1000th post

So, in the 900th post, all the way back in September 2018, I mused that I had loads of posts to get writing:-

“I still have 90 posts still in draft. There’s a lot to catch up with, but I’m determined to get up to date at some point. It might be in 2020, but I will do it!”

Past me was sort of right. I only have 10 posts in draft now. It is 2020. However, it took 21 months to get from 900 to 1000. My output has slowed right down as other things have taken over. I usually round up the highlights between milestone posts, so I should do a bit of that. I haven’t had time for monthly or yearly round ups (no beer of the month since January 2018 and no pub of the month since October 2017), so this will be some of that too, as well as talking about Covid-19 life later on.

Let us step back in time to October 2018 and take it from there.

A work trip to Denver in October 2018 was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and long work days were followed by the opportunity to explore one of the world’s great beer cities. I got to visit the Crooked Stave taproom on a sunny Sunday afternoon, as well as Great Divide and Mockery Brewing.

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Exploring the city was a lovely relaxing day with some fine beer experiences dotted around the city. Work started the next day but there were still a few chances to explore the city’s food and drink in the evenings, including a lovely penultimate night meal at Ocean Prime.

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Two weeks later I was in London on business, an invited speaker at a conference, and just a week after that I had a 24 hour flying visit to Glasgow, where I watched football and ate steak and chips with a few beers in a pub that I knew well from Facebook, The Bon Accord.

The gradual slowdown of posts begins in January 2019, but it featured my favourite beery experience to date, brewing Anything but Mild at Framework brewery, with regular MOFAD drinking companion Alec, and Andrew and Noah from the brewery. We had a great day and brewed a really good mild which received its premiere a month later and also appeared in bottles many of which made their way to my beer drinking friends. Mild is still very much a thing, and done right it’s a winner.

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A topical (in June 2020) city appears in March 2019, when we had a trip to Bristol for a kind of “winter camping” weekend, with regular MOFAD companions Matt & Hazel and Steve & Janette. We get together a lot in the summer to go camping (and share and drink beer), but there’s always a long gap at the end of camping season, so we planned a city break in order to combat this.

The ladies were off on a wooly tour, we had planned a walking tour of the city, which just so happened to take in some brewery taps. Not all of them, since a few have different opening hours in the cooler seasons. Our plan was Moor -> Dawkins -> Arbor -> Fierce & Noble -> Wiper & True -> New Bristol -> Croft but it turned out to be  Moor -> Arbor -> Fierce & Noble -> Wiper & True -> New Bristol -> Croft. We had a good day of beer tasting, but we won’t be hurrying back to the city…

A bit of camping in May 2019 led to only one post although there were lots of things I never got around to writing about, including the “Beat the Brewer” night with Elusive at the Needle & Pin. What I did write about was three nights at the Church House pub in Sutton, where we’ve been several times whilst staying at Jarman Farm.

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July 2019 saw the rather incorrectly titled “Pub in the Park”. It should have been called “Food Pub in the Park”, an event sponsored by Hong Kong owned macro brewer Greene King. They have their fans. I am not one of them. They own a lot of names, and make a lot of dull brown beer. All of which was on display at this event, alongside excellent food from great food pubs, and some bands, with The Christians being the only ones of note, still sounding smooth 30 years on.

A week later we were in Bakewell, and there was good beer in a good pub with regular MOFAD drinking companion Steve, and much less regular drinking companion (and friend to badgers everywhere) Andy. Our fourth member was unwell so had stayed back at base. We worked our way across the cask ales, taking only a short lunch break for fish’n’chips down by the river.

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August 2019 saw a long trip down to the P word for a family celebration, followed by a swift return to Bakewell for the absolute mud fest that was Peakender 2019. The beer was great, the weather was awful, and more probably could have been done to mitigate the damage done by the atmospheric conditions. The 2020 edition has been cancelled and we’ll miss the 2021 edition due to a wedding. See you in 2022!

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However, just a week later England was gripped by a massive heatwave, with temperatures climbing back up close to 30 degrees C. Fish’n’chips came into play again, with Mrs MOFAD’s quest to find the elusive Yorkshire fishcake once again finally resulting in finding one in Land & Sea Fish and Chips in Sowerby, just outside Thirsk. We ate them in the sunshine on a bench outside the local church.

