Weds I packed my things , said goodbye to Stu and Fritha and headed north by train for Yorkshire. Once in London I got onto my Leeds train and as I sat in the isle seat waiting to leave I felt a whack on the back of my head. A distinctive voice said sorry and as I looked up Vic Reeves shuffled past and sat down several rows ahead facing back towards me. Britain is so small you bump into celebrities all the time clearly. It was interesting speeding up the East side of the country having spent so much time in the south and west, my biggest take away from the train window was flatness. At Leeds I got off and met another of my father’s cousins Christine and her husband Harvey. We walked to the local mall and had a long lunch at a French restaurant discussing my late grandfathers visits over the years and our respective families. Then it was onto a train to Hebden Bridge where I was to brew with Vocation Brewery the next day. The country side was beautiful and lush green fields soon turned into fells and dales with mill towns every so often. I was looking forward to Hebden Bridge as it was renowned for being a beautiful old mill town and then also a haven of liberal alternative culture with the highest level of lesbians per capita in England. I got off the train at a gloriously old fashioned train station and walked into town, checked into the White Lion Hotel and headed out to explore in the dying light. I had read some blogs and talked to Dan Hargreaves about Hebden so knew a few pubs to try out. First up was The Railway Hotel. It was very much a locals pub, I was perfectly welcome but the row of backs at the bar were certainly not going giving anything away to me. I had a pint of something tightly sparklered and bitter. It was nice to see the beer change regionally in this day and age of homogenised consumption. I moved round the corner to Calans Micropub. This was my first micropub and I liked it. One room , one bog , 5 handpumps and bottled lager. I got a pint and settled in. A group of people were next to me discussing world peace, the NHS, Ewan and Kirsty MacColl and the bloke up the road that tends to Sylvia Plath’s grave. I finished my pint , walked past The Crown Inn that looked nice but was entirely empty . past another The White Swan that also looked good but a group of regulars smoking in the door urged me on. Next I came to the Old Gate. This pub was lively but friendly to a solo drinker. They had a good range of Vocation beers on so I opted for a pint of stout deciding the 8.5% DIPA unwise and then had to order a Taliska on the side to get to the eftpos minimum anyway! Next I walked along found a local craft beer shop / bar called Drink . I ordered a pint (and a takeaway bottle of Kernal Table Beer to get to the eftpos minimum!) and chatted to the owner and a table of regulars who were making jokes about the Welsh like Aussies make about us. I then set out for my hotel intending to have dinner but realised I had missed the kitchen so stopped at the local kebab shop. This one was run by a Pakistani family. The shish was tikka marinated in aromatic spices, grilled and served in a freshly made naan bread. It was delicious and structurally sound! Then I returned to The White Lion for a pint of Timothy Taylors Boltmaker and then one of Black Sheep Bitter before heading out back to bed.
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