Category Archives: Pubs in Yorkshire
This post forms part of Boak And Bailey’s Go Longer weekend. Hope you enjoy it.
In 2010, after years of deliberation, my wife and I decide to buy a dog. As far as we were concerned, It had to be from puppy, as we wanted to mold our furry friend-to-be into the perfect dog; balanced, loving, tenacious. A companion through the thick and thin, a true friend with no ulterior motives .I however, did have one other other motive that my wife probably didn’t: the perfect Pub wingman.
You see, we’d coveted the ‘pub dog’ for some time. We’d coo over Dachshunds, Spaniels and Terriers as we enjoyed time in our counties’ fair pubs. We’d chuckle to ourselves as the little guys sulked under tables, or waited as patiently as only dogs can, utterly focused on getting that one stray crisp or pork scratching that their owner would drop floorwards.
When you’ve built a decent career of dog-watching you learn the little personality traits; some pub- dogs care only for their owners; others will casually inspect everyone walking through the door before passing judgement. Some will ferret and scout about seats and tables (if you’re a landlord who doesn’t sweep under banquets and booths, the dog will find the evidence) and remain an elastic -band ball of energy. Others only want shade and a friendly bowl of water.
I’m biased, of course, but I find it odd that there are people who simply don’t want dogs in pubs. Hygiene seems to be the main culprit; horror stories abound of dogs defecating in the middle of busy saloons or howling away like Cerberus whilst their owner nonchalantly sups his or her pint. In all my years of watching – and taking – dogs in pubs, I’ve never come across anything like this. I’d always trot out the old adage in defence anyway; look at the owner, not the dog.
Anyway, back on story. We settled for a farm-born (does that make him organic? Free Range? ) Border Terrier, a breed we’d loved since seemingly being stalked by the scruffy brown bastards in a day out in Skipton years ago. They were everywhere. At that point, we assumed every country pub came with one of them as standard. Black Sheep bar runner? Check. Glassware? Check? Horse Brass and locally-sourced menu? Check and Check. Smiley, russet-coated punk of a dog trotting about charming everyone’s pants off? Check.
Soon our home had a new, four-legged addition. Agent Wilson was active. Now to put the plan into action.
Obviously we had to wait until he was of a certain age – and house-trained (see above point) before venturing into a pub. We met a friend in Skipton (in a twist of serendipity) who also owned a BT (as we in the Border Terrier world call them, obviously) and ventured for a walk in the sunshine before hitting the pub. And, despite our obvious nerves at the first public showing of PubDog v1, he did ok; corralled and terrified in equal measure of his companion for the day, a feisty female who was having none of his infantile mores.
Galvanised, we ventured out again, not long after. Faithfully following our new-laid rules, we walked the hell out of him before, only to find that almost as soon as we sat and I, more tired than him at this point, lifted a sweet golden pint to his lips, he began to whine. Another dog – a whippet as lithe as Kate Bush (and, with a gunmetal-silver coat, the otherworldly beauty to match) began to join in, leading to some Doppler-effect harmonising that wouldn’t have sounded out of place at…well, a Kate Bush concert (if she did them).
We were aghast. My pint began to disappear quickly as I ‘supped up’, and Louise’s cheeks were getting redder. The pub wasn’t busy (again, the rules – they are coming, just keep reading), although the Whippet’s owner was seemingly nonplussed. Eating a fishfinger sandwich with quiet intent and poring over her papers, she was either used to it, deaf, or both. Typically English, we tried to catch her attention; ready to offer some kind of apology, but to no avail. She was lost to the print. We, on the other hand, were simply uncomfortable.
So, as was dejectedly trudged back, our proud little performer thoroughly pleased with himself, we searched for answers. what had gone wrong? Yes, he was young. Yes, it was early days. But that was awful. We’ve never been thrown out of a pub – and weren’t close that time, really – but it was just embarrassing. What to do?
From day one, we’d trained Wilson to eat treats – Pig’s Ears and the like (which he adores in much the same way I do Pork Scratchings) on ‘his mat’. It was actually only to save the carpet from being covered in dog spit and shards of Pig’s Ear, but a pleasant side effect was that he equated the mat to being happy. And fed. The two sort of go hand-in hand with dogs.
So, after a good month or so, we plucked up the courage for another raid on a pub, this time with a train ride involved, and with all the other rules being followed. Except this time we had a secret weapon; a mat. A smaller version of his regular one. Plus, a few treats.
We strode into the pub, ordered beer and food (we must have been feeling cocky, looking back), proudly unfurled the mat under the table and went about our business. After his usual inspection of the place, Wilson felt the pub was up to his standard and – OH! My Mat! I know what to do on that – I lay on it. And if I do, I might get a treat! How Wonderful! Yeah!
Needless to say, a good hour later he was chomping on a treat, we had clean plates, second pints had been ordered. Success. Parents, you know when your son scores his first goals for the school team, or when your daughter gets the ‘Mary’ role in her first Nativity? This is my equivalent. He just went up a grade. If there was a certificate, we’d have had it presented that day, replete with paw print on the bottom.
Not only that, but we relaxed. We had fun. We drank and ate at our leisure. When the bar staff came over, they commented on the handsome looks and downright good behaviour of our little guy. Other dog owners came in, wrestled with things for a bit, then skittered off. We quietly judged them, as you do when your dog is the best in the world. The pub became the ‘third place’ that we all search for; friendly to me, accommodating to my dog – who I want to drink with by my side.
Since then, we’ve progressed. We now don’t always need the mat. We’ve been to pubs in slightly busier times with success. We’ve had bad episodes (hunting down a pub that had at least five dogs at any one time ended up being sensory overload) but, overall, we now have our pub wingman. To us, they are simply part of British Pub Life.
