And a quick post-shower timetable check made me realise the morning train out of Newquay was in 10 minutes. SHIT! I poured the coffee and juice down the sink, bunged my food in my bag, and sprinted across the road to the train station - luckily I had my ticket in advance.
What was worse, this was a big bruiser of a train, not the little local one, putting pay to my early morning plan to visit the pub at request stop Luxulyan (pronounced Luxillian cos Cornwall likes to test me like that). Grrr.
In the old faithful Par, I worked out a bus was quicker than waiting for the train St Austell and then getting a bus, so I hopped aboard for Mevagissey. Any hopes of adding Charlestown to the mix also faded when the bus didn't even go through it. This wasn't a helpful start. An hour later, I was finally in the land of Meva Meva, another Fowey style picture postcard seaside town. A few tourists were being slow bastards, I was in a bad mood considering, so I huffed and puffed my way past them. Luckily, some tourists outside put a smile on my face by posing for BRAPA .....
|Say hello to the lovely tourists (not twourists)|
This was a little gem of a pub, and yesterday's sense of well-being quickly returned. A proper "pub man" landlord approved of me giving exact change (he just wanted to get back to watching the cricket in the back room), whilst a crab on the wall seemed to be suggesting it wanted the locally brewed lager, which was disappointing behaviour but with claws like that, I wasn't arguing. Along the lines of St Just, this was a lovely little dark candlelit smugglers style inn, but my peace was short lived as I'd opened the floodgates for the locals and tourists to come inside and order lunch, most notable of which the first lot to arrive, grandparents, Mum, family friend teacher and 14 year old daughter. Despite having the whole pub to choose from, getting seated was a painful experience. "You sit there cos you've got a bad back". "But you are older than me". "I want to sit on THAT side!" "But don't you want to sit next to Grandad?". GAAAH won't you all just sit down and shut up, I silently screamed. I can't remember the full inaneness of their hilarious chat (I should've taken more notes) but in conclusion "no one likes Catherine" (whoever she was) and this included Granny who had the hair and face of Ray Parlour. At one point, I wondered if I'd be able to hold a seat of 4 to myself, but I kept my head down and people started to realise embracing the cricket in the back was the only way forward.
|13th consecutive Cornish brewed ale, not unlucky.|
|Crab eyes up the St Austell lager|
|Calm before the storm|
|The old pub sign, near the loo.|
Sadly, I had to hang around for ages until the next train to Redruth, which despite the zero pubs in the GBG, seemed a good staging post for some village ones.
It was hot & humid, and time was ticking on already. The last train back to Newquay would be earlier today too, just putting extra pressure on!
Once in Redruth, the kind of town which felt like it was trying to rub shoulders with the prettier Cornish girls at the party, but ended up drinking Diamond White in the corner and crying, I hopped aboard a bus bound for a town (suburb) called Pool which seemed to be all about the University. A few mins later, I was crossing the busy main road into a surprisingly excellent pub......
1183. Plume of Feathers, Pool
So I walked into this low roofed granite pub with an incredible atmosphere, spoilt almost entirely by the dulcet tones of Heart FM blaring out from right above where I ended up sitting. The pub was empty, but voices from outside told me that whichever barstaff were on, they were too busy chatting with locals and tickling a sleeping dogs tummy to worry about customers inside. In fact a quick scan of the walls made me realise the sheer amount of dog related quotes and paraphernalia - including gems like "the more customers I serve, the more I realise dogs are better than people" (or something) , later on, a local was referred to by the others as "Bruiser" suggesting even the locals have dog names. The young barman appeared FINALLY, and apologised, he was a bit cocky and had a swagger but seemed a nice chap. But as I sat down with my pint of something Sharps which you'd never see in York, the rest of my stay was dominated by scratching and whimpering from what seemed to be "within the walls". Now, I'd heard this pub was haunted, but this seemed to be by dogs, and why not, as York's Olde Starre Inne has ghost cats bricked up in the pillars! But the dogs turned out to be alive, terrifying, huge and highly excitable, I clutched my pint for dear life as they careered around the pub - it was pretty obvious by now I wasn't a dog person. Their howling rendition of Queen's Radio Gaga in time with Heart FM was one of the funniest, unique and frankly disturbing sounds I witnessed all holiday. Take the dogs out, turn the radio off, you've got yourself a pub of the year contender!
|More pub interior (the dogs were in the wall behind me)|
|And we're up to 14 consecutive Cornish brewed ales!|
According to my Good Beer Guide App, the next pub in a tiny place called Piece was about 15 minutes walk, so I headed down this weird industrial estate area, past a giant Tesco, over a disused railway bridge at a place called Carn Brea, but then realised like so many places before it, Whitcross Hill was NOT pedestrian friendly in the slightest.
This marked a low point in the holiday, it was 4pm, my last train was at 6:15pm, I'd only done 2 pubs. Arrrgghhh. Could I still salvage 4? Hell, even 3 seemed a stretch at this juncture as I joined an odd local man at a bus stop to go back into Redruth in the hope of getting a taxi.
