The Beer Hall, Staveley – Hawkshead brewery tap, August 2017

All good things must come to an end. Our Lakes camping break is one of those things. We have bagged another 9 Wainwrights, enjoyed some great walking, and had some lovely pub dinners and decent local ales.

Handily, our route home involves going within half a mile of Staveley, the home of Hawkshead brewery (who outgrew Hawkshead itself many years ago) and The Beer Hall, their brewery tap. We came here twice in 2016, once for lunch and a shopping trip (you can read more about the brewery and The Beer Hall on that post), and once for a shopping trip. Today was another 2 for the price of 1 visit, with lunch and shopping on the agenda once more.

Lunch first, and a couple of drinks. A Solar Sour for Mrs MOFAD, a refreshingly sour wheat beer. For me, the August Session IPA, packed with Jester, Citra, Mosaic and Centennial hops, delicious fruity hoppiness.

Food next, and we both opted for the ploughman’s, two cheeses from a choice of many, some salad, a couple of slices of bread, a lovely ginger chutney and coleslaw.

Decent portions of cheese, a nice smoked cheddar and a brie were my choices. The smoked cheddar was really nice, a decent level of smokiness but not too much to overwhelm those who are not big smoke fans (I like a lot of smoke). The brie was a squishy delight. There’s also a pickled onion peeking out from behind the coleslaw.

As ever, the choice of a bread board to serve it all on makes life difficult, a piled up salad is always in danger of slipping off at some point, and we both lost salad items to the floor. Plates were invented in order to eat food from.

We lingered over lunch for as long as we could (a 200 mile journey still awaits), but the time had soon come to do a bit of shopping before departure. A good range of Hawkshead beers are available (I picked up 6 on my last visit) as well as an ever changing range from British breweries and a few very interesting European beers (mostly from those lovely Belgian types).

Let’s have a quick look through.

Mrs MOFAD opted for a Great White, two Chuckle Berry Sours (been waiting for ages to find bottles of this) and a Floris Mango.

My shopping basket contained Fallen Brewing’s Grapevine (a new world pale ale), two from Marble Brewery, Murk du Soleil, the excellently named double IPA, and Prime Time, a collaboration Kolsch style beer brewed with beer writer and “sommALEier” Melissa Cole.

The red can is Sputnik from North Brewing Co, a dry hopped pale ale and there’s a bottle of Thresher from Siren Craft Brew, a spelt IPA triple dry hopped with Galaxy, Mosaic and Citra, which just happened to be the first collaboration brew at Siren’s new brewhouse.

The remaining items are a can of this year’s batch of Key Lime Tau (2π) by Crooked Stave and Hawkshead Breweries. The 2015 version was brewed for the 2015 Rainbow Project, and was my runner up in August 2016’s beer of the month. It has been brewed in the last two years, and the 2017 version had to go in my shopping basket. If you love lime like I love lime, you’ll love this.

Finally there are two bottles of Brodie’s Prime Export. I’ve already got one of these in stock, so these are for MOFAD drinking companions Matt & Steve. I think they’ll like it.

Another lovely visit to The Beer Hall. It’s the place to go if you are passing by on the A591. Today we had the added bonus of driving out over Britain’s newest bridge, the new Gowan Bridge in Staveley. The old bridge was destroyed as a result of Storm Desmond in December 2015, and there’s even a sign on the A591 inviting you to visit Britain’s newest bridge.

National Trust Cafe, Longshaw Estate, April 2017

A soggy Easter Sunday. We had plans for a certain walk today, but conditions were not conducive to this, so we adapted our plans, and decided to head over to the Longshaw Estate for lunch, and then head out to Carl Wark fort and Higger Tor. Free parking (as we are National Trust members) is always an attraction!

As it was Easter Sunday, it was absolutely packed inside the cafe, but we managed to spot a family leaving their table at the back and quickly swooped in to grab it. The cafe itself is a little confused, as it also doubles as a shop. This means that valuable table space (particularly on a busy bank holiday weekend) is wasted by island display units selling standard NT toys and tat.  It needs a bit of a rethink.

On to lunch. After queuing up for a bit, we were expecting a bit of a wait for food, but it turned up pretty speedily. Mrs MOFAD ordered a jacket potato with tuna mayo, and I went for the safe option of a ploughmans.

Reasonably priced, it was a nice little lunch and a reasonably decent interpretation of a ploughmans. The ham was tasty, some decent leaves (no limp iceberg in sight) and home made coleslaw (not too much onion). The rest of the usual salad items were missing though, no tomatoes, no pickled onion (Mrs MOFAD was thankful for this), no apple.

Although I do have a question. Why grated cheese? This is the first time I think I’ve seen this on a ploughmans. It should be a nice chunk of cheese – grated cheese makes it much harder to eat! You have to mash it on to your fork so that you can get it into your mouth.

Apart from that oddity, a decent and speedy lunch. We were also treated to a surprise visit from MOFAD companions, Hazel, Matt, Kerrie & Andy, who we spent the day with yesterday. Kerrie’s window licking upon departure was a sight to behold.

