Jane Stuart – Writer

Writing about real life Up North: football, ale, food and mental health – with a good dash of humour.

QPR v Blackpool

We were on the Blackpool Supporters Association (BSA) coach for this wacky midweeker. We could have done without another long journey so soon after Cardiff but at least the coach offered me two good blocks of time in which to write.

We boarded the coach at The Saddle and headed off London-bound at 1045.

Southbound

I spent two hours tapping away furiously at my phone, creating Part One of the Football Tourist’s Guide To Cardiff.

I felt the coach slow down and we were pulling into Norton Canes Services. I decided to stretch my legs. I always used to remain on board at services but that was in the days before my body started seizing up on long journeys (you’ve got all this to come, kids).

There was a new advert on the back of the toilet door which I was interested to read.

Is common sense not a thing any more? And WTF is going on with those men dressed as flies? What do they add to the message? Answers on a postcard…

Foodwise I was sorted today. I’d had breakfast before we’d set out – a bowl of raspberries and yogurt with a drizzle of Sweet Freedom Spiced Orange Choc Shot (which I now have with EVERYTHING). And for the journey I had some Alpen Light bars and Prawn Cocktail Quavers. You see I always START the day with good intentions. But, as you’ll discover shortly, I lead myself astray as the day progresses…

Anyway when I saw this advertised, I began to wish I hadn’t already eaten…

I went and sat outside for a bit (STEP AWAY FROM THE FOOD) but it was cold so I got back on the coach and continued writing for another couple of hours.

The Greystoke, Ealing

BSA always stop at a Spoons for an hour or so en route to the ground. But of course I’m boycotting that chain. Hence I always ask where they’re stopping ahead of travel so I can research other pubs nearby.

Today we were stopping at Ealing and my Good Beer Guide app had flagged up The Greystoke as a good option for our tea. This was a Greene King pub with plenty of SlimmingWorld friendly things on the menu for me to eat.

It was around a 15 minute walk across to this pub from our point of despatch. Early on in our walk, I spotted this Pub of Interest:

Had I been on my own, I’d have popped in for a nose and a drink, but I had Lee with me and we were ostentatiously going to the pub for tea, so I couldn’t excuse this stop-off. It was just as well really. When I researched the beer list online later, it was all crafty stuff I wouldn’t have chosen anyway.

This was an interesting walk with lots to look at.

But finally we were here.

This was a deceptively spacious L-shaped pub. The front section housed ‘the workers’ who were there for a post-shift pint, seated at high tables with high chairs (the kind I don’t like, as they make me feel even shorter). The back section was more of a dining area, which is where we veered.

Via the bar, obvs…

I ordered a pint of Wimbledon Copper Leaf (quaffable). Lee had a lemonade in this brilliant glass.

Love a pub with dog biscuits.
I’m seeing donkey photos everywhere at the moment.
Nice wallpaper.

For tea I’d ordered the steak skewer (which I’d enjoyed at the Trip in Nottingham) but it was off the menu tonight, so I instead opted for the half roast chicken, swapping in greens for chips.

Clearly some chickens are tinier than others, as this was not remotely filling. And I wouldn’t be eating again until tomorrow. Being hungry at the match simply wouldn’t do, as I’d be tempted with a (presumably) crappy pie at the ground (perhaps I’m doing QPR a disservice here, as Championship fayre does appear to be of a much higher standard than League One on the whole).

I felt I had no alternative but to order pudding.

Mmm can’t remember the last time I had apple pie and custard.

Dear reader, I NEVER order pudding – and now that’s twice in a week. I’m definitely off the rails. Even a 3.5lb post-Cardiff gain didn’t stop me wolfing this down (with a second pint).

Decent pub. Decent grub. Time to head off to the match.

QPR v Blackpool

The coach took an age to get to the ground, to the point that we abandoned it before it had parked up. Loftus Road – or the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium as it’s currently known – is in the middle of a built-up area.

The ground itself is tight on space. The concourses are narrow, the stands are steep and there is little space between the pitch and the stands. Indeed from where we were seated – behind the goal – we felt like we were practically on top of the goal, as we had to look more down than ahead to see it.

You know I like an interesting toilet but I always feel a bit wrong taking photos in toilets. I’m always relieved when there’s no-one in there to witness what I’m doing. Tonight I was caught in the act by a woman entering the room as I was lining up a tricky shot. She paused so as not to block my view.

‘I know you’ll have spotted something interesting. I enjoy reading your blogs.’

‘Oh thank you. And yes – look – how often do you see actual philosophy on the wall of a football ground toilet?’

I couldn’t get it all in one frame. With the benefit of hindsight, I should have done a pano.

I was pleased to see QPR had a mascot – indeed they appeared to have a couple. Meet Jude The Cat.

Do I have to write about the match? This is going to be a bare minimum job because it was shit – we were shit. Our hosts had a man sent off for retaliating to Reece James getting angry about something. Critch actually made a sub at half time (Madine for James). But we failed to capitalise on the extra man and lost, despite scoring an undeserved equaliser out of nowhere ten minutes from the end. And I’ll say no more about it because I want to forget this match ever happened.

But, if you ARE interested, here’s the match vlog:

Northbound

I made the genius stroke of wearing my glasses to the match tonight. This was with the intention of sleeping on the way home if I wanted to – but instead this offered other unexpected advantages. I found I could see the match better – although this could have been because we were so close to the action. But also my eyes didn’t get so tired on the journey home, so I was able to complete Part Two of the Football Tourist’s Guide To Cardiff.

We stopped again at Norton Canes and again I stretched my legs. There were other football fans here too, including Leeds and Spurs, but we were all miserable as we’d all lost tonight.

On the last leg, I still wasn’t tired, so I caught up on Corrie.

And we were home around 0315. We might have had no points to show for our trip but I’d ticked off another GBG pub (not that I’m a ticker…I’m not!) and written two blogs so it was by no means a wasted journey as far as I was concerned. You know I like to make every awayday count.

Next up: Blackpool v Reading & Freckleton Pubs

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