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Hillhouse Blues....

A return to a pub I have not visited for a while, plus an enjoyable evening in the company of a fellow blogger....
Slubbers Arms, Huddersfield....
I was in Huddersfield the other day. A friend who is a Huddersfield Town season ticket holder was unable to go to their home game against Manchester City, and had kindly lent his ticket to me. It was the early Sunday afternoon kick off at 1.30, so I decided I would head over early and check out the Slubbers Arms in Hillhouse, which like the Shoulder of Mutton across town in Lockwood, was a Good Beer Guide stalwart for many years. Neither had been in for a number of years, but the Slubbers is back in for the 2019 edition. It bears an unusual name, and whilst I am not sure exactly which is right, it is almost certainly taken from the textile industry which has traditionally been a major employer in these parts. One view is that it is taken from the name of the job whereby bobbins were removed from the spindles in the mills, but another view is that with the word 'slubber' meaning to stain or daub, it could be alternative name for a dyer. If anyone knows for certain, please let me know!

I got the bus over from Brighouse, timing my arrival to coincide as near as possible with a likely 12 O'clock opening time(according to the good book it actually opens at 2 on a Sunday), although the number of people, many in the blue and white colours of Huddersfield Town, and the amount of half full pints as I squeezed my way through to the bar suggested it had opened up even earlier for the match.
Pre-match throng at the Slubbers....
The Slubbers is situated on Halifax Old Road, just off Bradford Road in Hillhouse, not far from the Magic Rock Brewery and Tap, and the former Ben Shaws soft drinks plant on Willow Lane. It is a striking building, flat-iron shaped, situated on a corner just as the road starts to rise. Inside, it is surprisingly large, even tardis-like, rambling over several rooms as it takes up some of the adjoining terraces. There is an elongated horseshoe bar sporting 6 handpumps, 3 from Taylors(it is a former Timothy Taylor tied house), plus 3 guests. There was also another small bar near the entrance which I presume is only used on match days. I purchased a pint of Boltmaker and retreated to a corner by the door. There was a cheerful atmosphere, the beer was good - great value at £3.10, the service efficient, polite, and friendly. Pie and Peas were on sale for those who didn't want to spend £3.50 on a pie(with no peas) at the ground.

I enjoyed my first visit to the Slubbers for a number of years. It is a traditional, friendly locals' pub, and with the growth in micro pubs and stylish modern bars with modern-style beers, it is easy sometimes to overlook the fact that places like this still form a major part of the pub network of the country. Although not all are as good as the Slubbers. Whatever its name means....

I joined the snake of blue and white fans heading to the J%&n $m!ths Stadium. It was the first time I had been there to watch football, although back in the 70's I used to go with my brother sometimes to the old Leeds Road stadium when Huddersfield were last in the top flight and Halifax Town were away. It was the first time I had watched a game not involving the Shaymen for a while, and for once I could go to a game and relax and not get stressed about the result. It is though a bit like being in a parallel universe; so many things are the same, the fans shout and cheers the same things, moan about the ref, moan about the opposition, but it's not quite the same when you are pretty much a neutral. The atmosphere was good though, and it was the first match Huddersfield had played since the much-loved manager David Wagner had left by mutual consent, having been unable to maintain the momentum this season which had gained them promotion in 2016-17 and kept them in the Premiership last season. But so well is he thought of that a farewell message from Wagner was aired at half-time, and the programme was full of pages of praise of him.
Huddersfield Town v Manchester City
The game went very much to form, with Huddersfield battling gamely, but a somewhat subdued City eventually ran out 3-0 winners. This left the Terriers rooted to the bottom of the table, whilst the win meant that City went back to 4 points behind leaders Liverpool at the other end of the table. All in all, I had a very pleasant afternoon, which I followed up with a beer or two and a curry in the town after the match.

Meanwhile, from Hillhouse to the Wainhouse....

During the previous week I had been messaged by fellow blogger, Martin Taylor, with whom I converse regularly on Twitter but had never met in person. Now Martin is one a small band of beer ticking ultras who aim to visit each pub in the Good Beer Guide. This means that every September when the guide is published the pages are scoured, new entries identified, and routes mapped out to enable a visit to as many of them as possible over the ensuing months. Martin had 3 new entries to do in Halifax, the Square Chapel, the Alexandra(although it turned out he had visited previously), and the Wainhouse Tavern in King Cross, so he got in touch to see if I fancied meeting up for a pint.

We arranged to meet at the Lantern. Martin was with his mate Charles who joins him from time to time on his travels, particularly when a curry is involved. I joined them in a pint of Bristol Beer Factory Hoptimist, which was spot on. They had already visited the Square and the Alexandra, which just left the Wainhouse to conclude the day's business. Martin noticed that the creak on the door to the Gents played a snatch of Bob Marley's 'Three Little Birds', which I hadn't noticed before, but had to agree with....

I suggested we got a taxi to the Wainhouse, but no, they don't do taxis, and fancied a walk. So walk we did, it was a pleasantly mild evening for mid-January, and it took us about 25 minutes to get to King Cross, where we successfully negotiated one of the most pedestrian-unfriendly road junctions I know, and began the steep descent down a network of hidden cobbled paths to Washer Lane and the Wainhouse Tavern. It was only a few months since I had last visited the Wainhouse, ironically just after the Good Beer Guide came out in September. I had actually alluded to Martin and his fellow ultras in the subsequent blog which followed, although I didn't actually say much about the pub itself.
A warm welcome awaits at the Wainhouse....
We went in, the bottom room was closed to all but members of an Agriculural Society or something, so we went up a few steps into a larger room featuring a pool table and a TV playing old tunes. There was a bank of hand pumps on the bar, and we ordered pints of Marstons 61 Deep, which was pretty good. Martin snapped the odd surreptitious photo....
No, I am not asleep and I am not wearing a pashmina!
A guy was playing pool on his own, no doubt practising for next week's big pool match. The pub quiz was starting shortly and I recognised the withering look that only quiz goers use that says you're sat in our seats.... The boys seemed to like the Wainhouse, and I have to say, like the Slubbers, it is a popular community local which through hard work and consistent beer quality has broken through into the Good Beer Guide.
Locals and not-so locals in the Wainhouse....
There was some talk of taking Charles to the Big 6, but as we made the steep ascent back up those hidden cobbled paths, that thought was abandoned, and instead we wandered back into town and finished up at the Grayston for a quick pint before I got my bus and Martin and Charles went for a curry at the Kashmiri Aroma. It had been a most enjoyable evening, and it was good to meet both Martin and Charles. Martin blogs about the pubs he visits, but unlike the rambling efforts I put out, his tend to be much shorter, featuring just one pub, with plenty of witty and wry observations. Draught Bass is a love. Future micropubs are identified. There are often references to lacings and pashminas. Here's his thoughts on our visit to the Grayston. That gives you the link to his website, or you can follow him on Twitter @NHS_Martin.

I am off to the Manchester Beer Festival this week, so no doubt there will be a report on that next time!

Follow me on Twitter: @realalemusic.

Comments

  1. Not rambling at all, Chris, just lovely enthusiasm for great pubs. Glad you remembered more than I did. See you this afternoon 👍

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