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Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

Last weekend, Patrick and I went to Hipperholme in Halifax.  Why would anyone do that you ask?  Well it was specifically to visit The Cock O’ The North pub which is the tap of the Halifax Steam Brewing Company.  We had had the place recommended to us by a couple of guys in our local pub The Wellington Inn (which doesn’t appear to have it’s own website any longer).

So, The Cock o’ the North then.  At first glance from the outside, we wouldn’t have ventured in here.  It is built of portakabins and doesn’t look like the greatest place to spend a Friday night.  I am so, so glad we had the recommendation though (thanks to Blakey and Paul) because inside, it was like a temple for real ale fans.  The long polished granite bar (which the bar staff kept scrupulously clean all night) has a beautiful backdrop of two huge fish tanks.  I only had my phone to take pictures  but please follow the link above and have a look at their own picture gallery to see what I mean (although the fish tanks did have fish in them when we were there).  Plenty of table and chair seating around the room and nice comfy wooden bar seats so we could contemplate our next beer choice and watch the fish at the same time.  Ten real ale pumps spanned the bar, all boasting brews by Halifax Steam Brewing.  We decided to work our way along, both of us sampling a different drink each time so to give us maximum tasting treats!  We did get to the end and start on our way back down again actually ;-).  My particular favourite was The Dark Side, an absolutely scrumptious dark beer tasting of chocolate and coffee.  The Cock O’ the North beer was also very lovely with caramel notes.  The two that seem to be their regulars, are Aussie Kiss, a very pale and hoppy brew and at something like 3.8% a real session beer and Uncle Jon a dark but mild flavoured beer which at 4.3% is also very drinkable!  The other beers I believe rotate as and when.  I do tend to prefer dark beers but having said that, the paler, blonder ones on offer were also very nice.  There wasn’t one beer on offer that I would say that I wouldn’t drink again.  Quite an achievement with ten different ones! 

The manager/owner (didn’t quite work out which) was a lovely guy who spent a bit of time chatting to us and when he found out where we were from and our local, was delighted to be able to tell us that he knew of the Wellington guys from their previous visits and was full of praise for our fair city of Hull as well.  All in all The Cock O’ the North is a highly recommended visit for all you real ale fans out there, heck there is even a camp site out the back if you are mad enough!

We had a good weekend all round really.  We had arrived on the Friday afternoon to stay in the Premier Inn at Halifax.  What a lovely location it was in, right on the canal side and the rooms had their own outside front door, kind of like American motels that you see on TV sometimes, but nicer.  The only drawback was that although it was only 3 or 4 miles away from Hipperholme, the taxis both ways cost just shy of a tenner!  So a bit of false economy with the cheap place to stay really but as it was so nice, we’ll forget that little annoyance.  This picture was taken just outside our front door.  

Canalside Premier Inn

Canalside Premier Inn

On the Saturday, after a hearty breakfast/lunch at the Wetherspoons I had spotted in Halifax town centre the previous night on our way to Hipperholme in the taxi, we decided we would drive home the scenic route rather than the rather dull M62.  I wanted to go to Haworth for a wander up the High Street, I haven’t been for some years and Patrick had never been before.  The weather was so beautiful, one of those gorgeous Autumn days that are sunny and calm, yet really quite chilly.  This is my favourite time of year and weather, as I may have mentioned before, I’m not a sun worshipper in the least.  We enjoyed a meander up and down the High Street, walked through the church yard and I popped into the church hall to have a look at the local craft fair, I was a little sad that I had eaten such a large breakfast because there were some seriously delicious looking homemade cakes.  I was temped to buy a piece for later but it would have ended up all squashed before I got home knowing me.  We then stopped for a cuppa in one of the many tearooms along this delightful, cobbled (and very steep) street and I couldn’t help noticing that there was a poster in the window for their Knit and Knatter group, how very fab to have a knitting group in such a lovely location.  I decided I want to live in Haworth, just so I can go to the Knit and Knatter.
Haworth High Street

Haworth High Street

 I’m sorry my photo of the High Street is so rubbish! I’m sure you can find a much prettier and brighter one on the web if you are so inclined.  Note to self; remember to take the camera with you when you go away!
 
