If you’re reading this, it might mean that you haven’t departed for warmer climes as soon as the kids’ schools broke up for the summer holiFLAGSday. Or maybe you ARE reading it after sitting for 14 hours in a queue of traffic waiting to get on a ferry to France from Dover, and are wishing that you were still in Otley having a pint in the garden of one of our lovely pubs! [Commiserations if you did have to suffer that, by the way!]

If you are still here, there’s plenty to occupy both you and the kids of all ages over the next few weeks. To kick it off, the flags are going up all over town to celebrate Yorkshire Day and the Olympics – thanks to Otley BID, Otley Chamber of Trade and the Town Team Volunteers. Talking of which .  .  .IMG_20160726_212922683



Remember I told you about the Town Team Volunteers? Well, there are now almost 50 people signed up to be tourist guides for Otley visitors, and helpers at Otley events. Must be the attraction of wearing the err . . . cool(?) . . . polo shirt and/or hat and/or badge in Dutch football fan orange!! So if you ever come on a coach to Otley via Emmerdale, or visit the town for a festival, and want to know where to find a café, a pub or a pork pie – these are the colours to look out for.


. . . AND OVTE IS NEXT . . .

In terms of specific vOVTEolunteers needed, it’s the Otley Vintage Transport Extravaganza again on Sunday the 11th of September. Anyone willing to help either with setting up on Saturday the 10th or when it’s on, on the Sunday, should contact the organiser Nigel Francis direct at ).
On the Saturday they’ll be mainly marking out areas and putting up tents and flags, starting about 9.00am and going on into the afternoon. On Sunday it would be stewarding the event and helping on the fields, starting at 7.30am and finishing about 6.30pm in the afternoon. Any times during those hours would be helpful.



Yep – another reminder that this year marks the 25th anniversary of Otley Folk Festival, from Friday the 16th to Sunday the 18th of September. They are always looking for extra help – especially stewards at individual venues. So if you’re happy to do a couple of hours checking tickets and telling people where the toilets are, in return for free tickets, contact Janet Neve on 01943 511240.



But well before both those events, Sk8 Safe and the Otley Skate Park User Group will be hosting a FREE event, this Sunday the 31st of July, open to all ages and skill levels. This is what they have to say about it [with even more exclamation marks than I use!!]

“A rad day out for all!
Skateboard, Scooter and BMX competitions will be held throughout the day, with TONS of PRIZES to be won! Come down and watch the very best of local talent, with live music provided by Lewis JR Maverick.
This year will also feature a Freestyle Skateboarding Demo from the Late Tricks Freestyle Demomod rally Team! Featuring 3 top UK pros and 2 top amateurs. You don’t want to miss this!
EVERYONE is welcome, so don’t be shy, come along and get involved!”



We mustn’t forget the Otley Mod and Scooter Rally from the 19th to the 21st of August. All organised by Andy at Whitakers, and massive thanks to him for bringing another major event to Otley – and supporting the pubs in town, with events at 9 different venues over the weekend! Even more details in the next newsletter.



This story is (very nearly) 100% true. Most of it really did happen to me. Much of it has happened to many, many young men! See if you recognise any of it yourself!


I’m not sure exactly when I knew I was in love, but I do remember the very first time I saw her. I must have only been about 16, because I was still living at home and hating just about every minute of it. Strangely enough I was out with my dad that day, even though he hardly ever left the house just to go for a walk – and I hadn’t been out walking with HIM since I was a kid. We must both have had enough of my mother’s sarcasm and complaining and blaming, and decided that even each other’s company was preferable to that!

We came back through a part of town I didn’t know all that well. It was nearer the mine than where we lived on the fringes of farmland, and I’d always been told to give it a wide berth, so it’s not surprising that I’d never seen her before. But when I caught sight of her standing there on the corner I knew right away that I was drawn to her in a special way. My dad hurried me past, even though it must have been painfully obvious that I was fascinated by her. “Don’t even think about it”, he said. “I’ve seen the sort of people who hang about round her, and you don’t want to be mixing with them!”

Mind you, my dad wasn’t exactly what you’d call the adventurous sort. He was in telecommunications during the Second World War, and he once told me how he’d met my mum and got engaged. He was stationed in England, so he was working with a much bigger number of women than men. They were on a base somewhere in the wilds, with no towns or cities within easy reach, and where all their entertainment was provided on camp. He said there were so many women chasing all the men, that the only way to stop them . . . [Hang on! ‘Why would you want to stop them?’ I thought. At my age, the thought of being almost locked away with women throwing themselves at you sounded like paradise! Still . . .] the only way to stop them, was to choose one, and then stick with her. If that was as romantic, or dangerous, as it got with him, I really wasn’t sure I wanted to take his advice.

So naturally, the first chance I got, I was back round there hoping to see her once more. Sure enough, there she was again and we just hung out together on the corner for a while. She was called Marie Louise, and despite my dad’s warnings about her and her type, even her name sounded exotic and exciting to me. She must have known I had no experience, but the attraction at first was purely physical anyway.  Ridiculous as it sounds now, I felt that even that very first time I got up really close to her, she wanted me to get up the nerve to go all the way! She knew what most schoolboys sit in their bedrooms thinking about, and she wanted me to know that she was waiting for me when I was ready. I went back to see her several times before I actually had the courage to do it though. Yes, I had friends at school who used to boast about their first times – some younger than me [yes, even way back then!] some of the girls as well, and of course some of them had done it together already. But they’d never been very specific about what to do, as though everything would just come naturally, so I had no idea how to go about it. I just knew I was going to be as nervous as hell. I was so worried that she might just turn me away because of that – and I wasn’t even sure what it was that I was supposed to wear!

