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Striding Edges It in Hebden Bridge....

It was the local CAMRA beer festival in Hebden Bridge last weekend, so naturally I went along to check it out along with a number of other special beer-related events that were taking place in the town....

I had a frustrating start last Friday. For one reason or another, I got myself behind schedule. Then I discovered that somehow the settings on my phone's camera had gone all weird, so I was faffing about trying to sort them out(which I eventually did). Then I stood watching as I mistakenly thought the incoming train at Halifax station was Huddersfield-bound rather than going through Hebden Bridge (which it was), resulting in a wasted half hour hanging around on the platform till the next train came along. Still, I was able to take advantage of the the sun beating down, belying the fact we were in the dying days of September.

I finally arrived at Hebden Bridge, where I decided to have a quick pint at Vocation and Co. The board behind the bar was dominated by Northern Monk, and it…
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Seven Stars For Bristol....

An excellent few days in the city of Brunel and Banksy, a most fascinating, vibrant, and welcoming place for a visit....


A tortoiseshell cat greeted me as I walked into the pub. I went up to the bar and ordered a half of Forzai, from North Wales brewers, Heavy Industry. As I handed over my money, the cat was at my feet, purring. And as I went over to grab a stool, it beat me to it, but then vacated it quickly so I could sit down. I sat down, looked around, and I realised it wasn't the same cat. They were everywhere. There was one in a basket by the window. There was one on the bar. They were under tables, perched beside customers. There was also a load of house rules for on the chalkboard, peppered with some pretty colourful language! I was in the Bag O'Nails, a quirky traditional pub at the bottom of a steep road in the Hotwells area of Bristol. Love's 'Forever Changes' was on the turntable. Andmoreagain. A kitten skidded in from the back. The atmosphere was fanta…

The Good Book Rules....

It's that time of year again....

Every September, there builds up a great and eager sense of anticipation in some circles as the new Good Beer Guide release date approaches. To many though, this feverish excitement felt by these people completely escapes them as their lives carry on as normal, blissfully unaware that to some the publication of this guide is more eagerly awaited than Christmas, or the birth of a new child, or the release of the new season's football fixtures.

It is a time when hopes can be realised, dreams shattered, or years of hard work called into question. Pages are eagerly-turned, favourites sought out to see that they have made the cut. And likewise they are scoured for those places that are now in, maybe a favourite, maybe one you would vehemently oppose.

For some, whose life's work is to complete every pub in the beer guide, it is the start of a year to plan. More gaps to fill in, more trips across the length and breadth of the country, maybe includ…

The Abbey Shines As The Crow Cries....

A first visit to one of Leeds' most rural pubs, followed by a re-arranged gig from one of the best of the new wave of bands coming out of South London....

With there being another Saturday of industrial action affecting Northern Rail, I had no option other than to drive over to Leeds for the evening's re-arranged gig at the Brudenell Social Club from rising Sarf Landon indie band, Goat Girl, whose original date back in April had been postponed due to drummer Rosy having had an accident hours before they were due on stage.

So on the way I decided to visit one of the pubs in the Leeds area that I had not visited before. I thumbed through the Good Beer Guide and spotted the Abbey Inn at Newlay, which was only a mile or two away from the Brudenell. The pub is situated at the end of Pollard Lane, about a mile off the B6157, as it runs through the west Leeds suburb of Bramley. Pollard Lane starts off with houses on both sides, but then open country appears as you drop down into the …

Nail My Feet to The Heart of the Town....

A weekend of great music, along with a tour taking in some excellent pubs and interesting beers in one of West Yorkshire's best drinking towns....

One of my favourite albums of 2017 was 'Youth Detention' by the wonderfully-named Lee Bains lll and The Glory Fires, a band out of Birmingham, Alabama. I hadn't heard them on the radio, but I liked the sound of them from a review I read about the album. A few weeks later, I was in Newcastle, and I picked up a copy of the album from HMV in the Intu Shopping Complex. I was heading up north to the coast, so when I set off I put the CD on in the car. From the first ringing note, I was hooked. As I drove through the northern suburbs of the city, the opening tracks blasted out, a wall of feedback-enriched driving Southern rock performed with a raw passion and sheer energy I'd not heard all year. By the time I hit the A1, I had turned the volume up several times, and by the time I pulled into the car park at Low Newton-by-the-se…

IndyFax 2018: Hitting the Heights....

A brilliant weekend in Halifax, as the Indyfax Festival and some quality music give the town an August Bank Holiday to remember....


The IndyFax festival was born a year or two ago at the Victorian Craft Beer Cafe in Halifax, but over the past couple of years has also embraced several of the other new bars that have opened in town - The Grayston Unity, Pump Room, and the Alexandra/Lantern. And from Thursday 23rd until Bank Holiday Monday there were some fantastic beers and special events in these venues and beyond.

I had my first visit on the Friday, when I popped into the Grayston before wandering down to Square Chapel to see This Is The Kit. Now Square wasn't actually part of the event, but as usual they had some pretty decent beer on, I managed to sample a nice Little Rock IPA from Harbour, and the best beer I have ever had from Seven Brothers, a fruity beer called Peach, which was delicious. This Is The Kit were very good, probably slightly better than when I had seen them earl…

The Crossroads and The Northern Thirst....

After a gap of at least 40 years, a re-visit to a pub on the hills, which set me off thinking. Here's the results....

Last Sunday, a family lunch was convened at the Crossroads Inn at Wainstalls, high on the hills beyond Halifax. It is a sturdy, solid-looking pub and needs to be to keep out the weather that comes in from each and every direction in this lofty location. It was the first time I had been there for well over 40 years, back when a former schoolmate who had discovered real ale in his first term at Loughborough University was keen to try every pub in the Halifax and Calderdale area when he got back home, and dragged a few of us along the way. Not quite up there with those intrepid travellers* who roam the country with a military precision in their quest to visit every CAMRA pub there is, but it was a local equivalent, and did set me off on the journey of appreciating the rich heritage and incredible variety that there is out there!

Back then, the Crossroads was a Webster…