Sunday, 24 August 2014

An afternoon by the Seaside.

With an upcoming trip to Kent on the horizon, it was decided some acclimatisation to the rarefied air of the South was sought. So, after a bit of deliberating, we set off to Grimsby Town railway station to start our southern fact-finding expedition. On the way, we popped in The Parity. Another pint of Springhead's "Leveller" was sampled along with half of Tom Woods "Lincoln Gold", a 4% pale bitter. Again, this busy, sports orientated boozer came up trumps and both drinks were eagerly enjoyed.Glasses emptied, off we went to the station. Tickets in hand. Destination?? Cleethorpes! Ok, I know it ain't that far south but it is a heady 3 miles further south than Grimsby town centre, and only £2-30 return each on the choo choo. T'other 'arf was at work the following day,so this was to be a small session.We started off in The Coliseum Picture House. I opted for the award winning "Pale Rider" from Kelham Island, whilst my lovely assistant went for Adnams' "Broadside". The place was heaving mostly due to it being Bank Holiday weekend. Our beers were eventually drawn, and a perch found.It is strange how these places, with no juke boxes or loud television sets blaring out, generate such noise.The art of conversation may not be dead..........even if people are just talking about the latest app or that text/facebook message from someone or other!
Within 30 minutes of our arrival,most of the beers on the bar had changed.T'other 'arf stayed with "Broadside" while I chose Tom Woods "Melton Mild". This, I was told  "wasn't on yet" "Lincoln Gold? " I enquired. "No, not yet" I therefore ended up with TW's 3.8% "Best Bitter" I can assure you this wasn't "on" yet either. Slightly clouded,a speedily dying head and no freshness to the taste.Not being bothered to queue up again, I forced about half of my pint down and we left. These seaside drinking establishments  MUST watch their beer quality because the winter months only bring locals out to play and we are very discerning.Our next port of call was "The Nottingham" in Sea View Street. Local CAMRA pub of the year 2014, this is an absolute gem of a pub.Very busy on Saturday nights, we squeezed inside and ordered our drinks
"Probably the best porter I have tasted!"
.We both had a dark vanilla porter by Box Steam Brewery called "Funnel Blower" A new one for me, this 4.5% brew was, probably, the best pint of porter I have tasted in quite a while. I was very surprised my half pinter enjoyed it too,as she isn't a lover of this beer style. The taste and aroma were full but not overpowering, and there was a creaminess to the long finish.We would have stayed longer but,alas, the train beckoned.Grabbing some excellent chips on the way, we set off back to the station for the 19-26 back to GY.With 25 minutes to spare,we popped into the No 2 Refreshment Room (or Under The Clock as it is also called.) Another regular in the Good Beer Guide and previous POTY, this tighly spaced little boozer always has a good selection of ales on.York Brewery's 3.6% Golden ale "Guzzler" was the half pint of choice, and I arrowed in on another Golden ale, Phoenix Brewery's "Sticky Wicket" at 4.7%. My pint had a faint fruitiness to it.whuch, I admit, was not unpleasant. Quite the opposite in fact.The "Guzzler" was clean tasting and very refreshing. Finishing our drinks, we trotted the 30 yards or so to our waiting train, and 10 minutes later, we were "Back up t'North" in The Yarborough.Our "ones for the road" were the 5% "Stormstay" from Hanlon's, a good flavoursome Premium Ale,which tasted rather like an American IPA styled beer to me, and "Vengeance". This brew was from the Nelson Brewery in Kent.A 4.8% Premium bitter,this had a subtle sweetness to it. With a trip to Kent upcoming, a Southern expedition to Cleethorpes (3 miles away!) completed, how very apt to finish with a Kentish Ale.
Cheers and keep it "Real"

