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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.