One of the most contentious issues in the pub blogging world is what makes the optimal music selection in a Proper Pub. This is very different from what constitutes good music; I don’t expect to hear Car Seat Headrest or Bo Ningen in a Sam Smiths pub, or Bruckner’s Eighth in a Brewer’s Fayre.

I think BRAPA and I agree that Dire Straits is what you want in your average local, or at a push Nik Kershaw or Level 42. And so it was that Mark King’s mates turned up on my Durham crawl, confirming that great county has finally left the ’70s behind.

It was chugging rubbish back in ’83, it’s rubbish now. (I’m sure that jam smeared over my vinyl copy of “Standing in the Light” was no accident).

But it’s our rubbish, and it’s recognition of that fact which makes it perfect pub music for pubs like the Cross Keys in Eastgate on the A689 in Weardale, one of the world’s great roads. WhatPub even lists the address as A689.


There’s nothing between Middleton and Eastgate, except stillness, potholes and sheep trying to sneak through gates you have to open yourself half-way down. You can’t even see the road on the WhatPub map above, which probably means it doesn’t exist. Do I ?

Just sheep…and red squirrels (top)

Westgate, to the west of Eastgate (I’m learning, Mudgie), has a campsite next to a homebrew pub and a ford that was unexpectedly deep, even in the middle of our current drought. Family Taylor bravely stayed here in the summer of 2014, a summer it rained incessantly, prompting the upgrading of our tent to a campervan a year later.


I’d assumed that we’d preemptively visited ALL the pubs round here while dodging the rain, but apparently not the Cross Keys, built to withstand Weardale’s worst weather as well as day-trippers from Bishop Auckland.


I would have remembered the sign on entry.

Do as you’re told

It was cosier than that austere notice suggests. Everyone seemed to have come from or be off to a week in Marbella. Or at least they were dressed for it. Anyway, they made me feel young for a change, which was nice.


It didn’t feel gastro, but everyone in the bar was queueing for the 1.30 Sunday lunch sitting in the informal restaurant, so I hope the 1.00 session was getting a move on with their chicken and caulis.

Durham does this sort of place better than most; it reminded me of the Miner Arms in Acomb, without the smell of “boiled cabbage”. The sort of place you’d come for Sunday lunch when you don’t need an indoor play area and unlimited ice cream machine any longer.

Those pewter tankards are just for show, aren’t they ?

Cheery Weardalers. They don’t know yet

I guessed the gentlefolk in the corner (below) come here every Sunday. If they do, they probably keep the Cross Keys going all week. Good to see the ladies on pints.

Note ancient pub sign on the wall

I sat in the sunshine with a decent half of Golden Plover, and pondered on the mystery that has endured 35 years. Why is “Living It Up” written as “Livin’ It Up” on Wiki. These things matter.


37 thoughts on “THE SUN GOES DOWN (ON THE A689) (LIVING IT UP)

  1. It’s not contentious at all, it includes Jethro Tull. Everybody knows that. Although, perhaps strangely, this list doesn’t feature any of their works.

    Putting my Canadian Mountie hat on, it’s Bruckner, not Brucker. Unless you’re thinking of the guy from Procol Harum 😉


    1. Canadian Mountie – as in Monty Python ?
      Walking into a Lees pub two days ago Song For Whoever was playing and I realised it could be worse. Our old friend in Partridge Green once commented that he would like to hear Glen Millar in a pub but that would most definitely make me move on.


      1. We can disagree (politely) on music, but not much worse than sitting on a high table in.a micro pub with disinterested owner and mates in dead silence, as in Horsham.


  2. Why is “Living It Up” written as “Livin’ It Up” on Wiki? That fits with the grand tradition of sounding unsophisticated or down to earth. “Fishin”, “Huntin” and “Truckin.” Not a fan of country music are you?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Test Match Special is all I want to hear in a pub when there’s cricket on.
    It happened to me once in the Lake District – somewhere outside Ambleside.Wandered in for an early pint and there was just me and the landlord listening to Johnners and Blowers and the rest.
    The only one I couldn’t stand was the Alderman which was unfortunate because his brother was my first editor – mind you he couldn’t stand Don Mosey either.
    There really isn’t anything to beat supping a few pints and listening to the cricket on long wave while the world and his dog are off tramping round the fells eating Kendal Mint Cake.
    Although I did once spend an enjoyable few hours in a deserted Barbados rum shack watching England play the Windies on the telly with just me,the barman and Mel Smith off the telly who wandered in just after me.We all got absolutely trollied on Banks beer and rum chasers.
    Happy days.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Ebony-Jewel Cora-Lee Camellia Rosamond Rainford-Brent to give her full triple-hyphenated wonderful name.
        TMS started going downhill when they hired the Man Who Thinks He’s Funny But Isn’t Graham Swann.
        But I’m with you on the female commentators in both cricket and football.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right, Prof, nothing like TMS in a pub. Didn’t mind Don Mosey as a commentator but met him once at a charity cricket match and he was a miserable bugger.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aye,that was him alright.
        Full of his own importance.I’m convinced that’s why he got his nickname.


      2. Apologies for using this again but they do say Yorkshire people are like the Scots – but with all the goodwill squeezed out of them.


      3. But it must be a coincidence that Autovacs are only to be found in Yorkshire and Scotland.


  4. Did you see a 6 ft. red squirrel named Anthony?
    I suspect those mugs hanging from the ceiling are from the 1887 Mug Club members.


  5. “But it’s our rubbish” –This made me laugh! Your other comment is very close to something I say to myself any time I hear a song from my younger days that I hate: “I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now.”

    Thanks for including the photo of the red squirrels sign. I’d heard about how it’s an endangered species, though I didn’t realize they posted signs like that.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve not noticed that first photograph before – the young lady looking longingly at the John smiths smoothflow and desperately wishing that she had the money for a half.

    Liked by 1 person

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