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  • Writer's pictureSi Everitt


Tuesday 7th November 2023, 2:35pm

Cordwainer, Northampton (2508 / 4666)

The final BRAPA holiday of 2023 started, as so many great holidays do, in a Wetherspoons. Five days in front of me, only six Northants 'ticks' to my name so far. I wanted to be at least past the 66.6% mark by the time I left on the Sunday.

I'd been feeling a bit sketchy by Bletchley, but it was immediately apparent what a #PubTown Northampton was, as I lug my weekly Tesco food shop inside. Friendly barman with stutter recommends me a Figgy Pudding ale, but they don't sell it because it isn't Christmas. Mr One-Tooth hears this and jabs me in the ribs and recommends Abbot Reserve, but they don't sell it here. He breathes smoke over me and chuckles like skeletor. A solitary man (not Neil Diamond) tries to queue. Everyone ignores him. The carpet patterns represents synapses of local's minds. A promising start.

Next to check in at my self catering flat for the week. Clean, good temperature, so crazily close to the centre, you felt like you were part of the ongoing Market Square excavations. I could walk to the bus centre in 50 seconds! On the downside, hot water was a problem.

Time to get out into the 'burbs and get some of Northampton's futher flung ticks done. Bus is full of badly behaved twild-life and parents / teachers / supervising adults who are just as bad. Took ages. Rush hour. I felt like I was on the night bus to Casablanca with Jane Wiedlin ......

Road to Morocco, Northampton (2509 / 4667)

But it is worth the trek. Peculiar set up, and not just because I make a big fuss deliberating over a decision to drink Old Peculiar at 'this early stage of the evening', only to be presented with an ale less dark and less strong, but because the place feels more WMC than pub. A bit estatey 70's, sparse, needs a light turning on, and I'm usually happy drinking in the dark. Barmaid Ayesha makes it, one of life's naturals despite the beer faux pas, and with local token Scottish man (every good pub has one, especially in Northants) propping up the bar with Col, I really feel like Northampton has welcomed me into its pubby bosom in super quick time. Really liked this one.

Young Peculiar but not Old Peculiar!

Yeah, I was buzzin' like a happy hornet as I made my way to my third tick. Northampton, where have you been all my life? A 35 minute walk, it was pitch black now and I nearly fall into an icy lake at Abington Park (Eastside! Word!) but a dog with a tossy flashing collar attached to a cycling child attached to a posh Dad light up the night sky just in time to save me from a watery grave.

Kingsley Park WMC, Northampton (2510 / 4668)

Cannot locate my Twitter/ check in to assist with this one, mysteriously deleted? Being a club I'm just relieved to be in, pint served, no questions asked. Don't particularly enjoy my 'Off the Hook' Hook Norton ale but the carpet, bench seating and pale green walls are more inviting. Angry George Michael does stuff on a giant plasma. A bloke doesn't wash his hands after weeing, yuck. And a baby is burped, but it might be his lager father. But I know my Tweet/Post did exist so that's as mysterious as that 'lost song' that plays in a bar in Season 6 Ep 5 of the X-Files.

To make the lengthy trek to tick 4 more palatable, I'm directly passing the front door of a pub that lots of people have recommended despite the fact I've only been in Northampton a couple of hours and it isn't in the GBG (I mean 'a GOOD pub not in the GOOD Beer Guide, not possible is it? WINK) ......

Olde England, Northampton

The unique shape on a corner location, the fact that you can go up and down steep staircases with a lot more ease than you can turn left and right put me in mind of 'That (Central) London'. But it is bare boarded, worried, worn, and curmudgeonly in a way London doesn't do with much regularity. Ironically, our favourite Curmudgeon (Pub) didn't rate this one as highly as I do. But tonight, the locals are drawn like Dickensian characters and the beer was great. Thick dark treacle, I could not imagine drinking anything remotely pale in here. And the beermats are handknitted eyeballs, just when you think it can't get any better.

In true BRAPA tradition however, as soon as you start counting your Northamptonshire chicks before they hatch, diving into the backstreets expecting another winner, you are deflated .....

Lamplighter, Northampton (2511 / 4619)

Something about that above exterior shot (sign on the wall? tepid green? glowing whorehouse windows? Fact they'd shortened 'Lamplighter' to 'The Lamp') should be a warning sign. I'm suspecting a recent refurb not to my taste, as Pub Curmudgeon HAD in fact enjoyed this one in 2018. It had the shape, it had the dim lighting, it had some pleasing features, yet it was more restaurant than pub, a vegan tapas special doing a roaring trade tonight. Sister BRAPA would LOVE it. Didn't feel particular welcome as a drinker, nowhere obvious to sit, I was both dead centre and too close to a door, and felt pretty conspicuous with pint and Cauli! The wind whistles through my ribs every time someone enters or departs, and my ale from Roman Way (who I couldn't get on with all week) tastes like 1997 homebrew.

One more stop tonight, as I continue to edge back towards the centre .......

Black Prince, Northampton (2512 / 4620)

Ah, this was more my speed. Intoxication is the buzz word. Yes, I know I was on pint six but even so. One of those boiling hot, close atmosphere cauldrons, hot boozy air coming out of every drunkard's mouth, bassy reggae music bouncing off the deep wood panelled walls, glowing green neon corridors leading to the gents are lined with 55 year old blokes in silk shirts vaping raspberry ripple and salted caramel, all washed down with a wholesome stout from Phipps NBC. And this all at 10pm on a cold wet Tuesday in November, impressive pub work from the Northampton folk. I feel drunk just reliving it.

What a shame I couldn't stay within the (relative) sanctity of Northampton all week, and would have to get out to grimmer and more rural places if I was to achieve my target.

Join me in Part 2 where we'll hit Kettering, or give it a gentle nudge at least.


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