If you want to see the extremes of Durham/Cleveland/Teeside, walk from Norton’s Unicorn over the A19 footbridge into Billingham (or vice versa if you’re heading into Stockton for a Parmo afterwards). I haven’t marked the footbridge on my Navigator yet, that’s a treat for later tonight.
Billingham has the pleasant country park, but the Art Gallery seems to have gone the way of much provincial art (though see Spennymoor). The views of ‘Boro at night partly compensate for that loss.
There’s a Spennymooresque shopping centre and the famed Catholic Club near the station (not necessarily a criticism), but the real action is in the old town around St Cuthberts.
The Green Hops is, of course, a micropub, of sorts. As you know, I like to complain about micro opening hours, and this one also shut the door in my face last year. Mind you, it was nearly midnight (“But WhatPub says you’re open till 12.30” didn’t cut it).
Any simmering resentment toward Green Hops melted with the welcome. Not just the free pork pie and quiche either (Has the world gone quiche mad, by the way ?).
In general, I’d rather talk about Chinese takeaways*, Beeching cuts and Council incompetence than beer or pubs, but I was politely interrogated on my own GBG mission.
“How many pubs in the Beer Guide” –
” nearly 5,000″
“How long you here for ?”
“Just the weekend”
“And you’re doing all 5,000 over the weekend ? Better drink up mate ”
I wish all 5,000 (actually a little less, before you shout) had beer as good as the Double Maxim, and a sense of joy as infectious as the Hops. Not that you’d know it from the photo, but Lord Byron was a PubMan of the month contender.
Sadly, Daisy the pub dog wasn’t singing, I was informed. I’ll let her off.
The folks here were very keen for me to visit a couple of other interesting sounding places; the micro community here is clearly supportive of each other. Later on I heard about a Stockton/Boro micro crawl, which sound like fun/bad news.
I looked in vain for the Porcupine, only realising later it was actually the Porky Pint, and chickened out of the Hogs Head, clearly a Whitbread tribute pub. One for 2018.
Even though the football team is called Synthonia, the town’s main claim to fame must be as the birthplace of one a Manchester City legend, whose Gazza-esque genius took City to the promised land of the 3rd Division.
*Last time here I had a superb crispy beef and Singapore rice from The Great Wall on Mill Lane – knew you’d want to know that.