The strategy for the day was to find enough distraction so as to stay out of the pub and maintain peek condition for the long night ahead – oops. Well Hector managed this, he is not convinced that the Curry at Taste of Punjab mid evening was to blame for the rapid decline of the majority. It’s my Blog, so I get to tell it my way.
There was a hearty breakfast at 08.00 for Craig, Yvonne, Jonathan, Marg and Hector at the Stan Laurel. Lord Clive of Crawley had furnished details of a 09.15 train to Ravenglass. Northern Rail knew nothing of this. And so the assembled eleven (Tracey does not do steam) hung around the award winning Ulverston Station for an extra half hour. Still the rain came down.
The majority of our fellow passengers alighted at Ravenglass and huddled their way under the main line to the Eskdale Steam railway. Nobody told us it was a toy train. Not even Jonathan who had done the journey before. Not even Craig the great steam enthusiast.
There was a shop, Marg bought some tea. This was pronounced the best cup of tea on the planet. We climbed aboard the damp, cold carriages. The tea landed on the floor, Hector was blamed, and it must have been his fault. The replacement tea did not impress.
Some fifty minutes later we arrived at the end of the line – Boot – it was till raining. ?Stan! had the Good Beer Guide, he insisted the first pub was not the destination but the one which appeared to be miles away. Miles later we entered the Boot Inn, they had Ale and a warm coal fire. They also had a room full of weans and so we chose our seat carefully.
The choice of Ale was local and not that extensive. Stickin’ the Boot Inn at 4.6%, evidently the local Ale was a quiet and unremarkable start to the day. The Ale started well revealing some hops but these diminished quickly. Some had lunch, Yvonne played with her phone, Hector set up phantom logins.
Once we had settled, ?Stan! announced we were in the wrong pub. Marg dragged Hector to the Eskdale Mill, the oldest operating mill in England. They had Scottish technology, so it goes.
On entering the Brook House Inn the glasses steamed up. A baby lay sprawled across the floor, the parents were indifferent. For the first time Hector nearly stood on the wean, a few minutes later this nearly happened again. Why do parents relinquish all responsibility for their uncontrollable brats once they get in a pub? Why are they allowed in the main room of a pub anyway?
The Ale was better, the range far more impressive. The Lagonda IPA at 5% (Manchester Marble Brewery) however did not last long and the slow coaches had to consume something lesser. Why was Hector drinking a 5% Ale this early in the day – this was not the intended strategy, time to slow down.
There was Mulled Wine, Marg had some, it is still early. When it was later it was time to catch the train back down the valley. There was a brief respite and the sun shone briefly. The return journey to Ravenglass was much more harmonious.
?Stan! had suggested a stop off at Foxfield. The ticket Doris was not too happy with this; our return tickets apparently did not permit breaking the journey. Why not? They do in every other country. She told us nobody would care, so we decided we didn’t either.
Alighting at Foxfield it was dark, totally dark. We could see nothing. The train departed and there was the Prince of Wales directly across the line. We crossed the line, it is what one does.
The pub was stowed. It was old fashioned in layout, two rooms knocked into one? The furniture was random pieces rescued from who knows where. We fell in love with the place. Our Hostess was amazing, she was lapping up the sudden arrival of eleven more than she was expecting off the down train.
The local brewery was well represented; Hector took to the railway spirit to heart and ordered a pint of Desperate Encounter at 3.5%? At £2 a pint this was in order. Marg had Mulled Wine, more? Mags had Hot Cider. Craig and Yvonne spotted a New Zealand IPA in bottles at 6.8%, help ma Boab. There was Schlenkerla too on offer; in fact there was something for everyone. We could have stayed; Our Hostess told us there are rooms. We told her we would have to leave smartly to catch our train; she furnished us with plastic pints. We told her we would be back, definitely!
The train came, we held out our hands. The train stopped, the rain did not.
Back in Ulverston Hector and Marg retired to prepare for diner and the main event of the day. Craig and Yvonne were not far behind us. The rest decided the Devonshire Arms would be their refuge for the next two and a half hours, was this wise?
There was a Curry, then it was time for The Swan.
A Tale of Two Biers
Time was when the Hawkshead Cumbrian Five Hop (Kendal, Cumbria) at 5% would have been more than enough. The Friends of Hector had been seduced by a sample last night of the even more astonishing Hawkshead NZPA (Kendal, Cumbria) at 6%. We arrived at 22.00, it was not on. We settled for the Five Hop but of course asked for a strategy to get the Big Brother on. Only by finishing the Five Hop could we free the tap, we thought we had done a fair bit of damage last night, so this should not have been a problem. It became evident that the quantity was beating us.
One corner of the room was free, at the fire, Marg took her seat at the hearth. We knew the couple occupying the far end would be spooked eventually as our numbers grew. For a while we were in two camps.
Craig and Yvonne became very quiet. They blamed the Curry. Robin wasn’t saying much, he blamed the Curry too. ?Stan! was his usual self. Howard, Tracey, Clive and Maggie had only recently joined the company having just secured the final table to complete the wall of Scots along the outside wall. Hector was pacing himself so as to maximise the intake of the anticipated Super-Ale. Marg decided to stoke the fire, there was no stopping her. This woke up Tracey who shared my disbelief. The room was already roasting, Jonathan claimed not to notice but he had probably not thawed out after his al fresco railway experience. Mags was here too.
The bar was closed half an hour either side of the Bells. There was a Firework, somewhere.
Happy New Year!
The ritual See You Jimmy hats were produced by those who complied. Everyone had their turn. The ritual Calendars were issued, Tracey loved Howard’s so much she wants all the photos posted in a Special Blog. There was a calendar for Robin who is 65 later this year: this let me be the first to say Happy Birthday, Robin!
Still no NZPA.
Craig and Yvonne faded away to their beds. Robin and Mags were close behind. Stan was almost following on when the Ale finally appeared. Only Jonathan and Hector, who had paced himself to perfection, were able to take advantage. Jonathan held the first pint however Hector had actually purchased the first pint in advance. Ah, the futures market…
By 02.00 ?Stan! had disappeared, Clive and Maggie followed on. Marg had lasted the night, Jonathan and Hector were just getting started.
Hector had put his reputation on the line calling a New Year in Ulverston. Thanks to Dave, Mein Host, we had a Bier to remember, always. It was obvious that there was plenty left, who would get to drink it?
The Pubs visited today:
The Stan Laurel – 31 The Ellers, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 0AB
Boot Inn – Boot, Holmrook, Cumbria CA19 1TG
The Brook House Inn – Boot, Eskdale, Cumbria CA191TG
The Prince of Wales – Foxfield, Broughton-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA20 6BX
The Swan Inn – Swan St., Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7JX