Monday, 18 August 2014

Summertime Blues

After the truly awful weather that August has thrown at us, and beginning to suffer from "cabin fever" having been either at work or stuck at home, looking out on the effects of Hurricane Bertha, we decided to see if the world was still revolving around Grimsby's wonderful night scene.......even if it was a Sunday!!The first disappointment was the fact that, although still Summertime, my shorts were to be ignored and jeans worn. God, I really do not like the days of change from shorts to jeans. It makes one realise that Autumn is not too far away.I shall try to brave it out for a few more weeks though.
The Hope and Anchor
First stop was The Parity.This being week 1 of the Premier League, the remnants of the live match were still present in various states of sobriety. This never seems to be a problem in here, and within 30 minutes of the end of the game,the place was quite empty. We decided on "The Leveller" at 4.8% and a half of "Robin Hood" bitter(4%) for the lady. Both were from the Nottingham brewers "Springhead" and both enjoyed immensely.The Leveller is a smooth,dark brew and, when served right, an excellent year round ale.After finishing our drinks,we headed over to JDW's The Ice Barque, at the Riverhead. There was a very disappointing selection of ales when we arrived and I opted for Sharp's "Doom Bar" at 4%. Unfortunately it was in poor condition and had to be replaced for a pint of Marston's "Pedigree" which also was not it's usual condition.It fell flat quickly and lacked taste.The half of Abbot didn't seem to have much life either. I gave up,leaving a good measure in the glass we decided to give this establishment a wide berth for a while.Now to a pub we haven't visited for ages. The Hope and Anchor in Victoria Street. A single roomed pub,just off the main shopping area,this used to be a busy little boozer,but,as managers came and went,clientele changed and it began to lack an identity.It used to have a quiet little snug years ago.I once enjoyed a couple of pints in this little room,late one evening. As people bade their farewells, I just chilled out.Now all alone in the bar, I was suddenly thrown into darkness as the staff, assuming everyone had left, turned off the lights and readied the pub for closing.I not sure who was the more surprised, me from the indignity of finding myself in the darkness or the barmaid who suddenly became aware that something was stirring in the gloom!!Back to the present. Although only a few people in, one ,Big Gaz,has always found time to "have a yarn" with us and we enjoyed our visit back here.The only ale on was Well's "Bombardier". Another beer that when served well is a bloody good pint.This was a bloody good un. Next stop was The Yarborough.Here we had Robinson's "Trooper". A beer developed with Bruce Dickinson, of Iron Maiden fame and a real ale enthusiast, amongst other things.A good Premium bitter with quite a citrus subtleness to the finish.Very nice.T'other Arf went for Adnams' "Broadside",another favourite of ours.We finished off the evening with a pint of " SA Gold" from Brains' brewery and 1/2 of "Summer Valley" from the Caledonian stable. Both Golden ales,both over 4% and both very enjoyable. Next was to face the cool,unseasonal breeze on our stagger home, and to allow our thoughts to drift away to a warmer place, where shorts are most definitely required.
Cheers and keep it "real"

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Back to Life. Back to Reality

It's Friday, I'm Knackered, and we are home.

After a nightmare drive home from Norfolk, a drive of about 3 hours normally but because of those lovely ongoing roadworks at King's Lynn,2 toilet stops and a drop-off in the sticks, we took over 4 and a half hours to reach home.First job? Crack one of my bottles of Home Brew open. Unfortunately,in our absence, the warm weather had had a slight effect on my "Wilko Pilsner Lager". After cleaning up the puddle, removing the glass shards imbedded in the outside of the fridge and opening a couple of bottles outside, I managed a 1/2 pint of this amber dynamite.Sod it. Bath (much missed whilst away).Dressed.Pub.
We were out by 6-30pm and approaching the Parity.We opted for Oldershaw's "Barkston's Bitter" for our refreshment. A smooth tasting bitter,and ,at 3.6%, a good session beer. Although "Caskade" ,from the same brewery, was also on tap, we stayed with our original choice. Try the window seats in this pub if possible on "going out" nights. The sights can be quite , erm, how shall I put it,surprising? Funny?Scary? Diplomatically, I would suggest the word interesting. Hens,Stags, those young and not so young.Those who should know better,those that obviously don't. A good snapshot of most Towns at a weekend.I'm sure I didn't go out like that ............Aaah, besides that time......nevermind. A couple of tipples later and we were on our weary way across to The Yarborough Hotel. A bit quieter than most Friday nights in here but still a few "interesting" people coming and going. As always, a good selection on the bar. I started with "King of the Rocket Men" from Kelham Island's brewery. A Pale Ale of 4.5%, this was a refreshing drink with a good bitter-sweet aftertaste. Very nice.T'other arf chose Loddon "Bamboozle" 4.8% Another Pale Ale,this one was a lot crisper in the finish. Both were enjoyed immensely.After these we went for Mallets "Kalamazoo"  an American style IPA which was typically aromatic, as this style always is, with a surprisingly dry finish and, I think, around 5%, and Grafton's "Lady Mary. This Golden Ale also came in at 5% an had a very fruity aroma to go with the bittersweet finish.We finished off with two more of the same before we went to "The County" to see a local covers group called Loose Ends. If you like 70's/80's rock anthems, like I do, these are a band to catch. Usually The County offers 3 or 4 good real ales. Tonight, unfortunately, none. We were told that they had got problems with it at the moment. I do hope that whatever that is,it will soon be rectified.It was past Mid-night by the time we left, so healthy food was in need. We chose the Salad, with side helping of kebab, chips and sauces!!! Oh the bliss of crap food after a night out is so wrong. 

