Sunday, 28 August 2011

BLOG #36c – THE THOMAS SHERATON, STOCKTON-ON-TEES

Regional food – what’s all that about? (Part 3)

Now people who really know me – have possibly already guessed where this is going!

I arrived on Teesside 4 years ago – but you don’t necessarily want to hear about my problems. Needless to say I’ve made better decisions in my life...

The previous two blogs undoubtedly highlight the pleasure to be had from eating regional delicacies and foods. What could Teesside offer, I wonder?

The chicken parmesan or “parmo” can be loosely described as a delicacy – but which is much loved on Teesside. Typically it is a fried chicken (or pork) fillet or escalope covered in breadcrumbs with a béchamel sauce and served with a grated (parmesan?) cheese topping. Some Smoggies swear that a layer of garlic sauce (another Teesside delicacy) needs to be poured on top. Take my advice – ignore them! - it actually tastes worse than it sounds! The parmo is usually served as a congealed assembly with the largest portion of chips on offer in a polystyrene carton the size of a shoe box. Amazingly it also includes an optional salad – that’s supposed to be the healthy part I believe but who are you kidding? In 2008, Stockton hosted the World Parmo Championships. 

For reasons I still don’t quite understand, I had another one of these delicacies last night after my brief visit to nearby Stockton. It was everything I didn’t want it to be – and much more. I will never understand the Teessiders’ love affair with this dish? It’s actually made me ill just typing this...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/tees/content/articles/2005/09/09/parmo_feature.shtml

The Thomas Sheraton
4 Bridge Road
STOCKTON-on-TEES
Tees Valley
TS18 1BH
Tel; 01642 606134



BLOG#36b – THE STANDING ORDER, EDINBURGH

Regional food – what’s all that about? (Part 2)

Imagine, if you will, one of the coldest days you care to remember – the week before Christmas 2010 – and you booked a day trip to Edinburgh some weeks before when the weather wasn’t so bad.... Maybe not the best idea you had at the time!


Edinburgh has a fine collection of public houses and The Standing Order is perhaps more impressive than its counterpart in Derby.

Cullen skink?

I’d never tried this prior to my trip to Edinburgh last year. But with it being so bloody cold outside, I decided to give it a go in a neighbouring pub (see Blog #2) after spending a pleasant late morning and early-afternoon in TSO...

When in Rome and all that! Cullen skink is a thick soup made of smoked Finnan haddie (smoked haddock), potatoes and onions. Just the job on such a raw, bitterly cold day...

The Standing Order
62-66 George Street
CITY of EDINBURGH
EH2 2LR
Tel: 0131 225 4460

BLOG #36a - JJ MOON'S, HORNCHURCH, ESSEX

Regional food... what’s all that about? (Part 1)

I’m all for local food patriotism. I spent a few years in London’s East End as a young man, and there was nothing I liked better after some lunchtime beers than to get into a pie and mash shop for a generous helping of the said product. For those of you that don’t know, pie and mash is traditional working-class east London grub – and consists of a minced beef pie and mashed potato. It is common for the mashed potato to be spread around one side of the plate and for a type of parsley sauce - called eel liquor – to be poured over the inverted pie – which was usually cut open to allow the sauce to ooze through.

It is known as eel liquor as it is traditionally made using the water kept from the preparation of the stewed eels – another east London delicacy. The sauce has a vibrant green colour from the parsley content and traditionally pie and mash shops have white tile walls - with maybe a bit of Minton-Hollis tile decoration and marble floors, tables and work tops, which are easy to clean and have a distinctive Victorian appearance.

By contrast I wasn’t a fan of jellied eels, I’m afraid. Tubby Issac’s Jellied Eel Stall is still going strong in the Aldgate area and has been there since 1919 – although I seem to remember that the stall was placed elsewhere in the 70’s and 80’s – nearer Aldgate East underground station and the bottom of Commercial Street. It will be a sad day if the stall closes for good – which may well be the case according to the website here:-

http://spitalfieldslife.com/2010/09/23/tubby-isaacs-jellied-eel-stall-aldgate/

Unfortunately some of the pie and mash shops seem to be under threat themselves from fast-food chains. The one I go to these days – admittedly not since 2009 - is Roy’s Pie and Mash in Hornchurch, almost next door to the pub. The pie and mash shops that are still in existence do a booming trade apparently – especially on Saturday night.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A10357102

