Tuesday, 22 July 2008

5th Annual Cornish Beer Festival 2008

Last Thursday (17/7/08) marked the start of Bath's Star Inn annual 4 day Cornish Beer Festival.
The obvious question is; why a Cornish beer festival at one of Bath's premier real ale pubs owned by Abbey Ales (our local brewery), and famed for its great Bass served in jugs from stillage behind the bar. The answer is that Paul the landlord hails from Hayle? No? - Penzance. He and his brother run pubs for Abbey Ales in Bath. Thus we have Cornish Beer Festivals at The Star Inn. Incidentally there is also a Cornish Ale celebration each spring on St Piran's Day.
As in previous years Paul the landlord managed to source some familiar and some not so familiar ales for us to quaff until our pockets ran dry. There were fresh pastys from the local branch of The Cornish Bakehouse (not my personal favorite) to soak up some of the ale and on Friday Star Gazy Pies appeared.
Now to the important part; the ales. Of the 13 Cornish ales listed on the programme I managed to try 7.
Spingo Special - What a treat - normally the only place to find this finest of strong ales (6.5%) is in and around the Blue Anchor in Helston, where it's brewed behind the Inn. A darker ale fully flavoured, rich in fruit and malt and hops. Delicious, and it went down well with the pasty.
Skinner's Heligan Honey - Gently flavoured with honey from the famous Lost Gardens of Heligan, this pale amber ale from Skinner's Brewery at 4.0%, has a fresh character leading on to the light malty, honied palate and finishing with a crisp hoppyness.
St Austell IPA - As a straight forward thirst quencher, this 3.4% pale ale from St Austell Brewery has a character beyond its strength. The copper colour hints at the slightly richer malt flavour leading to a delicious flowery late hopping, which I suspect is the Willamette hop. At the finish this ale just begs to be drawn again.
By the time I'd reached this end of the row of pumps the Spingo had finished although I did persuade the barman to squeeze the last couple of gulps out for me.
Next on was Sharp's Will's Resolve - At this point my taste buds were becoming a little blurred; however I was surprised by this ale which reminded me very much of Doom Bar from a few years back before Sharp's Brewery upsized the operation. Very pleasant sweet maltyness with a lovely hoppy finish - still with that flowery hint so familiar in many of the Cornish ales.
Unfortunately or not (after 4½ pints) I had to call it a day.
On Saturday afternoon Zena and I made it all the way up Walcot Street and round to the Paragon to see what was left. The tone of the place was slightly subdued, but judging by the absence of all but one of the pump clips arrayed above the stillage, a good time had been had by all; however there were 3 brews still on tap.
Blackawton Brewery's Original Bitter and their Exhibition Ale were on, alongside Keltek's Magik. As I waited to be served the Original finished so that was off the list, but the good news was that the last remaining ale to go on was Skinner's Ginger Tosser.
Keltek Magik - This fine 4.0% quaffing brew has a clean bitterness on the nose and the slightly darker colour gives a hint of the malty richness to follow. It is not over hopped on the finish leaving a sweetness on the palate. Keltek Brewery is on a trading estate in Redruth which perhaps isn't The Cornish Idyll but does produce some good beer.
Next up - Skinner' Ginger Tosser 3.8% - All you'd expect from a Skinner's brew. A golden ale with light hopping and the sweetness of honey washed through to the ginger finish. Delicious.
I finished with a half of Blackawtons Exhibition Ale at 4.7%. Brewed at the Blackawton Brewery in Saltash, probably the most easterly brewery in Cornwall. A rich fruity ale with a broad hoppiness deserving of a little time to fully appreciate the depth of flavour within.
All in all I have to say that this was a great couple of days of drinking and look forward to the next one.
Thanks Paul.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Drunken Delinquents!!

Drunken Delinquents!! Is there a problem?
I'll say there is when a passing group of youths who are patently drunk cast aspersions on your partners sexual history in an attempt to get a rise out of you. After being asked to disburse by police you'd expect that to be it, but to find the same antagonists have followed you to another location is very disturbing. Worse still one of the them was overheard to say that his spell in prison for such behaviour was pointless.
A number of issues are raised by this:
1. Who sold them their last few drinks - It is illegal to sell alcohol to persons you suspect may be drunk.
2. Having been warned by police to 'go home', why were they left to continue there night harassing strangers. Warnings must be enforced.
3. Having been convicted of a drink related offense, why are these morons still allowed out to repeat their offences. A drink related offence should bar you from access to alcohol.
If we're going to allow people the right to drink responsibly then we must have sanctions that protect us from people who abuse that right.
The punishment must be hard enough or there is no deterrent and worse, the deterrent becomes a goal - 'It didn't hurt so I'll do it again.'
Comments please.

