Yes, very naff title.  I’m tired.

I won’t drag this one out (I will).  For a start, as DES, I’ve nothing to say about the beers on Si’s Amber Valley Day Out.

Why is that pint of water sloping ?

Though I must say, the water in Belper was better than in Cambridge.

And secondly the banter in Belps was so good I took no notes. By the way, today’s cover star is Mark, #PubMan of the Amber Valley and our unofficial guide for the day, which started a kilometre west of the station outside Ghurka Express, where I parked up.


I like to make BRAPA do a bit of walking, and it’s hellish driving in Belper on Saturday.

Look how busy the market place was;

Spot the Angel(s)

I thought I’d found a new micropub (No. 9 in the town, probably), but it was just a house for a lady with an ‘oodersfeld accent.

Lost on our US readers, that one

With ten minutes till BRAPA arrived to cheering crowds, I bought a slice of quiche from “Fresh Basil“, whose deli items would cost twice as much in Ludlow or Leeds.

Fantastic deli

Just like in the Railway Children, I stood on the bridge waving as the train from Derby crawled in at 12:04.


Si was stressed after 20 minutes trapped like a sardine between two Matlock miseries or something, and actually got lost almost immediately by assuming I’d parked in the station carpark when I hadn’t.  “I’ve lost him !”  I screamed to Mark, on the phone.

Si pretended not to mind the uphill walk to my Aygo, and to be honest he might as well have kept on walking as the Black Bull’s Head is basically another 10 minutes up the road.

When this place burst into the Guide a decade ago it led with Bass.

Yeah, but

I blame Wickingman; he’s given Bass credibility and ruined it.  The number of GBG strongholds that have dropped Bass, but kept the glasses and the mirrors, is scary.

Look at the concentration on Si’s face as he wonders what ’90s soap star the barmaid reminds him of.

The house beers

Mark was already sitting cosily sipping some murk, or SOMA as it’s known now.

No substitute for Bass

Si and I fought over a Bass pump clip from Mark, and enjoyed a decent all-rounder that was a lot quieter (and a wee bit smarter) than my Friday night visit.

A family of six arrived.  All but one of them were drinking the ale, and the sole reprobate was about eight. She’ll learn.

I’ve been spotted
A Chesterfield, but not in Chesterfield

Mark conspiratorially told us about “up-and-coming” pubs in the Valley, having kindly broken into local CAMRA HQ to get a sneak preview of the 2020 GBG extract. Oddly, these tips all appeared to be micropubs.

I suspect the 1990 Good Pub Guide would have provided more entertainment, if they weren’t all now Brunning & Prices.


Oh no, 491 words already.  Time to move on to Bargate, and a musical quiz.


  1. But did you see the skittle alley?* You didn’t did you…

    *get used to it, I’ll be asking this question on every post you missed the skittle alley on.


  2. Murk – a hackneyed word perpetuated by prejudiced traditionalists to preserve a remembered vision of crystal clear pints back in the day when a pint was only 2d. What they tend to forget is when pints were 2d, they only got paid 1s a week and that crystal clear pint could often taste quite like malt vinegar.


  3. I’m drinking Irish keg murk at the moment and it’s gorgeous.
    No,not the stout but some summer efforts from this country’s burgeoning craft scene.
    Interestingly there’s a specialist beer bar in my nearest city which normally has 15 beers on tap occasionally gets cask in but the owner tells me it’s really a niche product.
    Locals and the many East Europeans who are his customers have just grown used to chilled,keg beer in all its forms and simply find it tough going.
    I try some of his guest cask and it reminds me of a lot of London ale – too warm and too flat.


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