Tuesday, 30 June 2009
The main reason for attending is to take part in their Pub Crawl Treasure Hunt Quiz Thingy (PCTHQT hereafter) which follows the completion of their AGM business.
Essentially the PCTHQT sees teams (generally of 2 to 4 people) following clues to find pubs and then using additional clues to find answers secreted somewhere within each establishment.
In the past, the London Millers' Eddie Rowles-alike, Tim, has been organising these events - and good fun they've been too, often visiting parts of the capital I'm not overly familiar with and finding interesting pubs.
There is a time-limit for getting round the course - nominally three and a half hours - but teams generally come in a little later than this. Scores are then totted up and prizes awarded. All very sporting.
This year however, Tim has taken a sabbatical and the PCTHQT has been organised by yours truly and her indoors; I've selected the pubs and Liz has come up with the questions (although I do know what they are). I suspect they're not quite as obtuse as some of Tim's questions have been over the years...we're just simple folk.
This strategy will still allow me to wander round the pubs and enjoy the beer whilst having a smug I-know-all-the-answers-nar-nar look on my face.
Hopefully the good weather will continue and a good time will be had by all.
If you fancy joining us, pop along to the Wenlock Arms between 1:30 and 2pm on Saturday...
For those that cannot join us, there'll be a full report next week.
Sunday, 28 June 2009
(left) Cross Keys
I used to regularly spend weekends in Harpenden in the mid- to late-80s and used to frequent the Cross Keys when it used to serve the likes of Flowers IPA, Wethereds, Tusker Ale and Fremlins.
On making my first visit in almost 20 years it was pleasing to see if hadn't changed a bit except for the choice of real ales on offer - Rebellion IPA, Landlord and London Pride - and the offer of tea and coffee.
After this wallow down memory lane, I meet up with Chris and Andy at St Albans station and we wandered off to find the first pub, the Lower Red Lion.
English Miscellany performed a few of their different dances before they were joined by Chez-nous en Nivernais, a folk dance group from the St. Albans twin town of Nevers.
(left) English Micellany outside St Albans cathedral
Paul was now in Morris heaven, especially after espying the hurdy gurdy and the jaunty moustache on one of the French dancers (male I hasten to add).
It really was quite nice, especially with the cathedral as a backdrop on such a beautiful day.
A shame that Morris may be endangered if you believe the papers - it's harmless and gives rise to a smile so long may it continue.
The need for beer soon told though and we finally entered the bar of the Lower Red Lion - which was virtually empty - but we were pleased to see it had a good selection - the ubiquitous Doombar, Fullers Chiswick, Oakham JHB, Springhead Goodrich Castle (which uses rosemary as a bittering agent) plus a couple of others.
Next stop was the White Lion further down the street - again spookily quiet - and here we had something quite new for us - the 4.2% GHA Pale from Batemans Brewey - which was very hoppy but still had that tell-tale Batemans taste. Very drinkable.
If it wasn't for the thunder, lightning and torrential downpour outside we'd have left this place sharpish too as it was more like a youth club than a pub. Or maybe we were just grumpy by that stage?
Sunday, 21 June 2009
The fact that we're in the fixtures is the first concrete sign that we look to be OK - and once they'd been released it was a mad rush onto the National Express website to get tickets to the first few games.
Nothing cheap though - tickets for August have been on sale for a while and the Edinburgh festival means the arty-farty types from London have got there first.
Still at least the opening fixture at the Recreation Ground will mean a relatively easy trip for us.
The day after the fixtures were released, the newly formed Capital Quakers - replacing the Kings Cross Crew which frankly made us sound like dodgy north-side rappers - met in the Royal Oak in Borough for a chat about the season ahead.
Howard seems to be spending far too long in Germany to fit in many fixtures though seems very keen to try out Crewe.
A possible Morecambe weekender is on the cards too - a ground that I've still yet to visit but this might well be the year to break the duck.
Boxing Day sees us play away at the Don Valley Stadium for our clash with the Millers but I'm not sure I'll be able to make it as I'll probably be in London. At least our home fixture with them is do-able.
The Royal Oak is a lovely old pub just a short walk from London Bridge - well-known to the CAMRA fraternity for the Harveys ales but also for it's exceptional home-cooking.
(left) Martin and Howard tuck in
On my recommendation Howard and Martin had the steak and kidney pudding, a veritable mountain of suet, whilst young Stockdale had the lamb shank with chips (you can take the boy out of Darlo..).
Wise to the size of the pudding and it's affect on the ability to drink anymore afterwards, John and I stuck to beer for a bit longer before eating - especially as the Harveys Sussex Best was in top form. I've not always been a huge fan of this beer as it's often been a bit ordinary elsewhere - at 4% it maybe loses it edge unless kept in tip-top condition.
Talking of beer, one early fixture of note for the DAFTS calendar is the home game with Bournemouth on Sept 19th. That weekend sees the annual Darlington Rhythm ‘N' Brews Beer Festival up at the Arts Centre - full details can be found here.
All being well, local DAFTSperson Tony Waters will have a word with his friend Karim and sort out one of our occasional Indian home-cooking events on the Friday night for those who travel up early. These are well-worth attending - no ordering, simply trying those off-menu dishes that Karim thinks we'll like. And other than the fish-egg curry from a few years ago, he's been spot on every time. I can't wait...
Sunday, 7 June 2009
Instead we'd come down to view the prospective new member of our household - an Abyssinian kitten at the home of breeder Val - just a goalkick or so from the Priestfield Stadium itself.
We've had a couple of Abyssinians for the past 17 years but Dusty died at Christmas and we thought now was the right time to get another to fill the void - get back to full cattage so to speak.
Val had a litter of three ruddy kittens - she was keeping one of the two males for herself and we were having the other once she decides which is best for breeding.
However she sprung a bit of a surprise by showing us their sister who was born with three legs - possibly as a result of some antibiotics given to the mother during pregnancy - and she wondered if we'd like to take her as well?
After a few seconds to consider this offer it didn't take long to say "yes" - it would seem a shame to let her go somewhere on her own and I'm sure they'll both fit onto my lap without much trouble. No doubt our current cat-in-residence, Emma, will appreciate the catty company.
On the way back home, we took the opportunity of dropping into nearby Rochester to try out a few of their pubs. I'd not come unprepared - a map of the better establishments had been knocked up in typical DAFTS-stylee and chum Chris Turner had not put up much of a fight when asked to come along.
The first port of call was the Man of Kent where we found that Chris had got there before us and was into his opening pint.
I say the first port of call but in reality we ended up staying here the whole afternoon - it was just the sort of pub that I love.
The exterior was described to me by a local as "Medway Tudor" - it's certainly a classic in the same way that many Watney, Combe, Reid pubs are in London - the pub sign itself is a beauty with a Viv Stanshall-esque character as the Man of Kent.
On entry you're met by a big roaring fire and a large hairy but friendly landlord - no TV screens or loud games machines either - just a cosy atmosphere with plenty of liquid choice.
I started off with a pint of the Larkin's 3.4% Traditional - an easy entry into the day - whilst we perused the range of Kentish beers (or Beers of Kent as I suppose it should be) on offer.They had a Kentish Dark and Kentish Gold from the Millis Brewery, Golden Braid from Hopdaemon, Faversham Creek from the Whitstable Brewery, Gadd's Dogbolter and finally Silver Star and Gold Star from Goacher's.
After buying some nibbles we were put under strict orders from the landlord not to spare any for the pooch.
Thursday, 4 June 2009
There's also another Darlo fan here - David "Sam" Turner - who was a regular home and away attender for many years but who now just comes to the odd game in the north-west.