Monday 26 September 2022


I suppose that looking back now, one of the most pleasing aspects about these Glamorgan Good Beer Guide pubs is that even when they are cited as having 'an emphasis on dining' or 'serving food to a high standard', what this actually means, in the Cardiff area at least, is that you can get a pork pie on a plate.  And possibly a drop of English (Welsh?) mustard if there's enough left in the jar.   And a knife balanced on your plate precariously, which will inevitably fall floorwards with a massive clang as you make your way to a seat at the opposite end of the room.

Penarth itself, overlooking Cardiff from the south, was surprisingly kitsch.  Flowery little artisan bakeries, hand crafted nautical trinkets, prints of lifeless kittens and scented candles dominate every corner. Posh Cardiff if you will.  And even this hadn't stopped the scaffold-clad Golden Lion, from being a true pub in the strictest sense of the word, as I told you last time out before I drank 40 pints of Kentish ale last week.

The Pilot (2374 / 3938) was perhaps the weakest of Penarth's GBG thrillogy, but not useless by any means.  Most of the customers are soaking up the remnants of an already forgotten hot summer out the front.  A motivated beard serves us.  There's a smattering of wheezy obese Welsh folk with bums hanging out of loose cargo pants to remind you that when it comes to South Wales, folk embrace their boozers, and if you make eye contact, you'll get at least an 'arite boyo' and a kind nod in return.  Problem with the Pilot is, unlike its Mumbles namesake, it is airy, the decor is pale and insipid, sage with no stuffing if you like.  But as Dad follows the test match online commentary ball by ball, punctuated by chesty coughs from the next table, a 'Well Drawn' pint of Providence Pale going down the hatch nicely, you would have to surmise that all was well with the world here in this little corner of Penarth. 

Dad spies a delicious view across to Cardiff as the street adjacent to the pub slopes down towards the Bay, and suggests we take a closer look.  I interrogate my bladder to ensure it isn't going to spring any sudden urges on me, and it promises to behave, so we go and take a look.

Cardiff, at a safe distance, is really quite beautiful.  I'm put in mind of a watery Knaresborough.  Dad wants to know where the Senedd is lurking.  Out to the right I think.  Less obvious than he'd expected.  

Daddy B. obviously still had Senedd's on the brain, because as I wait patiently for him to take the standard outdoor photo at pub #3, we eventually realise he's got it on video mode by mistake.  Result?  Five seconds of me jiggling up and down.  Hot BRAPA action.  Luckily for you, Blogger doesn't like videos so the hasty follow up photo must suffice.

It all worked out perfectly anyway.  I'd been wanting to pay tribute to Retired Martin's GBG completion with an honorary tweet to make him sound like our late Queen.  No better to place to do that than a pub named The Windsor (2375 / 3939) - suddenly my jiggly dance just appeared to be part of the 'celebration'.   Again, despite the GBG trying to convince me this was some dining emporium, 'basic sports bar' would be a more accurate assessment.  Big effin' Welsh flag on the window, smaller surprising Newcastle Utd one above a door to offend my honorary Mackem sensibilities. TV sport, Chumbawumba, and an ascent to faraway loos which would make Wetherspoons blush.  Once there, a delightful zesty lemon smell like those mini towels you get after a Chinese meal.  The Brains Dark clip is bit of a wide 'un, encompassing all that surrounds it, or the Young's Original at least #EvilBrains but it is the unchallenging 3.5%er I need at this stage.  Chumbawumba might be stuck on repeat, how many times can you get knocked down but get up again?   A man with a bulbous nose puts a bet on, and that is that.  Back to Cardiff for the second half.

Dingle Road to Cardiff Queen Street follows, where we check in to our hotel for the night, separate rooms thankfully (don't want a repeat of THAT Bristol day when the clocks went back, do we?)  A bit of food and drink, and I'm aware the colour of my drink, if you avoid the scratched Oasis label, sounds a bit like the Cardiff suburb we'll be headed for next. 

Can you tell what it is yet? 

So with the football cancelled and much of the day left for ticking, it made sense to do those 'harder to reach, around the rim' Cardiff ticks that you might decline on a match day for fear of it cutting down your pre-match beer intake.

A local train ride ensues, then a ten minute walk down an inconsequential main road, Daddy BRAPA is moaning about the stride out (good job he wasn't with me for Morwenstow) "I don't walk as quickly as I used to" but soon his pain was over, we were here .... or at least the pain was sort of over, as we'd spied that dreaded Ember Inn sign.

