Huddersfield for Christmas

Ok, not actually in Huddersfield for Christmas but this trip was a Christmas present to Patrick from me so technically it was Huddersfield for Christmas.  Two nights in a Travelodge I know how to treat a man eh!

So, the plan was to visit Magic Rock Tap on Friday night, spend the Saturday mooching and shopping in Huddersfield town centre and then a Saturday night pub crawl around some of the fine ale lovers hostelries followed by a kebab at the legendary (to us anyhow) Kebabish.  Sounds good right?

The drive down the motorway was horrible, filthy weather and there had been an accident so bit of a delay too.  In that situation though you just have to thank your lucky stars that you are sitting in the traffic queue and not the alternative scenario.  We had stopped off at the Glasshoughton Outlet and unusually both managed to find something we liked.  I bought a lovely knee length padded coat in purple from Tog24 as well as a couple of pairs of ankle boots and Patrick some very nice brogues from Clarks.  We usually a bit rubbish at shopping so it was nice to go back to the car with shopping bags.  A scone and a hot choccie in the Thornton’s cafe finished off that little excursion nicely.

After settling into the hotel room, off we set for Magic Rock Tap armed with the trusty (!!) Google maps navigation.  Just as we left, it started to bucket down so I was really pleased I had decided to wear my new waterproof coat.  We bumped into a former customer of our beer shop, Jez and his girlfriend, also on their way to Magic Rock.  We do seem to bump into Jez often at beery type events and places.  He mentioned that there was a tap takeover by Danish brewers Dry and Bitter which we hadn’t known about.  Jez and Helena rushed off as the weather was truly awful by now and we lost sight of them.  The aforementioned Google maps being what it is, got us lost and we had to ask directions but we finally made it.  At first I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the experience, it was hot, noisy and crowded and there appeared to be nowhere to sit.  However, we got our first drink, found a seat fairly quickly and were set for the night.  Me drinking thirds and Patrick on halves, we managed to sample a fair few beers between us.  The fish and chips from the visiting Hip Hop Chip Shop weren’t the best ever but they served a purpose.

On Saturday morning, again using trusty Google maps to get us lost, we managed to make our way to a Wetherspoons for some breakfast.  The pavements were very icy and I’m sure our resemblance to Torvill and Dean must have been noticed!  Huddersfield is surprisingly well served by shopping centres although there’s not a lot in the way of ‘big name’ shops.  The outdoor market is a bit disappointing in that it’s more a car boot sale than a market but the indoor market at Queensgate was vast and I’m sure you could have got almost anything you wanted in there.  It was in House of Fraser though that Patrick managed to get everything he wanted.  He’s been looking for a nice overcoat since the beginning of the year, we’ve found plenty but getting one that fits properly has been challenging to say the least.  Finally, on Saturday the mission was accomplished.  Skopes overcoat, waistcoat and trousers, all in the sale…bargains!

Bored of the shops, we popped into the Art Gallery and enjoyed an exhibition of paintings by Maxwell Doig.  The detail in them was amazing, at first we thought they were photographs.  I really did like his style and methods and would certainly go to another exhibition of his works should I stumble across one.

Bit of a random and surreal moment at a zebra crossing, three guys dressed as penguins doing a Beatles Abbey Road impression.  The leaflet someone shoved in my hand showed it to be a Greenpeace campaign Protect the Antarctic  If you want to support their campaign to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary you can click the link and sign their petition or text PROTECT and your name to 60777 which will also sign the petition.

There is some lovely architecture in Huddersfield but I only managed to snap a couple of examples and I don’t even think these were the best I spotted.  Patrick and Harold Wilson are looking pretty good in St George’s Square at the station though.

On to Saturday night which was a bit of a car crash of a night out in a logistical sense!  The original plan was that I had selected 5 or 6 pubs based on CAMRA’s WhatPub website.  We were to get a taxi to the furthest one from the town centre and pub crawl our way back finishing with a kebab at the aforementioned legendary Kebabish.  However, in the Art Gallery, we spotted a leaflet for the Huddersfield Real Ale Trail and as the pubs were all central and the weather was foul, we decided to follow that instead.  First up was The Sportsman, fantastic pub which we have visited before.  Great range of real ales and craft keg beers, we really should have stayed here all night!

The Sportsman bar

Next was The Kings Head which is at one end of the beautiful Victorian Rail station and in one of the former ticket offices which still has the original tiled floor.  Plenty of beers on the bar to choose from but I chose badly and left most of mine.  Get a look at that stunning floor though!

