Category: Booze


The Curfew Club is a monthly musical gathering in a small and intimate setting showcasing some of the local talent, especially those with acoustic or Americana bent. The session was first bought to my attention while reading The Bedford Clanger, a magazine highlighting all the cultural and art stuff going on in Bedford as well as getting behind local businesses and local talents. It was only a short article, not much more than an advert really, but it intrigued me. I mentioned it to Jonny, who is always up for a gig, and we decided to go.The Curfew Club poster

The first thing we had to do was sort out some drinks. Not only is this event free to get in but it’s also BYOB, so a great way to spend a cheap night out. So, because we are classy, we made straight for Lidl. A cornucopia of delicious and tempting ales it is not, however it is cheap. I through a few bottles of ale in the basket, Jonny went for the cheap pear cider.

The Weillie's interior

The Weillie’s interior

We had deliberately got into town early for two reasons. Firstly, being a small gig in a small venue it is limited to 40 people and Facebook said that there were 48 going. We wanted to make sure that we got in any queue early as to avoid disappointment. The second reason for going early is that just down the road from the venue, #44 Harpur St., are a couple of pubs (I think you can see where this is going).

Pint of Welsh Black

A Pint of Welsh Black in the wellie

First of all is the Wellington Arms, or the wellie as it is more commonly known. Previous visits to the wellie and its 14 handpumps had shown us the delights of B&T’s Fruit Bat and bottled beers such as Timmermans Kriek. With it’s range constantly changing who knows what we had in store. It’s always hard when you walk through the door of a pub and the bar maid immediately asks you what you would like. There are 14 choices and you haven’t even read them all yet. I went with Great Orme’s Welsh Black. As the name suggests it was a dark beer, a mild in fact and as dark as they come. It was a nice, if a bit lifeless, I’m guessing it was coming near to the end of the barrel.

A Pint of Doom Bar

A pint of Doom Bar in The Flower Pot next to an open fire (which isn’t blue, unlike this picture makes out)

After the wellie we moved on to the Flower Pot, I always thought it was a Greene King pub, but not serving any of their beers I guess I was wrong. They do serve Fuller’s London Pride and Sharp’s Doom Bar. Jonny and I both went for the Doom Bar. We sat by the open fire with views out of the window down Harpur Street so we could look out for any queue that might form.

No queue did form and we ended up having two in the Flower Pot, who can argue with a pint of Doom Bar and a warming fire on a drizzly February evening?

We were admitted into the venue at around opening time, it all seemed very friendly. I had worried that I had misunderstood the BYOB thing but no one queried our bags of beer as we walked through. Eventually the room filled out with more and more arrivals. I didn’t notice anyone getting turned away but I would have said that there were about 40 people there.

Gwinny performing at 44 Harpur St.

Gwinny performing at 44 Harpur St.

By about half 8 the first act was on stage and doing what she does. Her name was Gwinny and it was just her and an acoustic guitar. The act had two very distinct parts for me. The first half were all songs which had a distinct Laura Marling bent to them. This is a girl who clearly liked the album alas, I cannot swim. The second half of her songs, were much less easy to pin down, more individual in many ways and just as enjoyable as the first songs. For me the stand out song was Come away with me, which isn’t anything to do with the Norah Jones song of the same name. Gwinny was accompanied, for me at least, by a bottle of Bornem Abbey Blonde Beer which I found to be quite a sharp and didn’t settle well after the well served Doom Bar in the Flower Pot.

The Darling Mundaring performing at 44 Harpur St.

The Darling Mundaring performing at 44 Harpur St.

The headline act was The Darling MundaringAfter the bread and water that a girl + acoustic can be it was great to hear the full roast dinner that a full band can be. A much more polyphonic affair but nevertheless taking the same acoustic route as Gwinny had before but with added cello and percussion. It was a gorgeous , rich and beautiful noise which I loved listening to.There were several songs which they performed which I could easily see, given the right set of circumstances, could get picked up by the mainstream. October, Books, and As good for me are all stand out tracks that could get these guys on the radio. Their accompanying beer was a bottle of Hatherwood’s Golden Goose, a beer brewed specifically for Lidl (Not all that great either).

To sum it up them The Curfew club provides a showcase of some fantastic local talent in the Bedford area and allow you to discover some great new acoustic music. Both of the acts we saw were great. Lidl provide beer that is cheap.

More information of the Curfew Club’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/curfewclubbedford, the next session is on 9th March at the Cavalier Barber Shop.

