Sunday, 19 February 2017

BRAPA - Ackworth & Hemsworth Fun Friday

Friday night fun in Ackworth
You know the weekend is finally here when you land in Fitzwilliam station, only to be told by Google Maps (which loves a joke at my expense) that you are to walk 1.8 miles along muddy waterlogged dirt tracks through sinister looking woodland to get yourself to pub number one .....


Despite ruining a perfectly good pair of retro Hummel trainers, I was soon back in civilisation (if you can call the area between Wakefield and Pontefract "civilisation") and after walking along a winding road called Bell Lane, I found the pub .... and it was still just about light, suggesting spring is on the way.


1028.  Masons Arms, Ackworth

An impressive roaring fire on the left as I walked in, wall to wall with grinning raucous locals absolutely loving their Friday night drinks, sausage rolls on the bar, a friendly barmaid asking genuinely "how are you?" and calling everyone "luv", some pubs are just fantastic from the moment you enter.  Shame I chose an Exmoor beer ahead of the local(ish) Bradfield ones, but that was my only mistake as I found a stool 'twixt front door and the fire to keep my recent "seat in front of the fire" record in tact, and none have been as impressive as this hearth.  Perfect for drying the mud off my shoes.  I was facing the main instigators of Masons Arms Friday night jollity, and with so much chatter, I couldn't hear much conversation, but when I did, I almost regretted it.  Firstly a woman on a pub crawl revealed she had to break off part way through - "I've gotta nip home at 8 to inject the dog .... he's diabetic".  The things you never think you'd hear in a pub.  But even worse followed, "you can't buy minge lube in Tesco".  Woah, did she really just say that?  Repeating it 4 times actually stunned even the loudest people in the pub into an awkward silence as I stared sternly into my Exmoor, pretending to discover a depth of complex flavours that didn't exist.  A few locals stared intently up at "The Chase" on the ITV screen as if it were the World Cup Final.  A posh version of Albert Steptoe kept coming over to warm himself on the fire a la Emley woman from Tuesday.  I said hi and bye, for my bus was due.

A fire, and a nearby extinguisher cos who knows what'll happen here.
A (delayed) short bus ride to Hemsworth was next up, and the main reason for this Friday trip due to their inability to open on Tuesday evenings like a normal West Yorkshire BRAPA pub.  I had been warned about this town from my sister's boyfriend who was brought up here, but I was still not prepared for the zombie apocalypse style locals on every street corner, red eyed, drunk, hungry for human flesh, York human flesh.


1029.  Hamelsworde Brewery Tap, Hemsworth

So it was with some relief when I slammed the door behind me of this little safe haven, brewery tap by name but micropub in reality, though by no means a dud for it had a bit more depth to it than most.  In some ways, it was a bit like entering Doncaster's Little Plough, sanctuary when all outside is madness.  I was greeted by an eager blondie with red trousers I liked, who seemed keener to take me through the range of continental lagers and fridge bottles than the ales, strangely.  Once she realised I was a boring CAMRA beard anorak, I got an extra 20p off and paid about 6 shillings for my pint, or whatever currency they use in Hemsworth.  Two bald men were trying to impress the whole pub with jokes about their own baldness, the type who insist on wearing it like a badge of honour, urrrgghh.  They left soon after to much relief from the assembled crowd (despite leaving with a barrage of rhubarb and custard jokes which made no sense), an attractive couple of the window who we'll call Freddie and Amelia, a middle aged couple who hated each others company but loved the fact smartphones had been invented, and a huge pinstripe suited dude who sat at the bar (practically on my face) telling the now bored barmaid about his work jaunts to Newton Aycliffe and Stockton on Tees.  She'd rather have heard about BRAPA, I expect, but that's how the Hemsworth cookie crumbles.  It was quite dull after that, though my off season Christmas ale was a winner.  A woman came in and protested too much about not being a regular and not really wanting to try the new Prosecco but had time to kill, so she may as well.  Time to run for the bus.

Bald and slightly annoying.