September 2019 saw a work trip to Edinburgh with return visits to Ox184 and Holyrood 9A as well as an atrocious “Scottish conference dinner” with thin soup and a dull haggis accompanied by an Irish whiskey!!! The cranachan was good, as was the dancing. Even the burger at the airport (whilst waiting for a delayed flight) was quite good.

There were also three camping trips, but very few trips to the pub! We had another can/bottle share event at the annual cake camp, sharing 17 different beers between us across the weekend, most of which fell into the “big unit” category, huge stouts and barley wines.

The one trip to the pub was during what turned out to be our last camping trip for 6 months, and a lunch stop at The King & Castle in Kidderminster after a day out on the Severn Valley Railway.

October 2019 saw a trip to the Lakes for more Wainwright bagging. We stayed in the same place as in October 2018 and were on a mission to clear up some more of the “Far Eastern Fells” aka book 2. We explored another ten, taking our overall total to 140. Staying in Pooley Bridge again meant a few trips to the pub, although we couldn’t get out to the Brackenrigg Inn at Watermillock as the bridge that gives Pooley Bridge its name was only a footbridge, with a new one being built to replace the 18th century bridge destroyed by Storm Desmond in December 2015. It is scheduled to open very soon ( late June 2020).

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The following week there was an excellent “Meet the Brewer” event at the Needle & Pin, with the lovely folks from Mashionistas holding court and talking all things beer and Midlands. It was a great night, which I never got round to writing up.

An overnight trip to London at the end of the month saw the chance for a quick trip to the recently opened Mikkeller “pop up pub” in Exmouth Market (it was due to become a brewpub in spring 2020).

Another London trip just two weeks later resulted in a crappy Travelodge at Marylebone, but a decent few pints and fish’n’chips at the Doric Arch.

There was an impromptu trip to Rutland for an impromptu pub lunch after an impromptu bird nerding session. Regular camping companions Hazel & Matt had been in Lincoln for the weekend, so we tried to find a convenient place to get to see them for a few hours and then have some lunch. That one acutally resulted in a blog post, as did the annual pilgrimage to the Good Food Show.

December 2019 saw another good meet the brewer event with Amber from Siren Craft Brew talking all things Siren and lots of tasty beers to try (another one that I didn’t get time to write up). A few more pub trips and all of a sudden it was Christmas. I’d saved up a few good beers for the festivities including a cranberry sour and a marzen weisse which went nicely with the big festive meals.

Just a couple of days later and we were in the Lakes again, with more Wainwrights on the mind, finising of the year with another four, including Sallows and Sour Howes taking the year’s total to 27.

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Just like that, it was the start of another decade. After a wet day out in Grasmere, we wandered around the shops in Ambleside and I got to visit Beer Ambleside, picking up a couple of dozen beers to get me through #Tryanuary 2020. The pub was a distant companion until the very last day of January with a trip to “Peaky Paradise” to stay with regular camping and drinking companions Andy & Kerrie.

Andy and I nipped out to pick up a curry on the Friday night and nipped in to The Ale Stop in Buxton for a pint – a lovely micro pub for a beer and a chat. It set us up nicely for curry, some massive stouts and then a sneaky bit of late night cheese. We were up and out on the Monsal Trail the next day for a lovely stroll, followed by a “fakeaway” night. And more big stout units.

Another pub trip a week later, a pub lunch (remember them?) at The Three Horseshoes in East Leake, halfway round a walk in the area. The beer selection is awful, but the “posh fish finger” Spanish baguette was lovely.

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We only had one trip to the Leicester Comedy Festival in 2020, due to factors including but not limited to storms Ciara and Dennis. Luckily, Paul Sinha’s show was excellent as was the burger and pint at The Parcel Yard beforehand.

Decorating happened in February 2020, but there was time to fit in a final (for now) meet the brewer event at The Needle & Pin as we enjoyed excellent beers and chat with Pentrich Brewing Co, from just over the border in Derbyshire. Another one I didn’t write up.

February turned to March. We built new wardrobes. Covid-19 was about to dominate the agenda for the foreseeable future. We managed to get away for the weekend for Mrs MOFAD’s birthday and had a lovely meal out, which turned out to be our last one for 2020 so far.

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Lockdown was coming. Working from home every day was about to become the new normal. A daily walk became a necessity as a way to get out of the house. Exploring the local area and seeing it change through the spring was an added bonus of life in lockdown, which soon became mandatory lockdown. Stay Home. Protect the NHS. Save Lives. Judging the actions of others on social media became a new sport, replacing all other sport which was gone.

