HOTCAKES & FISH BISCUITS IN MERRIE ALTOFTS

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Hard to believe, but Mrs RM and I spent a fair few of our early mini-breaks in Wakefield.  This was in the days before the internet, when we would find hotels by driving slowly past them, reversing, and asking about rooms.   That worked until we got stranded near Skegness one time (ask Mrs RM).

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Still never been to Wrenthorpe it seems. Or Notton.

The St Pierre in Newmillerdam was a perfect base for exploring the sort of hilly parks, cheap and frothy pale beer and ferocious curry you just didn’t find in Cambridge.  Wakefield itself is one of our most underrated English cities, and the surrounding villages like Heath seemed very attractive when you come from the Fens.

As with the North (Stoke and above) in general, there was always more for our toddlers to do round here than at home, whether falling down mine shafts or knocking over sculptures.  I think Matthew had his first Chicken Vindaloo here, before the laws on child cruelty changed.

I like the Wakefield CAMRA magazine a lot; it shows a real enthusiasm for all the pubs in the branch, including the ones that still serve John Smiths Cask.

The Robin Hood has just become the first Guide entry in Altofts in my pub-going life.  I’m just about honest enough to admit I couldn’t have given you directions to Altofts before last week; it looks more like a suburb of Normanton to me, and that’s the train to catch.

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This is an appropriately merrie place at 6pm, packed with social drinkers of all ages incentivised out-0f-doors by a host of free snacks*.  Particularly in the dark, it looks unspectacular, like one of Bradford’s edge of town free houses that generate their own atmosphere.

The feast below cost me two pounds and eighty pence (too cheap ! too cheap !! ). Those fish and chip biscuits alone warrant the recent Wakefield Pub of the Year award.

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The only minor downside was the usual one.  Walking to a bar lined with pumps I didn’t recognise (Acorn Barnsley apart), I go for the only one with a word I understand – 4T’s Pale.

It wasn’t bad, but rather frothy and bland compared to the Magic Rock keg I could have had if that wasn’t against the rules of GBG ticking.

But I enjoyed the gourmet snacks, the soundtrack of Van the Man and the Band, and the village life around me, and noted everyone else was going for the Tarn 51 from the on-site microbrewery. A beer “Selling like hotcakes” is something I often read about but rarely see nowadays.

You’ll know what I think about homebrew, but staying for a pint of the By George showed what the pub was all about.  A classic cellar cool pint of chewy Pale (NBSS 4).

Perhaps a few too many beers for my liking, but the Robin Hood clearly knows what it’s doing. After that all that salt, I only just resisted the call of the evil craft keg.

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*Simon didn’t get the free snacks the other week, of course.

50 thoughts on “HOTCAKES & FISH BISCUITS IN MERRIE ALTOFTS

    1. For that matter, Stoke in the north. It is clearly southern. though not quite far enough south to be labelled as practically French.

      Martin, I applaud your colouring in of the road map, but you surely had time to mop up some of those required bits of tarmac whilst passing.

      Are the fish biscuit things actually fish flavoured?

      I suspect the cheapest way to obtain curry in Wakefield is to get a train ticket to Drabford. That was certainly the case in Leeds.

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      1. What favour are fish ?

        Wakefield is 32% cheaper than Leeds, though still 22% dearer than Bradford, which certainly isn’t drab. Did Hull get beaten up there or something ?

        Stoke is the North, even if Nantwich isn’t.

        What is”France” ?

        I will finish the tarmac some time.

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      2. I still require my Valley Parade ground tick largely thanks to the intellect levels of the West Riding constabulary. The famous riot against them actually took place at Fer Ark although I was not present. The lack of barfi shops is very disappointing.

        France is an area whose land connection with England has been flooded. It is essentially what you will find beyond the sea south of Brighton.

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      3. It has been suggested, I forget by whom, that Stoke should market itself as the “gateway to the North” despite its location in Staffordshire, which is definitely the Midlands. The suggestion has not been taken up, I suspect, because Stoke does not actually have anything to market, except its status as the most pro Brexit urban constituency.
        Perhaps Mudgie would like to open a tourist office for The Draught Bass Eurosceptics Club weekend outings?
        For me, anywhere which used to have Central TV is in the Midlands, anywhere with Granada (which includes Crewe and Congleton) is in the North West.

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  1. I’ve found the debate on beer prices interesting. I’m not sure there is logic to beer pricing. I saw a bottle of Sam Smith Taddy Porter, a single bottle, for $12 at a restaurant the other day. Even are restaurant prices that seems extreme. Apparently people pay it though.

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    1. To be fair we’ve paid those sort of prices e.g. £10 for a 750ml bottle of Brewdog, so guilty as charged. That would last the two of us an hour though, could sink four pints of OBB in that time (not a recommendation)

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    2. I have heard that some strange things are going on on your country,but this must be right at the top. If you write to Sir Humphrey he will, I am sure, stop supplying said restaurant, particularly if there is anything in the menu other than pies.

