Goodbye Tom! Good luck!!

Drifted down to the Dolphin this evening, hoping to meet up with our pals, the 2 T’s, Trev and Tim, which we did… only to discover that the lovely bar person Tom who has been dispensing beer, drinks, and a benign  almost Buddha like calm from behind the bar for the last eighteen months, is leaving!

Tom is like all good bar people, he has this radar which clocks customers waiting at the bar, and clocks them in the order they arrived! However, he also has judgement… so if someone is standing there and actually nattering to someone, or even mouthing off, has had too much to drink anyway, is not really that bothered about being served, has already been a bit rude, – and he sees you, pleasant, polite, loyal, friendly local person – then he might move you up the queue and serve you sooner.

He is pleasant and friendly and funny and nice and interesting…

We are so sorry to see Tom go, but we wish him well on his travels, and the best of luck in the future, whatever he gets up to! Maybe we can organise a pub trip to visit him, even though it is 3,452 miles away… However, it’s more likely we will stay in contact through social networking… Even so…

Baked beans and boilersmiths

I love beans, fresh and dried, and I love pulses, and most things made with them, but I am not that fond of commercially made baked beans. If I had to eat them I would, but I would never choose them, they are usually just to sweet and the sauce always seems slimy.

I came across a recipe for boilermaker baked beans which sounded interesting. I came across it among some American recipes and because I didn’t know, I thought it must be a recipe made for people working as boiler makers which I guess is very hard physical labour and anyone making boilers would be very pleased to have a hearty, tasty meal of beans…

According to Wikipedia:

A boilermaker is a trained craftsman who produces steel fabrications from plates and tubes. The name originated from craftsmen who would fabricate boilers, but they may work on projects as diverse as bridges to blast furnaces to the construction of mining equipment.[1] The trade of Boilermaker evolved from the industrial blacksmith and was known in the early 19th century as a “boilersmith”

However, when I came to investigate the recipe, looking for its origins, I discovered that a boilermaker is also – beer with a whisky chaser, or beer with a whisky in it, sometimes dropped in actually in a shot glass (which always seems silly to me even though I know it’s popular at the moment – I was once given a Jägerbomb… but that’s another story…) The shot glass of whisky dropped into a beer is called a Depth Charge, apparently. Boilermakers as a named drink dates back to the 1890’s in America (I wonder if it has a differ name and a different history in the UK? – another investigation!) miners finishing their shifts in the coal mines of Butte Montana knocked back boilermakers… which they called Sean O’Farrell’s… I am very confused by all this now…

Back to baked beans… boilermaker baked beans are made with whisky and beer – hence the name!

In the recipe I came across the instructions were the ‘throw everything in a pot and cook till done’ sort of method, the ingredients being as much of the following as you had, liked, thought you needed…

  • cooked beans
  • chopped onion
  • crispy cooked bacon broken into bits
  • chilli sauce (the recipe recommended a bottle – guess it depends on the sauce – a bottle of the one I have in my cupboard would blow the lid of the pan!)
  • dark beer
  • tomato salsa/sauce
  • whisky
  • molasses
  • made mustard
  • dark brown sugar
  • hot pepper sauce (as well as the chilli sauce? Really?)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • salt – I would definitely leave salt out – with all those sauces, bacon and mustard I think it will be more than salty enough!

It sounds very sweet to me – I think if I do make it (and i really do fancy giving it a go!) I would leave out the brown sugar and use actual chillies rather than both the chilli and hot pepper sauces. I would also just use chopped tomatoes, not salsa – but add garlic and red/green peppers for flavour…

I might make this tomorrow! I feel inspired! … if I had a Nottingham jar I could make it in that!

 

 

A Canadian Uphillian… or vice versa

You never know who you will meet in our pub, the Dolphin… tonight we came in.greeted a couple of chums, bought beer (Otter of course) and sat in the bar between the two other bars which we call the cross benches (Wikipedia says “A cross-bencher is an independent or minor party member of some legislatures“) Sitting actually at the bar, as opposed to at a table as we were, was a group of young guys, laughing and joshing, and our friend Terry in conversation with a young chap unknown to us.

