THE 2022 RETIRED MARTIN AWARDS ISSUE

As someone who treats every day as important as the next (except 22 December, obviously) you may be surprised I even recognise the end of the year as a thing.

But the Awards issue is a contractual obligation, and you know how seriously I treat my obligations, particularly to Patronised reader who can view the limited edition “scratch and sniff” version of this post by saying the magic word.

Sadly, the octopus legs in Malaga’s BYOKO, one my Top 10 meals ever, don’t really smell of anything.

That marvellous trip around Andalucía in March was our first trip abroad in 3 years, and at the time I wondered if these diversions from the One True Path of GBG ticking would scupper my Guide completion.

So I guess you assume that completing the Beer Guide on 10th September was the year’s highlight,

but it was actually surviving an ordeal by photography at the Shirkers Rest as I chatted travel with Will Hawkes in November. Congratulations again to Rii Schoer for actually getting a half smile out of me, something Mrs RM was amazed by.

Pubs visited in 2022 hit 877 yesterday, and beer quality was only below minimum standards half a dozen times. Perhaps I was just lucky.

The final push to GBG glory was exhausting. The July extract from Google Maps (by no means the whole picture) looks a little scary,

.

and if I never have to take a Vectis bus again I’ll be delighted, though to be fair the Isle of Wight redeemed itself a bit at the last.

But my highlights weren’t in England, or wherever East Cowes is.

UK place of the Year Haverfordwest (2021 – London, 2020 – Gloucester)

No, really. It was one of the nights of my life. Always great company, despite his insistence on a late night Spoons curry, Pubmeister joined me to celebrate the conquering of Wales.

with England completed the next day in glorious Swindon, where then young staff in the Hop Kettle were an example in friendliness and good service.

But beyond that Haverfordwest had the joy of discovering afresh a town I’d thought a bit drab, which now emerged resplendent in street art, and with the Farmer’s Arms a wonderful example of life outside the GBG.

Non-UK place of the Year – Tromso, Well, what can I say ?

I saw, live, two incredible sporting moments – The Rodri equaliser against Villa,

and the Bairstow assault on the last day of the Trent Bridge test.

Walk of the Year – the 10 steps to the front door of the Taversoe in Rousay.

Campervan Stop of the Year – Stornoway

Beer of the Year – Waterbeach Weisse, Pastore (2021 – Unicorn, 2020 – Bass). “I don’t like sours” says Mrs RM.

Pub of the Year – St Ola, Kirkwall (2021 – Blind Monkey, Sheffield. 2020- Hare & Hounds, Harlton)

An emotional choice, as we hit Orkney the night before the big day on Rousay, and the St Ola was a magical combination of drunken country music and a smart bistro, with yet another superb Scapa Special.

Runner-up is the uncategorisable Alder in Sheffield, yet another new bar in Kelham Island, and anyone attending the CAMRA AGM in April should pay a visit.

Which brings us to the key award of the night. Obviously I’d love to award it to Mrs RM for all her support over many years, but this blog deplores nepotism in all its forms.

Pub Man of the Year – James Taylor (2021 – Will aka Sheffield Hatter, 2020 – Curry Charles, 2019 – Joan Southworth)

Not only did he join me on the traditional pre-End of the Road pint in the Museum, but he was always willing to join me on a stretching walk around Sheffield and didn’t ask for tasters, which is a bonus.

He sets a high bar for 2023.

Driver of the Year – no award made.

Backseat driver(s) of the Year – Aberdeen Karen and Blackpool Jane (2021 – Baa Baa Toure)

Best song about driving – Reckless Driving by Lizzie McAlpine, for Five Seconds Flat, the record of the year.

Sausage Returner of the YearAberdeen Karen, Porter Brook, Sheffield

And that’s your lot. Thanks as always to Old Mudgie for the encouragement to start this blog, and thank you to the good folk of South Korea for making this post my most-read for a fifth successive year. But why ?

In 2022, the George at Piercebridge finally re-opened. I really ought to pay it a visit.

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