After a pleasant couple of hours in Haworth, we set off for home, deciding to take the A59 route over the top and through York.  It is a much longer drive but Patrick agreed, better than the boring old motorway.
 
We stopped for a break in Knaresborough to stretch our legs, visited the beer shop there for a little supply of Belgian bottled beers and had a walk around the castle.  I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know there was a castle at Knaresborough but sure enough, there is and with stunning views to boot. 
View from Knaresborough Castle

View from Knaresborough Castle

I am quite pleased with this phone photo.  The stunning viaduct over the River Nidd as photographed with my little HTC phone from the walls of Knaresborough Castle.  We had a little wander around Knaresborough town centre and I now decided that I want to live in Knaresborough as it is so pretty :-).  It was turning a bit nippy by now and we were flagging a bit after our day of sightseeing so we started off for home, having thoroughly enjoyed our West/North Yorkshire weekend break.

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Non-Knitting News

A few weeks ago Patrick and I decided to go on the Real Ale Trail in West Yorkshire again, we did this last summer and enjoyed it immensely.  Patrick’s two friends had expressed an interest in going with us ‘the next time’ so we tried to arrange it around them.  In the event, neither of them could commit to a date so we went ahead on our own, on Good Friday.  We stayed at the same hotel as the last time, The Cambridge Lodge, not far from the station.  The Ritz it certainly ain’t but clean, tidy and cheap at £45 double room including cooked breakfast does for us.   We had decided that our first stop would be the West Riding at Dewsbury station, having seen a blackboard advertising their famous sausage sandwiches on our last visit. 

West Riding, Dewsbury

Famished, having only eaten a slice of toast before leaving Hull…in anticipation of said sausage sandwich, you can imagine our devastation to be told ‘We’re not doing food today’!  We had a couple of wonderful beers anyhow and got the train back to Huddersfield, to a fantastic Fish and Chip shop by the market (had it been a market day that is!).  This Friday malarky wasn’t proving too successful!  After Fish and Chips, we made our way to the station to catch the train to our next destination.  For some reason my memory of the order in which we visited the pubs along the trail is a bit hazy 🙂 .   So in no particular order, we also visited: The Station Buffet Bar on Stalybridge station.  This is an absolutely fascinating place, being the original station buffet.  A huge selection of ales but a strangely remiss attitude to glass collecting!  On our previous visit, the place was heaving so I put the vast quantities of empty glasses and bottles all over the tables, bar and any other flat surface down to the fact that they were rushed off their feet serving.  On this occasion though, it was relatively quiet, yet they still didn’t seem in a great rush to clear the surfaces or wash the glasses.  The Riverhead at Marsden, we had a less than satisfactory time in here and didn’t stay for a drink due to the lack of service and terrible attitude of the staff.  The Railway Inn at Greenfield, we managed to arrive right on the tail end of a very large party of drinkers from the same train as us and with seemingly only one man serving behind the bar, had quite a wait.  Theakstons Old Peculier more than made up for the wait though.  The pub interior itself is a bit grotty quite honestly so we sat in the beer garden, overlooking Saddleworth Moor.  I checked the timetable for the next train.  In my, by then, hazy state of mind I misread the timetable and told Patrick that the train was in 2 minutes.  We rushed the rest of our OP (criminal) and dashed across the road to the station.  It didn’t seem to occur to us that if the train was really due, the pub would have emptied and the station platform would be full.  We had rushed the Beer by which all others are judged in order to sit on a station platform for 7 minutes!  The Commercial in Slaithwaite, which is pronounced Slawit apparently so do take note and don’t make a fool of yourself should you ever want to visit the place.  Actually, from what we saw of it, whilst walking to the pub (here is where the ale trail goes a bit awry, the pubs in Slaithwaite being substantially further then a 2 minute walk from the station and up and down hills to boot) it seemed a nice enough town.  The Commercial isn’t very memorable really, being one of these refurbished jobbies, you know the kind..all the interior ripped out to make one huge room which is then decorated in ‘contemporary’ style.  Decent selection of beers though and we sat outside, me making a fuss of a couple of whippets whilst we both tried to decide what the hell the wasps that kept dissapearing into drilled holes in the stone window frames were doing.  The holes were clearly drilled for drainage purposes in the solid stone so there would be no hollow behind them, no room for a nest.  Not even enough room to turn around I wouldn’t have thought, yet they kept flying in and out all the time we stood there.  I found myself wondering how they had turned around in this little tunnel, why didn’t they have to reverse out, in fact could they do such a thing?  Time to move on!!  Back to Huddersfield where we headed for the Kings Head.  The second of two pubs situated at either end and within the old station buildings at Huddersfield station.  This place is the polar opposite of the Commercial and clearly hasn’t been cleaned in decades never mind refurbished!  It is in what was the old waiting room and has a fireplace at either side of the room.  I don’t think they are in use though but having only visited in warmer months, I don’t know for sure.  The selection of beers in here is massive, 12 I think it was and it was a hard choice by that time of evening.  

