BRAPA SNOWDOWN .... KENT MICRO NORTH END v CHARNWOOD & NUNEATON CASUALS (2nd half)
Welcome back to the second half.
To recap, it was 1-1 at half time after Kent snuck in a lucky late equaliser to cancel out Charnwood's early dominance. Both sides have made wholesale changes at the start of the second period, so let's get straight into the action.
Tankerton Arms, Tankerton v Felix Holt, Nuneaton
A good stride out from Whitstable train station, but not as bad as the Herne Bay to Beltinge walk, as we approach what I'd probably say was the largest and least intimate of today's North Kent six. That has its advantages because all of this forced super sociability / sharing tables with strangers can be a bit exhausting and overwhelming after a while. Not that it wasn't friendly, I bond effortlessly with the barman as my card is declined and I have to remember my PIN. Paying by cash would've been easier. I'd made a mental note in Beltinge that if I saw 'Tonbridge Old Chestnut' again, I'd order it. THAT Old Chestnut. I did, so I did. Glad my mouth kept my promise to my brain. But where the heck was Daddy BRAPA? He'd dashed off to the loo and been a while. Dodgy Kent beer? Alas no, he returns nipping his nose with a bloody tissue. He normally saves his nosebleeds for Catholic clubs so I can only assume this pub was built on haunted Catholic ground. Try as he might, he can't get it to stop. Poor lad! He says the contrast between cold air outside and warm air in causes it, I think alcohol is a factor too cos he only gets them on BRAPA days. Meanwhile, a nice bloke shouts over to me. He's seen my Royal Engineers 1875 FA Cup winners (you'll never sing that!) jersey and he's a Royal Engineer himself! I've had this top since 2005 and never had a comment before so this was great. Dad's wodged enough tissue up his nostril now that it finally stops. He necks his pint like a pro. Time to get ourselves back into Whitstable, via a bus to speed us up a bit.
Royal Engineer gang in background, Colin very happy, his pub of the day
A week later, pre-Coventry, we arrived in Nuneaton. A town which appears to be an curious hybrid of Brigg and Pontefract, but happier and more severely populated. Wetherspoons gets any ticking day off to a good start due to early opening hours, but what was this, a queue? Why always 'Spoons? It is a weird contradiction to me. 'Spoons are popularly (unfairly?) known for having a less salubrious clientele than most, and yet I associate the British art form of queuing as being particularly civilised. Used to queueing in Post Offices n Poundland, for JSA, tins of Fray Bentos? I'm being facetious now, probably. I love a Fray B. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, for I never thought I'd EVER say this, so listen carefully, the queuing system actually works! The reason for this is that the staff are controlling it, three of them spaced evenly along the bar shouting the next person to come forward. The reason I've never seen a pub queueing system work previously is that the punters take it upon themselves to form one, leaving the staff confused and exasperated like 'is this really necessary?' In this relatively tight 'Spoons (don't believe the GBG claims of it being massive) with breakfasts all around, it makes sense. Ok, so one Northern sounding bloke (hopefully not a fellow Tiger) hadn't read the script and had to be called back by his three more aware mates. Dad does well to grab a table in the raised area. The Oakham Bishop's Farewell drank well, after a shaky start adapting to it due to my morning coffee. There was no room to swing a cat, and if you tried, you'd take out about ten Full English breakfasts. The smell of fried eggs and greasy hash browns was all around. When a booth came free near us, a disbelieving old lady asked me if it really was available. 'Seems too good to be true doesn't it?' I tell her.
It remains 1-1.
I was edging Tankerton, I think it'd win this tie 80% of the time, but the nosebleed, plus how well the queue was managed in Nuneaton in trying circumstances, plus the quality on that Bishop's Farewell, means I simply can't separate them on the day. Let's keep going.
Twelve Taps (Whitstable) v Rose Inn (Nuneaton)
Another BRAPA first (to my knowledge) is a GBG pub deliberately having zero cask ale available. Twelve Taps it is called, and it does exactly what it says on the tin! Key-keg is acceptable to the CAMRA folk, something to do with the beer's ability to breathe or something. Problem is, when someone tries to beersplain to me, I get so bored, I yawn so hard that my ears pop, and suddenly I can hear a Meadow Pipit three fields away, and wander off to try and see it, totally losing my concentration on the beery matters at hand. But once you've got over the lack of cask, this is a great little place. Staff were lovely, a buzzy atmosphere dominates, and Daddy BRAPA and I both agree that despite the extra chill and fizz, this is still superior to much of the beer we've sampled today. So what's it all about eh? Having said that, I'd still choose cask (apart from maybe on one of those 30+ degree days where its rarely kept well).
I had a No.2 (so to speak)