Weekly Photo Challenge:Beyond

Once again we’re late posting on the weekly photo challenge, but here’s our contribution to last week’s challenge of Beyond.

It was taken at Tentsmuir Beach , which is on the east coast of Scotland, just a few miles north of St. Andrews.

I’d just been for a paddle (one of Tony’s Lawswhenever you’re at the seaside you must go for a paddle!), hence the rolled up jeans. Next to me in the foreground is my daughter Devon, questioning my sanity,thinking did he really do that? I have to say it was rather cold!

In the background, or Beyond, is Tara‘s son, Sean, who is probably quite pleased that the United States gained it’s independence from the British!

Weekly Photo Challenge - Beyond

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

Having just received our e-mail notification for the third weekly photo challenge, I thought I’d best post on the second weekly photo challenge on the subject of illumination.

And we’ve got photos taken on both sides of the Atlantic, firstly there are these which we took last year at Ruby Falls  , in Chattanooga, Georgia. Ruby Falls is America’s largest and deepest waterfall. We took this on the guided tour prior to reaching the falls:









Our second offering is from the Hogmanay celebrations at Edinburgh, it was taken just after midnight, as the fireworks got into full flow:





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The Ale Trail hits Scotland

We spent New Year’s week in Scotland. We were based in Falkland, Fife, a small village some thirty miles north of Edinburgh. Although a small village, it wasn’t short of drinking venues! In fact there was one, The Stag Inn, literally ten yards away from the cottage we were staying in, good planning Tara!

Unfortunately The Stag Inn didn’t sell any real ales, so I had to wait until the Sunday for my first pint of real ale, even then the first pub we visited wasn’t a real ale pub. But my real ale thirst was quenched that afternoon when me and Thomas called in at The Bruce InnI started with a pint of Santa’s Sledgehammer (5.6%) brewed by The Cairngorm Brewery Company and followed it with a pint of Caledonian 80 (4.1%) from The Caledonian Brewery.



Caledonian 80

On the Monday, New Year’s Eve we travelled into Edinburgh for the Hogmanay festivities and found ourselves in The Whiski Bar and Restaurant on The Royal Mile. Unfortunately we couldn’t stay long as a private party had booked the venue, but I managed the third of my 1001 beers. I had a half of Innis and Gunn‘s oak aged beer (6.6%) and have to say I wasn’t too impressed, but it’s another one off the list.


Later that evening me and Thomas called in at The Mitre,  another fine establishment on The Royal Mile. It was getting busy and with Devon being under 18, she wasn’t allowed at the bar, so her & Tara beat a hasty retreat to Starbucks. So it was just a quick half of 5 Gold Rings brewed by a not so local brewery, The Vale Brewery, who are based in Brill, Buckinghamshire. Apparently Brill was the inspiration for Bree in Tolkien‘s Lord of the Rings.

5 Gold Rings


New Year’s Day was spent recovering from a traumatic New Year’s Eve, which I’m sure we’ll be blogging about soon! On the 2nd we went back into Edinburgh and paid The Mitre another visit to celebrate our engagement. It also offered me a further opportunity to sample another couple of ales, first of all I tried a half of Ding Dong Christmas Porter (4.2%) brewed by Stroud Brewery and followed it with a half of Santa’s Oatmeal Stout (4.8%) from Broughton Ales


The following day we drove three hours to Loch Ness, we didn’t find Nessie, but we did find Light Ness, Dark Ness and Spooky Ness, all beers on tap at The Benleva Hotel in  Drumnadrochit, the brewpub of Loch Ness Brewery.

So a fine end to our week in Scotland, nine different real ales and my third beer of the 1001 beers to taste before I die.



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Weekly Photo Challenge:Resolved

It’s the start of the New Year and we’ve resolved to join the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. By we, I mean me, Tony, my fiancé Tara ( yes we’ve just got engaged!) and my 17 year old daughter Devon. We may get some contributions from Sean (Tara’s son) Thomas(my son), but don’t hold your breathe!

So each week, we’ll upload one photo based on the subject chosen in the Weekly Photo Challenge.

We’re just coming to the end of a week’s vacation in Scotland, so the photos will have a Scottish theme. Where’s the connection to this week’s subject, I hear you say. Well as I said at the start we resolved to join the challenge and this is our first step towards completing that resolution.

Anyway, here’s my contribution taken yesterday, with my Iphone, on the shores of Loch Ness:


And here’s Devon’s contribution taken with her new Samsung camera, which she got for Christmas:


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And the second beer is….

A look in our Christmas beers stock revealed another beer in The Beer Bible, one of my favourite beers, Hobgoblin, brewed by Wychwood Brewery. The Bible, whoops The Beer Bible, mentions Wychwood’s reputation for “quirky and imaginative packaging”, as illustrated by the can and glass in the photo.

