Tuesday, 22 May 2018

BRAPA - A Cheshire Twap and a Stockport Two (Part 2/2)

Saturday evening, three of my remaining Cheshire pubs done, and my train wound itself north to all those places which probably don't really exist like Hale & Ashley, until we came to Altrincham, a place that has spent the last ten years trying to change itself from Rochdale into Chorlton cum Hardy.

I don't think there's a pub in the Good Beer Guide I was less enthusiastic about visiting on paper, but a tick is a tick is a tick.  Whether it is a modern sounding 'Tap' in Alty, or the Blue Anchor in Helston, they all count as '1' at the end of the day, when the scores are on the board etc etc.

It was with this attitude that I shaped up to take the photo only for a Des Tutu lookalike to accost me and ask whether we were on Railway Street or Stamford New Road.  After much zooming in on my phone, I assured him Railway Street, though he couldn't fathom how walking along the same street, it could change into a road of a different name.

What more could I say.  Oh Altrincham, why do you insist on punishing me like this?  I wanted him to pose as the frontage was predictably drab, but he'd long since sped off.

1363 / 2109.  Cheshire Tap. Altrincham

I was met with expectant, almost pleading looks from a series of pained looking middle aged and older men.  What was all this about then?  I'll tell you.  The BRAPA kit-man had been reinstated and done his job, and I was once more wearing the 'red' home kit.  With the Cup Final blaring out of a series of screens most of which were positioned strangely behind the bar, a quick glance and I looked like a Manchester United fan in this very 'United' pub.  But the BRAPA bit confused them, was this some middle eastern oil company who'd sponsored their heroes without them realising?  As one old bloke realised I wasn't one of 'them', his wife clutched his hand in a 'stay strong' gesture as tears welled up in his eyes.  The bar was long, thin and wooden, I was relieved it wasn't a micropub and despite the typical GMR 'half Eurobar/half tiny Brunning & Price' effect, it wasn't as unpleasant as I'd feared, and one of the better pints I'd had today.  No one smiled, especially bloated 'Xander Armstrong and Harry & Meghan, seemingly having a break from the madness of Windsor but not even standing at the bar together.  A little dog was almost baptised in premium lager.  And you know you are in a Man Utd pub when someone shouts "Ashley Young is just SO good at winning that type of decision" when he's dived for the 15th time in a row.  In truth, I sat around a corner so I didn't get embroiled in the boring game and could people watch, much more fun.  The place smelt of coffee which surely was wrong, unless someone was trying to keep themselves awake.

Harry and Meghan in post wedding Alty blues

There was only one sensible place to stop now for pub action between Altrincham and Manchester, and that was Stockport.  I had toyed with the idea of befriending a homeless person and asking them to join me for two pints in Marple just so I could call my blog 'Beggin' Marple' in honour of the wedding day but it seemed a bit extreme.

Do you know what else is extreme?  Pubbing in Stockport, though sadly I hadn't given the Pub Curmudgeon enough notice but Heaton Norris is on my agenda for a summer Friday soon so watch this space.

Tonight I'd see a different side of Stockport.  Before Saturday, it's always made me think Liver n Onions in the Tiviot, weird Twin Peaks gurners in the Pineapple, balancing an OBB on a stool by a fire in Boar's Head, moaning Man City fans in the Crown or a pint of Old Tom in Swan With Two Necks whilst staring at a weird rooflight and a dying man.  But now was time for the 21st century, and it still managed to do it really well which I actually almost find annoying!

