Casual because I’m relaxing in my hotel room and away from the mayhem that tends to be a feature of Friday and Saturday nights here. Carlisle is one of those places that relies on everyone from the surrounding villages and towns to descend upon its pubs and bars in search of a good time. It’s not unique, I could list a whole host of such places that I’ve passed through over the years. Chances are every village for miles will be having a night off from its resident idiot as they’ll all be drawn here like moths to a flame.

I know Carlisle of old. I’ve often stayed here for work – such as the round Britain trip I’m doing now for RAIL magazine. In fact I’m back in the same IBIS hotel on Botchergate I’ve stayed in several time before. Botchergate is the main street when you come out of the station and swing Right. It has so many pubs the street’s actually blocked off to traffic at weekend evenings. My hotel room overlooks it.

I’ve travelled up here from Cardiff where I stayed last night. In some ways Cardiff’s not that different to Carlisle, it’s just bigger and the village idiots have a different accent. Oh, and it has an international stadium! Last night Ninian Park hosted a match between Ireland and Wales. To be fair, the supporters (in my experience of them anyway) were pretty good natured – although the town centre was a mess. Here’s a picture of one of the main streets before the match.

Towns like Carlisle have always had their fair share of pubs you wouldn’t want to walk into because of the people who frequent them. If you did it was a bit like walking into a wild-west saloon as everybody turned to look. Now you don’t have to as the smoking ban of 2006 means most of the real miscreants will be stood outside having a fag or vaping so you can gauge a pub without having to set foot over the threshold!