The Art of Beer – Rob Pointon at The Bulls Head

IMG_8740I don’t tend to do event plugs on here (as stand alone posts at least), but this one is a little different as it features something that has both happened and is yet to be. It features many people I know well, and sees a guest appearance of my own best doggie pal Maggie.

Sporadically over the last few weeks, my local pub The Bulls Head in Burslem, has paid host to artist Rob Pointon as he painted a scene perhaps typical to most people reading this, the inside of a pub, or maybe more importantly, warm daily pub life.

Rob set up his easel over several nights and it was absolutely fascinating to watch him build up the scene on canvas, a living picture you were part of. Starting with blocks of shaded colour, familiar faces and objects began to take shape gradually over time, before fine details were committed to history with an almost casual looking, but ultimately accurate flick of Robs brush, bringing them to life before our eyes.

The finished work is set to feature in an exhibition at the Bare Wall gallery in Burslem, showcasing art from the Potteries and North Wales. The event details are below, if you are in the area, make sure to call in.

Cheers

http://www.robpointon.co.uk/home 

Rob, signs the finished masterpiece.

Rob, signs the finished masterpiece.

POINTON

An exhibition of new work featuring The Potteries and North Wales.

Saturday 29th March 2014 until Saturday 5th April 2014

Barewall Studio, 2-4 Market Place, Burslem, Stoke on Trent ST6 4AT.

You've been framed! (Thanks to Jim at the Bulls head for the pic)

You’ve been framed! (Thanks to Jim at the Bulls head for the pic)

 

 

 

London Calling – Day Two

As where we stayed and where any of you stay is pretty much irrelevant I’ll start day two’s journey at the same point for ease as Day One which was Euston Station, or perhaps let’s make that the Euston Tap as you know you’ll go there.

From here take the Northern Line southbound to Leicester Square to be in a short walking distance of The Harp (47 Chandos Place, WC2N 4HS). In reality we didn’t actually visit The Harp on the day (I had to allow Mrs Beersay some shopping and sightseeing time) but have done in the past many times and it’s well worth a stop off.

Walking back to Leicester Square take the Northern Line again southbound to Embankment, change to the Circle Line eastbound for Tower Hill and head for The Dean Swift (10 Gainsford Street, Butlers Wharf, SE1 2NE), you can use Tower Bridge but either way it’s a bit of a walk but also a good way to build a thirst…

Dean Swift is in a lovely area of London near the river, offering a great selection of beers including a full bottle range by the very local Kernel Brewery, fabulous food to be had here too.

This was the venue for the last years International IPA day feast, as featured in the Summer Wine Brewery’s blog post here. To my knowledge at least, there is no way other than to yomp back to Tower Bridge and the wonderful Borough Market area which is alone worth a visit for the great foodie treats whose aromas assault your nose on arrival. Thankfully there are other reasons to visit, the superb beer shop Utobeer (found inside the market) for those all important beer hauls and of course The Rake which is a small but extremely functional must visit bar, found on Winchester Walk.

When we visited it was approaching the weekend of the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster and the guys at Rake had chosen to commemorate the historic event by serving a selection of beers from Stoke On Trent* (*birthplace of Captain Smith) based brewery Titanic.

Nothing wrong with that you might say and I’d normally agree. However, hailing from Burslem and using Titanic brewery tap Bulls Head as my local the last thing I wanted to see on the bar was not one, but four beers from Titanic including their keg stout (not pictured), talk about a busmans holiday.. 😉

There are a few more places to visit in the area that we sadly missed at the time including The Market Porter (Borough Market), but one I’d definitely look for next time around is Brew Wharf (Stoney Street, London SE1 9AD), keep checking their website for details. It’s also worth doing the above two pubs in reverse and leaving Tower Hill out of the equation. This means that you can start at the Rake and call in on the way back for refreshments after your walk. Also if it’s a Saturday you have to visit Kernel Brewery, it’s the law!!

Our final venue for today (after a couple of hours back at Brewdog Camden) was to be Cask Pub and Kitchen. Take the Jubilee Line westbound from London Bridge to Green Park, change taking the Victoria Line westbound to Pimlico, Cask is found at 6 Charlwood Street SW1V 2EE. If you’ve not been before it’s a bit of a surprise on arrival, tucked away at the base of a block of apartments you’d be forgiven in walking right on by, DON’T..

