London trip and UEA reunion

UEA is the University of East Anglia, I was there between 1968 and 1971, amongst the first intake of undergraduates.  The school of Environmental Science was established the year before so this is its 50th anniversary.  Thus the 7 pm gathering and lecture from senior member of staff (on climate change – the BIG UEA thing of recent decades).

But first – the rest of the day.  In Victoria by 11.30 and tube to Embankment and walk north to The Harp for three halves of beer.  Gloucester Brewery’s Cascade and 2 of Arbor’s Pocket Rocket, a delicious session US IPA tasting of fresh grapefruits.  Then a walk to the British Museum and through security well in time for a talk on ‘Horses and Social Status in Iron Age Britain’.  Our speaker was a PhD student on a BM placement, she had wild-ish hair down to her bum, long velvet skirt and loose woven cotton top, every inch the Pre-Raphaelite idea of a Celtic lady.  Political Correctness has reached archaeology – she explained, “We don’t talk about Iron Age Tribes anymore – more about ‘Regional Groupings’ “.

She explained that horses were really ponies (think New Forest/ Exmoor), that there was no evidence of breeding (no bones of foals found),  and initially no wheels.  Some evidence of eating them, but mainly associated with high status bronze fittings (stuff to direct reins, bits and (mainly) stuff related to later wheeled chariot fittings.  Bronze decorated with impressed red glass (heat-softened glass pressed into recesses no true enamelling yet) as well as coral and bone inserts (often riveted into place).  The pieces below date from about 150 BC, give or take a century.

zoom in on brass fittings

Iron also used but less often preserved.  Iron had to be hammered into shape then, but casting bronze was done, as was hammering thin sheets of bronze over and around iron cores – giving strength and beauty.  We were shown Celtic Iron Age horses on coins in which the horse was semi-abstracted, often disjointed, and anatomically dubious.  As Roman influence arrived (well in advance of the AD 43 invasion) craftspeople began to adopt a more realistic horse appearance.

celtic coin horse

‘Celtic’ horse coin – some become even more symbolic.

romanic celtic coin horse

Roman influence on a British Iron Age coin.  Both coins found in hoard dated to 1st century AD.

I was particularly pleased to hear about the East Yorkshire chariot burials.  There is one from Scotland, and they are found on mainland Europe (or should I just say Europe now? lets not go there.  I don’t mean lets not go to Europe! For God’s sake).

wheel impression

Sorry.  In the boulder clay of the East Riding wood is hardly ever preserved, but in one burial (excavated in 1986) the impression of the wooden parts of a wheel were preserved as a fine clay infill.  Probably washed into the cavity left after the wood rotted, most likely during a flood event.  This is it – except the conservation folk have replaced the clay with fibre glass.  Some of the iron wheel rim and a ring around the hub is still in place.  The burial is about the same date as the brassware – some came from it.

After the talk I had some lunch and failure to get into the Photographers Gallery (early closure for private event – why didn’t the website say so?) I went to the National Portrait gallery (late opening Thursday) and visited the Howard Hodgkin exhibition, ‘Absent Friends’.  I was surprised to see that he actually depicted people as recognisable people in his earlier works, but later reduced them and their context to a series of memory shapes and colours.  I liked both.  I did not know that his marriage to a woman ended and he then had a male ‘constant companion’.  This term was in a caption to a near-erotic image of a naked man on a bed overlooking the Bay of Naples. But perhaps that eroticism was in the mind of the beholder.  Anyway I liked the painting so bought a fridge magnet of it.  Not as impressive as the 75 cm by 60 cm original.

Time for another pint of Arbor Pocket Rocket at the Harp before walking to the Royal Society of Medicine and the reunion there.  Delighted to meet 5 former students from my year.  Three in London now, one near Guildford and one in Horsham.  Of course I had met some of them previously, at the 25th anniversary re-union!

Our lecturer (Prof Corinne Le Quere) spoke of most carbon reduction coming from power generation, but much more needed in building construction and making use of solar gain, lots of progress needed in agriculture (she mentioned moving towards vegetarianism as a very good step), but transport, especially air travel, is huge issue, though vans and cars will (she hoped) move to electricity.  Public transport got me home by 11.30 pm, somewhat squiffy after many free glasses of red post-lecture.

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Another 25th wedding beer blog

This will be the last, but it is worthy of note.  Lots of lovely folk brought beers of interest and quality.  Some days after the event there were still some in the fridge.  And here they are:

25th anniversary beers (600 x 586)

The cans from Miriam and Martin.  The Occultist claims to be a semi-skimmed chocolate, coffee, vanilla milk stout.  And why not?  The whiskey is not a beer, but it was a gift from Maire, and I had to share it with Jackie.  Sooo small for two people.  The Hardy’s Ales are from many years ago.  Today they are brewed by Meantime Brewery, but these two come from O’Hanlon’s Brewery and were brewed in 2006.  Finally the three remaining (Liberation, Cydonia and Staggersaurus) are all bottle conditioned beers brought by Lynsey and Laurence.  I thank you all for your continuing interest in my drinking habits.


