Tuesday 6 December 2022


(LAST BLOG ON BLOGGER, actually wrote this before Edinburgh when the photo upload was just about bearable).  Join me on Wix from tomorrow (link at the bottom, as the kids say).

'Bottle of red for breakfast?  I'm not judging (apart from the obvious Wotsits oversight).  Mr Pink Shirt looked like a Levellers fan, and he had to neck his final glass as we pulled into Newport.  Having found a 10am opener, I was reassured to find someone drinking earlier than me. 

Yes, I was back in the town that Gwent nearly forgot.  I was aiming for the same kind of strategy that had garnered six ticks yesterday.  Do a couple in town, and get a bus out to the villages. 

I was getting the impression that Newport was a proper drinkers town.  As I peered through a few steamy windows, the only folk smiling were those with a drink in their hand.

Up a colourful (for Newport) sloping side street, the windows lined with old books, I was expecting the Pen & Wig, Newport (2431 / 3995) to be sweet and quaint.  But not a bit of it.  It was a moody, sticky tabled, slightly divey basic boarded pub.  A surprising number of unusual ales on, but when I see that magic red triangle, all bets are off.  It is the #PubMan way.  Never touched the stuff pre-2014.  The Bass here was not as scintillating as in Abergavenny's Station Hotel, but I'd still put it slightly above halfway in the Bass league table, pushing for a late play off place but losing a key player to injury in April.  The soundtrack was very late nineties which was a nice gear change from the lazy Britpop throwback you get in far too many places, but with the constant threat of Cliff's Millennium Prayer, the Vengaboys and Martine McCutcheon hanging in the morning fug, threatening to bring the Wig into disrepute at any perfect moment (thanks!), I decided not to linger (which would've been a great Cranberries pun if they'd only held on a few years).

Still in the GBG? It is, I get the feeling it is probably a regular too.  Always the best type of tick.    

Time to get myself aboard a bus in a Chepstowy direction before my bladder filled up too much.  Plenty of ticks to be had in this southern section of Gwent, and at 11.62 precise miles out of Newport, this was my first stop. 

Quite a grand looking place from a distance, the Wheatsheaf, Magor (2432 / 3996) didn't stand out as particularly special on my visit.  It did at least have a smidgen of soft furnishings and warmth which were lacking in the Pen & Wig.  'Swerve Oakham Citra, get punished' has been the message coming through loud and clear so far this year when I've shunned Peterborough's finest in favour of something more crafty (or Whitstable Bay).  So no way I'm avoiding it here.  Great pint, canny guv'nor, but the so-called child drawing certainly had the hallmarks of an adult trying to passing itself off as a child!  Weird behaviour.  See pic below, and let me know what you think.  The words probably are by the child, but the cat facial features make me suspicious.  I reverse my arse into one of the cosier spots facing the bar, perhaps too cosy as a local lady is having lunch for one and I nearly end up with a bum full of sausage & mash.  After a while, we get chatting.  She seems to think I'll have empathy for her Magor woes despite having a 'Good Beer Guide' and a mascot sheep on my table, and is going on about local road trials and tribulations.  "Someone drove between 10-17 mph in front of me all the way here, how do you think that made me feel?!" she complained, in one of the most unanswerable questions ever.  The only other customer around this side is a nervous pint drinking man.  When his phone rings, he jumps.  It is the wife.  "Sorry luv, really have very little signal out here, crackle crackle crackle, nope you're breaking up" he says, before hanging up, downing the rest, and rushing off.  And so must I, a bus is imminent. 

Still in the GBG?  It is, deserves it for that Citra alone. 

"You can save this picture to your seasoned cat"  Mmm, I'll have a salt n pepper tabby please. 

Next stop out east, don't go crossing that border into BORING England, is Caldicot.  The pub was errrm, quite astonishing! 

With shopmobility's and walking frames dominating the frontage, I should've been prepared for the step into the twilight zone which was the Cross Inn, Caldicot (2433 / 3997) - all eyes turn on me as I enter, I try to smile warmly around the room, but I'm inwardly taken aback, I hadn't been expecting this level of local Welshitude.  For a pub like this to make it into the GBG is increasingly rare, more's the pity.  Dartmoor Jail Ale (in a Doom glass) is the only cask on, and nowt wrong with it, as I realise I've got no choice but to sit in the centre and immerse myself in Cross Inn culture.  A dividing wall / fireplace seems to contain just as many crazies behind me.  I'd say the place has a WMC atmosphere, but it is more 'charged' than that. Even the folk watching 'Doctors' on a giant plasma are doing it with quite a degree of passion.  Everyone has 2003 Nokia phones, with polyphonic ringtones, 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' theme being the most popular, and the most apt.   A gnarly bloke with a face like the planet Mars walks up to a man sat at a table, "I've just seen yer da' Geraint, he's looking well for 83" but the man he is addressing looks 83 too.  Strangely falling in love with this place, more rewarding than the previous two, much more life, even if a lot of the life was close to death.  Superb. 

