The Cake ‘Ole, Skipton, September 2017

Cake please!

After a gentle trundle around Skipton, we needed to stop off for tea and cake. There are plenty of options dotted around the town. We found ourselves in the Craven Court shopping centre and The Cake ‘Ole caught our eye (not least because it reminded us of Kerrie).

The wacky decor (sadly not pictured because we were too busy staring around the room and spotting things) certainly caught our eye so we grabbed a brightly covered table and ordered some tea, coffee and cake.

cakeole

Actually I was the only one who ordered the cake. Because chocolate orange cake.

Look at that dense deliciousness. It was lovely. A good cup of northern tea to go with it – proper loose leaves, none of this soft southern tea bag nonsense. Delightful mismatched crockery (this caused some uproar on Facebook) and all the mad decor. Lampshades without the shade (just the wire frame) with various birds perching on them, an upright cow, a crow watching suspiciously on. A selection of cuckoo clocks (and cuckoo clocks that made other noises). Pages of the Beano as wallpaper. A zebra.

Friendly and happy staff round things off nicely – a great place to pop in for tea and cake.

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The Beehive, Combs, Derbyshire, September 2017 #2

Here we are again. Last night we booked a table for tonight. We were lucky to get one, as they only had a couple of slots left, at 6 and “just after 8ish”. It’s just as well that we went for “just after 8ish”, because at 6 we were just finishing off our walk for the day (which was lovely, a perfect day for walking and we had picked a great circuit). There was just enough time to get back to the camp site for a cup of tea followed by a shower.

We arrived just after 8ish, and our table wasn’t yet vacated. No problem, we had a drink at the bar and a chat with the staff whilst things were being sorted out. Here is that drink at the bar, another pint of Thornbridge Rattlesnake, a reliable cask IPA.

Enough bantz, the table was now ready. We’d had time to peruse the menus and the specials board. We all gravitated to the specials board, and to exactly the same point on the specials board. We all ordered the cod wrapped in parma ham, with spinach mash and a cream sauce.

It was both delicate and delicious and we all demolished it in double quick time. Which left plenty of time for pudding. On our previous visit earlier this year, the chocolate and candied lime tart was a big favourite. It was on last night but someone had swiped the last one. Luckily there was a replacement on tonight, with this chocolate and candied orange tart.

It was equally lovely, but the lime one just edges it. Because lime. I’m not a squirty cream fan, but it does at least add a touch of moisture to complement the crisp pastry. No soggy bottom here.

Yet another lovely visit to this lovely pub. I’m out of praise for it, because it’s just great. I’m sure we’ll be back again next year on another camping trip…

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #4 – August 2017

This is the tenth selection box from the N&P and the fourth from the dark beer club. I’ve still got one bottle left from the first box (Buxton Rainshadow), two from the second (Mutiny and Old Freddy Walker) and two from the third (Omnipollo Noa and Buxton/Stillwater Subliminal Imperial Stout). These are all big beasts, not for when you are keeping it session.

Let’s dive in to this month’s selection.

Campervan – Mutiny on the Bounty – 4.2%

Take your taste buds on an exotic adventure. Campervan are not afraid to rock the boat when it comes to giving their beer identity. This rebellious milk stout gets its unique aroma from the use of roasted coconut at the conditioning stage. Relish the chocolate and coffee infusion before soaking up the subtle vanilla flavour. A real hit when a cask of it was on in the N&P earlier this year.

Kernel – Imperial Brown Stout 1856 – 9.9%

Another of those big beasts. Kernel brewery export stout gets a lot less praise than it deserves. This deep and opulent dark beer harks back to a previous era, when London was at the forefront of the brewing industry. Layer upon layer of dark malts with a nice bitter edge, all rolled around waming alcohol undertones.

Modern Times – Black House – 5.8%

Another hard to get hold of beer from San Diego’s Modern Times brewery.  Black House is an oatmeal coffee stout bursting with coffee aromas and flavours. Modern Times roast their own coffee so they can choose exactly what beans to use and how to roast them. The result is a complex and aromatic beer, with lots of roasted character and a chocolate covered coffee bean finish. All of this packed in to only 5.8% so you could even enjoy it by the pint.

