lundi 20 février 2012


If you're a Chelsea FC or Arsenal fan, there's not much to celebrate at present.

Chelsea should fare better in Napoli tonight than their north London rivals in Milan last week. A friend who went to the match said that at the end only 4 Arsenal players came to applaud the Arsenal faithful. Perhaps the others were too embarassed to show their faces or were just oblivious of the time and money fans invested in getting to the venue.

Why does the top flight of English football fall so short of the European game? Spoiled brats are playing the game who will only perform on their terms , some would say.
The European Football Championships fast approach and it will take a miracle for Harry to get England to the knockout stages.

Football, tennis, rugby - a sure recipe for disappointment. The ludicrous act of flying the Ensign on the bonnet of your car won't help the cause either.

Except for rowing, one-day cricket and cycling, at which GB excels, I always prefer watching sporting events where there is no British interest as then there's no room for utter deflation.

How to banish those winter blues?

Think of all those who are worse off than you!

Greece has survived yet again and the whole Euro currency débacle hasn't imploded; it's -31 C in Moscow; the start of British summertime is only five weeks away; or you could just curl up infront of the fire with a good book and forget about watching England failures.

lundi 16 janvier 2012


It's good, from time to time, to abstain from alcohol. The UK medical profession now claims that it's better to have two alcohol-free days per week. I have no problem with that as, except when we have visitors, I don't drink alcohol in the week.

But I wondered whether it's now becoming fashionable to abstain from alcohol? In moderation, it's fine but when you can't do without it then you have a problem. Since 2008, I have abstained from alcohol in Lent and have to say that the 46 day slog becomes a joy after a week or so. The sleep is amazing and sampling a glass of beer on Easter Sunday is well worth the wait. The marriage of malt and hops seems to dance on the palate.

Can a former dedicated real ale home brewer really be saying this? I hear you ask.

One of my best friends from Tisbury, who used to frequent my garage in the 1990s for a pint or two of my real ale, has just stopped patronising a hostelry in the said Wiltshire village with colleagues after work to plan the next day's business . When he realised that it was costing him £21 a night he knew that this couldn't be justified.

Times may indeed be tough in pub land as last week he received a phone call from the landlady asking if he was okay!

Not before time, the writing may be on the wall for many pubs in the UK where the beer quality doesn't reflect the care taken in its brewing. Too often I've paid through the nose for a poor pint in a UK pub.

But what's the answer?

Home brewing really is a great hobby and with a 56lb bag of malt and 2 lbs of hops (costing roughly £35-00) you can brew at least 320 pints. Hygiene and patience are the key as the brew is an all-day process but 4 weeks afterwards you have 40 pints of real ale, as good as any pub pint and costing a fifteenth of the price. You'll also be the most popular resident in your street! At least with the beer-drinking fraternity.

At any one time in the 1990s I used to have at least 200 pints of real ale maturing in my garage. Work commitments meant I never touched it in the week, but for me the real fun was in the brewing process.

To this day, I love English ales and Alsace beers and wines (the best in France!), but thankfully can also do without them from time to time.