Tuesday, September 29, 2009

40 Beers, part 4

On again! On again!

12) Brakspear Oxford Gold (Bottle): The colour of polished brass in a country church. Lasting head, very bitter with a long malt finish. Smells like walking past a busy pub. Warming orange notes. Very good.

13) Morland (GK) Old Crafty Hen (Bottle): Pours dark copper with a massive, tight creamy head reminiscent of 'Swiss Tony'. Full bodied, heavy malt with plum and prune coming through. Long darkly fruit finish. Treacly. Enjoyable, but one's enough.

14) Morland (GK) Hen's Tooth (Bottle): Lots of sediment, caught in bottle neck. Dark ruby and caramel coloured with a soft sherry, fruity nose. Big hit of sherry and ruby port with a lasting fruit finish. Lots of 'christmassy' flavours here - fruitcake and madeira. Great. Hohoho.

15) Shepherd Neame 1698 (Bottle): Shallow, tight head sat on a body the colour of golden syrup. Faintly spicy nose. Easy drink with cola and nutty notes. Thoroughly enjoyable; a good, rounded ale.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Lazy Blogging, Part 12.

Ian Dury And The Blockheads: Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part Three

I don't think "scooters" or "beer" get a mention, but "La Vincent Motorsickle" does. This week's lazy bloggering suggested by Affer. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Gor Blimey

So - farewell Chas 'n' Dave. The duo, who'd been together since 1972, have called it a day. Bassist Dave Peacock, whose wife died recently has understandably had enough of life on the road. They were often seen as a novelty band, though there was no doubting their brilliant musicianship and witty, supremely crafted songs. They also sung in English accents, a rarity even today. Chas Hodges is arguably the greatest rock pianist alive, with his distinctive 'barrelhouse' sound. His ivory tinkling as a session player on Labi Siffre's I Got The was famously sampled by Eminem for My Name Is.

Here's Rabbit and Gertcha - two of the best tracks ever commited to vinyl. I'm not joking.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

700mm Wheels

Getting re-aquainted with my bike in july, I remembered just how much I love cycling, despite the odd encounter with appalling cretins in ugly German cars, no doubt paid for using the limits of several dubious credit cards (I'll get to that later). I started pedalling to work once or twice a week on my old Specialized Hardrock A1 - something I now undertake four or five times a week on the bike I got myself as a fortieth birthday present. It's a Trek 7.3FX, a sort of flat-handlebar road bike and so light compared to the Hardrock that it seems to float an inch above the tarmac, even with me on board. And here's the odd thing - despite the longer route via Victoria Park, I'm always at my desk ten minutes quicker than if I ride in on my Vespa. I have no idea how.

Today, Mrs TIW and I took part in the London Skyride. With 50,000 other cyclists we enjoyed the slightly odd feeling of riding from Tower Hill to Buckingham Palace on traffic-free roads. As with the Great London Rideout, there's some sort of Nobel prize to be earned in working out how it is that despite the number and density of participants, we saw no collisions. Apart from helping one lass who'd apparently fainted, the paramedics - also on bikes - were bystanders, chatting to what must be the most polite and cheerful marshals I've encountered. Also present was Chris Hoy, looking like a human designed by Sir Nigel Gresley.


All the cycling tribes were there - the beardies on tourers, the eccentrics on recumbents, the sandal-wearers on Moultons, the families on Asda specials, the City workers on Bromptons, the Very Serious Roadies on high-end Italian carbon and the hipsters on fixed-wheel death traps. And everyone was smiling.


Even the gentleman we encountered on the way home didn't ruin our day. He turned left in his Audi* immediately in front of Mrs TIW, so close that the side of his car brushed the front wheel of her bike. He'd done this manouever - at high speed , without indicating - to travel precisely one car length. When I told him what I thought of his driving he shouted at me that he'd "punch me out". Until then I'd never seen somebody so angry that their eyes were actually popping out of their head. Despite this, I was still smiling, which made him even more angry - so we rode off for a pint nearer home. A pox on him.

* (it's the new BMW, folks)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

40 Beers, part 3

Here we go again. I'm already up to 20 new beers, and it's barely mid-september. I'm trying not to bore you by posting them all in one go.

8) Oettinger Pils (can):  In some quarters this beer is being blamed for the alleged decline in German brewing. It is, apparently, Germany's biggest-selling beer which some observers claim is purely down to the very low retail price when sold in supermarkets (is it available on draught?).  The only time I've seen it being drunk in Germany is by lads just released from national service, or football fans swigging rowdily in Munich's main station, watched by twitchy Polizei. Taste? Well, it doesn't really have one - except for the faintest orange notes and a distinct metallic flavour, which presumably wouldn't be there if this was from a bottle rather than a can. There was no discernable nose or finish. It's crisp and refreshing, but then so is water. Despite all this, I actually quite enjoyed it.