http://www.pie-and-mash.com/









JJ Moon’s
Unit 3, 46-62 High Street
HORNCHURCH
Essex
RM12 4UN
Tel: 01708 478410






Wednesday, 24 August 2011

BLOG #35 – THE BULL’S HEAD, WILSON, nr MELBOURNE, DERBY

This pub lies close to EMIA – in fact one of the runways is very adjacent. I’ve never been sure whether the pub lies in Leicestershire or Derbyshire. My brother, his wife and I used to come here regularly on Wednesday’s for a short time in the early 90’s to be in the company of Chris Ashley and his wife Margaret – who was in fact the manageress. Chris was a local celebrity of sorts and hosted a variety of radio shows in the east Midlands (and also west Midlands later) from the late 70’s right through to the early 90’s. He also worked abroad in NZ, Australia and South Africa, I think. His work was not confined to local radio and he was an occasional broadcaster on talkSport, notably. A passionate supporter of Brighton and Hove Albion – he was once referred to as “that maniac with a microphone!” when he worked for Radio Trent by Brian Clough. He was last heard of radio presenting in Spain, having vowed that he would take a well-earned retirement. In truth he could knock the likes of James Whale, Jon Gaunt and Chris Evans into a cocked hat...
                                  Chris Ashley
Chris used to host the best pub-quiz I know. Initially this was at the Catchem’s Corner pub in Nottingham and then at The Bull’s Head - almost certainly during times when he wasn’t doing radio work. Interspersed with music and anecdotes, it was an absolute treat to make the journey over to take part in his quizzes – the questions were thought-provoking and the prizes were rubbish! - usually alcohol that had gone past its sell by date – but that didn’t matter.

There was always a sport question and I remember one in particular that went like this:-

“Which English sportsman is sometimes referred to as the 'Greatest British sportsman' in recognition of his achievements - amongst his achievements was winning an Olympic gold and silver at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, winning the doubles at Wimbledon, compiling a 147maximum break in snooker, making a century at Lord's Cricket Ground, captaining the British Davis Cup team, captaining Manchester City FC - finishing runners-up in the Football League Championship of 1920-21 and captaining the England national football team?”

Stunned silence....

Most people viewed the question with scepticism – and this was more to do with Chris’ mischievousness than anything else – since the answer to the question a few weeks before:-

“Which serving US marine became heavyweight boxing champion of the world?” was Popeye the Sailor Man! Some punters were not happy with this bit of leg-pulling, I can tell you!

But I knew the answer to the question and encouraged my sister-in-law to write it down on the answer sheet. I could see other people scratching their heads or else not having a clue and handing in their papers.

The answer?


Maxwell Woosnam (1892-1965) remarkably achieved all these feats during his sporting heyday in the 1920’s and 1930’s. His sporting endeavours are included in the book - All Round Genius: The Unknown Story of Britain's Greatest Sportsman by Mick Collins (published in 2006 by Aurum Press Ltd.). He achieved much more than any other sportsman could possibly cram into their lifetime. More strings to his bow than Robin Hood! If his story is not remarkable enough, Woosnam was also a five-time Cambridge Blue, a scratch golfer and once defeated Charlie Chaplin at table tennis using a butter-knife as his bat...

Needless to say, we were the only team who got the answer right that night. The prize - I can’t really remember...


Max Woosnam
The Bull’s Head
Bull’s Head Row
WILSON (nr. Melbourne)
Derby
DE73 8AE 
Tel.: +44 (0)1332 863921

Saturday, 20 August 2011

BLOG #34 - THE ROOK AND GASKILL INN, YORK


Second pub of the day to depict a hanging scene on its sign - still this is York...

It is now 45 years since England won the 8th FIFA World Cup Final at the old Empire Stadium, Wembley. Geoff Hurst was the nation’s hero on that day by banging in a hat-trick in the 4-2 victory over West Germany (aet). A piece of sporting history...

For me though the real hero of the tournament emerged when an expectant sporting nation, ready to host its first global football tournament in a few months time, held its breath when the World Cup (Jules Rimet trophy) was stolen several months before the tournament was staged.

