I travelled by train, tram, and train right across the Manchester conurbation and on to the pleasant Derbyshire mill town of Glossop. There are loads of pubs here to visit, including some up a long hill. I recall visiting one of these a few years ago where the landlord advised that if the forecast snow arrived I wouldn't be able to get home! (It didn't and I did.)
There was only one other customer in the pleasant well cared for knocked through interior, although the moment I typed that two more came in. I must say the jukebox was doing well - Smiths, Stone Roses and then the Eagles.
It's good to see that a pub apparently providing only one real ale can get in the Good Beer Guide, sometimes I get the feeling that it's "never mind the quality, feel the width" at CAMRA.
I adjourned to one of the front rooms, sitting alone in a small lounge with comfy bench seats round all four walls. The real fire wasn't lit but it was laid ready for use. Just a few regulars at the bar, chatting to the landlord, making a quiet background noise - There was no music, which seemed appropriate in these surroundings.
Next, on to somewhere with more reliable hours; Wetherspoon's Smithy Fold. This is in the bottom of an enormous former mill, the rest of which is a Travelodge. Quirky industrial-style decor greeted me, and at half one on a Friday it was unsurprisingly pretty busy. I managed to find a table to enjoy a great beer from the Howard Town brewery, just half a mile from the pub - How's that for locale! Despite the "15-20 minutes" warning, my wrap arrived very quickly.
The custom eased off a little as I enjoyed my food and drink but it was still busy when I left.
Why get a train all the way to Manchester and out again when I can cut straight across? No reason at all, so my next move was a bus to Stalyvegas. The bus ride was a splendid trip through places I've never been before, with wonderful views from my seat upstairs at the front.
Rarely, I managed to press the bell at exactly the right time on an unfamiliar bus route, and the bus stopped outside the station right under the railway bridge. Here, there was a slight hitch, the driver pressed the button, the door creaked and wheezed, but it didn't open. He pressed close and open a few times, with no effect. Was I going to be trapped? Eventually I gave a little tug on the emergency handle on the door, and it sprang into life and opened. I jumped off quickly and as I entered the station, the bus was still at the stop. I've no idea if it managed to carry on in service.
As you've probably guessed by now, my destination was the wonderful Buffet Bar. I've been coming here since December 1980, including for a reunion with university friends in early December each year, but that's no excuse for not visiting at other times, so if I'm in Manchester with a suitable train ticket I always try to come here.
When I arrived it was a lot quieter than it is for our reunion on a Friday evening, but still ticking over nicely, with a wide array of real ales on. I chose another from the same brewery in Glossop, and settled down in one of the side rooms - If I recall correctly this wasn't part of the pub when I first came here, there was just the main room and the conservatory. And you had to walk down the platform and use the railway's gents, there wasn't one in the pub. Ah, memories; on one occasion, after a couple of pints I headed out to the gents to find an inch of fresh snow on the platform.
Time to go, two trains took me home.