This visit reaffirmed Cask as my favourite London drinking venue, we arrived at around 8pm the place in full swing and every table inside and out taken. Food is a big plus here and obviously popular as this was Wednesday night and everywhere folks were tucking in. That said I was served quickly and found a little nook to settle in as we slowly made our way up the table pecking order, before finally getting one near the bar (and an electric socket for a much-needed phone top up). The beer range is absolutely massive and comes from all over the world, you could easily spend a whole day here if your legs/brain are able to get you home afterwards. We spent a full evening here and barely scratched the surface.

For me though it ‘s not just the beer and food that make the place, the atmosphere is brilliant, buzzing away like a hive of bees around you. The venue is comfortable, part candlelit at night and painted in pastel shades, it’s just a nice place to be. Most importantly though the staff are friendly, knowledgable and remarkably patient, taking time to explain what beers are or what the next logical step would be to old and newbies alike. Top marks guys, we had a wonderful night.

If you are in town on May 5th 2012, I’d also recommend checking this night out at Cask too, a night of fantastic beers will be in store for attendees for sure!

So that’s it, the end of our day was done and a good time was had by all. I hope though that these guides have been useful and are at least accurate enough to allow you to pick and choose your own route and pit stops on your visit. Tomorrow I’ll post a simple list of all the pubs suggested to me and their nearest tube station, hopefully that will serve as a handy carry around version.

Of course again I stress I am not a Londoner and these are my own interpretations of directions etc, if I’ve made glaring errors please point them out and I’ll change the details. Similarly I know that this has probably only scratched the surface and that local sand regular visitors will be screaming inside about their favourite, so if I’ve missed an “unmissable pub” let me know that too in comments and help make this a functional living post.

For further and a much more detailed look at pubs, bars etc in London and hundreds of other places besides, I’d heartily recommend you visit Des de Moor‘s website Beer Culture, this guy knows his onions.

Cheers everyone!

More De Molen hits The Mother Town.

I posted a little while ago in my post “Burslem twinned with Bodegraven” about my delight that after some gentle nudging my local pub, Titanic Brewerys “The Bulls Head” had taken the plunge and was getting a larger stock of foreign import bottled beers, in particular those from Dutch brewers De Molen.

Well I am doubly thrilled to tell you that they have been a roaring success and that from today another eight are being added to the beer menu. I’ve gleaned a few tasting notes from various internet sites to give an idea about what to expect, but I stress, I have only tasted one of these so far so don’t hold me to them.. If reputation is anything to go by though you won’t go far wrong.. 😉

Engels: Our attempt at creating a real English cask ale. And we certainly succeeded. At the Great Brittish Beer Festival our Engels was appreciated by all that tried. Cask ale from the continent? Yeah! Also available bottled by the way.

Hemel and Aarde: Made with the most heavily peated malt in the world from the Bruichladdich distillery. Almost pitch black and opaque, small head. Furiously peated aroma, hiding the malt, licorice and dark chocolate somewhat. Very full-bodied, thick mouthfeel, like fluid bread. Dark chocolate, loads of peat, lapsang souchong tea, chocolate cake, culminating in an almost endless aftertaste that also has licorice.

Op & Top: Light IPA/Bitter using European hops and late hopped with US Cascade and Amarillo. Light floral aromas with notes of lemon, bread & caramel. Fresh and delicate flavours of citrus fruit, grass, and yeast. An uncomplicated light refreshing style.

Hel & Verdoemenis: Brewed with brown malts, an English traditional specialty malt, we created an Imperial Russian Stout that has won prizes at festivals across Europe from Sweden to Italy. It’s big (10% ABV), black, roasted and complex. We are convinced that not trying this ale will be a mortal sin to your taste buds and beer experience.