In March 1966, Westminster Central Hall  held an exhibition of rare postage stamps. As part of the exhibition, the original World Cup trophy was to be displayed for the 3 or four days exhibition duration. Preceding the tournament it was kept under tight security at FA HQ in Lancaster Gate. The trophy turned out to be a major attraction at the exhibition and it was donated on the strict understanding it would be under constant guard at all times. It seems, however that no-one had told the two uniformed and two plainclothes officers that! 

You can guess what happened - in an unguarded moment the display cabinet was forced open and the trophy taken. It was discovered missing around noon on the Sunday; earlier that morning a Methodist service had taken place in the Hall. No Methodists were suspects, however. The trophy was insured for £30,000; but melted down was worth no more than £3000. In fact when thief/thieves removed the cup from the "Sport with Stamps" display at the Stampex exhibition, stamps worth £3m were left behind. Clearly not philatelists, then!

Cue the Flying Squad – no Regan and Carter in those days, remember - long before the days of  The Sweeney! A ransom demand was made to Joe Mears the next day (21st March) the Chairman of the FA, in the form of an anonymous ‘phone call. The unknown man said that Mears would receive a parcel at Chelsea FC (he was chairman of the club also) the next day. In fact, the parcel was delivered to Mears' home. It contained the removable lining from the top of the trophy and a ransom note that demanded £15,000 in £1 and £5 notes. The letter stated that the FA should place a coded advertisement in the personal column of The London Evening News. If they would follow the further instructions, they could get the trophy back by the following Friday. Otherwise, or if the FA informed the police or the press, the thieves would melt the trophy down. Shortly afterwards Mears received another call – a man who identified himself as "Jackson" changed the instructions to £5 and £10 notes.

Despite these warnings, Mears contacted the police, met Detective Inspector Charles Buggy of the Flying Squad and gave the lining and the note to him. Police told Mears to place the advertisement as directed on 24th March, and contacted a bank that created a false ransom payment out of bundles of ordinary paper, with real money only at the top and bottom (that old chestnut!), that were placed in a suitcase. Two police officers were to act as Mears' assistants in handing the money over and went to Mears' home to wait for the next call. The call was duly received and a rendezvous arranged.

The officers attended the rendezvous and after botching the hand-over - in a complicated and farcical series of events in which neither the trophy nor the money changed hands - were forced to apprehend “Jackson” who was revealed to be Edward Bletchley. He was accused of the theft (he claimed to be an intermediary and stated he had been paid £500 for this) and was charged for attempting to blackmail Joe Mears, into paying a £15,000 ransom for the return of the nine-inch solid gold statue. Bletchley was known to the police as a petty thief and used car dealer (aren’t they the same thing?). He wasn’t prosecuted for the theft but served two years for blackmail and soon after his release died of emphysema. In the meantime the whereabouts of the trophy were still unknown.

A week later, Mr David Corbett and his mixed-breed collie dog, Pickles, were walking in the Beulah Hill area of south east London when Pickles started to sniff and scratch at a parcel that was lying under the hedge of a near-by house. It was wrapped in an old newspaper, tied with string. When he opened the parcel, Corbett recognized the trophy – it included the winner's names on the plinth – a dead giveaway! He handed the parcel to the police at the Gypsy Hill police station. Police later took Corbett and the trophy to Cannon Row police station where Harold Mayes of the FA identified the stolen item. Police announced the recovery of the trophy the next morning but retained the Cup as evidence until 18th April. They returned it to the FA before the start of the tournament.

And Pickles reward? A grateful nation certainly! Pickles was invited to the celebration banquet after England’s World Cup success and was allowed to lick the plates clean! It’s a dog’s life, after all... Admittedly his owner copped a £6,000 reward (over £170,000 in today’s money) and the thief was never caught. Not much of thank you though, was it?

Sadly this story does not have a happy ending...


Pickles choked to death by snagging his lead on a fallen tree while chasing a cat in 1967.

Pickles will go down in history as the only dog to tread the hallowed turf of the old Wembley when he went to be photographed with the West German team before the final.

