Sunday, 7 June 2009

Med Dogs And Abyssinians

At the weekend, Liz and I headed over to Victoria for a trip down to Gillingham.

Not a place we'd go to other than for football - and this trip certainly wasn't to congratulate the Gills on their recent elevation to League One though we are heartily pleased to see the back of their small-minded chairman, Paul Scully.

Mr Scully had recently called for more severe punishments to befall the likes of Darlo and Rotherham this season. Thanks for the solidarity, you git - wait until you're in the clarts!

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.
(right) a cute candidate for the Rowles-Beard household

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.

(left) Man of Kent

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.

In addition they had a fairly decent range of foreign bottled beers - including an exotic range from Mongozo (Coconut anyone?) - plus three taps for the Meantime Brewery.

One of the Meantime offerings was the Elderflower Maibock which a few of us in the bar had a small taster of. Quite a flowery smell as you'd expect but not a lot of flavour - rather disappointing on the whole.

One feature of the pub that you simply cannot ignore is the pub dog, a big black Staffy called Dude - he likes to sit amongst the regulars but was more than happy to come and spare some time with we newbies.

After buying some nibbles we were put under strict orders from the landlord not to spare any for the pooch.
(right) Dude, the pub dog, and a regular in perfect harmony

And Dude seems to be well aware of this - he eyed us up with interest as we opened our packets but knew it would be pointless to come over and beg for some.

After trying a few more beers, Chris and I settled on the Golden Braid - the best of the bunch for me - before finally we headed home as hunger pangs got the better of us.

The Man of Kent comes highly recommended - on our next visit we must start the crawl somewhere else...

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