Saturday.

The pub was tucked away, behind a Health Spa of all places, where loud ladies with heavy cardboard boxes filled up a car boot and shouted things like 'take me to the beach'.

Daddy BRAPA optimistic for the day ahead

Swish, modern and fancy (and lacking identity and character) Hare on the Hill, Littleborough (2285 / 3848) was a solid enough start, definitely one for the beer purists rather than pub fans, it offered one of the better kept beers of the day .... the beer plasma even gave you a calorie count and it was a complete coincidence that I opted for the least calorific, 140, which is the equivalent to two slices of four cheese pizza, maybe.  It tasted more like a homebrewed fruit mild than a stout, but never mind.  The music was Bangles and Belinda Carlisle, the 'old gent hare' pub mascot was terrifying and looked just like an old school friend, Milner.  No wonder Pedro stayed securely in his bag.  

We took the bus back into Rochdale, and I'd been wondering where the Neighbours spin-off series was going to be located .....

Rochdale has long since held a special place in mine and Daddy BRAPA hearts after a series of late 90's trips to Spotland, usually on a Tuesday night.  Our original favourite pub the Cemetery Hotel got trashed by Hull City idiots before one Sky TV 3-0 defeat (we were sensible enough to leave early when we sensed it was 'gonna kick off'), the landlord barred our fans forever, and I've not been back since!

And it was at the Cemetery where we jumped off the bus and walked a few minutes down the road until Rochdale became Bamford.

Of course, you can't check in on Twitter at a place called Bamford without L**ds fans thinking it is all about them.

For a pub half way down a busy road out of Rochdale, the Elephant & Castle, Bamford (2286 / 3849) seemed surprisingly smart, perhaps a bit too smart.  The olive green and cream colour scheme in the corner we sat made Dad (wearing the same) invisible against the backdrop, which is why he doesn't feature in any photos.  In a function room by the toilets, a lady is blowing up many balloons.  Not using her lungs, but one of those machines, which is just cheating isn't it?  We were the only customers, the Vocation Bread & Butter was a bit too fizzy to be enjoyable.  Friendly place though, and despite a few shortcomings, it managed to maintain a semblance of independence and character which definitely isn't evident in the photos I've taken, so you'll just have to trust me!

I'd been constantly worrying that my six pub plan today would be hard to achieve if Daddy BRAPA (as is his want) was to get back to York for a reasonable hour.  

Personally, I'll stay up til 5am and wake up on a beach in Dumbarton if it means getting the six ticks in, but I have to be mindful of the old Dad on days like this.

So now was a good opportunity to demonstrate how useful Uber can be when you are in the suburbs of a major town, and to save us another trip back into Rochdale only to go out the other side again, we got a nice bloke called Abdul to drop us half way up our bus route at a dirt cheap price.

Quite often in BRAPA, it is a toss up between saving time and saving money.  And I'd always go for time unless I'm on an overnighter / holiday.

Wainwright 'Amber' and 'Gold' is the selection (never seen them branded like this before.  Is the Amber new?) as we stand at the bar of the Oxford, Rochdale (2287 / 3850) and I can't help but wonder if there is a pub in Oxford called the Rochdale which is stereotypically Lancastrian.  Not just a dining pub, but packed to the gills with folk, and just as many outside!  A barmaid overhears me telling Dad of another pub I visited near here called The Healey which had been in the GBG for something like 31 consecutive years - but as soon as BRAPA visits, it is binned off and has never been seen again since!  "He knows all about that pub!" says the barmaid, indicating a landlord / bar manager type.  He has a chinwag with us for the next 5 minutes, about the downfall of the Healey, and their pride in being the only pub in the area not to offer a CAMRA discount "... and they still put us in!" he says, though I don't think there's that strong a correlation to be honest.  In fact, in my experience CAMRA discounts have been rarer since 2020, and I don't seek it out anyway, only if they insist.  He points us to an outdoor 'drinkers only' area - first we think he says an 'outdoor only burglar'.  He actually said 'Pagola', hmmm, that's not right is it? Pergola?  Definitely not a Pagoda.  The loos are the highlight inside, festooned with vintage football pics, but this pub will not particular live long on the mind, though the Wainwright did prove one of the stronger beers of the day.

Up to the most northerly point on the bus route, into Lancs 'proper' we go for my Bacup debut .... and it is a decent stride out of the centre to where the GBG pub is located in a leafy back drop just off the old Todmorden Road.

