Son has a school history project to complete when we get back to Oz. He decided the topic would be the Roman Baths. A trip round the Baths with audio guide was required and we learnt all about Aquae Sulis and the Roman goddess Sulis Minerva.
After the trip we went to the nearby Westgate pub for lunch. On the beer front there are plenty of cask strong ciders which caught the eye, but not wanting anything to strong I picked the St. Austell Tribute Cornish Pale Ale (4.2%). A very easy drinking beer, you could easily have a few of these, a very good session beer. The pub itself dates back to 1677 and was originally a coach inn, it now has a modern decor, larger interior than you would expect and friendly staff. The pub has a reasonable food menu, a large array of different lagers, beers and strong ciders; being close to the Baths there was a mixture of tourists and locals.
The following day spent I time chasing trout on boat in Blagdon Lake, in the Mendip Hills, with my brother. Weather has been mild on this trip home but on this day the wind was a bit raw and from the east (summer wind usually from the south west). It was hard work on the oars but we managed to eek out six trout all around 2-3lb, mainly on floating lines, nymphs and I managed 3 on dry flies, a claret fly called Bobs Bits. With family and friends already stocked up with trout, we stopped off on the way home at the Winford Arms. I have blogged this before but we managed to exchange trout for beers. I chose one of my favourite beers the Bath Gem Ale. I expect Blagdon Trout will be on the specials board.
This is my final blog for this UK trip, one of my favourite pubs is the Hunters Rest which is a great country pub with favourite beers and ciders on tap. I have been playing around with the iphone camera, not sure how the panorama shot looks but here it is anyway. Whilst typing this up I have just watched some TV footage of Sydney and the Naval festival, weather looks good and will back at work (great!) and on the back of the ferry shortly.
We decided to embark on a day trip around Wiltshire, home to Salisbury plain, numerous army bases, crystal clear chalk streams and Stonehenge. We have often driven past Stonehenge, which is in between 2 busy main roads, but this time decided we would stop and have a good look around. An understatement to say a lot of history and mystique surrounds Stonehenge – another interesting place for the blog. There were plenty of other punters here and amusingly a druid (with small set of antlers for a hat) recounting a time she was in Australia meeting aboriginal elders and also talking about unique forces apparently at Stonehenge.
From Stonehenge we travelled to the market town of Marlborough. Marlborough is home to a number of posh public (expensive private in Oz) schools, a number of current royals have reputedly been pupils including the future queen, Kate. A scout round the shops in the High Street and we dropped into the Green Dragon pub for lunch.
We had a decent feed, cauliflower soup and chicken madras for me. The bar staff were very friendly, the pub has a few patrons, there were plenty of beers on tap and being in Wiltshire, the Wadworth’s brews (Devizes based) were to the fore. I tried the Wadworth Horizon Golden Ale for a change, a light golden summer style beer, fruity citrus taste. It was OK to drink but as I prefer darker style beers, not really one for me. The pub was good, had some history on the walls regarding the great fire of Marlborough in the 1600’s and mention of a beer fest, unfortunately not when we were there and also a venue for bands.
The last stop of this trip was to Manningford Trout fishery near Pewsey. Crystal clear water feeds the lake, lots of trout, this is a good spot for my son to fly fish. We caught a couple around 2lb. During the fishing, the distant rumble of guns could be heard, also a few army Apache helicopters buzzed low across the lake as we fished to the amusement of young and old.
Life on board is all about routine.
All are up at dawn as we motor to break. 3 hrs in water for a surf. Long breakfast. Down time on the back deck- maybe a few Tigers. Lunch then a long arvo session followed by one of the days highlights-beers on the top deck for sunset.
This is the second botf trip to the Maldives. I was remiss last time and did not post.
Will attempt to this up to our readers.
botf is on a surfboat with 9 mates surfing the central atolls. Not very hard to take at all.
Beers available on boards are Tigers, Carlsberg, Heineken & Corona. So pretty macro but it’s only a first world problem.
Currently enjoying a Tiger between sessions at Riptides.
Maldives is an Islamic nation with plenty of fish, coconuts and waves but no local brewing so all the beer is imported.
On a recent surf charter we had any beer we wanted as long as it was Tiger. Tiger is a Singapore brew and has already been reviewed on this blog, but not in a Maldivian context.
Not sure what it is about these big cats but they can sure sneak up on you. Feeling slightly mauled when we woke up to this immaculate empty lineup on Gaafu Dhaalu.
