Showing posts from June, 2008

Wherever I Lay My Hat

I’ve got a new local. Well, temporarily at least. The Hark to Towler was mentioned back in February. It's seen quite a change over the last year or so and has more of the feel of a bar than a community local. However, that hasn’t stopped me installing myself at the bar-very Norm from Cheers. In fact I hear the staff cheer every time they see me coming. Or is that a groan? Anyway, never let it be said that Tyson is an inverse snob. I’m quite happy to help punters choose their entree’s over a pint, whilst the staff have given up asking me if I’m dining. But I hear you ask, why, oh why Tyson have you done such a thing? Is it because the Towler is within staggering distance of home? No, because it’s actually further out than the centre of Bury, although luckily, still within crawling distance. The reason is that they’ve now got Copper Dragon Golden Pippin on. The perfect pint for when you don’t want to be farting around experimenting with Billy Boyd’s Homebrew, or the like. Perfectio…

Take A Dump With Darling

I see that San Francisco are proposing to hold a ballot on whether to rename a sewage works after George W Bush. Apparently, the only serious opposition is from people who think it’s unfair to name such a useful institution after GWB. Anyway, I think it’s a good idea and wondered if we couldn’t do something similar here? Alistair Darling surely deserves some recognition for his sterling work on behalf of the licensed trade. There must be a useless building out there just crying out for a rename. The Darling Dump, perhaps? But then I thought, hold on. What about opening a brewery and calling it after our beloved chancellor. You could take a bit of Boggart, throw in some Leyden and sprinkle with Wooden Hand. It would be truly awful. However, it would then give us the opportunity to write headlines such as “Alistair Darling is shite” or indeed “Alistair Darling gives me the shits.”

Just a thought...

Start Running, Bill Gates

So here I am with a brand new state of the art pc. My seven year old steam driven faithful companion is still working, but a cheque popped through the letterbox, and I thought now’s the time to move on. We’re just not the same people we were when we met. I’ve skipped past dual-core processors and gone straight for quad power, a giant hard drive and Blu Ray & HDD media drives. Etc etc. And Vista. Is it any coincidence that Bill Gates retires just as I get hold of this little devil? I think not. Bill, it wouldn’t do you any good-you can run but you can’t hide. I will hunt you down and then you can explain why the ruddy thing keeps freezing up. A problem I never had with XP. Oh, and to add insult to injury, I find that discs prepared on my old pc won’t open in Vista. Great. And my wireless keyboard doesn’t work. And if I’m going to get my money’s worth, apparently I’ll need a high def monitor at some point, as well.

Come back Win 95, all is forgiven...

Good Golly Miss Dolly

Yes it’s that time, once again, to dig out that sequined dress, those Western boots and cowboy hat. But enough of what I get up to on my days off. Dolly Parton was back in town and the MEN had the feel of a disco rodeo about it. Actually a gay, Western rodeo, judging by the number of Dolly drag queens present-some of whom were very good, by the way. Personally, I prefer seeing Ms P at smaller venues, but an arena setting does give her free reign to really pull out the stops, even if at times it means overdosing on camp. Still, enough genuine bluegrass moments to remind us what a great singer and songwriter she can be.

Of course, no trip to the big M would be complete without a drink or four. Despite being definitely under par, I gave it my best shot. Loddon Ferryman’s Gold (4.4%) was a pleasant enough start, being an easy drinking golden beer with a slight hint of something more substantial waiting to come through. Orkney Northern Light (4%) was also pretty good, and although golden as…

Take Me Home Country Roads

A nice, dry day with a promise of some sunshine. An ideal opportunity for a little peregrination. The Lord Raglan at Nangreaves was having a beer festival and who better than Seasider and I to check it out.

To get there for a lunchtime start, first we had to endure a journey on the legendary Nanny Flyer. This little bus winds its way round various back streets before making the journey up to the Raglan. However, the journey lent me the chance to kill two birds with one stone. For, at the bottom of the road leading up to the Raglan, is the Hark to Dandler. This is a J.W.Lees hostelry that use to be just a locals boozer. However, it’s had a makeover, and was now pushing the food angle-with some success at weekends, I’d heard.

