A hardy bunch met at Rochdale train station-this being such an exotic location to one of our number, she gazed round in undisguised wonderment. Being a Saturday, the local mills were closed and everyone had their weekend best flat cap and clogs on. Tandleman’s lovely lass arrived-alone. Had she finally thrown off the shackles of male oppression? Nay, turns out the great man was already in Leeds getting his Barnet done. And, apparently, sampling the local Wetherspoons. He did text me this information but, as he’s on the poncey 3 network, the texts didn’t arrive for some six hours.
Anyway, we were soon on our way: departing to the strains of Our Gracie singing “Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye”. First stop was the excellent Brewery Tap and an appearance by the freshly coiffured Tandleman. Lunchtime is an excellent time to visit this usually busy pub and we were soon tucking into the seasonal Funfair (3.6%) as well as the usual Leeds Pale. A good deal is the sandwich and a pint for £6.50, enabling me to enjoy an excellent Wensleydale cheese and ale chutney, with the beer thrown in for only £1.25 extra.
Next up was the Victoria Family and Commercial and some Barnsley Gold. Things got a bit sticky at Mr Foleys where some of our party had already decamped. We were warned off the Guzzler (too sulphurous) and the sample of the Summer Wine offering saved us a lot of grief-it tasted like some horrible metallic homebrew. Elland El Divino was at least drinkable, although it was difficult to detect the Mount Hood hops that it’s alleged to have.
Sadly things didn’t get any better at North. One poor barmaid had been abandoned by the boss and was clearly struggling by herself. The Outlaw was pure mud and Elland Bargee wasn’t at his best, either, leaving the 1872 Porter to win sole approval. PIN on Dock St was let down by its lack of working coolers, with the beer being compared very unfavourably with the Brewery Tap.
Things got back on track with some al fresco Daleside at the Grove. Everyone seemed to disappear right about now, but there was still al fresco and Acorn Summer Pale to be enjoyed at the Cross Keys before a finale at the Midnight Bell. Then there was just time for a quickie at the Wetherspoons at the railway station before boarding the rather posh homeward bound train. It was more Wetherspoons (Pale Rider) action at the Regal Moon in Rochdale before the last bus beckoned.