When you’re in a country where the drinking water might be a bit dodgy, it’s a safer option to stick with the amber fluid. Your belly will thank you for it.
I’m not sure of the collective noun for beers (comments welcome!) but in Sri Lanka each meal was accompanied by a Pride of Lion lagers.
The high alcohol content will likely kill off most tummy bugs and the few survivors are best picked off by massive doses of chilli in a pol sambol. Lion lager and fish curry with pol sambol provide a good example for the word ‘synergy’.
Buddes restaurant at Hikkaduwa serve each Lion in its own mini esky, so no rush to knock it back before it heats to an ambient 30C. You can sit back and enjoy the view of pumping barrels and charming European holiday makers.
Yes, the headline is a classic BotF non sequitur. The beer has nothing to do with the event and weren’t even had on the same day – but my BotF rule is that every post references a new beer. The Surfing Australia Awards night was many things, but it wasn’t likely to turn up a beer untried on the Back of the Ferry. More on Cobra later, but first to the Surfing Australia Awards night. This correspondent is not a surfer (despite some feeble attempts), but I love surfing. Whether it is swimming out the back with mates that do surf, reading Tracks, uni surf trips, reading biographies of surfers or simply watching surfing – it is something I’ve admired closely for many, many years. I was delighted then to cop a bait to the annual Surfing Australia Awards night, which coincided with their 50 year celebration and most importantly the announcement of Australia’s 10 Most Influential Surfers since 1963. Throw in a Hall of Fame induction – and it was going to be a great night.
Have an awards night, and there’s bound to be a pollie lurking here and there. No exception on this night. Julia Gillard appeared on the tellie and gave a good natured but daggy speech about the importance of surfing and then tied that into climate change. Wayne Swan, whose had a fair share of political wipeouts of late actually spoke with some surfing cred and generated some rare (for him) bon homie. They’re a tolerant lot, the surfing crowd, and they good naturedly accepted the politcal intrusion on their evening and also tolerated blokes like my mate getting their photos taken with them. Stephanie Gilmour is a great surfer and an extremely nice person to boot. Just being around so many legends made the night. I heard of the amazing Peter Drouyn story, but to actually see his alter-(New)-ego Westerly Windina made that quite hard to believe story quite real.
Whilst it was terrific to see all the annual awards doled out (photographer, film, waterman etc), and especially pleasing to hear from 2 present world champions – (the extremely humble Parko and Steph), I was really keen to hear the countdown of the 10 most influential surfers. The criteria was “The Australian surfer who through their surfing and wider contribution has had the most profound influence on the national character of Australian surfing”. I thought that this criteria might have excluded a couple of the greatest surfers and meant that some blokes like George Greenough or Mark Warren might have snuck in, but in the end the final 10 was probably fair enough. Judging by the standing ovation that greeted Mark Richards when he climbed the stage – no-one was complaining about his designation as the most influential Australian surfer of the last 50 years. For the record, the 10 were Bob McTavish (shortboard pioneer, but ironically my longboard mates ride McTavish boards), Mark Occhilupo, Wayne Bartholomew, Layne Beachley, Tom Carroll, Midget Farrelly, Michael Peterson, Nat Young, Simon Anderson and Mark Richards. We’ve written about Michael Peterson before on this blog and it was touching to see his remarkable mother, with whom he lived for the last 30 years of his life, accept the award with untold glee. The common features of all the speeches was the humility with which the awards were received and the respect that all recipients had for eachother.
This mutual respect was demonstrated when all the surfing Hall of Famers present gathered on stage to welcome the latest inductee into their midst. A big night for Stephanie Gilmour was capped off by making the Surfing Hall of Fame (fair enough – 5 World Championships). A very cool moment was when she acknowledged the presence of the world’s first World Champion (men or women) – Phyllis O’Donnell – who was on stage with probably at least 25 fellow Hall-of-Famers including Westerly Windina and Ross Clarke-Jones. Just seeing that crowd of legends in the one place was good enough for me.
Cobra Premium Beer has an odd history. It was founded by an Indian entrepreneur named Karan Bilimoria, who has since become an English Lord. He wanted a beer that went better with curry, which apparently means it needed to be less gassy. It’s made in India but found fame in England. Maybe not enough fame, because it ended up in some financial strife and is now majority owned by Molson Coors, though Lord Bilimoria is still well and truly involved. Cobra’s nothing special, but perfectly potable and would probably be well suited to a lager/curry frenzy. Nice bottle.
