Aug 12

Scarborough

Last week, I was up in Scarborough with an old school friend. As I’d not seen her for about 10 years, there was a little concern, but it all went great and lots of fun was had. She usually lives in Moscow, but has a holiday home up in Yorkshire, to get back to the UK seaside from time to time.

It was typical British seaside weather, grey with some rain, but we made the most of it. Building sandcastles, eating fish and chips, walks along the front, trips on little trains and on the fun fair. At the end of the week I was exhausted from all the sea air ;)

Scarborough Trip

Scarborough has a park that is has recently been done-up. It includes this weird water splash ride, where you get in cart and go down a hill, before being pulled backward by a rope to do it all again. Here’s the video with my totally embarrassing screaming. The other voice is my friend’s son – I’d been ‘volunteered’ for the ride whilst she looked after the other kid.

Aug 05

A Girl’s Guide to the Great British Beer Festival

It’s the Great British Beer Festival this week at Earl’s Court, a huge cavern of a place that is full of beer and beer drinkers. As part of their ongoing campaign to widen the appeal of beer CAMRA are running some free tours, a Girl’s Guide to the Great British Beer Festival. They’re curated by Melissa Cole, who’s an independent beer journalist and member of the British Guild of Beer Writers. Tonight was their first run of the tour, a group of about 12 of us were the guinea pigs for this attempt to spread the word about beer to a different audience.

My first impressions of the place were not exactly brilliant. In one corner, there was a huge group of what I assume were Cornishmen singing their national songs. Elsewhere, there were a lot of stereotypes, beer bellies and silly ‘real ale’ t-shirts that on the surface did not make this a friendly place. But first looks were deceiving and as we wandered round, we got nothing but good humour and support.

Melissa had put together a list of 40 beers to take a look at, however the tour only covered 5 of them, in 1/3 pints, to ensure we were all drinking responsibly. Here’s what we tried.

  • Wells and Young; Youngs Waggledance.. a honeyed sweet ale that was a great start. For me, it only had a very slight honey smell.
  • Copper Dragon; Golden Pippen Ale. Lovely and fruity, with lemony overtones.
  • Dark Star Expresso. Wow. a stout porter with a strong hit of coffee. As one of the party said, you could drink this for breakfast. It would go great with something like Chille Mole. But I could only drink the one at any sitting I think
  • Fuller’s Discovery.. This was a reallyy refreshing, designed to act as a bridge between lager and ales.
  • Iceni Raspberry Wheat. the first taste of this is very, very tart, but overall, it slips down a treat. I’d love this with cheese.

I liked all of them, only a small tasting, bt it’s given me new things to try. Thanks for CAMRA for organising this.

GIrl Guide To Great British Beer Festival

Aug 03

Blogging, Touristing and Fetes

Got up to some interesting things this week. On Tuesday, I went to the London Bloggers’ Meetup; it was sponsored by Stella, who did a grand job. They bought the drinks and offered some free trips on their new airship for the most entertaining description of your local pub. (I didn’t win). This is all part of Stella’s Love Your Local campaign. We also got some great glasses, as Annie Mole shows in her post.

From Thursday, I had house guests, my sister and niece. Thursday they were accompanied by my mom and brother-in-law and we all went off to a tour of the Houses of Parliament. Brilliant tour, through all the main public bits, including both chambers. I was struck again by the paranoia of US businesses where I could not get into my own office building without photo ID but here it was fine to walk in our centre of government for a tour without them having any idea who I was. In another event last week, the NESTA Catalyst award, the Prime Minister turned up without any fuss at all. I much prefer this model!

After the tour I took them on a walk up Whitehall, to see Downing St and Horseguards, then Trafalgar Square and Covent Garden. Lots of touristy things for them to enjoy.

Guards

Friday it was time for Buckingham Palace, around all the State rooms. Well worth the money, the tour gives you lots of information about how the place was put together. Being English, we appeared to be in the minority as most of the people wondering around appeared to be foreign tourists.

Buckingham Palace

Saturday, a separation. Sarah went off to the Science Museum and Harrods and I went off to the Innocent Village Fete, which was a great afternoon.

Innocent Summer Fete

Aug 03

July Books

I got a whole load of books from a fete, so I’ve been working my way through these. They reflect my favourite easy reading – thrillers.

  • Deja Dead, Kathy Reichs. I’ve rea a few of her books and always like them. The protagonist is Dr Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist. This is one of the earlier ones in the series, based on a serial killer (but aren’t all of these types of stories?)
  • Looking Good Dead, Peter James. Another one in the copper series style, this time focusing on DS Grace, who has his way of getting things done. The story was tight, about an online snuff video group and loved the small twists that were introduced. The police need to find the a kidnapped wife of a guy who had accidentally stumbled over the web site where the killing films were published before she becomes the next star.
  • The Magdalene Cipher, Jim Hougan. Confusing and annoying. OK but nothing special. Dunphy, an unofficial CIA agent has his cover blown, gets put onto a desk job and then goes on a global travel jaunt to find out why things were happening
  • The Codex, Douglas Preston. Silly. A rich man hides all of his goods and leads clues for his sons, who don’t get on, to find their inheritance.
  • Girl With a One Track Mind, Abby Lee. A re-read, still as good although more pornagraphic than i remembered.
  • On The Edge, Richard Hammond. The story of the Top Gear presenter’s crash. Enjoyable read, especially his wife’s perspective as he goes through recovery.
  • The Human Brain, Susan Greenfield. A quick overview of the different models of the brain. One of many science books I have that I’m slowly re-reading.