Greetings from lovely Darlington where I’ve just returned after meeting Duncan completely accidentally in Newcastle. Spooky.
The Dalesman Hotel in Darlo (keg Magnet) is £30 en-suite (on-sute as my Mum would say), very clean but with weak WiFi. So it’s more short posts from Aberdeen.
First stop on the Great Grampians Tickathon was Stonehaven, a small fishing town half an hour south of Aberdeen.
I nearly stopped here to do the perennial duo of GBG ticks back in 2008 when I conquered Aberdeen and Dundee (without Mrs RM’s assistance), but time was against me. If I’d known then of the town’s main claim to fame I’d have caved in.
Clearly Stonehaven see itself as a big tourist draw, at least in the summer months. Sadly we had that summer at the end of February.
The central square where the bus deposits the tourists is a bit plain.
But pub sign fans are in for a treat.
It’s more exciting as you round the coast toward the harbour, h
oping the septuagenarians in padded jackets will fall in a rock pool while you’re filming them.
Quite picturesque, in a Maldon or Aldeburgh style.
With ten minutes till the two pubs opened at 11 (take note, micros) I treated myself to the authentic croque monsieur at the Old Pier coffee house. If it wasn’t authentic, the owner was doing a very good French impression.
The Ship has that lovely design feature that Scotland specialise in, but really it was the 11am opening I was interested in. I let the old couple dither at the door, hoping they’d choose the cask. They didn’t.
The Ship is your very typical Scottish 3 star hotel. You’d stay for the views and the calorific breakfast and the whisky, not the cask. Mind you, the luxury double is £105 a night for one person, so perhaps I wouldn’t.
Still, a reassuringly tight beer range.
The chap in front said “I hope it’s not too expensive; I haven’t got much cash“. Hopefully he had enough cask to get home to Glenrothes. The cask was £3.70apint, which sounded pretty reasonable to me.
On the plus side, it was cheery and neat and they played Duran Duran’s “Rio”.
On the downside, the Skye Red was warm and dull, so I left it to improve on Table 45 and popped next door to GBG pub number 2.
I’m a great advocate of leaving a beer in the sun to warm up, or cool down.