This year I landed the best job in the world – PubSpy for my favourite local paper The Argus.

My mission was to discover the very best, and the very worst, pubs in Brighton.

It’s a crusade that has taken me into a few very dodgy boozers but many more fantastic pubs with incredibly welcoming, salt of the earth folk.

I’ve never shirked a challenge and have always delivered the truth, warts an’ all. I’m honoured to have been given this challenge and now, as we come to end of 2017, it’s time for my festive round-up of all the real crackers, as well as the occasional turkey. Welcome to part one.

My virgin visit saw me in Ye Olde King and Queen where a squadron of squawking students rattled around a cavernous building which upstairs felt more like a student union than a pub.

Next up was The Kings Arms in Kemp Town or, as I saw it, the home of the walking dead.

Served by a Gok Wan lookalike I was poured a pint of Sussex Best before he’d cleaned the pipes. But at least he was livelier than the woman with red hair who I honestly thought had died.

Next I found myself on my lonesome in The New Bush, which, at first glance, I thought was closed. It was a bit tatty and a bit smelly, but it’s a real pub and unapologetic about it – if you want somewhere easy going to watch the footie, this is it.

The Sussex Arms was smart and welcoming with jazzy wallpaper and an even livelier carpet. The bubbly bar lady still owes me a hug but I haven’t re-visited to collect yet. This was the first Brighton pub to receive one of my special new calling cards.

Brightonians have turned against The Dorset Bar and Kitchen, accusing it of bending over so far backwards to please the tourists it’s in serious danger of disappearing up its own side passage, complete with its tasteful graffiti.

The Marine Tavern does what it says on the tin. It doesn’t claim to be anything else and I discovered a pleasant break with an interesting set of folks. I’m undecided whether action in front of the famous gold curtain would have added to my visit.

Walking into The Crown and Anchor is a bit like entering a library, except the books have been replaced by bottles of wine – this is clearly a place which values vino. The décor is classy, without being over fussy and they even loaned me a pair of reading glasses.

Into Hove for the first time I found The Neptune. A great little pub probably best known for its gigs. I talked all things doggy here and particularly enjoyed the welcome from Claudia Winkleman, otherwise known as Mary.

I finished March with a double header at The Druids Arms and the Mitre Tavern – talk about chalk and cheese. Six and a half minutes with the whiff of disinfectant in the Druids was enough for me and I walked round the corner to experience the glorious Mitre instead – snug, cosy and buzzing, it was a true delight.

Next up, The Admiral, which contained a mix of punky young students and working guys with a genuine sense of camaraderie who indulged in a lot of hugging and back slapping. Seagulls’ fan Steve left the bar to watch them play Birmingham City – do you remember the days of the Championship?

Good Friday was in Victoria’s Bar on The Pier. Not quite a local, but the view alone is worth the £4.90 a pint and even the idle chatter of tourists and squawking gulls couldn’t detract from this little seaside beauty. Pubspying really must be the best job in the world.

Next it was the big one – the infamous County Oak and while I certainly had plenty to say (you’ll find it all online) it’s also the only pub I’ve revisited in 2017. Fair play, in the hands of a new owner, this is a completely different place and I hope it goes from strength to strength.

Don’t miss next week’s Thursday edition for the second half of my annual review. And on Friday, you can read all about the PubSpy awards – for the best and worst in a whole series of categories.

Thanks for all your wonderful support this year, I’m looking forward to another great 12 months of pubspying in 2018.

Cheers and happy Christmas.