Yo BRAPA, quit your jibber jabber!
As promised yesterday, ten pubs coming up in a (slightly) abridged format so I can catch up and my mind can breathe more easily as we enter September.
First up, I was surprised that all three legs of my train journey (York - Leeds - Lancaster - Dalton in Furness) hitch free. Pub one was a ten minute walk from DiF station.
Indoors, the Brown Cow, Dalton in Furness (2326 / 3889) can both look beautifully traditional, and like dining hell, depending which way you tilt your head. A barman emerges from a hole in the floor and starts playing with pump clips on the floor. He looks like a kid in a play pen, but explains he is sorting them into brewery order. This causes the barmaid to do a Fast Show "ain't it brilliant?!" rant about the microbreweries of Cumbria. I get one from Ulverston and sit outside in the morning sun, 11am. Which makes the couple having surf n turf and fish n chips seem a bit strange to me. Hardly breakfast. Too men arrive and order massive chip butties. Enough salt to kill a slug colony. I'd recently found out my Keto diet was built on lies, Dr Berg is a chiropractor who funnels his money into scientology. Cheated? I felt so! A water feature gurgles happily behind me.
BRAPA Verdict : Give me one moment in time, when I'm racing with destiny. B-.
One train stop down is Ulverston where despite several visits, there's a pub that has eluded me. How dare it? It is shaping up to be another scorcher. Already 25 degs, rising to 28. Too much for my Anglo Saxon Teesside North European blood!
You can feel the 400 year old history as soon as you step inside Rose & Crown, Ulverston (2327 / 3890)
, no mean feat for a pub with WAY too much food going on to please me. "I've no idea where the DJ is!" cries one member of staff. "You can't lose the DJ!" screams the landlord. In the ensuing melee, a dog rests its haunches on the bar and asks for a bottle of water. "We only do bowls" the dog is told. Dog gets a right grumpy on. Thank the lord for Sid's Room. Empty, atmospheric, detached from the mayhem, this is a BRAPA haven. Sid Salmon was a man, once regular, now dead. He worked in the local bakery. On the day his wife Doris died, he made her funeral arrangements, sat down in his armchair, and he too passed away. I got of sense of Sid in here today, protecting a fellow #PubMan, so no diners would burst in. And they didn't. Thus preserving my R&C calm.
BRAPA Verdict : Where do broken hearts go, they actually do find their own way home. B
Now it got tricky as I took the train a couple more stops to Cark, where I'd wowed the landlord in the Engine Inn with my Bass tee shirt in 2019. Long, boiling old walk today down to Cartmel. Thought I was gonna 'cark' it. Cheers! Absolutely no one, local or tourist, smiles. Miserable effin' village. Could the pub tick do better?
One of those confusing modern developments with attached pizza place (selling sweet chocolatey pizzas .... errrm, NO, as the kids say 'checking hard drive') and a stinking cheese shop. Unsworth's Yard Brewery, Cartmel (2328 / 3891)
doesn't give me the flutters. Staff member ignores me in favour of cleaning tables, so I ring the bell at the bar as instructed, and I overhear him and a local having a sarcastic exchange over me having done so! Thankfully, the ale is absolute top hole. Eel River. Being a bit hot & bothered plus the bell experience, I'm finding the clientele particularly grating. The young lass next to me, just back from Boston Massachusetts, is talking all manner of shit. "My favourite thing about Christmas is cheese n crackers" she simpers, having revealed she can't drink real ale due an unspecified medical condition. The only food/drink related part of her chat she offers no explanation for. Even her grandparents hate her, I can tell. A man impresses his girlfriend by getting a cheeseboard for them to share. He seems to think that if he says 'Manchego' three times at slightly louder volumes each time, she'll think he's a cheese connoisseur.
BRAPA Verdict :
No matter what they take from me, they can't take away my dignity (unless we're on Newark Station) C+
I'd prepped myself for this even longer 45 minute walk to Grange over Sands by lathering on the sun cream, dowsing myself with water, and going for it. I didn't find the walk quite so bad due to more shady bits and pretending I was doing a Twitch stream of the experience. Gotta keep yourself amused!
Sweaty state of me when I arrived though.