9) Brewdog Punk IPA (bottle): Pungent, herby, hoppy nose. Cloudy, straw colour and an intensely hoppy and floral smack in the mouth. Long, long bitter finish. Deserves all the praise it's been given. Not an easy drink, but a supremely enjoyable one. Really sorts the men from the boys, this. I just wish it was easier to find - this bottle was bought in a branch of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill, stacked next to the tweed skirts and shortbread biscuits.


10) Fraoch Heather Ale (bottle): The colour of malt whisky with a strongly sweet 'botanic' nose. Fast-vanishing head. Sort of 'medicinal' cloying sweetness with distinct notes of Coca-Cola and honey. Less full-bodied than a first whiff suggests.  Faint but lasting sweet finish. Did I mention this was sweet? It was too sweet for me, but might go well with a curry.

11) Dent Brewery Owd Tup (bottle): Pours dark  with a khaki, lacing head. Oak chips, barbecue smoke and treacle in the nose. Thin and sweet tasting, with liquorice coming through. Nothing distinctive - a bit of a disappointment. Champion Winter Beer Of Britain 1999 (it says here). Maybe it was a duff bottle.

(No pictures of the beers, I'm afraid, so I hope this shot of my brother-in-law's dog Amy will do.)


Blogging Stress

For some reason, recent visitors to Ten-Inch Wheels  have been greeted with a message saying that the blog has been deleted. I couldn't log-in either, and it was all a bit worrying.

It all seems to be working now, but if it does vanish again, I'd just like to say thanks for all the visits and the comments over the last 18 months or so.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Lazy Blogging, Part 11.

Flight Of The Conchords - 'Hurt Feelings'.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

40 Beers, part 2

Remember Red Rock Cider? It hung around pubs in the late 80s and the best thing about it were the brilliant 'Police Squad' adverts, featuring Leslie Nielsen, and the strapline "It's Not Red, And There Aren't Any Rocks In It". Eventually it faded away, taking Autumn Gold and Copperhead with it, lamented by nobody.

Red Rock has a beery namesake in a 4 barrel micro at Bishopsteighton in Devon, and the last time she was in the West Country, Mrs TIW bought me three bottles of their brews to try.

5) Red Rock Breakwater: This was a dark toffee colour, with a lively, overflowing head. There was a faint whiff of choclolate and coffee which was more pronounced in the mouth. A real gob-filler. Complex, buttery and tangy but slightly sour. Good stuff.

6) Red Rock Driftwood: Cloudy. Sandy, straw coloured with a pillowy sustained head. Pungent and spicy, "Christmassy" nose. Big coriander and ginger flavours and a lasting 'ginger ale' finish. Warming and very dry. An interesting beer this - some bit at the back of my brain awoke and brought back memories of the nettle beer they sell at Heysham near Morecambe. Good after one of those winter walks between Christmas and New Year, I should think.

7) Red Rock Bitter: Opaque with a fast-diminishing head. Somewhat flat, but I did get some plum in the nose and flavours of sultanas and stewed fruit coming through and worryingly, stewed tea. Reminded me a bit of my poor attempts at homebrew. This bottle might have been a wrong 'un, or it might have been my impatience and not letting it settle (all three beers were bottle conditioned) before I tried it. Worth another try.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Lazy Blogging, Part 10.

The Kinks - The Village Green Preservation Society

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Warning: Scooterbore

Owning a geared Vespa is like a secret handshake. A club without rules where every owner is a member. Wherever you are, Vespa owners always want to talk about their scooters - waiting at the lights, in the pub, in A&E. Doesn't matter. The copy of Scootering you read on the train might get you an upgrade to first class if the guard owns a GS, as happened to my mate.

This bloke dribbled to a halt right in front of us as we were waiting to cross a street off Berlin's Kurf├╝rstendamm. In my Tarzan German I asked him if he wanted any help, though it turned out he just needed to switch his fuel tap to reserve. He'd just picked up the scoot - a spotless and immaculate Rally - from the restorers, and was clearly as pleased as Punch with it.


This example is also a Rally. I think it is, anyway. It's a licence-built Spanish MotoVespa with a Rally body but has the trapezoid headset found on early Sprints. MotoVespa scooters are something of a mystery to me. They often seem to have been built with whatever was in the parts bin at the time.

The scoot was parked photogenically outside a cafe in downtown San Sebastian. The owner was inside sipping a coffee, and when he saw me sneaking around with my camera immediately rushed out and moved his bags so I'd get a better shot. His face lit up when I showed him a photo of 'Bella', my beloved Sprint Veloce. His Rally (if that is indeed what it is ) was thirty years old, and he'd owned it from new. Then he plonked his old plastic helmet on my head and told me to have a ride while he finished el desayuno. So I did, and I didn't stop grinning until teatime.