Ticking on a Bank Holiday Monday is generally the hardest of days to be a pub ticker. But a Bank Holiday Monday due to a State funeral? Peak difficulty levels. Impossible to predict what pubs would be open.
Nearly every GBG pub in Kent has a Facebook page. The problem is, hardly any of them update it. And when they do, it is with useless stuff like Jazzy Geoff has won tonight's quiz, a red bobble hat has been handed in, calamari rings are now on the menu or a kitten has gone missing in Snodland. 'Pub opening hours? Why would we update those?'
It wasn't worth getting out of bed til 11am. I showered and breakfasted slowly, popped on my Sittingbourne Travelodge TV where the coffin's progress was in full swing, and I sat down to plan where I could possibly go pubbing.
It was enough to throw anyone out of their Keto regime.
Maidstone had been my initial plan, but when #PubWoman Pauline Sharp told me the Thirsty Pig wasn't opening til 4pm (not listed anywhere I could see online), I lost confidence. The other two ticks I needed were giving nothing away.
The North Kent coast seemed sensible with its plentiful train route going west. But being mainly micros which rarely open Monday's as a rule, there wasn't much cause for optimism here either. I researched 11 pubs going out as far as Margate, only 4 looked semi-likely.
To give you an idea of what I was up against, one pub posted "we are opening today as a mark of respect" whilst another wrote "we will be closed all day as a mark of respect".
I hope Charles 3 lives til about 120 and all those Duchy organic biscuits are life-giving cos I don't wanna go through this again for another 40 years.
But then I struck on a plan I'd not even considered. CANTERBURY. It had specific information on 4 of its 5 pubs almost certainly being open. Gawd bless you Canterbury GBG pubs.
Okay, so the Archbishop was otherwise engaged preventing him from giving me the 'Audience with BRAPA' he'd have conducted under normal circumstances, but them's the breaks.
I arrive in town to find a typically Kentish busy one way system. I had to walk five minutes in the wrong direction, just to find a crossing point, and then a subway, and finally, it became the pretty town full of tourists a bit like York that I'd been expecting.
Three Americans hovered outside pub one got in my way. I loitered patiently until they decided the place looked too full. Too full? I'd not been expecting that today.
'Please wait to be seated'. Ugh, I hoped those days had gone. But glancing past the blackboard, wow the tourists weren't wrong, every seat was taken ......
Next up, on a pretty street full of timber framed creaky old buildings and more milling tourists, I found pub two. It deserves special BRAPA commendation for specifically saying that whilst their kitchen is closed, you can come in and watch the funeral i.e. they are open for drinks.
One pub left in this part, and our Canterbury progress takes us into the backstreets. I find the pub staring back at me, and through the entrance door, a moth eaten little mutt and a lady watching me intently.