May 2023.

You left me in prime Woolyback country, between Newton-le-Willows and Golborne (what ? where ? asks 99% of the population), pondering on the connection between Shakin’ Stevens and Carol Decker.

Congratulations to Mr Paul Bailey from Tonbridge, who correctly worked out Shaky beat Carol on the TV show, Hit Me, Baby, One More Time in the closest contest since this year’s race for the Premier League (well done, City, and Forest).

Paul has asked that his prize of a pint of Doom Bar is donated to a nominated charity, and I nominate the Society of Independent Brewers Association (SIBA) who will no doubt appreciate a properly brewed pint.

My walk continued past the world-famous display of pink marshmallows at Grange Farm,

and then taking the western edge of Golborne to Slag Lane in Lowton.

Slag Lane is where Katie White grew up.

Katie has as many UK Number Ones as Carol Decker, interestingly.

And Lowton has more GBG entries this year than Katie or Carol; the foody genteel Traveller’s Rest and the rather brilliant Rams Head (some bloke from Leigh stole the apostrophe).

What can I get you my love ?” asks the landlady as I emerge into this cathedral of Proper Pubbiness; bench seating, darts trophies, “Bargain Hunt” on TV and all.

Well, there’s only one handpump (is plenty etc etc) so that’ll do.

It’s a little unexpected to see a beer from Porthmadog as the lone cask but I guess I’d caught a Welsh Railways train to Newton so it all makes sense.

Even in that weird Greene King bumpy glass it’s gorgeous, a cool and chewy NBSS 3.5.

I bet there’s loads of conversations in the Bulls Head about beer being “cool and chewy”. Actually, they’re largely about the Coronation and teatime, which is as it should be.

It’s a happy place, it really is, and yet another reminder that the Good Beer Guide is about good beer. The latest GBG is an absolute joy, with loads of unfussy boozers like this, as well as the odd micro or brewery tap.

By the end of the pint (and I noticed I was drinking far quicker than the rest of the pub) I thought that Purple Moose was even better, the taste staying on the tongue as I turned to colour in my map.

Coloured in rather beautifully, I feel.

Thank you lovely“, called the landlady.


  1. They can put up all the flags in the world. But if the only customers are a husband sloping off for a sly pint with wifey’s poochs, and a once every 20 years pub ticker, then they are doomed.


  2. I think I was well into my sixties before anyone called me “lovely”, and yet here you are, still in your fifties (unless I’ve missed yet another December 22nd). Not just on entering the pub, but leaving it too.

    Perhaps I’d just been going into all the wrong pubs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s when they call you “young man” you don’t know whether they’re trying to flatter you, or taking the piss!

      I’d like to think that the former applies, although I have my doubts!


      1. “you don’t know whether they’re trying to flatter you, or taking the piss”.
        Yes, likewise with “Sweetie”.


  3. Yes, this one’s an unexpected gem, although you do have to wonder whether it would have got anywhere near without “rotating guest ales”. Rather like the Wheatsheaf in Coppull in that respect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Wheatsheaf in Coppull is exactly the sort of pub I was thinking of when mentioning the surprising number of “Proper Pubs” (you know what I mean) in the GBG recently.


      1. Quite a lot of micros haven’t lasted long in the Guide, notably in their spiritual home of Thanet. In fairness, I reckon beer quality in micros has actually gone up in recent years as they move away from hard core ale drinkers to a more varied small pub model.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I was passing a couple of months ago and had to pop in, it was packed on a Saturday evening as most pubs in that area are at weekends. I like a proper pub but wasn’t impressed, I gave a low score and don’t think it will survive in the GBG24.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wasn’t impressed by the beer quality or the pub itself, the beer quality may have been affected by the death of the cellarman which I wasn’t aware of.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Fancy me winning the Carol Decker – Shakin’ Stevens trivia contest. I shall have to treat myself to a proper pint of beer, in lieu of the Doom Bar.

    btw. What happened to the Ting Tings, as I don’t remember that track reaching the hot spot.


      1. Oddly I thought “hot spot” was a perfect alternative word for Number One. Straight in at No.1 fifteen years ago, Paul. I remember the song well but I think everyone had stopped following the charts by then.


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