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Moving from a State of Separation....

There has been a lot of talk and speculation this week about pubs re-opening as two brewing giants agree to join forces....
The Government hinted the other week in one of their infamous daily briefings that from July it may be possible for some establishments in the hospitality trade to begin to open, particularly those with beer gardens or some other outdoor drinking area. Under strict guidelines of course, and maintaining social distancing protocols. But how? Suggestions have included no drinking at the bar, plastic screens between tables, single use glasses, contactless payments, table service, time limits customers could spend there, staff deployed to clean and uphold social distancing, one way systems, etc, Plenty of thoughts have been circulating over the past few days about how it could all work.

Whatever form it takes it is almost inevitable there will be financial implications. The social distancing rules as they currently stand seriously limit how many people could be on the…
Recent posts

The Long Walk Back....

The weather has been very good recently, and for those of us who have had the opportunity, it has been great to get out walking. But there has been one vital ingredient missing....
One of the great pleasures of going for a proper walk has always been finishing off with a proper pint in a proper pub.

Sadly, at the moment of course, this is off the agenda, and whilst you can grab a refreshing drink when you get home from your government-prescribed walk, it's not the same as when you have come down from a day high on the Lake District fells, or the Yorkshire moors, or completed that long, canal side trudge. The pub and the prospect of that first pint is what kept you going for those last few miles, a deserved reward for all the effort you've put in. You've earned it. Of course you could always go home and have a drink there, but it's not the same. Unless you've been walking with someone from the same household, you can't enjoy that post-walk collective wind-down.

Slowly Zooming Into The New Normal....

April 2020 has been one of the strangest months any of us can remember, and in navigating through it, different things have become the norm to which we are having to get accustomed....
Little over a month ago, a photo like the one above, taken in Brighouse town centre on a midweek late afternoon in early April, would have been unthinkable. No people, no traffic, pubs shut, businesses mainly closed. Likewise, the picture below, taken on my kitchen work surface last weekend, would have also not been possible a few weeks ago. As a regular pub-goer, I simply would have not have been able to muster a line-up like this from the limited stock of oddball drinks - with the exception of a decent port - that I had lying around in the house because, with very few exceptions, if I wanted a drink, I went out. If I stayed in, I didn't bother.
Of course, as we all know, things have changed. And for so many of us, we have had to adapt our lifestyles to fit the new normal. Some, like one of my brot…

Waves Breaking In The Lakes....

Some worrying news from Hawkshead Brewery, and concerns that despite the great efforts by some breweries and pubs to support their customers and the wider community, there are signs out there in the brewing industry that raise some concerns....
Last Friday, news broke that Hawkshead Brewery, one of the industry's most influential brewers, were making several of their key employees redundant. These included Head Brewer Matt Clarke, Lead Brewer Mark Jackson, plus four of the brewing team, their marketing manager, 2 from the sales team, and 2 draymen. Not furloughed, but redundant. Which is obviously really sad news for the individuals concerned, and also a worry for the thousands of lovers of their beers across the country and beyond. It is only a few weeks since I was sat in their beer hall at Staveley in Cumbria enjoying the beer in the picture above, and I would readily include a couple of their beers, Windermere Pale, and the recently renamed Hawkshead Five Hop, amongst my favou…

Stir Crazy After All These Years....

"I met my old lover on the street tonight. She seemed pleased to see me - but then crossed over as I  approached...." *
In reality, the chances of meeting anybody on the street these days is an increasingly unlikely prospect. Town centres have become eerie places, nowhere open save for the odd taxi firm, the very occasional takeaway, and nothing much else. Even a zombie apocalypse a la Shaun of the Dead would have had more life about it than when I strolled through the deserted streets of Brighouse the other night as part of my government-sanctioned daily exercise.

Gone were the cars, the people, the buzz. Silence instead of blaring karaoke from The Old Ship. No friendly faces looking out of the windows of the Market Tavern. No sizzles and smiles from Blakeley's Fish Restaurant and Takeaway. No scowls from sullen teens lolling on the empty market stalls.

I walked up the canal towpath. Here the odd walker, jogger, or cyclist was to be found, maintaining a safe distance as…

The Coming Of The Ghost Light....

Last Friday, March 20th, all pubs, clubs, theatres, cinemas, and other places where people congregate were ordered to close due to the Covid-19 virus whose impact is extending far beyond the disease itself....

A few people have asked me in the past week or so if I am going to continue to write my blog. I can see where they are coming from; after all, I write about beer and pubs, music and gigs, so in view of recent events the opportunity to enjoy these has been seriously compromised. But I have said to them all that of course I will. Writing isn't an option for me; it's something I need to do, to communicate and express myself and hopefully provide something that people enjoy to read. And in these strange times it is more important than ever to stay in touch. The subject matter may wander around a bit, I just don't know, but the blogs will keep on coming!

Over the last couple of weeks, the Government had put out advice about what to do, and what not to do, some at odds wit…

Appreciating The Routine....

'When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England'. Hillaire Belloc.
The sad news last week that Great Heck Brewery had ceased trading, following the demise in January of Summer Wine Brewery, not forgetting the 20 or so pubs that shut down every week, serves as a reminder that it is not all beer and skittles in the world of pubs and beers. And that's without the current threat posed by the Covid-19 virus which could potentially damage large swathes of the wider economy and our very way of life for quite some time.

This last weekend, a Saturday, I had a fairly routine sort of day. I called in to pick a prescription up from my chemist. I popped into the Tesco local and bought a few bits. I went to get my hair cut. I collected some dry cleaning. I stopped to have a chat with a friend. I popped in to the Market Tavern for a quick pint and a chat with whoever was in there. I called in at the local fish shop and got a fish butty t…