This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.

Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which documents all our trips and includes product reviews and pubs! It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Adnams - Gunhill

WP_20141220_010What they say: A traditional dark ruby beer, delivering a full flavour. Full aromatic barley malts and an exquisite blend of hops combined to create a wonderful balance of sweet biscuit and subtle fruit flavours with a hint of chocolate bitterness.

I do love these darker ruby beers, particularly in the colder months and once again Adnams have delivered a great beer. 4.0% A.B.V.

December 2014

Adnams - Tally Ho Ho Ho

WP_20141220_013What they say: Brewed with pale ale, crystal and brown malts. Tally-Ho is dark mahogany red in colour with a rich, fruity aromas and a warming sweet raisin and biscuit palate.

Again, Adnams delivers. A truly delicious dark ale, all that was missing was a roaring fire - a bit tricky in a caravan. Potent at 7.2% A.B.V and in 330ml bottles so not one to slosh back at will.

December 2014

Adnams - Sole Star

WP_20141221_001What they say: A full-flavoured and great tasting pale amber beer, with a light floral/citrus aroma, gentle caramel notes and a good level of bitterness.

I was well impressed with this. As they said - full flavoured but at only 2.7% A.B.V the taste really does belie it’s strength. Excellent stuff

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Another Festive Threesome - More Suffolk

Well, a little more maybe and to be really precise a little bit of Essex and Cambridgeshire too! Yes, we’ve moved sites and our second week sees us at Roseberry Tourist Park in the village of Willingham a few miles north of Cambridge.  It’s a lovely site, nice and open which means that TV and mobile reception is good. It also means that we kop the full force of the winds currently howling across the fens. Poor old Patsy is currently getting buffeted in a way we’ve not seen since our first outing in her - to Wiltshire - in February.

This is the ‘friends & family’ leg of the trip and has become a festive tradition - well, we done it last year anyway. Christmas Day and a fair percentage of the rest - will be spent with Trev’s Mum, AKA HRH but if time allows we hope to catch up with some old - and some not so old - friends too. Regulars & friends will know that Cambridge was our place of birth and home town for many years.

We enjoyed the rest of our time in Suffolk, though we perhaps haven’t thrown ourselves into the sightseeing as enthusiastically as usual. No, it’s not the weather - that’s been pretty good to us, but  a cough, starting the day before we come away, has slowly got worse and finally beat me Sunday afternoon when I went to a walk-in clinic to get it checked out. An overreaction maybe but thanks to (largely dormant) Asthma I’m always extra cautious with any ailment affecting the lungs. Thankfully, the lungs were clear and it’s just a virus. A relief but it does mean I’ve just got to let it run it’s course.  There’s lots of it about though clearly. One bit of advice the GP gave was to ensure I drank plenty of fluids. I said I was already doing that - but didn’t elaborate further….hic…

Right, enough of that and back to the matter in hand. With the last blog completed somewhere around lunchtime, Tuesday afternoon saw us first in Lavenham, another picture postcard Suffolk village - that is if you could take all the cars away, although it’s hardly unique in that respect. That usual gripe aside it is very pretty - and Lavenham’s crooked medieval cottages with exposed timbers have been seen in a number of films and TV programmes too. The last episode of ‘ Lovejoy’ with Ian McShane was film here, as was scenes from a couple of the Harry Potter films - amongst others.

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One of the disadvantages of sightseeing in winter is the light - or lack of it. The sun was already going into hiding when we descended upon Hadleigh for a quick look around. A quick pint - purely for medicinal purposes - was the sum total of our contribution to Hadleigh’s economy before we headed back to base via Long Melford for our regular pre-dinner libation.