Aesthetically speaking, the Crown Inn, Bacup (2288 / 3851) really should have won our pub of the day award hands down, from the moment we admired the old stone building and the Oldham Ales sign (can't be many of them about - like the M&R one at Hull's Whalebone).  Once more, the locals are all out in force like they've never seen the sun in their lives, leaving the pub cool, quiet and empty.  Beautiful interior, this is what today had been crying out for.  A very confusing conversation with the barmaid ensues.  I'm trying to explain that pubs which have the Sooty charity box on the bar are usually a sign of pub greatness.  Retired Martin taught me that.  I'm telling Dad with the barmaid listening in, "I invented that .... well no actually, Martin did but I keep it going!" and the barmaid, totally perplexed, thinks I'm claiming that I invented Sooty!  "This is the 5th confusing chat with a customer I've had today" she says.  I want to say "are you sure it's not you who's easily confused?" but I don't wanna be rude.  The beer is poor.  It is that problem that Sir Quinno told me about, where it tastes 'green' and 'appley'.  Something to do with acid, them putting the beer on too soon.  I overhear her chatting to a barman about a few complaints about the beer today.  "Something to keep an eye on" they agree sagely.  By the bogs, a bloke is teaching his young daughter how to play pool.   "Wow, that shot wasn't actually too terrible!" he tells her.  Supportive parenting!  

Pedro pleased to be out ... and a new Hull City notepad makes its debut

The Crown was symptomatic of our entire day.  Promised much, never really got out of first gear.

But further down the bus line, we jump off at Whitworth and haven't we timed it well?  Just in time for their (annoying on a Saturday) 5pm opening times, just a couple of minutes past as we stroll down the road, the sun beating down hotter than ever.

The scene that greets us does not suggest a pub that has only been open for two minutes - unless of course, an army of staff clamoured to serve the ten or so folk en masse, who then ran to the outdoors to the benches, swigged off half their pints in one gulp, and then composed themselves to give the illusion of being fully relaxed, just to mess with our minds!!

Anyway, Dad makes a meal of posing for the outdoor photo which totally makes us conspicuous, gets a few East Lancs comments, and all I can do is theatrically shake my head, roll my eyes, and follow him to the bar.

"We are here to serve .... as Rishi Sunak would say" an actual Daddy BRAPA quote

Whitworth Vale & Healey Band Club, Whitworth (2289 / 3852) finally offered some true all round quality, and rarely for a GBG club, it actually felt more like a pub.  The Wishbone ale is an absolute gift from the gods after that last muck, even if it is so thick and furry, it is a tough soupy brew that puts much needed hairs on my chest!  A lady is watching a repeat of 'Three in a Bed' with the intensity normally reserved for a World Cup Final, craning her neck as I walk past to go to the loo.  What does she think she's missing?  Unless she features, does this place do rooms?  Anyway, in the salubrious surroundings, our well being factor is further increased by the news that Keane Lewis Potter is staying with Hull City after all, Brentford's bid has been rejected, hurrah!  Justice for KLO!  Unless they come back in with a higher offer, but that won't happen, will it?  Surely not.   

Back outside, I ask the 'friendly' locals if they've seen a bus very recently.  'No' which is a good sign.  A car toots at the pub.  "Who the bloody 'ell was that weirdo!?" says the most suntanned bloke.  Then, a white van man toots at the pub.  "Wahey, that wor Mike, wot a legend" says same local. 

That Uber really had been the key moment in the day.  Back in Rochdale centre with an hour until our train with one pub to do.  That meant we could get something to eat as well as drink, and that's good because our last tick is basically a restaurant selling real ale anyway!  

Don't ya love it when a plan comes together.  Who said that?  Was it the grey haired guy from the A-Team?  Can't remember his name.  Graham Kavanagh? 

Didn't look incredibly exciting from the outside, but what a beautiful cool place Bombay Brew, Rochdale (2290 / 3853) is.  Most welcoming gorgeous staff of the day too, totally engaged with the customer, and stuff like that stays with you.  We're encouraged to go for the 'small plates' - which seems to be the way food is going in 2022!  I can imagine how that might be annoying for you guzzle guts's out there, but for a smaller eater like me, I love sharing bits and picking at food.  We get samosas, tandoori chicken and my favourite 'Mango Chicken Pow' but Dad and I argue over which is which!  Dad suggests the beer could be in better condition.  "Hmmm, maybe it'll improve once we start eating the spicy food" I reply.  But it doesn't.  Feels like it's struggling with the hot weather / lack of turnover.  Dad goes back, and gets us two Pravha's instead.  Best decision of the day.  Glorious, and here was me thinking that Lager chap on Twitter was saying switch to keg in the hot weather to be contrary.  Well no, I think it is something I'm going to have to seriously consider if these hot summers get hotter.   Dad prefers his curries wetter than this so that's another slight gripe, but I think on the whole, we both enjoyed our time here and was a positive note on which to end at times had been a tricky day.

So I think, to paraphrase former Hull City boss (who came from Rochdale with a lack of knowledge, and studied football at Bradford college) Terry Dolan ..... 

"If we can stick the beer quality of Littleborough, with the comfort of Whitworth, with the staff in Bombay Brew, with the interior of the Crown in Bacup with the guv'nor in the Oxford, and the balloon blowing up in Bamford ... then you've got a winning pub performance".

And that is that.  See you tomorrow and I'll try and remember what happened the day a large group of us explored the southern and eastern suburbs of Manchester.

Good night and gawd bless, each and every one.



  1. Not many beaches in my home town. Not many ticks either!

    1. Hope to get to the 'Spoons one day! In fact, I've neglected Scotland for too long (did Ayr n Aberdeen in my early days ... need to get back).