Posts Tagged ‘Beer’



   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Monday, 4 January 2015

Labels at The Harp

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Nineteen

A bittersweet veil covered our last day in London. It’s time to go home, but it’s never going to be time to leave. We awoke in our little hotel in Southwark and had breakfast in the below-street-level bistro of the hotel, which is beautifully decorated in Persian style to match the personalities of the wonderfully kind family who owns and operates the place.  We couldn’t dally long, though, because we needed to get on the road to drive across town.  We carefully timed our journey from northeast to southwest to fall after rush hour traffic and yet well-before our noon deadline to turn in the hired car, and therefore coincide with the new hotel check-in time.

Kyle dropped off “the Babes” and we settled into our rooms while he did the round trip to the airport and returned the car.  When he got back, we all boarded the bus to the airport tube station, and rode the Piccadilly line from zone 6 all the way to zone 1 and Leicester Square. We had a banking errand and then a post office stop, and then we were free to do as we pleased. Unfortunately, we missed the start of the walking tour the girls had scoped out. So, we were all disappointed about that. And, we verified that the merchant we were seeking at Covent Garden was indeed not there on a Monday. Two strikes.

That’s when we decided we needed to find a pub.  And Kyle had spotted one he really wanted to check out—a huge and beautiful place owned by a Dublin Brewery—The Porterhouse. We had snacks, including our last real Fish and Chips meal, and some good beer.  And, as we defined our hopes for the day, we realized that our best plan was to split the group in half and pursue our own goals—and turn this final day into more of what we all wanted it to be.  Roxy and Mandi went off in search of souvenirs and Persian food.  MaritaBeth and Kyle headed back to enjoy the antique market and the pub culture of Central London. One of those pubs we visited was The Harp, a favorite from previous trips, with the distinction of having great swaths of wall space covered in the beautiful tap labels that are common all over the U.K. I cannot go in there without taking pictures.

At six o’clock, we all converged again at The White Swan where we were meeting a friend from days gone by at renfaire. Faith had moved to London for her man nearly seven years ago and we rarely get to see her when she comes to the states because her family is in the Houston area. She had been watching our travels via Facebook and reached out to us to try to get together so we could catch up a little and meet the husband.  They live in Kent and work in London, so they each caught the tube and came to a place we knew.  We are so grateful for them taking the time to do that and so glad we got this fun evening with them. We talked everything from sports to Iris and Rose, and took turns buying rounds. They send their love to friends in Texas, especially The Blazing Sun gang. And we all look forward to our next visit, where I suspect we’ll take them up on their offer of a place to stay and tickets to an Arsenal game!

We did have to finally part company with an eye on an early morning flight. We said our goodbyes, and headed for the station, but soon realized we were hungry. So, we went into one more pub, and had a marvelous little fish sampler platter and a pint and still made it all the way back to the hotel before midnight.

Finished the packing … planned the travel day wardrobe … and … zzzzzzz…






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Back in London

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Ordering Beer

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Eighteen.

We left our little four-room inn in Wetherby by noon, and drove south toward London.  We’d conferred during breakfast and booked rooms in an unknown little hotel, sight unseen–always a bit dicey, but especially so in a giant city. So, we were hoping to arrive before dark, but heavy holiday-weekend-ending-traffic prevented that. The worst part of the drive was of course, after we hit London—some crazy zig zagging happened! But we finally made it to The Bridge Hotel. As it turns out, we’re in a nice part of town, and the rooms are adequate and clean, and the staff here is very nice.

After we settled in a little bit, we headed to the nearest tube station–Elephant and Castle, and took the Bakerloo line in to Picadilly Station. There, we switched to the Picadilly line and got off at Covent Garden. We’ve gotten to where we’re almost good at the whole underground thing. And, it’s fun!

At the beginning of the trip, we had tried to get to the market stalls there, and had arrived just as everything was closing.  Kyle has a very specific purchase he wishes to make from a vendor/craftsperson we’ve bought from before, so we had a mission. Today was our second chance.  But, between the rain and the traffic today, and earlier closing time on Sundays (that isn’t a part of the information we could find online), we missed her again, today. Sometimes, it seems the plans one makes are just not meant to be.  Mondays at the market are completely different–the venue becomes an antique market one day a week–and while I’d be thrilled to check it out, our crafter we want to see will almost surely not be there.

We popped into Punch and Judy’s for a snack and yet another beer we hadn’t had before, and then went in search of a little Tapas restaurant Mandi had located online.  It was a unique and mostly delicious meal of meats and cheeses and breads. We found two more sweet little pubs before finally entering the Leicester Square Station and heading back to the Bridge Hotel.