It's so shiny and new!!!

On Saturday, we had arranged to meet our friends, aka Butler and Olive, at JDW's new pub in Cleethorpes. Going by the name "The Coliseum Picture House", this High Street pub has been very tastefully refurbished. With 3 levels, one a No Smoking Roof Garden, there is plenty of room in this pleasant boozer. The staff, mostly new starters, were a little slow at times but always apologetic and polite.It'll come. Now, the beers we chose as a group were all from the Newby Wyke Brewery. I have simplified my tasting to name,style and strength. All were excellent and I would encourage anybody to try these beers when available.
Marie Celeste (Golden Ale) 4.6%
Kingston Topaz Gold  (Golden Ale) 4.2%
Black Beerd (Stoat) 4.6%
HMS Shannon (Pale Ale) 5.2%
HMS Resolution  (Golden Ale ) 4.2%
RMS Olympic (Pale Ale) 4.8%
We also sampled Adnams Broadside,whilst Butler quaffed a couple of  Tuborgs' (apparently it was good) and Olive enjoyed her bottle of wine. (Bargain. Only £7-50 and very nice too) Then, it was all over. Back to our friends for a spot of food and a few bottles of beer. Lovely. It was just before 10-30pm I first got kicked under the table.A gentle nudge to suggest I should wake up. Almost awake we left, arriving home about 11-30.

 A long,long week of early mornings and late nights on the Norfolk Broads,followed by 2 nights out had done us both in. Lay in tomorrow........................At 5am the phone screamed at us. "Oh OK Alright don't worry. Of course we will. Yes,yes ok see you soon" It was T'other arf's daughter.She was just about to go in to Hospital. Grandchild No 4 was on it's way.We would be babysitting this bright and beautiful day. Hangover or not. Well, who needs recovery at our age, and it only lasted one more very noisy, sleepless night. 30 odd hours later we were presented with a beautiful healthy Grandson. I wonder when his educational forays into Ales will start?
Cheers and keep it "Real"