Northern Monk / Other Half Patrons Project 1.04 – Leeds Lurking – 10%

Not the snappiest of titles is it? Doesn’t actually tell you anything about the beer, a collaboration between Leeds’ Northern Monk and New York’s Other Half. It’s just your standard every day run of the mill morello cherry and Peruvian coffee imperial porter. Said no-one ever. We had this at the home made Hooky beer festival last month, lots of coffee bitterness and the cherry comes through really late.

Pig and Porter – Gothic – 7.4%

Intense, dark, brooding, sinister and really rather tasty. Gothic was apparently Pig and Porter’s first bottled dark beer, although this particular incarnation is canned. It features ten different malts and a blend of English, German and American hops, all of which combine to produce a complex, rich, dark and fruity flavour.

Apparently best drunk in a remote moorland farmhouse, on a dark and stormy night, with a full moon and a sense of foreboding.

Thornbridge – Cocoa Wonderland – 6.8%

I first had this in July 2015 at the second Thornbridge Peakender (the one that they spoilt with greed). It is a riot of chocolate flavours, a full bodied, robust porter with natural mocha malt flavours from the complex malt grist, complementing the decadent additions of real chocolate to the maturation process. I loved it so much that it was beer of the month for July 2015. Nice to have another one to enjoy.

Looking forward to enjoying some of these as the nights draw in…

Hassop Station Cafe, Bakewell, Derbyshire, August 2017

How do you make a mess of the simple process of allowing a customer to order 2 cups of tea and 2 slices of cake? Alarmingly, it’s quite easy. Unlike most cafes, you decide to have two queues. One queue to order your food and drink. The other queue to pay for your order.

That shouldn’t really be enough to make a mess of things, it’s quite simple. However, if you really want to mess things up, don’t label these queues, and don’t make it obvious in any way whatsoever which queue is which. So when your unsuspecting customers arrive, they join a queue, get to the front (eventually, because it’s a busy Saturday afternoon), only to be told by the disinterested youth that they are in the wrong queue. So time to start it all over again.

A shame that this is how things started off (I swear they were utterly disorganised the last time that we were here too). The tea and cake were good, and they are so handily placed on the Monsal trail (and are always busy). They also hire bikes too, so they have a ready made captive audience. There are some decent things for sale in the shop, as well as the usual gift shop tat.

They just need to get a bit more organised.

The Brotherswater Inn, Sykeside, Cumbria, August 2017 #4

Moist.

That has been the over-riding theme of today. The forecast was very specific. Rain coming in around lunchtime. And not leaving until late evening. So we were up and out, off to bag another Wainwright. Very much a “there and back” walk, get up, get back down, and get back under cover until the rain passes.

After an afternoon of unceasing rain, we wondered if it would ever be dry again. When we arrived on Thursday, we had to pitch our awning in a swamp. The swamp had started to recede, but as the afternoon wore on, the swamp was back and bigger than ever. Squelch squelch. The only sensible option is to retire to the pub.

We did just that. After a good effort at finishing it up, the Eden Valley had gone, and was replaced by Ullswater Blonde, also from Eden Brewery. I’ve had this beer every year for the last three, and the current batch seems lighter in colour than previous brews. An easy drinking golden ale.

Food next, and after a cool and wet afternoon (if only we’d brought our radiator in August!) a warming bowl of smoked haddock chowder was just what was needed. A lovely mini loaf of bread accompanied it, but I wasn’t convinced about the salad. It doesn’t seem to fit with the creamy chowder (which was very nice).

And after plenty of properly plated meals, we have a double whammy of disappointment. A slate set into a bread board. Why, cruel fate, why? Why not just a plate?

Luckily, the plate was around for the pudding (often a prime candidate for a slate). This dark chocolate delight with raspberry ripple ice cream and a few raspberries was a lovely end to the meal, the richness of the chocolate being cut through by the raspberries.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Cumbrian classic of sticky toffee pudding, which was sticky and delicious.