Beer No.2 - Hobgoblin

Earlier this year we visited the York Real Ale Festival and I came across this Hobgoblin poster which I thought encapsulated what real ale is all about


Meanwhile, not only may I have The Temperance Movement on my case, but I also have the Spelling Police, aka Tara, after me, as I referred to my previous blog on Facebook as my latest Tail from the Ale Trail, rather than Tale from the Ale Trail

Anyway that’s the end of this T-A-L-E from the Ale Trail, it’s up to Scotland tomorrow for a few days, so I’m sure there will be more to come…

But for now, Cheers!

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One down, one thousand to go….

Browsing through the 1001 Beers To Taste Before You Die book, (that’s too much of a mouthful, so from now on I’ll refer to it as The Bible), I was looking to see if any of the beers I had at home already were referenced at all, and would you believe that “The King of Beers“, Budweiser, is mentioned in The Bible. (Just had a rethink about the name,I have visions of The Temperance Movement ** petitioning for the blog to be closed!, so we’ll call it The Beer Bible from now on).

** That is a link to The Quakers, if you do happen to be interested in abstaining from alcohol! (Let it not be said I’m not open-minded!)

Anyway back to Budweiser, needless to say I have drank a few “Buds” in my time, both here in the UK and across in America, but I never expected it to see it in The Beer Bible

Many years ago, on a visit to relatives in Colorado, I actually toured one of the Anheuser-Busch breweries. I’m sure I have some photos and souvenirs from my visit, when I find them I’ll post them on this blog.

I’ll try and take a photo of each beer along the way, using whatever is handy at the time, here’s that bottle of Budweiser and very nice it was too!

Beer No.1 - Budweiser

So I’ve made my first step on my journey, only another 1000 to go! But I obviously won’t be restricting myself to the beers listed in The Beer Bible, as illustrated below with a beer I had earlier tonight!

Tom Woods Lincolnshire Bitter


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Peanut Brittle – nutty, crunchy goodness

So, peanut brittle…little known facts.

  • Most of my British friends have never heard of it
  • It is very difficult to find corn syrup in the UK (meaning I basically couldn’t find it)
  • All of the recipes you find for peanut brittle are American, meaning you have to translate for the metric measuring cups

Difficulties aside, Christmas means peanut brittle so all challenges had to be overcome.  Two tries later and a last minute dash to the hardware store for a candy thermometer by my son, and we had some really, really good peanut brittle.

Peanut Brittle


The Magical Recipe

(note: everything in parentheses is the closest metric equivalent and all else is in US cup size)

1 1/2 cup (300 grams) white (caster or granulated in the UK) sugar

1/2 cup (125 ml) water

1/4 teaspoon salt, although not needed if using salted peanuts

1 cup (150 grams) peanuts or other mixed nuts

2 tablespoons room temperature butter, with a little extra to butter the cookie sheet

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla


Butter a flat cookie sheet and place in a warm oven.  Mix sugar and water in a saucepan and heat on medium high until sugar dissolves and you have a simple syrup (in place of the corn syrup typically used in the US).  Keep heating while mixture begins to get caramel colored. Stir frequently and use a candy thermometer.  When mixture gets to 300 F or 150 C, remove from heat and beat in nuts.  Once thoroughly mixed in, add butter and baking soda and mix quickly.  Finally, mix in the vanilla. Pull warm cookie sheet our of oven and pour peanut brittle on, spreading to make as thick or thin as you like.  Allow to cool for several hours before shattering into pieces and enjoying!

Quick tips: using a warm cookie sheet allows you to spread the brittle easier.  Use a silicon spatula for stirring and spreading and it won’t stick.  If you use salted nuts, omit the salt.  If you use unsalted nuts, add the salt. Get all of the ingredients measured out before you start because you have to add them quickly at the end or the brittle will harden.




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1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die

Amongst all the lovely presents I got for Christmas was a book by Adrian Tierney-Jones called 1001 Beers You Must Taste Before You Die. The title itself I took as a challenge, so the mission to tick off all the beers in the book will begin in earnest later today! In the interests of my personal well being, I won’t be tackling the beers on a daily basis, I value my liver too much, but as one a week will take nearly 20 years, I’ll be checking in more than once a week! I’ve also set up a Facebook page, called The Ale Trail, on which I’ll post random updates. Needless to say I’ll be coming across beers that aren’t in the book, so I’ll be posting about those too! Anyway, here’s a photo of the book in question and until I’ve tasted the first of the 1001 drinks it just leaves me to say Cheers! 1001 Beers

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11/29/12 – Sharon Shannon – The Galway Girl!

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11/27/12 – Saw Doctors

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