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.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

A Load of Nonsense – What’s it all about?

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Yes, it’s a sunset! Anyway, by some miracle of the internet or software bug you’ve landed on the front page of my blog called ‘A Load of Nonsense’ – so named with good reason!
 
20 years ago I started writing my first travel diary, on our first ever trip to Australia. I made notes daily and sent a letter home to Mum & Dad weekly. My diaries and letters are long gone but I’ve done my best to recall that first trip down under here.
 
My first ‘blog’ came on an escorted tour of Egypt in February 2009 following the purchase of a little netbook. My partner Trev spoke to his Mum daily at home, but with phone calls from Egypt prohibitively expensive I put together some photo’s and text and emailed them to a her and a few people – who seemed to quite enjoy what I was doing.
 
This continued for all our foreign holidays and cruises and all the blogs I’ve written can now be found over at A Load MORE Nonsense by clicking here.
 
Since early 2012 we have been caravanning  and here is were you will find the blogs of all our trips, including the marathon 20 part British Isles Tour blog recording our three month trip around the British Isles as almost complete caravanning novices. The links on the bar above will take you to pages for other regions and areas we’ve visited.
 
An advantage of all this travelling is the extensive ‘research’ that I’ve been able to conduct on my er, hobby. Head over to the Ale Archive for a pictorial record of all the real ale I’ve sampled on our travels.
 
A recent addition is the Pub Grub Blog. It does what it says - more or less - but expect to see the odd breakfast or afternoon tea spread there too.
 
I hope you enjoy my random ramblings. I’m well aware that some of my blog entries are better than others, indeed when I start to write one I soon get an idea of whether it’s any good by how easy the words come. I welcome any comment good or bad. You can comment at the bottom of each entry or email me at: aloadofnonsense@gmail.com It would be good to hear from you.
 
You can also follow me on twitter: @aloadofnonsense, and Facebook: www.facebook.com/aloadofnonsense where you will find updates on what we’re up to when we’re travelling.
 

Coming soon

Our trips away are dictated  by school holidays – not because we have kids (Christ!) – but because we work for a school. So there are plenty of opportunities to get away.

The February half-term break sees Patsy (our caravan) crossing the water again, but only as far as the Isle of Wight for 5 days preceded by a weekend in Hampshire between Portsmouth and Southampton. We’ve been on a number of day trips and a weekend a few years ago but are looking forward to a longer stay.

Easter is yet to be decided but the half-term holiday at the end of May will see caravanning tweeps - or twittering caravanners and motorhomers converge in the Cotswolds for Twittercamp. The name is slightly misleading as it’s open to, well anyone really, although we all met on social media. It will be at the Moreton-in Marsh Caravan Club site from the 23rd to 31st May. Again, everyone is welcome and many have already booked. Join us for one weekend or the other - during the week, or both. It’s entirely up to you.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Shepherd Neame - Master Brewers Choice I.P.A

WP_20150121_001What they say: Crisp and clean with a refreshing citrusy hop bite, This IPA is burnished gold in colour from the carefully roasted malts used in the mash tun. Hops are added at three stages in the brewing process to give the aroma and bitterness so typical of an India Pale Ale.

Couldn’t find this on the brewers website, so I’m guessing it’s exclusive to Lidl, who were knocking it out for 99p. Lovely crisp bitterness but lacked a little body. Gassier than some bottled beers too but excellent value. 3.8% A.B.V. January 2015.

Dartmoor - Jail Ale

WP_20150109_002What they say: A full-bodied, deep golden brown beer, Jail Ale has a well-rounded flavour and a rich, moreish aftertaste. We’re proud to have achieved many top awards with Jail Ale in the Premium Bitter categories at numerous beer festivals.

Another guest at nearby The Spanish Lady this was every bit as good as the blurb. Another strong ‘un at 4.8% with a lovely rich taste but not one to slosh back in a session. Well, I wouldn’t but maybe I’m a lightweight!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Theakston - Old Peculier

WP_20150109_003What they say: Old Peculier is a beautiful, yet very simple beer, brewed using a very generous blend of finest pale, crystal and roasted barley with two bitter hops combined with the majestic and noble ‘Fuggle’ hop to produce a beer of awesome full-bodied flavour with subtle cherry and rich fruit overtones. It tastes superb when accompanied by rich stews, strong cheeses and sweet puddings.

