Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Beer 4 Nettles

This is the kind of offer that you will not see very often!
Get rid of your accused Stinging Nettle patch and we will exchange them all for lovingly crafted ale (or cider).
Young Nettle Shoots, Last Year's Old, Dead Stalks Still Visible 
However, this is not as simple as it may seem; we require a lot of nettles (5 Kg). Also, we want them within two weeks, and they have only just started to grow. We need your help - so - get involved...
Pick Me!
We need these nettles to create a new seasonal wild beer in conjunction with the Unity Brewing CoIf you know where there is a BIG patch of nettles let me know the location. If you can pick them yourself, store them in a plastic bag and deliver them, either to me or to the Unity Brewing Co, that would be even better.
1Kg of Bagged Nettles - Young Shoots Visible on the Ground
Finally, we need to get this done by the end of the first week of March at the latest. In order to meet brewing deadlines. Please get back to me/comment if you can help.
You Might Spot Some Ransoms
We will personally supply a bottle of Unity Beer or Urbane Forager's cider (soft drinks for children), to anyone who can deliver 500g of nettles, in time. If you can deliver less than this amount, please still bring them. You will have, not only our thanks and gratitude, but also you will be able to tell your friends that you contributed to the making of this fine beer.
Notice where these are!
Now, get outside with your gardening gloves (plastic carrier bags are an alternative) and long sleeves and help us to create a huge quantity of high quality Spring, Stinging Nettle based brew. This unique offer will end, once we reach our 5Kg target.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Days Out During Winter

February Snowdrops
Our city of Southampton in Hampshire, is famous for many wonderful and interesting things. A quick dip into the roiling waters of the web will bring out the obvious things like its two Universities or the Football Club. The Titanic gets a mention or two as does the Mayflower and the Spitfire. However, this area has been occupied since the Stone Age and still boasts substantial medieval walls, so there is a far greater depth to its history.
Jane Austen's Plaque
My wife is a big fan of Jane Austen, one of England’s most celebrated and greatest novelists and she has insisted that we visit her house. The house has been preserved as a museum and is relatively nearby, in the Hampshire village of Chawton. At times like this I enjoy wandering around saying (in an unnecessarily loud voice) things like, “Oh darling, isn’t it amazing to think that Jane Eyre actually lived here?” We once visited Agatha Christie’s house in Devon, which was fun but the children and I quickly became more interested in the Mulberry tree, covered in ripe fruit, that we discovered in the garden.
Jane Austen's Cat?
The fascinating house of the naturalist Gilbert White (1720 – 1793) is very close by, in the village of Selbourne and this has also been converted into a museum. Slightly incongruously but interesting none the less, this place also includes a display telling the heroic (completely awful) tale of Captain Oates (“I am just going outside and may be some time”) and the ill-fated expedition to the South Pole led by Scott of the Antarctic.
Heather and Reindeer Lichen

Jane Austen did spend a lot of time living in Southampton. The city was once a very fashionable Georgian spa town, back in the days when taking the waters was popular. However, these and other historical details are now lost to many folk that live here. For instance, plenty of people who live here do not realise that we also have an effective geothermal energy plant – right next door to their favourite shopping centre (West Quay). Perhaps they ought to rebuild the Lido that used to exist there and heat it for free from the subterranean hot rocks.
Catkin Season
Being on the coast, Southampton has always been known as a nautical city. Vast container ships, carrying all manner of household goods across the oceans, mix with famous fleets of liners, hovercrafts, ferries and pleasure boats. Our city is bounded by three beautiful rivers; the Test and the Itchen are chalk-rivers, rightly famous for their wildlife and trout fisheries. The Hamble on the other hand is better known as a yacht haven. All three rivers empty into Southampton Water (the Solent), which flows around the Isle of Wight and out into the English Channel.
Across the Solent from Southampton, lies the New Forest, where we frequently visit for walks, picnics, adventures and camping trips. Sherlock Holmes author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s last resting place is in Minstead church cemetery. His grave is easy to find, it is the one with a pair of pipes propped against it. According to somebody I spoke to there, the pipes occasionally get stolen but adoring fans of his writing always replace them. Conveniently, Rufus Stone, my daughter’s favourite spot, is also not far away.
Beautiful Moss