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