Covid Drinking Dens – 4


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!”


Cheers, Dave!

Covid Drinking Dens – 3


‘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!


Covid Drinking Dens 2


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.

Covid Drinking Dens 1


I had been trying to keep getting outside, to do a little exercise. I had to keep painting. I had to keep on going. Nobody was finding lockdown easy, but I hadn’t realised how much I relied upon the social aspect of drinking. I missed the pub.

I had been on the shore at the far end of the promenade, just before you reach Heysham village. The weather wasn’t great, but it was dry, and so I mustered the energy to do a couple of quick paintings.

A man I didn’t know, but knew from pubs, was hovering by the railings. He recognised me from pubs, but he didn’t know me. He asked if I was painting, Well, duh. We talked about drinking. We were both missing pubs. Properly accessed pubs. Not sanitised drinking shops. Not places for the tee-total, middle-aged, masculine to prance. Not doggy day-fucking-care. Pubs with beer, noise, and heat.

He wants to know what I was doing now. Nothing, why? A mate of his was having a quiet get together. A few mates, a few beers. Why not come along? Okay.

It was just a back room that opened out to a secluded backyard. Tall swaying bamboo keeping the neighbours out, the tides coming in.

Now, the beer was okay, some supermarket IPA. However, the talk was about an old electricity sub-station at the back of the cliffs, which was going to be turned into a Micropub. At least before lockdown. There used to be a fair ground and other amusements on the cliffs, and the building had provided power for the attractions. They had long gone, and the sub-station was decommissioned just before the new estate had been built, but it was cheaper to build a new one than renovate the old workings. Now it was going to have a new life.

Apparently ‘Dave’ had the keys, and was having a do on Saturday afternoon. The forecast was terrible. It would be quiet up there. There was a cask available, but bring some bottles and we’ll have a share.


Keep it quiet, though.