If you’re having a day out at Longshaw or nearby, this is a good little place for lunch or tea and cake.

King Richard III Visitor Centre, Leicester

Interesting how a dead bloke in a car park can generate so much interest isn’t it? In August 2012, a new archaelogical dig began in a car park in Leicester. Richard III was famously killed in battle at the Battle of Bosworth Field (memorably depicted by Peter Cook in the first ever episode of The Blackadder). His body was taken to Greyfriars Friary and buried in a very crude grave. With Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries just around the corner (only 50 years later), the grave was lost, and the story that Richard’s bones had been chucked into the River Soar at Bow Bridge arose.

However, in September 2012, there was some certainty that the body found on the first day of the dig was that of Richard III, and DNA analysis showed that mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones matched that of descendants of Richard’s sister Anne of York. Alongside other evidence, there was enough to convince the University of Leicester “beyond reasonable doubt” that the skeleton was that of Richard III.

In July 2014 a new visitor centre opened up in the former Alderman Newton School, and it has a very “old school” feel to it. As you enter (through the gift shop in a Banksy style) you are met with a throne and a projected film about Richard’s early life.

Off you then wander through displays about his short life, with stained glass, tapestry and classic museum style information boards. Upstairs is the Discovery zone, which tells the modern story of the archaelogical dig, the science involved in identifying the body, dramatic depictions of Richard III and a glowing skeleton on a fake CT scanner.

Once all that is explored, you can go and stand in a quiet room above the actual spot where the body was found. A glass floor allows you to stand right over it, and a tasteful projection of light recreates the shape of the skeleton in the grave site.

After that, there’s a cafe for lunch. There are brunch dishes served until 1:30pm and lunch dishes served from 12-2:30pm. There’s a choice of sandwiches, toasted sandwiches, jacket potatoes, quiches and salads. Later on you can also have afternoon tea.

We popped in for lunch. There were no jacket potatoes today so Mrs MOFAD had a toasted tuna crunch panini and I had the Leicester Ploughman’s – Melton Mowbray pork pie, Red Leicester and gammon ham.

It appeared on a slate. A medieval trencher I could have perhaps forgiven, but not a slate. A trencher may be edible, metal or wood, but never stone. Serving method aside, it was very nice. Good cheese, really tasty ham, a nice bit of pickle, a decent roll, decent pork pie and some good salad (a little let down by the strands of iceberg). A good ploughman’s and Mrs MOFAD’s sandwich was also good.

All in all it was a great morning out, a very interesting wander through a very local piece of history that has captured the nation’s interest. And the cafe’s not bad either. Shortly after this we were off to a comedy show in a curry house. The Leicester comedy festival is up and running!

The White Horse, Westleton, Suffolk, October 2016

Another bike riding day today. We parked at Dunwich Beach (lovely big car park) and then set off on our ride. Westleton was our lunch destination, we had visited the village last year when we came for dinner at The Crown. We decided that it was probably a bit too posh for cyclists, even though we were perfectly presentable after some pleasant country lane cycling.

Instead we chose The White Horse, you guessed it, an Adnams pub, in Westleton. Being a Tuesday lunchtime in early October, we weren’t expecting it to be rammed, but there was only one other couple inside, and it did have a bit of a feel of An American Werewolf in London about it. We looked over at the menu and ordered some lunch.

First, as usual, some drinks. For me, Adnams Jack Brand Mosaic Pale Ale, a pint of happy, fruity hoppiness. You’ll also spot Matt’s Blackshore stout and a lime and soda for Mrs MOFAD. Hazel’s tea is not pictured because it hadn’t arrived yet. Apparently she is partial to a cup of tea. Who knew?

My ham ploughmans arrived, and it was very tasty, good ham, decent salad, nice piccalilli, good chutney, and nice bread. It would have been even better on a plate, but in fact it was a double whammy of slate inset into a bread board. Hazel also had the same, and Mrs MOFAD had a tasty sandwich. The  portions are fairly modest but every ingredient is a good one.

When we get to Matt’s lunch, there’s a different story. He fancied something a bit lighter, so had some battered garlic mushrooms and some bread and oil/balsamic vinegar. The batter was mushy and greasy, like it hadn’t been cooked at a high enough temperature, and the £3.50 bread was just one slice cut into strips, about the same amount as you can see on my “plate” above. That’s a rip off.

A shame really, but the £3.50 slice of bread is something that’s fairly easy to address at least!

The Bubble Car Museum, camp site and cafe, Lincolnshire

A tale of two lunches.

We were staying at the camp site attached to the Bubble Car Museum in Lincolnshire for the weekend with some friends. A nice simple site, fairly unfussy, and with decent enough facilities for small numbers of campers.