Disliked by Daddy BRAPA on his visit with Mummy B., Keg & Kitchen (2329 / 3892)
was by all accounts a sports bar. My parents will have been looking for food and salubrious surroundings. I was looking for somewhere cool and a pint. It was icy cool. And the Oakham Citra was nectar from the gods. Okay so the barmaid looks up at the wrong moment and then morphs into the lady reporting on Gillette Soccer Saturday, but I did apologise (to both) and then went to the loo for a tinkle and a sprinkle of cold water. Someone's decided Christian Eriksen is a dick. I don't know if you are allowed to say that after, you know, but I admire her honesty.
BRAPA Verdict : I wanna dance with somebody, but I don't wanna feel the heat C.
Bus time. Up to Kendal, a place that loves to pop new entries in the GBG more than most. I actually nearly did this as a pre-emptive on holiday here in 2019 but it remained steadfastly shut throughout my week there. Today, it was not only open, but felt like an outdoor only bar.
You walk into this pretty characterless bar of little furniture at the Barrel House, Kendal (2330 / 3893)
and two friendly lads serve you a beer from the wrong Bowness (Windermere, not Solway). You retire outside to one of the snugs / chalets which are cosy but actually TOO private for a lone drinker like me who's got to the stage of the day he's up for a bit of a natter with a local nobber. Then you go for a piss upstairs, nervous as a kitten, praying full time will be sounded at the MKM KComm KC Boothferry Circle where Hull City are hanging on for dear life against Norwich. You return, Colin hasn't been stolen, your bag and ale are still there, and finally, after 8 minutes stoppage time, the Tigers have won! Phew.
BRAPA Verdict :
All at once, I'm drifting on a lonely sea, wishing you'd come back to me, and it hurts me more than I KNOW. C-
Decision time regarding my final tick. Train to Silverdale via Grange? Or bus up to Witherslack? Depends what is next due.
Witherslack wins. But WHAT a bus stop Witherslack turn is. Terrifying A road. And I have to cross it. It's like crossing a motorway.
The pub is only a couple of hundred yards down, it looks like a proper rustic tumbledown boozer.
So it is an anti climax to find the Derby Arms, Witherslack (2331 / 3894)
a bit dumpy for all the wrong reasons - namely remnants of dining, empties scattered everywhere, and a swarm of flies pestering me the whole time. Yes, they'd been busy today and still were. Wonder how many people walked here from the bus stop? Zero I imagine. The extended family in front of me are laugh a minute. A Grandma can't help her grandson access Pingu on his iPad due to WiFi password and subscription issues, and everyone is annoyed at her technological incompetence. The granddaughter has wandered over to ask me about the flies. They aren't my pets! Why can't she focus on Colin like a good girl? The Dad has taken over in the Pingu stakes, his brother in law hasn't been much help either. Mum just wants to pay the bill and leave.
BRAPA Verdict : I don't believe these children are the future (of pubs). C-
I'd been on edge about getting the bus to stop for me too, so it didn't help that it arrives 3 minutes early, almost catching me napping in the shelter. He sees me just in time. Bus screeches to a halt, kicking up a load of dust. I apologise to him and the only other downstairs customer, a teenage lad version of Sue Perkins. Upstairs, a load of party girls whoop and holler. The one with the face of Ronnie O'Sullivan gives me an evil glance once we reach Grange over Sands.
Back in Lancaster, time for a cheeky half at the most pre-emptive pre-emptive I've visited all year, the Tite & Locke. My second visit. To quote my Grandad from Elsecar, one of his most Yorkshirey of all old Yorkshire phrases "I'll stand drop of t' York (if this doesn't get in the GBG)". Meaning 'I'll be absolutely totally surprised'. I wonder how common that phrase is or where it originates from?
Moving swiftly onto the following Tuesday, and I was in Burnley for a Hull City away game.
Riddle me this. When is a pub tick not a pub tick?
Answer : When I've highlighted it in the GBG, counted towards my figures but haven't actually been!
£2 a pint? Yes please! New Brew-m, Burnley
is the name, two chaps earlier this year called Jim B. and Ian S. both mention the fact that this pub moved premises in 2016. I visited, pre-emptively in 2016. But it was only today, that I realised I'd been to the old New Brew-m, rather than this, the New New Bre-m. Confusing life pub ticking innit? It was marvellous. £2 for a Blacko Mild of some distinction. Friendly to the core. My abiding memory is of blokes who were probably in their 30's or 40's coming in, dressed and possibly 'made up' to look like 80 year olds. Dyed grey hair. Clothes from a different era. Dodgy gaits. Facial prosthetics to give them wrinkles, crows feet etc. All so they could 'live' the true experience of Burnley old blokes in a boozer . Their commitment was undeniable.