Cancellations were the next thing to become the new normal. Easter holiday cancelled and moved to next year. Camping trip cancelled. Concert moved to later in the year, then subsequently moved to 2021. Beer festival moved to 2021. Summer holiday cancelled and transferred to another time. Lots of planning now feeling redundant. In the great scheme of things these happenings feel very insignificant, but in terms of coping with the situation, they are all mental hurdles to overcome.

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Easter was spent at home for the first time in about 15 years, alongside a birthday in lockdown. Thankfully the weather was on our side so we could get out for a bike ride and then a ploughman’s and a pint in the garden, with fish’n’chips for tea from George’s, our local chippy which had switched to click and collect only. Another bike ride in the sunshine, an evening listening to the Hacienda 12 hour house party in the garden, and Mrs MOFAD camped out for the night as part of a national event.

The one main advantage of working from home was emerging. Being at home for deliveries. I was getting new bits for my bike for spares and repairs, as well as deliveries direct from small breweries, who needed support from people at home (the off trade) to make up for the huge gap caused by the closure of pubs (the on trade). A birthday box from Padstow Brewing Co was one of the best arrivals, an excellent mix of beers and styles from a modern Cornish brewery.

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Easter Monday lunch was held via a Teams call, and the weather for the rest of the week held fair to allow for more daily exercise out on the bike. A break from work was nice, but also difficult because things were ramping up to unprecedented (the word of the pandemic) levels which woud result in some long days in the weeks ahead.

Weekly deliveries and a weekly pub quiz from The Needle & Pin have been one constant throughout lockdown. My Pointless Friend Richard have been there throughout, winning one week and coming close a few other times. Heart of Oak have become our nemeses. It’s not the same as getting together in the pub, but video calling Karon & John with Sean reading out the questions in 5.1 surround sound has been a fun way of spending a few hours on a Sunday evening.

The weather in May continued to hold and we managed to get out for some more walks, being able to drive a short distance to exercise, which enabled us to walk some more parts of the Leicestershire round, which we’ve nearly completed.

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We also finally got round to putting a new bike rack on the car so that we could take bikes a little further afield to explore lots of traffic free cycling routes. This led to a fantastic day out in glorious late May sunshine on the Tissington Trail, where we also met the aforementioned Andy at Parsley Hay.

That brings us on to flaming June, which has been more moist than May. The day job has been off the scale busy, but there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel soon. A selection of beer from Fierce arrived, part of my crowdfunding order from a month or so ago. Another fish’n’chips trip to George’s, and a delayed Solvay Society order eventually arrived (UPS smashed up the first one).

It’s possible that we might be able to get out and have some adventures again soon. We are really hoping that will be the case. It will bring lots more opportunities to witter on about food and drink, perhaps under new socially distant pub rules.

If you’d have told me back in 2015 that I’d knock out 1,000 posts in 5 years, I’m not sure that I’d have believed you. There are lots of important voices in the world of food and drink writing, and I’m really only doing this for me, but to have had 17,000 views from 11,000 visitors indluding visits from Uruguay, Myanmar and the Maldives, has been nice to see.

I will be carrying on with my occasional posts, although I suspect it will take a bit longer to create another thousand! Enough of this round up, time to write something else.

900th post!

It’s been just over 5 months since 800, but I think that has something to do with the fact that I still have 90 posts still in draft. There’s a lot to catch up with, but I’m determined to get up to date at some point. It might be in 2020, but I will do it!

Let’s do the usual quick round up then. April saw lots of pub trips in the Peak District, and a very welcome surprise when we got back home, in the shape of the Reservoir Inn, Thornton. Walkers welcome, and lovely Sunday roast baguettes (if you only do roasts on Sundays, stick them in a baguette!)

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May saw the arrival of the first of the Brewdog fanzines, an interesting idea where they send 3 cans in the post for a fixed price. No delivery issues with couriers and the promise of interesting beers. That hasn’t quite panned out over the months, there have been a few of interest, but also some utterly dull things. With Brewdog’s recent stunts (beer.porn being the worst), it’s becoming increasingly difficult to continue supporting their endeavours.

There have also been a good few Needle & Pin selection boxes, some lovely sours and some big dark beasts like Marble’s Decadence, a double mashed Russian Imperial Stout, barrel aged for nine months, so that it gives a satisfying viscosity with dark and firm bitterness, Black Forest fruits and a hopped aroma.