Wednesday, and after another late start we headed south and over the border into Essex and the town of Halstead. We’d been though it enough times when visiting Trev’s late sister and brother-in-law in Haverhill and wanted a change from the monotony and/or traffic of the M11. A pleasant enough place but the number of empty shops suggested it had been hit pretty hard by the downturn.  Keen X-Factor watchers - but probably very few others - will know that 2010 winner Matt Cardle is a resident.DSC_000101 (19)

Heading back we stopped at Clare for a stretch and a chippy and paused again  further along the A1092 at Cavendish. Another pretty Suffolk village, Cavendish was where Sue Ryder - having established the Sue Ryder Foundation -  opened her first care home - initially for concentration camp survivors. Her legacy is immense, although sadly she was less than enlightened when it came to homosexuality. As a life peer in the House of Lords she wanted to make it illegal for us lot to have care or custody of a child under eighteen.  Charming.  She is buried in Cavendish with her husband - one Leonard Cheshire, also well known for his charitable work.

We met up with the farm and site owner Odell in the evening for an enjoyable chinwag in the nearby Swan.

An even later start Thursday saw us back in Bury St Edmunds. The original plan had been to go to the cinema late afternoon then get a meal out somewhere but it wouldn't have been fair to inflict my continuing coughing fits on the other customers, so we gave it a miss and had another stroll around town instead procuring some more cheap Christmas lights for Patsy who is now looking very festive indeed.

PA230023Friday saw us heading East again and first to Woodbridge. We were here just over two years ago - on the same day we went to Southwold as mentioned in the previous blog. Then I took what is still one of my favourite pictures - the sun trying to force it’s way through over the quayside:

It was a lot brighter this time as you can see!

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After Woodbridge, Ipswich was next. A gentle meander around the shops was planned but we arrived rather later than intended and by the time we’d negotiated a very busy ring road and found a parking space time was marching on. Not only that but a caffeine fix was long overdue and I was wilting from the contestant hacking coughing, so having picked up what we needed we headed back to the car and off towards the A12.

Our final stop of the day was Colchester- not for sightseeing or shopping but to meet up with my cousin Andy and his wife Janet who’d invited us over for a meal. It was good to catch up again, having not seen them since Twittercamp in October. We’ve not seen much of each other over the years - apart from the inevitable family funerals - but we’re now in regular contact thanks in no small part to our love of caravanning and have met up more times in the last couple of years than in the last twenty. Not only that but Janet is a damn fine cook and the meal was excellent. Andy’s generosity with the scotch after dinner ensured that my cough subsided for a little while - fortunately Trev was driving! It was a very enjoyably evening.

So, our time in Suffolk at Brighthouse Farm was at an end. Saturday morning saw us haul Patsy 50 or so miles along the delightful A14 to Cambridgeshire where we’ll be for a week. So, have a good Christmas and look out for another blog in a week or so. Cheers!

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Monday, 22 December 2014

Firebird - Heritage XX

WP_20141214_010What they say:

Fresh, Hoppy, Full. A traditional Best Bitter brewed from Bill’s Great Great Grandfather’s original ‘Double X’ recipe. A pint of English Countryside!

From over the border in West Sussex, this was a decent offering from this small relatively young brewery. Very tasty and full bodied. 4.0% A.B.V

Adnams - The Bitter/Southwold Bitter

WP_20141214_007What they say:

Southwold Bitter is a beautiful copper-coloured beer, late and dry-hopped with Fuggles for a distinctive, lingering hoppiness. Brewed with the finest East Anglian Pale Ale malt barley, sourced locally to the brewery. We use Fuggles hops which we add late in the boil to preserve the herbal flavours of this traditional English hop. We add more Fuggles to each cask so that the flavour of the hops infuses into the beer.

Now known as Southwold Bitter, I’ve had this before but Trev was doing the sampling on this occasion so I only had a sip but that reminded me what a great beer this is. Found in Long Melford, so it’s not had to travel far - not too strong so a good session beer but yet still flavoursome. Trev loved it and so did I. Make sure you try an Adnams ale if you’re in Suffolk. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Goddards - Scrum

WP_20141214_004What they say: A harvest bronze Golden Ale, brewed with Challenger, East Kent Goldings and Fuggles Hops to give a fruity citrus bite of hoppiness with a palate of citrus notes and vanilla, leading to a long dry finish.  

Found this on more than one bar when out and about in Suffolk but the The Bull in Long Melford was the where I saw it first.