As of right now, we can get everything into the suitcases we brought. (But, I confess, we shipped a box of stuff from Edinburgh.) I simply don’t seem to be able to not bring at least one too many sweaters and probably more than I really need of just about everything else. That means any new aquisitions need to find a way home.  The last trip, we actually bought an extra suitcase! But, this time, we’re on British Airways and the extra baggage charge is crazy, so shipping seemed the better answer.

Someday, I’ll pack lighter and allow for the extra stuff that we accumulate … I obviously need more practice!  Time to plan the next U.K. holiday!


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Stirling Castle and the Dog Tap

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Queen's Chamber

Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Eleven.

We began our day with a lovely breakfast at the Royal Inn and Ivy in Bridge of Allan. Then, we loaded up the car and headed back to Stirling for what is arguably the best castle visit in Scotland. Stirling Castle was new to both Kyle and I when we were here on our honeymoon in 1995; neither of us had ever been there before. But, now, we can hardly imagine a trip without a visit there.  Stirling has done such an exemplary job of presenting the property in ways that are both fun and classy.  The educational exhibits are beautifully well thought out and executed. Visitors of all ages can be equally entertained at almost every turn.  Costumed guides within the perfectly renovated Royal apartments add a touch of realism and enthusiasm that cannot come from reading signs or listening to the audio tour, however wonderful both might be.  The fabulous Great Hall, painted in “the king’s gold,” and the way it practically glows on the top of that hill.  The whole place– with all its crazy wonderful history, is just amazing. We do not know if there are further renovations in the works, but we have seen some amazing transformations in the twenty years since our first visit.

Among the more remarkable projects undertaken at Stirling Castle was the recreation of the Unicorn tapestries.  Over the course of the last decade all seven of the tapestries have been completed, and are now hanging in the Queen’s Bedchamber of the castle.  This is the first of our visits when we didn’t have talented weavers to watch and to talk with while they worked.  Instead of the onsite workspace, now one finds a lovely exhibit outlining both the tapestries and their meanings, and the processes involved with recreating them with painstaking detail. A lovely addition to the castle experience.

It was with great difficulty that we pulled ourselves away from Stirling this afternoon to make the drive we had planned.  But, daylight is short this close after solstice and we had miles to cover.  So, we piled back into the car leaving a couple of sights unseen … until the next trip.

In the meantime, we had a bucket list item to attend to!  We love to visit breweries … our readers of the KRuMB will have long since figured that out.  And, today, we made it to the brewery responsible for Kyle’s favorite beer:  Brew Dog (Punk IPA, for those keeping track of such things). We had hoped to do this on our last trip, but the brewery was in the process of moving their production site, so they were not open to visitors.  This time, we had a green light to go and the time to do it at this point in the trip.  We don’t have an advance booking anywhere until the 29th, so the Aberdeen area for tonight was as good a plan as any.  In fact, Kyle and I have never been up in this little corner of the island, so we’re quite pleased to be seeing a new part of Scotland.

The drive went smoothly, although the second half of it was after nightfall.  We stopped in Forfar (the little city where Kyle had his first kilt made) for a late lunch right around sundown.  We were looking for simple pub grub, but what we found instead was a Sunday Carvery where we had our choice of turkey, ham, or beef (or any combination thereof), veggies, potatoes and desserts!  A tasty meal and plenty to provide us a base for our next stop.

The Brew Dog Brewery is actually located a little bit north of Aberdeen in a town called Ellon.  We found it easily and popped in for a pint …or two. The tap room is actually a very nice bar in its own right … the Dog Tap. We ordered a round and Mandalyn, who had been emailing them about tours, chatted up one of the girls and the next thing we knew she was bringing us safety goggles and vests and we were headed into a staff only zone.  We literally passed through an airlock system of two doors to enter the place where the magic happens.  Normally, I would say if you’ve seen one brewery, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  But, even though all the common elements were there, this one was different.  It’s really big, for one thing.  And it’s really super clean, for another.  And, there is awesome art everywhere you look!  It was a delight for all five senses, and we were thrilled to be there.

The tap room was closing at nine, so we finished our last pint at about 8:30 and headed to the hotel Kyle had found for us online:  Newburgh Inn.  We’re sleeping in the most comfortable bed we’ve seen in over a week. The shower was great, too!  And breakfast isn’t until nine in the morning, so the fact that we stayed up until way past midnight watching the fabulous U2 concert from Paris shouldn’t affect our tomorrow too much!





