I’m awoken by my brother David bringing me a cup of tea before he leaves for work. Then get back to some heavy-duty dozing.
I finally drag myself out of bed at 10. No sign of the kids. So I get myself a pint of Red Barrel while I wait for them to get their sorry arses in gear.
When they come down, I ask: “What do you want for breakfast?”
“Is there bacon, dad?” Alexei asks.
“Of course there is. Uncle David knew you were coming.”
“I’ll have a bacon sandwich, too.” Andrew replies, before I even have time to ask him. Three bacon sandwiches it is, then.
Henry arrives a little later in his fancy new van. Definitely an improvement on his crappy old one. He says he’ll give us a lift into town. There are only three seats in the cab, so Alexei has to jump in the back with a barrel and some other junk. Somehow Henry has managed to get it as dirty inside as his old van.
He drops us off in front of the Corn Exchange and tells us he’ll see us later in Wetherspoons.
As we’re walking down Stodman Street, I pause to take a snap of The Woolpack, sorry, the Prince Rupert. The kids are now 20 metres in front of me. So I can see the reaction of the youths hanging around outside the tattoo parlour. They point, mouths open, at the two giants. I’ve forgotten how much shorter people are in Britain.
Wetherspoons is pretty full. Mostly with pensioners: old blokes drinking John Smiths smooth, grannies drinking tea. We struggle to find a seat. I need space to set up my laptop, seeing as David has no wifi in his house. It’s like going back to the Dark Ages. Just without the violence. And the plague.
The kids have both gone for cider again. I have some cask beer or other. The barman is about five foot tall and looks about fourteen. So it’s a bit odd when he asks the boys for id. They hand him their verblijfsvergunnings and he looks at them bemusedly. After a minute or so he asks:
“Where’s the birthdate?”
“On the back.” Andrew points out.
Teenage barman goes off to consult a more senior member of staff about the id.
“They won’t have any idea what it is.” Andrew says.
“They probably think it’s a driving licence.”
Our junior barman returns and serves us. Whew! Alexei would have been pissed off at missing his first pint in Spoons.
My pint, Nottingham Brewery Sir John Special, has a slightly strange aftertaste. Something not 100% right there.
Once we’ve moved to a bigger table we’re ready to order some food. An all-day brunch each for the kids, steak and kidney pudding for me. I like to eat healthily.
Henry tuns up and gets himself a half. He doesn’t stay long. Has something or other to do in connection with his brewery. Just an excuse, I bet. He’s always finding reasons to duck out of things.
“Where do you fancy next, lads?”
“I don’t know, dad.”
“I suppose I’ll have to decide then. The Woolpack it is, then.”
“Isn’t it called the Prince Rupert, now?”
“Not in my head it isn’t, Andrew.”
I’ve always liked the Woolpack. Mostly because it was about the only pub in town to retain its multiroom layout. They’ve since moved the bar and changed the layout a bit, but it still retains the core of its original floor plan.
Alexei is still on the cider. Andrew has moved on to Guinness. Even though both are evil keg, I don’t mind. Happy to let them drink what they like. I, naturally, tread the path of righteousness and have a pint of cask.
Alexei is on his phone. “Mum says can you get her a Radio Times. And some tea.”
“No problem. I need to drop by WH Smiths to buy a Viz, anyway.”
We only stay for the one. We need to get back for our tea. And I plan on visiting Newark’s micropub, Just Beer.
“It’s on Murderer’s Yard.” I tell the kids. Which is true, but I won’t go into the full, sad story. You can read it here.
It’s encouragingly busy in Just Beer. But we can find a seat. The kids have both opted for a Lemon and Lime Cider abomination. I continue to follow the path of cask righteousness.
Alexei’s cider thing is soon almost. “You’ve got a bit of a thirst, Alexei.”
“It’s just like drinking pop.”
I try it. “You’re right. Obviously one aimed at the kiddies.”
The kids are intrigued by the card game being played. “It looks like cribbage to me.”
One of the participants turns around and says: “Yes, that’s right. This is the only place it’s played in Newark.”
Odd that. I always thought of cribbage as one of the standard pub games. I’ve played it plenty of times. Though the exact rules escape me at the moment.
We walk to the bus station via WH Smith. Where I eventually find Viz. As we walk through town there’s more pointing and staring at the boys. Haven’t they seen someone two metres tall before?
There’s another reason, other than our tea, we haven’t left it too late. The last bus is just after six. Britain really is turning to total shit. On the upside, the pound is tanking nicely, which makes everything cheaper for me.
David hasn’t polished off the barrel, as I’d feared. Still plenty of Red Barrel left for me and the kids to tuck into. It’s still drinking very nicely.
After a few pints I get peckish around 9 PM.
“I might go and get myself a pie, Dave.”
“You’d best hurry up, they’ll be closing soon.”
I get to the chippie with the kids just before they close the doors for the night. In addition to my pie, they give us another mountain of chips and a few battered sausages. Which pleases the kids. Somehow we manage to get through it all.
Tomorrow we’ll get to see Henry’s brewery. That’ll be exciting.
The Sir John Arderne
3 Church St,
Newark NG24 1DT.
Tel.: +44 1636 671334
The Prince Rupert
46 Stodman Street,
Newark NG24 1AW.
Tel.: +44 1636 918121
Just Beer Micropub
32A Castle Gate,
Newark NG24 1BG.
Tel.: +44 1636 312047
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