It turns out the young chap, subsequently identified as a Canadian visitor. At first we thought he was a friend of Tom, our Canadian barman… but no, he was just a random Canadian visitor. He had come over to attend a family occasion and had come especially to Uphill to visit the ruined church on the hill where his forefathers were buried. He was very interesting, telling us about his family, and he was interested in what we had to say about Uphill, the church, the graveyard and its famous resident, Frank Froest, the superintendent in charge of the Dr Crippen investigation.

He’s moving on to Bristol, so we suggested some good places to try beer, BrewDog for example, places of interest, St Nicholas market, the S.S.Great Britain and the Matthew – a replica of the ship John Cabot crossed the Atlantic in 1497.

Time was called by Tom and after more friendly words, we left… As we walked home down the quiet main street of our little village, we remarked how nice it is to have pubs, and how nice our pub is… and how interesting!

 

Peggy Lee and the capital of Armenia

Tuesday is pub quiz night at the Dolphin; there is no strict limit to the number of people in a team, but it always seems not quite right to have big teams pitted against threes and fours. Usually we are Team Ice-cream, me, two friends who have an ice-cream parlour and another friend – husband often arrives late after band practice, but tonight he was there from the start. We each have a quiz sheet so if we can’t decide on an answer there can be r different guesses! Usually our son and beautiful girlfriend join us, so a team of six/seven isn’t excessive… However, tonight there were the seven of us, two friends of son and beautiful girlfriend, our lovely recently married South African friend, her best friend, and her son… so to play fair we divided ourselves into three teams (although we did ask for a little help sometimes!

We had moderate success, but a lot of fun! Great conversation, many laughs, a lot of puzzlement and scratching of heads, the best beer, and a few glasses of other things too.

The quiz is different from many in that it is a bingo quiz. The answer sheet is divided into twenty-five boxes, with random numbers 1-25 in each, and the questions are read out in numerical order – so far not too tricky. The real fun comes when the answers are read out, in random order; if you get an answer right, you circle it, if it is wrong you cross it out. If you get five correct answers in a straight line – like in bingo, you shout ‘Dolphin!’ at the top of your voice – and the first team to do this gets a prize. Straight lines are vertical, horizontal or diagonal; once Dolphin has been called the rest of the answers are given and the team with the highest score wins.

The great thing about the bingo element is that it is just luck – it gives a chance to teams who are not so knowledgeable – if by chance they are the first to get ‘a line’ they win! At the end of the quiz, when it’s virtually over there is one last thing, the beer question; a totally random question,and the team with the nearest answer wins free drinks next week. The question this week was ‘How many prisons are there in Malaysia…

The questions in the quiz are totally random… and here are some examples of tonight’s:

  • What is the capital of Armenia
  • How many number 1 records did Peggy Lee have?
  • Which prime minister wrote a novel entitled ‘The Devil’s Tune’?
  • Which fruit is known as a soap berry
  • Who was Henry Antrim/William H. Bonney better known as?
  • Which Whoopi Goldberg film had the same title as a Rolling Stones hit?

Coltsfoot, comfrey, and gorse… but wine?

I have a very small, pocket-sized book called Home-Made Wines and Liqueurs: How to Make Them, by Ambrose Heath. He was a prolific cookery book writer, editor and journalist, born in 1891 and dying in 1969. The book was one of a series by various authors, and included Ice Cream Dishes, Cocktail Snacks and Canapes, Dishes Without Meat and Biscuits and American Cookies.

Many of the wine and liqueur recipes are from fruit and vegetables, as you might expect, especially from a book published in 1953, not long after the war, when people were using what they readily had to make things they otherwise could not get. So, apples, apricots and blackberries, and well-known other ingredients such as dandelion and cowslip – and even such things as beetroot and carrot… But coltsfoot (“this well-known picturesque if pernicious weed (tussilago farfara) whose bright yellow-rayed flowers appear before the leaves in early spring”) comfrey (“this unusual wine made from the roots of wild comfrey (symphytum officianale) which is commonly found in watery places and on the banks of rivers and streams”) and gorse (ulex, furze or whin) – isn’t that rather prickly?

