Pendle Forest Cricket Club Beer Festival: It’s OK, you don’t have to like cricket

It’s folklore in the Blackburn family that there were some disagreements about whether my parents wanted a boy or a girl as their first born. It is claimed that my Dad wanted a boy so that he could play cricket for Yorkshire. It is also claimed that they travelled from their home in Wigan back to my grandparents in Doncaster every weekend towards the end of Mum’s pregnancy, so that hopefully Mum would give birth in the land of the white rose. Unfortunately I didn’t toe the line and was born back over the border in Wigan, female, at ten to seven on a Sunday night just in time for the pubs to open. How much of this is true I’m not sure, as over the years it’s become apparent Mum is prone to exaggeration (sorry Mumbo, but its true!). I do know though that despite being a little Lancastrian girl (which my mum was thrilled about); I was still encouraged to show an interest in cricket from an early age. I’d never make 100 at Headingley for Yorkshire, but I could help my mum make the cricket teas every Saturday of the season.

By the time I have my earliest memories we’d left Wigan via Leeds and settled in East Lancashire, where my dad had taken up playing cricket with a local team at Pendle Forest Cricket Club. We duly went to watch every Saturday, played with the other kids and helped the mums put the mini toffee crisps in the men’s teas for their breaks. It is either because of this, or despite this, that nearly 30 years later I have no interest in cricket. I do however have a great fondness for Pendle Forest Cricket Club. My dad had his 40th there, my sister still has a scar in the middle of her face from falling over during a particularly boisterous game of whip in the grounds, and since being an adult it’s been the scene of some great parties.

This weekend they had their annual beer festival, which we had missed last year due to being away. My friend Dave was home on a one night only basis from Poland, so a small group of us ventured up on the Friday night to try a few beers and have a catch up. I must admit I’d not expected huge things, despite having a big function room upstairs the bar itself is quite small, so I was pleased to see they’d kitted out the whole of the downstairs room as a makeshift festival bar and it was really busy.

IMG_9336At this point it’s probably worthwhile pointing out that I’m not the best person to review a beer festival when I don’t drink ale, and I only went on opening night. That said, they had eight different gins on, were selling burgers and possibly bacon fries too, and they’re the friendliest team of staff around – so I’m reviewing it on that basis. Now that craft ale and beards are bang on trend, I’m sure that if you said to the bar staff at some beer festivals that you actually wouldn’t mind a nice cold lager, you’d probably be made to feel the same as if you asked for ketchup in a fancy restaurant. Here there’s no judgement, and you’re just directed to the bar upstairs or offered a Peroni. I’m told that the ales were very good, and they also had a range of ciders, wine and prosecco. I made a point of trying as many of the gins as I could, including my new favourite, Brockmans, which I discovered at Franky’s wedding earlier this month. The rhubarb and ginger Edinburgh gin wasn’t my cup of tea, but I was glad they had it on all the same…as at £2.50 for gin plus mixer I wasn’t complaining.

Graham and his team have always been more than accommodating at any do I’ve organised or been to, whether that’s by letting us carry on partying til about 4am on Chris’s 40th or when 80 of us descended dressed as gangsters and molls for Captain’s 30th.

All in all it was a fun evening with a good atmosphere and the opportunity to try something new at little expense, which in my opinion is what a festival is all about. The weekend apparently carried on in the same vein with a family fun day on Saturday and Facebook posts on the Sunday to let everyone know that the bar wasn’t dry just yet. We didn’t take him up on the offer, but will more than likely add it to the list for next year…

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