FINDING FIRKIN ALLEY

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A few days recovery, then back on the chain gang, as someone once sang.

This is that time of year, with the odd pub in Durham, Tyne & Wear and North Yorkshire to visit, that I feel like just moving up to Scotch Corner and being done with it.

Barnard

The micro in Barnard Castle had been a particular irritant this year with its late opening/early closing/only after Wednesday hours. Not the first time I’ve had opening hours issues in BC.

But it has to be done, as does Bowes Museum.

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Grand
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Manicured

I’m not one for stately homes and old stuff, but I figured I could ignore Bowes no longer.  To my shame, I had no idea it was actually in the town centre.

Now that Ibstock Country Park in Coalville has closed, Bowes has the best fashion display in the country (see also: Northampton Museum).

But the highlights are the two headed calf,

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One of them prefers cask, the other keg

and this 18th Century figurine of BRAPA stealing a barrel of Bass in Newark last week.  A crime he didn’t tell us about.

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Well dressed as ever

Worth the visit, and you can go back every day of the year with your ticket if you have a porcelain fixation.

I headed into town, classier and busier than ever, to kill half an hour before 5pm opening.

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All the pubs look pleasant

Having a coffee in a pub is becoming a regular occurrence since I got the gig as Duncan and Simon’s official taxi, but since the only beer I saw pulled in 20 minutes was John Smiths Smooth (£1.85, cheaper than Spoons) and my coffee came with a biscuit, I win.

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The coffee hour

Mark will be pleased to know the soundtrack was “Kiss Me” by Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy.

Ten minutes to go, enough for the highlights package.

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Future micro called “Castle Cask”
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Future artisan keg market stall location

The holy trinity of town centre shops is still there; antiques shop, Heron Foods, Fox & Field country sports.

Joined now by a micro that appears to be open earlier than expected.

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FACT
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Tiny entrance
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You wouldn’t stumble on it

I enter a room that will be familiar to anyone who watched the original Twin Peaks,

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NOT my filter, folkd

and get a spectacular welcome from staff and a couple of locals who obviously read Facebook rather than the Good Beer Guide to find out opening times. But well done Firkin Alley for increasing hours.

I get a nod of appreciation when I choose the local Tirril Brown Ale, which is rich and smooth and superb (NBSS 3.5+).

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Those hooks again

They doubt my story that I’ve travelled up from Cambridge to visit their pub, so I claim to be a weirdo who likes Bass memorabilia, which doesn’t sound much better.

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It’s a collection tin

I made sure I gave the Bass collection tin back.  Honest.

Nice to meet ya”  they called.  I believe they meant it too.  Lovely folk.

 

9 thoughts on “FINDING FIRKIN ALLEY

      1. Probably because it’s in County Durham 😛

        Are my eyes deceiving me, or is that a micro with bench seating and Britannia tables?

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      2. Yes, the point I was making was that the character of the place seems to change pretty sharply when you go from the edge of North Yorkshire (Pickering, say) into Durham. Barnard felt a different world on first visit 25 years ago, perheps less so now but Scotch Corner still seems to be a point where accents change.

        Your eyes do not deceive you!

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  1. It’s changed ownership recently, last time I was there under the old ownership I found it a distinctly odd place (not even an A-board in the street to help find it, and a bit of a strange welcome), but sounds like it’s on the up so I must visit again next time I’m in Barney.

    Don’t see much Tirril these days. Brewer/owner of the new-ish McColl’s Brewery at Evenwood learnt his craft there I believe. I assume he worked in a Spar or Londis before that.

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  2. Now, that Tin Tin track was indeed a much played record for me. Not sure it is worthy of much critical respect, but to a certain American high school student it sounded great. 🙂

    I never quite know what I’m going to get when I order a “Brown Ale”, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one that I liked as much as a standard pale ale/bitter. I’ll bet someone does one I’d love, but I haven’t encountered it yet sadly.

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