Sunday, 3 August 2014

On the Broads with Sapphire 2

DAY ONE Friday 25/07/14

Anchor's Aweigh on Sapphire 2
 The Beermonster, T'other arf and Grandchildren had been waiting for this little trip for AGES. I have always had a passion for boats and this was my 6 or 7th time on the Broads, whilst it was t'other arf's 3rd time and the 2 little monsters first.We arrived at Richardson's Stalham yard about 2pm and were very efficiently dealt with within an hour. Most of this time was taken up by loading our luggage and fishing bits n bobs. I cannot praise this boatyard enough. We had chosen the budget priced Sapphire 2 and were surprised at the quality of such an old boat. A little heads up here. CAMRA members are entitled 10% discount on all Hoseason's holidays. We saved over £70. Anyway, we set off shortly after 3-30pm,after a bait hunting mission into Stalham. A nice market town with 2 or 3 pubs,plenty of shops and a Tesco's. Although untried this time, I have sampled a couple of the pubs here in the past and not been disappointed.Our aim for the first night was to reach Thurne. We made good progress and although slowed down by the yachts on Barton Broad,we still managed to reach the end of the River Ant by about 5-30. The boating traffic was not as heavy as I thought it would have been, Friday's seem to be a good choice for departure day.Soon we had slung a left (turned to port) and joined the Bure. A bit busier now but still manageable.After another hour,another left up the River Thurne, we had arrived in our chosen area and we were surprised to find more than adequate spaces for mooring in Thurne Dyke. Up we sailed, turned at the head and moored for the night.It is £5 to moor here the night but well worth it, as the next moorings, although still with access to the pub are a 20 min walk away.
At the head of this Dyke is the Lion Inn. An excellent family pub, offering a wide choice of Real Ale, food and amusements for the young uns. Showers are also available. The staff were very friendly and, I suppose, have seen it all over the years. Not an eye was raised when a group of 10 or so pirates alighted their jolly craft and "Aaarred" there way into this hostelry.
Whilst the 2 Grandchildren spent part of their inheritance in the slotties, we sampled the ale. Adnams Southwold at 3.8% was my starter, whilst my half pint taster chose "Woodforde's Wherry" Both good and served to perfection. I followed this up with a "Nelson's Revenge" Woodfordes 4.5% full bodied bitter and finished with the same brewer's offering of "Bure Gold" a golden beer of 4.3 %. Lovely. The "Bure Gold" certainly hits the spot when the summer is here with its slightly citrus aroma and a floral after taste to the bitterness. We played a couple of games of pool on the well worn table and chatted to the locals and fellow boaters alike. What ambiance. A tranquil setting and great company with a selection of excellent local beers. Bliss. But time was up and as one famous diarist once penned "....and so to bed"

DAY TWO Saturday 26/07/14

After a broken nights sleep (I am 6ft whilst the bed is probably 5ft 11 and a fag paper) I was up bright and early for a spot of fishing. I caught a few but not a lot. Whilst sampling the delights of these famous fishing rivers,one of the crew from our neighbouring boat, who had helped us moor the previous night, walked past on the way to the services at the Lion. After a quick yarn or two about the joys of boating, it was their first trip, we discovered that we were fellow "Grimbarians". There turned out to be a least another couple of parties from good old Grimsby moored in the Dyke.Small world???
A hearty breakfast was prepared, eaten and "Buurrppp" regretted "Afore ye cast off a rope. Aaarrgh" Sorry. Forgot to tell you we bought a Skull and Crossbones flag in the shop last night.I may slip into that Piracy talk now and then. We left the moorings and headed back down the Thurne to rejoin the Bure as we were looking to moor at Acle. The kids had been promised a day at the seaside, so instead of messing about judging tides and what have you, we decided to moor as close to the bridge at Acle and use public transport.
Mooring up after an hour or so at the stretch before Horizon craft (£4) we started the stroll into the village. This amble turned into a 25 min tortured heat march."Are we nearly there yet?" was the anthem. Eventually our departure point was found and soon we were on our way to Great Yarmouth by bus. Yippee. The kids sort of enjoyed it, especially the shops of tat! After agreeing to let me have a free hour before our return, I headed to the Troll Cart. a JDW's near the Market Gates shops.
The Troll Cart
Clean, friendly and a good selection of beers. I only sampled 2 here. Great Newsome's "Harvests Gold" a lovely clean tasting ale packing a punch at 4.7% and Woodforde's Nelsons Revenge. Both served to perfection at this vibrant and busy pub. Then it was time to head back to Acle.Off we went on the bus and only fifteen minutes later we had reached our stop. We decided on a taxi back to Acle Bridge and we were quite happy with the £4 fare. We decided to have our meal on the boat and stay the night here.A couple of hours fishing was well worth it. A dozen reasonable fish on the feeder was more than satisfying.The Bridge Inn was only a 5 min stroll down the bank and had plenty for the kids to tire themselves out on. A "Wherry" and a "Adnams Broadside" later we were back on our boat.The Bridge Inn is quite a busy place, and offers good moorings outside. Obviously a magnet for families, a quiet night here may be a rarity.Nice place though.