The Head of Steam - Huddersfield Station

We then decided for one more in the Head of Steam before heading into the heart of Huddersfield night life (ahem!) for a kebab at a wonderful cafe/takeaway called Kebabish, these are proper kebabs and not the rubbish you see at some places.  We ate here on our last visit and it was as good again.  Back to the hotel and a good night’s sleep.

The next day, weather being beautiful again, we decided on a walk along the Huddersfield Narrow Canal to Standedge Tunnel.

Huddersfield Narrow CanalHuddersfield Narrow Canal

 
It was a very pleasant walk and the Standedge visitor centre at the end was very interesting.  You could go on a boat trip through the tunnel but I couldn’t really imagine that being too fascinating so we skipped on that.  All in all a very good weekend.  The weather was fabulous for April and I now find myself hoping that wasn’t summer!!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Not blogging is the obvious answer here.  So much for a post a week, I haven’t posted for what…5 or 6 weeks!   It’s that old thing that we never have enough of again – time.   So, what have I been up to?  I can’t honestly remember a lot, that’s what happens if you don’t blog it you see.

One thing I do remember is that Patrick and I went to see the wonderful Gordon Giltrap at the beginning of March.  He was playing in the area again at a charity gig organised by a friend of his, we saw him last summer for the first time and I wasn’t really familiar with his work before then. The only track I knew of his was his most famous hit Heartsong, which was the theme of the TV show Wish You Were Here.  I have to say I was completely awestruck during the performance.  The skill with which he plays is amazing.   He is an incredible guitar player and a very humble and entertaining man and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

In knitting news, I have finally finished the green jumper.  But…and it’s a big but after about 5 weeks of knitting, I’m not happy with it :-(.  It doesn’t fit quite as well as I would like, being a little bit loose.  I could live with that but the main problem is that I cocked up on the tops of the sleeves and the shoulders stick up a little.  I think it can be fixed but at the moment, I can’t face it.  It is in the naughty corner until I can be bothered to unpick the offending bit and re-do it.  I will, at some time, because it was an awful lot of time and yarn to have wasted if I don’t….but not just yet.  I’ve picked up my Hampton Cardi again, that of the 4 row, 9 stitch pattern that had me flummoxed a few weeks ago.  That worked out fine first time when I had another go at it.  Sometimes it pays to just put something aside for a while until it learns its lesson and decides to behave :-).  So, that is on the go at the moment but will be a few weeks in the making yet.   I have also made some progress on my February Lady cardigan and am knitting that as well as Hampton.  I’m enjoying both of these projects a lot now.

Patrick and I had booked a couple of days off work this week and had decided to go to York for an overnight stay.  We love to go to York, primarily because of the huge number of fantastic pubs to visit.  On the York Camra website, there are mini-guides to download and the one for York centre has no less than 82 pubs selling real ale from independant breweries.  I do love to try beers that I haven’t tried before and to visit pubs that I haven’t visited before and there are opportunities in abundance to do both in York.  Arriving on Sunday afternoon in glorious sunshine, we checked in the Travel Lodge in York Centre and set off for a little walk towards the first of our target pubs.  I took this picture of the beautiful daffodils around the walls on the way