Quite a few camping trips have resulted in numerous takeaway posts – we’ve had a lot of fish’n’chips over the summer, almost exclusively *from a van*.

May saw another trip (only one this year though) to The Lazy Trout in Meerbrook. After a 14 mile walk, this burger was massively deserved and incredibly tasty, nice crisp bacon and big flavoured cheese added to the experience.

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Not long after this, we had chaos theory demonstrated by the Planet Pavillion Cafe at Jodrell Bank. They took your order for items on display. You paid. And then you go to your table, drop some stuff off, and go back to pick up your order. Which is still sitting in the cabinet, so other people could be ordering it, not knowing if they are going to be able have it, because one or more people could have already secured it ahead of them.

The usual summer trip to the Lake District saw us defend our title at The Pack Horse Inn (three in a row so far), as well as plenty of other pub trips. And the usual June camping trip saw the first of our “bottle share beer festivals”. That same trip also saw the crowning of the worst Wetherspoons award, with The Catherine Wheel in Henley being tagged with #avoidthisspoons.

Three trips to London have generated a fair bit of content. Interestingly, Brewdog in Camden was my World Cup watching venue of choice, accompanied by burgers and beer.

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July was about long hot summer days and camping, more takeaways and the second “bottle share beer festival” of the year. The next one is just around the corner. Some good pub trips, mixed with one very dull one. The kind of pub where you have lime and soda because you know that all of the beer that you own has been looked after far better than the dull casks delivered there each week.

August saw Yorkshire, and the completion of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. This was also celebrated with fish’n’chips *from a van*, as well as Northern Monk Patrons Project Ingleborough, the most appropriate beer for someone who has just been up and down Ingelborough.

After camping in West and East Yorkshire, the end of the month found us just outside Great Malvern, and after more fish’n’chips *from a van* on our first night, on two other nights we were visiting The Swan Inn in Hanley Swan, a fantastic village pub with well kept beer and really nice food. This steak was utterly divine…

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The final instalment of the Rainbow Project brings us right up to date with posts. A quick peek at visitor statistics show visits from exotic places like Ethiopia, Slovakia and the Isle of Man. I still seem to have one of the only web sites where you can find information on Midway Fast Food (fish and chips) in Hastings, New Zealand.

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So time to stop procrastinating and get back to writing blog posts. Next up – the big 1000!

 

800th post!

Just 2 months since 750, and we’ve now reached 800 posts. There are still another 70 in draft format, so despite knocking out a good number in recent weeks, the to-do list has increased by about 10%, in part due to a couple of trips to London.

Since the last post, there has been some ‘Spoons action, and the start of a new hashtag, #swadisodd, spawned by this pub fish’n’chips with peas and salad. Yes, salad. Odd. The tag is #swadisodd as the pub was in Swadlincote, affectionately known by locals as Swad. The home of the “Swadside Massive” which is a grafitti tag that we saw in the area many years ago.

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Some tasty pink beer and a pizza in Brewdog Nottingham was followed by another trip to Centro Lounge and then another outing for “My Pointless Friend Richard” in Syston. We were not able to wrestle our crown back this year.

February saw two boxes from the Needle & Pin craft beer club, the seventh dark beer selection which contained a few to drink now, and a few to stick away for a rainy day in a year or so. The second sour beer selection box also had some very interesting beers within, including a fruit grisette, a lemon zest and grapefruit conditioned summer Belgian beer. That should do nicely when the days start to warm up.

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A London trip saw something a bit different, including a coffee stop at the Royal Albert Hall. Impressive place. There was a lot more snow around than shown in the photo, and it was bitterly cold, but a nice wander around Kensington Gardens and the royal parks needed something to warm things up a bit.

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A tasty pub dinner at The Crown & Two Chairmen was to come later that evening, followed by what might be the comedy highlight of the year (which considering it came two days after Bill Bailey’s latest tour show is quite a feat). The warm up show for Flight of the Conchords at the Soho Theatre, which was superb, despite being rough round the edges (the whole point of warm up shows). Given that the tour has now been rescheduled after Bret broke his arm, I’m considering it a double win that I got a ticket!

