Wednesday 5th August 2020, 4.35pm (day 3,268)
An innovative approach to keeping oneself, one’s beer and one’s smoking materials free from moisture. The weather could not decide what to do this afternoon.
The square reflected in the roundel, these posts standing outside the Shoulder of Mutton pub, happily reopened, after not just the c*r***v**** crap but the floods of Feb 9th as well. You see, we need economic activity here. Which is why this new ‘local lockdown’ has had no discernible effect at all.
This is a kind-of self-portrait: look closely enough into the mirror and I’m there in the background.
Now the pubs have reopened, dogs are once again obliged to spend their Sundays wondering why their owners are not letting them just clamber over everyone else in the beer garden. This one has given up on it all, and decided just to keep a close eye on the piece of litter: before it dozed off, anyway.
It has been 105 days (March 21st) since I was last in a pub, and 6 more since the last time one featured on here.
But they’re back open. So a pint was duly raised in the Bay Horse, Oxenhope, Yorkshire, to celebrate this fact. And celebration it was: anyone about to come back with messages of doom and gloom in response, please don’t.
Having finally arrived, at least to some degree, winter sustains its grip. I was not in this pub (the Old Gate) at just after noon, I can assure you — but I took advantage of the shelter offered by its outside awnings as another revolting hail storm swept by. While there, I mused on what a too-literal interpretation of the sign might indicate: a dry world beyond the present one? Hmmm.
This picture is out of focus, yes — but it is as good a portrait as I can offer of this particular friend, on this day. I have had a run of portraits recently, but the weather is so crappy outside that it seems best to concentrate on things close to hand.
A night out, in the company of (for a change) Joe, who wanted to see one of his former schoolmates, Isaac Hughes-Dennis, perform his songs in the Fox & Goose pub. And well worth the walk it was. I am no great judger of musical talent (if I was, I’d be richer) but it has to be said that for a 17 year old he sure knows how to do his thing. Raw material still but he could make it. If he does, we in Hebden saw him first.
Stalybridge railway station’s buffet bar is perfectly preserved in its early 20th-century state, with no sense of tweeness or fakery: it is also provides the best beer for miles around. As a result of both these things it is locally, and perhaps even nationally, famous. You will not find a better pub at a railway station anywhere else that I know of.
Which means you can experience the best of Stalybridge without ever leaving platform 4 of its station, because it’s not really a place one wants to get to know better. Trust me.