Before we start you should know that I fell asleep at 21:00 WHILE typing this post last night, which should tell you what sort of Saturday I’d just had. So sorry this is late; don’t complain about me on Trip Advisor/Beer Twitter.
On the last Saturday in May I caught the train from Sheffield to Langley Mill.
If you’ve never heard of Langley Mill you’re in esteemed company i.e. me. It seems to serve the same purpose as Oxenholme (for the Lake District). All the folk on the train south were headed for Nottingham, probably the micropubs.
After several months of trains running window seats only it was quite a shock to find standing room only on a train again, and despite widespread mask wearing I was pleased to break my journey after 25 minutes at Alfreton.
On the platform I offered to give a young lady and her mum a lift with two enormous suitcases (a weekend in Somercotes ?), but they turned down my kindly offer after giving me the lookover. It was probably the Beer Guide.
It may shock you to know that I’ll struggle to sell you a week in Alfreton, though of course I would happily spend a fortnight there right now rather than with the in-laws in Sheffield.
Turn right out of the station and trudge the 0.9 miles to the new micro tick; turn a different corner and, as George Michael discovered in 1986, you end up at the rather brilliant Devonshire Arms in South Normanton.
“hooded kids on bikes stinking of weed, dark eyed fat ladies in tattoo parlours, fried chicken shops and nail bars a plenty” wrote BRAPA in 2019. I just remember having the worst takeaway curry ever from S’norm in 2007.
Anyhow, back to Alfreton, where the main hobby is stealing letters off shop signs.
And car wheels.
Plenty of light industry on the outskirts, and the HQ international Ariane Grande Fan Club.
What else can I tell you ? Oh, yes, a decade ago the local team were a real force in the fifth tier of English football. Look how they challenged Luton and Cambridge for promotion in 2014;
In case Mark is wondering, folding a football club is a tricky affair, best left to adults.
Some good takeaway options for the health freak here; I rate the names of the chippy and the Chinese 6.5 out of 10.
Pubwise, the town has meant a lively Spoons for a decade or more, and the unique Roxie bombs within the “brewers Tudor” facade of King Alfred.
I walked past What’s Your Poison, twice, without noticing it. That’s the law with micropubs.
As I hoped to get back on the 12:32 to Langley Mill I was delighted to see a pub open before opening, although the hoover at the entrance suggested the lass was still in preparation mode.
It’s a cosy little place, low benches rather than Kentish (I said kentish) high tables and I warmed to it despite a welcome that was polite and efficient rather than effusive. The couple at the station had obviously tipped her off not to approach me.
FAR too many beers (and Lilley ciders and gins), of course, one for the local CAMRAs rather than the “one is plenty” purist, but the Ay Up from Dancing Duck was nice and cool and NBSS 3 (though with that odd straw taste I sometimes mention).
Nice to see a proper glass in use.
No-one else tipped up, but since I’d drunk up my pint before official opening time arrived that’s not surprising. So the only sound was an immensely irritating fire alarm from across the street, and the tapping of my fingers as I made copious unused notes.
Frankly, you’ll be more interested in the Viz collection in the Gents;
On the way back to the station I slowed down to write my strapline for this post
“NO town is beyond redemption, but Alfreton deserves the utmost credit for trying”
and that pause nearly had me missing my escape route out. Now THAT would have been justice.