Daffodils in York

Our first pub then was The Rook and Gaskill.  Just outside the City walls and named after two 17th Century sheep thieves who were the last people to be hanged at the St Leonard Gallows nearby. A real beer lovers pub with a selection of 12 beers and a friendly barman.  It was a struggle to just have the one in there I can tell you!  We had more pubs on our radar though so we next crossed Hull Road to visit the Waggon & Horses, a pleasant pub with 3 distinct rooms, sun beating through the windows at the front made for thirsty drinkers.   Back to the hotel after this to freshen up for the night ahead.  The very convenient Posterngate pub right next door to the Travel Lodge was our first stop for a meal and a beer.  A Wetherspoons pub, where you know you are going to get value.  I am a huge fan of Wetherspoons pubs.  The food may not be gourmet but it is good value and their commitment to Real Ale is second to none in the pub chain industry.  After that, we visited a further four pubs that we hadn’t been to on previous visits to York.  The Punch Bowl just outside Micklegate, which is another Wetherspoons,  Brigantes, a cafe bar type establishment, then Ackhorne, tucked away down a little cobbled street.  We would never have found it by accident and now we’ve been in, we certainly won’t be finding it again on purpose anytime soon.  After trying out one more new one, Maltings, in the shadow of Lendal Bridge we finished up with two of our favourite pubs, The Yorkshire Terrier and Ye Olde Starr, both down Stonegate.  A catfood-like burger on the way back to the hotel finished the night off nicely!  Monday dawned bright and sunny again and we had a little wander around before heading off to the Castle Museum.  Neither of us had been there for years and we had a good day.  I had a strange experience in one of the police cells in that as I stepped in the door, I got an overwhelming feeling that I just shouldn’t be in there.  I can’t explain other that it was a kind of panicky feeling and I just couldn’t bring myself to go right inside, I hovered near the door as Patrick went in.  Later, speaking to one of the staff in another exhibit, the sweet shop, he was telling us about ghostly goings on in the place, including the time that a child who was visiting the museum had said that he wanted to go back into the police cell to talk to the lady who was in there!  Needless to say, Patrick then wanted to go back and see for himself.  We went in, I was a bit apprehensive to say the least but the feeling wasn’t there on the second visit.

I’ll leave you with another couple of pictures from York,  the first, a lovely little old building, I can’t remember for the life of me where it was but I thought it looked very pretty with the blossom trees outside and the second picture is of Clifford’s Tower.  Just look at those daffodils!

Blossom and Beams

Clifford's Tower, York

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Well, we’re back home safe and sound after our lovely weekend away.  It was just what we needed, relaxation!  The cottage was beautiful and the owner Mike, couldn’t have been more helpful.  Even down to getting his 4×4 out to tow us off the yard on Monday morning when our car was stuck in the very deep snow.  There was a wood burning stove in the inglenook fireplace and we made great use of that all weekend.  Very cosy and romantic :-).

We took books to read and I had plenty of knitting with me, oh and biscuits and chocolates of course 🙂

My Dream Holiday.

Now, coincidentally this happened to be the weekend of the Cropton Beer Festival.  We didn’t know this when we booked the cottage – no one believes us of course but it’s true.  Naturally, we were very happy to discover it, but we genuinely didn’t know about it when we chose that weekend. Our plan, as such, was that we would just chill out and relax, pop to the pub a couple of times and stay in and cook one of the three nights we would be there.

So, after staying in with a bottle of wine and a beef casserole on the Friday night, on Saturday, after a hearty full English breakfast, we set off for a walk in the snow around the village.  It really was a winter wonderland, so beautiful.

The view from the cottage window

Sheep in a field

The New Inn, Cropton

Naturally, after all the exercise, we felt we had earned a couple of beers so it was off to the beer festival.  We got there just as it had opened for the day so had the run of the bar in the marquee specially set up for the purpose.  Just take a look at all those pumps!  That’s only half of the bar in the picture. 

We'll just start at one end and work our way down shall we?