Still in the GBG?  Nah, binned off in favour of a brewery tap room!  Sad, but not surprised.  Beer guide, not pub guide, or so they say. 

See you all over on Wix!  Address is going to be https://simeyeveritt.wixsite.com/brapa

Take care, Si 

Sunday 4 December 2022


62 pubs done in November, the second best ever BRAPA total - eclipsed only by my 66 in October this year.  And if we throw in the 16 I've already done in December, that is a liver shattering 144 pubs since 1st October.  Ooof, the Winter Break is looking a better decision the more I think about it!  More on that later.

I write this with England v Senegal on in the background, the second half has just kicked off so I cannot see them losing this now.  Problem is, the thought of that Mbrapa chap ticking off our defence in the next round is frankly terrifying. 

November started in Clitheroe's excellent Beer Shack with a lady trying to staple Christmas decorations to whatever you call that bit that separates wall from ceiling:

And it ended in the smoky fug of Cloisters, one of Edinburgh's many great bars which have a cosier, pubbier atmosphere than many of their English counterparts:

(I'd do a pic but Google Photos and Blogger have stopped speaking to each other .... oh, and England have a third, what drama here!)

Moving my Blog to Wix is looking more appealing by the day, photo uploading constantly times out, adding 20-30 mins per blog.  Not good enuff!

Ah yes, Edinburgh & the Lothians, my first fully green 'county' of the year and what a holiday I had.

<Imagine photo of a fully green Stabilo'd Ed & the Loths>

I really need to do more of this, getting into new areas I've not previously 'conquered' rather than chasing my tail for the umpteenth time around Central London, Cornwall and North Yorkshire.  'They all need ticking though, Si' you might well say, but as I'm only at 49.89% completion of the GBG (yes, I'm almost back to the magic 2250), I feel this is the right strategy for now.

Kent is my ongoing pet project of the moment, and you may see I've been taking my first baby steps in Notts and Lincs.  'Poor baby', you might say (no I'm sure they are both full of lovely pubs & people). 

<Imagine photo of Lincoln's Birdcage being quirky, red and fun>

My favourite five (okay, six, I lost my discipline) pubs of the month in no particular order are as follows:

1. Old House, Ightham Common

2. Little Gem, Aylesford

3. Plough Inn, South Leverton

4. Wheatsheaf Inn, Falkirk

5. Volunteer Arms (Staggs), Musselburgh

6. Kay's Bar, Edinburgh (North)

<Imagine photo of Little Gem interior, with RetiredMartin and Christine looking stoic but intrigued>

Yes, the serendipitous moment of the month was finding that Martin & Christine were in Maidstone at the same time as me.  They kindly drove me round some harder to reach pubs, which incidentally were all great, superb stuff.

BRAPA person of the month was Daddy BRAPA which in no way means he won't be the overall BRAPA person of the year, but if he isn't, the November Shield should offer some consolation:

<Imagine photo of drunk me and happy Daddy B grinning down the lens in York's Fox>

Lowlights?  And I don't mean a pub in North Shields, haha (sorry, just a pub tickers joke there).  The Bay Horse at Market Weighton wins award for most depressing pub of the year to date.  The price I paid for a pint in Sir John Oldcastle 'Spoons in Farringdon shocked me to the core.  Lincoln's Tiny Tavern private members style policy I found jarring.  York's Blue Bell once got booted out for similar.  And there were a few too many poor quality ales pulled in Edinburgh which must be at least slightly linked to the amounts of the Big T being drunk instead.  But overall a great month.

<Imagine a photo of Oscar the Owl necking a celebratory pint of Tennent's in Stockbridge Tap>

I performed a second reconciliation of the GBG with surprising results!  It came about cos this underground pub ticker called Jim (well, he ain't on Twitter) added me to this glorious shared tickers spreadsheet, which makes keeping your stats up to date so much easier than my current system.

Well, I'd erroneously highlighted Wrexham's Royal Oak but I definitely haven't been! But it generally worked in my favour, I gained two in the West Midlands as I'd forgotten to highlight Coventry's Hearsall, plus I'd miscounted by one.  And there were forgettable pubs in Camden and West London I'd forgotten I'd visited.  Oh, and I hadn't realised Ulverston's Gather used to be called Beerwolf.  What drama!  Again.

<Imagine a photo of me crunching the numbers and looking confused>

So onto December, and the final Thirsty Thursday of the year is next up in Notts.  Then I have three days in the South East as I use up my remaining work holidays, before the first ever official BRAPA winter break begins on Tue 13th Dec and is now extended to mid Jan due to train strikes, and what I call the 'pub tickers corridor of uncertainty' (i.e. ticking in early Jan).  I'll recharge my batteries, liver, catch up on blogs, save a bit of money, and come back stronger in the New Year.  Oh, and I might get a couple of 'accidental' ticks done on football days in Hull, Wigan and Birmingham (Colmore anyone?)

<Imagine pic of Colin in a Christmas hat waving wistfully at the camera> 

Right, there we go. Apologies for lack of photos but it is 9pm, full time, and I can't be bothered.

Take care, Si