Sunday, 22 January 2017

Something Brewing in the Heart of Southampton

As I trudge, begrudgingly up my garden path like some Antarctic explorer, the grass crunches under foot and the crisp cold seeps deep into my toes. The shed that contains my locked bike looms out of the pale moonlight.
Cycling to work, my face is frozen and my fingers are feeling like frostbite but the sky is now turning a thin grey-blue and distant vapour trails trace a pinkish web over the firmament. Shortly, the garish orange glow in the East becomes the sunrise over Segensworth. 
The frost still lies thick on the ground but above the cold car parks and grim and grimy buildings of the industrial estate, the morning sky now burns a brilliant azure; it’s going to be a cracking day.
The fragile beauty of Winter still holds the hope of Spring within its vice tight grip, singing in the wind, vibrating in the sharp shards of ice and even seeping through the weeping rain and snow. It’s all too easy to wish for shorts and the sizzle of a Mid-Summer sun but the wheel of the year turns steadily and we must first start our search for signs of change.
Speaking of seasons, I am delighted to announce an exciting new collaboration between the Urbane Forager and Southampton based beer behemoth Unity brewing Co. Head brewer Jimmy Hatherley wants to create a sophisticated new range of seasonal Wild beers and the Urbane Forager is a perfect fit as a partner for this project.
I popped down with some friends, to meet Jimmy in his taproom and supped some of his awesome ales. We also sampled some of my own 2016 Elder-flower Champagne and Cider; by the end of the evening I would have agreed to almost anything. However, seasonal foraging is my strongest suit. So, we shall soon see what fresh flavours we can bring to the Unity taproom table. 
In the meantime, I definitely recommend visiting Unity brewing if you are in the area, or buying their merchandise from a Southampton pub/off-licence.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Wandering about in Winter

Long Shadows
Hopefully, you have all had a pleasant and peaceful time over the Christmas/New Year period. 
I had a good rest despite having to build a couple of wardrobes and a book case. Actually, to be fair, my son did a lot of the work; he's very good with instructions and apparently, I am not!
Crab Apple Warfare
I even managed to purchase a small Apricot tree, which I will soon plant in our allotment.
the remains of the Naked Man
We did get outdoors quite a bit during the holiday and enjoyed walking with friends in the New Forest and Micheldever Woods. Micheldever wood is a nice place to wander, especially when the bluebells are out but it is a bit too close to the M3 motorway for my liking and the constant rumble in the background can be distracting. 
Difficult to Navigate on Foot
The last walk in the New Forest was an old favourite of ours that takes in beautiful open heath, what's left of the Naked Man (where, in ancient days, highwaymen were hung in a gibbet), some lovely woodland, a disused train station that has been turned into a tea shop and a walk down the Avon water.
Assistance from the Children
However, after a fairly heavy rainfall the last section alongside Avon Water was extremely boggy. This did not bother the children who were well equipped with Wellington boots but our walking boots and shoes could have done with being a few inches higher to help us through the quagmire.
Good Landscape for Wellies
It was challenging at times but, as I like to say, nobody died!