First impressions were favourable. Smartly set out tables and chairs now dominate the far side next to the windows. Apparently this has upset some locals and I could understand why, as it did mean the normal drinking area was vastly reduced. Only Lees Bitter was on…

Who'll Stop The Rain

It must be the season of long overdue returns. Hot on the heels of Leonard Cohen comes John Fogerty. In fact, his return makes LC’s seem positively hasty. I thought some of the crowd were getting on a bit and it soon became apparent why. I got chatting to a guy (I think my Willie Nelson For President t-shirt broke the ice), who had been to his last show over here. This tuned out to be when I was in very short pants (no, not last summer) and Edward Heath was still finding his feet as PM. Blimey.

Anyway, I think the wait was worth it. He delivered all the classics you would expect, but I was also eager to hear his new stuff after buying Revival last year. These are his best songs for ages and he really brought the Mississippi to Manchester. Highlights-Credence Song and, of course, Who’ll Stop the Rain. There was also, naturally, time for a little drinking. Archers Crystal Clear was the weapon of choice. This 5% was, indeed, blond and clear, without any of the sweetness that can mar Arche…

I am a cider drinker

"I am a cider drinker
I drinks it all of the day
I am a cider drinker
It soothes all me troubles away"

Usually if it’s raining in Lancashire, you can be assured it’s sunny everywhere else. And vice versa. So it was with high hopes that I set off for Hebden Bridge and the delights of sunny Yorkshire. Alas, it was not to be. A train ride over into that land of great verdure produced only more wind and rain. Very much like Bury, really. A pity, as the setting would have been ideal for a bit of al fresco. My destination? The international cider festival at the Stubbing Wharf.

The Stubbing Wharf is a deceptively large public house about a mile from the train station. One of its claims to fame is being mentioned in a work by Ted Hughes. As its name suggests, it’s on the side of the Rochdale Canal and hosts an annual cider festival. This is based upstairs with a mix of stillage and bottled cider. There was one on handpump-Lemaisson Organic Brut (4.5%) from Normandy. This was dry and qui…

Welcome Home

A tearful reunion tonight. Eddie, the young, eager, legal beagle was back in town. He’s been over the water to the good old USA, apparently hoping to bag a Bigfoot. His plan was to coat the Manx Minx with honey that Bigfoot would find irresistible and then trap him when he tried for a nibble. Unfortunately, he used the wrong honey and so, alas, the Manx Minx will have to go another winter without a Bigfoot-hide coat. Still, we were glad to welcome him back to the Bury drinking scene.

Daring to go al fresco, a small band gathered outside the Trackside. The Whitefield Holts Bandit even made an appearance on his unicycle. Apparently he hasn’t been lying dead at home buried under a pile of junk mail, clutching a bottle of red, but merely lying low. I kicked off with Leeds Best (4.3%) which seemed a traditional Yorkshire bitter, with a good bitter bite. Next up was Skinners Spriggan Ale (3.8) which was a nice light golden colour with a pleasant Goldings bitter aftertaste. Unfortunately the …

De Do Do Do De Da Da Da

Another day in the life of the cultural capital of the world. Yes, of course I mean Manchester. The Police were in town, or the Old Bill as some wit has christened them. They are, of course, a popular musical combo who have reunited to please their fans. Or, for lots of money. Either way, it’s a very long time since I last saw them in concert, so I was curious to see how Father Time had treated them. Overall, very well, and if they had played around with the arrangement of some songs, it was mainly for the better. Of course there can be problems with concerts in the MEN and I’m not sure the sound was always as good as it should have been. Still, worth it to hear Mr Summer belt out Roxanne, once more.
Luckily there was time for a few drinks beforehand, as no one in their right mind will pay stadium prices for slosh served in plastic. I started adventurously with Titanic Longitude (4.4%) but soon wished that I hadn’t. This copper coloured beer had far too much caramel sweetness, made ev…