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      1. Sir Humphrey may not have to worry. It seems we are heading toward letting nothing into “our” country.

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      2. I wrote a letter to Samuel Smiths brewery in 2004 with a handwritten list of all of their tied houses i had visited,over 150 at the time,i was asking for a list of their tied estate as i wanted to do all of them,they were the only brewery not to reply to me and never sent back my list,i wrote to all independent brewerys at the time apart form Greene King,Marstons and Banks’s and got a reply from all some with nice guides to their tied estates and others with A4 lists,i got a lot of letters with thanks for writing to them and Youngs even sent me a pin badge.
        Thwaites were so impressed with the amount of their tied houses i had done they wanted me to appear in an advertising campaign for them,but i was too ill at the time and my wife did not want me to go up to Blackburn,though i still have the letters to prove what they said.

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  2. Good basic Sam Smiths pub in Wrenthorpe I recall.
    Altofts had a railway station named after it which somehow clung onto a token existence until 1990, despite (as you suggest) Normanton station being closer and more useful to more people.

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      1. I’d say that ‘bohemian’ should have been capitalised, as it relates to the region of Bohemia, which is a proper noun. Also, assuming it refers to a castle owned by a bishop, ‘Bishops Castle’ should have an apostrophe. As a vegetarian, I donate my two spam fritters to Mrs RM and yourself, Martin for your din dins.

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  3. Wikipedia attributes it to Staffordshire, that epicentre of the Midlands.
    I checked the grammar and spelling in my blog with some care given my reader(s). Hopefully I didn’t spell “masturbate” incorrectly……

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      1. Jozy Altidore was American but did somehow end up playing for Sunderland a couple of years after he left us.

        Sunderland is in the north. Geordies are practically Scotch.

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    1. I have been to Stoke on Trent loads of times and done 138 pubs in the city,this does not include towns like Biddulph,Kidsgrove and Newcastle under Lyme,i know Stoke is only slightly further North than Nottingham but when i arrive there it seems like a Northern City to me.
      The Midlands is divided into two areas,East Midlands and West Midlands,so the term Midlands is wrong,Nottingham is the main East Midland city with Leicester also being a large city,Scum is East Midlands third city and was made so for the Queens Jubilee but lacks the influence that Nottingham has over the area.

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      1. I had a good run in trying to do all pubs in Stoke on Trent around 2011 and 2012,not done all but a good amount.
        Bristol is my new challenge i first visited it year ago with the wife and we did 18 pubs,i decided to go again last year and clocked up 69 new pubs and i did another 23 there yesterday,i am now in mop up mode and hoping to do over 400 in the city.
        I took a look at your map on the post and noticed that you have done roads round Ossett but not shaded the town out,have you not had a drink there.
        I also have a hard back road map but my way of seeing if i have been to a village years ago is to put small stickers to all villages towns and cities visited with the number of pubs done in each place,i am quite pleased with how it looks and may put photos on my Never Ending Pub Crawl blog of it like you have on yours when i get myself ready to do so,as i have lost my mojo at the moment.

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      2. Very impressed Alan. Keen to read what you think of the Bristol pubs.

        I really would like to see your road map. Love maps, as does Pub Curmudgeon.

        I did Otley before Christmas, the new off-licence was my missing tick.

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  4. Bohemian relating to the country would be capitalised but IMHO bohemian in lower case relates to “socially unconventional ” so doesn’t need it.
    Bishops Castle certainly looks like it should have an apostrophe somewhere, but I don’t think the town signposts bothered with one, perhaps as a consequence of the residents’ b(B)ohemian nature.
    I have managed to delete a photo though.

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    1. I am happy to accept both points. If the settlements name has no apostrophe on the official sign, then you are in the right. The local parish council may not be mind. If I ever visit, I might write to them.

      I agree with your bohemian analysis and, while the entry is capitalised, I notice that some used in example sentences in the online edition of the OED are not.

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  5. Alan, your defence of Stoke’s northern status is trenchant. I wonder how many of the pubs you visited only 4/5 years ago are still open.
    Newcastle under Lyme is an interesting one. The town is trying to “brand” itself as home to a university or as a Staffordshire market town but is liable to slip back into identifying with the Potteries in careless moments.
    I have never heard a “Castle” resident describe themselves as Northern though.

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      1. Newcastle under Lyme like a small Nottingham i dont think so,the middle is nice enough but i am sure it lacks the rough estates and grim inner city areas that Nottingham has in spades,i can only think of two suburbs within the Nottingham City boundary that are fairly posh,the rest are either rough or very rough.

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      2. I did just say that to get a reaction Alan, I knew you’d defend Nottingham and its rough estates ! I do think N-u-L is becoming a bit like Nottingham within the ring road though, with its craft bars and micropubs and art.

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  6. Yet again you know me too well Martin,
    I love Nottingham the city i was born in and despite how rough it is i still love it.
    I hav’nt been to the middle of N-U-L for many years but know it has a very tight ring road,must visit again to do all of these new openings.

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