A board of cask ales 
It was deja vu from Emley at the bus stop as it just didn't bloody arrive (I even checked the times at the stop) and after 20 mins, I took matters into my own hands and marched to Fitzwilliam station.  My luck turned as the next train was just delayed enough to enable me to get it, and once in Leeds, the same happened with a York train.  So even if the bus had been on time, I'd not have been home any quicker, just bored and colder.  So hurrah!

I'm getting close, only FIVE West Yorkshire pubs to do.  Back on the trail on Tuesday, but how weird are this pubs opening hours......?


I love a good all nighter with a full English Breakfast just before closing!

I'm having a new shower/bathroom fitted this week.  This is relevant to BRAPA cos (a) I'd rather be out and about than in a bathroomless flat, so expect much BRAPPing over the next fortnight.

And (b) I want to ask if anyone knows of a real ale pub out there with a shower you can use?  I confess I don't seem to recall one but it'd help massively.

See you soon, Si

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

BRAPA - The Romance of Emley

If all BRAPA nights were like this one, I'd readily admit defeat on my pub-ticking mission, retire, and instead do something more serene, like visiting all Norman churches in England, or becoming a member of the "92" club.

Not that tonight's pub, or location, were bad in any way, both lovely on this Valentine's night.  But the transport, ugh!

After a  straightforward train ride to 'Uddersfield and a two minute speed-walk to the bus station, I joined the half-term masses and local scroats on the bus to Wakefield, stopping of course at Emley.  I was directly in front of two schoolgirls.  One was telling off the other for dying her hair without her Mum's permission.  "She won't be too mad, it's only green!"  Traffic was horrendous but 15 mins later than scheduled, I was in this surprisingly remote hilly village just as dusk was falling .....

I tried to get Emley Moor and the mast in but failed miserably!
1027.  White Horse, Emley

I do like a good Ossett pub (I feel I must've visited them all by now!) and I wandered in relieved it was one their more traditional efforts, with 8 locals (men & women) in their fifties lining the bar.  I peered over the top and ordered what seemed to be a special Emley house beer, 'Emley Cross' - I might've been paranoid but I thought I heard a few stifled chuckles as I did so.  Is this a re-badged ale that they put on for the idiot "outsiders" like me?  Well, I don't think so in retrospect, as it was darker and maltier than 90% of Ossett beers, no nonsense stuff for no nonsense folk in t'village!  To keep Saturday's run going, I spied a corner seat near a roaring fire where a woman kept warming her arse.  At least she gave it a good poke (the fire I mean, not her arse).  "Looks like the best seat in the house!" I commented in jovial manner.  An insipid smile was all I received in reply.  In my 27 minutes in this pub, she came over TWICE more for further arse warming.  After that, it felt like I'd walked into a TalkSport phone in with the focus on the Championship.  Firstly, two Huddersfield fans were pessimistic about their chances v Rotherham.  Then, a Sheffield Wednesday woman said "let's hope all goes well at fortress Hillsborough" and then a seated Blackburn fan growled at her in Lancastrian tones which confused all present.  Then an excitable gambling scummer listed all the teams on his "accy" accumulator, including Rotherham twice.  And just to top things off, a man claimed Marcus Tudgay was the best footballer he'd ever seen.  Then, to put the final cherry on the cake, a woman tells the Blackburn man,  "you are owned by an Indian Bernard Matthews".  And I couldn't even take my glass back to the bar because the efficient barman took it whilst I was in the loo, so all I could do was wave goodbye from afar to the newly arrived blonde barmaid.  Oh dear!  


It's Championship chat fest!  The arse-warmer is leaning on the right.
I'd been downing my drink so I could make the 18:11 back to Huddersfield.  Except there WAS no 18:11, it was now the 18:48 after a timetable change.  How did I miss that?  Thankfully, a dotty old local woman crossed the road to tell me.  And because it was dark and there was no pavement at the stop, I couldn't see times on bus stop and had to perch in the road in my black coat leaning on a stone wall avoiding oncoming traffic  Nightmare.  Even West Berkshire's rural bus stops have bits where people can safely stand!

I'd assumed it'd been delayed due to all the problems getting here and accident on M62 (and I'd seen a broken down bus on the way up at Flockton Moor), but like she read my mind, dotty old woman said "it's not worth your while going back to the pub" (how did she know?  A witch?) so I explored Emley in the dark! Where's mi BRAPA torch?

