Funny how so many days out start in Leeds City Station Wetherspoon’s which was pleasantly busy at just after eleven on a Saturday morning. Two of our little group had started even earlier in Wetherspoon’s Three Hulats in Chapel Allerton with an extra large breakfast. They swore blind they’d only had tea and coffee too!
I’d been looking forward to my trip to Hebden Bridge for quite a while, I really enjoyed my day out there at Calderdale Beer Festival back in September and the handy pamphlet I’d picked up, complete with map and short description of all fourteen town centre pubs (all within half a mile radius), was the ideal basis for a proper day out.
Thing was I’d been warned not to be seen with it as they had to withdraw the publication following a complaint. I’m fully aware of the details and I’m not going to meddle in someone else’s politics, but really?
Anyhow, I’d forgotten saying ‘you’ll have to come and show us around’ to the author of the Hebden pub guide when I was in Whitelock’s a few weeks ago. That was until I got off the train at Hebden and Andy was stood waiting for us on the platform. Following a quick round of introductions; ‘Andy, Neil.’ ‘Sarah, Andy.’ ‘Andy, Al.’ ‘Tom, Andy.’ ‘You’ve met Cheryl before’, we’re on our way.
The last time I was here I walked down the busy main road which is probably the worst feature of the small town. Andy took us the scenic route through a park and along the canal bank, a route we wouldn’t have found if left to our own devices. To be fair, I can’t say enough about Andy who I’ve met a few times now but still don’t know his surname.
What I do know is that he’s a retired train driver, half English, half Scottish, who lives in Hebden and is a very active Calderdale CAMRA branch member. He has a lovely wife, who joined us and everyone, I mean everyone, knows him in Hebden Bridge. He also knows a lot of local history; I never knew there was actually a Hebden bridge. As the day enfolded, it was really cool to have an obvious local celebrity as what effectively was our own personal tour guide. Thing was he ended up being more than that and after twenty minutes he’d become a fully paid up member of the group.
I’m going to leave the pubs for separate posts, suffice to say they were all good and quite a few were unbelievably good. If you’ve never been to Hebden then I suggest you rectify this immediately. There’s the very best of traditional boozers, micros, bottle shops with an on-licence and cutting edge brewery tap houses. Seriously it’s brilliant and there’s a train from Leeds or Manchester, you don’t have to walk more than a couple of minutes from pub to pub and the beer is first rate. I was surprised they only have three GBG pubs. More on that later too.
The first port of call was the Fox and Goose, where Andy went and talked to some well known Huddersfield CAMRA members. Now if you are a regular follower of my blog you may recall the grumpy old man and the shopping bag incident in Mallinson’s, The Corner in Huddersfield. You can well imagine my surprise when I visited the lav, only to pass said grumpy old man and lady from The Corner engaged in conversation with Andy.
‘You won’t believe who he’s talking to in there?’ I said to Mrs C.
‘You’re joking.’ she replied.
Anyway Andy soon returned and we were on our way to Drink? Drink with a question mark. Turned out I knew the owner and while we were chatting I saw the grumpy old man from Huddersfield waving my coat around saying, ‘Whose is this?’
Mrs C took care of my coat and he sat down on my, fashioned from a key-keg, buffet. Deja vu, or what? I thought Andy was quite diplomatic because he introduced us saying, ‘Have you met Pete and Jane before Richard?’
I cautiously dribbled the facts out. They started to remember the Cornergate incident. I don’t know why, but I foolishly disclosed the existence of the above photograph on my blogsite. Thankfully this met with definite approval and further exploration of the written facts on my phone.
When Pete asked from his fireside seat, ‘Who’s this grumpy old beggar? Is it me?’ I feared that was the last I’d see of my phone. But, no. He just laughed. Same with the Last of The Summer Wine references.
Now I’m fairly thick skinned, but I was more than a little apprehensive at any potential response. Mostly because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I needn’t have worried.
‘Spot on lad is that. Brilliant.’ Pete reckoned. Jane likewise and she couldn’t wait to tell her mate Pam (Brooke) who’s also in the original photograph.
Turned out that Jane (Hallam) and Pete (Connoly) are absolutely brilliant people. Pete being a self confessed grumpy beggar! They’re also committed beer drinkers and long time CAMRA members who travel all over, including fifteen continuously unbroken years at GBBF. Just to prove how nice they were we had a round of smiley photos, including one with ‘the’ shopping bag which had started the whole saga. I’m sure I will meet up with these kind folk again sometime in the future and I look forward to it. You couldn’t make it up though could you.
The rest of the day continued in this vein, meeting some more lovely people and drinking some excellent beer. You’ll have to tune in for the rest of the posts to find out more.