First walk of the new year

I know what your thinking. New year? But it’s February. That’s true. I just haven’t been for a walk so far until now. I had mentally been telling myself that I needed to get walking again. I have been lounging around at home doing very little and slowly the numbers on the scales are creeping up. This will not do. On top of that I have been neglecting the blog, hardly posting more than a handful of times a year. I uaed ro excuse myself for not posting because my phone was terrible but I have a new one now, and a good one at that. This is supposed to be the turning point. New year, new phone, new posts.

The route out of town.

The route out of town.

So I woke up this morning to bright sunlight streaming into the bedroom. I instantly thought that today would be the day that I’d finally get back to walking. I was ready to go in half an hour.

New phone in tow I set about turning on the GPS tracking app. Last time I had used one of these was two phones ago and drained the battery in a few hours. This phone should do better. Being the size of a dinner plate it can afford a huge battery. One which so far has been lasting several days at a time. Will the power hungry GPS put pay to that? We’ll just have to find out.

I left hime by the path that skirts the edge od the woods. The path leads out to Steppingley is muddy on all but the driest of summer days. I was going to get muddy today anyway so why pussyfoot around the first path? The wind was quite strong and there was a bit of a chill in the air. Wet, muddy, cold. What a great day.

I was in a bit of an inquisitive mood and took a lot of paths that I wouldn’t ordinarily use. The first was on the way into Steppingley. Usually I’d take the road past the Drovers Arms but today I took the back way, taking the footpath past the church. As I walked up the path a girl came the other way walking a dog. She was talking to herself and crying almost uncontrollably. What do you do in this situation? Do you ask if everything is OK? If you do you have to sit and listen to a tale of woe that I really wasn’t that interested in. If you don’t are you just a bastard? I decided just to smile. She tried to smile back but it was clearly difficult for her. I’m sure the dog will keep her company.

Steppingley postbox

New post box design

Walking into Steppingley from this direction is new to me and I never realised what fantastic houses there are around here. Some are clearly very old indeed. I covet these places dearly. Moving on I passed the church and the pub. The village bus stop has now got a small library in it. I’m not sure why you would leave books in the minimal shelter of a bus stop but there you go. Just down the road the village postbox has been revamped. I don’t know if this is the new desing being rolled out across the country of if its just here but I like it.

My destination was the Rose and Crown in Ridgemont. And to get there was no more than an hours walk from Steppingley. I walked out of the village via a country lane with high hedgerows on either side. In the distance was a Red Kite circling overhead. I had hoped to catch up to it but, alas, it was gone.

Most of the route from Steppingley to Ridgemont was fairly uneventful. I said hello to some cyclists. I followed the usual footpaths. I crossed over the roaring M1 on a farm bridge. I paused for a moment, as I often do, just to marvel at the motorway. I find it amazing that we all get in these little tin boxes and ride up and down these thin strips of tarmac at a steady speed, smoothly all getting to our destination without crashing (mostly).

Segenhoe Church

Segehoe’s abandoned church

I also marvel at how quickly the roar becomes a murmur. A small background noise that van be drowned out by the wind in the trees. By the time I passed the abandoned church at Segenhoe I could barely hear it at all. I don’t know what it is about abandoned churches that I like so much. Perhaps it’s that you get to appreciate the beauty of the building without the fear of being accosted by a member of the clergy, trying to bring you into the fold. Anyway, I couldn’t stop. I wanted to make this a fairly quick walk as the weather report wasn’t great after three o’clock.

Rose & Crown - Ridgemont

The Rose & Crown in Ridgemont

The Rose and Crown in Ridgemont has been on my list for a long time. It’s so near and yet so far. I wasn’t expecting anything special but its another one tick off. When I arrived I noticed a cask marque sign (good start). I scraped my boots on the scraper by the front door (must be walkers friendly, even better) and walked in. The bar maid was friendly and helped me with WiFi. A pint of Directors went down too quickly as I talked to the girl behind the bar and before I knew it I was back on the road going home by another route.

Millbrook Warren

The path around Millbrook Warren

I crossed the M1 and the A507 simultaneously as a new footbridge crosses them both. This is the new route of the Greensand Ridge path, a route I want to do in its entirety one day. I followed the GRW as far as Boughton End and turned to take its original route back across the main road. This path soon took me to the edge of Millbrook Warren or as most people now call it Centre Parcs™ – Woburn Forest. I have mixed feelings about the holiday resort on my doorstep. On one hand the Warren is now fenced off, only accessible to paying customers. The rights of way have been striped and we, the public can not enter. On the other hand employment is up and the nearby towns are prospering from the tourist money. On top of that there are new footpaths replacing the old routes through the Warren and other existing paths have been improved considerably. These are obviously good things, but it doesn’t mean I have to like the heart being ripped out of what was once a peaceful place.