DAY THREE Sunday 27/07/14

Another day dawned.Another dozen fish bagged and then it was time to go.We left our moorings, hoping to take on water but the queue of boats for the same service deterred us.Showers would have to wait! Back up the Bure was the plan, and the increase in boats was evident.After a couple of hours or so, we came upon the Ferry at Horning and the adjacent free moorings. We took on water here and stayed for a the afternoon. Beautiful sunshine beating down, we decided to venture around the area.An excellent stop here. The pub has a bouncy castle and slide, swings and other kids rides.The boatyard has a few facilities as well including an indoor pool.The kids loved it and I dreamt of owning one of the boats in the nearby sales year, if I get those 6 numbers.We ate here and the food was quite adequate, reasonably priced and served in good time.
Enjoying The Ferry at Horning.
Carvery meals are also available. We only sampled the "Bure Gold",  "Wherry" and "Nelson's Revenge" although "Gold Speckled Hen" was also on the pumps.Again, good conditioned ales.Bootifull.
On a Sunday afternoon, The Ferry has a "turn" on. A very witty group who kept us entertained on the outside stage.After our refreshments, we set off up to the outskirts of Wroxham. We came upon the Salhouse Broad Island moorings, and decided to moor here, as we couldn't be sure of any spaces if we went on further. For £6 a night which goes to the upkeep of the Broad it was well worth it. The fishing was very good and we soon had a good 20lb of skimmers and roach before nightfall.With nothing on the island besides fellow boaters and trees, this is a very quiet idyll. Ssshhhh.

DAY FOUR Monday 28/07/14

The Famous Roy's
Monday came and after another 20lb of early morning fish, we left to reach Wroxham an hour later.The journey was a little uninspiring, due to the lack of sunshine and a gathering gloom of rainclouds.We moored in Faircraft Loynes boatyard, took water and headed into Wroxham and, of course, Roy's.This family certainly have a good selection of shops and were probably entrepreneurial before the word exsisted.As soon as we entered the Roy's Toys "Booooom" The thunder storm hit us.Now. I am all for self preservation, but to be stuck in a toyshop with 2 kids, pocket money ready is not my idea of fun.We eventually extracted ourselves from the varied riches on offer, via the foodhall for provisions, and Roy's McDonald's, headed back to the boat and were fortunate to run into the Bridge pilot.He had just refused to take one of the hire boats under Wroxham Bridge, due to its height, and agreed to take us through, if ready.Quickly we were.Now that is an experience.These pilots are so good at teir job and make it look so easy." Thank you Skipper." and off he hopped to do the reverse trip with someone else.
We carried on to the free moorings at Coltishall. A quaint place but it can be noisy moored near the road.We wandered to the nearby "Rising Sun" had a swift couple of drinks before staging the FA Cup final on the grass.That was it really.The beer was "Wherry" good. The football Knackering and the night came and went.8-7 ........8 sodding 7. I lost due to being kind, maybe unfit and oh ok older.

DAY FIVE Tuesday 29/07/14

We set off up to Hoveton Viaduct free moorings about 9am as we had planned a day out at Bewiderwood Adventure Park. After waiting for a bus, we were advised that we could walk there. Only 20 mins. Wrong! At least 35 mins later 4 sweaty figures arrived. We paid and entered this kids wonderland, with story tellers, slides, climbs, mazes and all manner of adventures. Even I had fun. If you have kids, it is worth a visit.We spent a good 4 hours here and only left because of the need to catch the bus back.Back in Wroxham, I went for bait whilst T'other arf got bread and milk. We met back at the "King's Head" by the river. I sampled a "Charity Ale" here which went down very well.The pilot had agreed to take us back through the bridge in 30 mins so lucky again.Once through the bridge, we headed down to the moorings at Malthouse broad. Unfortunately they had already filled up, so we tried those at South Walsham. Same here but we did manage the last of the mooring posts and let the rhond anchors do the rest.Early night tonight.........after fishing.