1364 / 2110.  Remedy Bar & Brewhouse, Stockport

You see what I mean?  Sounds shit, looks a bit shit, followed in a 70 year old prostitute with fag hanging out of her mouth teetering on platforms, and yet it still manages to be a great experience!  Even the beer wasn't that amazing.  Hard to know what style they were going for, but comfy armchairs and freakish art work gave way to a modern bar area, with brewing equipment showing through the glass.  A bit like Sheffield Tap crossed with Victoria in Birmingham City Centre, with a bit of Drygate Glasgow thrown in just to drag it down a notch.  A woman propping up the bar who looked like the twildcatcher glared at me like I'd escaped.  I ordered the only Remedy beer I could see, a stout.  'Unfined'  (as if I'd be able to tell!)  "THE STOUT? .... THAT ONE THERE?  REALLY?" said the barman as though I'd made a mistake, he didn't trust their own ale, or perhaps like so many, he thought in warm weather, stout will never sell.  Which is why I make a point of drinking it on hot summer days just to be contrary!   Two blokes with crazy hair appeared from the brewery side.  The brewers?  Or members of a Scandanavian metal band?  It was hard to tell.  But both smiled and appraised my pint as it slowly disappeared as if to say "Living Proof that Dudes can Drink our Beer and Survive" (which incidentally is track 8 on their debut album 'Stockport Stockholm Syndrome').  A steady stream of young punters came in, plus thankfully a grey Louis Theroux who proved to be the Twildcatcher's new focus, for she eyed him longingly.  As my barman and the two rockers taught a young barmaid how to 'bang' tequila properly, I realised I was properly in the midst of a Saturday night out and it was time to move on, or die!   But just time for Martin Taylor to remind me to go into the loo and admire the Manga artwork, which spoke to me in a pubby way.

Classic graffiti as Stockport hits the 21st Century

Scandanavia Stockport Stockholm Syndrome Brewer Collective

An owl on a grumpy maiden on a horse with clock innards.  So typically Stockport.

Brewery is through here if you give a fuck, which I didn't.
Me trying to get to six rural Cornwall pubs in one day

Me explaining why I'm not going to a pre-emptive, before it then gets in the next GBG

I somehow got lost on the way to the next pub even though I reckon it was pretty much on the same street visible from remedy.  But I did see one I'm sure was in a recent GBG looking a bit worse for wear so glad I dodged that one. .......

Lovely skip though

Pub Curmudgeon had told me of the next place "good luck in getting a city on a Saturday night .... mega lolz" (I paraphrase him slightly) but as I approached in the Stockport sunset, my initial feeling was that he was going to be right ......

The most beautiful Stockport photo ever taken

"Flies around shit"

1365 / 2110.  Bakers Vaults, Stockport

One thing was clear, this wasn't going to be the grimy backstreet boozer I'd expected in my mind's eye, but an altogether more fashionable square high-ceilinged effort with racks of wine hanging from every upper orifice, like they too had been on the phone to Messrs Brunning & Price.  But best of all, everyone was outside enjoying what was left of the sun and the warm air, so PLENTY of room within.  As my sister once said of outdoor pub drinkers "like flies around shit" and although the pub wasn't shit, you can see where she was coming from.   And those who were inside seemed to be attracted to the spotlights / candles like stupid drunken moths (no offence Mr Mackay) so I had plenty of room.  Not that service was that quick, I still had time to think "ooh I'll get a Unicorn cos it is 'tradition'" before remembering that's my Preston tradition, so I could actually drink what I want!  So I had a Nottingham Brewery Bullion and by gum, strike me blind.  Pint of the day by a mile, and one of my best this year, absolute nectar.  Who'd have thought it from a place with such dodgy acoustics and gin love?  I turned to see two women trying to engage a 50's jukebox in conversation, presumably not used to seeing one of such quality, and had mistaken it for an alien being.  I managed to get a prime position in a slightly raised area all to myself, overlooking the whole pub.  The 'Remedy' crowd started to appear one by one, including Stockport Catherine Ryan and friend, 'The Woman in White', but I remained undisturbed, even when the lairiest man started a 'Sit Down' by James singalong and demanded the whole pub join in.  They actually did, I did!  The man who served me seemed to be turning into Kid Creole, and kept boogieing past me and winking, though I'm not sure where his Coconuts were (no, don't Russ!)  In the loo, a man was drying his groin on a hand dryer with some ferocity.  "Spillage!" he barked bitterly at me with an air of regret.  A pub that had no right to be so good.  Wonderful. 