Bloed Zweet & Tranen: The standard Bloed, Zweet en Tranen (Blood Sweat and Tears) is a beer inspired by Bamberg smoked lagers, but upped in alcohol and with the addition of English peated malt to the Franconian smoked stuff. This variant is the result of an incident in which Scottish peated malt intended for Bruichladdich whisky got into the mash tun by mistake. (courtesy of Beer Culture with Des De Moore)

Man & Muis: Copper cloudy, with aromas of grass, grapefruit, citrus zests and some malts. Taste is light malted, good sweetness, still quite light and drinkable. Finishes with nice american hops combined with grassy saaz hop bitterness

Geboren and Getogen: Born & Raised’ is a smoked pale ale, the beer has lovely light citrus & bittering hops, & the smokey embers are ever present throught the flavours

Licht and Lustig: Described as a speciality grain beer,pours a hazy medium orange colour. Aroma is slightly malty, toasted caramel, hops bring tropical & citrus fruit, banana, slightly yeasty. Taste is citrus again, wheats, some caramel, banana and toffee.

All good news for the drinkers and visitors to Burslem.

If you’ve not tried one you’re unlikely to get the chance to drink 13 varieties all in one place anywhere in the UK I’d bet, so come on down and get stuck in. Oh and when you do PLEASE pop back on here and let me know what you think in the comments section below and give the staff at the Bulls some feedback too.

Cheers

Burslem twinned with Bodegraven?

The brewery in the Windmill

OK so that might be a teensy exaggeration…

Bodegraven is the home of Brouwerij de Molen (or “Brewery the Mill” in English). I think I can safely say they are one of the worlds most respected breweries, if the list of old, new and would be collaborators is anything to go by, not to mention the many guests for their famous Borefts beer festival and stunning beer pedigree.

Being a massive fan after sampling many different beers from their vast range I was really excited to hear them being mentioned as a potential addition to my local pubs foreign beer menu. Of course I heartily recommended them amongst others available and to my deep joy was over the moon to see not one but FIVE arrive.

The venue is The Bull Head in Burslem, Stoke On Trent, the Titanic Brewery Tap. It’s a cozy friendly pub with of course the obligatory selection from the Titanic range, a regular 5-6 pump ever changing cask ale selection and also quite a healthy stock of foreign beers both on the font and in bottled form. Being an antagonistic soul with the latter I’d always thought most of the selections as being a little “safe”. I can understand that of course from a commercial point of view, it’s a standard drinkers pub and not a swanky big city craft beer bar and the clientele reflect that, they are far more likely to go for say a Chimay Blue over a fridge full of completely unrecognisable labels.

That’s why I think this time around management team Bob and Jim at The Bulls have really excelled and perhaps popped their heads above the parapet a little, a brave and most welcome move. What needs to happen now though is for more and more people to go in and support their efforts by trying the beers, taste, chat and tell friends about them to make their arrival a resounding success.

This in turn will hopefully lead to a more and more adventurous customer base willing to try more new and interesting beers from around the world and so the cycle continues and the menu grows.. 😉

So what of the beers themselves? Well I’ve tried all of the De Molen beers on the list and although I’ve not made any tasting notes would recommend each one at the drop of a hat. Amerikaans is  a light and hoppy beer with a taste that defies it’s 4.5% abv, fruity, perhaps slightly floral in flavour and very very fresh on the palate, a spicy bitter finish cleans everything up nicely.

Vuur and Vlaam (or Fire and Flames) is an absolutely stunning IPA and is one of the best beers I’ve had in the last year. First tried from the keg at Port Street Beer House and many times since in bottled form. Loads of citrus and tropical fruit flavours are evident from the first sniff and follow throughout, at 6.2% easy to drink for a dabble in the fridges at any time of day, looking forward to warmer summer sunny days ahead in particular though.

Jaar & Dag is a Saison, pale and hoppy with (from memory) hints of orange spice and banana, it’s been a week or two since sampled this so it’s a little vague, one to revisit at my next session methinks. Going darker we have the Hamer & Sikel, a dark roasty porter coming in at a very easy-going 5.2%. It’s smooth and very drinkable with a good helping of bitter chocolate, espresso and dark boozy winter fruits.

