Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

Hotpotting in Blackpool

Today saw the annual visit of the Lancashire Hotpots to Blackpool. I have made a point of keeping my close season weekends free this summer (for the first time ever) so I can concentrate on writing my book (and save money). But I made an exception for my favourite comedy folk band because this is always such a fun night.

As the gig involves singing and dancing and generally letting my hair down, I deem it necessary to be suitably lubricated in advance. This allows me to fully relax and immerse myself in the music. For many years I’d stand at the back at gigs and gaze on admiringly at those down the front losing themselves in the music, wishing I had the confidence to do that. Dear reader, I am now that person at Lancashire Hotpots gigs. Indeed someone actually filmed me doing the dad dance at a gig here pre-lockdown and I didn’t even care.

Abingdon Street Market

Town is much improved since the introduction of the newly-revamped market, which I reviewed here.

It was here that I arranged to meet my fellow Hotpotters today. Not only does it have good beer to commence the festivities but it also serves magnificent food to line the stomach. Thus it is the perfect place to meet.

As Lee was chauffeuring me into town, I spotted Natasha and Michelle (who I had arranged to meet in the market) walking down the street. We stopped to pick them up, which was a good job, as the rain came down heavily shortly afterwards.

Now that I had company on arrival at the market, I was a little flummoxed, as I was largely focused on showing off the market to them and hoping they liked it. This meant my attention wasn’t directly fully towards the beer, which it would have been otherwise. Hence I veered to my ‘usual’ bar (Nomad) by default, despite catching something out of the corner of my eye on the other bar. Now committed, with two thirsty girls beside me, already eyeing up the beers, I surveyed the taps at Nomad. It would be the usual range, I thought. Dear reader, I was wrong. There was no Purple Burglar Alarm – my session staple at the market. What should I do? Go for the Strawberry Fruli? Hmm then I’d be stuck on fruit beers all day because you can’t go back to dark beers after dessert beers, can you? Oh hello – what’s this?

An actual dark beer! Ok, it’s stronger than I’d have liked on a pre-gig sesh. And I had already been customarily told off by Dickie from the Hotpots about my drinking.

I’m also a bit scared of the word Nitro because I just read it as Migraine (for Salted Caramel and Sea Salt also read Migraine). But I had it anyway and it was good. I’m warming to Farm Yard and may even forgive them for the Meet the Brewer night at The-Bar-That-Won’t-Be-Mentioned-Because-They-Can-Definitely-Fuck-Off when they were giving out free samples and walked right past me every time.

We took a seat at the nearest bench and each scanned the QR code at the table to order our respective scrannage.

My Chicken Biryani. Lush as ever.
Flowers in a tomato tin on the table.

I think this was a Mac n Cheese Toastie for Michelle but I think it was called something more hipster than that. She was impressed as three types of cheese were clearly visible.

The food was delivered by a lovely smiley young man. But you may have noticed that Natasha hasn’t had anything. After watching me and Michelle eat, she queried her order with the smiley man. They hadn’t received her order! Good job she checked. Anyway she resubmitted it, a massive pizza arrived, we politely declined her offer to share, as we were full after our lovely scran, but Natasha diligently (and impressively) polished off the lot by herself. Michelle observed that she was eating it like a sandwich, placing one slice upside down on top of another. Top pizza teckers, there, Tash!

By now we were on our second drink.

This was on the other bar so I had one of these.

But not before I was distracted by the most exciting beer tap ever!


I was so excited I took this video to show you and also showed it to the girls straight away. Being Hotpotters (people who seek the joy in life AKA nutjobs like me) they were also highly excited by this and Michelle immediately ran over to take a video of her own.

I spotted fellow Hotpotters Nigel and Gail across the hall and waved manically in their direction. They joined us at our table and almost immediately asked for food recommendations (we Hotpotters also like our food). I of course recommended Tuk Tuk and they ordered a Chicken Biryani and a Lamb Karahi and possibly some sort of starter or dip but sadly not the cheesy naan which I’m desperate to see (and try a bit of) in real life.

I’m the one in tangerine, of course.

They’re a lovely bunch, this lot: friends I’ve been collecting through Hotpotting these last few years. They also get bonus points for being pliable and dutifully joining me at the next pub on my itinerary without diverting (attendees of Big Bash 3 please take note). You might have noticed I’m a bit of a control freak diligently organised when it comes to pub crawls.

Mercifully, the heavy rain eased off just at the moment we took the very short dart across to Topping Street to the next drinkery.

Cask & Tap

Here’s the beers that were on in the best pub in town today.

Obvs I had this one from my fave NW brewery.

I followed up with the Brass Castle Zest for Life (6.5% chocolate orange stout) on keg but only had a third because I needed to exercise decorum tonight apparently.

It was standing room only when we arrived but we soon navigated our way onto a small table and later, as our party grew with the addition of Martin and Jayne (sic), a larger table.

I got to chatting with Nigel about Radio Lancashire and he told me he had first met fellow Hotpotters Lisa and Stu (who you met in this blog) when they posed together for a naked calendar with Radio Lancs. This was, of course, top gossip that I needed to share immediately with Natasha and Michelle. They soon demanded evidence which was forthcoming the following day (you don’t need to see that).

Sooner than I would have liked, it was time to head to the Grand for the gig. But I wasn’t ready to stop drinking yet! I contemplated a flyer but decided against it. I didn’t need it really.

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The Lancashire Hotpots @ Grand Theatre

We skipped down to the Grand, where there was already a queue out the door. It moved quickly, though, and I headed into the foyer and then on to the Ladies, refreshment counter (for a water to drink during the gig) and the merch stall (I think in that order, but it’s getting a bit hazy now). I bought the new Hotpots hoodie and the Boddingtons-style tee (both in size small – thank you Paddington). Then I trotted into the theatre to take my seat on the end of the front row (prime spot for dancing).

Beautiful theatre this.
Is that an otter I see before me?

The gig was fab as always, with much laughter and signing and dancing and general frivolity. Even the theatre staff were getting involved, singing and dancing with us. It was such a joyful evening. And I might have had a pint of some sort of smoothflow or something at half time because after all I really had wanted that extra beer and I was sitting right by the door to the bar so it was hard to resist.

This is from the Hotpots gig at the Grand in 2022. Can you see me down the front in the yellow tee?

Loads more gigs to follow later in the year which I may or may not blog about but follow me on the socials @blackpooljane so as not to miss out on the action. It really is wonderful to be able to go out and do this sort of thing again after so many years of lockdowns and restrictions and caginess. Get out there and support live music – and support your favourite bands and buy their merch – because there really is nothing else quite like it.

Next Up: Wigan Warriors v Warrington Wolves.

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