Aah, it’s been a while since I’ve had a pint of this - certainly not since I started this blog anyway. Our other ‘local’ The Spanish Lady continues to present a changing range of beers and I was very pleased to get the chance to ‘research’ this again. Not a bitter and not a stout. Christmas pudding in a glass? Maybe not quite but dark and rich and I really enjoyed it as a change. 5.6% A.B.V so one to savour.

January 2015

Monday, 12 January 2015

Another Festive Threesome - A belated conclusion

Better late than never - possibly, as we’ve been back from our Christmas holiday getaway for over a fortnight. Mind you a friend and fellow blogger - amongst other things  - has recently published a blog about a trip from August - so that makes me feel a little better!
 
Right, where were we. Ah yes. Christmas. The main reason for stopping in Cambridgeshire was to spend time with Trev's Mum aka HRH and the aforementioned Trev cooked a fantastic meal on Christmas day, utilising our slow cooker from the caravan for the beef which was gorgeous. His sister and brother-in-law joined us from Norfolk for the day and a good time was had by all.  During the morning whilst Trev was busy in the kitchen I also got to try some chilli beer thanks to Trev's other bro-in-law who lives next door. Four different strengths were on offer and, being a vindaloo, or at the very least madras fan, the first two were no challenge at all. The third one however was a different story, and rather than gently sipping it a gulped back a large mouth full. Oh stop it, really. Anyway. Mistake. I entered a state of suspended animation, unable to speak, or more crucially breathe for what seemed a lifetime. Fortunately, some champagne was proffered and gratefully accepted to quell the inferno. No sooner had my senses returned to normal then we were on the fourth of the beers. We were expecting the worst but it was surprisingly innocuous, leading us to the conclusion, that they'd labelled the bottles wrongly.
 
We'd hope to catch up with some some friends too but once again time beat you us. Even research expeditions were limited to a quick pint in the excellent  Duke of Wellington in Willingham whose enthusiasm for real ale means there is always something new to try.
 
The prophets of doom in the met office were true to their word and our pitch was well and truly flooded by the time  it came to leave on Saturday morning. Whilst I love caravanning, there were moments that morning, packing up in the cold and wet, with cold wet feet and my continuing hacking cough that it  - momentarily - lost its magic. Queues at Gatwick airport suddenly seemed very appealing!
 
Our destination was to be Crystal Palace - south London for the uninitiated - and the 75 mile journey could not have gone much easier. In fact I found it very easy as Trev was driving! Soon after midday we were pulling up at reception and by 2pm we'd set up, gone for a pint (yes, just the one, honest!) and a burger at the excellent Wetherspoons in the Crystal palace triangle and settled down for the rest of the day.
 
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Sunday saw us flash the Oyster cards for the first time as we headed over to Shepherd's Bush in west London to meet up with friends and to see QPR take on Crystal Palace in the football premier league. We have no affinity with either club but our friend is a QPR fan and we were staying in Crystal Palace. Moreover both sides were languishing near the bottom of the league. Obviously, some pre match er, research was called for but we managed not to miss kick off - just. The game itself was OK, though it was clear why both sides were where they were in the league. The result,  0 - 0 was about right.
 
Keith and Tony joined us for part of the first bus journey - crawling along past Hyde Park before getting off at Victoria to continue their journey by train back to Brighton. We changed buses at Elephant and Castle pausing for for sustenance - both solid and liquid before you ask - before returning to the site via Peckham.
 
Monday saw us back in the heart of London, but not before meeting up with a couple of guys for coffee in the morning. I'd posted on the Freedom Club message board where we'd be staying and Paul & Terry got in touch to say hello. We had an enjoyable chat and promised to meet up again the following day.
 
The second of our pre-booked activities was the theatre and we decided to go into the city early and get something to eat prior. We left it a little too late and had trouble finding anywhere with a table as the matinee's had all just turned out. We ended up in the upstairs of a tourist trap pub. The food was average, no more but a hastily downloaded voucher on my phone went some way to offsetting the eye-watering beer prices. Service was not included according to the bill. It was barely visible in the pub either.
 