Finally we come to the Daddy, the dark destroyer, Mooi & Meedogenloos. “Some people say it’s served in Mordor on Saurons breakfast serial and that by drinking it you sell your soul to the devil” (unless of course you are ginger and suffer from Gingervitus), “all we know is that it means in English “beautiful and ruthless” and is absolutely gorgeous”. It’s described as a Belgian Strong ale and I’d say it’s almost quad-like, rich malty flavours, sweet caramels, dark chocolate, liquorice, fruitcake and more, there is so much going on in this beer I’m not going any further without any notes or a sample as I simply won’t do it justice. Try one..

As a side note there are a few more additions to the fridges in the Bulls, notably from American brewery Rogue with Juniper Ale, Mocha Porter and Dead Guy Ale, again another welcome sight in the Mother Town, plus these two newbies for me St Fueillien Grand Cru and Gulden Draak 9000 Quaduple.

So what are you waiting for, the Burslem drinking scene looks set for a revival, get down here, support the cause…”POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!” 😉

Cheers

UK drinkers & pubs, are you happy that price of your pint is up 35% in 4 yrs? No I thought not, so please spare two minutes and sign this online Government e-petition to stop the beer duty escalator: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/29664

#TheSession 61 – Down My Local

This months tenure of #TheSession sits with the Hoosier Beer Geek. He asks us to talk about local beer, why is local beer important, specifically what if anything makes it better?

Anything for me is better if it has a local connection so that’s a good start. In other areas of my life personally when considering purchases local means a great deal, I love locally produce and will pay over the odds to get it. It’s fresher and just feels better if you know the area or even the producer who made the product.

In complete contrast, living in The Potteries I recall trying to by a locally produced dinner service, nothing fancy you understand just day-to-day eating ware. The only pre requisite being that it had to have been manufactured in Staffordshire or at least England. You would not believe how difficult that was… So how do those ideals/examples translate in the beer world, well in my case at least unnervingly close as it happens.

Local people reading my blog of late could be forgiven for thinking that I’m pretty anti local. After all I’m always harping on about “craft this and fancy foreign import that”, “local pubs are boring, where’s the exciting new beer on keg” etc etc etc.. In truth some of that may be true, as I love trying new beers in what ever guise they present themselves, but that goes for local too.

Most folk I suspect have a local brewery be that large or small, that churns out a bog standard “easy drinking” range aimed at the mass market one beer session drinker and it’s all too easy to dismiss one of these beer brands based on a bad experience. I am a firm believer though that most of them if not all have at least one or more little gem, a beer that stands out from the rest and deserves a try.

At the other end of the spectrum there are some local breweries that have fantastically exciting sounding beers, beers that I hear great things about that never see the light of day in these parts, despite being “local”. We get beers from Wales, Scotland and the far reaches of England too but it seems Staffordshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire are a no-no. Having discussed this with a few local brewers I was quite startled to learn about how hard it is to get their beers in “local” pubs and shops. Some of the stories of rejection I heard were farcical to say the least, I just don’t understand it, whatever happened to food and drink miles?

Both of these examples spawned an idea which is quite aptly linked to this months topic and to The Session generally.

Why not start a monthly or quarterly blogging topic on local beers to raise the profile of both camps where ever they may be, open to all and published in the same sort of way. I know that this is perhaps most appropriate to UK based bloggers but not prohibitively so and could serve as a sort of reference point to the best beer an area or brewery has to offer where you live.

This could tie in well with some of the work being done by quite a few UK bloggers, who are leading by example and getting hands on in their local CAMRA branch meetings. These guys instead of criticising perceived CAMRA failings, are getting actively involved and putting new opinions across, assisting positive change from within if you like. After all sharing information about the best beers your area has to offer must play a massive part.

What do you think, worth doing as a Session style collective or more of a one man band show?

Big thanks to Matt for hosting this month.

Cheers

Small acorns and all that.. #WHITESTOUT

If you are a beer fan or a Twitter user you simply must know that last night (Weds 8th February 2012) was White Stout night, where across the UK and perhaps beyond, beer lovers opened their shiny bottles of White Stout in unison and shared the beery love. I was one of those many and had gone a step further in organising a mini gathering for a tasting session and to try a bit of cheese/beer pairing.

So why did I get involved to such an extent, when I’d not ever tasted a Durham Brewery beer before never mind the White Stout as the new kid on the block?

