This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.
 
Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which not only documents all our trips but includes product reviews, site listings, storage locations, mobile service engineers and much more. It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Theakston – Hogshead

WP_20131227_003What they say: Hogshead Bitter is a very traditional style of beer using the finest Maris Otter  malt, combined with luscious cane sugars complimented by delicious, fruity Bramling cross hops to give a malty, crisp and hoppy flavoured ale. It is one of our more popular seasonal ales and goes superbly with ham and light cheeses.

Less well known than the widely available ‘Old Peculier’ and those that know me will read the blurb and know that this is my sort of beer. 4.1% so a nice balance of flavour and strength. Made the mistake of serving it to cold – couldn’t wait for it to warm up after it being outside in the awning – but very tasty nonetheless!

Elgoods – Warrior

WP_20131227_001What they say: Warrior is a truly traditional style English Bitter Ale.  A blend of finest Pale Ale, Amber and Crystal malt is used for the fruity malty flavour and generous portions of English Hop varieties (Challenger, Goldings and Fuggles) give a well developed hop character.

I’m really liked this offering from this Cambridgeshire brewery – as the blurb says, a good old fashioned strong bitter that’s not over hopped. 5.5% so go easy.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Time to say goodbye…..

We took dear old Patsy over to the dealers today for her check over and to say goodbye. We’re not picking Patsy 2 up until next week but it was silly to drag her ladyship  all the way back to storage.

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Whilst they were checking her over we had the chance to look at Patsy 2 and get a few photos, so here she is:

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With everything completed it was time to say goodbye to the old girl, and I must say she has done us proud. Incredible it is that 2 years ago we hadn’t even bought a caravan, yet look at what we’ve done and where we’ve been with her since. That first trip to Crystal Palace then the 3 month trek around the British Isles. Shorter trips to Essex, Dorset, Somerset, the Cotswolds & Kent to name a few. That lovely summer down in Cornwall and Devon too. She’s kept us warm, dry and comfortable and given us some great adventures, although we never got her over the channel and in to Europe.

Patsy 2 – you’ve got  a lot to live up to, but somehow I think you’ll manage!

Bye darlin’.

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Of course, that would have been the last we’d see of her, but we were back at the dealers not five minutes later, for a final glance at her ladyship…….and retrieve the cutlery that was still in the kitchen drawer. Doh!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Black Sheep –Golden Sheep

WP_20131225_008The blurb: Enjoy a taste of summer all year round with Golden Sheep our premium golden ale. With its dry and refreshing bitterness that develops with a light, citrus fruit flavour, it really hits the spot……..Characteristic Black Sheep dry palate with marked grapefruit-hop and very long refreshing finish……Golden Sheep is a light golden ale that develops with zesty grapefruit and other citrus fruits, with a clean, crisp bitterness and long refreshing finish.

A ‘young’ beer that started life as a Tesco’s Finest beer in 2005. The blurb says it all, another top quality ale from the guys at Black Sheep. 4.7% in the bottle though so treat it with respect.

Adnams – Lighthouse

WP_20131225_007The blurb: Based on our Champion Pale Ale, Lighthouse is a golden beer with a light fragrance, lovely malty flavours and a long hoppy finish. Brewed with Pale Ale and Crystal malt, it has a hint of caramel and toffee. It’s hopped with a blend of Fuggles and Goldings hops.

We’re starting to see more of this Suffolk brewers beers on shelves around the country – and that’s a good thing. 3.4% so nice and light and easy drinking. Paler than I usually prefer but I really enjoyed this. Serve a bit cooler for a great beer on a warm summers night – if we get any!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Patsy 2 – more photos

A fellow caravanner and Twitterer (@ElvistheElddis) who is much more web savvy than me scoured Google’s archives and found some more pictures of Patsy 2 from the dealers website. The ‘new’ van is a VIP, rather than a Pastiche (like our current van, Patsy) but the name will stay. And as another caravanner pointed out – VIP – very important Patsy!

Check back for more photo’s when we pick her up on the 22nd.