A good quality golden ale if that’s your thing - and judging by the number of golden ales around there is clearly demand. 4.0% A.B.V.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Another Festive Threesome - Suffolk

Yep, here we go again - it’s the school holidays and we’re away in the caravan. I’m enhancing my green credentials too by recycling and reusing the title from last years’ blog. Either that or I’m suffering form another dose of CBA - I’ll let you decide!

Rosie, our red tug was packed to the gills as we headed over to the storage unit Friday morning, stopping off - as has become customary - for some McCholesterol and coffee.

The generosity of the parents of the kids on our school buses has ensured both  a boozy and gluttonous Christmas and once again shown how much they appreciate what we do. I’m never adverse to having my er, ego stroked…..

It had more or less stopped raining - and the winds had dropped considerably too as we arrived at the storage unit. Patsy was looking cold and not a little dirty  as we’d managed to conjure up enough reasons since her last outing not to go over and wash her.

With pre-flight checks (i.e. tyre pressures) completed we headed off - joining the A24 before cutting across to the M23 and thence on to the M25. Various online sources suggested turning off on the A12 then up through Chelmsford but we’ve been on that road before sans Patsy and it’s a pain in the arse thanks to about 300 roundabouts on the way. Our route - via the M11, A11 and A14, whilst longer was considerably easier and probably used no more fuel.

The site itself  - Brighthouse Farm - sits just outside the village of Lawshall about 7 miles south of Bury St Edmunds. Narrow muddy roads - the sort seemingly so favoured by caravan sites - ensured Patsy truly was a mess by the time we arrived. Thankfully a hosepipe was on hand and we gave her a quick once over before pitching up.

The site itself - a pretty grassed area bordered by trees and with views out over the Suffolk countryside to the village was simply too wet to be used so we ended up on the edge of  a yard on some reasonably hard standing. Not ideal but we still get fantastic views and to date have been blessed with some gorgeous sunrises.


The light was starting to fade by the time all the usual setting up formalities had been completed. The caravan clock was indicating that it was getting very close to grog & grub o’clock so we fired up Rosie and headed back to the village only to find that the pub was shut and didn’t open for another half-an hour. A glance at the clock in the car revealed the simple truth that Patsy’s clock was still set on B.S.T. Numpties!

A short traverse along the A134 brought with it relief in the shape of the Hare Inn before returning to the Swan discovering that the kitchen didn’t open for another half an hour. Still, our meals of choice - burgers - when they arrived were well worth the wait.

Saturday morning was cold, crisp and bright and rather later than intended we coaxed a chilly Rosie in to life, defrosted the windows and headed in to Bury St Edmunds for our first look around, although first on the agenda was breakfast. It was Saturday morning of course and with less than a fortnight to the big day it was predictably fairly busy. We waited for a table in the Debenhams cafe - hardly surprising of course - but waited even longer in the queue for the various artery clogging components that make up a full English to be replenished.  Again, it was worth the wait though. Just as well.

Feeling vaguely human again and somewhat more enthused we headed downstairs and through the gentleman's department to see if there was anything that caught our er, fancy. Plenty in fact although virtually everything I looked at was labelled ‘slim-fit’. Unfortunately, since the only thing thing slim about me these days is my wallet we left empty-handed.

A large market was in full swing - funnily enough in the market square -  with some great looking fruit and veg as well as the more usual Christmas fayre. After a meander around we happened upon the Abbey Gardens - an oasis of calm  a short walk away from the centre.


We overheard an American couple discussing - rather more loudly than was necessary - how it came to be that their little one did not have a coat on. It was clear from the wife’s tome where she thought the blame lay but it was less clear where the coat had been left - back in the car or back in America. Hmm.


After procuring some Xmas lights for Patsy we returned to the car and back for a night in in front of the telly.DSC_0009

Sunday morning - just - saw us in the market town of Sudbury for a rather aimless but relaxed wander around the shops. Sudbury’s claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of some little known painter called Gainsborough - a statue of whom can be found in the market square outside the church.