Funniest of all, the centrepiece of the village seems to be Emley Cross (hence the beer name) but it's a tiny stubby thing if you compare it to say, Lymm Cross.  I wonder if residents of Lymm come to Emley to boast that theirs is bigger?  

18:48 turned up at 19:07, exactly an hour since I'd left the pub.  Arrrghh, give me strength.   Back in 'Udders freezing cold with a dead phone and a painful back from the stony wall, I was glad of an almost immediate direct train back to York.

See ya Friday for more "bonus" West Yorkshire adventures cos some pubs can't do the BRAPA basics (i.e. open on a Tuesday evening).  

Si  


Monday, 13 February 2017

BRAPA - Skipton's Three Links Club

A lot of the remaining Yorkshire pubs I need to visit have weird opening hours, hence why I'm doing the odd bonus BRAPA on a Friday or Sunday in attempt to finish god's own county.  Of course, if there was a god who loved real ale, he'd probably live North London.  I wouldn't trust him.

But you can trust Skipton to throw up new GBG entries year upon year, it is just one of those Biggleswadey, Mirfieldesque places.  And on a freezing Friday night, I was hot-footing it across a town I'd only ever seen on a summer touristy day before, and I enjoyed the gloom and misery.

Always a bit apprehensive going into a club, less reliable than a pub, an unknown quantity.  How will I be received?  Red carpet or spit in the face, could be either.....

The stone clad Three Links Club
1023.  Three Links Club, Skipton

I walked in to a large typically clubby lounge, with just one group of six people sat around a large circular table and bar at very far end.  I appraised it was five men and one woman, the woman was very gobby but three of the gents said 'hello' as I wandered past.  The barman was a young chap who was keen to see my CAMRA card, make sure I wasn't just a passing wastrel, a bit of a surprise as recent club experiences have been so informal, I've been able to just go to the bar and order a drink, so in a way, good to see him sticking to the 'rules'.  I took my Dark Horse ale to a table near the six old duffers in hope of overhearing some exciting convo, maybe even joining in, but save for a chat on wayward teenage girls, it was all 'committees', 'impending weddings' and 'dog breeding'.  Zzzzz.  At least the latter led to awful woman starting most sentences "If you buy a working cocker...." which was worth the admission price alone.  The funky 80's Stock, Aitken and Waterman style music DID NOT fit the club at all, why do places bring their own atmosphere into disrepute like this?  Which of these six old people were enjoying Rick Astley or Kylie and Jason?    I reassessed the company, and soon realised it was three men and three women!  Well, who knew?  Couples as well, and they left one at a time.  The barman was asked when his next customer was due.  A weird question I thought, but he answered it with a prompt "8pm".  Appointments?  Well, as the final couple left, Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now" started, most apt BRAPA song of 2017 to date.  I chatted to the barman after that, but at one point, he yawned and looked in agony.  "I've strained a jaw muscle yawning too much" he revealed.  Perhaps this sums up the number of customers on the early evening shift?!  Funny place but enjoyable.

The quiet bar area

The quiet lounge area 

My pint (very good) and two of the friendlier of the six.
I do really need a new Skipton pub to be in the 2018 GBG when it is released in September.  This is because on 23rd June 2018, I have to take my sister there to remind her of something we talked about on 23rd June 2013.  Cryptic I know.  But come on Skipton, you never let me down.

Si

Sunday, 12 February 2017

BRAPA - North Yorkshire : Even More Ales in the Dales

'Twas a windswept, wintry day up on t' hills, the kind of day where you wonder how on earth you would cope without BRAPA chauffeur extraordinaire B.G. Everitt, and the kind of day where the hamlets, dwellings and villages that contained the pubs seemed to be more isolated than ever.




We arrived in the outlying Swaledale village of Reeth at 11:24am, 24 minutes after pub opening according to the GBG and WhatPub but annoyingly all was darkness from within after I'd trudged to the main entrance in a wet blizzard, having almost been run over by a tractor.   What did offer hope was a blackboard outside showing the winter food menu began at 12 noon, so we waited.....

