A.J. Walker


Glasgow '23

Had a week booked off from work but I had no significant plans for the bulk of the week. The first weekend was to be taken up by a few days for the annual Bishop’s Castle camping trip of course. I ended up going to Lytham and St.Annes on the Monday for a little ale trip to places I haven’t been to for many years. It was a nice day out.


On the Tuesday I decided I would plan a few days away. I spent a couple of hours surfing the net and the AirBnB App and went through all sorts of scenarios in my head. At various points I was going to London, St. Ives, Ilfracombe, Torbay, London, Arran, the Isle of Mann, well everywhere really. I basically was just going away anywhere for a few days.

In the end I saw a few options in Glasgow and decided that I’d go there. The price on the train to Glasgow and London were okay, but the costs to Devon & Cornwall were double those rates. In any case whilst I would love to have been on the south west coast or in the Lakes etc the main things to do there involve a fair bit of walking and not many other options. If my newly arthritic knees were to play up I may have been a bit confined to barracks. At least if I went to London or Glasgow I’d have plenty of options of things to do without the stress of walking up and down hills - and some pub options too of course.




I booked a Britannia Hotel in Glasgow. With some knowledge of a few of the hotels (like the Adelphi, Scarisbrick and the Manchester Midland) I did a few checks first. As it happened it turned out to be really quite good. The room was big, the bed was comfortable with nice clean sheets etc, there was a TV & a kettle with coffee, it was en-suite, and there was a fab view over west Glasgow. I was very happy with it. In reality a hotel for me only ever need be a nice bed and clean sheets.



Anyways, it was a good base for a few days up there. On the arrival day it was just a wander with some reading in some pubs and bars. And a Too Good To Go burrito! The following day started with a massive Scottish Breakfast at the Crazy Chefs before walking to the brilliant Kelvingrove Museum. Went on to the Riverside Museum (transport museum) by the Clyde afterwards and then there were some more pub visits across the city including a trip on the subway (apparently the third oldest underground in Europe behind London and Budapest).

The following day I went to Dumbarton. I can’t remember when I last visited the town, but it can be measured in decades not years. My dad was from Dumbarton and was working in Denny’s shipyard up until its closure in 1963. He came down to England looking for engineering work after the closure and apparently it was quite an exodus south looking for work following the shipyard closures. He made it down to Preston and found a job there for a while, before then moving on to Southport and joining the police. And the rest is history.

In the 1970s (and maybe the very early 80s) we went up to Scotland to Dumbarton and Loch Lomond & the environs from time to time. But after that Scotland for me was more likely to be due to geological mapping when I was at University. Denny’s though is a very famous shipyard and dad was proud to have worked there: the Cutty Sark was mainly built and finished there (it was started in a different yard, which went out of business); several well known paddle steamers (even ones which found their way to the Yangtze); the first hovercraft; and a very early helicopter (prior to WWI).

There is a Maritime Museum in Dumbarton which I thought I’d go to. It is on the site of the Denny Experimental Ship Tank which was the first of such sites in the world. So I had to go there. I also had to go to the castle (on the famous volcanic plug) and to see the new Dumbarton FC stadium next door to it. I only went to one of the Son’s games (‘the Sons of the Rock) back in the day. It was at the brilliantly named ‘Bog Head Park’. The match was against Ayr United and it finished 0-0 (which sounds better than it was). The only thing I remember about the match was the half time Scotch Pie. I held it by the sides and the bottom fell out on to the floor. I ended up just eating some pastry, which I remember as being okay. Ho hum. I wonder if the pies have improved since.





So it was a morning train from Charing Cross to Dumbarton in the rain showers (and a lovely breakfast BLT in Miller & Cook in Dumbarton). I largely dodged the rain when I was out and about. The Maritime Museum was only small (if incredibly long) but was an interesting place. I walked slowly from there (my knees!) to the castle. Unfortunately most of the Rock was closed off as they were working on the buildings and the rock itself, so I wasn’t able to climb to the top (given my knees that may have been a blessing).

On my last day I took my bag to a storage place near the station (the costs at Central Station were astronomical) then headed on another train, this time to Pollockshaw West, to go to the famous Burrell Collection. A lovely building in a beautiful setting - and of course an outstanding collection. It was a fab choice and I’d recommend anyone who gets the chance to go, to do so; and it’s only a ten minute ride or so from Glasgow.




All in all I had quite a busy and cultural stay in Glasgow. I did get to a few pubs too of course (and have a couple of Too Good to Gos). But that will go in a separate blog in the Real Ale section. Suffice to say though that I went to some famous, and some not so famous, hostelries. Unfortunately I found that Glasgow is quite short of ale options. Very short really. But like I say, that is for a different blog.


The Boss Bish Bash '23

There's a group of us that go every year to Bishop's Castle around the first weekend of July - usually for the Real Ale Trail. Last year I missed it as it coincided with the one week I contacted Covid19. It wasn't the best timing for that pesky virus as it also meant I missed the Felice Brothers gig at Liverpool Leaf. Happy times, hey.

Not a bad view from me tent.

First pint post tent erection (fear)

Anyway about twelve of us booked again for Foxholes campsite this year, which included three people who hadn't been before. Unfortunately although the pubs had intended to hold the festival once again this year (for the first time post Covid) they had to cancel it due to what was described as excessive costs and bureaucracy associated with the road closures and associated items. Ho hum. At the end of the day though there was a good size group of us camping and there were five pubs in the village anyway. One way or another we'd still have a festival of sorts.

First time drinking this one of brew from Neptune and First Clsss.

Not having a vehicle of my own I had to rely on lifts from Steve and Tony. And we got there in good time, with no major issues. I think the biggest hold up of the day was actually getting out of Costco, the roads there were absolutely packed. The four amigos went in two cars and we (Ste, Tony, Jeanette, and myself) were the first of the crew to get to Foxholes. The weather was dry with sunny intervals when we were putting up our tents, but it was hampered a little by quite strong gusty winds. But any day not putting up a tent in the rain is a good day. Again, like the drive down, we got the tents up without any major issues. As our tents were getting erected others of the group started to arrive. and we commandeered a corner (partly assisted by an enthusiastic dog making one of the campers already there move on). Well done that dog.

Three Tuns. At the top of the village always makes it the first and last pub.

As usual as soon as the tent is up, the beer was poured. And that was it for the next couple of days really. There were no big stories this year. No lost people or visits to A&E. We just had a good time with good people - and mostly fair weather apart from late afternoon on the Saturday, when like most of England we were hit by a couple of thundery wet storms. We saw a couple of bands play at the Castle, but we missed the ones at the Six Bells. The usually great Vaults had no live acts on the Friday or Saturday this year. As tradition dictates we started at the Three Tuns on the Friday night, and ended there on the Saturday evening. In between we took in all the other pubs, drank and chatted, laughed and reminisced. We didn't really miss the festival much to be fair. Though a few more beer, BBQ, and band options would always be welcome I suppose.

The rain came. So we went inside the Six Bells for a time.

Lovely sky between storms. Outside at the Castle.

The stage at the Castle just as the storm subside.

Special mentions must go to Jeanette for the chilli on the Friday night and the breakfasts too! Good work. And to Sue too, who wasn't really sure about camping and hadn't been before. She seemed to enjoy it muchly. So maybe we'll see Sue there again next year.

The Bishop's Castle Crew end of weekend photo (including Dexter)

All in all a top weekend. Roll on the next boss, Bish', bash, it's always a blast.