We’ve had lots of lovely meals at The Brotherswater Inn. When you are a captive campsite audience, it’s always a worry in case it doesn’t turn out to be very good, or there’s a limited menu. This was not the case. A lovely pub with lovely food and beer. Perfect for a campsite.

The Beehive, Combs, Derbyshire, July 2017

Firstly, a note on pronunciation. Combs is pronounced “combs” like the thing that you use on your hair, as opposed to “coombs”, which many of us may have mistakenly called it. Maybe.

On to food and drink. We find ourselves back here again, finishing off a circuit of walking circuits that we started back in May 2014. We were last at the camp site up the road in September 2015, doing some of those walking circuits. On that occasion we came to The Beehive for dinner on both nights. It was good. So we are doing that again. Once again, we find ourselves in the bar area where dogs are welcome, as Suzy the ninja hound is with us as usual.

Tonight began as the previous nights began, a quick photograph of the specials board so everyone in our party could find out what was on it.

Whilst they perused, we were ordering some drinks. As well as some dull and predictable Marstons, there always seems to be a good guest ale or two. Tonight that guest ale was Route 97 from Mobberley brewhouse. It was a delicious hoppy pale ale. Refreshing and good Chinook hop profile.

Food next. Last time several of us had the seafood platter. We were pleased to see that it was still on the specials board, and several of us had it again. It wasn’t quite as good as last time, the bread seems to have been downgraded to a slice of Hovis Seed Sensations instead of a nice chunk of fresh granary, and the fishy offerings were less. Not as many leaves as last time, and more sliced peppers I think.

Mrs MOFAD opted for duck breast, with sweet potato and rosemary mash and a Cumberland sauce.

Although we hadn’t yet earned one, we had to have a pudding, having spotted the chocolate and candied lime tart on the specials board. This is an important lesson – if you see something on the specials board that you want, have it, because it might not be there the next time you come. This handy poem will help you to remember:-

Never put off what you can do today,
For it may lead to sorrow.
If you do it today and you like it,
You can do it again tomorrow.

The chocolate and lime choice was absolutely spot on. Lovely rich chocolate, reasonably crisp pastry and the candied lime was absolutely divine. As you may have already gathered, I love lime.

Somewhere in between courses, another pint of that tasty Mobberley ale appeared to accompany proceedings. We hung around for a while with drinks and a few games of Uno, as per. Another pleasant evening in the Beehive. Lovely people, lovely pub.

The Hunting Lodge, Barrow upon Soar, June 2017

The photo you are about to see caused some uproar on Facebook. It is a standard picture of what we ate tonight, captured for the purposes of this blog, but posted to Facebook soon after it was taken. Two aspects of it concerned people. One, the size of the chicken breast (for that’s what it is, and not a slug as Ali and Chris suspected). Two, the lake of sauce that encroached on to the salad. This caused much consternation particularly from Hazel and Sharon, who were both quite offended by the contamination of the leaves by a warm sauce.

We shall return to all of that in a moment. Tonight, we were wandering around Barrow upon Soar, trying to win a treasure hunt, and reclaim our crown (we did not retain it last year). I say we, I had been on a train back from Newcastle for 4 hours, so I was only out on the trail for about 40 minutes.


After the hunt was over, all of the teams descended upon The Hunting Lodge where we had all pre-ordered from a small menu of items. All four of us on our table had ordered this Greek chicken dish, with chips and salad:-


As you can see, there is indeed a lake of garlic sauce, which takes up over half of the plate. And the chicken breast was rather on the small side. And the sauce does indeed encroach upon the salad. It was tasty, but a very tiny piece of chicken and the lack of a dam between salad and sauce did rather spoil things.

Pudding did make up for it in some way, hot chocolate fudge cake with chocolate sauce, but with squirty cream letting the side down.


I think the mass catering required had them off their game a bit, the food was better the last time I came here. And there was no decent beer on tonight either. We will be back again I’m sure.