Braving the conditions at a shut Buck
1024.  Buck Hotel, Reeth

And bang on 12 noon, the pub door jolted open and we raced from car to pub door, this time nearly being run over by that most uncompromising of BRAPA creature, the "dithering woman driver". Once inside, I was surprised to see we were not even the first customers.  Either this couple were ghosts, or residents staying in the hotel.  You decide.  Dad was very thrilled by a new 50 pence piece he'd acquired, which led the chatty no nonsense landlord down a "Scottish/NI notes are legal tender" rant, making sure we knew this pub saw more Scottish tourists than any other Dales pub (they probably feel at home with the weather).  We were soon on a much needed pint of Gamekeeper half in front of a roaring fire - man ghost found out the WiFi password was 'realale' so Dad took the opportunity to try out his new smartphone.  Baby steps, but I tried to give him a few pointers.  Three lads pretending to be walkers appeared on the scene, ordered brie n bacon, and went to watch Arsenal v Hull City in the back room.  Tempted to stay and cheer on our team?  No it felt like it was going to be painful and my hunch was right.  I may have accidentally trashed the pub in Clattenburg-rage.  We were more than content in the cosy bar area, Mrs Buck arrived, peered out of the window, and goaded the weather Delia Smith-esque style "come on heavy snow, we can't see ya, idiot weather forecasters, pathetic, where is the extra man??"  One of the best Dales pubs I've visited and that list has become quite long since 2014.



Back in the car, we typed in post code of pub two which returned that now familiar address "unnamed road".  We have become quite accustomed to rural outreaches and dodgy winding treacherous roads up here, but this still raised eyebrows.  We eventually found it even if Mr SatNav had stopped communicating with us (sulking from earlier cos they had built a new road near Bedale which confused him as he thought we'd gone 'off-road', the utter dimwit).




1025.  George & Dragon, Hudswell

I'd been really excited about this one because not only is it community owned but also shortlisted (or it was) for the top CAMRA pub of the year award.  So I was quite surprised how modern it felt, loungey, not at all restauranty, but we felt the huge back window view over the Swale Valley let a bit too much light in (the pub's main attraction apart from the ale) and thus, it lost something of the warmth of it's Reeth counterpart.  What was impressive was the barman's service, helpful friendly attitude and the superb beer quality (you know when you've been having good quality ale but suddenly one is so good, it really hits you?!)  And it had a great community feel as a sheepish old lady tottered in and asked us to take part in the raffle - or the greatest Hudswell rip-off, as it should be known.  You get a card with a few pairs of numbers on, from 1-30, then I was privileged to draw one of two numbers, 8, and someone else drew a 20.  Dad caused a kerfuffle by claiming he'd won because he had 28 on his card, but alas, you needed 8 & 20.  Chances of winning this?  A better mathematician will tell you it is probably about 1 in 1,800.  I let Dad vent about Hudswell village hall corruption, neglecting to tell him the woman was now sat right behind us!  She sloped out guiltily soon after.  Classic.

Fire number two

Long distance view of Dad being unaware woman sat behind him in window

Probably amazing in summer

Mine young host has the beer situation covered.
Back towards Bedale we found the pretty village of Snape, which no one has ever heard of before and was probably built in 2016 just so they could open a pub in a weird location and put it in the GBG to confound pub tickers like me.

Dad is happy to be in Snape
1026.  Castle Arms, Snape

The Grinton-esque Jennings sign was an indication we were entering Marston's territory, and whilst it wasn't one of their horrific family dining pubs, it's fair to say that you are hardly likely to be blown away by it's brilliance, because it isn't.  Cosy and low-ceilinged, another fire, though we had to share a table with the food and wine menus, oldsters with their faces in the nosebag, two poncey handsoaps and bog-standard (literally) paper towels arranged in a wicker basket, this was verging on twee bollocks when all said and done.  You know what is annoying in pubs?  When a group goes to the bar and then pay for all their drinks separately.  I'd normally blame younger people for this, so when three coffin dodgers sidled up to the bar and told the landlord "I hope you are good at dividing by 3", I thought it was a bit rubbish of them.  Our beers, a new fangled Wychwood and a new fangled Marstons were both a bit thin and limp, hard to know if pub or brewery but looked good so perhaps the latter.  A very hungry dog kept licking my hand, ugh.  The gents were labelled "Kings", the ladies "Queens" (I assume, maybe 'Prawns').  More and more dogs appeared, one called Lucy caused the most consternation, we were soon hurdling them Beckenham style, before someone announced "if he's got an attitude, he'll wee on the floor!"  Hard to know who they were talking about.

