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Previous Pint Pleasures - June 1, 2004

guinness eileen

The Dunkirk Inn, 231 Barnsley Road, Denby Dale, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

"Denby Dale, Denby Dale,
Denby Denby Dale,
Oh, how I feel like singing a song,
a song about Denby Dale."

I do, really -- it's just the way the name rolls across the tongue. Perhaps someone has already written a song about Denby Dale. If not, then I leave you my rather pitiful but workable first verse.

I wouldn't have known about Denby Dale if it hadn't been for a Sheffield friend. It was on a recent pleasant weekend day that Pinky invited us to come with him to visit his parents in Upper Denby. Located between Penistone and Huddersfield, Upper Denby is an invitingly unaffected village with well-kept gardens and lovely countryside all around. Aside from the nearby windfarm in Thurlstone, which was erected in 1993, the village imparts a feeling of a simple pre-Internet, pre-texting, pre-Broadband, pre-Botox Yorkshire lifestyle.

After having a traditional Yorkshire cup of tea with Pinky's parents we took a stroll down the traditional Yorkshire road to witness the site of the world's biggest pie, baked in 2000 to celebrate the new Millennium, the Queen Mother's 100th birthday, and the 150th anniversary of the Penistone Railway Line. The pie "tin", now planted with flowers in front of Pie Hall, held the record-breaking pie which weighed 12 tons and measured 40 feet in length. According to the Denby Dale Pie Company this was the 10th large pie produced by the village, the first being baked in 1788 to celebrate the recovery of King George III from mental illness. After that came the sheep-and-fowl-filled Victory Pie in 1815 to celebrate the victory of the Battle of Waterloo; a larger pie in 1846 to celebrate the repeal of the Corn Laws; an 8-foot-diameter pie baked for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887; the Resurrection Pie a few months later; a 16-foot long pie in 1928; the 18-foot- long Village Hall Pie in 1964; and the 20-foot-long Denby Dale Bicentenary Pie in 1988. And for visitors without gargantuan appetites the Denby Dale Pie Company bakes ordinary-sized pies as well.

Sorry about this, but I just can't control myself, so here comes a second verse:

"Denby Dale, Denby Dale
baked a really big pie.
Now it's full of flowers and dirt
so I wouldn't eat it, not I."

As all this talk of pies was making us hungry, not to mention thirsty, we headed up the road to the Dunkirk Inn. Like the village around it the Dunkirk is pleasantly unaffected, with several small rooms and a comfortably authentic feeling. The staff are very friendly, the fireplaces appear to function (which is a pub rarity these days), and there is a collection of foreign notes mounted on the wall behind the bar. (But why is the American dollar the only note mounted vertically?) Over pints of Barnsley Bitter (3.8% ABV, Acorn Brewery, Wombwell, Barnsley, S Yorkshire) we discussed giant pies and then Pinky regaled us with stories about growing up as "the only punk in the village" (in reference to the "Little Britain" sketch). We accompanied our pints with a good lunch as well: the plaice and chips were spot on and the chicken was quite tasty. With its nostalgic flavour Barnsley Bitter is a suitable pint for listening to stories of yore. Although it's not as javalike as the original Barnsley Bitter from Barnsley Brewery days it's still an enjoyably dark, roasty quaff.

I'm still wondering about that vertical dollar. What does it mean? Does it imply America is perpendicular to the rest of the world? Is that why there are so many global problems right now? Could it be that all the U.S. needs is a healthy dose of feng shui?

I suppose I should come back one day and ask the pub staff. In the meantime:

"Denby Dale, Denby Dale,
It's a lonely place for a punk.
But if craving an ale in Denby Dale
just stop in at the Dunk..."

...hmm, needs a bit of work...