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Another trip to London





In his weekly The Bar Man column, Jeff Hoyle recalls a recent day out...

Two weeks after our last visit, it was back down to London again. This time it was to Blackheath, the scene of what has become an annual fundraising quiz on behalf of the designated charity of All Saints church. Saturday saw us stroll into the village and fail to buy either the Dali sculpture or Damien Hurst painting in the window of the newly opened art gallery, though the staff were very persuasive and totally agreed with my analysis of the couple of Lowry prints hanging on the wall.

Alas, my gig in the evening meant that we could not sample either of the two micro-breweries which seemed to have sprung up since my last visit, so we jumped on one of the multitudes of passing busses and made our way to Woolwich.

Jeff Hoyle
Jeff Hoyle

Some may recall Dr Amelia Moore who was a regular speaker at our local osteoporosis group. She lives in Woolwich and invited us to tea at her flat in the old Arsenal. It was our first visit to the site and we were surprised at the extent of the complex, rivalling the naval buildings at Greenwich or the dockyards at Chatham, but with the added interest of Dial Square, the location from which the forerunner to the Arsenal football club took their name before relocating to North London.

After a wonderful afternoon, the bus whisked us back to Blackheath and we were soon setting out the hall for the evening event. The faithful put on a great show with fresh flowers, smart tablecloths, home-made food including cakes from the firm that supplies the Kings Garden Parties whose boss lives locally and (whisper it) is French, though for me the most welcome sight is Matthew the brewer. Each year he turns up with his home brewed ale, normally with his pressurised dispense unit but this year he added a cask of Brainteaser to go with his Final Answer IPA. It was a challenge to wait till half time before indulging, but we made it through the evening in style.

With the raffle, which had some terrific prizes, including a bottle of champagne which was reputed to retail at several hundred pounds, the event broke the £2,000 barrier and was subject to matching funding from a local firm.

Two weeks earlier we were racing Storm Isha back up to Norfolk. This time we had a stroll on the heath and a lovely Sunday lunch before the anticipated relaxed journey north. It turned out to be a little less relaxed than we hoped as a warning light for low tyre pressure pinged into life as we made our way through the Blackwall tunnel.

A stop in a car park for a visual check somewhere near Hackney and a burst of air at a service station in Tottenham allowed us to get home unscathed, with the added bonus of a couple of hours tour of a less familiar part of the capital. Relieved to be back in Norfolk the nerves were calmed by a glass of Brainteaser from one of those clever paper cartons used for take away beer, a gift from Matthew. Should we also broach the bottle that he gave us, a magnum of his Christmas Ale? ‘It’s 9.5%’ he told me,’ Don’t drink it by yourself’. Good advice which we heeded and consequently a treat yet to come.

bar.man@btinternet.com



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