I’m not going to bore you by listing all the beers we had over the weekend, suffice to say we tried a fair few between us!  My particular favourite was Cropton’s Blackout.  A fabulous rich Porter which is produced from a 1930’s recipe.  It’s like chocolate in a glass….yum yum.  There was also a Biker’s Rally on over the weekend and about 50 motorcylists had braved the elements for the event and many were camped in the field behind the pub.  Yes, that’s right, camped!  As in tents and sleeping bags!  I was astounded that people would even consider camping in that weather but the ones we spoke to assured us that they were snug and warm.  I’ll take their word for it I think.  We were also surprised to see how many other visitors there were from Hull.  We met people we know and saw quite a few others who we know by sight from The Wellington Inn in Hull. 

On Sunday, we had a very lazy day and actually didn’t move from in front of the fire all day.  I enjoyed some knitting and finally finished my Woolly Wormhead mystery hat B, just in time for the end of November!  I also made a dent in my Red ‘jeans cardigan and am pleased with they way that’s coming along now.  I’ll blog about and put pictures of my hat up when I can get some nice ones.

On Monday lunchtime when we came to leave, we found the car well and truly stuck in deep snow. 

There's a car under there!

I had to sweep the snow off!

Mike the cottage owner got his 4×4 out to try to tow us out but it was a struggle.  We had to dig more snow from under the wheels and try several times.  Eventually we got moving and once we were on the road, it was fine.  Fine, until we got within spitting distance of home.  Part of the road to Beverley was closed and we had to take a diversion, through little villages and country roads.  It got a bit hairy at one point when we couldn’t actually tell where the road ended and the ditches began!  I would have taken a photo but I was too scared.  I also thought it might piss Patrick off since he was the one trying to keep us on the road at the time.  I know if I’d been driving and he’d got his camera out, I’d have felt like ramming it down his throat. :-D.  We were very relieved to see the main road in front of us, relatively clear of snow, leading to the main Beverley bypass.  We stopped in Beverley at The Green Dragon, for some lunch and then made our way home for a quiet night in.

A truly lovely weekend break.  Why are they always over too quickly though?

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Holidays part one.

So, like I said, I’m a few weeks behind with my blog posts but I’ll try to catch up as best I can.  This could make for a very long post so I’ll blog in stages to avoid boring you all to death in one sitting.  You can die of boredom bit by bit instead!

During the last week of July, Patrick and I had a weeks leave from work and we had planned to go to Huddersfield for the first weekend. Not a very exciting prospect I can hear you saying!  However, for real ale fans, it is very exciting because Huddersfield is one of the stations on the Transpennine Real Ale Trail.  The weather was lovely as we arrived at Huddersfield and we firstly bought our train tickets for our journey.  The trail takes in 7 stations now because the pub in the first station of Batley has closed down, I’m sure there are plenty of other pubs in Batley but as we don’t know the area, we decided to stick to the recommended route.  Five of the stations are in West Yorkshire and for that part of the journey we could buy a family day rover ticket which cost us the princely sum of £8.80, seriously, how cheap is that?!!  The other two stations are over the Pennines in Lancashire and the tickets for that cost I think around £15 for the two of us but I can’t quite remember the exact cost.   Huddersfield station is a stunning Grade 1 listed building.

Huddersfield Station

Huddersfield Station

Having left our baggage at our hotel, we ventured down to the first pub of the day, The Kings Head at Huddersfield station.  However, what we didn’t realise until the next day was that there are actually two pubs, one at either end of the station and the first one we went into was the other one.  The Head of Steam was an interesting place, four very distinct rooms and plenty of hand pumps on show!  I opted to try a completely new beer, I almost always do this, unless there is something on that I particularly love.  I was unlucky with this choice though.  I now cant quite remember the full details but it was either called Brass Monkey or that was the brewery name and it was vile.  It had a strange metallic kind of taste and for only the second time ever, I couldn’t drink my beer!  We  had downloaded a Beer app for Patrick’s new phone so that we could make notes about what we enjoyed and what we didn’t.  Geeky?  Maybe, but it makes perfect sense to me to make a note of it you have enjoyed a beer or not for future reference.  We have, on numerous occasions, seen a pump clip, known we have tried the beer before but cannot remember, until we taste it again, if we like it.  This app should hopefully help us to recall what our fuddled brains have forgotten.

Here is the interior of The Head of Steam.  I’ve no idea who the bloke in the  picture is

Head of Steam 1

The Head of Steam bar area, with random bloke

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