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Thursday, 9 January 2014

A new arrival……

I’ll get straight to the point – unusual I know – we’ve bought another caravan.

From the 22nd January we will be the new owners of a 2007 Coachman Vip 520/4 from Marquis in Sussex, trading in dear old Patsy who has given sterling service during her time in our care – just under two years.

The reason? Certainly not reliability or mechanical. Her annual service last August indicated what excellent condition she was in. We’ve tried to look after her – something made considerably easier given her sturdy build quality.

No, the only reason was space. The addition of a side dinette in the new van gives two extra beds at night if needed  - unlikely but you never know – but gives great extra room during the day. Of course in the summer when it’s warm enough to sit the awning we won’t need it. But of course we don’t only go away in the summer as many know. WP_20140109_001

Only one photo so far, I’ll put some more on when we’ve picked it up in just under two weeks and it will get a test run out to Wiltshire in February for half term.

So, the most important thing – what to call it/her? Vera or Veronica were muted but we decided after a short debate to keep the name Patsy, so she will simply be Patsy 2!

There’s only one photo as I said. I was hoping to grab some off the dealers website but they'd already delisted the ‘van by the time we got home.

So, here she is; Patsy 2. See you soon darlin’:

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Tydd Steam – Yooligan

WP_20131225_005What the brewers say: Dark festive brew.Dark crystal malts combine well with hops giving a spicy sweet finish

Again at the Bridge in Waterbeach, Cambs and nice to see them trying beers from micro breweries. Full bodied at 4.7%. Not as clear as it should have been so not surprising that it didn’t taste quite right sadly.

Wells – Bombardier

WP_20131225_006What the brewers say: Bombardier is an iconic real beer loaded with distinct English brilliance. It's the epitome of impeccable taste and great character. The rich, full-bodied nectar is a lingering reward - English, ever reliable and damned tasty!

From Bedfordshire and found at the Bridge, Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire where we had our Christmas Day dinner. Nice enough but not my first choice if there was a more traditionally bitter ale as an alternative

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Elgood’s - Black Dog

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What the brewers say: An award-winning cask conditioned traditional dark mild. Well balanced malt and hops gives a pleasant aroma and taste, with splendid roasted bitter flavours…….The use of crystal malt and roast barley give a deep underlying characteristic flavour, which is balanced with Fuggles hops as the sole variety.…

From a brewery local to our old home town of Cambridge. Picked this up in Tesco’s and was in such a rush to escape the crowds and incessant  Christmas music from the P.A I didn’t read the description. A dark mild brewed to 3.6% that has won awards from CAMRA but it wasn’t for me.

Worthingtons – White Shield

WP_20131224_003A classic pale ale from Burton-upon-Trent, full flavoured and very enjoyable. Apparently, one of the longest surviving Pale Ales and brewed to 5.6% for an authentic pale ale flavour. Not a session beer – unless you like hangovers  - but a damn fine bottled beer. Procured whilst on tour in Tenterden, Kent.

Friday, 3 January 2014

A Festive Threesome part 4 – Looking back

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a good night and that 2014 brings all that you wish for. Personally we intend to enjoy our new found love of caravanning even more but have pledged to try and lose a bit of weight too. Driving a  school minibus is hardly the most energetic of activities so I need to get organised with my push bike and maybe ease up on the research a little if I’m to stop my thickening middle getting, well, thicker!

Well, it’s wet and windy here again in Crystal Palace. Indeed  since that glorious day Sunday when were able to get out and about  and see at last, Crystal Palace  Park it’s done little else but rain, easing only in the evenings which at least made our er, research expeditions a little more pleasant.

In fact, since Sunday that’s about all we’ve done, the weather encouraging relaxed lazy days in the ‘van reading and generally chilling out – we’ve not even been in to central London, managing only as far as Brixton to check out a bar we’d been told was good. It was, though a lack of real ale lost it some marks.

We’ve met up with friends also on site and made some new ones too. Remember me talking about going to our first Freedom Club meet in Littlehampton over Easter? Well, there was a meet here too over Christmas and several guys have stayed on for the new year.