I took one of the new bridleways to the road and one of the improved footpaths via a new bridge over the railway into Ampthill. Us walkers have never had it so good, and neither have the train spotters who use the bridge to get a better spot for taking photo’s of trains. Two were sitting on the steps by the up line with a camera and a big telephoto lens. They were to engrossed in train chat to even pass the time of day.

On the other side of the line is an industrial estate. It’s dirty and unkept but we need somewhere to put the scrap metal merchants and the digger merchants. As I walked through I heard the sound of a train passing. I could tell it was a diesel freight loco. Good, I thought to myself, I’d imagine the trainspotters on the bridge will be pleased with that.

The final part of my walk took me back to my teenage years as I followed the route I used to walk home from school. It has changed quite a bit in the intervening years. A new housing estate, the petrol station has been towrn down and replaced, there is a football academy on the field I used to use as a shortcut and they seem to fit in new houses in the smallest of gaps. Progress I suppose.

 
Total distance: 11.93 mi, Max elevation: 410 ft, Min elevation: 190 ft, Total climbing: 4718 ft
Total descent: -4741 ft, Average speed: 3.07 mi/h, Total Time: 04:29:50,
Download .gpx ile of this route

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It’s been a while since I have done one of these beer blogging sessions. I intended to always join in but life gets in the way. Sorry guys. Never mind though, I’m back now and the first topic is “snowed in”. Being hosted by Jon Abernathy at The Brew Site and he asks us what beers do we go for when we are stuck in the middle of winter with nowhere to go but the beer cellar.

Thanks Jon, thanks for posting for my first topic after my long hiatus a subject which is near impossible for me to answer. I live in Bedfordshire, England, a place which does get the occasional snow shower but never anything to leave you stranded in your own home. In fact it I have to cast my mind back three of four years to remember a snow bad enough to even affect the traffic.

I have been giving this some thought, however, and I have a few little snippets of my past that were very cold and I remember the beers I reaches for then. Here is one small account of beer and the cold:

Last year we had a lads weekend to Amsterdam. It was October and not all that cold. We have been several times before and we know which bars we like and which serve some really good beers. That being said we always try and seek out a few new places. This year it was suggested that we visit the Ice bar. Now I know it’s a tourists trap and there is nothing authentically Dutch about it and I know there is one in London which is only 40 miles from where I live, but it’s a lads weekend, if we were there for the culture we’d have visited much more sensible places than that.

For those who haven’t been, here is a little description of what it’s like. First of all you have to book your time slot. You then arrive about have an hour before where you are let into an ordinary bar provided you have a ticket. You are given a few tokens, some to spend in the first bar and some to spend in the Ice bar, these are part of the ticket price. You drink with the tokens in the first bar for about half an hour, until your time slot is called up. You then queue with approximately 30 other people who are all given gloves and huge coats to wear before being let in. Above you is a video playing which is a flagrant rip off of Pirates of the Caribbean meant to suggest that we’re all going on an ocean voyage which ends in us all being shipwrecked in a tiny ice cave. You are then walked into the ice bar. The bar itself is made of ice (no surprises there) and the walls too are made of frozen water. You could almost believe it is a frozen ice cave if it wasn’t the red LED clock giving you constant temperature read outs. It was about -10°c if memory serves. You spend the two tokens you were given outside and nothing else. No cash in the Ice bar. They time it all about right so the next group comes in just as you are finishing your second beer. The beers are served in a glass made of ice (no licking or eating of the glassware, by order). All in all you have three or four half pints, two of which are even colder that usual. You are then ejected from the premises where you wander off into the  (relatively) warm Amsterdam night. You then bump into a bunch of girls who were on your flight who you try to avoid but end up having a conversion with before leaving the final bar of the evening to raid the Febo machines. *

So there you are, in a cold room with a cold glass. Your fingers are slowly numbing and your face feels like you’ve been slapped with a shatterproof ruler. What sort of beer do they serve? There is only one option. Logically there is only one thing it could be. Which beers taste best when they are on the verge of freezing themselves? Beers that have always been known for their refreshing clarity and crispness? Of all the beers which taste the most repellant when warm? It has to be Lager. And which Lager? Well we’re in Amsterdam, you’ve got two choices and its not Amstel.

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*That last part may not happen to you, it is just an example of what can happen in Amsterdam when the beer flows. There are numerous other outcomes to an Amsterdam evening which you can Google for yourselves.