Identify this Bird, Please

Hi. I took this picture of a bird on my feeder yesterday and I can't find it anywhere on the net. I checked the RSPB Bird Identifier which hasn't got enough pictures of birds of each species so finding some females and most juveniles is tricky.

Anyway, have a look at the picture and if you know what it is let me know. Thanks.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Georgian City Kit - More of the Jigsaw

Now I wonder where these pieces'll fit?

Thursday, 17 July 2008

[wnxx] End of the Line: Withdrawn & Stored Locomotives UK

[wnxx] End of the Line: Withdrawn & Stored Locomotives UK
Here's a gem for enthusiasts. This site contains the the entire whereabouts of locomotives on the UK railway network. Generally it logs the comings and goings locations and status of the bits of kit that haul the freight and passengers around this island. Fascinating stuff, enjoy. PS Get the downloads.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

The things you can do with a longer lens... AKA Georgian City Kit II

A little while ago I mentioned the 'Georgian City Kit', well now I can show you what I see.

The new shopping/housing/parking/transport interchange being assembled as chunks of bath stone faced concrete slab on a reinforced concrete skeleton - hence 'kit'.

Block A is the building at the top of the site, which has nearly got a complete roof now, was the first to get its clothes. Having seen a slab on a lorry a couple of weeks earlier I was intrigued to find out what bits looked like in place.

Anyway, one of things I noticed at the Iceland end was how the masons had worked the stone 'in situ' to reduce the impact of errors in the architects drawings - NOT!!

Check this out....

...and closer.

It's such a shame.

Happy Birthday to Me

It comes around every year and this time it's on Tuesday; anyway I spotted the item that I'd asked Zena to get me and it was a very good price; so I bought it - a lens - to be precise, an Olympus Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f/4.0-5.6 lens. The fact is' I missed the 10x Optical zoom I had on the Fujifilm S5000 that my daughter has since I bought the Olympus E410.

As a great big - Thank You to Zena here are a couple of pictures of The Girls having a busy day.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

EU accidentally orders ISPs to become copyright police | The Register

EU accidentally orders ISPs to become copyright police The Register

Oh Boy - Can we please kick Europe into touch. There is so much bullshit and bollocks we have to take from the unelected arse'oles in Brussels and twice a week (or whenever) in Strasbourg it can't possibly be worth the Objective 1 funding we get. Give In or Get Out!!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Wow! A Wonderful Weekend

Hi Blog Readers. Well after a couple of days getting my feet back on the ground and under my desk I can now look back on a wonderful weekend.
First off, many, many thanks to The Millbrooker and Mrs The Millbrooker for their hospitality at what turned out to be very short notice. I slept well both nights and your bread is gorgeous.
The weekend came at the end of a week's leave that I still had to take from the previous years quota, otherwise it would have been lost. Having seen the Millbrooker blog entry about the impending Gigspanner gig at Kingsand I found the amazing 'The Butterfly' track on the bands web site and began listening to it on my PC in a continuous loop. A lovelier piece of music I haven't heard for a long time!
The first attempt to contact The Millbrooker about visiting was lost in the ether that is The Inter Web. Second time around using email in place of the blogger comments process yielded a successful communication. I was going to be there for the Friday performance. Woo-Hoo.
Thankfully the journey down to Plymouth was uneventful. Thanks First. The weather was threatening to rain but apart from a few drops and a little drizzle it stayed dry. I found a great hairdresser in central Plymouth who did a good 'No.2' all over (hair and beard) for only £9 - I left a tip. Zena thought I looked too unkempt and didn't want my appearance to reflect badly on her. Thanks Zena.
I made my way on foot down to Stonehouse where I could take the Cremyll Ferry across to Cornwall. Of course there's a break in service at lunch time so I popped into The Vine pub to find a very good pint of Skinners Betty Stoggs and a window seat where I could see the ferry leaving Cremyll.