Hedgerow wine sounds delicious, but mangold? I think mangold is what I know as manglewurzel which is a type of beet most commonly used for animal feed, but also edible for humans – but there is another mangold which is a type of chard – I cannot imagine using that to make wine! Other roots with recipes, turnip wine, parsnip wine and potato wine – tomato? I don’ think so ,not for me thanks… Sage wine? Sounds utterly disgusting! Red clover wine?

Imagine picking two quarts of red clover blossoms – a quart is two pints or nearly five cups… Come to think of it, imagine picking two quarts of flowers from the prickly gorse! There is no mention of the quantity of coltsfoot, but another recipe I came across says five litres of the little things – where would you find that quantity? And as for the roots of the comfrey you have dug up from the banks of your local stream, according to Mr Heath you need four or five roots cut into pieces four or five inches long – not very exact!

Here is a link to the coltsfoot wine recipe:

https://monicawilde.com/coltsfoot-wine/

Royalty – part 2

I shared the first part of a story with you yesterday; it was something I wrote for my writing group. The topic was ‘Royalty’ and I was really struggling to think of what to write when I remembered two characters I’d started writing about before, a lonely man, and a woman who is staying at her father-in-law’s house while he is in hospital. These two people meet in a pub, just by chance, sitting at the same table as a young couple.

If you want to read part 1, here is a link:

https://loiselden.com/2017/04/21/royalty-part-1/

Royalty – part 2

“Are you in the quiz?” They all looked up at a small man in a yellow sweater with a golf club log who was standing with a sheaf of quiz sheets and a pint glass of pens.
… How did it happen? Who said what? Who tentatively suggested that maybe they might… should… could… Later no-one could remember, but they each handed over a pound, and were given a quiz sheet and a selection of pens and suddenly they were a team!
A quiz! She always went to the pub for quiz night at home, well, she used to… But a quiz!
There was a moment’s ridiculousness and confusion when they introduced themselves – she had thought the two young people were a couple, no, they weren’t, they had just got into conversation at the bar; they had thought she and the man beside her were married… no they weren’t, obviously!
“I’m Clare,” she said, and the man beside her was Gus, and the two separate young people were Elliot and Evie… four strangers who were suddenly a quiz team.
Before they could converse or say any more about themselves the quiz started, and they were plunged into understanding how it worked; it was a bingo quiz, and puzzling over the rather tricky and very random questions, Clare lost herself completely in the proceedings. Her three team mates were fun and funny, and as strangers they could relax and be themselves – whatever selves they chose to be.
The first round finished and the carbon copies of their answer sheets were collected… but there was a problem, they needed a team name. They looked blankly at each other… then Elliot said to the man collecting the answers, well, this was the Royal Inn, so they were the Royal team! It seemed a bit weak, but what the heck, what did it matter?
It was a natural time to get a drink… but… but… Gus stepped in; who would like a drink? He’d be pleased to buy a round… Pints of beer seemed to be the order, and while he was at the bar, the answers were read out, and they self-marked – the copies having been collected so no cheating.
Gus returned with beer to find his team in high spirits; he’d had to wait while the barrel was changed, and in that time, all the answers had been read out and believe it or believe it not, they had won! Clare, Elliot and Evie insisted Gus take the cost of the round from their winnings, and use another four pounds to buy the sheets for round two!
The questions were similarly random and tricky as the first round… and this time they were defeated… however, there was still enough of their winnings for four more pints. Clare sat back and glanced at her team mates; what did she know about them? Evie was a nurse and singer with a band, Elliot worked in an estate agent’s, Gus was not working at the moment, and she had told them she was here temporarily looking after her father-in-law’s house while he was in hospital and her husband in the States.
The quiz master came round with one final question for the beer round… Beer round? Yes, the winning team had a free round of drinks next week!
“How long is the Queen Mary, not the Queen Mary 2, but the original Queen Mary?”
It was simple for Gus… 1,019.5 feet…
“The winner of the beer round, with a bob on correct answer of 1,019.5 feet, is Royalty!” shouted the quiz master.
“Royalty?”
“Yes!! That’s us!!”
Somehow the Royal Team had become Royalty…
“Hey! We’ll have to come back next week to claim our free beer!” exclaimed Evie.
“Brilliant! I’ll be here! You, Gus? You Clare?” asked Elliot.
Clare smiled… If father-in-law was still in hospital, she would be here!
Gus picked up his glass. “Here’s to Royalty! See you next week, chums!”