Three reasons really, one, I’d been involved in similar Twitter events before like #openit (next one is 24-26 Feb 2012) and #7point5 and really enjoyed them, great interaction with other folks is a great way to experience and learn about beer. Two, I’d been watching Elly from Durham Brewery‘s tweets about #whitestout and was drawn in by her bubbly enthusiasm about her brewery’s beer. Finally three, it was giving me the opportunity for the first time to host a little tasting session with food pairing, a thing I’d been itching to get going in Stoke for a good while, I’d moaned about it long enough, time to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in.

I was to hold my #whitestout session at my local The Bulls Head, where I’d arranged for a few fellow beer lovers to gather together on a week night when the pub would normally be pretty quiet. As I only had one beer to draw them out on a cold winters night i decided to pad the night out with some cheese pairings to try. I enlisted help from trusty twitterfolks Rick Furzer and Steve Lamond who have experience in this area plus thoughts from Elly at the brewery, so armed with their suggestions I hot footed it up to my local deli Brown and Green.

Andy (as pictured above) was an absolute star, although he didn’t have everything on my shopping list he was fantastically enthusiastic about finding alternatives, things that would work or that people would just simply enjoy. He busily cut away at various cheeses, we’d sample a hunk of this and a chunk of that before narrowing it down to a final four.

Godminster Organic Vintage Cheddar

Godminster Organic Vintage Cheddar

Dovedale Blue

Abdomnance Fermier

Y Fenni

Oh and some bacon jam!! 😉

Wednesday afternoon came and I set about getting things started, I had deliveries to make to a few local brewers, pub and marketing folk that couldn’t make it, my tasting beers too to their cellar to cool and cheese to chop, this done I set off to The Bulls Head.

Arriving later than I’d hoped I have to confess it was a little chaotic, people arrived and wanted to get straight into their White Stout before drinking any other ales. I scrambled with help from the bar folk to get glasses sorted and beers poured. BOOM disaster, one of my white stouts was decidedly dark. In my haste I’d opened a bottle of their 10% Imperial Stout “Temptation” and started to pour it into a half filled glass of white, a mistake which turned out to be a really interesting combination as it rocked. A mistake that Ghostdrinker made purposely in his tasting session funnily enough to similar happy results.

Drinks served we all tucked in,    silence…

Even I was quiet (for a while), deep in thought, I’d not tasted this before either and it was well, different. The looks around the room were worrying, pensive faces not WOW faces I’d say, yes it was good but did it live up to the hype, probably not in that moment. I quickly jumped in to say it was probably too cold and the flavours were stifled. The beers had not been chilled apart from in a cellar environment but this definitely was the case.

As the glass warmed and time wore on those pensive faces stared to have smiles and soon busy chatter started and phones came from pockets to tweet their thoughts. We cracked the cheeses and started to tuck in and sample one against the other. I was so glad that we’d enough beer for seconds as it was a revelation with the second batch that had sat in a warm room for a while, great beer in great condition.

On the cheese pairings there were mixed reviews, all four cheeses were fantastic in their own right. The Y Fenni didn’t pair well but being fair it wasn’t meant too, Andy and I had picked it as a great eating cheese, it’s made with wholegrain mustard and ale which just seemed right for the occasion, it was and was popular. So too was the Godminster Vintage Cheddar, probably too good in fact as before I knew it the gannets had wolfed the lot and I didn’t even get to try any…

For me though, the cheesy stars of the show were the Abdomnance Fermier and the Dovedale Blue. Abdomnance Fermier was as a replacement for aged Gouda as suggested by Rick, it has a deep nutty flavour, slight sweetness and a nice firm texture. Dovedale Blue was a twist on the Stilton or a soft blue as recommended by Steve and Elly. I really enjoyed this one and for me it was the winner by a cheese wire of margins, soft, rich and very creamy which really went well with the sweetness of the stout, but it had a nice acidity and saltiness from the blue veining which brought the whole thing together, marvelous. In truth I’d recommend any of them to try but these two for this beer.

Conscious that I haven’t mentioned the bacon jam, I will, you’re intrigued aren’t you admit it?

