Friday, February 26, 2010

The Jolly Butchers


Until a couple of years back, your satnav would claim you were several miles distant from your actual position when you drove past the sinister "golf balls" of the Menwith Hill tracking station. Why this paranoid measure was deemed neccessary by the Men In Black is anyone's guess, it's not as if the place is hard to find. As I watched the Garmin in Our Lad's Mini as we zoomed up the B6451, I was a bit disappointed to see that it wasn't insisiting we were on the A65. Maybe the CIA have been Obama-ised.

On our trip we stopped off at Ripley, a 'model' village built by the Ingilby family after the original was wiped out by plague. The Ingilbys still live in nearby Ripley Castle, which seems to be the venue for every single wedding in Yorkshire Life magazine. The village has a fantastically good butchers, Hutchinson's, which is where I picked up the half-dozen pies my colleagues in London now insist I bring back. The staff at Hutchinson's were everything you'd expect a Yorkshire butcher to be; red-faced, rotund, big grins and loud voices. As we entered, one of them was cutting up a pig with skill of a surgeon. "ALL FOR TOMORROW'S PIES" he boomed like Brian Blessed.

Apologies to any vegetarians for this picture. Unfortunately, the butcher was more camera shy than the pig. The pies were great, by the way.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

10.15 Saturday Night

The people of Keighley are spoiled. They've the best brewery in the world, and some of the best pubs in which to drink it its beer. It's like living in Stuttgart and getting a Porsche to drive around in. Or something.

Highly subjective things, pubs, and I've wittered on about the Boltmaker's Arms several times on TIW. How it's the de facto brewery tap for the Timothy Taylor brewery, how they serve the definitive pint* of Landlord. How it was one of the first places I ever raised a pint glass to my lips. As I fed another Seabrook's crisp to a punter's spaniel, It dawned on me on saturday night that this little workaday boozer was the best pub on earth. It was freezing outside, but the real fire was pumping out heat. It was busy, but there were two staff behind the tiny bar - you didn't have to wait. Not much room to sit, but somebody always budged up so you and your mates could perch until you got a table. A mix of people of all classes, and rarely these days in a town centre pub - all ages. And beer so consitently excellent it's hard not to take it for granted. If the Bolts was in London, I'd probably never go to work.

*Actually, the Jury's out whether the benchmark beer is served at the Brown Cow, The Boltmakers or the Fleece in Haworth. They're all outstanding - and too close to call.

Monday, February 22, 2010



Just back from a visit up home. Surprisingly few headlines like this in The Evening Standard.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I don't find myself in the Wild West much any more. There are enough people in Fat Face rugby shirts around our chunk of E11 these days without having to go to unusual SW postcodes to see more. However, this week a combination of visiting friends and a jaunt to the Tate Britain found us in an obscure sidestreet in Pimlico at a place I read about on the ever-reliable Boak And Bailey.

From the outside, The Cask (or the Cask Pub and Kitchen to give its proper, wince-inducing moniker*) looks like it belongs in one of those estates on The Secret Millionaire, with anti-heroin striplights in the bogs. Miles better inside though, where it's all light jazz, comfy chairs and tea lights. Much as I like the horse brass 'n' copper kettle trad pub, i'll drink in a cave if the pop is good, and the real delight at the Cask is the range of beers on offer. Two pumps from Dark Star (oddly, wearing a CAMRA LocAle badge on the Hophead), two from Arran and - oh boy - three from Thornbridge. There was also two from Brugs Zot, Kuppers Kolsch, Mort Subite Kriek, Moravka's unfiltered lager, Rothaus Pils and Keesman Herren Pils. I've never seen a spread quite like it in London. They even had Andechser Weissbier in the fridge, an all-time favourite of mine. I nearly did a little dance when the landlord said they had Andechser Dunkel coming in later. When we got back to Ten-Inch Villas, I was delighted to find Mrs TIW had got me a couple of weiss as a Valentine treat. That's real romance.

We got through a Dark Star American Pale Ale, one each of Thornbridge Hark, Wild Swan and Kipling - every drop in perfect condition - and a couple of superbly refreshing and quietly potent Herrens. I knew it was time to hit the road when, on a visit to the facilities, I was cursing the lack of hot air from the hand dryer. Then I realised I was actually rubbing my hands together under the paper towel dispenser.

(*'Kitchen' I can deal with if there's food on. But the only pubs with 'pub' in their official title should be found in tourist hotels and theme parks in Tokyo or Nevada.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Give My Regards to Broad Street

Short cine film of a drivers-eye view of the trip from Dalston Junction to the Broad Street branch of the old Liverpool Street Station. This must date from the mid-70s, when the edge of the City below this track was still a Dickensian cityscape of veneer companies, furniture workshops, ironmongers, the Spitalfields Fruit and Veg market, meths drinkers and slums. Quite a lot of these 'features' were still in existence when we lived in the area, though the market had moved further east and Broad Street had vanished with the building of the then new Bishopsgate complex. The redeveloped Liverpool Street station is as modern and shiny as the rest of the City, but you can see it in all its former decaying Victorian glory in this Flickr group.

In the film you get a couple of glimpses of the spire of St Leonards, Shoreditch and the distant Nat West Tower which, seen from above, is in the shape of the bank's logo. But you knew that didn't you?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Lazy Blogging, Part 19.

John Shuttleworth: 'Can't Go Back To Savoury Now'