Sunday 30 September 2007

Sur le Continent

Last weekend we had a trip to France. It was a quick hop under the channel and a short drive down to the Cote Picarde/Baie de Somme area. It appears to be one of those areas that is bypassed or ignored by the British. Some French friends of ours have a mobile home down there, and we had arranged to meet them for le weekend. I’m sure I’m missing the point but the actual Baie de Somme was not over impressive. It’s obviously a place that is important in natural history terms, although not important enough to stop French hunters being let loose with guns to blast ducks and goodness knows what else to kingdom come. In many respects the bay is not too dissimilar to The Wash, just longer and thinner. Sadly we didn’t go armed with binoculars so we couldn’t see the Phoque.

There are some wonderful little towns near and on the coast, including one called Brighton, which is nothing at all like its namesake in the UK. A mix of sleepy promenades and buzzing bars and restaurants seem to be the order of the day in most of the towns. The weather was gorgeous but surprisingly the people were not in great abundance. It was just so pleasant wandering around.

Fishing is a significant industry on this part of the coast. This means that there are an abundance of fish stalls and fantastic fish restaurants. Saturday night saw us out at a restaurant in Fort Mahon Plage; it is supposedly quite famous throughout France. You can believe it as the food was fantastic. There were also queues outside the door for the second evening sitting. They were turning people away in droves. It was a good job our hosts pre-booked our table. I had Hareng Doux for starter followed by the ubiquitous Moules Frites, the like of which I’d never tasted before, and for pud a couple of dollops that were L’Ile de Flottant. Scrummy.

Me skimming stones

It was a hectic weekend bombing down there and back in such a short space of time. Plus when you get there you don’t want to come home. The journey was helped and made a lot easier by both The Armchair and Thomas Tom. I hope we can return soon.

P.S. Sorry for any French misspellings but I couldn’t be arsed to check the correct ones. Why our closest neighbours haven’t learnt to adopt English yet is beyond me. If the Americans can just about manage it surely the French can!

Tuesday 18 September 2007

Ain't that right boy

This morning as I was driving to work I saw this old boy in a flat cap walking along the road holding a radio close to his face with the aerial up. In the age of the MP3 player, headphones etc. it’s good to see that parts of Norfolk are still in second gear when it comes to the juggernaut that is technology. I can just imagine him saying to a contemporary over a pint in his local hostelry, ‘these new wireless transistor radios are something, only trouble is it makes the Light Programme sound a lot different !’.

Sony ICF38 Portable AM/FM Radio (Black)

Friday 14 September 2007

Are you a beer drinker?

If you’re a beer drinker you might have heard of Michael Jackson. He was to many, a guru and the most famous beer writer in the world. Sadly he died of a heart attack a few weeks back. He had also been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

Alan of A Good Beer Blog is suggesting a world-wide toast to the late Michael Jackson on 30th September and give to a Parkinson's disease charity. This call has been inspired by a national toast to MJ that has been organised in the USA.

The idea is to raise a glass and raise some money for charity. Please click here to read more about Alan’s suggestion.

Please try and organise something in your part of the country. Stonch brings news of something happening in London.

Please support the call. It's your round!

Please pass this on/tell the world about it.

Wednesday 12 September 2007

Brave new world

I know that there is universal disappointment that we still haven't got the rocket packs, protein pills and robot generated infinite leisure time promised during the white heat of technology era. But all the boffins that are out there working on this important stuff need to cease immediately, and get onto an idea that I've just come up with to save the planet.

Climate change is probably the biggest challenge we've ever faced on earth. There's an awful lot of talk above reducing our carbon footprint, but not always the practical solutions. I've come up with a cunning plan to sort the world's energy problems and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels in one fell swoop. I'll explain:

The answer lies with the male gonadicus danglii. It doesn't matter how cold I am there is always one area of my body that is boiling hot, namely the underpants region. Now the science of heat exchange is a well-established one, and so is generating electricity from the process. I also read recently that scientists have successfully transmitted electricity by Wifi. So there we have it, the answer to all our energy problems. All that has to be done is to join those three things up issue all us men in the world with ACDC Wifi Y-Fronts and Bob's your uncle, lashings of electrically (as Catweazle used to say). Sustainable energy, well at least for 5 minutes at a time anyway. Should I patent it ?
Can I retire now ?

Perhaps the title should have been Pubic Service Announcement or How Green is my Valley.

Thursday 6 September 2007

Olive Branch Pub Named 'Michelin Pub Of The Year 2008

Seems like the pub we stayed at early this year has won an award:

Olive Branch Pub Named 'Michelin Pub Of The Year 2008'
Easier - Chester,UK
The Olive Branch & Beech House in Clipsham has been selected as the Michelin Pub of the Year 2008 in Michelin's Eating Out in Pubs guide which is launched ...
click here...

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Vive la Revolución!

I was intrigued by the feature on the Today Programme on Radio 4 this morning about my favourite writer George Orwell. Apparently the government have just released secret service files that they had on him. Now call me an old pedant, but I can’t believe that even our secret service could have been stupid enough to have a file on George Orwell. They probably had one on Eric Blair though. It turns out he wasn’t a threat and/or a communist. Well bugger me; you only have to read his books to work that one out!

I harbour a hope that, languishing somewhere in some dusty corner of mid to late seventies filing, there is a faded dossier containing details about me. After all I went on those ‘troops out’ marches, watched by Special Branch photographers on the roofs of buildings lining the routes. As a member of the Labour Party Young Socialists I help organise a summer school to which we invited and were seen socialising with a Sinn Fein member. I even attended the odd communist party meeting, although I never considered joining them. They were too earnest, too impractical and too fucking irritatingly anal. I also did my fair share of anti-Nazi/anti-racism marches. So I should be most displeased if I ever discovered that I didn’t get a mention somewhere for being a possible threat to national security. If I’m not I shall feel highly cheated. It will mean that I sat though things like endless debates with Militant Tendency devotees for nothing. Actually that’s a lie, as you didn’t debate with Militant Tendency, they were so far down the food chain that they were incapable of rational debate or even thought. They thought what they were told to think and managed to repeat it ad nauseam, and at every opportunity. Oh happy days!

Sunday 2 September 2007

RIP Michael Jackson

I was saddened when I read the news on Friday evening that Michael Jackson had died.

I was weaned on ale, but my tastes were restricted to mainly East Anglian real ale. That was until Channel Four screened Michael’s singular and most excellent series The Beer Hunter in the late Eighties. Or was it early Nineties ? After that I wanted to try as many different beers as I could, particularly Belgian ones.

When we set up the beer shop his Great Beer Guide was our bible for deciding what to stock out of what was available. He was also responsible for liberating many, many people from the idea that it was wine that had the exclusive right to be drunk with food. Beer he taught us was so much more versatile and complimentary towards food than wine could ever be.

Thank you Michael for opening my eyes, and taste buds to the diverse range that is beer. You changed my life !


It’s been a long hard slog but over the last few months but we’ve now managed to get our house onto the market. Two years of setting up and running the beer shop took its toll on the house and us. The house had been used as a storage extension for the shop and had also been neglected in the decorating/DIY stakes.

We’ve de-cluttered, decorated a number of rooms, hacked back the garden and put in a new pond, sold the shop fittings that were filling up our garage after the shop closed and cleaned and tidied the house from top to bottom. Phew !

Now all that has to happen is it being sold. Gulp ! Easier said than done I suspect in today’s climate. Anyway fingers crossed we can sell it and then start seriously looking for a house in Norwich.

Normal blog service should now resume.