But I needn’t have worried. When it finally happened, she was so warm, so open and so welcoming, that it was all over before I even had time to think about it. Yes, money changed hands [you really didn’t think anything else, did you?] I quickly had a beer, and to this day I’m still not sure whether it was just because of the alcohol that I still felt light-headed when I got home. At the time I was 100 per cent certain it was because of her alone, and that I was in love. I went back as many times as I could after that, and every single time she was as warm and welcoming as that first encounter. Of course I knew I wasn’t the only one. There were many others that she welcomed in, but curiously that didn’t matter – it even made her seem more attractive to me. She wasn’t noisy, or rough in any way, and I really appreciated that, as I was still young; still nervous; still unsure how to behave or what she expected from me. Despite my dad’s warnings, I never had anything to fear from her, or from her other men.

I left home eventually to go to college, and then to work, and of course as I got older and more confident I had many other similar encounters wherever I went. But I never forgot my first love, and none of them was ever so exciting or satisfying as that first time. So when I was driving home from London one Friday night, I decided to go round to her old haunt to see if she was still there, but with no real hope that things would still be the same. Amazingly she was still standing there on the corner, but was only a shadow of her former self. Her doors were boarded up, some of her windows were broken, and her name ‘Marie Louise’ on the pub sign had been egged, graffiti’d, and even shot at so much that you could hardly read it. I had tears in my eyes as I sat outside and remembered all the good times I’d had with her, enveloped in her warmth and with her other cheerful customers around me. I know traditional pubs like her are closing every day, and being replaced by bar cafés and trendy craft beer joints, but for me and those of my generation who remember that coming of age experience in their teens, nothing will ever replace going into the local pub for the first time. I’ve loved her since that night, and will do for ever!

– – / / – –

SO WHY HAVE I PUBLISHED THIS? – We’re already co-hosting the launch of the latest collection of poems from Otley Word Feast Press on the 6th of October, and they are all poems about pubs. So I thought I’d try to write a bit of prose about a pub as well, to see if it would prompt anyone else to follow suit. If you have a story that has anything to do with a pub, or pubs, that you’d like to share – fact or utter fiction, long or short, funny or sad – send it to me and I’ll publish yours in the newsletter as well. If you’ve always wanted to write for an adoring public, at least 400 people will see it! You never know, we might even be able to have a whip round amongst the committee to come up with a suitable prize for the best story [even if it’s only a free pint]. So go on – have a go!



At about 7 pm on Thursday the 4th of August, the Otley Pub Club committee members will be meeting at the bar of THE JUNCTIONIMGP2141 on Bondgate, and buying a drink so they can settle down to the formal business of the agenda at precisely 7:15. If we haven’t finished by 8-o-clock – tough! – we then stop . . . and spend the next three quarters of an hour in the same pub socialising and chatting with any members who have come to join us.

THE JUNCTION is on the corner of Bondgate and Charles Street just opposite Chevin Cycles, and since The Yeoman closed (7 years ago now!) it’s the first pub you see when you come into Otley down the road from Leeds. It’s a traditional bar, with an open fire when needed and a small ‘snug’ to one side, with a wide choice of beers. Often full of dogs, or cyclists, or rugby fans, or musicians as well as real ale drinkers, and with regular live music sessions. There are tables outside on Bondgate and a beer garden at the back if you prefer sitting outside, but it’s not the easiest place for on-street parking – although there is off-street parking down Charles Street, and Sainsbury’s car park further along Bondgate. Then at 8:45, we’ll all move on to –IMGP2135

THE ROSE AND CROWN – as beautiful an early 18th century pub as you could imagine, bedecked with flowers, on the corner of Bondgate and Crossgate, just where the X84 from Leeds has to wait to turn into the bus station. So in many ways it epitomises the image of Otley pub culture to visitors staring at it from the top deck. It would grace any country village anywhere in England, and it is just as nice inside, with welcoming traditional pub furniture and fittings. The lunchtime menu is massive, home-cooked, and so popular that the pub is always fully booked for special meals at Easter, Mothers’ Day and Christmas. Equally popular is the music and cocktails scene it provides into the early hours for a younger audience at weekends. After a bit more chat and another drink, we’ll move on at 9:30 to our final pub for the night –

THE OLD COCIMGP2143K – Has been on the Otley pub scene for less than 10 years, but has been winning CAMRA awards almost since the day it opened. May not be the biggest pub in Otley, but still offers one of the biggest ranges of real ales in town. Lovely stone building with cosy rooms upstairs and down – you would never know it hadn’t been a pub all its life since the date of 1755 it proudly bears on the front. It’s directly opposite the bus station, so you don’t even have to finish your drink until you see your bus pull in!
Hope to see you at one of the pubs, or all three, and of course at all our other events or just enjoying yourself in an Otley pub!


Bob Brook

OPC Secretary

28 July 2016

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