King’s Head floor

The next three pubs, whose names now escape me were unfortunately closed down, the next one, Rhubarb had hardly anyone in it but those that were looked like they were extras from the set of TV show Shameless.  We didn’t stay for a drink! 

So on to The Grove, or so we planned but in true Patrick and Jill style, we took a wrong turning and ended up at The Rat and Rachet instead.  This is an Ossett brewery pub and not being huge fans of their beers, we hadn’t planned a stop here.  We were so cold and fed up though that we were tempted in.  The beer was enjoyable enough and I liked the place itself so it wasn’t a bad move. 

Finally, after asking directions and still taking a wrong turn, we found ourselves in The Grove.  The place itself is a bit grotty to be honest but it really is a beer lover’s mecca. Something like 19 beers on handpull and 15 Craft kegs, it wasn’t easy to choose.  The deco of the place was a bit disturbing, featuring an array of stuffed animals, a beer-loving taxidermist’s delight I’m sure.  I’d certainly visit again for the choice of beers though.

The Grove beer board
Patrick and Moose!

The walk back to the town centre was straightforward…unless you are called Patrick or Jill that is!  After a bit of confusion at one of the rather large and confusing road junctions which seem to be a characteristic of Huddersfield, we found ourselves on the long road back and on our way to Kebabish.  After all the hype and looking forward to this, I have to say that the kebab was a little disappointing in the end.  It hit the spot though!

Of course, the story doesn’t end there.  We managed to get lost on the way back to the hotel again! 

All in all,  we had a really enjoyable weekend but next time, we wouldn’t go in January, it’s a much more pleasant experience getting lost in June or July!

Here I am

Back again.  I’ve just been busy with other things and not really had time or motivation to blog recently.  However I do have some news for you.  As you all know, I’m a real ale enthusiast and CAMRA member.  Well for a good few months now I’ve been considering becoming more active in our local branch.  There is currently a core of four or five people who do absolutely everything and I’ve been feeling that I wanted to help out in some capacity. So firstly, I have volunteered to work at our Annual Beer Festival which is being held this week from 19th to 21st, I’ll blog about my experience on both sides of the bar at the weekend hopefully.  Secondly and the main thing, I have joined the Committee as Pubs Officer for Hull.  This actually is quite an undertaking and I’m not entirely sure I thought it through properly before volunteering!!  However, I will give it my best shot.  Basically I have to make contact with licensees of pubs in Hull and report to committee and members of any news or changes, current branch members often report any news to the pubs officer already so that will help.  I also would like to encourage some licensees to become more involved in CAMRA promotional campaigns such as the discount scheme to get more CAMRA members through their doors and other campaigns that run throughout the year.  Previously there just have not been enough people in the committee to do everything needed so I’m hoping to take some of that on.  Now this would take a very confident and self-assured person one would think eh?  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am neither of those things so this will be a challenge for me.  One I am looking forward to even though I am a little daunted by it.  Wish me luck!  The branch was also missing a proper webmaster due to the previous one having to give up due to work and family committments so Patrick has volunteered in that capacity too.  He has designed a new branch website and I’ll link to that when it goes live.  It’s been many hours of hard work but it’s looking brilliant, we just need people to make decisions now before we can take it further.

In knitting news, my mojo went AWOL for a wee while but I’ve now finished the baby jacket for my work colleague.  I hope she’s having a little ‘un because this has turned out much smaller than I expected. 

I’m also halfway through the second of my Pretty Pink Bubbles socks.  I love these socks, the pattern is so easy and yet pretty.  The yarn which is Cygnet Wool Rich 4ply is a very cosy but I think it will felt easily so it will be hand wash with care for these.  I am also now determined to finish Maude Louise before I allow myself to cast on another thing.

Cock O’ The North…and other things

Last weekend, Patrick and I went to Hipperholme in Halifax.  Why would anyone do that you ask?  Well it was specifically to visit The Cock O’ The North pub which is the tap of the Halifax Steam Brewing Company.  We had had the place recommended to us by a couple of guys in our local pub The Wellington Inn (which doesn’t appear to have it’s own website any longer).