Okay

Oh dear.

Fire number three, hurrah!
We had to scoot back to York pretty sharpish for family related 'fun', but overall a really good interesting day and some nice pubs.

I've forgotten to review my Friday trip to Skipton so will do that tomorrow (Monday) night if I have the energy.  Tue and Fri I have further West Yorkshire trips planned, and a similar day to this one on Saturday.  Only 17 Yorkshire pubs remain - come on, we can finish this!

Si

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

BRAPA - Back in the Bradford

In that formative year in BRAPA history (2014 to be precise), it felt like I was never out of Bradford pub-ticking, but since an amazing trip Jacobs Beer House on 4th November that year, I've not had reason to return to this crazy city.  Until now that is, two and a bit years on.

And so it came to pass that I was walking from Interchange station up through town on a relatively mild February evening - the dark evening sky stifling my inner core in a way which only a place like Bradford can.   And then, my pub/bar/cafe appeared on the street corner like a beacon of hope ......

A beacon of hope? 

1022.  Record Cafe, Bradford

"Mood" lighting combined with glaring spotlights coming from behind the bar meant that I could barely see what was on the handpumps at all - the blackboard was no clearer - and if you throw into the equation three stubborn old barflies who were reluctant to move, a perfect storm was created whereby I had no idea what I was ordering.  Just my luck then that I later discovered it was a 7.4% hoppy pale ale.  No wonder one of the men turned to me and nodded in a sage manner!  It made no sense at the time.  So what is this place all about then?  I'll tell you, vinyl, ale and ham.  And a sweaty Steve Coogan in his suit was sucking up a plate of salami, also stood at the bar.  Because when they say "ham" in these places, they actually mean "cured meats".  Gimme a bit of tinned spam any day.  I sat down facing the bar, back resting on a cushion against a brick wall.  So for the vinyl then .... and I spied an upstairs with records.  I went to explore, very retro, very 'cool', shame you couldn't sit up here.  And the record collection itself?  As you'd expect - boring Bowie, boring Beatles, Glumford & Sons, and just enough rare pressed pink Sex Pistols vinyl to make it semi-interesting.  Back downstairs, to my right, three elders greeted each other in French but became increasingly northern.  By the time I left, last thing I heard, and a direct quote "Eeeee corned beef hash!  Wi' brown sauce n Yorkshires, aye."  To my left, a beardie on a laptop.  He started on the ale but then ordered a pint of water with cranberries floating in the top with a side of olives.  Twat.  I liked this cafe's atmosphere though, and when the two bar girls wrestled a huge slab of pig into a vice like meat cutter, I had to stay for another half and observe.  A young Jesus finally came to their rescue.  You could do worse than visit this place.  A less pretentious Friends of Ham for an older crowd, and I do actually like that place too.

The pub's mantra

Pint of 7.4%, and flowers in an empty Beavertown can (classy!)

Meat n Merch, hanging from the rafters

Retro upstairs vinyl area

For sale.
The Great Yorkshire Progress

Only 21 GBG pubs left to do in the whole of Yorkshire (13 North, 8 West).  I'll be doing a couple of North ones over the weekend, see you Friday.  And work have promised me I can finally, finally get back to a few 4pm finishes which will help with some of the West Yorks trips that require a bus ride.
Still on for a late March finish, so this is my main BRAPA focus for the next few weeks.  Some, as you'd expect, have weird opening days and times so I will have to adapt my days a bit to achieve the goal.  

Si  




Sunday, 5 February 2017

BRAPA - Finishing Berkshire, and a bit of Bucks

I arrived empty handed, I left with Leffe and Ullage magazines.
It was a very painful journey down to Kings Cross on my now regular 07:01 train.  For some boring train engineery reason, we took an hour long tour of Cambridgeshire, a county so permanently flooded, even York's residents send them food parcels.