73 Not Out

In this case, that great song wordsmith, Leonard Cohen. It was a return trip to the Opera House, to see this legend perform. As year became year after his last tour, many moons ago, I don’t think anyone thought he’d play on these shores ever again. And yet, here he was, an amazing 73 and full of the joys of life. Well, as joyous as Leonard Cohen can be. Actually, his songs aren’t the misery fest of popular legend, but full of humour and subtle human observation. And age certainly has not withered him-he delivered a show of Springsteen proportion. Highlight for me: So Long, Marianne. But it could have been any one of a number of classics.

Yet another great night out in the UK’s top city. This is becoming something of a habit.

Sex In The City

Sadly, not what I got up to last night, but rather, the title of a popular moving picture. Yes I’ve finally caught up with the big screen antics of Carrie Bradshaw & co. To get in the mood, I decided to indulge in some appropriate pre-film cocktails. After all, I doubt those New York girls have ever had a decent pint of real ale.

I kicked off with a classic Mojito, enlivened by the addition of Strawberry for a mere 30p. Pausing briefly to wonder if that technically made it a Strawberry Mojito, I moved on to something called a Rocktail. This also has Strawberry in it, but had a heady mix of Passion Fruit to balance it out. Just time to polish off a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio Rose-keeping up with the summer theme, you see, before settling down with a bucket of Haagen-Dazs. If you liked the TV series, you’ll like the film: if not, what the hell are you watching it for? Apparently, there are about 300 costume changes, although I only counted 298.

But what is it with Sarah Jessica Pa…

Lowry Laughs

A nice bit of Sunday culture at the Lowry. That’s in Salford. Yes, they do have arts and entertainment in Salford. An evening with the anarchic comedian, Arthur Smith. Just time for a bottle of Coldwater Creek Chardonnay beforehand and a few pints of Knoll St Porter afterwards. The show itself was excellent, with Smith at his idiosyncratic best, covering everything from poetry to Tommy Cooper anecdotes. He also, naturally, did his grumpy old man act from TV.

A nice start to the week.

Southern Sun

Manchester has a famous, rather loosely defined, area called the N/4. This is home to a collection of bars and pubs, and in recent times, has become something of the chic place to be. Actually, it was probably at its peak (beer wise) several years ago, but then, the trendies are always one step behind. Anyway, for a change, we decided to do a crawl of the “Southern ¼” which is based round the Oxford Road area of town. Being student-land, it also boasts a lot of pubs and bars, a lot of whom do cask.

First call was the Paramount. This JDW had several tempting beers on offer. The Otter Bright went untried, but Archimedes tried Ossett Silver King whilst I sampled a rather tired George Wright. Kro 2 is a trendy bar with a large outdoor drinking area. Luckily the sun had come out allowing us to enjoy this facility and I could pat myself on the back for packing my sunglasses, despite the promise of intemperate weather. Also luckily, the Landlord was on top form, delivering a cool, very crisp …

A Night At The Opera

Well, a night at the Manchester Opera House, anyway. Radio 4’s Just a Minute was in town and I wanted to attend the recording. Now it’s always good to attend these occasions with some eye candy on your arm, but having been blown out by one pinup, I was in need of a quality substitute. But where can one find a sex icon at short notice? Luckily, Tandleman stepped up to the plate, and we arranged to meet up for a couple of drinks beforehand. Not too many, as obviously we didn’t want to turn up half-canned. So, a dry day, and then just a couple. Easy, innit?