So, The Cock o’ the North then.  At first glance from the outside, we wouldn’t have ventured in here.  It is built of portakabins and doesn’t look like the greatest place to spend a Friday night.  I am so, so glad we had the recommendation though (thanks to Blakey and Paul) because inside, it was like a temple for real ale fans.  The long polished granite bar (which the bar staff kept scrupulously clean all night) has a beautiful backdrop of two huge fish tanks.  I only had my phone to take pictures  but please follow the link above and have a look at their own picture gallery to see what I mean (although the fish tanks did have fish in them when we were there).  Plenty of table and chair seating around the room and nice comfy wooden bar seats so we could contemplate our next beer choice and watch the fish at the same time.  Ten real ale pumps spanned the bar, all boasting brews by Halifax Steam Brewing.  We decided to work our way along, both of us sampling a different drink each time so to give us maximum tasting treats!  We did get to the end and start on our way back down again actually ;-).  My particular favourite was The Dark Side, an absolutely scrumptious dark beer tasting of chocolate and coffee.  The Cock O’ the North beer was also very lovely with caramel notes.  The two that seem to be their regulars, are Aussie Kiss, a very pale and hoppy brew and at something like 3.8% a real session beer and Uncle Jon a dark but mild flavoured beer which at 4.3% is also very drinkable!  The other beers I believe rotate as and when.  I do tend to prefer dark beers but having said that, the paler, blonder ones on offer were also very nice.  There wasn’t one beer on offer that I would say that I wouldn’t drink again.  Quite an achievement with ten different ones! 

The manager/owner (didn’t quite work out which) was a lovely guy who spent a bit of time chatting to us and when he found out where we were from and our local, was delighted to be able to tell us that he knew of the Wellington guys from their previous visits and was full of praise for our fair city of Hull as well.  All in all The Cock O’ the North is a highly recommended visit for all you real ale fans out there, heck there is even a camp site out the back if you are mad enough!

We had a good weekend all round really.  We had arrived on the Friday afternoon to stay in the Premier Inn at Halifax.  What a lovely location it was in, right on the canal side and the rooms had their own outside front door, kind of like American motels that you see on TV sometimes, but nicer.  The only drawback was that although it was only 3 or 4 miles away from Hipperholme, the taxis both ways cost just shy of a tenner!  So a bit of false economy with the cheap place to stay really but as it was so nice, we’ll forget that little annoyance.  This picture was taken just outside our front door.  

Canalside Premier Inn
Canalside Premier Inn
On the Saturday, after a hearty breakfast/lunch at the Wetherspoons I had spotted in Halifax town centre the previous night on our way to Hipperholme in the taxi, we decided we would drive home the scenic route rather than the rather dull M62.  I wanted to go to Haworth for a wander up the High Street, I haven’t been for some years and Patrick had never been before.  The weather was so beautiful, one of those gorgeous Autumn days that are sunny and calm, yet really quite chilly.  This is my favourite time of year and weather, as I may have mentioned before, I’m not a sun worshipper in the least.  We enjoyed a meander up and down the High Street, walked through the church yard and I popped into the church hall to have a look at the local craft fair, I was a little sad that I had eaten such a large breakfast because there were some seriously delicious looking homemade cakes.  I was temped to buy a piece for later but it would have ended up all squashed before I got home knowing me.  We then stopped for a cuppa in one of the many tearooms along this delightful, cobbled (and very steep) street and I couldn’t help noticing that there was a poster in the window for their Knit and Knatter group, how very fab to have a knitting group in such a lovely location.  I decided I want to live in Haworth, just so I can go to the Knit and Knatter.
Haworth High Street
Haworth High Street
 I’m sorry my photo of the High Street is so rubbish! I’m sure you can find a much prettier and brighter one on the web if you are so inclined.  Note to self; remember to take the camera with you when you go away!
 
After a pleasant couple of hours in Haworth, we set off for home, deciding to take the A59 route over the top and through York.  It is a much longer drive but Patrick agreed, better than the boring old motorway.
 
We stopped for a break in Knaresborough to stretch our legs, visited the beer shop there for a little supply of Belgian bottled beers and had a walk around the castle.  I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know there was a castle at Knaresborough but sure enough, there is and with stunning views to boot. 
View from Knaresborough Castle
View from Knaresborough Castle

I am quite pleased with this phone photo.  The stunning viaduct over the River Nidd as photographed with my little HTC phone from the walls of Knaresborough Castle.  We had a little wander around Knaresborough town centre and I now decided that I want to live in Knaresborough as it is so pretty :-).  It was turning a bit nippy by now and we were flagging a bit after our day of sightseeing so we started off for home, having thoroughly enjoyed our West/North Yorkshire weekend break.

Non-Knitting News

A few weeks ago Patrick and I decided to go on the Real Ale Trail in West Yorkshire again, we did this last summer and enjoyed it immensely.  Patrick’s two friends had expressed an interest in going with us ‘the next time’ so we tried to arrange it around them.  In the event, neither of them could commit to a date so we went ahead on our own, on Good Friday.  We stayed at the same hotel as the last time, The Cambridge Lodge, not far from the station.  The Ritz it certainly ain’t but clean, tidy and cheap at £45 double room including cooked breakfast does for us.   We had decided that our first stop would be the West Riding at Dewsbury station, having seen a blackboard advertising their famous sausage sandwiches on our last visit. 