This week, the last of my trip to my UK home has flown past far too quickly. Wednesday, saw a visit to Lechlade Trout Fishery, Gloucestershire to hunt for big trout with my brother and son. Weather was not too bad, overcast and threatening rain without actually precipitating. Difficult conditions for stalking trout but I managed to peer into the murky water and pick out a target. Trout normally have a very specific patrol routes around a certain piece of water, this one was no different as nymphs, hare ears, pheasant tails and stalking bugs were all rejected. Finally a gawdy yellow and white tadpole was strategically placed, attacked and a 10lb 4oz rainbow trout was brought to the bank. Not a brilliant fight if I am honest for a monster like this. We ended up catching 4 fish with two over 5 lb which my son landed and a 9lb 3oz to my brother. The Trout Master cup is over for another year (there maybe another round at Christmas).
We travelled past the Wadworth Brewery in Devizes, Wiltshire which is in these parts is famous for its 6X beer. Found a new beer for me to try – the Wadworth Swordfish, this is a blend of 6X and Pussers Rum. This beer is “a heartwarming salute” to Naval aviation, the crews of the Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers in WW2. A dark beer, but not a stout, and I would definitely buy again. Other footnote, a visit to Jamie Oliver’s Bristol restaurant is also recommended.
Manningford trout fishery is situated near the village of Pewsey in Wiltshire. The lake is fed by the chalk stream, river Avon, which runs from nearby Salisbury plain. Salisbury plain is home to a number of military bases and the distant rumbling of artillery guns was very audible in the afternoon. I have fished this lake many times before, it is a picturesque and the water is gin clear. Fishing is not too difficult and it is often a matter of trying not to catch, a good place for a day out and a young fly fisherman.
A walk round the bank, we spotted a pod of rainbow trout, hare’s ear nymph on 8lb tippet and floating line soon had their attention and the fish were charging towards the fly. We pulled fly quickly away, decided we would look for something bigger. Kept walking the bank, plenty of casting practice and we hook up, not a big one but a short fight and 1st fish is on the bank. The ticket we had was to catch a limit of 3 fish, and we ended with the best trout being 3 ½ lb (with two others about 2lb each). All flies seemed to interest the trout, but nymphs, hare’s ears, green damsel and black buzzers were the pick.
That evening visited the Coronation Tap (Cori tap) in Clifton for a couple of jars with my brother. This pub is famous, at least in Bristol, not sure why we had not visited in quite a few years, as it has a great atmosphere and unique range of ciders. Clifton is one of the oldest parts of Bristol with a lot of Georgian and earlier period architecture. This pub dates back to the 1700’s, close to the Down’s (a large common land area in the centre Bristol) and is a favourite with locals and students (Clifton is in the heart of student land) . A venue for bands, Chris Jagger(Mick’s brother) was playing later on, but we were not hanging round. On to the beers, a number of real ales including Bath Gem Ale and good range of ciders, with my favourite’s Thatchers Traditional on tap – described on the board as the 1904 recipe, hazy and uncarbonated. There is also a cider, the Exhibition which is only available at the Cori Tap. The barman told me this cider is also from Thatchers brewery and is sold in half pints as its strength is 8.4%.
A couple of ciders and we each decided to take a couple of pints of Thatchers home, filled from the keg, and for me unique carry out vessels (recycled plastic bottles, but I am not complaining).
The first Saturday of October has been and gone, which means that daylight savings has been established, which is very welcome despite the risk of faded curtains. This means better beertography and (generally) warmer trips home. Illiards and I snuck the first trip in last night, but this evening we have a seriously good beer on which to do the full BotF treatment, which means beertography AND an in situ review. Firstly, how ugly is this boat?
This correspondent is not a surfer. Bodysurfer, yes, but not a surfer, which makes me less qualified than other correspondents like illiards and oompaloompa to do this review. They are both long boarders of regular pursuit and today’s beer proclaims itself to be the “Boardriders (sic) Beer”. Swell Brewing Company is yet another example of a winemaker making beer, indeed another South Australian winemaker making beer. If it taste this good, then more of it I say. I think they produce 4 varieties, and tonight we are having the Pale Ale. To mangle a surfing analogy, this is 6 foot and glassy ie big and smooth without completely hammering you. If ever a beer was more appropriate for drinking between the Sydney Heads on the Manly Ferry, I haven’t seen it.