The King’s Arms, Hathern, November 2017

A second visit to The King’s Arms in the MOFAD era, although somewhere that we’ve been to a few times, usually for get togethers with walking friends. The same applied tonight, although we didn’t find out about tonight’s gathering until Saturday, as it had somehow slipped under our collective radar.

When you’ve got 30 odd people descending on a pub, you need a certain type of pub that can cope with such things. The posher chain pub wants everyone to be eating, the micropub doesn’t have quite enough room. So this is the level you settle for, a Marston’s chain pub, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. A range of different food options and several beers from the Marston’s empire, including Ringwood and Jennings and a few others that look like they are not from the empire, but they are. With a permanent 2-4-1 deal on food, you need to go with a friend if you don’t want to pay twice as much as everyone else.

Tonight’s beer choice was this month’s seasonal offering from Jennings, Pie in the Sky. It is alleged to be “a robust full bodied beer with pale ale malt and the finest roasted malts combined with whole cone English Fuggle hops to deliver a robust flavour”.

It was just so bland. Before they were owned by the evil empire, I liked Jennings. Hops? Malts? Where? I’m not looking for Cloudwater levels of hoppiness in every pint, but just a decent pint of cask ale would do. It was just so meh.

The food was standard chain pub fodder, I opted for the pulled pork burger, which matched the beer because it was also surprisingly bland. The pulled pork was naked, no sauce, no flavourings, just nude pork (that will get some odd hits for this blog post). It was all ok, but just that. And look at that cheese, it hasn’t even melted in the slightest.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the curry (she does like a pub curry), which was more interesting, although the naan bread was more like a tiny saddle cover for a bicycle seat. Her cider was more interesting, which is not something I thought I would ever say about Bulmer’s.

This does come across as a bit snobby, and it’s not meant to, but this was another of those nights when the company was more important than the food and drink. Again, there was nothing bad, it was just fairly non-descript.

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The Narrowboat #1, Skipton, September 2017

After a gentle bimble around Skipton this afternoon we wandered back to the hotel and then back out again for dinner. We’ve booked a table somewhere for tomorrow night (a lesson learned from 2015) but tonight we just decided to wander until we found somewhere. We didn’t take long to find our dinner destination, settling on The Narrowboat, which we’d visited as part of 2015’s walking tour of Skipton.

The first reason for visiting was because I had spotted Hawkshead’s Passion Fruit Gose on the bar. Mrs MOFAD has been looking out for this beer since it was first announced, and we missed it at this year’s Thornbridge Peakender (along with many other great beers which came and went in the blink of an eye). It looked like it was finally time to try it.

So near, and yet so far. I’d ordered it at the bar, but the last few drops dribbled out of the keg. The pub let Mrs MOFAD have it for nothing (to compensate for the sadness), and she had to choose something else. Pogo by Wild Beer Co is fruit salad with a little hop character.

My first was Sorachi by Bristol Beer Factory, a decent cask ale but for me the Sorachi Ace hop was too muted. It’s a Marmite hop but I love its flavour which is why I was looking for more here.

A gentle golden ale next, in the form of Mallisons American SIPA. A decent pint but nothing to really excite.

Just in case you weren’t sure that we were in the North. Chips and gravy. Northern gravy. Although sadly Hazel’s pie had to go back, as during the likely reheating they had burned it rather badly, and it was inedible. It was eventually replaced with pizza, but they didn’t refund the difference.

No such problems with my pizza which they got right first time. A porky fest with bacon, sausage, pulled pork and black pudding.

Black pudding is northern filth, so it was distributed to other plates… Apart from the filth, this was a tasty, porky and crisp pizza, just what I wanted on a Friday night. If that wasn’t good enough, then Mrs MOFAD was even more delighted, as they had found some more Passion Fruit Gose. Her review was simple:-

“OMG. Best. Beer. Ever.”

Fairly clear cut.

My final pint tonight was Citra Star from Northumberland’s Anarchy Brew Co, one that I’ve had before in a can, and it’s even better on cask.

A shame that they burnt the pie, and didn’t really sort the situation out properly, but we did all eventually have a nice dinner and some great beer.

Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton, September 2017

The start of our Skipton weekend. Mrs MOFAD and regular MOFAD companion Hazel are off to Yarndale tomorrow. We were due to be joined by other regular MOFAD companions Steve and Janette tonight, but Steve has been attacked by a chest infection overnight and is not fit to travel.

Hazel & Matt stayed with us last night, and we set off for Skipton this morning. After a coffee stop at Woolley Edge services (where else when heading to Yarndale), we arrived in Skipton just after 1pm, and decided to make this our lunch stop before checking in to our hotel.

If the Keelham name looks familiar, that’s because we stopped at the sister shop to this one back in September 2015, on our way home from that year’s Yarndale trip. Today we had some lunch before doing some shopping.

There are two eating areas in this branch, a full menu downstairs (20 minutes wait this lunchtime due to the large number of Yarndale visitors) or a soup and sandwich menu upstairs (no wait, just find a table and order at the counter). We nipped upstairs, grabbed a table and then picked up some sandwiches, crisps and drinks.

A well filled chicken and bacon mayo sub roll, a bit of salad squeezed in there too. Some Yorkshire crisps (#obvs since we are in Yorkshire) and the gentle fire of Cawston Press ginger beer. Very tasty stuff and just what we needed after our journey.