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Peebles to Bridge of Allan … Perfection

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

26 December 2015

Boxing Day


Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Ten.

Snow!  We awoke today to snow–as if our beautiful little town needed a facelift!

Kyle and I got dressed and packed quickly, and walked the very short couple of blocks to the High Street.  I had learned that the Peebles Old Parish Church offers a ten-minute worship service every single day of the week at ten a.m.  I was determined to go. So, Kyle went with me, and I enjoyed a short call to worship, a call and response type prayer, the singing of the quintessentially British “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” and the Lord’s Prayer in closing. It was charming and I was made to feel totally welcome by the other folks (a grand total of three). I will add a photo or two of the interior of the church when I have my camera within range of my computer.

After church, we continued our walk to the Co-op, bought zippy bags so we could pack the leftover food, and then got back to the house in time for breakfast. Before noon, we were all fed and all packed up to leave Peebles.  We had three stops to make before really getting on the road: The Cross Kirk (a beautiful ruined church from the thirteenth century located just moments from the house), Netherhorseburgh (a scenic tower house ruin on the outskirts of town), and Neidpath Castle ( a castle still being used as a residence that is connected to Kyle’s mom’s side of the family).  We  got to all three, and took copious amounts of photos … Summertime will be a better time for all of them—so much mud and wet … and cold … and Neidpath is only open during tourist season.

On out of town, then, pointed toward Stirling.  The first part of the journey was through countryside where the snow covered every hillside and the road was frequently partially covered in water.  Eventually, the snow zone was behind us and soon we were skirting the edge of Glasgow and on the motorway.  We drove straight to Stirling Castle and found it closed for Boxing Day.  We determined we were unwilling to miss it, so we would do it in the morning.  We checked into our hotel a short distance up the road in Bridge of Allan, dropped our luggage and went to the Birds and Bees for a late lunch.  After that, there remained only one goal: The Allanwater Brewhouse, formerly known as the Bridge of Allan Brewery.

There may actually not be words adequate enough to describe how much Kyle and I love this little place or how much joy an evening spent there brings us.  The Brewmaster and owner, Doug, manages to remember us each time we visit (this was visit number four) and he makes us feel at home.  We enjoyed amazing beer, good conversation and even kindled ideas for business plans that could actually help us realize our immigration dreams someday. They say “dream big”…right?

Tiredness, I’m afraid is winning over the desire to write more words … Happy Boxing Day to all!  Good night.


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Nottingham: Mischief Managed

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Kyle and the Babes 2015. Day Seven.

The first thing on today’s agenda actually began last night:  get some sleep!  We’d been running a pretty fast pace, with fairly early mornings and (at least for me) crazy late nights since we arrived.  This morning, I think we all actually started the day out fully recharged and ready for running amok.

We had knocked three pubs off the ten-pub list, last night.  So, today, the goal was to see and experience as much of Nottingham as we could, by finding each of the other highly recommended places on the list.  We sallied forth with enthusiasm, and were successful in our task.  And, we even fit in a Christmas Market and some good shopping, as well as a delightful lunch. Along the way, I took a few photos of architecture and Christmas lights and such.  This beautiful building above most effectively stole my heart.  All my people out there who know or have read about my obsession with the Galveston News building, will understand and not be surprised.  This one is much bigger, of course, and has the added appeal of the Tudor half-timbering on top … but it *feels* similar to me.

Tomorrow we once again travel north, and by sundown we’ll be in the country of our hearts: Scotland.


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World of Beer in Tampa

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily

Beer in Tampa
SAM_0055, a photo by crazyBobcat on Flickr.
Marita Beth and I drove to Florida for MB’s annual trip to visit family. With my new job providing for me the gift of time off over Christmas, we figured this was best. We could both go, we could take the dogs, and I would be autonomous not needing to rely on rides from the family.
We also, due to unforseen, but fortuitous circumstances, were able to leave a day early. So, with a single stop in Pensacola, Florida (and a Christmas Eve stop off at the World of Beer there), we arrived in Davenport, Florida in time to spend the last couple of Christmas hours with family.
Since they weren’t planning on us for another 24 hours, MB and I took the day and visited Tarpon Springs by way of Tampa.
Lovely food in Tarpon at the 701 Tap (we were looking for a maritime salvage shop that was, sadly, closed) and some excellent beers by Sweetwater – our first intro to Sweetwater. That’s some fine beer, there. Then back to Tamp to visit as many World of Beers as we could. We tried to visit three, but only managed two as the third was inside the sports stadium and not open on our visit.
This photo is of a Cold Mountain Winter Ale by Highland Brewing (I rated it a 4 on Untappd) taken with my new camera while sitting at the South Tampa World of Beer. We had a lovely time and I highly recommend Tom and the crew at this location.
Written on 5 January 2014
Watching ManUnited v Swansea (FA Cup)