There was also a caravan dealers on an industrial estate just outside of town which was our next destination have drawn up a short list of things required for her ladyship. A little knowledge can be  a dangerous thing of course and what Google didn’t tell us was that they were closed for three weeks over the Christmas period - something we only discovered when arrived at the securely chained and bolted gates.

What then followed was a cross country rally over to Stowmarket to another dealers  where we found what we wanted - more or less.

Late afternoon saw us in Long Melford for some much needed liquid refreshment - sorry, research - and a promise to return during the day to have a better look at what is an extremely pretty village.

Monday morning and we ere back on the coast, visiting for the second time in two years - Southwold. Nicknamed apparently - Kensington-on-Sea these days it’s prosperity is clear from the types of shops scattered around the town although it appears to remain remarkably down to earth and friendly.

In the middle of all this is the Adnam’s brewery. A visit to the brewery shop left my wallet considerably lighter and the car notably heavier….



Further down the coast towards Felixstowe is Aldeburgh, another charming little coastal town. Fishing huts line the shingle beach offering freshly caught fish.


Composer Benjamin Britten lived and worked here and his legacy is commemorated by an impressive metal sculpture on the beach.


The plan was to eat in on our return from the coast but with vital ingredients forgotten on our shopping list we adjourned back to the Hare Inn for yet another burger.

So, there we are - up to date again. If you haven’t had a Christmas card from us it’s nothing personal. There SHOULD be another blog before the big day, but just in case, let us wish you all a very Happy Christmas. Best wishes to those in our favourite watering hole when home - The Rottingdean Club - and in particular to a Mr Turner. There you go Paul, that’s a pint you owe me!

Take care, and all the best until next time.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

City of Cambridge - Hobson’s Choice

City of Cambridge - Hobson's ChoiceWhat they say: A light golden bitter with a pronounced hop aroma, contributing to the refreshing bitter aftertaste.

Our second full day in Suffolk saw us descend upon Long Melford after a thirsty morning’s sightseeing.  We gave up waiting to be served in the Cock & Bell, but this was on offer at The Crown Inn. Too hoppy for me but it was great to see a beer from my home town. 4.2% A.B.V

Brewshed - Best Bitter

Brewshed - Best BitterWhat they say: Our best bitter is a dark brown, full bodied, classic best bitter. It has a rich, malty, dried fruit character balanced with crisp bitter hops.

Found at The Crown in Hartest, Suffolk, which is hardly surprising as both the pub and brewery are owned by the same people and brewed just a few miles away. I prefer my bitter a little more, well, bitter I guess but it was ok. In good nick and the serving temperature was good. 4.3% A.B.V.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Hare - Best Bitter

WP_20141212_004On the road again for our 2nd ‘Festive Threesome’ and our first port of call whilst in Suffolk was the The Hare Inn.  Nearby Bury St Edmunds is the home of Greene King - brewers of the excellent Abbot Ale. Once a regional brewer, but now seemingly intent on world domination this tasted remarkably similar to their IPA although the A.B.V was different. In good nick and served at the right temperature too.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Hunters – Pheasant Plucker

WP_20141204_002 What they say: Spicy aroma with hint of caramel….Luscious balance of grain and hop in the mouth, bitter sweet finish with delicate caramel taste……. Warm, rounded yet surprisingly delicate dark strong ale, definite mans pint.

Another guest at The Spanish Lady, this time from the south west and suffering from the usual issue of being served to cold but otherwise a great winter ale. A touch too sweet for my taste but I’d have certainly had another if it wasn’t a ‘school night’. 4.3% A.B.V.

Robinsons - Indulgence

WP_20141204_001 What they say: This fantastic mahogany coloured winter warming ale hits all the right notes with aromas of roasted malt and fruity hops; a perfect balance of bitterness and aroma. Using the Slovenian wild hop Celeia, this is a drink to be savoured, not rushed, on a long winter's night.

A seasonal special from the north west and the latest to guest at The Spanish Lady – our usual Thursday night haunt.

Again, served too cold and I sloshed it back rather too quickly to fully appreciate the rich flavours. Hope to try it again sometime. 4.4% A.B.V.