After drinking in the delights of March and Ely, we arrived at Kings X an hour later than usual.  Sunderland fans who'd earlier made coherent and educated arguments about N'Diaye, Middlesbrough's smog and Selhurst Park had been reduced to blithering gurning wrecks, such is the effect of a 24 pack of Budweiser.

I had to run to get my connection in Reading, and amazingly arrived in Newbury at 11:44am where West Berkshire pub legend Tim Thomas had kindly agreed to chauffeur me around my final two Berkshire pubs, and I briefly met other Berks Twitter alumni Sam and (m)Matt(hew) in the carpark.

Ahh this is all very nice, but bring on the Wickham ....
 The pale yellow Fiat Panda bounded eagerly into the countryside, and I realised that had I got the number 4 bus as far as I could and then walked, I'd have been taking my life into my own hands.  We parked in the steep driveway and the pub was open .....

Arriving at the penultimate Berkshire pub
1018.  Five Bells, Wickham

And I was immediately struck with what a classic this was.  Low ceilings littered with pump clips are no problem for a short-arse like me, and added to the cosy feel as I trotted along the wooden floor to the bar area which had a fine range of ales (ignore the jam jars) but it was the InnFormal ones brewed behind the pub which I was always going to try.  A couple of tables only were geared up for diners with knives and forks laid out, but most weren't, and yes, I did need my "emergency beermat" for the only time today (point deducted!), but there was really only a positive feel about the whole place.  Tim used the experience to do a bit of Berkshire community stuff, putting up posters and assembling cardboard holders to put gig flyers in, and he got this amazing coffee thing that looked like a pint of Plum Porter in reverse.  A couple of staff came over (everyone knows Tim) so I smiled and nodded along and tried to look like some important CAMRA person silently judging them (which of course is kind of true) and then a couple came in carrying a baby over their shoulders (too young to be a twild) but nearly knocked it's head on the ceiling which would have been amusing in a cruel way.  I got a loyalty card, and had to reflect like with all loyalty cards, I'd never get the chance to use it as BRAPA is a disloyal pursuit!

InnDeep in Hungerford, Innocence in Wickham.

Tim goes to bar to collect his crazy coffee

Tim grabs green highlighter and does the honours!
The pale yellow fiat panda then bobbed about a bit on the road back to Newbury, where Stockcross is located.  Bit nervous, was it open?  Yes, it was.  High drama for all of 0.002 seconds.  Here was a moment I'd been working towards since 20th Feb 2016.....

We're about to go in! 

Tim and a view of the road away from Stockcross
1019.  Rising Sun, Stockcross

The door was a bit stuck just to add to the tension, but I was in and we were soon chatting with the friendly landlady about Berkshire pub stuff, and of course, the fact this was the last of my Berkshire pub visits.  A man to my left with a bald headed that kept shining off the sun was loving this fact, but his wife had an unimpressed toad-like face which screamed "BRAPA Crapper".  Poor man, if you are reading this and want to leave her to become my Buckinghamshire chauffeur, I'll pay you in coffee and shiny bald head wax.  Sometimes in pubs it's the little things that impress, and what strangely stuck with me here was the TV!  It was kind of half propped on a low down side table, like if you were watching it whilst decorating a house, none of this raised Sky Sports nonsense.  A lot of customers were present so none of the cosier rooms around the bar really had a seat free, so we went into the duller (well, sunny) more spartan backroom where two annoying American men arrived to loudly order food and try and look impressive for finding a semi-rural pub.  Well guess what lads, you ain't BRAPA so no-one cares!  Fair to say, I felt quite self-satisfied here.  Tim did a bit more pubby maintenance (I don't mean he fixed a shelf) and we were on our way back to Newbs, job's a good 'un.  

West Berkshire brewery etched window

Pint on a proper pub beermat

Ticking off the final Berkshire pub, hurrah! 
Having said bye to Tim, I sat in the waiting room and ate my Dairylea Lunchables and read Ullage (a classy combo) til the train back to Reading was due.  I changed for Taplow and suddenly came over all drowsy like I'd had six pints, not two!  Even the walk through Taplow to the pub, I felt totally off my face (I hadn't even started the Leffe) but sobered up once the pub was in sight ..... 

