Got a ‘phone call from Dave this morning. He’s got a cask of something red and hoppy from the local brewery. I can’t stay long, I want to get back for the rugby.
There’s a barn in one of the fields by the green lane that winds muddily from the canal, down to the railway track. On the walk there, behind Happy Mount Park and alongside the back of the golf club, I notice a small concrete shed amongst the trees that crown the hill. A possible drinking den?
I’m just finishing my painting, when Dave arrives with a load of his friends. We access the barn, and there’s the cask; it’s covered in old, wet, Fuller’s London Pride bar towels.
“We better not be drinking that shite!” says one of Dave’s mates.
We nod, and guffaw in a Northern accent.
I have a couple of pints, and chat with Dave about where we’re going next. He winks at me,
“I’ll give you a ring, Monday morning!”
‘And all her paints are dry…’
Well mine aren’t. I was listening to Jane’s Addiction on my phone, thinking about the drizzle. It was barely more than damp air, but it was waiting, waiting for me to get my sketchbook out. Today’s drinking den was the old Bubbles toilets. The promenade entrance doors were caged and inaccessible, but the lower level access hid two large store rooms. One would make a perfect cellar, the other perhaps a small kitchen, and toilets? I was post-covid pub thinking. The installation of a spiral staircase behind the fictional bar would join the upper and lower halves. Split at the bottom like a mermaid tail.
I take a chance on the weather and complete a small painting of the upper level of the old toilets. The installation of windows would at least get rid of that mural.
Dave and the others arrive about two o’clock, and we prize the lock away from the crumbling brick, opening the large metal door. Inside is a council workshop, rusting cans of WD40 cover the sideboard. We push them to the far corner and our bottles and cans take their place.
There’s Harbour Brewing, Northern Monk, a few different BrewDogs. We start with a four pack of draught Guinness. Smooth, easy drinking, head-ache inducing draught Guinness. Next a BrewDog Overworks sour to awaken the senses, harbour Big Wednesday IPA, I’ve got a container of cask Tinderbox from Fell, and Northern Monk Norse Star Impy Stout. Thornbridge North Bridge is shared out, then a Vault City Honeyberry Sour. We finish with a Stars & Stripes from Northern Monk; it’s okay. Needs more jam, needs more peanut butter. I’m left thinking about that bottle of Yellow Belly on the top of the till in the Little Bare. Ah well!
The weather was not as bad as forecast, so I did a quick painting of the sub-station, with St Patrick’s Chapel in the background. I drank a couple of cans of Kirkstall Perpetuous whilst waiting for the others to arrive. Only six as it turned out.
Dave arrived and let us in. He was carrying a couple of lanterns, and the dim light they offered barely illuminated the available space in the stone hut. Ironically, despite the lack of power, the majority of that space was taken up by the large and sadly defunct transformer.
A pin of the local brewery’s Pale Ale lay on a small table, covered in a few wet beer cloths. Dave had tapped the thing the day before, and we quickly drew a pint each.
It was cold, damp, and dark in the hut, but it was the first accompanied cask pint we’d had for a couple of months. That first pint was delicious. The second was judge-able, but it somehow didn’t feel right to do so. Yes, it needed a more flavoursome hop, with a bitterer finish, but it was perfectly drinkable! Pint number three had us grumbling a bit; damp and cramped, we wanted some variety. Wasn’t it great to have someone to moan to, to have invented non-problem, problems! Where next?
I suggested having a small midweek meet-up at the old Bubbles toilet building. I had noticed the loose lock on the door, and had a sneaky peak. All the innards had been removed, and there was ample space inside, but sadly no windows. Can’t see out, but can’t see in!
Bring some cans next time.