Taking the train from Bradford to Manchester gives you superb views of Iron Man art at Mytholmroyd, and peerless Calderdale views on the way past more pronounceable small towns. Only the Sheffield-Manchester line can match it.
The train also gives me the chance to break my journey back at Hebden Bridge. 1.30pm kick-offs at the Etihad mucked up my plans to visit some hobby pubs (1-6pm opening, thanks Saltaire),but I did get to see dusk descending over the Dulwich of the north (If Dulwich had canals, hills and witches).
Sadly not enough time to nip to Heptonstall and back, a great Summer walk.
Despite its size, Hebden can be relied on for a new Beer Guide pub each year. I’m a big fan of the town, despite the Guardian-reader associations. I saw Maria McKee in Hebden Trades Club (like the Phoenix Club with microbrews) a few years ago, and they weren’t all wearing silk scarves. Not all the men, anyway.
Calan’s looks bigger on the outside, inside it’s compact and already packed with folk settled in for a long session.
I really don’t enjoy standing to drink, any more than I enjoy sitting down at home, and that’s the risk in micro-pubs. If I’d downed a quick pint of the Anarchy Blonde (NBSS 3) at the bar, feigned interest in the pump-clips and then rushed back to catch the 17.15 I’d have filed this with half my indistinguishable micros visited to date (86, since you ask).
But John saw my furtive look for a space, and kindly moved up to give me a proper pub experience. That’s when I saw The Books;
Unlike the Nottingham micro, this was chronological perfection, albeit missing those rare early editions. What greater reading matter can you have ?
I didn’t get a chance to look though 1981 Cheshire though, as my pubby interest started a length conversation with John and the couple on the next table. Grief, they knew their pubs, Merseysider John a seeming expert on the Isle of Man and Wirral, the other couple on the great town of Halifax. All pub chat mind you, none of that beery nonsense. I found out there’s a couple more small pubs in Hebden now, and dozens more in Calderdale. Simon and Duncan will be thrilled.
The folk in Calan’s weren’t your typical Hebden, though to be fair anyone who’s been in the Fox & Goose will know how lazy a stereotype that is. You can’t mark a town down as weird just because it hasn’t got a Starbucks, you know.
I missed a train. I didn’t mind, this is what pubs are about. That’s the thing about micros, you can’t be lonely, or alone, in them.
QUIZ TIME – Easy one, how much did the beer cost ?