More from last weekend (19-20 Jan), with a trip to beautiful Bolton, always good for a GBG surprise or two.
The walk from the station to my new pub is a story of continued decline, with a string of boarded shops on and off Bradshawgate, and some tired looking recent GBG pubs (sadly, Sparkles isn’t one of them).
Yes, there’s the usual sprinkling of redbrick buildings,
and some fish’n’chip bargains
but the pedestrianised shopping streets along Newport Street fail to stir the soul.
Wigan stole a march on Bolton with their impressive shopping developments in the last decade, and I begin a mental note to bury Bolton (pun intended) in my post.
It’s a good job the town still has some civic grandeur.
I had no idea where “Great Ale @ The Vaults” is, as I’ve never heard of the Vaults. I wandered aimlessly, trying to get WhatPub loaded while bumping into gentlefolk carrying Primark bags.
And then it hit me. It’s in the vaults of a shopping centre.
And what a shopping centre it is, with the restoration of Victorian vaults a work of art to compare to Bradford’s Sunbridge Wells. I’ve no need for shops at my age, of course, but this is wonderful.
The highlight of my trip to the Gents is the scariest loo art of the year so far.
Great Ale will split opinion among pubbers, with a setting alongside chain restaurants, an excess of purple, and high tables.
Quite a contrast to the earthier Great Ale outlet at the market, this is the sort of flashy bar you expect from cutting edge places like Southport (e.g. Tap & Bottles). But it’s quirky and cheery and with helpful staff who want to offer you tasters, so beware.
A bit early for Bolton’s youth, the lunchtime custom came for four coffee drinkers, so my Outstanding beer probably needed the pulling through it got. Very tasty but not cool (NBSS 3).
To its credit, some really good pub snacks like cheese plates and local pork pies, but by now I had my mind set on goat curry.
Music was flooding the Vaults from an unmanned piano, an instrumental version of Boogie Wonderland. Stuff yer Las Vegas.