He is buried in the garden of his former home in Station Road, Lingfield in West Sussex which Mr Corbett was able to buy with the help of the £6,000 reward.

When the country was in a pickle - deep in the Branston's - Pickles came to the rescue!






The Rook and Gaskill Inn
12 Lawrence Street
YORK YO10 3WP
Tel: 01904 674067
http://www.castlerockbrewery.co.uk/site/?page_id=17





BLOG #33 – THE THREE-LEGGED MARE, YORK

The Three-Legged Mare - good to be back - and not a bottle of Chick beer in sight!

Fish pedicures? What in Sam Hill is that all that about? I knew fish had fingers – I didn’t know they had feet! Seems I’ve got the wrong end of the stick though...or should that be fishing rod?

Doctor fish is the name given to two species of fish: Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomus. Other nicknames include nibble fish, kangal fish, physio fish and doctorfishen; in non-medical contexts, Garra rufa is better known as the reddish log sucker and is a type of toothless carp. They live and breed in the outdoor pools of some Turkish spas, where they feed on the skin of patients with psoriasis. The fish are like combfishes in that they only nibble the affected and dead areas of the skin, leaving the healthy skin to grow, with the outdoor location of the treatment bringing beneficial effects. Sounds disgusting, if I’m honest with you...

The spas are not meant as a curative treatment option, only as a temporary alleviation of symptoms, and patients usually revisit the spas every few months.

In 2010 the first UK spa opened in Sheffield to help treat patients suffering from various skin disorders, including psoriasis as mentioned above and eczema. There’s one in The Mall in Middlesbrough – hardly a spa location really!

In the US, however, 14 states have banned their use over health and safety concerns of having the same fish clean the skin of multiple customers, thereby increasing the risk of cross-infections. Now that makes sense...

Podiatry can be a very high earning career and was listed by Forbes as the 15th best paid profession in the United States. Personally I can't stand feet - no pun intended.

The Three-Legged Mare
15 High Petergate,
YORK
YO1 7EN
Tel: 01904 638246

Saturday, 13 August 2011

BLOG #32 – DOCTOR BROWNS, MIDDLESBROUGH

Shopping in pyjamas – what on earth is all that about?

You can call me a snob – not that I care... but I don’t understand the recent trend of young women shopping in Tesco’s or Spar to buy their scratch cards and Rizlas wearing pyjamas – with or without Ugg boots – I mean what an irresistible combination! Am I alone in thinking that pyjamas are essentially night attire – exceptionally for lounging in also – but most certainly not for doing the weekly shop or putting on your last minute lottery ticket...

Where will it end? – babydoll nighties perhaps! Might pop along to Tesco’s a bit more often if that’s the case! There’s not a great many things in this world that really get my goat in all honesty – but this is one of them… If you can't be bothered to change out of your pyjamas before you go to the shops, it's not likely you possess any of the qualities which make the world around us a better place - it's too much effort for you obviously – so you can shove that where your Pot Noodle don’t shine! – told you I’m not a snob! How long does it take to pull on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt for heaven's sake! I mean if you've come into your local Tesco's to keep warm and have a kip - fair enough! What next Speedos and flip-flops in Asda!

Last year notices were put up in Tesco’s supermarket in St Mellons in Cardiff saying: "Footwear must be worn at all times and no nightwear is permitted." Good for them – let’s see the same in Belle Vue, please – every little helps!

Doctor Browns
135 Corporation Road,
MIDDLESBROUGH,
TS1 1NA
Tel: +44 (0) 1642 213213

BLOG #31 – THE LAUREL INN, ROBIN HOOD’S BAY, NORTH YORKS.

Chick Beer – it’s the beer for women! A premium light lager from the US, Chick Beer is the only beer brand designed for women, who drink a quarter of all beer sold in America.  Fair enough… Here is some information from the website - http://www.chickbeer.com/.

§ Chick Beer won’t weigh you down. It has just 97calories and 3.5carbs per bottle!

§ Chick’s flavour is more soft and smooth, and less bitter.

§ Chick Beer is lightly carbonated, for less of that bloaty feeling.



Chick Beer finally gives women a beer choice that suits their tastes and their style. The bottle is designed to reflect the beautiful shape of a woman in a little black dress and plunging neckline. Not a hint of sexism, here! The six-pack looks like you are carrying your beer in a hip stylish, purse.