"Hello, who are you and what planet are you from?"

A handled mug I actually didn't mind too much

James Sit Down singalong idea is forming in a certain someone's head....
And how had I remained sober and focused throughout?  Was getting hammered on Friday night good for me?  Or was it the two litres of coconut water (hipster me!) I drank from Northwich Aldi?

It was the first time of the big train timetable changeover, and chaos struck in L**ds when the driver didn't arrive, although they changed the excuse to "trespassers on line" which was a pointless and blatant lie as every other train was moving towards York.

I missed the one 5 minutes later because I helped two old dears with their luggage, and there wasn't room for me to get on!  Proof it never pays to be kind, I thought, but as I sat on the original defunct train, my sister randomly hopped on having been out on lash in Brighouse.  Serendipity!  A nice end to a great day ..... Cheshire ALMOST done, and the Greater Manc march continues.

See you Fri night for some more BRAPtastic action from the North West.



Monday, 21 May 2018

BRAPA - Mobb Mentality, No Marstons in Marston & Moody Cricket

With just four current Good Beer Guide pubs to complete in Cheshire, I set off over the Pennines on Saturday morning full of hope and apprehension, with three of them in my sights, one of which had eluded me previously due to misleading opening hours.

First up though, we had Mobberley.  The good news is Mobberley has its own train station, bad news, it is 35 minutes walk to the pub.  Good news, the weather was great.  Bad news, the sun was shining on my phone screen and I only had one bar of signal, so it took me ten minutes to work out that I was walking in a pubwardly direction.

Pavements all the way despite the country lanes, now that is what we like to see.  You know what else I like to see?  An owl.  Mobberley had a fine example of one to raise the spirits half way through the walk.  I called it Chris.

England had a weird atmosphere about it on this particular Saturday lunchtime.  We had a Royal Wedding imminent, and an FA Cup Final in the offing.  Makes no difference to BRAPA, but there were so few people out & about, it almost made you feel you should be somewhere else.  A man on a bike with Oliver Cromwell's jawline said 'Good Morning', but that was about it.

I'd had a heavy Friday night in dirty L**ds, so I wasn't as prepared as usual.  No snacks, no drink, I assumed Mobberley would have some kind of shop, but if it did, I never saw it. All I did see was a Brewery Tap, a cattery and two pubs, one of which I HAD to go inside ......

1360 / 2106.  Bull's Head, Mobberley

Mid-Cheshire, they call this part of the world, and this pub was about as quintessentially GBG Cheshire pub as I've so far witnessed.  An obviously old building which has kept a foot in the past, but has also modernised to such an extent that although I wanted to love it, the Charge Sheet is fairly damning.  Unisex toilets being the biggest culprit, terrified every second I was in there.  Kale hand lotion, a wicker basket of logs doing nothing, a gin blackboard obsession and plenty of scatter cushions were the kind of features I needed to turn a blind eye to.  At the bar, I was greeted in friendly fashion, but my Storm beer needed more top-ups than any other beer I've had all year!  "A lively one this" said the young bar dude.  It was time to dust off my manual of 'inane bar pleasantries' so I told him that 'is probably a good sign' and 'good things come to those who wait'.  Despite hating myself inside, the beer was so welcome when it arrived.  Shame it was freezing, fizzy and boring.  I wish I'd brought my stirrer to knock out the bubbles.  I bet Nick in Erlangen would have brought his temperature gauge (to use in the beer, not to shove up a barman) - that was just one of many thoughts I had.  A barmaid downloaded the new work rota (I remember when these things were pinned to walls) and everyone gathered around excitedly to learn their fate.  "Ooh, I wonder if I'll be going to my own barbecue tomorrow?" said the guy who'd served me.  "Um, no you're not!"  replied a barmaid who'd read ahead.  Everyone laughed.  He looked tearful, and then spent the next 20 minutes trying to swap shifts with people.  Poor guy.  I was sat in the 'whisky snug' (where dogs are allowed) but can you really call something a 'snug' if the front door opens onto it?  The quirky landlord then strode into the pub and boomed "Good to see a few anti-royalists in today, rarrrrr!" like he was playing Blackpool's Rebellion Punk Festival.  We all nodded reverently, if that's what punx do.  He then slagged off Didsbury which he'd just driven through for resembling a scene from the end of the Second World War, keeping up Didsbury's uncanny record of always being mentioned wherever I go in the North West.

