I thought I’d seen it all by the age of 53.  Jacaranda trees in bloom in Harare, Cliff Richard in Cambridge in the summer of ’74,  the family naan in Balti Towers, two goals in injury time to win the League.  Even the Pubmeister in shorts.

But apparently I’d never seen Aberdare.


A town of 31,000, as large as Hitchin, but with barely a sign to indicate its mere existence on routes from Merthyr, Mountain Ash and Maerdy.

This is a place with a Football League team as recently as the 1920s; Pubmeister probably saw them beat Reading Home and Away in 1923. Familiar looking kit, too.

And a familiar looking town, with a plain centre dominated by the giant Constitutional Club.

No sign of that Siren Breakfast Stout here

Three (count them) GBG ticks for me here, and a chance to explore the charity shops for Taylor Swift and Skids CD, without success.

The Bute looked a, er, beaut.


But the top sign belonged a place called TEETH which turns out to be a dentist, whatever that is.  In Bethnal Green it would turn out to be a cocktail bar with scary seats.

Nice lettering

Ignoring worried looks from strangers, I pressed on to the Whitcombe. Nice sign.

Town pub

A typical Welsh town pub, dutifully opening at noon and staying open all day for no-one in particular. A pleasing mix of seating, and that clutter of old pictures, offset by random ancient sewing machine for reattaching Aberdare Athletic badges to jerseys.

“Homely” as the Welsh say

Butcombe and Wadworth seasonals accompanied the Felinfoel, which was the only beer you need (if you’re not putting the 6X on). It was flat and cool, a rare survivor in the heat (NBSS 3).


The landlady was cheery enough, too, in that way you have to be when there’s only one customer in.  Perhaps thinking I was Mark Crilley, she put Simply Red and Miami Sound Machine on the video jukebox to compensate for the lack of waggish Welsh wit.

NBSS 3 in Google Paint
Mick Hucknall distorted for your safety

A chap looking like a young Mike Scott with a backpack came in while the landlady was round the back. He took a sweeping look, said “It’s too quiet” and turned to walk out. “She’ll be back any second !”  I squeaked.

Embarrassed, the chap said hello, explained at length the pub was too quiet, and snuck out.  I think he thought he was in the Rifle Drum.

Round the corner, the Ieuan ap Iago was bustling, despite being named after a Watford forward, as are all Wetherspoons under their new sponsorship deal.

Boss.  It’s Boss

I fancied something Welsh.  The curry is made with Welsh dragons.

“Do you want to go large ?”   “Of course”

And a Welsh pint from Boss Brewing.

There you go my lovely“.  I suddenly felt like Peter Sarstedt, drinking a 5.5% IPA.

View from a high table

Well my pint was superb (NBSS 4), despite no evidence of any other cask sales, despite one of the customers wearing an Iron Maiden shirt.

And the dragon meat was great.  But going large is a mistake.

As was the mile walk up the hill to the Fosters stronghold of the Rhoswenallt, which has a special “straw flavoured” version of this classic;


I abandoned it (NBSS 2) on an outside table and walked up to the cairn. Half an hour later, it was still there, and had improved to a 2.5.  The miraculous Rev !



  1. Thanks for the shout out; I have somehow become the “obsessed with 80s music” guy on your blog, and you know what, I’ll take it! For the record though, I have moved on to the subsequent decades, I swear!

    The Whitcombe looks like my kind of place. The Ieuan ap Iago looks as if they built it inside an airport hangar. But I do long to have someone say to me, “There you go my lovely.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark, I like to have “characters” in my plot that play certain roles. Russ plays the Canadian proof-reader, Dick & Dave the cask zealots, Mark the’80s pop obsessive, even if you’re actually into Japanese punk now. “life’s a stage and each must play his part”.

      The Whitcombe is a proper pub, very similar to St Helens/Newtown Le Willows in style.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Even the Pubmeister in shorts.”

    (slow golf clap)

    “No sign of that Siren Breakfast Stout here”

    That lad on the right might be drinking one. 🙂

    And between this photo and the top one, what’s with a lot of folks wearing curtain patterns as pants (trousers)?

    “The Bute looked a, er, beaut.”


    ““Homely” as the Welsh say”

    Fans (the bladed kind) and some sort of fireplace thingy. They’re ready for whatever the weather! 🙂

    “to compensate for the lack of waggish Welsh wit.”

    Nice alliteration.

    “the Ieuan ap Iago was bustling,”

    I was all set to indicate a spelling mistake there, but then realised you’re in Wales. 🙂

    “Half an hour later, it was still there, and had improved to a 2.5. The miraculous Rev !”

    Like a fine wine then. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  3. That curry doesn’t look anything like as good as the one I had in the Bhurtpore last evening ( with pints of Brew Foundation Wheat Your Heart Out and Three Tuns Clerics Cure ).
    I must admit that Felinfoel Double Dragon, with to me something of a metallic taste, is one of my least favourite beers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Metallic” is a good description. It’s certainly highly variable, had a good example near Chepstow the other year. One of the few beers I’d say was more inconsistent than the dispense in a pub. Often seen in keg in West Wales.


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