More comedy the next night, with my first visit to a room that I’ve heard over 200 times, the main auditorium of the Leicester Square Theatre, with the ridiculously good value Machynlleth comedy festival preview show. Where else would you see Sara Pascoe, Rachel Parris, Josh Widdicombe, Ed Gamble, Jen Brister, Tim Key and James Acaster, all compered by Kiri Pritchard-McLean, the 2018 Chortle award winning best compere, and all for 12 quid? The answer is nowhere.

A couple of tasty beers followed at the Craft Beer Co “Covent Garden”, although I still maintain that it’s not in Covent Garden.

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There was just time for another selection box from the N&P craft beer club, a night of To0l beers at the very same pub, and then another London trip which has generated a lot more posts.

So it’s time to stop procrastinating and get back to writing posts. I have a feeling it won’t be long before we get to 900!

750th post!

It’s another milestone post. It won’t be long before the next one either, as I still have 61 posts in draft format. To say I’m a bit behind is an understatement, but the best things come to those who wait.

Since the last milestone in September, we’ve been busy, which is one of the reasons why there are so many draft posts needing attention. The 2017 walking tour of Skipton accounts for 9 of those posts, as we sampled lots of lovely ales and visited lots of nice pubs.

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October saw us encounter the evil that is seitan, on an otherwise pleasant trip to Portugal. Their ability to use hops when creating beer was rather in doubt until we finally managed to track down some actual beers in the hell hole that is Albufeira.

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There have been more selections from the Needle & Pin craft beer club too, with a few reviews dotted around, although I’m very behind on that too. A couple of trips to the Poppy & Pint in Nottingham (more good beers to try and good food). A new curry house (to us) just across the M1. An incredibly bland pint of cask ale accompanied the blandest pulled pork burger at the King’s Arms in Hathern. Just a few days later, a posh fish finger sandwich repaired the damage to the reputation of pub food caused by that burger.

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A November highlight was the American craft beer night at The Needle & Pin, all IPAs, from a couple of regions of the USA. We crossed from New York City to San Diego with some interesting variations on IPA. I had to take my Founders Redankulous DIPA home (due to having to get up for work), and it’s still sitting in the beer cupboard awaiting attention. Alongside a lot of others. I’m glad that 2018 is set to be the year of session as it is nice to have a couple of beers of an evening.

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An overnight stay in Camden Town produced four posts, the customary BrewDog visit, some coloured water in a Tex Mex place, a rebadged Caledonian 80/- (why?) and finally a London Pale Ale from Southwark Brewing Co, just south of the river.

A trip to Manchester saw a return visit to Kro Bar with good beer and food again, but the highlight was the real purpose of our visit, Hacienda Classical at the Apollo (where the alcohol situation was appalling and the queues for the bar equally so!)

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Another good burger at Handmade Burger in Leicester rounded out November, with the last day seeing the usual pilgrimage to the Good Food Show at the NEC. November’s beer of the month caused a bit of a stir on Twitter as I was drinking Chubbles very close to its best before date. Chubbles was a 10.9% triple IPA with 100% English malt, a ton of flaked oats, fermented with a specific English yeast, and hopped intensely with Galaxy, Citra, and El Dorado.

A couple more craft beer club selections appeared on the horizon, and there was the second Thornbridge night at the Needle & Pin. Also known as “the one where we wiped the floor with everyone else in the pub quiz and won beer”.

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That brings us almost up to date, with some of our recent Lakes adventures having already made it on the the blog, and also accounting for another 10 posts that still need to be finished off. So I should stop procrastinating by writing a navel-gazing milestone post and get back to writing about our food and drink adventures.

Happy 750, we’ll be at 800 before you know it. I just need time to write some more!

700th post!

Another 4 months have passed and another 100 posts have been clocked up. There are about 30 or so that still need writing, and next weekend will see a lot of entries when we reprise the walking tour of Skipton from 2015.

A lot has happened in the last 4 months. We’ve experienced things that go bump in the night, and it happened a second time with a Cloudwater Make Apple Pie Great Again.

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The end of May saw the first month where a pub of the month award was not presented. A trip to Newcastle a week later soon ensured that June would not suffer such problems, with visits to Hop and Cleaver (an in house brewery and all the smoked meat goodness), the lovely Box Social (beautiful beers in a railway arch) and of course BrewDog. The weather was appalling but the beer was great.

The last week of June was consumed by holiday. Lots of lovely Cumbrian pubs, including good pub pizzas in The Crown in Coniston, an unplanned trip to the ODG, a curry and some fish’n’chips.