It was time for the hot 35 minute trek back to the station, had it really been worth it?  Well yes of course in BRAPA terms, but would a casual visitor do the walk just because they love the pub so much?  Hell no!

A couple of stops down the line, I reached Northwich, scene of my first ever Cheshire pub tick, the Penny Black Wetherspoons, which I actually loved!  I'd also been recommended a pre-emptive called Salty Dog, but didn't quite have time to fit it in, which means it'll definitely get into the next edition now that I've forsaken it.

No, the real reason for my visit was a village called Marston with no bus service, but at only a 21 minute walk, a lot easier to get to than the Mobberley pub!  The quirks of this country eh?

The walk was frenetic along a busy main road with thin pavement, but it didn't take long, and even passed the home of Witton Albion F.C., where Hull City once won an FA Cup replay away to Runcorn, which makes no sense at all!

The pub soon came into focus, just as I'd seen a load of American pensioners with cowboy hats, flowery frocks and sandals vacating the town.  Was this a post-royal-wedding buggering off?  It sure looked like it.  An amusing scene, a bit like something from an episode of Eerie Indiana.

The pub came into sight, and didn't look like the gastro-hell I'm sure I'd seen from their website, although randomly, I could've been looking at the Falmouth Packet in Rosudgeon ........

1361 / 2107.  Salt Barge, Marston

So as you can imagine, it came as a total brilliant surprise to find myself in a dark old fashioned pub, full of side rooms, warped beams, pictures of old salt mines with a sweaty grumpy landlord presiding over things with classic gallows humour i.e. he probably wanted to hang me for giving him more work to do.  I ordered a beer inspired by the band Charlatans, which was funny cos I had 'North Country Boy' in my head all morning, but something rings a bell they are from Northwich?  I was into them back in the day, but the ale excited me about as much as the Brains Steroephonics one and plenty of others - should be a lesson to me, not even been a big fan of Trooper and most people love that one!  I sat near two knights on some nice bench seating facing a screen of FA Cup build up.  A couple asked which ciders were on.  Mine host seemed to be a cider fan, and gave them tasters of a few unusual ones.  Then the wife says "don't they have Strongbow?" to her hubbie, and I could feel my toes curl with embarrassment.  Speaking of which, some 'lively' (i.e. annoying) locals came in armed with their own snooker cues, and had a session of pool which sounded like a pack of wildebeest rutting in the front room.  Is so much grunting and groaning really necessary for pool?   Mine-host was on the topic of the Royal Wedding.  "I had two blokes knocking my door down at 11:50am asking when I was opening and if I was showing it on my screens .... well I'd already told the wife if she wants to watch it, she's on her own!"  Proper pub this, an unlikely gem.

I now had to walk back into Northwich (proper!) where the bus stands are to take me to Davenham, home of the Cricket Club which wouldn't serve me last month at 4pm because they were having a beer festival (which started 6pm, on a Saturday, for FFS!)

A bus was waiting at Stand G (obviously the furthest one away) and I hopped on and remembered to correctly pronounce it 'Dave-un-um'.  "Oooh am not stopping right in the centre mate" warns the amusing bus driver, but do any buses?  He was stopping Green Lane, good enough for me!