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Beautiful Beer Lace

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily


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The Lonely Beer

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily


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The Bantam Cock

   Posted by: crazyBobcat    in Daily


Marita Beth and I made our annual journey to the Ft. Worth Stock Show this weekend. Normally, I go to drink good beer and watch the women. This year, I'm afraid it was all about cocks and chicks.


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Beer Manager

   Posted by: MB    in Daily

Beer Manager

5 March 2011

Being stuck in traffic due to an accident is not the way I wanted to start my first day as a beer manager at the North Texas Irish Festival. I had my schedule worked out pretty well and we left the house earlier this morning than we’ve ever left for an Irish Festival day. But, the universe had other plans for me, and by the time we parked (parking lot stupidity was at an all time high) and walked to volunteer check-in and I had a radio in my hand, I was much later than I’d hoped to be.

It worked out alright, though. I found my booth—they moved it last night!—met my first couple of volunteer pourers, and started my set-up. Wine and ice bucket over here. Sanitizing station … over there. Personal stuff back here. Boxes of cups … down there. Taps are hooked up … Breathe. Relax … Okay …

I got everyone signed in, checked their TABC licenses and learned names. We had little time to wait; since one other booth wasn’t opening at all due to the cold, nasty wind, we had early morning customers.  The cold weather made for a slow morning, but by midday, the sun was out and the cold didn’t seem so penetrating.

It wasn’t too far into the day when Doug showed up in my booth looking all business-like.  Then, Barbara showed up, too, and I started to get concerned that I might be in some sort of trouble.   When Kara, too, arrived, I was officially worried.  Three of the four beer coordinators—my bosses—in my booth all at the same time?   But, moments later, after a wordy introduction about how I was crazy enough to want more responsibility, they presented me with the hat in this photo.  Apparently, it’s become sort of a joke, that all beer managers are given a hat like this on their first day.

Those who really know me, will know exactly how ironic this is.  I hate baseball-style caps.  This is actually a “trucker’s hat” or a “hunter’s cap”—technically even more awful, in my book.  I hate the fact that somewhere along the line it became socially acceptable for these hats to be worn by anyone, anytime, indoors or out.  I get that baseball players need to shade their eyes from the sun … that’s an appropriate use of this hat style.  I can even understand other uniform-type uses for it …  But, backwards?  Or, on a shady day?  Or not on a baseball diamond?  And, why are they such a fashion trend?  And, when did men decide to ignore centuries of tradition and not remove these hats indoors?  Or during the singing of our national anthem?  I once tapped a six and a half-foot tall total stranger on the shoulder during the national anthem AT a baseball game and motioned authoritatively for him to take his cap off!  He did, too.  My list of billed-hat-related gripes is a mile long.

So, for me to be given this hat that I’m expected to wear, is frankly more than a little but funny.  But, as the newbie, and not wanting to offend or buck the system, I wore the damn thing … all day.  (I started to wear it the next day, too, until my husband told me how silly I looked in it and I got brave enough to carry it, rather than wear it.)  I have since found out that everyone thinks they’re awful!  Both those who wear them and those who just look at us wearing them.  It’s really rather funny.  A couple of the managers (mostly newer ones) wear them, but, one guy actually threw his in the trash moments after receiving it! LOL.  Another guy wears it only when working, and switches the second his shift is done. Someone else said they were given one, but didn’t know where it was.  I’m now trying to figure out if I can take the logo part that says “beer manager” and sew it onto some other, less offensive hat style for next year’s festival!  I might start a new fashion trend!

I worked my shift as manager at Beer booth #3, then went to the whiskey tasting and worked another couple of hours.  Since the whiskey tasting is how I got involved in this volunteer gig, I really didn’t want to give it up. When I finished there, I found my husband, and after a quick bite to eat, we enjoyed music for the rest of the evening.  Lots of our friends were there, including Bryan, Mike and Graham, Allyson (and Rod, although I never saw  him), Mary and Donny, Paige and Bobby and girls, Laura, Marcus and many, many others.  We stayed almost to the very end of the evening, finally tearing ourselves away only because we knew we had dogs at home, and that tomorrow morning would come awfully early after such a long day.


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