Chick’s unique reflective bottle blings you up! It’s fun, fabulous, and female! And it’s not sold here, thankfully…










The Laurel Inn
Bay Bank,
ROBIN HOOD’S BAY
North Yorkshire, YO22 4SE
Tel: 01947 880400

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

BLOG #30 – CROWN INN, BEESTON, NOTTINGHAM

What to do with your surplus courgettes? That was a problem that burdened our household year after year, when I was a lad. My dad truly had the green fingers and we were inundated with the blessed things each late-summer (courgettes that is, not fingers!). 
Instead of being a time to enjoy the summer break, each mid-August arrived as an oppressive and burdensome period where an over-production of courgettes caused problems in terms of their harvesting and storage. 
It particularly hit my mum hard each year – difficult for her to take – as she was more a cucumber, celery and cheese salad kind of person – with perhaps a few radishes thrown in for good measure. Then she had a brainwave to end all brainwaves! She loved to bake cakes – so why not a courgette chocolate cake? Sounds disgusting? – it tastes even worse!– but this is her recipé, according to her well-thumbed cookbook – owing more to Mrs. Beeton than Nigella Lawson...
 Ingredients  
  • 350g self-raising flour – gluten-free flour with 2tsp of baking powder is fine as an alternative
  • 50g cocoa powder (use a good quality cocoa powder)
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 175ml extra-virgin olive oil (or almond oil for a lighter flavour, if preferred)
  • 375g golden caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2tsp vanilla extract
  • 500ml grated courgettes (roughly 2 medium sized courgettes / or one overgrown) – peeled and de-seeded. Do make sure that the courgettes are firm and therefore less likely to go mushy when cooking.
  • 140g toasted hazlenuts, coarsely chopped – or chopped walnuts / pecans if preferred.
  • 1.5tsp baking powder (optional)
Icing
  • 200g dark chocolate, chopped and 
  • 100ml double cream
Method
1. Heat the oven to 160/180oC - equivalent to fan/gas mark 4 (moderate oven temperature). In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, mixed spice and 1tsp salt. In another bowl, combine the olive oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla essence and grated courgette. Mix the dry and wet mixture until just combined, then fold in the toasted hazelnuts. Line a 24cm cake tin with greaseproof paper, then pour in your mixture. Bake for about 70-80mins (this depends on the wetness of the courgettes), or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10mins, then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

2. To make the icing, place the chocolate in a bowl and bring cream to the boil in a saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until completely smooth and melted. Leave the icing to cool slightly and thicken, then spread it over the cake so it's covered and the icing starts to drip down the sides.
Serve with a cup of tea or enjoy as a pudding with a spoonful of clotted or ice cream. Yummy!


Crown Inn
Church Street,
BEESTON
Nottingham, NG9 1FY
Tel. 0115 925 4738

BLOG #29 - CAFÉ DEN ENGEL, ANTWERP

You come across all sorts of reading material in the library - and that’s the truth! I’m worried that the person who researched this book and thought it was worth publishing – is thinking of writing something else! I mean when the Nazi war machine annexed the Sudetenland and then invaded Poland and the later occupations of Belgium, France, Holland etc. - I very much doubt – and in fact remain quite unconvinced that the uppermost thing on the minds of those being occupied would be questions and concerns such as:-  
Available in all good bookshops...

Are those Panzer tanks running on unleaded fuel?

Would they be reusable stick hand grenades? - and of course,

I trust those bullets have been recycled!

It must be a small comfort to know that the V-2 rocket that destroyed your cherished home, whether that was in London’s East End, Coventry, Antwerp* or elsewhere carried the inscription :-

Achtung! Diese Bombe enthält 100% wiederverwertete Materialien!

It seems that you can get money these days for any crack-pot theory in the name of research, so long as it gets published!


*Antwerp was hit by more V-2s than all other targets combined during WWII. I spent my 41st birthday – a pleasant Saturday afternoon - in the Café Den Engel. My visit to Antwerp was meant to be a three/four day excursion for work - to help out with some IT problems – or so I was told! However I ended up staying there for nearly 2 months – with just the few clothes I had packed for the shorter stay! It was the first time I drank the bolleke - De Koninck's flagship beer. Happy days!