The ferry only takes 7 minutes to cross the Tamar. On the far side is the Edgcumbe Arms. Thus followed my first pint of Cornish ale in a Cornish pub. St Austell's Tribute is always a good beer and the Edgcumbe know how to keep it at its best. Before the bus was due I followed the Tribute with a half of Proper Job also from St Austell Brewery; a delicious, refreshing, citrus, golden, IPA style brew. I'd like to see more of that one.
(I started writing this on Tuesday - It is now Thursday ) Hey Ho!! I left the Edgcumbe Arms 5 minutes before the bus was due to leave and found it waiting. After a brief chat with the driver about his employer (You've guessed it - Fist Group) we were off - I was surprised to find the bus no longer took the picturesque route around Millbrook Lake and Anderton. Apparently when the buses were changed they couldn't use that route so it was changed but the older buses were restored but the route remained unchanged.
Off the bus and straight into the Devon and Cornwall Inn for a fine pint of Moles bitter brewed in Dorset. It was a very pleasant hour I spent there before venturing out into the rain towards Millbrooker Towers. As soon as a Vodafone signal was available I began a call to check someone was at home but as I rounded a corner there was The Millbrooker striding towards me so I hung up, only to get a call back from Mrs The Millbrooker asking if I'd just called (Sorry). I about faced and together we went to the shops TM was after some flour for bread making and I took the opportunity to pick up a pasty from the Spar shop (Delicious after all that Ale).
Once everyone had arrived we ate, not what had been planned but a fine cheese omelet and home made bread before heading off to Kingsand for 'The Gig'. We were to meet the rest of the TM party in The Rising Sun which was heaving. The poor staff were having a great deal of difficulty delivering food to those who'd ordered it but they were consoled by the fact that after a pint we were off up the road to the Community Hall.
As a late bookee my ticket was on the door under the name of 'BathNick' which was appropriate if not a little surprising.
Gigspanner were amazing and I only had to wait until the start of the second half to hear 'The Butterfly'. I will bow to TM's review of the performance at this point. After the gig we joined the band in The Halfway House for more ale and enjoyed the impromptu performance of various well known songs in variable quality. On our return to Milbrooker Towers we enjoyed a couple of drams of the finest single malt before surrendering to sleep.
The following day I stirred at about midday with the vague idea that I walk around Rame would be a fine way to reacquaint myself with the area. After mentioning it to TM we sallied forth with the expectation that there was an adequate window in what was really not very nice weather. I was wrong by the time we got to the top of the lane to Wiggle it was blowing a gale and none of us were dry.

By the time we hit the top of the cliff overlooking Whitsand Bay we had to bend into the teeth of it and we were drenched. The rain was being blown into our faces with such force that it stung. As quickly as possible we made our way down to Cawsand where we dove into The Cross Keys for warmth and ale. The floor was soaked by the time we left. Just as well it wasn't carpet. I think the worst part was putting a wet jacket back on for the mile and a quarter up hill and down dale to Millbrook.

Showers and dry clothes were quickly donned and we reassembled in the living room for the previous days much delayed meat pie that TM prepared. Fully refreshed we awaited the taxi to the second performance of Gigspanner. Owing to the fact that we had a mini bus rather than a taxi and due to there not being another cab available we did a detour twice round the village to collect others going the same way, eventually to the Rising Sun for more of their Skinners Helligan Honey - 2 pints this time although I was the last to sink it and back up the hill to the gig.
The hall was laid out differently this time and as TM recounts - it was a very different gig which I for one enjoyed immensely. All too soon it was over and after bidding our farewells left Gigspanner and started back to Milbrook. I think the plan was to call for the guy who brought us up but he wasn't available so we walked. A very much more pleasant walk than earlier since most of the storm seemed to have passed.
It was an early night for most of us for one reason or another so we had a night cap and found our way to our beds. I wanted to be away soonish in the morning, so woke just before nine. Mrs TM drove TM and me to the Cremyll ferry and after crossing back to Devon walked up through Plymouth to the Station. It was going to be pot luck with the train and I had an idea that I might still get a photo of the Torbay Express on its way to Kingwear. A luck has it sometimes the train to Bath Spa straight through was in 10 minutes - I had just enough time to grab a pile of Ginster's stuff and a pint of skimmed from the station Spar before boarding and a rain storm descended.
As we came in to Newton Abbott I spotted a man with a camcorder setting up so I knew I hadn't missed the express. Getting closer to Exeter through Teignmouth and Dawlish past Red Rock and Dawlish Warren camera'd groups of enthusiasts gazed up the lin and I was sitting well up in case it passed and I missed it. As we pulled in to Exeter St Davids it was there. I could almost hear the curses as an HST pulled in between camera and 34067 Battle of Britain Class 'Tangmere'. I knew I should have got off at Newton Abbott but my train was going all the way and I wanted to be home. I almost nodded a couple of times be fore we arrived in Bath heralded by a sudden downpour - yesterdays weather was still here then.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Are the ice caps melting? | The Register

Are the ice caps melting? The Register: "Dr Richard Feynman said, 'Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.'"