Newcastle-under-Lyme is as good as anywhere else, I figured. It has a good selection of micropubs in a reasonably small area. Plus I have plenty of anecdotes about what a dump it was in the 1990s to tell disbelieving youthful pub staff.
Due a bridge collapse at Wigan, I had a bit of a wait for the train. I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly at 1250. I avoided the notice of the 8 Xmas jumper wearing women, animatedly discussing their forthcoming dubious activities in the City Centre while swigging Strongbow Dark Fruits. Fortunately, they departed the train at Oxford Road. I made a note to check if Manchester was still standing on the way back.
I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly at 1250. Plenty of trains to Stoke from there, I told myself, so plenty of time for Traditional Train Activities.
1. Piccadilly Tap, Manchester
Music Choice : George Harrison
I needed change, so I braved the station exterior with it's speeding coffee cup carriers and Jehovah's Witness stands to Mancs premier sparsely furnished Evil Keg den. Setting the tone for the day, there were few customers. Possibly they were put off by the recent rumours of closure. Still, plenty of beers on. I had the Wild Beer Co thing called "Trendy Juice". Unsurprisingly it was completely opaque. My guess it was named and formulated to annoy certain traditionalist elements in the beer world. No matter, I polished it off in 20 minutes and headed for Platform 4 (in the station, not some hipster bar that probably opened 20 minutes ago).
|Welcome home, Mr. Lawrenson|
The journey to Stoke was less eventful, and arrived in one piece following my sole ticket check of the day. The weather was OK when I arrived, so I walked the 2.5 miles to Newcastle, reminiscing all the way up Hartshill Road. There was the A&E I nearly bled to death at in 2002; there was the Newsagents where the owner was killed in an armed robbery; and THAT'S the now-closed nightclub where certain girls in my class at school performed "favours" for the door staff in order to gain entry. Ah, memories. If only the local psych hospital had offered me ECT at the time.
|Gin makes a man mean|
2. 10 Green Bottles, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Music : Tears For Fears
Entering the town's foremost (and only) place for Awesome Craft, I found I was observing the relentless march of Craft Gin. Gins. Gin cocktails. Empty gin bottles as candleholders . Even a big bowl of Mulled Gin on the bar. As it was only 3pm, I forsook such juniper-infused delights for a 2/3rds of Crate IPA. I was however disappointed that the barman who served me in July, a bearded Transylvanian with a man-bunch, was not on that day My stay was uneventful , save for the current barman's mates coming in to try stuff. The Mulled Gin was proffered. "It smells awful but it tastes OK." was the sales pitch. Though perhaps the sole taster's coughing and gagging reaction was a truer measure of it's qualities.
Still, plenty of places for me to go. So no need to resort to overheated and stewed mixtures of spirits , spices and fruits. On to the next place round the corner...
(to be continued ...)