Time next for a bit of shopping. As there are 4 of us and just one car, both Matt & I had to be restrained in our choices, and kept things to just a small box each. A proper local selection of Yorkshire beers for me, BAD Co from Dishforth (first encountered at last year’s Good Food Show), North Brewing Co from Sheepscar Grove in Leeds, and a couple from from Holbeck’s Northern Monk .

As well as all of this tasty beer, there was plenty of local food as well as lots of stuff from further afield. Loads of fresh stuff as well as plenty of tinned and dried foods. A lovely little farm shop, and I’d probably shop here an awful lot if I lived in Skipton.

Needle & Pin, Loughborough, September 2017

I’ve written more than enough about my favourite pub by now. The only thing better than writing about it to get someone to go there, is to actually take them there. So that’s what happened tonight. After dinner at Centro Lounge, we took a short stroll down to the Needle & Pin for a few drinks and some games, accompanied by some good old fashioned vinyl. I’m not sure that the other customer upstairs was too impressed by our choice of Now 17, but we love the past, even if it is full of cheese. On with the night…

A pint of Exmoor Ales Silver Stallion for me, a perfectly pleasant cask bitter. Matt had the Exmoor Beast, amusingly coming in at 6.66% – thick, smooth and full of flavour.

This was accompanied by a game of KerPlunk, which is 50 years old this year, and is a game that I’ve probably not played for more than 30 years. The newer version looks a bit different to the original, but the basic premise is the same. Pull sticks out without disturbing marbles. The person with the fewest amount of marbles in their tray at the end is the winner.

Even grown adults can still enjoy this simple game, a great laugh.

We moved on to our next drink and our next game. My next drink was from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Company in the form of GFB. This acronym has two possible expansions. The clean one is Green Flash Blonde, the other one rhymes with Food Clucking Deer. A nice beer with good carbonation and a hint of honey. Matt had the Framework Treacle Stout, and we both struggled to spot the treacle that appears on the nose in the palate…

Our next game was the classic word game Taboo. To make things fair we played boys vs girls, and managed to get a good few rounds played in between the laughter.

Another great night out at the N&P, and we somehow managed to avoid coming home with lots of cans and bottles in tow! That won’t be the case when we come back from Skipton though…

Centro Lounge, Loughborough, September 2017

Tonight is the beginning of our weekend. Regular MOFAD companions Hazel & Matt are staying with us tonight, as tomorrow morning we’re off on a road trip to Skipton. Mrs MOFAD and Hazel are off to Yarndale 2017 on Saturday, whilst Matt & I are indulging in a cultural walking tour of Skipton, perhaps checking out the odd hostelry on the way. Other regular companions Steve & Janette will be meeting us there tomorrow night.

Mrs MOFAD and I have been to the Centro lounge a few times this year, so we chose it for tonight’s dining venue.

Drinks first, and both Matt and I opted for the Bath Ales Dark Side, which is a nice easy drinking stout when it warms up a bit.

One of the advantages of Centro Lounge is that they serve their tapas menu every day, so if you fancy a mix of different things you can find plenty to choose from, rather than just plump for burger and chips or similar.

As I’ve noted before, they aren’t too tied down by the heritage of tapas, mixing traditional Spanish dishes like chicken and chorizo, albondigas (meatballs) and patatas bravas (roast spuds and tomato sauce) with dishes from another continent, such as teryaki chicken and posh KFC style chicken goujons.

Mrs MOFAD and I shared the selection above, along with the usual freshly cooked ciabatta, and Hazel & Matt also shared some dishes. We all enjoyed our tasty dinner, and spent a lot of time examining the decor, including the painting of a weird alien/monk hybrid with a boxing glove/oven glove, and some white horses frolicking in the sea… Do check out the eclectic collection of paintings if you’re visiting.

Tasty food, a reasonable pint and a friendly atmosphere, we all enjoyed ourselves and we’ll keep coming back.

Stroud Wine Company, September 2017

Oh look, another beer buying post. Today’s target was Stroud, as we were visiting the farmers market. We’d had a nice wander round, and once we were nearly done, we nipped down an alleyway and into a lovely little shop. Stroud Wine Company have plenty of shelves full of wine, but even better than that, they have a couple of walls full of beer. There’s stuff from near (Wild Beer Co) and far (Buxton, Cloudwater) and even further afield, with lots of Belgians and US imports also available.

I filled up a box with some varied delights to enjoy in the coming months.

A lovely little shop tucked away in a corner of Stroud.

Stroud Farmers Market, September 2017

Stroud farmers market has already featured on the blog this year, as part of Mrs MOFAD’s marvellous market meander. Her solo trip was the inspiration for this visit, as we knew that we were going to be camping nearby this weekend, and a wander around Stroud was a nice gentle Saturday morning activity for everyone.

Finding a parking space was a different matter, and our group’s two cars had to part ways in order to both get parked. It’s clearly very popular.

We had a little stroll around all the stalls, wandering in and out, tasting a few things as we went. A lovely array of stalls, some very traditional such as bacon and sausages, bread and rolls, cheeses, and then other more “modern” stalls like charcuterie, vegan snacks, rape seed oil and olives.

My mission was beer, although there were only two breweries this time, Hillside Brewery (I’ve had their beers from Gloucester Services before) and Gloucester Brewery (who were here on Mrs MOFAD’s last visit).

We had a good bit of chat at the stall and I picked up four of their beers that I’ve not had before for £10, very good value. Matt also picked up some different ones.

Looking forward to trying these, the ones I’ve had so far have been very nice.