 
IMAG3325The play in question was Great Britain at the smart and well preserved Theatre Royal, Haymarket. A satire on phone hacking and other questionable activities by a national newspaper hacking and the subsequent scandals and court cases. It was easy to spot who the characters were based on although names - and sometimes sex - was changed to protect the guilty. As probably befits a national newspaper office, the language was industrial but it was amusing without being laugh out loud funny. Certainly a play for our time but its limited appeal means it's short run has not been extended. Fans of 'Hustle' amongst many others, would recognise Robert Glenister as the foul mouthed editor.
 
A little research was called for and we found a quiet pub on a side street just away from Trafalgar Square for a post theatre er, de-brief.
 
Tuesday saw us again meet with Terry and Paul for coffee in the morning, then once again heading into central London later on. The Adelphi theatre on the Strand was the destination this time, and another relatively new production, the musical Made in Dagenham based on the film of the same name and telling the story of the fight for equal pay by the women working in Ford's car factory. We were early so took a stroll around Covent Garden taking in the atmosphere.
 
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All in all, a great show. Impressive sets and some great original songs made it a very enjoyable evenings entertainment and a bucket full of cough sweets ensured I could keep shtum during the quieter parts. We eschewed the chance if some late evening research however and headed back to the warmth of Patsy.
 
New Years Eve was a quiet affair. We'd never really intended to go into central London for the celebrations and decided against a tour of the local boozers as per last year. Instead, we met Terry and Paul again for an early evening meal then all retired to Patsy to talk and drink in the new year and very enjoyable it was too.
 
And that, essentially was that. Another trip done and a good time largely had although certainly towards then end I was feeling jaded and below par. Suffolk was lovely, even in winter and we always enjoy our time in London. We splashed out a bit this time on entertainment but there is so much to do that  needn't cost the earth. We already have some plans for our next trip to 'the smoke' whenever that may be, and you wont be surprised to learnt that a little ‘research’ may be involved…..
 
So, at the time of typing its three weeks to half term and our next break. We're going to keep a close eye on the weather and book at the last minute, the Isle of Wight being favourite at the moment. No other concrete plans have been made as yet but the Easter and/or Summer holidays may well find Patsy on a ferry again.
 
So, until then....
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Windsor & Eaton - Canberra

WP_20150101_003What they say: Our third Jubilee beer, Canberra, is a rich chestnut coloured beer brewed with dark malts including Imperial, Chocolate, and Dark Aromatic.  As with the other beers in this series (Treetops and Kohinoor) it is inspired by the use of ingredients from areas of the Commonwealth. In this particular case, this ‘New World Commonwealth Ale’ uses Maple Syrup from Canada and hops from Australia (Galaxy) and New Zealand (Motueka and Nelson Sauvign).

The last bit of ‘research’ in our stay in South London was this offering from a relatively local brewery. 4.0% A.B.V but tasted much stronger, with a lovely malty flavour it was perfect for a cold January day.

Wychwood - Hobgoblin

WP_20150101_002What they say: Traditionally craft brewed with Chocolate & Crystal malts and a blend of Styrian, Goldings & Fuggles hops to produce a full-bodied, Ruby beer that delivers a delicious chocolate toffee malt flavour, balanced with a rounded moderate bitterness and an overall fruity, mischievous character.

Had this loads of times in bottle form - mainly thanks to frequent special offers in a certain German supermarket chain, but never on draught. It didn't disappoint and its one of my favourite ruby ales, thankfully slightly less potent at 4.5% than it’s 5.2% bottled equivalent. January 2015.

Young’s - Bitter

WP_20150101_001What they say: An easy to drink, refreshing cask ale with a fresh, fruity aroma that leaves a long, satisfying bitter finish. It is traditionally brewed to deliver a clean taste and is light and dry in flavour with a subtle taste of hops.

My first beer of 2015, found at the Dulwich Woodhouse during our stay at Crystal Palace. Delicious, helped no doubt by the fact that, thanks to an email sign-up offer, it was free! Would happily drink this again and at only 3.7% A.B.V it’s a great session beer. January 2015.

Truman’s - Runner

WP_20141229_006What they say: Runner is a dark copper bitter that weighs in at 4% abv. Brewed with three different types of hops and five types of malt, it is packed full of flavour yet remains unashamedly easy drinking.
 