So a real sense of deja vu, this next bit.  The main purpose of this bus seems to be to meander around Leftwich, a sort of broken Britain housing estate.  Everyone on my bus got off there, all were wheezy and obese, and I was the only one who made it to the top deck of the bus.  They should rename it Sandwich, really.

Finally I was there, ten minutes delayed, but good because it was now about 3:55pm, just like last time.  Of course, the cricket season had started by now, and the 2nd XI were at home to Heaton Chapel 2nds.  So you'd think extended opening hours, but the website still said "core" hours of 4pm .... so I couldn't take anything for granted on the walk up to the club.

1362 / 2108.  Davenham Cricket Club, Davenham

Plenty of people were milling around, doors were open, and we were between innings', the home side had just declared on 260/3, a tough ask for Heaton Chapel.  I found a bar, and tried to mask my delight at having made it.  Time to 'set my face' to that of a local, nonchalant if you like.  As if to say "I come here every week!"  as I didn't wanna get embroiled in the whole 'showing my GBG card, guide itself, signing guest books, paying nominal fees' if I could help it.  I like that there are Clubs in the Good Beer Guide because despite the peril of 'getting in' and the more family based atmosphere, which inevitably leads to more twildery, such negatives are usually over-written by the warmth and humour of the folk.  But not in Davenham.  Miserable from the outset, and that was just the barman's face.  And just the constant moaning about everything, jeez, I don't mind if it is done with humour but this was just misery for misery's sake.  One ray of light was when a twild wandered in, saw the BBC News showing highlights of the Royal Wedding and just went "Uggggh Dad, WHAT IS THAT?!" before jumping up on a bar stool, and tapping on the drip tray/mat until he got his can of Dr Pepper Zero.  A #PubMan of the future in the making there.  Then the Cup Final got the slating it probably deserved.  "It'll be 0-0, extra time, penalties, no shots on goal, nothing!"  A man came into the bar, slammed his glass down, and just said "REPEAT!"  I've heard people say "same again" but this was ridiculous.  Try as I might to smile at any given local, no one did apart from one lady.  Utterly charmless bunch (really good pint I should add for balance!), and I left with Heaton Chapel 4/0 off 2 overs, praying they'd win.  They didn't.

Quavers bloke enjoyed Gary Lineker's quips (not crisps) more than most.  Walkers fan?

Woman on right only one who smiled, so she wins 
Yes, as I walked out of the ground and dodged a van which was trying to mow me down, of course it did, Davenham hates me (from the second I stepped on that bus in April and pronounced it wrong it has been a disaster), it was time to chant my away team chant:

"Ohhhhh, Heaton Chapel,
You are good at Cricket Battles,
You might just be second eleveny
But your batting skills are heavenly
And you've got the Chiverton Tap
Which is better than this crap".

And there you have it.  SAME bus driver came to take me back to Northwich.  We recognised each other and smiled .... "You weren't long there lad!" he exclaimed.  "Long enough to see the Cricket Club" I replied.

But with the day still young, I had time for three more pubs.  All of which would be just over that Greater Mancunian border.  I'll write that up next time, but for now, have a nice Sunday .....


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

BRAPA - Cambridgeshire II : Peru in Possible Eurovision Debut Shocker (Part 2 of 2)

Piggy time
So where were we?  Yes, deep in the South Cambridgeshire countryside with the venerable Martin Taylor for company.  We'd just been failed to be wowed by GBG mainstay the Queen's Head in Newton but happier times were around the corner.  And the other corner.  And down a country lane.  And another one etc etc.

Crikey!  If I think back to my formative BRAPA days, I remember once standing in my kitchen with a laptop in the dark back in 2014 spending about an hour trying to work out how to get to the village of Abingdon Piggots from East Bedfordshire strongholds like Dunton and Wrestlingworth.  It was impossible.  Little did I know back then, a man who probably isn't an axe murderer would volunteer to drive me.