BRAPA Verdict :
Don't Die in your Hometown B
We moved onto the excellent Bridge Bier Huis (again only my second visit), Hull City played well for once, and got a good point.
Let's end this blog with 3 pubs from the following Saturday, and the three words which always fill my heart with joy. Daddy. BRAPA. Roadtrip.
Yes, the great man had promised me Hesket Newmarket as long ago as January 2020 when we had a Cockermouth overnighter and Martin the Owl flew off!
SatNav did something weird today, and took us all the way into Carlisle and back down again, for our first pub a few miles south of town, but north of Hesket M.
It had reopened recently following a LONG period of closure so by all accounts, it'll have been deleted from the GBG, but I wanted to go anyway.
It needn't have bothered! Royal Oak, Curthwaite (2332 / 3895) was a weak entry. We are the only customers at a rather characterless dining pub 12:30pm on a Saturday. The barmaid has all the charisma of a 'wet jellyfish', not my words, those of a certain travel companion, but he wasn't wrong (Colin or DB, you decide). The main lady and a bloke who looked like a chef and told me he was the entire reason for the pub reopening both chat with us amiably for 3 mins and save the day somewhat. Good people. My beer, Lakeland Blonde, is certainly kept in good nick, but it is soooo boring to drink. Like the most average pale you could envisage. Still, a tick is a tick. Sort of.
BRAPA Verdict : I'm stressed on tick, cause I'm gacked on anger D
And now for the moment we'd been waiting for, tucked away in the middle of nowhere ......
Wow, what a gem, and what a difference a pub makes. Old Crown, Hesket Newmarket (2333 / 3896)
is a wet led (today at least), community focussed, home brewing pub of the month/year contender. Good things come to those who wait. The vainest pub dog in pub history is admiring a painting of itself. I opt for a pint of Black Sail, tastes like it has been dredged out of peaty bog outta the back of the pub garden. Maybe it has. Silty brilliance. When Dad's coffee comes over, I say "mind the cauliflower". She doesn't even blink before saying "bring him over to the bar for a photo" like people bring Colin types in here every day. So impressed are we, we buy 6 bottles of ale to take out. The loos are outdoors behind one of those jangly tassly drapey things that gypsies have on their caravans. The rain is suddenly relentless. Cumbria at its very best.
BRAPA Verdict : Take me to the beach, take me to the country, climb in the backseat, if you love me A-
Ideally, I'd have ticked off Ousby next but the meanies don't open til 5pm even on a Saturday, and Dad was doing enough for me, I felt we had to make some kind of gradual York bound progression.
So the next logical step was Kirkoswald, where we'll finish part one.
The rain hadn't dissuaded tourists from a cheeky Kirkoswald day trip. Parking is at a premium, Dad parks at the other side of bridge and sits this one out, pop on the radio and have a sandwich. Almost jealous of these non tickers. Featherston Arms, Kirkoswald (2334 / 3897)
was 'okay'. Insipid yellow walls, not quite nicotine enough to be faux convincing, like Free Trade near Newcastle for example. Getting served was a trial, no fault of the staff, everyone had arrived together, and I was at the back of the 'everyone' queue. One swallow doesn't make a summer, and one nice clock doesn't make a great pub, as I also found at Blackpool's Thirsty? Yeah, just something a bit transient and antiseptic about this one despite good ale quality and those deep yellows. Glad how many people were just here to drink, all squashed into one area, with empty dining spaces left and right. This pub doesn't have the balance right. Two lads with an element of the Pet Shop Boys, and then a witch who did tarot readings both edge me out to the periphery. I'd end up slightly preferring the non GBG Crown
opposite (I'll do a pre-emptive pubs blog when I'm caught up).
BRAPA Verdict : All I ever wanted was to walk by the park, all I ever wanted was to walk by the river see the stars. Please, stop fucking me up. C
See you tomorrow for part 2, enjoyed that! Cathartic.
Take care, Si
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