The football season may be over for a few days, but we still headed north. This time it was for the 18th birthday party of a former work colleague who now lives near Preston.
We travelled up a day early and had time for a few pints with old friends in Chorley. This Lancashire market town was once a centre of cotton production, but these days is probably more famous for Chorley Cakes. They are in my opinion far superior to the better known Eccles cakes and when I was young we used to spread butter on them before eating. Just the job for a bit of ballast before a night on the beer, and there are plenty of pubs to choose from in this corner of Lancashire. Our first call was yet another micro pub, a converted shop with room for about four tables and half a dozen hand pumps. These seem to be springing up faster than the weeds in our garden and I look forward to seeing one in Lynn. One tip – most of those that I have visited are very loud on account of the hard surfaces and wooden floors. If you are going to open one, include a few soft surfaces to absorb the noise of the conversation. From there it was a on to two or three traditional northern pubs. Different styles, but nowhere was the beer over £3 a pint and in some less than £2.50.
Saturday dawned and I had the choice of accompanying the bar wife as she helped to set up for the party or going off for the afternoon. I hopped on the train down to Warrington to watch the Wolves play Leigh Centurions in the Rugby League Challenge Cup.
In my time I must have visited well over 200 sporting venues in, but I don’t ever remember a cacophony of noise like that which greeted me at the Halliwell-Jones. Not only was it about the best atmosphere at any sporting event I have ever experienced, but they had cask beer on hand pump. Still, there was always the party. Not quite what I had hoped for on the beer front, though I suppose the 18 year olds had other things on their mind than Tetley Bitter. I did manage to find a few bottles of Staropramen, which tastes especially good when it is a prize for finishing last in the paper airplane competition. The DJ/animator tried to make us oldies welcome and included a quick quiz. With true or false questions you need something seemingly ridiculous that might just be plausible, so I quite liked this one. When the 50p coin was introduced, the treasury added the edges to make it easier to use a wrench to remove it from a Yorkshireman’s hand. Probably false, but you are never quite sure. At least the Yorkshire contingent had their revenge by winning the flappy fish race. I struggled with the dance moves for Oops Upside Your Head and Whigfield’s Saturday Night, but at least I remembered the songs and it gives me time to practise for my next big birthday. I hope I have as good an evening as Kirsty did – but I will have cask beer.