The Great British Beer Drought 2006

As planned, I made the trip down to London to attend The Great British Beer Festival with cousin Iain. Immediately after dropping my bags at his place on the Friday afternoon, Iain and I headed straight for Earls Court – a fifteen minute walk away.

After joining a short queue and buying a two day ticket, we entered the main hall to be faced with a throng of drinkers and countless brewery stalls. The atmosphere was vibrant, with the occasional pantomime cheer erupting when somebody somewhere dropped a glass on the floor. Although mostly male, the crowd was a good cross section of ages, with a heavy sprinkling of your traditional middle-ages, beard & sandals wearing ale drinker.

We eagerly made for some random stall round to the right hand side of where we’d collected our glasses, and asked for a half pint of the first thing we saw on the stand.

“Is this your first pint?” the bloke behind the bar asked.

“Tonight? Yes.” I replied, making sure to indicate that I was no stranger to the consumption of alcoholic beverages.

“Well, you don’t want to start with that – have a glass of this instead.” He advised, selecting an ale that was closer to 4% proof than the rocket fuel we’d naively asked for. It was a good thing, too, as even drinking generous halfs I began to feel quite squiffy after an hour or so.

We tried a whole host of different beers, most of them forgotten for something new the minute our glasses were empty. One really nice one, I’m pleased to report, was called May Flower, which was from Scotland. By the time we got to that I had started thinking that our selection process was proving very successful indeed. Then I went and ruined it all by asking for a pint of Moonraker – a foul tasting half-pint of what can only be described as watery tar. That was the only glass I ditched all night, though.

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Some like it hot

Our holiday in Turkey turned out to be very enjoyable indeed. It was lovely resort, and great having the family around to help look after Elisha, too, meaning that Fliss and I could have a bit of freedom and relax without worrying about her all the time.

From the first morning it became apparent just how hot it was going to be compared to the relative heatwave we’d left behind at home. From temperatures in the high twenties in our own back garden we were suddenly exposed to the high thirties by noon, and the ridiculous forty–seven it reached later in the week.

I managed to get burned on the first day, despite keeping in the shade and applying plenty of sun screen in the morning. Sadly I forgot I’d been diving into the water during a poolside activity, which washed off most of my sun screen. Being mildly burned meant I kind of opted out of the following day, playing with my PSP in the reception area where there was air conditioning and free wireless internet access. It sucked to miss a day of being out in the pool, but I figured it was better to let my skin recover than risk being in a heck of a state by the end of the week.

After my Tuesday spent in hiding from the sun, the rest of the holiday followed a loose daily routine. We’d get up in time to have breakfast, go down to the pool and have a bit of a swim and a lounge about, then take part in the pool activity at midday if it wasn’t too hot. In the afternoon we’d go and have lunch, either in the chicky-in-the-basket place by the pool, or the main restaurant which had a better, healthier selection of food. Even if we did go to the restaurant for lunch, the chicky-in-the-basket place was always there for a top-up if required.

After having lunch we’d either go back to the pool or, in my case, catch a bit of a break from the sun. By the tail end of the week it was absolutely searing in the middle of the day. Once it gets past 30 odd degrees it might as well be infinity degrees, because I cant really go out in it regardless of what factor sun screen I apply. Lesson learned, though – I doubt I’ll go to a place as hot as Turkey in the middle of the summer again.

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