“Oh that’s good.”
“What is, dad?”
I’m just looking at the departures screen. “Our flight leaves from pier D.”
“What’s so good about that?”
“It’s where the Irish pub is.”
We’ve already picked up sandwiches from La Place using a voucher Andrew got from his work. It took a while for them to accept it. First all the staff behind the counter, then off for a consultation with the manager, before we get the nod.
“How much did it cost, dad?” Alexei asks me.
“Seventeen euros fifty.”
“Is that with or without the fifteen euro voucher?”
“Without. With, just two fifty. It’s still blooming expensive.”
We’re already checked in and have to hold bags so we can waltz straight through to security. It’s always a worry, going up those stairs, wondering how far the queue will stretch back. Though if it’s really bad you can tell before, as it will come all the way down the stairs. Then you know you’re in for a fun two hours of shuffling slowly forward.
We’re in luck. There are only a dozen or so people in front of us. As soon as we get to the front, Andrew starts chatting with the staff. He’s recently started working at security here. It’s slightly strange, him chatting to his colleagues. Not used to the lazy git being gainfully employed rather than stuck behind his computer all day.
They pull my bag out for closer inspection. They always do. I factor that into my timings.
The queue for passport control isn’t too bad, either. Soon we’re home free aiside.
It’s a bit of a walk to pier D. Just as well we’ve left plenty of time. I don’t want to have to rush my pint.
The kids don’t remember the Irish pub.
“You must have been here before.”
“I can’t remember it, Dad.” Says Andrew.
“Strange. I’ve been here loads of times. I recognise all the bar staff.” Which is true. Tells you a lot about how often I’m in Schiphol.
This is going to be an interested trip. It’s the first time he’ll have been in Britain since turning 18. Which could make it an expensive trip for me.
“What do you want, boys?”
“I’ll have a cider, too.”
“I won’t ask if you want a pint. No son of mine is going to drink a half.”
I go for a Murphy’s Stout. And a double Jamesons. It is 5 PM, after all.
Alexei is quickly through his cider. He’s knocked it back like apple juice, which is what he usually drinks.
“Another one, Lexie?”
“I’ll have a Stout, dad” Andrew chips in.
We’re flying with Flybe to Doncaster Sheffield airport. Maybe a little further than East Midlands, but much easier to get to from Newark. Straight up the A1. And it’s nice and small, like East Midlands used to be until they changed it to a seatless shopping centre.
My brother David has arranged a taxi. He told the driver to look out for a fat old bloke and two giant lads. Cheeky git. The kids aren’t really that tall. For Dutch standards. He manages to find us easily enough. It’s a pretty small airport, after all.
Bizarrely, our driver is really into cycling. Despite, er, being built like a taxi driver. It’s hard to imagine him on a bike. He only just about fits in the car. And I say that as a fat old bloke.
We quite handily get to Dave’s just after the chippie next door opens. We get a pie and mushy peas each. And some chips. Unwisely, I order a large bag of chips. They keep shovelling more and more chips onto the pile until there’s a veritable chip mountain*. It must weigh a good two kilos. I’m not joking.
Luckily, there’s some beer to wash it down. A very special beer. My schoolfriend Henry has just opened a brewery in Collingham, a few miles outside Newark. And he’s brought over a firkin of a very special beer. A dead famous beer. Or should I say infamous? It’s 1963 Watney’s Red Barrel. Obviously, from a recipe of mine.
“You won’t be able to get a full pint,” David says, “It’s very heavily conditioned.”
He’s right. But I take his comment as a challenge. With a bit of patience I’m able to get a full glass with a lovely tight collar.
The beer itself is pretty nice. Obviously being cask rather than pasteurised to buggery, it’s not exactly a clone of the original. A good drinking beer. As the kids prove as they knock back pint after pint. No idea where they’ve got that from. Must be their Mum.
We need to get stuck into the firkin. 72 pints, four of us, three days. I make that six pints a day each. Another challenge.
Tomorrow there’s a special treat in store for Lexie: a trip to Wetherspoons. Where he’ll be able to enjoy a pint for the first time.
* The photo is actually of a small bag of chips. I forgot to snap the mountain. It was about three times the size of that.
A 1 Fish Bar
234 London Rd, Balderton,
Newark NG24 3HD.
Tel.: +44 1636 702679
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