We didn’t have much planned for the weekend, and actually spent most of it on site. This meant that we decided to have lunch in the museum cafe on both days. Sadly they don’t do breakfasts, and they are also quite clear about having “no crisps, no fizzy drinks”. Even though you can see crisps in the photos below, and there is also a fizzy drink not pictured (ginger beer, so what they really mean is no Coke/Pepsi/etc.)

They have a simple menu of good home made stuff. I do love a ploughmans (thanks to the Cheese bureau and the milk marketing board for popularising it). This one was a three cheese version with a wedge of pork pie – classic Lincolnshire.

Lots of tasty components here. The coloured cheddar was the least flavourful of the cheeses, good stilton and brie made up for that. The pork pie was classic and home made. Good salad leaves (not just limp iceberg), decent coleslaw, and an interesting Asian style shredded thing. Pickled gherkins (unusual but welcome) and pickled onions round off the ensemble, with a few crisps on the side. There’s also a basket of good wholemeal bread which really makes this a proper filling meal.

That was Saturday, here is Sunday:-

Pretty similar and certainly consistent. Tasty lunches on both days and very competitively priced – all of the TripAdvisor reviews comment on the prices in the cafe.

Recommended if you find yourself in the area. You won’t find many places like this around these days – a proper old fashioned family place. Relax and enjoy something that feels like it’s from a bygone era.

The Hole in t’ Wall aka The New Hall Inn, Bowness

An emotional one this.

I’ve been to the Hole in t’ Wall loads of times, we used to come here a lot as a family when visiting my dad’s cousin Frank, who has lived in various places nearby, including one little cottage just 5 or so minutes away. Frank passed away a few years ago, and with my dad passing away last year, it was a bit odd to step through the door with that knowledge bouncing around in my mind.

The New Hall Inn (nobody calls it that) is the oldest pub in Bowness and a proper old fashioned Lakes pub. It was built in 1612. It still looks the same today as it did when I first visited over 25 years ago, with only the stuff served behind the bar, and my choice of drink, changing.

Let’s get on to that choice of drink. When I was old enough to drink alcohol in here, I suspect I was drinking something like Gaymers Olde English cider, being somewhat of a teenage cider drinker. My current love of ale probably began around the turn of the century…

So today, ale it was (not even nostalgia would make me want to seek out Olde English cider again). The Hole in t’ Wall is a Robinsons pub, so there are always several of their ales on. I chose a Double Hop (as a hop head, a name like that is always going to draw me in). It is described as an IPA. Look at the picture below:-

That is not an IPA. Far too dark. A quick sniff. No hops coming through here. A quick taste. Hints of caramel. No hops there either. It’s a very nice ale, but there is no way that it is an IPA. An IPA should smash you in the face with hops. And it should be pale (this is a massive bugbear of mine which you may have already spotted). Anyway, it was good, but let’s move on.

Food. A good menu on offer here, with lots of main meals to choose from as well as lighter bites and sandwiches. Sometimes the lighter bites can be deceptive. I ordered the ploughmans. It was enormous. 2 good blocks of cheese. Half an apple. A whole boiled egg. 4 good slices of ham. A bread roll. A nice salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, leaves, sweetcorn, sliced onion).

Wait. There’s more. There are also portions of pasta salad, rice salad, and potato salad. And they were all delicious. One of the best ploughmans I’ve had.

Sandwich fans won’t be disappointed either. Mrs MOFAD had this roll, which was absolutely stuffed with filling, as well as having a good portion of salad on the side. Very tasty and great portions.

This pub has many great memories, and after such a lovely lunch, it has the ability to create new ones. MOFAD approved, of course!

The Greenwood Tree, Lyndhurst

A different kind of day for our last full day of holiday. After yesterday’s walk (which was longer than anticipated), Mrs MOFAD was not up to doing a final cycle ride. So we had a change of plans. I did a solo cycle ride in the morning, retracing much of Thursday’s ride. It was an enjoyable final blast around the Forest, and I completed it much faster than I was expecting, so was back in time for a cup of tea before we popped out for lunch.

Mrs MOFAD chose The Greenwood Tree, as it was somewhere we had been on a previous stay in Lyndhurst. We arrived just after 2pm, and the lunchtime rush seemed to be easing, but there was quite a wait before someone came to serve us. If you’re having a busy time, abandon your “we must take orders at the table” policy and switch to “please order your food at the till”.

The wait didn’t stop there, as a little while after we’d ordered we were then informed that there would be a 30-40 minute wait for food.

As you can see from the picture below:-

I hadn’t ordered a complex meal. The “New Forest Ploughman’s lunch” (the pork pie earns it this epithet) is a pretty simple thing to put together, and only the part-baked baguette needs a few minutes of cooking before it is ready to eat.

The cheese was tasty, the pie was good, although yesterday’s ploughman’s lunch at the Royal Oak was better. That weird waxy paper also confused me. It appears to be there to save on washing up, and rather detracts from the meal when some pickle or vinegar or salad dressing makes it a bit soggy.

It was ok, but if you have the choice, pop over the road to the Fox & Hounds instead. Their food is much better, as is their ale selection 🙂