I was so dying for a pee by the time we arrived in this picture postcard village with colourful thatched houses that I opened the car door before Martin had even parked up (I didn't go though!).  After chuckling at me and then partaking in the obligatory BRAPA photo outside, Martin then wobbled after an old bloke to hold the door open for him whilst his own trousers were falling down.

This was the most life Ab Pig had seen since July 18th 1744 when a sheep escaped from a farm, relocated itself to Litlington, and refused to return home.  The villagers hate each other to this day.  Did the pub know what it had let itself in for with us two?  Of course not.

1356 / 2102.  Pig & Abbot, Abington Piggots 

This was more my kind of pub.  Okay so the locals were every bit as 'silver spoon in mouth' as their Newton counterparts, but this place felt old yet kind of 'real cosy pub' as well, not like being in some Beamish style museum piece.  Carpets, deep red colours, fires, beams, inglenooks, even the 'piles of logs sitting there not serving a purpose' were hard to dislike. Though I'd chosen a guest beer before I went for my long awaited toilet break, Martin displayed his true #pubman credentials, asking the barman which ale had last been pulled through, so I was presented with a crisp London Pride instead, and bonus bag of scampi fries, equally crisp haha (sorry).  Such things will be taken into consideration when the Year End Awards are decided on 31/12/18.  Have you contributed to BRAPA in such a way?  Maybe you should.  You won't win an award, just the happy realisation you've done well.  We'll call it altruism, or something.  Martin took me back to the loo (not as dodgy as it sounds) to show me a fluffy owlet nesting in a toilet door, not a real one but the kind of detail I might have missed.  I'd built this pub up in my mind, but now I can sleep easy.  Another GBG regular ticked off, and attentions can now turn to my Huntingdonshire (as if that's a real county) trip next time out.  

The random pile of logs behaving itself

Old men in lycra are what makes rural GBG ticking so much 'fun'

Little owlet weird thing
Away from Cambs, there was plenty of time for more pub ticking.  We drove back into Royston (Hertfordshire).  It was that hazy time of day when only a 'Spoons would do.

If that E drops on my head, I'm suing the beggars

1357 / 2103.  Manor House, Royston

Quite light and airy for a 'Spoons, it had that classic quirkiness you'd expect more from one in somewhere like Rochdale or Maltby.  They showcased their locals in a series of side rooms, each like a little theatre production you could step in and out of, as if placed there for your own amusement.  There was almost something peep show about it (not David Mitchell or Robert Webb), but a bit less sexy but just as seedy.  I was 'feeling it' a bit by now anyway, and this combined with the reality of the situation made me feel a bit like I was in a Lewis Carroll novel, certainly more so than the Looking Glass in Warrington.  The staircase seemed sinister too, and you couldn't walk up or down it without an old person with the face of a rabbit making an amusing rhyming comment as they let you past.  I could tell I was starting to waver, as even though I was fully aware Martin had just sensibly ordered a coffee, which he had to go and get himself from some sentient machine, I still insisted on trying to pay with a Mudgie voucher, my last one for this quarter as it happens - so I still have one left to use in my next predicted 'Spoons, which may even be the Hain Line in St Ives, and I ain't even talking about the Cambs St Ives!  

Man dresses as Texas Pete from Superted to give his kids interview technique practice

Sinister staircase

They KNOW!

Martin left me, worried he'd left me in slightly worse for wear condition, and I took the 10 minute stroll back to the rail station.  Ten mins direct, half an hour for me.  But this was standard 5 pint feeling, and after a loud blonde girl made the London train reappear on the scoreboard by shouting a lot, I had two Juicy Waters, 8 cheesestrings, 5 chicken bites and a bag of mini cheddars, and by the time I woke up at Kings Cross, I was feeling fresh and ready for the late afternoon / early evening session. 

Okay, I only had £2.50 loaded on my Oyster Card but it was just enough at this stage.  

I had just the three Central London pubs remaining, two close together, so seemed a good opportunity to crack on.  I 'alighted' at Great Portland Street, and finally went to a pub I'd promised I'd do on about 6 previous trips and never quite got to it .......