Oh, those rules? Ok, here are my own personal rules for Dogs in Pubs. I know, I know; it sounds a bit patronising, but here are what I found works, and make the entire experience pleasant for your dog, you and your fellow drinkers.
1. Know Your Dog
What?! I do, how dare you? Seriously, though – highly strung dog? Don’t take it in a pub at office closing time. Likes treats? Take treats. House-trained? Christ, I hope so! Not good in hot weather and you really want to go lounge in a beer garden all afternoon? Then leave the dog at home. Seriously.
If you’re lucky enough to have a dog-friendly pub near you, then great. If you’re not sure, then call ahead, email, tweet, whatever. Don’t assume it is, purely because it’s rural or something like that. Doesn’t like being petted? Then go at quiet times. In fact, the dog’s best hour in a pub is a quiet one. Unless it’s very used to it; imagine how disconcerting a loud, full weekend pub must be to a dog.
3. Respect Others
This ranges from respecting a pub’s decision to not allow dogs (perfectly reasonable) to your fellow drinkers, to general decent behaviour. Dog whining? Take it out. They do that when they want something or aren’t happy. Drop your beer for a second and go for a walk. I know it’s warm, but if it’s sitting in the doorway, move it. Visiting other tables or people? You may think he’s being cute, they might not. Pay attention.
Finally; landlords of wonderful dog-friendly pubs up and down the country – don’t forget the bowl of water. After all, you wouldn’t forget the beer for me, would you?
More reading: If you want to look at a slice of pub life through a dogs eyes, check out Dogs in Pubs. If in Scotland, there’s Dugs in Pubs. I’ve used Doggiepubs to help shape our decisions before, too. Here’s an incredibly pro-dog (and slightly hysterical) view from the Daily Mail (apologies). Here’s a recent blog by Keith Wildman on his love of dogs in pubs on Sabotage Times.
So far a week of pleasant surprises, all in all.
The Station Inn, New Quay Road, Whitby, YO21 1DH – Tel: 08721 077 077
The Victoria & Commercial Inn, Great George Street, Leeds: Tel – 0113 2451386
>Regular readers of TGS will know that another passion of mine is local history; and it would seem that recently, I keep coming across stories of haunted pubs in and around the Leeds area. A result of too many pints of Tetley’s, or genuine scary stories? Pubs do seem to attract the odd lost soul.
Take TGS favourite The Palace; a ‘gray lady’ resides there, although no one can really pick out a figure from the pub’s history that would fit the bill whilst they were alive – some even think it’s a man dressed as a woman, in fact. Staff of the Queens Hotel in City square tell of sharing their work with a number of ghosts – particularly two men; one victim of a shooting and one hanged man. My favourite inner-city pub ghost tale has to be that of The Old Red Lion, situated opposite The Adelphi. The upstairs rooms there supposedly rattle with goings-on; girls being seen at the windows despite the rooms being empty, and even blood dripping from the ceilings onto drinkers! The doors to these rooms now remain locked. Awesome stuff. The Golden Lion also has reputedly been the site of sightings of a man dressed in Victorian clothes, striding up and down the basement.
My local, The Abbey Inn in Newlay, is a treasure-trove of paranormal activity. It’s even been on the telly for this reason – Bar stools re-arranging themselves, piled on top of one another like Jenga bricks. The rope on the bar-bell swinging when no one is around it; ashtrays and such flying across the bar. Perhaps the most perturbing is the spooks’ habit of making the handpumps keep going once a pint is filled. Its ok poltergeists stacking furniture, but beer wastage is bad enough for a landlord to manage without cheeky spirits emptying casks.
Further afield, The Black Bull in Otley reports heavy footsteps in the upstairs rooms, ‘unpleasant feelings’ and people having their faces stroked by unseen fingers, and the ghost of Branwell Bronte haunts the Black Bull pub in Haworth, another pub that I’ve sank more than my fair share of pints in. Although these are my favourites, it would seem almost every moderately old pub has a friendly (or not so) friendly ghost wanting to share a pint with you. So beware – that ‘cold spot’ you might inadvertently sit may not be a draft from an open door – you could be sitting on the knee of someone who’s been sitting on that barstool for a very long time…
The Hunter’s Inn, in Otley, near Leeds, was the scene of, or rather the cause of, my first real hangover. A real, adult, honest to god, head-throbbing, stomach churning, muscle-tremoring hangover. We were only young, and maybe that made The Hunter’s scarier than it actually was – although in those days it was clearly a Biker’s hangout; the pool table and jukebox were the most important things there – not the bar. Lord, not the bar. If I remember correctly, Newcastle Brown was the tipple of the evening that will forever be scorched into my mind. And forever scorched onto my friend’s mum’s lawn the next morning.
I don’t know the two landladies, but they have done a great job. Firstly, the place is way more welcoming, and there are no bikes in the doorway (sorry, bikers – no offence) – but the ales spoke volumes. My heart sank when I saw Rooster’s Yankee available – not only would I have to try it (being one of my all-time faves), but if it was in bad nick then it was game over. I’m outta there.
I lifted the glass to my lips and drank – perfect. A great pint. The bar stocked – to name a few – beers from Kelham Island (more on them later), Roosters, Old Bear, Goose Eye, Marston Moor, Barnsley and Sharp’s…a better choice than you would expect, to say the least. The fire was roaring, people were smiling and laughing – hey, we were in a good pub. Not a bar. A pub.
I’ve not written a pub review in a while, simply because I had nothing to say on the matter. The Hunter’s has improved so much, it’s a little beacon of hope for a time when the pub trade seems to be in a bad way. Put it on your beer map – it’s a worthy destination. There’s also an excellent farm shop next door if you need something for tea on your back home.
The Hunter’s Inn – Harrogate Road, Pool in Wharfedale, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 2PS, Tel: 01132 841090