DAY SIX Wednesday 30/07/14

After a bit more fishing we set off for water and with plans to end up back at Salhouse, this time across the broad.Stern on mooring.We took on water at Ferry Marina and then continued to Salhouse. Arriving shortly before mid-day we duly paid our £6, showered, and then walked into the village to catch the bus to Norwich outside the Bell. Because we took the wrong road after the wooded footpath from the broad, we missed the 1-15 bus so had to wait an hour for the next one.We popped into the Bell and I had a pint of "Lancaster Blonde" a golden ale of 4% which was a little too citrusy for my taste.Half a Timothy Taylor's 3.5% "Golden Best" was also sampled. A lovely refreshing drink. Most would not believe it is a mild.This has a big area outside for playtime.Football and cricket ball supplied.
Sunset over Saphire 3 at Salhouse Broad.
After much shop looking and a tantrum or two, we decided to eat out and after our first choice, The Ribs of Beef, had stopped serving (real shame as it is one of my favourite pubs in the City and always has a good range) we ended up in "The Glass House" just down the road. Another of JDW's outlets,this one was typical of most.I enjoyed a  peri-peri chicken with a free pint whilst the boss woman had the Southern fried style chicken strips with the same drink. You can't knock these places for value for money. It isn't ever going to feature on Masterchef but you know it is going to fill you up.Next was the finding of the bus stop for our return.Easier said than done! Eventually we found the correct stop and were soon back in Salhouse. A swift pint later at The Bell and we set off back to Salhouse.Watching the sun set over this area is always special. Coincidently, after spotting our sister ship, Sapphire 3 the day previous on the Bure, She was moored next to us at Salhouse! We also spotted Sapphire 1 on the Bure earlier that day.We fished for a couple of hours and caught a few decent roach on sweetcorn.Tomorrow we would be cruising all day so an early night was planned..

DAY SEVEN Thursday 31/07/14

I awoke at 5-30, got the fishing gear ready and waited for the rest of the tired motley crew to come to.By 8am we were all up.I had a few fish and we started to formulate a plan for our last full day. My lovely partner had earlier asked about putting the water on." You know were the switch is" I replied. "On the dashboard" she confirmed.As I settled back down to fish, and the rest of Salhouse slumbered...."PAAARP" "I think I pressed the Horn!!" Silly woman. I think most of us got up early that day.We set off after taking water at Salhouse.A bit of advice. Mooring at the end 2 or 3 spaces will mean that the water pipe doesn't reach,so repositioning before you leave is necessary.We headed for Ludham via Womack water and after a couple of hours we arrived. We decided on the free moorings before the boatyards. Good choice as the
The Crew of Sapphire 2
stern on moorings at the top of the staithe were almost full. We wandered into Ludham, a beautiful village with friendly locals.We had a drink in the lovely King's Arms with its outside dining area,children's play area and good range of ales.Again I plumpted for "Bure Gold" and again it was well delivered. Back to the boat and time to cruise back down the Thurne,up the Bure and then up the Ant.We had planned a couple of stops on thev way, but decided to find somewhere to moor for our last night on the boat, near an eating house.We ended up at Wayford Bridge and its adjoining public house of the same name.Another pleasant location and a large pub to cope.The staff were excellent, and service very good but we did find it a tad expensive for what was served.Not a moan but a niggle. The beer we chose was "Best Bitter" a malty brew from The Grain Brewery of Norwich.A full rounded flavour, this amber coloured beer was as good as anything we tasted all week.4.2% Very nice and moreish.We settled down back on board after paying our £8 mooring fee and fished one last time.The fishing didn't last long because the weather turned squally but not before our Grandson,Lennon caught his whopper of a roach.

DAY EIGHT Friday 01/08/14

Going up the River Thurne.
And so that was that.We left our moorings feeling pretty miserable that it was only less than an hour away from our boatyard and we quietly cruised along past our memories of one week before.Not a lot was said just contented sighs.We got back at Kingfisher quay at 9am and were professionly booked back in.Within half an hour we were back on the road to Grimsby.We had been given almost half of our fuel deposit back so the cost is not always as high as it seems. We had had a brilliant time.We obviously got on each others nerves at times, but that is part and parcel of it.We could have done more cruising and boozing but for the children but that did not deter from the experience.It was after all a Family Holiday.The beer and pubs visited were excellent and the food delicious.Fishing was enjoyable and there was always something for the junior crew members.I for one cannot wait to return.If you haven't been,go if you went years ago, renew your love of this area.You will not be disappointed.Oh and we did happen upon Sapphire 4 on our travels too.A full set of Sapphires. Is there a prize for that??