APOLOGIES for a start if you have gone out today and paid your hard earned 65p to just read the fine missives from our master of all things real ale and public house Mark Briggs.

You see our man at the heart of the community has decided to take a well earned holiday – yes we give him those – and when looking around for a replacement for the week, the king of the Lancashire Telegraph features department looked in my direction and barked: “Donlan, you go to pubs...get your pen out.”

Always happy to oblige – well more in fear of the consequences of saying no – I decided that I was indeed the man for the challenge of following in Briggsy’s boots.

I mean who can resist the lure of a night out on expenses? ‘Real do’ I thought...or so I thought!

“There’s no expenses involved...just get writing” was the next order so I headed out into the wilds of a Blackburn Saturday night to do my duties.

As well documented in this very column, Blackburn town centre is not what it used to be. Most pubs are on the quiet side while some are filled with the sort of folk you probably wouldn’t want your worst enemy to spend a Saturday night with.

But the Station at Cherry Tree is something of an exception to the rule.

For a start off it’s busy. People want to go to the Station and it has become something of a destination pub rather than a local. In fact on my visit it was packed to the rafters with people listening to what I thought was a karaoke until I realised from looking at the posters dotted around the pub that the noise was coming from an actual paid for singer.

But the beauty of the Station is the large outside area with tables that mean you can escape the volume on a nice evening.

After being served remarkably quickly – sorry Briggsy, I had a lager not bitter or a Guinness - I headed outside and realised fairly quickly that there must have been quite a lot of people who had the same opinion about the singer as me because the whole area was heaving.

But it was a good crowd of people having a good time and when the singer’s first turn finished, I headed back into the pub to have a look around.

The Station is a good pub, very clean and it was also unusual to see a pool table in full operation with loads of ‘knocks’ on during such a busy Saturday night.

The lager was as you would expect and on a warm evening went down very well four times before I headed back out into the night.

There was a queue of taxis as real revellers started to plan their trip to Preston or Manchester while I strolled to the chippy across the road for my supper.

It was a good old evening - and I still tried to sneak some expenses through.