Royalty – part 1

As well as leading two creative writing groups, I am also in a writing group; there are seven of us and we meet roughly once a month and read something we have written on a topic chosen the last time we met. Today our topic was ‘Royalty’… and I confess I was absolutely stuck… I just could not think of anything to write at all…

… and then I had a thought about something I had written a while ago, well two somethings actually. One something I think I have shared here, about a man called Gus who was wandering aimless and rather lonely in a marsh area beside the sea… he finishes his walk and on the way home drifts into a pub. The other was about a woman who was staying in her father-in-law’s house and visiting him every day in hospital; he was very ill, very, very ill, but his son, her husband was away in America. She was for the moment not working so she had come to stay in the old man’s house and visit him. These two characters, Gus and the woman came together in my mind, and this is what happened:

Royalty – part 1

She realised as she got to the bar that the last time she’d been here was with Philip… There were two pubs in the village, and since she’d been down here on her own, staying in her father-in-law’s house so she could visit him in hospital, she’d only been to the other pub, the Schooner. She’d been for lunch… a couple of times… she’d been for dinner before visiting in the evening, a couple of times… but she hadn’t been here, to the Royal Hotel.
The other pub, The Schooner was convenient, but somehow impersonal… the staff were polite and efficient, but somehow…
Why hadn’t she come here, to the Royal? It was a typical village pub, and had a more homely, friendly feel; she glanced at the menu while waiting for the Canadian boy serving behind the bar to return with her change and thought it sounded altogether more interesting… Maybe tomorrow she’d come here for lunch…
It was busy but there was a space on the bench seat by the window. There was a group of women sitting at the next table so she took her change and went and sat down beside them… Maybe she could get talking to them, maybe she could have a conversation… she was starved of contact, and although she didn’t mind being on her own, it suddenly seemed a welcome proposition to actually converse with someone. Her father-in-law was declining day by day; anything he did say was so random and unintelligible that trying to make a conversation was like trying to catch soap bubbles blown by a child.
She sat down and glanced at the four women but they were there in an intense conversation. A jacket lay on the seat beside her and probably belonging to the people on the table to her right, two middle-aged couples. She caught a burst of conversation from them, the woman with the dark perm talking to the woman with shoulder length blond hair, was complaining about students in her son’s hall of residence all being ‘foreign’ and how the places ‘stank of curry’… Hmmm… maybe this pub wasn’t so congenial place after all.
A man was approaching with a pint of beer, preoccupied and patently thinking of something else and he squeezed between the table and the next one with the two couples before realising she was sitting there.
“Oh! Is this your seat! I’m sorry, I didn’t realise, I thought it was free!” she exclaimed.
“No, no, that’s fine! Sorry, I just left my jacket…”
He was interrupted by a young couple who asked him if the two chairs at the table were free. Yes, yes, they were he replied, still standing between the two tables.
“I’m just on my own, this seat is free,” she said, indicating the place beside her, realising that the jacket must be his.
There was a bit of a kerfuffle while the young couple, who had thought she and the pint of beer man were a couple, took off coats, organised phones, put drinks on the table… and the man, after asking again if it was ok for him to sit beside her, did just that, and sat beside her.
She would knock back her beer and go; having wanted company she now felt awkward with the bloke beside her and the young couple across the table. They too had subsided into silence, concentrating on their phones. The young woman looked like a student, fashionable, long dark hair and a serious face, the lad looked rougher, awkward almost, compared to his lovely girlfriend.
She would finish her beer…
“Are you in the quiz?” They all looked up at a small man in a yellow sweater with a golf club log who was standing with a sheaf of quiz sheets and a pint glass of pens.
… How did it happen? Who said what? Who tentatively suggested that maybe they might… should… could… Later no-one could remember, but they each handed over a pound, and were given a quiz sheet and a selection of pens and suddenly they were a team!

If you want to know what I had written about Gus previously, here is a link:

http://wp.me/p2hGAs-1YJ