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Showing posts from December, 2016

Shadows and Exits: The Music of 2016

"Look up here, I'm in heaven..." 

So sang David Bowie on 'Lazarus', one of the tracks from his last album, 'Blackstar', released on his birthday last January. A powerful and amazing album, the words above proved to be prophetic as 3 days later on January 11th, his death was announced, leaving millions of us fans stunned, this was a guy we'd grown up with, part of our lives, and who was now no longer with us. And this in many ways was the shape the year was to take, with a crazy number of musicians from all genres leaving us this year.

Here's just a few of those we lost: Prince, both Keith Emerson and Greg Lake, Merle Haggard, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Phill Dawg, Dave Swarbrick, and Bobby Vee. And in the last few days, Rick Parfitt and George Michael. Many, but not all, of these were of a pretty senior age but we don't tend to think of them that way, we expect them to just carry on, not having prescriptions or hearing aids or walking sticks lik…

The Year Of The Little Man....

"It was the little man that built this town..." Alan Jackson*

As 2016 starts to draw to a close, I thought I would have a look back over the past 12 months at what has been a pretty momentous year for the local pub and bar scene. A year which started with devastation for several and then over the course of the year, new venues opened and closed up and down the area, and Halifax finally became a great town for a visit again after years in the doldrums.

The year started with several of our pubs, particularly in the Upper Calder Valley trying to pick of the pieces after the devastating Boxing Day floods. We started the year with The Olde Gate, Calan's, Drink, The Railway, The White Swan, The Shoulder of Mutton, and Stubbing Wharf all shut in Hebden Bridge. Of those, The Railway is still shut. The rest had different periods before re-opening, ranging from a matter of weeks to several months. Indeed, in the midst of battling with insurance companies, Calan's 2 opened up for…

The Keys and The Messenger....

One of the best pubs in Calderdale, and, indeed, anywhere, celebrated an anniversary this week. Wednesday marked 4 years since Hugh Kirby and Ruth Dunsmore took over the Cross Keys in Siddal, Halifax. This had previously been an unremarkable place belonging to a pubco, the sort of place that you would drive past and to which you would never give a second glance. Definitely not the sort of place to trouble any fan of real ale.
Now a Good Beer Guide regular and serial award-winner, it features a choice of 6 ever-changing ales on handpump - which have recently included the likes of Abbeydale, Salopian, Great Heck, Vocation, Squawk, and Titanic - all of which are served in tip-top condition. The pub also hosts a very popular beer festival each August with beers from near and far. The pub is warm, comfortable, and friendly, with a main bar area, another sitting area to the side, and a tap room. Outside there is a paved beer garden which is a real sun-trap. The pub doesn't do meals, but …