March 2012 - Sussex Beer Festival
Following a warm invitation from Fenland's previously treasured Treasurer, Wendy, four intrepid travellers made meticulous plans, boarded trains, and finally alighted at Seaford station to be met by the host's beaming smile.
After greetings and hugs Wendy suggested a short walk to the Old Plough with the tongue in cheek offer of "coffee or beer?". Depositing bags and baggage at one of the large round tables in the comfortable beamed pub selections were made from Harveys Best, Beachy Head Legless, and Ale, Hammerpot Madgewick Gold (all local) and Youngs Bitter. After two, or in some cases three, rounds it was thought advisable to proceed to Connaught Road digs and were greeted by Phil and Sookie (giraffe legs on springs - we didn't get to see Phil's legs).
The evening's visit to the bustling Wellington provided the famous five with an excellent choice of ales, both light and dark. Dark Star Original and Old Chestnut, both local, dark, full bodied, and moreish (some might say yummy). St Austell Proper Job on the other hand was blonde; all in top condition and several rounds ensued. The GK Abbott and Trip to J, Ringwood 49er and the Uber ale were not sampled. On then for an exceptionally tasty Indian meal. The nightcap call was at the White Lion Hotel for Harveys Old Ale (a full bodied dark ale that would go well with Christmas pud), Best Bitter and London Pride. Again all in good condition.
The next morning after breakfasts and newspapers and in Heather's case, birthday cards opened, the boots were laced up and the five promenaded in an easterly direction, past the Martello Tower with its cannon on look-out for enemy armada and the colour regimented beach huts. The formidable looking climb up the cliff was worth the views from the summit, including those of cormorants and kitty wakes and the Seven Sisters.
The Golden Galleon at Exceat Bridge was soon reached and muddied footwear surreptitiously slipped under the lobby bench and silent feet slipped into the bar. Harveys Sussex Bitter, Hopback Taiphoon (a thirst quenching light beer with peach aroma), and the ubiquitous London Pride were all supped with vigour and birthday girl Heather toasted. Boots were reluctantly replaced and a passing rambler persuaded to photograph the five under the pub sign. The party then split to take the bus or walk back via fields and golf course.
The evening train trip to the Sussex beer festival via Hove, changing at Brighton, in the super duper Southern carriages and a 10 minute walk (or was it 20 minutes?) eventually found the Town Hall where tickets were exchanged for glasses and beer tokens. Good to see a younger age group than most Fen folk, many dressed as chickens, tigers, Capt Fantastic (or was it drain man?), and walking bar towels. It proved difficult to tick off beers as not too many left and some subs not in the programme. Nevertheless there was plenty to sample including Goacher's Real Mild with chocolate malts, Hopback Entire Stout, Holts Mild and quite a few (too?) hoppy examples, and a Russian Imperial at a whacking 7%. Wendy found some ciders to her taste and so all in all a very enjoyable evening which was rounded off with bacon butties back at the Connaught Club.
Sunday afternoon and time to carry bags to the station, wish Wendy fond farewells, and off on the train via Lewes, Victoria, Kings Cross (and for some still thirsty travellers a diversion to St Pancras and the Betjeman Arms for some Youngs Gold out on the sunny patio) then Peterborough and then home.
Thanks again Wendy for a wonderful week-end and all Fen folk send Graham their best wishes.