With age, people get more and more nostalgic, reflecting back to the "glory days". Last weekend, a dual Birthday celebration saw me embarking on an Otley run over a decade since I last attempted it. Unlike the Fresher's Week crawl my eighteen year-old self undertook, there was no fancy dress involved and we didn't start until 3.30 after an exceedingly hearty gourmet pizza lunch.
Our old fogey's pub crawl was dominated by shared jugs of Pimm's and lots of moaning about rowdy stag parties. Our pace had definitely slowed but it was good to be reunited with an old friend again and reassuring to see that although our approach had definitely changed some things hadn't. We may not have managed the full 18 pubs but stops in the nine we decided to make from the traditional 1999/2000 route led to encounters with increasingly inebriated stag groups.
The Taps and Skyrack were curiously male-dominated while The Oak proved ever popular and The Hyde Park particularly rowdy. The Eldon seemed to have undergone a chain make-over and pleasingly served up pint-sized bottles of Hooch – yes, it is back on the market and apparently has been for the last six months!
Making it to The Packhorse was a particularly sentimental stop when we discovered it's still the rockers' pub and bands playing “back in the day” continue performing to familiar faces. After the disappointment of both Leeds University bars being closed, the near-empty Fenton was a more disturbing fleeting visit with its DJ's pumping tunes, calling for a quick shot stop before moving on to the still strangely endearing Strawbs.
Although it lacked clientele, The Dry Dock seemed to be in a time-warp and rounded-off a successful trip down memory lane before some dirty takeaway and the ever-reliable Fab Cafe. To our relief, the play list in Fab remains very much the same, as does its “anything goes” vibe but I was saddened to see an old Leeds' character looking worst for wear with age. A final sneaky blue WKD managed to transport me back to happier days, leaving me hunkering after a triumphant Aftershock. Now I need to find somewhere that serves it and people willing to join me...