Hello Ember my old friend, it has been a while.  February back in boring Park Gate, Hampshire, if I remember rightly.  Deri, Rhiwbina (2376 / 3940) - did you get the Ribena reference?  Dad leads the way to the bar, where we learn that Molly is the pub 'ledgend' (sic) of the month - unless of course she lights up the place, in which case she might be an LED(light emitting diode)gend of the month, which is absolutely fine.  And if you thought mine and RetiredMartin's Ember hatred was strong, get this ..... Daddy BRAPA says "I want to pay by cash for this round".  "How come?" I ask.  "I don't want Ember on my bank statement!" he replies.  Brilliant.  #ProudSonMoment.  As usual, the bright lights, faux-posh diners, cacophony of cutlery and preponderance of pillars are suffocating, so Dad wisely marches our Proper Job / Estrella outside - PJ is the best of a very national range of beers, and weirdly, this is perhaps the only Ember Inn I've been in ANYWHERE not to sell Rev. James.  That's as quirky as it got.  The garden / outdoor area is typically plentiful, and makes the experience bearable verging on semi-enjoyable as the following photo proves.


A bus leads us back towards the centre, I press the button just before and we find ourselves wowed once more by a side to Cardiff I've never seen before, despite at least five visits.  This lead us down wide leafy streets, containing some majestic government and university buildings.  Not unlike the time I finally realised Ipswich was decent.  

Before long, we are in a suburb called Cathays which houses two GBG ticks, and has a distinctly more tranquil feel than the city centre, despite being a mere stone's throw away. 

The one disappointment of today's epic BRAPA crawl was Cathays Beer House (2377 / 3941) because when a pub which puts beer at the forefront fails to deliver on the beer front, well there's not much margin for error.  Through the gate and into a stuffy atmosphere ('needed an open door at the back to get the air circulating' was Dad's feeling), and some quite harsh lighting is hard to adjust to.  The genial barman must see my panic stricken eyes scanning the bar for cask.  He sets his expression to morose and comments "unfortunately, three of the four casks have gone already today, just the one left", indicating a lonely looking Maverick Californium Golden on a blackboard over his right shoulder. It is soon evident this ale is well past its best too, warm & clarty but you can tell it'd be a good ale in ideal conditions.  As I return from the loo, Dad is trying to 'slyly' move us to an outdoor table to befuddle me, but I'm back quicker than expected and catch him moving my stuff!  It is a quirky type of place, I love a tropical fish tank in a pub.  'Tractor-style' seats at the bar, says the GBG.  I must've missed them but cannot imagine they're that comfy!  A bloke born in 1947 isn't gonna fully appreciate Harry Potter themed loos, a 1979 bloke struggles enough.  I like some of the humour dotted about, but the crowd are certainly a bit more, shall we say, 'London aloof' - happiest amongst faces and dogs that they recognise.  I suppose if you spin the experience positively, great to see the cask ales so popular. 

But ultimately, our experience of CF24 would be a winning one as we approach Dad's final pub of the night (but not mine, #HardcoreTicker).  Yes, we were cheered up and merry to the point of being Cathay's Clowns - not enough Everly Brothers humour out there is there? 

A giant floor-dog arises from it's slumber with a huge howling 'wooooooooof' as we mosey on past it and up to the bar at Andrew Buchan, Cathays (2378 / 3942).  "Sorry, sorry sorry" I say to dog and assembled old bloke punters, who are quick to reassure me that it happens to everyone, and not just because we are strange interlopers!  That set the scene for my favourite pub of the day, and the barmaid is a jewel in the crown too, listening sympathetically to our recent beer woes.  Rhymney are the brewery here, and I love how their ales are basically named like Export, Export Light, Dark, Bitter.  I go Export Light, Dad goes Export and is quick to tell me that makes him superior.  Ha!  Love this place, it is more Working Man's Club than pub in many ways, not just the clientele or the gentle friendly feels, but the low roofed, thin basic bench clad surrounds.  Only the frontage is a giveaway that it is a converted shop - we sat far back in the depths, where a funny man with a carrier bag kept disappearing in and out of dark private doors.  A cracker.  

Join me tomorrow or Wednesday depending on whether my friends want to go out for a York drink, where I'll tell you about my final two Cardiff ticks, plus a little bit of North Kent to whet your appetites for the future.

Good night and gawd bless, Si 


  1. I was rather touched by your tribute (or was it Brains). Glad you recognise my selfless service to keeping pubs open, though obviously as you drink pints your contribution outweighs mine.

  2. "Ember Inn I've been in ANYWHERE not to sell Rev. James"

    Good to know as I hate that vinegary shit that most people rave about (and I've had it plenty of times, not just in one place that keeps it badly.)

    I've been to the Andrew Buchan and liked it and is perfectly inkeeping with the brewery's no-shits-given attitude to decor.

    I've not been to Cathays Beer House but they're often moaning on Twitter that nobody wants to go out midweek to sit in their bar drinking from a £6 can of beer.