I do love lunchtime kick-offs at the Etihad. Up at 5am, train across the High Peak from Sheffield (why isn’t their Tap open at 9am ?), too early for breakfast curry at This’n’That, freezing up in Colin Bell Level 3.
At least I had perfect conditions for some early morning exploration along the Medlock Valley. Five points for identifying this pub;
And then you need to go to Stretford for your penultimate “Greater Manchester” GBG tick.
I may be well-travelled, but Bulawayo, Panama and Offerton seemed less of a challenge that Stretford for a bloke in a City scarf on Saturday.
In 30 years of coming up this way, I’ve never been further into Trafford within the M60 than O** T*******, and that was for the cricket of course .
On the Metro (£3.20 from Piccadilly), all the folk seemed to be heading for Sale and Alty, and averted their gaze at the heap of burnt-out cars that is Cornbrook. I was a bit surprised to see so many folk get off at Stretford, even more so the number wearing blue shirts with “De Bruyne” on the back.
You’re greeted by some classic Trafford views,
and some brutal street art.
I nearly didn’t make it across the road. The subway was closed, and crossing the A56 nearly ended my own pub adventure prematurely.
I didn’t actually realise Stretford had a town centre, and didn’t see much of a café culture (or any restaurants) but a busy shopping centre proves it is a real place. The arcade reverberated to the sound of those perennial shoppers favourites, the Killers, and contained some of the most pleasant drunks outside of Stockport.
I didn’t get Mrs RM the fidget spinners.
I’m reminded of Winsford, without a Spoons but with a classic ’60s Bass pub.
But I was headed for the Sip Club. It’s an irritating tick, with opening hours to thwart me on Mondays, Sundays and lunchtime, or before those rare 3pm City kick-offs. Perhaps that’s the idea.
Anyway, Sip Club was worth the wait.
A small upstairs room decorated in café style, you almost expect table service until you realise the bar is hidden round the corner.
At 4pm there’s a family eating crisps and a large group practising their French lessons, in one of the oddest “pub” atmospheres for some time. I like odd.
The cheery young lady serves me a Brightside (“Good choice – that’s my favourite”), and chats about the history of the place and her recent visits. She feels a bit cut-off from the customers, who are cruelly all speaking French banter anyway.
Most folk are drinking bottled water, it seems, so it’s sensible to just have a couple of beers on. Delightfully, I’m asked if I want a Northern head or a soft Southern one (“since you come from Cambridge“). I resist the urge to tell her I’m an honorary Northerner.
For my benefit, no doubt, the Sip Club plays some enterprising Jazz funk, possibly from Shakatak, to compliment the dimpled mug. I wasn’t offered a choice of handle or straight.
A great asset to the community.