1358 / 2104.  Stags Head, Fitzrovia

Despite the exclusive address, I thought this place looked like an estatey pub doss-house, the sort you'd have free bread & dripping in with a pint of Tetley's with yer Grandad in a ridiculously smoky atmosphere in South L**ds in the 1980's.  That actually sounds quite magical mudgical doesn't it?  Well. Anyway.   Inside, I was delighted that the pub had a dark understated comfortable feel, putting me in mind of the Calthorpe Arms at Bloomsbury and very few others in London.  Quite friendly too, but despite my recovery, I wasn't ready for an ale like this.  I tried to go local, something called Think Tank from West London.  Hops so chewy, I've had smoother steaks!  I leaned on the side wall admiring all the flags hanging from the ceiling.  Geared up for the World Cup a bit early aren't they, I thought, but then I remembered it was Eurovision tonight, so maybe it was that.  But are Peru in Eurovision?  Well Australia are, so probably!  If cask beer in Central London is enough to make the locals want to 'embrace' every style of drink under the sun, then the interesting folk of London can always be relied upon to make the ale more palatable through sheer amusement.   A lady had a 'head' on the table with her.  Was she a medical student/lecturer?  Or was she on a date with it?  I got my answer when a real human head arrived on the end of a human body and the poor 'head' was made to feel like the gooseberry.  Is it wrong I had so much empathy with it?  We've all been there.  The ale went down better after this, and as the lady and man left with head in tow (so it wasn't an amusing pub prop like the 1999 Good Beer Guide), I left aswell.

It even looks intimidating and Londonish now!

Ignore the footballs, probably becomes a hive of Eurovision campness later on

Happier times for Mr Head

Mr Head forced to face the wall.  Sob!
Time for one more then and break my six pub rule?  Absolutely.

I thought I'd found it but realised it was the wrong door, jeez, spending too long with Martin was obviously having an effect on me:

Don't be silly Simon, Draft Houses don't serve Bass!
It soon appeared, as the rain started coming down heavily.  Hard to believe Thriplow was only a few hours ago .......

1359 / 2105.  Draft House Charlotte, Fitzrovia

I'd heard a whisper that BrewDog were taking over the Draft House chain, so I wondered if this had any impact on their GBG entries?  Will they keep selling cask and continue to get in the Good Beer Guide?  Because my one remaining Central London tick is also a Draft House.  I'll probably do it anyway, still 3 months to go n all that, but is it worth it?  Anyway. this place.  Quite small and heaving with a hubbub heavy young crowd.  For once, I let the barmaid give me tasters of various ales as she so wished as I was trying to buy time, hoping a table would become available behind me.  It didn't.  EVER!  I resorted to standing under the awning in the rain, by the smokers, where I took a picture of a sign and an Irish man shouted "stop taking pictures and drink ya beer!"  It was sound life advice, even if I did mutter "bog brained Murphy twunt" under my breath at the time.  I went back inside, drippy and beaten.  The already smug clientele stared at my forlorn drippiness like you'd look at a stray cat ready to be consigned to South Cambridgeshire Pet Crematorium.  I tried to prop myself against a wall, but it was actually a side door and I got whacked in the arm.  This wasn't a lucky place!  Signs kept saying "Home of the Third".  Do they mean it as in, "a pint, a half, a third" cos pretty sure they didn't invent this?!  I was glad when I finished and could slope off back to the grimy North where I belong.

Must be nice to have a seat you privileged lot!

I spent ages staring at these 3 words wondering if they made sense in this order!

Goodge Street, always wondered what it was like.  Now I don't. 

No room at the inn, waaaaaah!
I got myself back to York with little further incident, though I did get cross with an 'Upper Crust' lady in Kings Cross station for not putting "The Italian" on.  First world problems and all that!  

I was back in time for Eurovision voting, and Peru didn't appear.  So now we know.