A lazy morning staring at Sunday Brunch on the TV. It passes the time.
I have vague plans of eating breakfast in the Wetherspoons on the way to the station. But then I get an email from Jules suggesting we meet at noon in the Sheffield Tap. Bum. No time for brekkie.
Jules has a couple of tickets to Pilcrow’s Summer Beer Thing. Will can’t make it so she asked me yesterday if I’d fancy going. Squeezing in it should be possible. I had no real plans for my few hours in Manchester, other than going to a pub and eating.
Walking to the station is more fun than walking from it. The best thing about it being in a valley, is whichever direction you come from, it’s downhill.
I get myself a sarnie for the train, then try to find Sheffield Tap. After a bit of aimless wandering around, I find a map of the station. Which points me in the right direction and soon I’m standing at the bar staring at a row of handpumps.
“A pint of Jaipur, please.” I’m playing it safe. “Do you have pork scratchings?” I ask, hopefully. “Yes. Which flavour would you like?” Flavour? I thought they only came in pig flavour. Evidently they have barbecue and salt and vinegar. When did pork scratchings go all posh?
I realise this is the first pub I’ve been in since arriving in Sheffield. In almost 24 hours. That’s some sort of record.
It’s pretty empty, giving me time to admire the lovely surroundings. In an old refreshment room, with all the tilework retained, it’s as impressive as any Edwardian pub. After a while Jules turns up and asks: “Do you want to look at the brewery? It’s in the next room.” I hadn’t even realised there was a brewery.
The shiny things are arranged in one half of another equally impressive tiled space. I should have looked more closely at the pumps on the bar. They had several of their own beers on. Oh well, too late for that now. Because we’ve only time for the one before jumping on the train.
It’s a relatively short journey. Made to seem all the shorter by the beers that Jules has brought along with her. I like someone who thinks ahead. Especially beerily thinks ahead.
The event we’re headed to is a beer festival outside a pub. The Pilcrow Pub, to be exact. As we walk over there, Jules tells me the pub looks like it’s been built by hand. She’s not wrong. She could have added “from old pallets” to that description.
It’s a single-story wooden building with a pitched roof. Very modern-looking in some ways. But we aren’t headed inside. After collecting a glass and some tokens we sit inside the tents pitched outside. That’s where all the beer is. Where to start? DIPA, I think. I haven’t a great deal of time.
I’m enjoying myself so much, I cut things a bit fine. For catching my plane. Victoria station is close by. I hurry there to pick up a cab. Which takes a worryingly long time to get through town. But I do remember to snap the Royal (formerly Red Tower Lager Brewery) on the way. Not the most scenic of breweries, but one with a place in history nevertheless.
I get to Manchester airport about an hour before my flight is due to leave. But I need to print off my boarding pass and drop off a bag. Which takes a little time.
The queue for security is scarily long. Luckily they come around and ask if anyone has a flight leaving soon. I can move right to the end of the queue.
It’s still almost boarding time when I get through all the formalities. Just time to gulp down a quick whisky at the bar and hurry along to my gate. I arrive a minute or two before boarding starts. Perfect timing.
Not having really eaten much today, I wolf down the egg sandwich we’re given. Then slowly sip on the red wine.
There’s a huge queue at Schiphol passport control. By the time I’m through, my bag is already circling around on the carousel.
I take a taxi home. Feeling knacked I am. And I need to be up at 6:30 for work tomorrow.
Life returns to its iterative norm.
1b, Sheffield Station,
Sheffield S1 2BP.
Tel: +44 114 273 7558
The Pilcrow Pub
Manchester M60 0AB.
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