The sours night at The Needle & Pin was one of the highlights of the summer, lots of tasty and refreshing beers and some very interesting and rare items.

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There have been four visits to The Beehive in Combs, two in July, two in September. A really lovely village pub with great food and a decent cask ale always on. July is also the time for the new home made Hooky beer festival. After the let down of last year, we decided to hold our own. It was a big success, with lots of different beers sampled, and  Intensified Barrel Aged Coffee Porter from Brooklyn Brewery winning the festival.

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Some free beer arrived, and we made five trips to The Brotherswater Inn whilst we were camping at Sykeside in August. It was supposed to be summer, but we camped in a swamp due to incessant rain. Lovely pub though. We also had a 7 hour walk to get a pizza. Well, the walk came first, the pizza was an afterthought. We walked over from the campsite via Red Screes:-

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and tucked into a very hard earned pizza!

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Another quick shopping trip at the Hawkshead Beer Hall rounded off that little break in the Lakes and we were off to our other favourite national park a few weeks later for the Thornbridge beer festival. It had outgrown its home back in 2015 and it was a much improved (although still imperfect) experience this year.

September has been a busy month already, with that aforementioned trip to Combs followed by a trip to Liverpool which has produced 6 blog posts (and bit more publicity for the MOFAD).

A weekend off last weekend, Cloudwater night at the Needle & Pin last week, and we have just returned from cake camp, an annual event celebrating cake and beer and great laughs with friends. We’ve had four pub trips (four more blog posts to come, although the last one won’t be so effusive with its praise) and a trip to Stroud farmers’ market.

I just need some more hours in the day to write more posts. Maybe I can subcontract out to Kerrie, although she is very busy at the moment, working a whole 3 hours a month. It’s a hard life, but she’s worked hard to get it!

Lots more to come from The MOFAD. Will I get to 800 before Xmas? Possibly. Watch this space!

600th post!

Another 4 months have passed, and another milestone has arrived, in the form of the 600th post. The end of 2016 saw a load of round up posts, including beer of the year and brewery outlet of the year, which always bump up the numbers.

January began with Wainwrights’ Inn in Chapel Stile, swiftly followed by a visit to one of our Lakeland favourites, The Mortal Man in Troutbeck.

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There was also something new, a rant about a bus. How on earth can you justify a bus fare of £3.50 for a journey of 3 miles/6 minutes on the 555 alongside Thirlmere? After that, we had a couple of trips to the same pub, which lacked beer on both occasions. And those were followed by another pub lacking in beer.

You might have expected this lack of beer to have put a dent in #tryanuary but thankfully it didn’t. Over the course of the month I sampled 44 different beers, with Cloudwater Brew Co’s Autumn + Winter IPA Mosaic Exp 431 coming out as the beer of the month for January 2017.

February started with some shopping at the Needle & Pin, picking up the inaugural dark beer selection as well as some other things that I’d reserved since Xmas. I think there are three beers that I’ve not yet opened in this photo…

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We opted for a spot of culture with a trip to the King Richard III visitor centre in Leicester, and then a few trips to Leicester for the comedy festival and various pubs. Next up was the first dark beer night at the Needle & Pin. This one turned out to have a little twist on all of the previous beer tasting events. There was a little bit of food involved, pairing some little nibbles with a selection of 5 dark beers. It was another one that felt like one of those events that you expect to find in London bars and brewery taps, so it was really great to have it in our sleepy little market town.

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February ended with an underwhelming trip to Pizza Express. March soon cheered things up with the arrival of the next craft beer selection box. All of these (except for the Double Chin) have now been sampled.

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There was a special birthday trip up The Shard for a lovely afternoon tea, and then another Leicester trip saw another visit to The Lansdowne, and then there were two consecutive trips to The Needle & Pin. First up we held a “halfway between birthdays event” with some friends, and the following night saw the first Belgian beer night, which was brilliant. Sean handed over the reins for this one to the N&P’s resident Belgian beer expert Iain, who was to guide us through the landscape of Belgian brewing past and present.

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We took a journey through some delicious Belgian beers, with a brief stop for some hot and salty fries and mayonnaise.

