Look who we met today !

Yes, it’s Colin the Cauliflower (in back pack) and his “friend” Simon. What a joy to bump unexpectedly into BRAPA when you’re minding your own business in Kent.

Simon and I compared progress on our respective blog; BRAPA will report to you in December, my post in December (’23).

Tonight Mrs RM popped out to “Owners Night” at Rye Holiday Park. I wasn’t allowed to come because it was “smart dress”. She’s just sent me a pic,

and a message saying “You’d hate it. No free booze, only cake. Back soon“.

So I’ll press on with the Good Beer Guide countdown.

9th September 2022Kirkwall, Orkney

The highlight of the year, the decade, the century. A night out in the unofficial “capital” of Orkney, the night that ended with only one GBG pub left to tick.

It had all gone to plan so far; Wick, John O’ Groats, Stromness all open and ferries running to plan.

Mrs RM had phoned the Taversoe twice that day to confirm they’d be open on Saturday; neither of us was convinced but there was little we could do about it.

We booked into the ambitiously priced West End Guest House; the promised bar never materialised,

but it’s clearly a building with history.

Kirkwall (pop. 9,293) seemed charming as we set off at 5pm. If the local tourist office are in need of a slogan I offer “Better than Stornoway. And Carluke”.

Lovely angular buildings, a stately cathedral of St Magnus that we never made it to,

and a shop selling Pub Ticker mascots.

Kirkwall gets visited by giant cruise ships; there were two in the harbour when we reached the pubs. I reckon they’re all taken on guided tours of the distilleries and the standing stones, but the pubs (nearly all in the GBG) were packed,

Now, here’s the rub. FIVE (5) Guide pubs mere yards apart. You could probably have a pint in all five in 20 minutes if you were Bob Hawke.

But would they all be open. You see, what with the Queen dying and Covid and lack of staff, I felt that any of them might close at any minute. So the plan was, let’s pop our head round the door and asked when they were closing, then work backwards.

So Mrs RM nipped in the (1) Auld Motor Hoose, got the shout “We shut at 1am” and we moved on.

Our plan lasted 40 seconds, the scaffolding at (2) the Ayre Hotel somehow suggesting a quick pint here was a good idea in case, in case something.

Now it’s hard to write about the Ayre, but this guy was a cheery gem, a candidate for Bar Person of the Year if there was such an award.

You see, the lone cask (Scapa Special, as always) was about to expire, and there was no more due to supply problems.

You can have that last pint for free” he said.

It took him so long to pull it I was minded to send Mrs RM onward to check when the St Ola was closing.

About two-thirds of undrinkable froth emerged, a lady sneezed (twice), a dog was scared (by the sneeze).

Mrs RM told the barman about the Ayre being in the Good Beer Guide. He’d never heard of it.

NB When I go back to Kirkwall, and I surely will, I’ll head here first.


  1. To my great shame, I haven’t yet set foot inside the re-opened Little Gem. It was a favourite, when I lived in Maidstone (early 1980’s), and now that Goachers are running it, following its rescue from near dereliction, it’s been on my list for ages.

    I’d be interested to read your thoughts on it, although I suspect Simon may get his online, first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You must go -the refurb is excellent & the upstairs area has hardly changed -we used to go in a lot in the late 90’s -for a while there was a free flying parrot which was fun ! The seats outside are good to catch a bit of sun in the summer & to watch the comings & goings at the shop next door.My husband always says the beer is good

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I certainly will visit the Little Gem Pauline, especially as Goacher’s now are running the place. It’s just a question of when.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Simon’s blog post will beat mine by months. I asked the chap on the next table about the Little Gem and was surprised it had been a proper pub, as it’s never made the GBG till now. It’s a corker.


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