I am pretty sure this pub is called the Oak & Saw! 
1020.  Oak & Saw, Taplow

It was time to 'crack on' on with my new 'focus' - Buckinghamshire, and this was a satisfying 'tick' in that I means I've now already done a pub in every page of Bucks, before officially starting!  Today was a very good day.  I heard an awful lot of commotion from the outside, and I should have guessed, first day of the Six Nations and they love 'Union' done here even though it bores me to tears.  A young blonde tattooed barman with shitty quiff served me something suitably Rebellion based, I handed over the customary £4.20 and rolled my eyes, and he looked as terrified as I was of the baying Taplow mob of 20 in the room to my left, getting excited over a game which didn't even involve England.  Dare I take a photo of them?  Well, a huge woman in an England rugby shirt scowled at me so I retreated and found a curtain to hide behind in a back room.  She'd be perfect in any scrum.  And if you are reading this luv, that is a compliment okay?  My only companion had a fruit machine addiction, my phone signal was zero, all I could do was reflect what a fine proper boozer this actually was if you were to say, exterminate all rugby fans and take 50% off the ale price.  I read Terry Wogan lived in Taplow, I wonder if his ghost haunts this place, probably. 

Behind curtain to the left, a baying mob stare intently at the screen, mouths foaming with upper class fury.

The only other person in the pub not watching rugby.
As I left, bells were tolling and confetti was flying - and a bridge and groom were emerging from a church to much applause.  The bored looking wedding car driver vaped in my face and said "alright mate" so I nodded and headed back to the station, almost colliding with a neon pink horse lady on the way.  

It was one stop to Burnham, the third time I've used this station for BRAPA.  Previously, it was Littleworth Common and Cippenham (two VERY different places) so was nice to be actually doing a pub in Burnham.  Again, all the Cippenham locals were smoking pot and wearing classic 80's kids TV t-shirts, those from Burnham walking around with their noses in the air.  Where's the happy medium?  

The Bee is buzzing (hahahaha .... thanks)

1021.  Bee, Burnham


And with laughter and a really jolly hubbub coming from every corner of this pub, I think it was the 'happy medium' I'd been hoping for in this neck of the woods.  Now I'd been vaguely aware that Hull City were 1-0 up v Liverpool and we were in the last few minutes, but too nervous to look, I thought I heard a lady in a red coat at the bar say "Hull have got a second!"  I asked the locals if she said 'Hull'.  "Holland?  Holland?  I don't think they are playing mate!"  was the reply, so I took my pint of "acceptable Marstons guest" over and asked her myself.  Problem was, she was eating peanuts (a killer to nut allergy suffers like me!) so I held my breath and she said something about it being good but probably ruining her husband's accumulator. Good, I hate betting, especially armchair Premier League betting.  More plastic than owt.   I went to sit down, but 'Holland' man joined a small dog of questionable ownership on the table next to me, and he craned his head to try and watch England who had just started.  I told him I could move, but he said no, he seemed to enjoy craning his neck both left and right for the next 30 mins.  Why are some people so unintentionally irritating?  Anyway, nice pub, the standard was high today.

Mind the peanuts .... photo taken at point of Hull City revelation.

The dog of questionable ownership ... irritating man had gone to the loo.  Note lady in red.
I'd have thought it'd have been well early enough to squeeze in one London pub, maybe two but the various waits for trains and tubes meant I really did need the full 'hour to cross London' which I now always allow for.  It was 19:20 by the time I made it back to Kings Cross, train went in 25 minutes so I stood and ate takeaway pizza before another painful tour of the Fens with my happy Mackem buddies (apart from one who was carted off by transport police at Peterborough for suggesting a season in the Championship might be more joyous).

I'll be back on the West Yorkshire trail on Tuesday, may squeeze a bonus Friday one in (one of those pubs that doesn't really suit a Tuesday), and then I'll be on a 'gentle' North Yorkshire day on Sat. 

Berkshire has been great, I'll try and write a full review some time this week.  Am 11 pubs to the good in Buckinghamshire already and ready to officially crack on with that in 5 weeks time.  The 'key' pub at present is the Bricklayers Arms in Aylesbury, but I'll save that joy until April. 

Si