I left Great Ale at the Vaults last Saturday (20/1/18) greatly cheered by new Bolton.  The Market Place shopping centre, helped by flashy cinema, seemed a lot more youthful than Bolton normally does. Stopfordians should visit and see what they could have had.

Mural at the Market Place

Saying that, central Bolton is still definitely a “work-in-progress“.


The indoor market is a little gem.  For once I skipped the noodles for Nkono’s Cameroon cuisine, £6 for this huge goat curry.  “Made with love and passion” by the shy and retiring Alain, and served in the sort of bowl that was fashionable in our house in 1975.

Proper food. In a bowl.

Bolton’s lifestyle hall can’t match Manchester or Leeds for exotica, but for cheap beer and scran it’s hard to beat.  I’d appreciate it if you didn’t ask me what the ball at the top of the bowl is.

From the benches you get an excellent view of boozy Bolton.

Very decent ale

You must never come to Bolton without visiting the free aquarium.

In honour of the chap we met in Northallerton. I’m calling this one Brian. He always seems pleased to see me.


His mate Simon was a bit shy though.


Many of Bolton’s GBG pubs are outside the central ring road, including Bunbury’s which under West Yorks geographic conventions would come under “Halliwell“.

Out on a limb

It’s a half hour walk from the station, highlights on the way being Syd’s Chippy and Posh Living, which aren’t mutually exclusive.

I walked past Bunbury’s twice while looking for Bunbury’s.  The pubbers’ brain is conditioned to look for signs with the words “King’s Head” or “Restaurant with rooms” sticking out in the air.  No such extravagance with a micro.


Micros tend to fall into 3 main categories;

  • Basic places with middle-aged men, pump clips, high tables down both walls
  • Modern beer shops with high tables, taps on the wall, young enthusiastic staff
  • Oddities.  Like Bunbury’s

I like oddities. This is the back room;

Not bench seating

More traditional seating in the front, where I was entertained by the owners’ charming children.

There was a beer board I could actually read.

Beer board

The owner apologised for the clutter.  I thought the clutter made the place.


Beer from Crankshaft Leyland Badger was immaculate, cool and rich, perhaps my beer of the month (NBSS 4.5). Mrs RM would have loved it, and the super-strong Beavertown on keg.

Beer not actually served in robin mugs
Cheery Lancastrians

A cracker, and a place that makes me even more confused in my feelings about micros.

Feeling guilty, I asked them to recommend a “strong and local” bottle to take back to Mrs RM. Pleasingly, I got a recommendation rather than the usual “Depends what you like” question.  It went perfectly with a bag of peanut M&Ms (£1, Tesco).








  1. I’ve finally worked out what micropubs’ decor reminds me of. It’s those holiday cottages that have passed from being an elderly relative’s home and are now stuffed with fittings that everyone in the family is desperate to get rid of. Add a few empty kegs, throw it all in a disused shop and you’re sorted.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For your information I call my dear old Mum every Sunday around 7:30pm UK time (I call her during the week as well). 🙂

      And besides, the crankshaft thing went right over my head. 😉



  2. Bolton is one of very few towns that I wouldn’t regret never going back to, but I’d go a long way for a decent goat curry. I’m assuming that’s just a savoury corn ball of some sort – hopefully not a sweet one!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The shy and retiring Alain – very good.

    If you want to find what people think about Bolton who are from Bolton read the comments on any article on the website.

    Darryl is a top lad.

    Fun personal fact, I used to work at the Co-Op opposite The Victory pub. Only its a McColl’s now and it wasn’t a Co-Op when I worked there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bolton is a place that genuinely confuses me. Great countryside to the north, crumbling pubs, inconsistent beer, those new Great Ale places. Is it on the up or down ? etc etc (rhetorical questions)


  4. “I’d appreciate it if you didn’t ask me what the ball at the top of the bowl is.”

    I’m feeling generous, so I shall acquiesce to your request. 😉

    “His mate Simon was a bit shy though.”

    That can’t be ‘our’ Simon; he’s not wearing anything orange!

    “Not bench seating”

    Good Lord! You have to buy your beer by the keg!

    “A cracker,”

    Yup, looks cracka lickin to me. (sorry, watched Madagascar 2 yesterday). 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good point. That would explain those earlier photos of him with bandages on? (trying to “transition” from one to the other?). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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