So far, so good. But what’s this? A message from the Tandlemeister. He’s managed to get himself “accidentally pissed,” again, but he was on the way. Well, it happens to the best of us, I suppose. At least it helped to assuage the guilt of my four warm up pints. I was expecting the worst, but when he arrived at the City Arms, he was surprisingly compos mentis. Perhaps it was the Chinese banquet he’d just enjoyed, or simply his years of …

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Well, it had to happen one day. I’ve finally come across a Boggart fan. And, apparently, there are more waiting to come out of the closet! I have actually met a Boggart fan before. Well, two really, but I don’t count the second one as he was seriously bonkers. It was on the excellent “A swift One” that this shocking revelation came to light

It’s interesting that Boggart’s reputation hasn’t crossed over to our Yorkshire cousins. Everywhere I go, the mere mention of Boggart is enough to drive people into a rabid gnashing of teeth. And I know Tandleman isn’t their biggest fan either. Perhaps Yorkshire Water adds something to keep the locals sedate?

Next week, an Owl fan… (Yes I do know they’ve gone kaput, thank God)

Theoretical Al Fresco

A pleasant looking evening gave me the urge for some al fresco drinking and a bit of a wander. First call was the Brown Cow at Burrs Country Park. This freehouse usually offers a choice of two, with one often from a local micro. Unfortunately, on this occasion, the local offering was from All Gates. A small sampler revealed this 5% to be phenolic in flavour and definitely not one for me. Clark’s No Angel (4%) was much better. Despite being pale brown in colour, it had hints of fruit leading to a slightly bitter-sweet finish. However, I had to jettison any plans for al fresco, as there were swarms of midges everywhere.

Next stop was the Hamers Arms in Summerseat, where a very fetching young lass served me a pint of Theakstons. Now I’m not so shallow as just to judge someone on their looks. Oh no, I was waiting to see how she handled the ale. And, well cover me with quicksand, she drew a perfect pint. Looks and technique-what more could any man want? However, putting any thoughts of marr…

Send in the Clowns

Send in the clowns Don't bother, they're here
The nutters on Bury’s licensing panel have done it again. Or rather not done it. Having failed to close Lush, despite being given the opportunity to do so, they’ve now let another one slip through the net. Police had wanted Club NV (geddit?) stripped of its licence for operating beyond its 230am closing time. Quite an unusual offence actually, considering the flexible nature of today’s licensing regime. But, then of course, NV has a bit of previous. It was the first town centre venue to get a 4am licence, and the first to have it revised after a drunken mob tried to storm it. The problem is that late night drinking was the only appeal NV had. Hence their attempts to be economical with their licence. Not surprisingly, the police have had enough of this place. You don’t have to convince me that it should be shown the red card. It is, after all, a seedy, knuckledraggers dive populated by blokes who should have “Sad and Stupid” tattooed…

Friday at the Ox

Another weekend, another festival at the New Oxford. A Friday session was agreed in order to beat the marauding hordes of Saturday scoopers. And because all the best beers tend to have gone by then. Despite a 30 min wait for my bus, I managed to secure a table and awaited the arrival of my fellow imbibers.

If I had been keeping score (which I wasn’t), I would say that the mean average was definitely higher than the last festival. There weren’t any real shockers and all the beers were drinkable, or better. I’m not sure you can extrapolate too much from this-my theory was that, looking at the bar, there were simply more beers from established breweries. Thankfully, nothing from Tandleman’s nemesis, Wooden Hand. Probably most disappointing was the mysterious Shedded Brewery, with its Right Shed Fred (4%) which was thin and bland.

Much better were Glenworth Ice Magnet (4.5%) which was nice and refreshing, and Tigertops Castlemaine Stout (4.5%) which had a satisfying chewy texture. Acorn Sun…

Back Together Again

So, normal service is resumed at last. Just as I was thinking I could hang my fountain pen out to dry, the problem with Blogger resolves itself, and here I am again. As Tommy Trinder use to say; you lucky people!

A lot of beer has flown down the pan since my last post. Bonkers Boris got elected by bonkers Londoners for a start. I’ve seen the Boss, twice, had a nice pint in the Dog & Bell in the wilds of Outer London, and contracted tonsillitis. Oh, and tried my first South African cheese.

Now bring on the beer and dancing girls.