Café Den Engel
Grote Markt 3
ANTWERP, 2000
Belgium
Tel: +32 32 33 12 52

http://www.cafedenengel.be/

Sunday, 7 August 2011

BLOG #28 – BIRCH HALL INN, BECK HOLE, nr WHITBY, NORTH YORKS.

Another small public house following on from the Rat Race Ale House featured in blog #27. The BHI pub has two small bars with a sweet shop cum counter in between. The pub nestles in a hamlet of only nine stone cottages and a farm. A painting of the near-by Murk Esk by Algnernon Newton RA* (1880 – 1968) has been displayed outside the pub since 1944 – a thank you for his seven-year residency. You can approach the pub – and painting - by foot taking the Rail Trail from Grosmont – the walk follows the route of George Stephenson's original railway line of 1836.

Consumer sovereignty – I’m all for this in the main. Give customers what they want...

Except when what they want makes absolutely no sense and is refused on the grounds of good taste! The landlord at the BHI spoke of a recent encounter with a disgruntled punter who was refused a ginger beer and real ale “shandy”. Now I like ginger beer – and I certainly like real ale – but not in the same glass for heaven’s sake! The landlord argued the point that to have both beverages combined in this manner would give the appearance that he was serving cloudy – and therefore non-potable beer. Fair point! I’m not saying that a mixture of the two drinks isn’t unheard of – I’m just pointing out that it creates a foul looking result and therefore should be discouraged. In the UK, shandygaff is beer mixed with ginger beer or ginger ale. As an example, in H.G. Wells’s novel The History of Mr. Polly, Wells refers to shandygaff as “two bottles of beer mixed with ginger beer in a round-bellied jug.” I think that the result from such a combination would taste disgusting... and would undoubtedly be a waste of good beer. Besides this is the 21st. century - not Dickensian London!




 
Birch Hall Inn
BECK HOLE
nr. Whitby
North Yorkshire
YO22 5LE
Tel. 01947 896245
http://www.beckhole.info/bhi.htm



*Algernon Newton’s son was Robert Newton (1905 – 1956) – stage and film actor whose career and life was cut short by alcoholism. He was terrifying as Bill Sikes in David Lean's 1948 film version of Oliver Twist. He also put the ham in ham acting the part of the feverish-eyed Long John Silver and inventing the phrase "Arrr, Jim lad!" in the Walt Disney version of Treasure Island (1950). His Disney portrayal became the standard for screen portrayals of pirates and he is often credited with inventing the stereotypical "pirate voice" by exaggerating the accent of his native Dorset. Tony Hancock, Eric Morecambe and Jim Nicoll (author’s dad) would often mimic Newton’s performance as Long John Silver for comedic effect, which after the umpteenth rendition can become a little tiresome!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

BLOG #27 – RAT RACE ALE HOUSE, HARTLEPOOL, CO. DURHAM

I am reminded that it was a year ago that the The Hartlepool Tall Ships Races 2010 descended on the town for three days of festivities and celebration. I attended on the Saturday afternoon and waved the ships off on the Monday evening, I couldn’t bring myself to get near them on Saturday and was happy to see them eventually go! It was on that occasion I visited the Rat Race Ale House, arguably the smallest pub in Britain (others also lay claim to this – but I can vouch it is small...) It opens at 12:02pm each day except Sundays - not a minute before!

Up until recently of course, anything connected with tall or huge ships would have been difficult for me – due to a phobia of such things. My megalophobia was entrenched and specific to tall ships. That’s why I found the book here so liberating and helpful.

Capt. Trimmer's helpful book...
I mean don't you just hate it when a huge ship ruins your day? This book has changed my life. Capt. John W Trimmer has shown me that it is perfectly acceptable to simply avoid huge ships altogether. I have been liberated by this book. I see now that previously I was simply following a path that others had made for me, not my own. Since reading this book and putting Capt. Trimmer's ideas into practice I have become a new person. Avoid huge ships if that's what your instincts tell you.

I assure you - you won't regret it! Hence my insistence in staying in the pub all afternoon. Makes sense then and now!

