Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Slipping in for a Pint

A roaring coal fire, a busy little bar with banter flowing, comfy bench seating and a living room like atmosphere probably tells you that the pub is owned by Samuel Smith.  Add in a dismal, rain sodden  Bank Holiday Monday and all you have to worry about is whether the locals will welcome you, ignore you, or just be puzzled by your presence. Read on and all will be revealed.

The Slip Inn in deepest Milnrow is rather a neat little pub from the outside. Even as the rain battered down, it had an air of cheerful permanence that belied the weather. Solidly stone built, unusually it didn't have bay windows on each side of the front door, but two smaller ones apiece, rather like a schoolchild's drawing.  A small corridor - and it is pretty damn small here - reveals a couple of dinky little rooms off to the left, one with a smouldering coal fire and one without and the bar ahead of you, facing the main room which is comfortable with solid cast iron tables, bench seating and assorted regulars, all watched over by a rather diminutive barmaid who greeted us civilly enough.  The customers did their best to ignore us, but you could tell that our presence there puzzled them somewhat. And why wouldn't it? What indeed were we doing there at all?  I can empathise with that sentiment.  We could hardly have been on holiday after all and did kind of stick out a bit. OK. A lot.

Sadly there was no mild, dark or light on the bar. While E took a seat, I could have chosen Sovereign, OBB (keg) Stout and on the lager side, Double Four, Alpine or Taddy Lager. I ordered the stout while E plumped for a half of Taddy Lager. The locals resumed their banter which had died down slightly. There was a spot of minor effing and jeffing, but the barmaid shushed that from time to time. The edicts of Humphrey on this subject, clearly displayed on the usual notice, were being taken much more in the breach than the observance, but it was low level harmless stuff. Banter was of the "Where's so and so?" and the like, but mostly it was just the easy familiarity of those who had known each other for years and could readily pass the time with one another. One fellow seemed the ringleader of the denizens, but was a bluff, pleasant sort. In fact everyone was just enjoying themselves harmlessly. The accents were rural Rochdale - sort of Lancastrian - but not quite.  The fire - no shortage of coal when Humph is paying - emitted a fearsome radiated heat, causing one woman to suddenly rise and flee. In response to enquiries, she remarked about being boiled alive. It was a fair point and she lurked about, not quite sure where to go, while we, a bit further away, just enjoyed it.

As time ticked on, one or two left and one or two arrived. One customer was ribbed for his need to leave to be home for his tea, promptly at five, but he shrugged that off easily enough. It was all pretty easy going and while nobody spoke to us, nobody was remotely unpleasant.  Around five o'clock the excitement of the early leaver was augmented by a barmaidy shift change.  A few pleasantries were exchanged and the job was done. Everything lurched on much as before. My stout was fine. A bit like Guinness with actual stout characteristics. You know, roast barley, hops, malt. That sort of thing. E enjoyed her Taddy, though she would have preferred Pure Brewed which wasn't available.

Much to the astonishment of our fellow drinkers, we had another. I topped my glass up with further half of stout, while E, daringly, had a Double Four which she pronounced as inferior to Taddy. So now you know.

We left shortly after, no doubt to the relief of the others. Would I hurry back? No.  Was it unpleasant? Not at all. 

I wonder what Humphrey's coal bill is like? He seeems to allow generous use of it.

What about bottles I hear you ask. Didn't spot any. Also if you want to get there by bus, all required info is on the photo if you look hard enough.


Curmudgeon said...

Which is what that vanishing species, the ordinary local pub, is all about.

Richard Coldwell said...

Humphrey's edict on fires is that if present they should be lit. Although each pub has an allocated budget for ancillary items they can order as much fuel as they like. The fire being lit, weather conditions being taken into consideration, is one of the things Humphrey is looking for when he visits pubs.

Fully agree on the Stout, very nice and Mrs Tandleman is correct about the Double Four, not a patch on Taddy and way behind Pure Brew.

Curmudgeon said...

Cookie reckons the Double Four is superior to the Taddy - less sweet, in his view.

Alec Latham said...

The only Sam Smiths pubs I've ever been in have been in central London. Being so central, I don't imagine they're locals pubs to the same degree because of casual torist traffic - though I did once prompt a discussion (it was in The Angel in the Fields) about whether Stingo was a Sam Smiths bottled beer. The bar regulars declared it wasn't and didn't seem too friendly about it, I maintained it was but dropped it (it is/was even if it isn't very common)

Curmudgeon said...

Never a good idea to argue with folk at the bar about beer-related matters, even if you know they'e talking bollocks.

Alec Latham said...

I never said each one was a talking bollock - I just disagreed with them ;-)