I was too as Andy rushed to a chiller at the back of the cheese counter and produced it. It had similar results when I presented it to my astonished/repulsed guests “BACON JAM”!  This stuff is ace, I can only describe it as a sort of minced bacon chutney, loads of bacon texture in a rich sweet, spicy paste-like sauce. Everyone tried it tentatively at first before diving back in for more and more. Personally I loved this with the Abdomnance Fermier, but apparently it’s designed as a relish on crusty bread, burgers etc, also for adding to stews, pasta dishes as well as a side for cheese. I’m thinking spread on bread before toasting a vintage cheddar on top..hmmm.

OK to round-up what would I do again next time around if the chance arose. More beer in terms of more variety and some that I had tasted before to add value as a host rather than being one of the crowd. Venue, the pub was great and I thank them heartily but thee was no wi-fi and general phone reception is awful (for me at least), thankfully the pub is due wi-fi in a few weeks time (box ticked). More cheese pairings definitely and more quantity, I’d love to expand the food into other things too like sweets and savoury dishes as Leigh, Zac and co are doing up at Beer-Ritz. Minor things and easily rectified.

So why small acorns? (NO PUNS REQUIRED IF YOU PLEASE ;))

Well this all started from a small acorn of an idea by I assume Elly Bell at Durham Brewery, it grew into a massive oak tree of an event joined by thousands across the UK and I’m sure was a resounding success. Twitter was full of the #whitestout hash tag and I’m sure would have trended had it not been for a certain Italian ex England footbal manager

But also it was a small acorn for me too, the start of something I’d like to grow here in my area. I said earlier I do enough moaning about it, get stuck in and get it moving, hopefully this did just that.

Thanks to everyone who attended, assisted, joined in and hopefully enjoyed, particularly you Elly at Durham Brewery you’re a star.

See you all on the next one, CHEERS

A time to reflect on the nights events with Jim & I finally giving in to temptation.

Take The Long Road and Walk It…for Douglas Macmillan Hospice (part deux)

Fed and watered (beered) after our first gruelling stint we dragged ourselves from the sanctity of the Royal Exchange and set off for The White Star in glorious August sunshine, which within half a mile had again turned to rain.

Note: The dog did walk by the way and wasn’t carried ALL the time, it was the only way to get her to sit still in the pictures…

Looking ahead was our longest stint of the walk, Stone to Stoke On Trent, storm clouds were gathering like the scene from Lord Of The Rings, where the Hobbits looked ahead to Mount Doom.. An ominous faint rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance, coming from the direction we were now heading..

“England I do love you, but your Bank Holiday weather, putting it mildly, is a stinky bitch!”

This for me was the worst part of the day, after the initial leg we were all in various stages knackered-ness and we were also behind schedule so the pace had to be upped.

At least the footpaths had improved from the muddy bog which made the going a little easier, but we had to cover a good distance on a route where often we had no recognisable reference points being on the canal side. After what seemed to be hours though I spotted something familiar, it was the Wedgwood factory at Barlaston. Now I’ve driven to Barlaston on many occasions and it’s never seemed far, walking though was a different kettle of fish as the march continued ever onwards. By this time I was personally just about done in.

Landmarks came and went, signs teased at how close Stoke was but it just never seemed to get any closer, I was even glad to see the Britannia Stadium come in to view at one point, which for a Newcastle fan is rare…

Throughout this stretch I had remained pretty firmly middle of the pack keeping up a reasonable pace, as these last few exhausting miles crept on and on though I was flagging, all but one person suddenly caught up and seemingly effortlessly strode ahead and out of sight.

It was at this point though that the effervescent energy levels of my wonderful dog Maggie came to the fore and to my aid. The thing is Maggie hates to be behind anyone, she’s bright and inquisitive, always wanting to be at the front as any of my fellow walkers will testify.

The problem was she wasn’t and I couldn’t catch up no matter how much I tried, normally if the dog pulls at her lead I’d correct her but to my shame and to her credit I let myself be tugged along, all fifteen stone plus of me by a muscly little Jack Russell Terrier.

But get me there she did and wearily we both trudged into the The White Star, me to a foaming glass of Darkstar HopHead and Maggie to a well deserved bowl of chicken fillets and rice.