Finally I have rid myself of the burden of huge ships - I've been barraged for so long by them. I used to wake up in the morning and hoping to look out my window and see my nicely tended garden - instead I drew back the curtains and all I can see is huge ships! It was a Godsend that I found this book - "At last!" I exclaimed, "My enormous ship problems shall plague me no more!" 





Rat Race Ale House
Platform 2, Station Approach,
HARTLEPOOL,
County Durham, TS24 7ED
http://www.ratracealehouse.co.uk/index.html

Friday, 5 August 2011

BLOG #26 – THE CROSSING CLUB, GROSMONT, ESK VALLEY, NORTH YORKSHIRE

Strictly speaking a beer in the evening - but pedantry really isn't my suit...  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a bill that officially classifies beer as alcoholic. Until now anything containing less than 10% abv (alcohol by volume) in Russia has been considered a foodstuff. 10% abv is substantially stronger than beers available in the UK*.

The move, signed into law last Wednesday, will allow ministers to control the sale of beer in the same way that spirits are controlled. Russian alcohol consumption is already twice the critical level set by the World Health Organisation.

Although vodka has long been the traditional tipple in Russia, beer has soared in popularity, being marketed as a healthier alternative to spirits. Over the past decade, beer sales in Russia have risen more than 40% while vodka sales have fallen by nearly 30%.

Apparently it is common to see people necking beer in the street and in parks as if they are drinking soft drinks. It is not restricted to certain outlets and is sold 24/7.
"The law brings some order into the sale of beer," Vadim Drobiz, director of the Centre for Federal and Regional Alcohol Market Studies (impressive job title!). 

http://www.nymr.co.uk/

Last year the Russian beer industry was hit by a 200% tax hike on its products as ministers sought to bring consumption under control. The new measures - which come into effect in 2013 - will stop alcohol being sold in unlicensed kiosks, ban its sale from stores between certain hours and restrict advertising.

This blog promotes sensible drinking, by the way... На здоровье!



The Crossing Club
Grosmont Co-operative Building
Front Street
GROSMONT
nr Whitby, North Yorkshire
YO22 5QE
Tel. 01947 895040








*typical abv values for the UK are shown in the flyer here from the Castle Rock Brewery, based in Nottingham
(http://www.castlerockbrewery.co.uk/site/) - as you can see abv values range from Gatekeeper (May) at 3.3% abv described as a dark, mild ale to Crayfish (August) at 6.0% abv which is described as a very strong IPA. By comparison, I'm not aware of any UK-based brewery that currently produces beer at more than 10% abv. The Durham Brewery does offer a black Russian Stout called Temptation in 500ml bottles at 10% abv.

Sorry folks, but at that strength I can't be tempted!






Thursday, 4 August 2011

BLOG #25 - CEDDESFELD HALL, SEDGEFIELD, CO. DURHAM

Duncan McKenzie (born 1950) was an English former footballer who played as a striker in the Football League for Nottingham Forest, Mansfield Town, Leeds United, Everton FC, Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers in the 1960/70s, and in Belgium for Anderlecht, in the North American Soccer League for the Tulsa Roughnecks and the Chicago Sting and for Ryoden FC in Hong Kong.

McKenzie started his career with Nottingham Forest in 1967 and was signed from Forest by Brian Clough in 1974 during his 44 day reign as manager of Leeds Utd, where he was the only one of his signings to subsequently flourish at the club.


At the time, he was the most expensive footballer in the country and while Forest were £240,000 better off, they had lost their most extrovert player. Cloughie soon left, but Duncan stayed on at a club where he is fondly remembered not only as a great player but also the showman; for his ability to jump over a Mini car in a single leap, which he did on the pitch in front of an Elland Road crowd of 30,000 people - in August 1975.

 
Initially, he attracted media attention for his 'off the field'  achievements which not only included the Mini jumping but also tossing a golf ball the length of a football pitch (>100yds).
 
He will be remembered by all those who saw him play as a wizard with the ball and a healthy goals to game ratio, with 128 goals in 360 appearances. His off-field antics will be remembered particularly by those who followed his early career at Forest and Leeds. Jumping over a Mini - top that Wayne Rooney!






 
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