Saturday, 28 November 2015
Them Victorians, eh?
Did you know that, in 1820, when Sir Walter Scott wrote 'Ivanhoe', he sparked a national obsession with chivalry, heraldry, pageantry and The Crusades?
Well, you do now.
It's in this period that many pubs were named (or renamed) with names which harked back to medieval romance; like The Kings Arms or The Turks Head* and, no doubt, when The Pilgrim pub in Nottingham was renamed 'Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem'.
Now, Nottingham town centre, to me, is like an architectural button-box, you never know what odd gem of a building you're going to encounter next and, the other Saturday, we bumped into that same ungainly-looking hostelry still clinging, crystal-like, to the patchy brown curved walls of the old Norman castle.
The Olde Trip, you see, is one of several claimants to 'The oldest pub in England' (although it was actually built, bit by bit between 1650 and 1750) because it's built on the site of the Norman Castle's brewhouse. Stretching it a bit, I reckon.
Half cut into the rock are its snug little bars and my eagle eyes spotted, glinting in the gloom, a pumpclip marked 'Stancill Stainless'. Now, should you collect them, here is a coincidence;
Stancill Brewery is a new operation, but (like Ye Trip) sits on a spot of a much older (Cannon) brewery in Sheffield, notorious for brewing Stones Bitter. So, they too can benefit from the association.
Not that they need to, in my opinion. 'Stainless' is a delicious pale with a sharpness worthy of its name and a subtle underlying fruity sweetness which balances it perfectly. This is a quintessentially Sheffield guzzle-worthy brew which, quality-wise, is a fit rival to any of the existing commercially successful pales such as Moonshine, Pale Rider and Farmers Blonde.
*No doubt named to celebrate the decapitation of 2700 prisoners by our romantic hero, Richard the Lionheart during the Crusades. Celebratory Turks head brooches were also popular with the ladies. Strange taste.
Thursday, 5 November 2015
I love history; partly because I have quite a vivid imagination but mainly because I have an appalling memory. Every time I learn something about Henry the Whatever,for instance, it's like all fresh and new; like I have never heard it before!
Well, it was on our birthday (J and I pretty much share one for economy) last year that we spent the day in historic Chatsworth down the road. I don't mean parking up and looming around the grounds with a carrier bag full of sandwiches...I mean we actually did the whole house tour and whatnot.
That's how I know that here is a special room inside Chatsworth House (and a most sumptuous one at that) earmarked for the Queen (Queen Elizabeth the Whatever, that is...) and sporting a grand four poster bed, desk, tapestries, washstand, etc..etc... All top quality stuff...none of yer MFI.
You see in days of yore, if you owned a great pile, more than likely it had been given to you by some Royal or another and could just as easily be snitched back again.
So what our smart forbears would do, in order that this ghastly fate would not befall them, is to have a room (or rooms) kitted out at great expense so that if the Royal and his/ her entourage were to suddenly decide to pop by at short notice they were not caught short and consequently risk losing the whole kit and kaboodle.
A somewhat less ostentatious local establishment than Chatsworth is The Chesterfield Alehouse on West Bars. A 'micropub', and one of a new breed of establishment brought about, no doubt, to wreak revenge on the retail moguls like Tesco who have taken to buying up pubs from the ailing pub-cos.
The Alehouse is arranged on three levels, ground, ground and a half and first floors:-
The Club Room on the first floor is mainly used by larger groups; the Socialist Party Intelligentsia hold their Quiz there and the LibDems their campaign meetings.
The upper ground floor is where the beer dispensary is located. Here you will always receive a kindly, sympathetic smile and probably the best quality and value in drinks and nibbles available anywhere in Chesterfield.
Amid simple bench seating on the lower ground floor is sited the grandest toilet in Chesterfield- built, (no doubt at considerable expense) to accomodate the Queen, her Privy Council and maybe the odd wheelchair-user, should they ever deign to pay a quick visit.