West Riding, Dewsbury

Famished, having only eaten a slice of toast before leaving Hull…in anticipation of said sausage sandwich, you can imagine our devastation to be told ‘We’re not doing food today’!  We had a couple of wonderful beers anyhow and got the train back to Huddersfield, to a fantastic Fish and Chip shop by the market (had it been a market day that is!).  This Friday malarky wasn’t proving too successful!  After Fish and Chips, we made our way to the station to catch the train to our next destination.  For some reason my memory of the order in which we visited the pubs along the trail is a bit hazy 🙂 .   So in no particular order, we also visited: The Station Buffet Bar on Stalybridge station.  This is an absolutely fascinating place, being the original station buffet.  A huge selection of ales but a strangely remiss attitude to glass collecting!  On our previous visit, the place was heaving so I put the vast quantities of empty glasses and bottles all over the tables, bar and any other flat surface down to the fact that they were rushed off their feet serving.  On this occasion though, it was relatively quiet, yet they still didn’t seem in a great rush to clear the surfaces or wash the glasses.  The Riverhead at Marsden, we had a less than satisfactory time in here and didn’t stay for a drink due to the lack of service and terrible attitude of the staff.  The Railway Inn at Greenfield, we managed to arrive right on the tail end of a very large party of drinkers from the same train as us and with seemingly only one man serving behind the bar, had quite a wait.  Theakstons Old Peculier more than made up for the wait though.  The pub interior itself is a bit grotty quite honestly so we sat in the beer garden, overlooking Saddleworth Moor.  I checked the timetable for the next train.  In my, by then, hazy state of mind I misread the timetable and told Patrick that the train was in 2 minutes.  We rushed the rest of our OP (criminal) and dashed across the road to the station.  It didn’t seem to occur to us that if the train was really due, the pub would have emptied and the station platform would be full.  We had rushed the Beer by which all others are judged in order to sit on a station platform for 7 minutes!  The Commercial in Slaithwaite, which is pronounced Slawit apparently so do take note and don’t make a fool of yourself should you ever want to visit the place.  Actually, from what we saw of it, whilst walking to the pub (here is where the ale trail goes a bit awry, the pubs in Slaithwaite being substantially further then a 2 minute walk from the station and up and down hills to boot) it seemed a nice enough town.  The Commercial isn’t very memorable really, being one of these refurbished jobbies, you know the kind..all the interior ripped out to make one huge room which is then decorated in ‘contemporary’ style.  Decent selection of beers though and we sat outside, me making a fuss of a couple of whippets whilst we both tried to decide what the hell the wasps that kept dissapearing into drilled holes in the stone window frames were doing.  The holes were clearly drilled for drainage purposes in the solid stone so there would be no hollow behind them, no room for a nest.  Not even enough room to turn around I wouldn’t have thought, yet they kept flying in and out all the time we stood there.  I found myself wondering how they had turned around in this little tunnel, why didn’t they have to reverse out, in fact could they do such a thing?  Time to move on!!  Back to Huddersfield where we headed for the Kings Head.  The second of two pubs situated at either end and within the old station buildings at Huddersfield station.  This place is the polar opposite of the Commercial and clearly hasn’t been cleaned in decades never mind refurbished!  It is in what was the old waiting room and has a fireplace at either side of the room.  I don’t think they are in use though but having only visited in warmer months, I don’t know for sure.  The selection of beers in here is massive, 12 I think it was and it was a hard choice by that time of evening.  

The Head of Steam - Huddersfield Station

We then decided for one more in the Head of Steam before heading into the heart of Huddersfield night life (ahem!) for a kebab at a wonderful cafe/takeaway called Kebabish, these are proper kebabs and not the rubbish you see at some places.  We ate here on our last visit and it was as good again.  Back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

The next day, weather being beautiful again, we decided on a walk along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Standedge Tunnel.

Huddersfield Narrow CanalHuddersfield Narrow Canal
 
It was a very pleasant walk and the Standedge visitor centre at the end was very interesting.  You could go on a boat trip through the tunnel but I couldn’t really imagine that being too fascinating so we skipped on that.  All in all a very good weekend.  The weather was fabulous for April and I now find myself hoping that wasn’t summer!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What have I been doing?

Not blogging is the obvious answer here.  So much for a post a week, I haven’t posted for what…5 or 6 weeks!   It’s that old thing that we never have enough of again – time.   So, what have I been up to?  I can’t honestly remember a lot, that’s what happens if you don’t blog it you see.

