New world meets old

By Janet Eldred

On 1 October, I arrived in York from the States, eager to begin a year of postgraduate study at the University of York and to experience life in England. One of my first purchases was the Kate Fox book, Passport to the Pub. I read it cover to cover in my first week, absorbing the instructions and advice offered in approaching, understanding, and enjoying pub life. Armed with this information, I was eager to plunge into York's pub culture.

Yet, as a 30-something female burned by the American bar scene, I was reluctant to venture into pubs on my own, despite Ms Fox's assurances that I would not be accosted by lecherous men. An early pub crawl with university mates increased my confidence; but, wouldn't it be nice to find one individual who could show me a variety of pubs not frequented by university students, something a little less frenetic, a little more mature, and suiting my style?

To my great good fortune, I soon made the acquaintance of a native Yorkshireman who willingly undertook the challenge. On our first outing, this gentleman took me to The Blue Bell and The Red Lion, and I knew I had found the guide I was seeking. Each of these pubs had an individual style and atmosphere, and by going with one other person, I felt comfortable asking questions. I was off and running!

As my Yorkshireman and I have become friends, we've continued our personal pub crawl, including among others The Masons' Arms, The Golden Slipper, The Slip Inn, The Golden Ball, The Five Lions, The Roman Bath, and The Black Swan. Each time, I learn a little more about pubs. And, as a non-beer drinker in the States, I have also started to learn a bit about English beers and to sample the amazing variety of brews available. Finally, I have had the pleasure of being welcomed by familiar faces and of buying a round for new friends.

In just 10 weeks in York, my pub-going has afforded insights into this country, as I had hoped, and I have made new friends in the bargain. I have also reached the stage where I now investigate new (to me) pubs with visiting friends--and even make recommendations to fellow students! In December, I read my first issue of Ouse Boozer, and was pleasantly surprised to read about pubs I had been to or seen in my travels around town. The magazine has also provided much interesting reading about breweries, guest beers, festivals, beer laws, and news of pubs that I'm anxious to visit. As an American, I know that my opportunity to see York's pubs up close and "from the inside" has been unique, and has sped up the pace at which I've settled into my new home.

Janet B. Eldred, 1997