18th January 2023.

Nothing that exciting to report so far in January, certainly nothing to compare with Duncan, who’s just back from ticking Athens, or BRAPA, who’s just been to the Blind Monkey. Look ! Here’s his hand !

But a day in Birmingham had been eagerly anticipated, at least until I realised that the Digbeth brewery tap that I’d so looking forward to had the kind of opening hours (per their Facebook) that make tickers scream;

Sheffield to Birmingham by New Street by rail is only 76 minutes. I’d bought separate day returns for the Sheff-Derby and Derby-Brum elements to save myself a tenner (which is daft), but it did mean I had to jump off and back on at Derby apparently, which is even more daft.

For the record, the trains were packed with Scousers taking mini-breaks in Plymouth.

By complete coincidence it also took 76 minutes to get out of the wonderful New Street Station when I was last here.

Much easier now, due to a free App entitled “Get out of New Street” which plays “Keep Right On Till The End Of The Road” every time you go the wrong way and bump into a table.

76 seconds after leaving Platform 13 I was passing the fascia of the Trocadero, headed for the Good Intent.

Being a typical male, I always assume I know where I’m going even when I have no clue, and set off vaguely in the direction of Brum’s second station, somewhere near that ornate Fullers pub and the simple Cathedral.

It’s at this point I realise I’m really not going to just bump into the Good Intent, so loiter by the church to scour the GBG app for directions. Oh, It’s in the Great Western Shopping arcade.

Never heard of it. Rather lovely in a Harrogate Arcades sort of way, though most of the shops sell you don’t need.

Except the pub, of course.

Now my experience of Craddocks is limited and not exactly inspiring, their pub in Stourbridge being a triumph of form over substance, and I note there’s more hand pumps than customers.

What can I get you ?” I’m asked.

I have no idea” I say, having never heard of any of them and the clips saying little of style or strength.

How would YOU choose ?

But the service is pleasant, and I’m giving the Gold the benefit of the doubt at first sip, despite the handled jug.

Just under a fiver a pint, too. You’re not in Sheffield now, Tonto.

It’s quite pleasant, but cold, and a bit small (just one loo), and I don’t linger, despite the conversation opposite touching on “closet Anglicans” and the soundtrack being unexpectedly ’70s.

Just as I was finishing off, half a dozen beer tasters arrived. I’ve almost forgot what a half-pint tastes like.


  1. I’d narrow it down by avoiding the Spiced Rye Ale (not a real beer surely!), and anything over 5%, which would still leave a bewildering choice of [counts on fingers]… 17 mystery beer styles. There’s always The Colmore…


  2. It’s not small – there’s an upstairs! As you would know if you read Pubs Galore instead of that Good Beer Guide you lug around with you.

    At least four of the reviews mention the upstairs, including Real Ale Ray: “A staircase positioned on the left hand wall leading up to a most impressive semi circular lounge with glass panelling along the front, hosting a decent view of the Arcade below.”

    That could have made a pretty impressive photo.

    You didn’t really get off the train at Derby, did you. That was just a joke.


  3. The Trocadero might have been Birmingham’s gay pub fifty years ago ( except that it meant ‘light-hearted and carefree’ back then ).


      1. Etu,
        Those garish pumpclips would have put me off the beer even if I didn’t know how citrussy i is.


  4. Apparently once you’ve been through New Street about a hundred times the layout starts to become a little clearer.

    You really don’t have to physically get off the train and on again – all that’s necessary is that the train stops at the break of journey point. But I’m sure you knew that 😀


    1. Someone did tell me that (probably Will) but I didn’t believe them. That said, I always thought that you were allowed to break your journey on any ticket apart from an advance fare with specified times but the ticket inspector on the Northern train made me believe it was a risk I took when get off at Rotherham recently.


      1. I’ve tried numerous times to post a witty and informative response (you know me!) but the Word Press version of Big Brother keeps on telling me I’ve already said that. Except that I haven’t, because each time I post it it tells me I’ve already said that. Except that I haven’t.


    2. T’other Mudgie,
      I mentioned a couple of years ago – use the B half of New Street’s platforms and it’s straight forward enough, use the A half and it’s confusing.


  5. Try again:

    I think there were stories of train managers making people get off and back on if they had split tickets when this was first catching on, but I’m inclined to think they were apocryphal.

    You can get off and catch a later train if you have a regular single or return, but if you get off before the destination while holding an advance ticket it won’t be valid for getting back on again. So with regular day returns SHF-DBY and DBY-BHM, you could actually stay on the train at Derby but get off at Burton, then back on to Birmingham. Then on the way back, get off at Tamworth but stay on at Derby. Ain’t it marvellous? (It almost makes you think that driving is a better option.)

    But if you book a series of advance tickets you would have to *plan* stops along the way, and missing one of your trains could set the whole day off kilter. But sometimes your advance ticket *will* allow breaks – for example, I’m going to Goring in Berkshire this week and my advance ticket from Sheffield to St Pancras is on a specific train. But after using my train ticket on the underground to Paddington (!) I can catch *any* train to Goring, so will stop in the area near Paddington and do a couple of pubs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, that was fine except it’s in the wrong place on the thread. Looks like I chose the wrong day to give up drinking.



    2. “stop in the area near Paddington and do a couple of pubs”. I mainly used the unique Victoria on Streathearn Place on my way to Penzance, Bristol and Bath a few years ago.


      1. Yes, the Victoria will be one, Paul. The other is the Bear, even nearer to the station, that was mentioned by someone on Discourse the other day.

        And in Streatley I’ll be staying at the hostel of course, and popping in the two you mention in Goring. The Catherine Wheel was in the very first Good Beer Guide as of course you must know. The last time I was in the John Barleycorn I got soaked by a cloudburst and put my train tickets to dry on the radiator and completely forgot about them. Had to fork out nearly £40 to get home next day!


    3. I remember the Catherine Wheel and the John Barleycorn being proper Brakspears pubs when I stayed in Streatley across the river but that was in 1994.


      1. Yes, the Victoria with its spectacular early fittings is unmissable for me. I also tend to get in the Monkey Puzzle and, in sight of the monitor, the Mad Bishop and Bear.
        Staying at Streatley YH all those years ago one of my party, a lass resident in Cumbria, couldn’t understand why we had to go all the way across the river to the pubs. My first Brakspears was at the Rising Sun in reading on 18th June 1974 and I stayed at Henley on Thames YH that night.


    4. And if a previous advance ticket sees a train gets delayed, your other advances are still valid on later trains. Just keep hold of them all (don’t use in automatic barriers or pass to a security goon).

      Delay Repay still applies to the whole journey.

      Liked by 1 person

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