One thing I do remember is that Patrick and I went to see the wonderful Gordon Giltrap at the beginning of March.  He was playing in the area again at a charity gig organised by a friend of his, we saw him last summer for the first time and I wasn’t really familiar with his work before then. The only track I knew of his was his most famous hit Heartsong, which was the theme of the TV show Wish You Were Here.  I have to say I was completely awestruck during the performance.  The skill with which he plays is amazing.   He is an incredible guitar player and a very humble and entertaining man and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

In knitting news, I have finally finished the green jumper.  But…and it’s a big but after about 5 weeks of knitting, I’m not happy with it :-(.  It doesn’t fit quite as well as I would like, being a little bit loose.  I could live with that but the main problem is that I cocked up on the tops of the sleeves and the shoulders stick up a little.  I think it can be fixed but at the moment, I can’t face it.  It is in the naughty corner until I can be bothered to unpick the offending bit and re-do it.  I will, at some time, because it was an awful lot of time and yarn to have wasted if I don’t….but not just yet.  I’ve picked up my Hampton Cardi again, that of the 4 row, 9 stitch pattern that had me flummoxed a few weeks ago.  That worked out fine first time when I had another go at it.  Sometimes it pays to just put something aside for a while until it learns its lesson and decides to behave :-).  So, that is on the go at the moment but will be a few weeks in the making yet.   I have also made some progress on my February Lady cardigan and am knitting that as well as Hampton.  I’m enjoying both of these projects a lot now.

Patrick and I had booked a couple of days off work this week and had decided to go to York for an overnight stay.  We love to go to York, primarily because of the huge number of fantastic pubs to visit.  On the York Camra website, there are mini-guides to download and the one for York centre has no less than 82 pubs selling real ale from independant breweries.  I do love to try beers that I haven’t tried before and to visit pubs that I haven’t visited before and there are opportunities in abundance to do both in York.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, we checked in the Travel Lodge in York Centre and set off for a little walk towards the first of our target pubs.  I took this picture of the beautiful daffodils around the walls on the way

Daffodils in York

Our first pub then was The Rook and Gaskill.  Just outside the City walls and named after two 17th Century sheep thieves who were the last people to be hanged at the St Leonard Gallows nearby. A real beer lovers pub with a selection of 12 beers and a friendly barman.  It was a struggle to just have the one in there I can tell you!  We had more pubs on our radar though so we next crossed Hull Road to visit the Waggon & Horses, a pleasant pub with 3 distinct rooms, sun beating through the windows at the front made for thirsty drinkers.   Back to the hotel after this to freshen up for the night ahead.  The very convenient Posterngate pub right next door to the Travel Lodge was our first stop for a meal and a beer.  A Wetherspoons pub, where you know you are going to get value.  I am a huge fan of Wetherspoons pubs.  The food may not be gourmet but it is good value and their commitment to Real Ale is second to none in the pub chain industry.  After that, we visited a further four pubs that we hadn’t been to on previous visits to York.  The Punch Bowl just outside Micklegate, which is another Wetherspoons,  Brigantes, a cafe bar type establishment, then Ackhorne, tucked away down a little cobbled street.  We would never have found it by accident and now we’ve been in, we certainly won’t be finding it again on purpose anytime soon.  After trying out one more new one, Maltings, in the shadow of Lendal Bridge we finished up with two of our favourite pubs, The Yorkshire Terrier and Ye Olde Starr, both down Stonegate.  A catfood-like burger on the way back to the hotel finished the night off nicely!  Monday dawned bright and sunny again and we had a little wander around before heading off to the Castle Museum.  Neither of us had been there for years and we had a good day.  I had a strange experience in one of the police cells in that as I stepped in the door, I got an overwhelming feeling that I just shouldn’t be in there.  I can’t explain other that it was a kind of panicky feeling and I just couldn’t bring myself to go right inside, I hovered near the door as Patrick went in.  Later, speaking to one of the staff in another exhibit, the sweet shop, he was telling us about ghostly goings on in the place, including the time that a child who was visiting the museum had said that he wanted to go back into the police cell to talk to the lady who was in there!  Needless to say, Patrick then wanted to go back and see for himself.  We went in, I was a bit apprehensive to say the least but the feeling wasn’t there on the second visit.

I’ll leave you with another couple of pictures from York,  the first, a lovely little old building, I can’t remember for the life of me where it was but I thought it looked very pretty with the blossom trees outside and the second picture is of Clifford’s Tower.  Just look at those daffodils!

Blossom and Beams
Clifford's Tower, York