Last night, having decided early on, not to go in to town, the bars and pubs of Crystal Palace were the recipients of the Blogger in Black and the Portly Partners’ patronage. But first, we called in to reception for drinks and nibbles put on by the excellent wardens here on site. It was a thoroughly enjoyable half an hour or so and gave us the chance to chat to them and to other caravanners.

With one of our favourite pubs – Westow House – ticket only and long since sold out, the Postal Order – a Wetherspoons pub converted from an old Post Office - was the starting point, providing some reasonably priced solid and liquid sustenance. As we got our drinks, a couple of women on one of the table complimented me on my ‘look’ – which was of course the usual, black, black and more black. The number of empty glasses on the table suggested that their judgement may have been somewhat impaired but I was happy with the compliment nonetheless! Two more bars we intended to try were rammed so we adjourned to the Grape & Grain where the party was getting in full swing. The  barman serving recognised the Blogger in Black and said how much he enjoyed the blog, which was really nice of him. Next up, was the Royal Albert. We’d been in the night before and it was dead. Now, it was loud and busy but with a decent pint of London Pride, this was where we saw in the new year. The barman and quite possibly the ‘guvnor’ recognised us from the night before and thanked us for coming. That old trench coat of mine is certainly getting us noticed it seems. I wonder if I can get someone to sponsor me a new one? Anyway, a great atmosphere and a thoroughly good night all round.

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With little else to tell you about our current trip I thought I’d do what everyone else does and look back over the year just gone. It’s been a good year for us – a new home, lots of caravan trips but tinged with sadness too as we said goodbye to Ray, a great friend and brother-in-law.

Right, January. Patsy remained on the drive, up on axles stands to preserve her tyres. Trev returned to work slowing the drain on our finances a little whilst waiting for the bungalow to sell.

February saw our first trip of the year, to the Cotswolds. On the second night, rain turned to snow and we woke to a beautiful covering of the white stuff. It disappeared just as quick allowing us to see some of the lovely Cotswold villages such as Bibury, Burford, Broadway and Stow-on-the-Wold. I, at last returned to work thanks in no small part to a very good friend, something for which I will always be grateful.

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March saw us in Somerset, at the terrific Old Oaks site near Glastonbury. The weather limited sightseeing opportunities a little but friends from Brighton joined us for a couple of days and we had a good time.

On the way back from Somerset we stopped at Littlehampton over the Easter weekend and met up with other guys for our first Freedom Club meet. Chichester and Arundel got a look in and provided some lens clicking opportunities.

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The May half term break saw us back here in Crystal Palace for a week. Primrose Hill, Highgate Cemetery and Greenwich provided the visual stimulus, and the spectacular ‘War Horse’ rounded off a great week.

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July, and the long summer holiday saw us down in Cornwall, near Lands End for nearly three weeks of fantastic weather and great sightseeing before moving on to North Devon for another great week. We returned home briefly to finishing emptying the bungalow and handing over the keys before heading up – again with Patsy, first to Cambridge, then on to Banbury for the inaugural ‘Twittercamp’ meet of like minded Twitter users. It really worked too, most of us hadn’t met before but we all got on well and the two days passed far too quickly. Another meet (or possibly two) is being planned for 2014.

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The beautiful Chew Valley near Bristol was next with the beautiful city of Bath topping the list before returning to Brighton and staying on the site just 4 miles from home, whilst we got our new flat ready.

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The next half term in October saw us back, for the third time, here at Crystal Palace, with a day out in Birmingham, for the caravan show, a tour of the Houses of Parliament and a couple of trips to the theatre all enjoyed as well as the usual ‘research’.

So, with the current trip, all in all we’ve had a great years' caravanning. Next, sorry, this year is already being planned with the long school holidays providing plenty of opportunities to get away. Yorkshire and Ireland are both on the list and planning will start on the Europe trip too even if we don’t get to start it. We may cross the channel for a week to dip our toes in as it were.

Right, until February, take care all, and once again Happy New Year from Rich & Trev.