The bus was early. The taxis were all queued up at the station. 2 pubs were less than 2 miles away. "IT'S STILL ON!!" I declared, and hopped into a taxi where a lovely helpful chap had the BRAPA conundrum forced upon him. Piece first, then would he hang around 27.5 mins and take me to Vogue? He would! What a gent. Cheap journey too.
Despite it's relative closeness, Piece really felt as remote as the Anchor Anchor once we pulled up. It was 16:26, we could do this.....
1184. Countryman Inn, Piece
Well this was a special rural roadside inn. The first thing that impressed me was that centuries old musty pub smell, you only get it in the very best, and first time I'd witnessed it in Cornwall. Possibly something to do with the exposed brickwork being on the inside of the pub, the huge old fireplace and cooking range, but I don't know, all I know is it felt very special. A local with my dress sense who looked like he'd crawled out of 1970's Glastonbury saw me eyeing up the ales. "Ahhh, you loike yer ales .... well yer in tha right place!" Loved him. A bouncing blonde bubbly young barmaid appeared - yes OF COURSE I HAD to order the Cornish Knocker under the circs, though she sounded more cockney to my untrained ear. My taxi driver reappeared to make a brief cameo, he had to do a "quick run" but promised he'd be back in half an hour. Fine. The locals stared at him like they'd never seen an Asian man before in their lives. They probably hadn't. The landlord popped his head round the corner to say hello to me, imagine if Danny Dyer and Skeletor had a love child that was an older bald man, and also a pub man of utmost integrity. The locals decided to tackle "current affairs". Quite toe curling. Firstly, that child on life support "the pope better not get fucking involved!" someone declared. They then argued the case for euthanasia, comparing it to when a local dog misbehaved, and should've been put down but wasn't! A dog then appeared, glared at everyone, and wandered through to the bar. This was 27.5 minutes of comedy gold. They then got onto North Korea, "and what's the leader called? Young Yung Yung, ahhh just call 'im slanty eyed prick!" This was better than Newsnight and Question Time, yet I wanted the ground to swallow me up too. Just as they started on what KFC was and whether anyone had been, I saw my taxi driver beckoning me from the side door, I swigged off my pint and left to a friendly goodbye from the gang. Crazy pub.
|Wave to sooty, he's all that's keeping you sane in here!|
|Pint of Cornish Knocker and some amazing locals.|
A few minutes later, we were in the amusingly named village of Vogue which seemed to be part of a place called St Day but here was the key point, I know I was pushing my luck but could my taxi driver hang around for another 27.5 mins to take me back to the station for 6:15pm. He couldn't but put a call through to another cabbie for "Simon, the young man in the green t-shirt". Well being young is fine with me (as long as I'm not Young Yung Yung). It was 5:15pm. He give me 45 minutes here actually, so I could relax as it only takes 5 mins to get back into Redruth. This was like the best taxi company ever!
1185. Star Inn, Vogue
I crossed the courtyard and took my photos, ignoring the snooty glares of a few tourists trying to look like they owned the place, and snuck in through the side door. The pub was dimly lit, fairly spacious, compromise between proper pub and appeasing diners, and I ordered this incredible ale from St Ives which was certainly the most challenging of the weekend - most had been standard well kept bitters, this was a proper fruity affair like something you'd get in Piccadilly Tap in Manchester so took me by surprise! The barmaid was your classic P.I.S.S. barmaid, haven't seen one in a while, superb bone structure, like a Vogue magazine cover model you might say, but with the personality of a damp sponge. You can't win 'em all. With the tunes of Madonna reverberating around my brain, I took my pint outside as it seemed a real treasure trove of activity, as the garden opened up into this vast caravan park with hens and chickens running wild - one ran head first for me and went to sleep under my bench (pub put of the year contender?) A young family with two bald Dad's, who kept asking me if I was alright, and one simply said "cheers mate!" to me, for no apparent reason, exercised some overweight twilds in a play area. Then some 70's porno style music started playing from a caravan just to my right, and everyone who walked past was thinking "what the hell is going on in there?" At least it go Madonna out of my head. I went for a wander, around some trees, over some undulating hilly land, but to my surprise, through a gap in the trees, I heard this "does anybody know a Simon?" It was my taxi driver, early! I ran through a gap in the trees shouting "I'M SIMON, DIDN'T HE SAY I'D HAVE A GREEN TOP ON?" The locals all looked bewildered, as I now had to 'down' this most difficult of ales in front of everyone, which they all loved watching the evil bastards. I managed it, to a few congratulations no less(!) and was soon in taxi bound for Redruth.
|16th consecutive unique Cornish pint, still going strong!|
|The indoors did look nicer than I thought, looking back.|
|Pub pet of the year contender|
I was back in Newquay for a relatively early night, 4 pubs was obviously disappointing but as they day panned out, I actually see it as a good result, providing I do a lot better tomorrow ..... roll on Sunday, my last full day of the holiday!