A midweek trip north (but I AM north, right ?) to tick Durham, with a double in Darlo.
On the way up I was tempted, as usual, to pop in to Piercebridge, inspiration for my most popular blog post.
But Piercebridge will have to wait; I doubt they’ll be squeezing a micro into the yard behind the George any time soon.
Darlington (pop. 92,363), meanwhile, somehow produces new entries from nowhere, and not JUST micros.
And the old favourites like the Half Moon (“If we’re open, we’re open, if we’re closed etc etc) seem to survive and thrive in this chaotic Guide hotbed.
Darlo seemed to be thriving too, on a Wednesday lunchtime the pavements were packed with Prosecco and pizza.
Sadly, my first tick was a little quiet (i.e. it was just me), but the Bondgate seemed squarely aimed at the frenetic night-time crowd. I remember night-time, vaguely.
It’s both a joy to see something so simple and unfussy in the GBG, a bit like the Freebird in Newcastle-under-Lyme or the one with sticky tables in Newport (Gwent).
The first thing I hear is “And here are 38 Special”.
Now, I can’t name anything by 38 Special but I suspect Dick and Dave and Mudgie are experts. I guarantee they’ve never been played in the Marble Arch or Port Street Beer House though.
I had the Bradfield, which now feels a bit like having Greene King when I lived in Waterbeach, and it performed a magical resurrection from 2.5 to 3 before “Caught Up In You” had finished.
But you can tell it’s a 3 from the photo.
Hardly a word exchanged with the nice lady at the bar, so I went and explored upstairs. You really didn’t expect to see the Norwich Union brass, did you ?
But what now ? I’d harboured a hope the micro would open early, but no, 5pm it was. What sort of a time is that.
So I could explore the brutalism.
But which one ?