The current Beer Guide has already given me trips to Tameside (twice) and Tyldesley, and spared me a trip to central Slough. Back of the net, as Mrs RM would say.
An early highlight of 2017, Ashton-under-Lyne delivered gorgeous architecture, bargain food, my two favourite beers, and Quosh. And unintentional street art.
All yours only 12 minutes out of Manchester Victoria folks.
The Witchwood sounded like a pub I’d done before, which just shows what an impact the 1995 Tameside guide made on my consciousness.
But before that opened, I invested in breakfast at Guiseppes at the market. An egg, sausage and bacon bap, and nuclear coffee, for £2.20. That’s cheap, even for Ashton. Which is cheap.
Sadly, the excellent town museum and art gallery were both shut, it being a public holiday and people therefore being able to visit. On a warmer day, I’d have walked the canal paths, but today’s trip stuck to the historic centre, home of bargains.
The arrival of Ikea hasn’t turned Aston into Didsbury yet, thank goodness, and you can still buy “Imperfect Duvets” or perfect Sam Smiths for pennies.
Despite the central area looking a bit modernised, there’s some cracking looking old boozers. The Forester’s Call even offered CAMRA discount, so Tameside CAMRA is obviously doing a fine job. More fine tiling at the Angel, which gives a similar discount to members of the mysterious Thursday cult.
Tile porn aside, what really sells Ashton are the pleasingly unmodernised Robinson’s pubs, which remind me of their slightly decrepit High Peak estate from the late ’90s. I may be alone in this affection, but give me the Caledonia over the Baker’s Arms any day.
But first give me the Witchwood, an absolute gem of a live music pub, reminiscent of Stockport’s Thatched House of old.
At noon on Monday it was pleasantly quiet, so I put some Mamas & Papas and Cherry Ghost on the jukebox. That’s what the kids are listening to.
Tameside’s premier PubMan Alex (Quosh) tipped up to ridicule my music choice, and join me in my moral dilemma.
Plum Porter or Bass ? Resisting an urge to have a mix of the two, I had both. Surprisingly, both were better than good, so well done Tameside CAMRA on your GBG selections.
Young Quosh was the star though, entertaining me with tales of pubbing in Glasgow, Vilnius and Bradford, and then somehow directing me through the back alleys to make my train with 8 seconds to spare. If that story about the Marble Arch is true, it’s the best I’ve ever heard mate.
And that coffee was still too hot to drink after half an hour in the Witchwood.