I’ll start this week with last weekend which I spent with friends watching the the Cock of the North road racing event at Olivers Mount, Scarborough. If you get the chance, I’d recommend you go just for the experience of bikes passing you at 170mph literally yards away, but I’d book ahead to get yourself a paddock access ticket. The paddock area is an experience in itself looking at the bikes close up, but there is also a bar near the start finish line. Called the Irish Quarter, on the surface not that impressive, selling only mainstream bottled and canned beers and spirits. But the fact that I’m sitting there drinking bottles of Becks (at a very reasonable £2.50 compared to beer tent) and chatting to the barman about Barry Sheene, Guy Martin and other famous road racers, hearing his stories probably makes it one of the most interesting bars I’ve been into in a while, whilst all the time riders and pit crew are passing, some coming into the bar, bikes are lining up outside to set off to race, all giving it a different atmosphere to the public areas. I plan to visit for the Gold Cup and camp overnight, I’m told once the racing is done, it gets rather busier there and is a good night out, one I’ll hopefully sample.
Calans is back! I’ll repeat that, Calans is back and it is so nice to finally be able to go back there for a drink. I popped in on Friday night post the walk from Hebden Bridge to Todmorden and return. On the way we passed the Stubbing Wharf and it was doing some rather nice trade which was really good to see, next time I am in the town I will pop in and report back. Calans is restored as it was bar a few small changes to make it more flood resistant inside with a new 6 foot flood door installed to hopefully keep the water out next time. Me and my friend Mike had the chance to relax outside, my beer of choice (from 5) on the night being Hophead by Dark Star (based near Brighton), I’ve always been a fan of their beers and this pint (and a half) did not disappoint as I would expect from Alan and Alyson, who were absent on the night, but the two girls on the bar kept up the usual standards when it came to the liquid refreshment. The atmosphere is also the same as before with a lively crowd constantly topping up customers who leave with new punters throughout the night. It was only its second night, but Hebden Bridge and beyond has taken it back into its heart very quickly which is only as much as they deserve.
Now onto the Grayson Unity, opposite the town hall in Halifax. The listed building status means the venue is authentic to the original des ign with the owner putting his own touch on the decor, the back room being a mix of mismatched sofas and chairs, the main bar a compact room with wood and glass tiled fronted bar serving 4 ales and Berliner Pilsner lager along with a decent wine and spirits collection. A really nice chilled out space, the beer was in very good shape over the two ales I tried. The place is instantly welcoming and that is always a good sign for me. The owners plan that “the bar itself is small but friendly place where you can get a lovely drink in a unique setting” has been well and truly met. The high ceilings give the place a perception of being bigger than it is. I well recommend you pop in to try the place out, you can even bring your own (non smelly) food to eat from elsewhere while you enjoy the offerings from the bar. The only downside of this bar is that is could get very full very quickly if a large group decide to visit. But it will be interesting to see how the venue develops.
I’m going to finish this week on a more hollow note however. How about a prime spot in a heritage listed building, complete with sun trap. Sounds great doesn’t it. I know of three separate parties now who have looked at this unit now, all of which have found different issues. Badly planned or missing utilities which would be essential for food offerings, high rent even given it’s prime spot and worse of all the fact that the venue is locked up totally in the late evening. Imagine having to close your bar at 8.30pm so you can clean down and get out of the venue before you literally get locked in for the evening. The people who bring you this genius is Calderdale Council and the new Piece Hall, the same organisation that is also extorting £1200 per household in unadopted roads in Siddal to replace the Yorkshire Sets with tarmac on the piece of road they own outside their house (nearly double the cost if you are a through terrace). If you don’t want it done or can’t pay, tough luck if the majority of the street want it, they’ll put a charge against your house and do it anyway and have to go and get your own stones back from the Mytholmroyd depot if you want them!…nice to see our council tax being used for good!