Yep, a great best bitter, I really enjoyed this offering from this re-established East London brewery. Found in The Two Chairmen in a quiet side street just off Trafalgar Square in London, but saw it on other bars too. December 2014
 
 

Adnams - Southwold Bitter (Mini-cask)

What they say:
Southwold Bitter is a beautiful copper-coloured beer, late and dry-hopped with Fuggles for a distinctive, lingering hoppiness.

Our first experience of a mini cask was not disappointing. As long as you follow the instructions and give it plenty of time to settle - at the right temperature - you will be rewarded with an ale comparable to what you would get in a pub. Great for parties - or in our case -  Christmas in a caravan, we will certainly look out for another one when the need arises.

Shalford - Levelly Gold

WP_20141231_008What they say? Nothing as the website is down at the time of typing, however this description cropped up a lot on the ‘net: Golden summery ale. A refreshing bitter with a pleasant finish. Made with First Gold Hops, an agreeable alternative to lager.

My third ale from this Essex based brewery and it didn’t disappoint, though I again didn’t handle it carefully enough and ended up with a cloudy pint as it’s bottle conditioned. Also the last one of 2014! 4.0% A.B.V.

Shalford - Barnfield Pale Ale

WP_20141231_007What they say? At the time of typing their website appears to be down, however I found this on the ‘net: Crisp semi dry palate with slightly bitter hops offset by some clean malt. Frothy creamy and almost spicy finish.

A nice refreshing beer found in an East of England Co-Op somewhere in Suffolk. Bottle conditioned so store and poor carefully - something I forgot - numpty. 3.8% A.B.V. December 2014

Portobello - Star

WP_20141227_004What they say: Star is the first beer we ever brewed. It’s a smooth, balanced bitter, which is deliciously floral with lovely coffee notes at the very end. We love it & we’re never going to stop brewing it.

Our first pint on our return to Crystal Palace and Wetherspoons offering, The Postal Order - now in the Good Beer Guide -  and it was only fitting that it was from a London Brewery, established in 2012. A nice pint at 4.3% A.B.V. December 2014

Adnams - Yuletide

WP_20141230_005What they say:

Brewed for Christmas, Yuletide is a wonderful 4.5% abv dark ruby beer with a good balance of flavours and a dry, spicy finish with grapefruit bitterness. Brewed with East Anglian Pale Ale, Chocolate and Amber malts and hopped with First Gold and Eldorado hops.

Another great ruby ale for those dark cold winter nights. Exclusive to Wetherspoons. 4.5% A.B.V. December 2014

Titanic - Festive Thirty-Five

WP_20141228_021What they say: “….It is brewed using all-English ingredients, with pale malt providing a deep golden colour and sweetness, balanced by a generous hop character throughout.”

 

Brewed to celebrate 35 years of Wetherspoons - and credit where it’s due they always offer a great selection of ales. Too hoppy for my tastes but in good condition. 5% A.B.V

Adnams - Lighthouse

WP_20141231_006What they say:

Lighthouse is a light 3.4% abv 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.

A little to golden and hoppy for me but only just. Light enough to enjoy as a session beer. Another excellent ale from this Suffolk brewery.

December 2014 (just!)

Shalford - Stoneley Bitter

WP_20141217_006What they say? Well at the time of typing their site appears to be down, however this text appears on a number of web sites:  Stoneley Bitter is a medium brown bitter, with a well balanced flavour of malt and hops.

Can’t argue with that. Procured in a Co-Op in Suffolk, this beer from over the border in Essex was very enjoyable but bottled conditioned so store, handle and pour carefully or you’ll end up with a cloudy beer. 4.2% A.B.V

December 2014

Okell’s - Aile

WP_20141220_007What they say: Pronounced "Isle", our smoked porter, "Aile" is the Manx word for fire and nothing evokes the dark smokiness of a cosy winter night by the old pub hearth, than this sumptuous, global award-winner. Find your favourite chair and enjoy some pure indulgence.

Another guest at the excellent Duke of Wellington in Willingham, near Cambridge, who certainly keep a nice pint. In fact you always get the choice of either hand pulled or straight from the cask.

Sadly the chairs nearest the lovely roaring fire were taken, which given the weather was not surprising. However this smooth velvety seasonal offering from the Isle of Man was perfect medicine for my sore throat. Excellent stuff but at 4.8% A.B.V. this medicine may make you drowsy!

December 2014.