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ARH 980B – Ford Cortina

The first car I remember my mother driving after being confined to a wheelchair was a Ford Cortina estate.  Some time ago I saw a not dissimilar one here in brighton, though admittedly two years younger – and it has the airflow system (don’t, I know you won’t, ask).

Just thought I’d share it with you.

cortina (600 x 440)

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Beer stories

A particular friend tends to pick up beer related things he thinks I might enjoy.  Recently he brought a handful of pump clips from a car boot sale.  I selected the four below as having some special meaning for me.

P1100638 (480 x 600)

Tribute is the second best ale from St Austell brewery, and a reminder of many happy times in the far SW, most recently in April in Liskeard, Penzance and the Isles of Scilly.  Summer Lightning was one of my favourites in the days before the rise of the aromatic hops of the new world.  Crouch Vale is one of the newer breweries that have explored the US hops, and its also a brewery I visited in the company of dozens of volunteers from the Sussex Beer festival some years ago.  The assembled drinkers had awarded Crouch Vale the best beer of the festival status, and the reward for volunteering to run bars and drink free beer was a trip to the brewery.  I had to board a coach at 8am and was standing in an Essex industrial estate by 10 o’clock with a pint of the festival winner in my hand.

Old Baily is a different tube of giraffe (as Viv Stanshall once said).  It was a beer I drank in Hull on infrequent visits back in the 1980s I think.  It was the Mansfield Brewery’s premium bitter, named after their initial investor, and has no connection to the law, not something you might assume from the image on the clip.  Their other beers included Wards Bitter and North Country Beer.  Ward was the name of the brewer who established a brewery in Hull in 1782, which became Hull Brewery in 1887.  North Country was named after Northern Dairies – the north of England dairy and food group which bought up Hull Brewery in 1972, before selling it to Mansfield who closed it down in 1985.  I was familiar with all three bitters, but Old Baily was the best.  There was one other beer we drank at home before I left Hull in 1968 – canned beer from Hull Brewery that dad used to buy in big flat cardboard boxes (this was before shrink-wrapping plastics).  Found the picture below on the web.



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Two bits from the Sundial Conference

Fred Sawyer (he of the North American Sundial Society) spoke of something called a senelelion.  Its a rare feature during an eclipse of the moon (when the Earth gets  between the sun and the moon) when the fully eclipsed moon and the sun are both visible at the same time from a single place.  Apparently its down to refraction of the image of the sun through the atmosphere, so though it is actually below the horizon but we get to see it.

John Lester, a retired doctor, spoke of his fundraising activity which involved making wooden sundials of various types.  Some required small compasses for proper use, and he found them hard to buy at a reasonable price.  Then he spotted a tray of key fobs in a hardware store, each having a small compass in the fob.  The shop keeper said they did not sell well so John made a bid for the tray and took them all home.  He spread them out on a table and noted that the needles pointed in random directions.  He took one apart and found that the needle was made of aluminium!  He tried to sell the rest on the next charity stall as ‘Compasses for people who are not particular where they go’.

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Cardiff, Cornwall and Scilly Isles – a beer summary.

Our first beer in Cardiff was Brains SA Gold in a delightful bar probably called the Cottage, on a central pedestrian street.  But it was the Tiny Rebel bar just a short walk away that drew us twice.  Very fruity Juicy, the delicious Fubar and a stronger US pale keg called Cali.



In the Isles of Scilly I had hoped to find cask beers from Ales of Scilly Brewery, but none had been brewed for cask this season.  Settled for two bottled beers.  The porter was a little thin, but pleasant enough – I used most of it in a beef casserole.  The IPA was better, but not really my favourite US hopped type, more traditional IPA.


Both these beers are named after shipwrecks in the Isles.  The best bottled beer was bought at, Juliet’s Garden, a cafe overlooking St Mary’s harbour.  It was a wheat beer from the Padstow Brewing Company called Lobster Tale.  Delicious.


I also drank a lot of St Austell Proper Job, it being my favourite St Austell beer, and widely available on the Scillies, and a few pints of a pale hoppy beer from the Harbour Brewing Company in Killick, North Cornwall, called OTI and being the house beer of the Old Town Inn, in Old Town St Marys.

Back in Penzance I found a bar new to me, The Lamp and Whistle.  The guy who owns it is keen on US style hops so I was able to drink both Speakeasy Transatlantic Pale from the Powderkeg Brewery of Topsham, Devon and Fang from the Black Flag Brewery of Truro.  Also had a half of a keg US IPA called Longhammer.  Sadly low on US fruity hops but costing £5.40 a pint.



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Crysede Ltd – hand block printed fine fabrics.

Found a case of clothes and textiles in the Penlee House museum, Penzance from a long gone business set up locally in 1920 by a Yorkshire textile manufacturer called Alec Walker.  He was an amateur painter, and was encouraged by his friends, the Procters and the Harveys – painters of Newlyn, to use his art as the basis of hand block printed silk.  The image here was taken through the glass case, which spoils it a bit.  The background is a patchwork piece, using his fabrics.  When the factory shut in 1939 (the war, no doubt) it employed over 100 people.


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