I was and still am extremely proud of our little dogs efforts that day and some serious spoiling was done later I can assure you and in the days since..

We had a short break here to refresh, reorganise and refuel. Repairs were made to blistered feet, sodden clothing was replaced where possible with dry thanks to the close proximity of a local sports shop.

We had broken it’s back though, the worst two legs were behind us and as we posed for our group photograph at the White Star with stinging feet and aching joints, we did so with a feeling of lifted spirits. Only around five miles to my local, The Bulls Head.

Here for once I was on the front (painful) foot, I was heading into familiar territory after all we’d be passing home (which was I assure you a struggle), on paths where I normally walk with Maggie anyway and for some reason it helped. The walk went quickly and we were soon on local ground, things don’t seem so bad when you can see home and the pub in view.

Proudly then we marched into the Bulls Head, somehow ignoring the aches and pains for a while, there was a mini beer festival in full flow that weekend and twelve top real ales to try. I opted for an old favourite, Holdens Golden Glow, a beer I used to drink regularly on Friday works pub lunches at the Great Western in Wolverhampton, it didn’t let me down.

Chris on the other hand had three!

I hate Chris, look at him all smug and thin as a bloody rake. (Only kidding Chris) This wasn’t a one off though annoyingly, incredibly he did this at all three stops on the way and on arrival. If I’d done that I’d have put on a stone, gone up a shorts size and no doubt fell asleep! 😉

More beer and time to compare trench foot symptoms

For Maggie though it was all too much, after two more meals of chicken and rice and a beef burger from the BBQ, her eyes were heavy, so tired cold and damp she promptly fell asleep wrapped in her towel.

As we posed for our last group photograph before making the final push I had my doubts she would make it. When we left I decided that enough was enough, we only had just over three miles to go but it was almost all very steeply uphill, Maggie was still walking but didn’t look comfortable and so I sent her home with Rach for a warm bath and a rest. It wasn’t fair to the poor lass and besides she had more than completed the mileage running back and forth like a crazy thing on the first two legs.

We pushed on then for home, walking again past home (just to take the piss again) down the long decline to Longport under the busy A500 and up the north face of the Eiger, or Porthill Bank as it is known locally…

This final stretch was the straw that broke the camels back, we were whacked. Every kerb felt like it was double height, the slightest pebble under foot pressed inexplicably accurately into boot clad blisters, it was AGONY…

That agony then manifested itself into selfish rudeness, cars stopped abruptly as we stepped out in front of them without care for safety, not wanting to stop for fear of not starting again. In a final twist of fate a nurse stopped us about a quarter of a mile from home asking directions, without a pause I shouted “if you want to talk to me, KEEP DRIVING“, so she did and amusingly we had our conversation through her car window as she crawled along the road beside us.

We turned the last corner and we’d done it, there it was The Greyhound. From nowhere Chris sprinted past us through the door, determined to beat us to it and almost knocking out an unsuspecting lady drinker in the doorway in the process.         Crazy fool 🙂

So, from a 9:30 AM start we finally walked through the Greyhounds door at 7:00 PM, roughly an hour head of schedule (although one or two of the hardened walkers had done it in less) It was Dark Star again for me with a couple of pints of Espresso, hoping the caffeine would give me a much needed lift, Lee had provided a cracking buffet too which went down a treat.

A long painful trek indeed 24.3 miles in total according to Toms GPS walking device thingamabob.

If you’ve read this far, you may think that I’ve been over dramatic in my recounting of events, people run marathons and undertake much more arduous challenges than this after all, but believe me it’s written from the heart. We raised a good amount of cash for a great charity and we well and truly earned it..

The just giving page is still open and will be for a while so please spare a few Pounds, Dollars, Shekels, Euros etc if you can. If none of what you’ve read compels you to dip into your pocket, do it for Maggie! 

Details below:

Just Giving page has been set up for the walk. It can be accessed online at  http://www.justgiving.com/titanicgreyhound.  Alternatively, donations can be made in person at the Greyhound or by phone – text GHTB67 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 (eg. GHTB67 £3) to 70070.

Thanks for reading and supporting! CHEERS 🙂

P.S. In case you were wondering, the music by The Music that inspired the title to these posts: