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May Review

Greetings from another damp squib of a pub ticking month, absolutely no surprise to learn I have achieved a grand total of zero pubs for the month of May, and quite frankly, there'd be more of an inquest if I was telling you I'd snuck in an unexpected cheeky one somewhere, probably Barnard Castle eh? (LOOK at me trying to be topical).

Yes, as I glanced out of my window on this sunny morn as spring strides confidently towards summer , I saw a baby Blue Tit pecking at something furiously. It was an acorn, almost half the size of our hapless feathered friend. I'm not sure what the silly little bird was trying to achieve, but after five minutes of pecking, getting absolutely nowhere, a grey squirrel with the face of Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty, emerges, banzai style, from a nearby shrub. The bird hesitates for a second, and in an instant, gone are both acorn and squirrel.

Now that never actually happened, but if it had, it would have been the near perfect analogy for my impact on the Good Beer Guide at present, I'm the Tit obviously. Someone on here once described my humour as 'laboured at times'. I can't think why.

So when to the next pub then? I was hearing July 4th as the absolute earliest, but now a few whispers of late June (or did I just dream this?), let's just say I'll still be surprised if I'm sat here at the end of June telling you about all manner of pubs I've visited. And quite frankly, part of me is dreading hopping back on public transport to get to such places. Can't the pubs come to me? Six at a time? That's the rules right?

Today should have marked the beginning of my epic two week Nottinghamshire pub ticking holiday. I should be waiting for a bus that isn't showing up in somewhere like Blyth or Lound right about now. Best to push such thoughts firmly to the back of mind!

Most people are missing the pub, same as me, they claim when I ask them. But then they usually spoil it by saying "oooh yes, it would be lovely to be sat in a BEER GARDEN right now!" But I'm missing the cool musty bowels of the pub interior, where everyone is pale and interesting, and your ale is just a couple of degrees colder than your blood, and a hiking couple with a dog come in and invade your space but get away with it by chirping 'hello, lovely day!' as they sit down, his identikit navy Superdry cagoule brushing my leg, just enough to set my teeth on edge.

Grey Horse in Consett, exactly the type of pub I'm missing

Brassica'd Off

But it isn't all doom bar and gloom bar, I've been working 'effortlessly' behind the scenes so 'when we do come back, we come back stronger' as optimistic people keeping saying.

And I can exclusively reveal the new mascot, replacing Cockermouth's adopted son Martin the Owl, is Colin Cauliflower. It was between him and Alex Apple, but Twitter was unanimous in their love for the slightly more peculiar Cauli.

Colin and Alex, at their 'interview'

'Are you seriously telling me you'll get this out of your bag and put it on a table in a pub like the Cheshire Ring in Hyde?' asked disbelieving Stockport beer guru John Clarke. Yes John, I am.

And on a totally unrelated note, as soon as my new baking dish arrives, I'm going to be making an apple crumble.

Merch and Refocus

With more money than sense at the moment due to lack of extortionate train tickets, Greggs meal deals and overpriced Travelodges, I've spent near on £150 on BRAPA 'merch'. Badges, stickers, beermats, keyrings, bags, you name it, all the usual tat, which I can leave in pubs to 'intrigue' people, bit less pretentious than a calling card.

Funny how a bit of time off gives you chance to refocus and hone your goals a bit isn't it? One example, reading back through old blogs circa 2014-15 has made me realise how I used to just take one photo outside, and one inside, whereas more recently I've been taking like 5 or 6 of the interior! I'm going to get away from that, as I've realised it makes me anxious when I enter a pub to 'get a good photo' which sometimes detracts from my enjoyment of the pub and ability to live in the moment. Just the kind of little detail which I suspect wouldn't have occurred to me if it wasn't for this lockdown.


Finally, and skip this bit if you're just here for the pubs (or lack thereof), but I've been trying to find novel ways of amusing myself during lockdown.

SADCASE (Si's Ale and Dice Cleaning Adventure Social Exclusion) has been 'fun', picking an ale using a roll of dice, and cleaning something whilst drinking it, but it's come to end, yes sorry, I can hear your wails of despair, but am trying something new, starting tomorrow, again using dice ......

A typical SADCASE shot

Yes, WWWSi (Wine, Westerns, Wotsits, Stayin' In) is my chance as someone who hardly ever watches films to get stuck into a genre that really speaks to me, Westerns (I don't know why, might be a BRAPA walking into a one horse town with tumbleweed blowing around kind of thing, lots of bar scenes), enjoyed with a wine (cos beer doesn't begin with a 'W') The rules are I roll a dice to see how many bags of cheesy Wotsits I consume whilst watching/drinking, whilst the film will also be randomly selected using two dice rolls using the list of 'Top 100 Westerns' on the Rotten Tomatoes website (there's only 79 of them). Thrilling stuff eh? Think this lockdown might be getting to me.

'Andy' - integral in WWWSi planning

Take care, stay alert and all that jazz, 'til we meet again,