The last trip out of the year, which produced a nerve-settling eight ticks to end the month (though not the year) ahead of BRAPA. I know you think us pub tickers live in a commune near Halifax from which our ticking taxis depart each weekend, but in truth I’ve got Baa Baa sticking needles in a cauliflower as I write.
Living in Sheffield knocks about 90 minutes off the trips to Durham, but it’s still a slog.
Particularly when your first target, a cafe in Shildon supposedly open till 14:30 turns out to be actually closed entirely till New Year’s Eve night.
Such is the tickers’ lot. They’d updated their Facebook, but only after I did my research.
Still, here’s the provisional highlights from Shildon;
I will buy you faggots and trip from Berts when I head back later this month.
Half an hour later we were in Beamish, the open air museum showing visitors what it was like in a time before colour, VAR and Imperial Sours.
Now, this is a stunningly varied bit of the world. A Heron Foods in Stanley that sold us an inedible Chinese chicken, steam trains, farmhouse B & Bs, and the poshest GBG entry I’ve ever been in jostle for attention.
The Shepherd & Shepherdess is just outside the Beamish Museum entrance,
tucked behind trees. I expect a Brunning & Price/Chef & Brewer style diner when I see a packed car park and statues of Duncan and Simon over the door,
but it’s an unexpectedly unmodernised place, serving the nearby campsite as much as the museum visitors. Apparently it’s been the hottest New Years Eve since dinosaurs drank Doom Bar in Durham, but I wouldn’t want to wild camp here in December.
The young staff were, as so often, lovely, and squeezed us in to the last table before turning away a succession of families.
Almost everything was £6.95, which wouldn’t buy you a pate on melba toast in Chobham. It was a bit like that unchanging pub diner serving up cheap grub to pensioners in Phileas Fogg land.
I’ll be honest, we were going spare as two portions of lambs liver took 45 minutes to arrive and there was no internet. How do marriages survive without internet when couples have to talk to each other. I was despatched to buy crisps (in date) after half an hour; it felt like an adventure.
A family across the way attempted to placate two hungry toddlers whose only response was the bleeping of their Nintendo DS.
When it did arrive, it was sensational trencherman fayre; gorgeously cooked lambs liver in an oozy onion stew.
I have no idea what trencherman fayre is, but you know what I mean.
We shared a half of a disappointing Wainwright and several cokes, and headed to Durham, Mrs RM turning down my invitation to walk round the open plan coal mine.