There are still several outstanding posts for April, and it didn’t start brilliantly with “labelgate” at The Field Head. Things soon improved with our trip to York, which got off to a great start at the York Tap:-

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and saw visits to the Pavement Vaults, Walmgate Ale House, BrewDog, the Brew York 1st birthday party and a few more. The rest of April was dominated by our trip to Hope, and there are lots of posts from that trip still to write up, although Beer District in Buxton was just one of the many highlights:-

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There are also a few May posts to catch up with, but that has already brought us up to 600. As with all milestone posts, a quick stats peek shows new visitors from Romania, Puerto Rico and Taiwan, as well as plenty from the commonwealth as usual. There are another 33 posts still in draft, so I’ll be tapping away at this keyboard for a while yet 🙂

500th post!

It’s been just under three months since the 400th post appeared here, and quite a busy three months, which is why so many posts have appeared.

The month began with Danbert Nobacon, a cafe that ran out of bacon within 20 minutes of opening, and my Rainbow Project 2016 beer box arrived and there was a rather excellent evening of IPA at The Needle & Pin.

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Just a couple of days later we were in Southwold, ordering a very nice Chinese takeaway, organising our own mini beer festival, and then visiting a lot of Adnams pubs. A lot.

Later in October we paid our last ever visit to The Marquis Wellington, who failed to impress with 2 out of the 4 meals not turning up in time. We’re never going back.

November was a quieter month, with International Stout Day kicking things off, and the arrival of another Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box. We also paid our first visit to Centro Lounge, which has become our post cinema dining venue

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The annual Good Food Show pilgrimage saw some more new producers peddling their wares, with a few new breweries, loads of new cider producers and a plethora of gin stalls.

December started off with one of my favourite nights of the year, Thornbridge night at The Needle & Pin. To have such a brewery (who have their own pubs and also do regular tap takeovers around the country) hosting an event at our local micro pub is a great achievement for Sean and the patrons of the N&P.

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Much of the rest of the month has been taken up with my “Christmas beer ideas” posts, rounding up beers and breweries that I’ve enjoyed this year. There was also time for another trip to Centro Lounge and then the N&P once more. The beer ideas continued to flow, and then Christmas party season was soon upon us with a few Xmas meals to be enjoyed.

A busy few months, and with the festive period in full swing, plenty more posts still to come. The monthly round ups for December are in progress, and I’m deliberating on beer of the year, pub of the year and one or two other things.

Two hundred likes, like!

Another quick self-congratulatory post as we reach another small milestone. 200 WordPress “likes” where people “like” your post. I’m also approaching 500 posts and might even get there before the year is out if I catch up with some of the backlog.

I’ve now got reasonably up to date with my scribblings, but there are at least another 20 posts in the pipeline, plenty more to come from the ministry in 2017…

5,000 views!

Another quick self-congratulatory post! A quick glance at the stats reveals that today I passed 5,000 views on this blog, which seems like fairly good going for around 18 months of operation (I backdated some posts to reflect the correct dates, so post dates actually go back to August 2014 at the moment). Here are some New Zealand beers to celebrate!

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In the context of today’s internet traffic, 5,000 is not very much (one of my work sites regularly has that many people online at any moment) but in the context of some random bloke writing about things that he has eaten or drunk, it’s not bad… Here’s to the next 5,000!

400th post!

Another two months have passed since the 350th post, and once again a chance glance at the statistics tells me that this will be the 400th post.

Just one day after the 350th post, there was a little trip around town visiting a few local hostelries such as The Swan in the Rushes, The White Hart, The Organ Grinder and my favourite, The Needle & Pin. It was also time to say farewell to Moomba, celebrate IPAs on #IPAday and witness a Motown legend at Wicked Hathern Fest.

We then move on to one of my most popular posts, on the subject of Cloudwater and their IPA experiments. That also spawned a post about one of the beers from the batch, the V3.

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Quite a few posts about chains followed, including Wagamama, Vintage Inns and Wetherspoons and then a trip to Derbyshire resulted in several pub visits including the Royal Hotel and the George Hotel. August finished off with a quick trip to my most local brewery, Charnwood Brewery.

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There are still September posts to come, but I’ve already covered a Cheeky Nando’s, a chaotic trip to a pub named after the founder of Lord’s, an update from a brewery that I helped to crowdfund, a mushy pea travesty and a pub near an atypical henge.

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There are another 20 posts in draft with plenty more still to come.

August was the busiest month ever with over 500 views including visitors from Venezuela and the UAE (not looking for triple pork nirvana I guess), with September bringing Latvians and Romanians to the party. It’s looking like a busy autumn for the ministry!