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What’s it like to go to the BrewDog AGM? – an unofficial write-up of #brewdog #punkagm2016

28 April 2016 1 comment

BrewDog logoEarly in April 2016 I had the great experience of travelling up to Aberdeen and attending the BrewDog Punk AGM 2016, along with 6,000 other happy Equity for Punk shareholders at the UK’s largest Annual General Meeting.

This post describes a bit about the overall experience. Plus there are some tips for other shareholders who are thinking of going in future. Hint: I highly, highly recommend going out of your way to attend! #brewdog #punkagm2016

So who are BrewDog?

First of all for those of you who have never heard of BrewDog, here’s some quick facts:

  • Established in 2007, it’s the #1 craft brewery in the UK ‘selling awesome tasting beer’ and leading a ‘craft beer revolution’. I’d certainly agree with both statements; they do make very excellent beer and is the main reason why they’re doing so well in such a short space of time. Their flagship beer, Punk IPA, is great quality, really tasty and by far their best seller, making up 55% of all BrewDog sales.
  • They broke the world record for online equity crowd funding. The company has undergone a massive transformation, which is all down to how easily it has been for shareholders to invest in the company – all online. There are now 40,000 shareholders, all enjoying discounts on BrewDog beers, both through buying online or via 31 BrewDog bars in the UK and 45 globally. 16 new bars were opened in 2015 alone, including London, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Rome. Equity for Punks 4 was the latest selling of shares which finished in April 2016 having raised £19m. See right to the end of this post for more about the benefits of being an EFP.
  • They are the fastest growing food and drinks company in the UK for the last four years. Their revenue was £45m in 2015 (51% growth from last year). They’re still minnows in the market though, with sales of only 0.1% of the market. They employ over 580 people and ship beers to over 60 countries around the world.
  • The company has great values. They’re a good employer and are heavily investing in their future. They’ve massively upped brewing capacity, have a new canning facility (the largest in Europe) and have even opened a new state of the art brewery in the USA which will help them really break into the largest craft beer market in the world.
  • They also have a very strong and distinctive brand which is instantly recognisable. They’re overall quite anti-establishment and don’t mind pissing others off, such as CAMRA where they’ve been banned from the GBBF.
A few BrewDog beers to enjoy beforehand..

A few BrewDog beers to enjoy beforehand..

Aberdeen and the Castlegate BrewDog and BottleDog

After arriving from Birmingham by plane that morning and before we hit the main event, we went into Aberdeen to have a look around and grab a quick beer (like we needed it with the day ahead..).

A rainy Aberdeen

Looking down Union St in a rainy Aberdeen. BrewDog Castegate is the main building on the left

Aberdeen itself is a lovely city. Though we were unfortunate in that in April, it is a wet, cold and blustery place to walk around (which I’ll come to later).

The main street – Union St – in the middle of the city is lovely. A wide tree lined avenue, full of shops, taxis, as well as a great BrewDog Bar – Castlegate – which has recently opened. We stopped off here to enjoy a couple of Gamma-ray beers and then gawp at the sheer beauty of their in-bar bottle-dog, which is basically a mini-off licence and merchandise store, sectioned off within the pub.

Regarding accommodation, we stayed at the Premier Inn (Premier Inn, Aberdeen City Centresee it on Google maps) which was great and cheap too at £50 a night. The staff there were lovely and so were the rooms – so a big thumbs up to them.

Transport

Unfortunately transport was pretty poor overall. Aberdeen just doesn’t have decent enough transport networks to assist that many people all in one place – and it wasn’t just ourselves feeling that. On our trip we met others expressing the same concerns.

We got a bus from the airport to the city centre and bought a day-rider, only to be told later it wasn’t allowed for use on other buses – for example the one to get to the exhibition centre. Undeterred we waited around for another bus – after being advised by staff from the new Castlegate brewdog (which did I mention is really great and well worth visiting?) – only to be told it was the wrong bus! To get to the venue, we ended up sharing a taxi with some other shareholders, a nice friendly bunch from elsewhere in Scotland – Glasgow I think. If it wasn’t them, then we could easily recognise many other BrewDog AGM-goers milling about in Aberdeen, so we could have asked them instead. All it takes is a quick ‘you going to the AGM?’ to broach a conversation with people.

The lack of transport also came back later to bite us. Which I’ll come to explain further on in this post.

First I want to ramble on about just how great the actual event was.

The AGM and the AECC venue

After a short taxi ride we arrived at the venue at about 1:30pm. This I believe was the 4th AGM – or Annual General Mayhem as they like to call it – and the first that I’ve ever attended. It was set in the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC), situated about 3-4 miles north of the Aberdeen city centre.

The BrewDog AGM agenda

The BrewDog AGM agenda

The AECC venue is an ideal place. From what I know they’ve expanded and opened up the AGM so that it takes place over a lot more space than compared to previous years. We had the whole complex to ourselves and the conference was spread out across 3 main areas, giving plenty of room for the 6,000-odd AGM goers.

We didn’t queue and walked straight in. The staff were really friendly and told us what to do and where to go.

We were given 10 complimentary tokens to start with, which you could then use to buy beers and food. After that, 6 tokens cost £10. Two tokens could generally buy you most drinks – which depending on what it was you were buying, would get a pint, 2/3rds or a half (see the beers section below for why this is), with some drinks even costing three tokens or more. There was a cash machine on site but we thought it a good idea to bring plenty of cash as no doubt the ATM would have been busy or even empty fairly quickly.

BrewDog AGM 2016 Main Arena full for James and Martin's talk

The Main Arena full for James and Martin’s talk

After grabbing our tokens we walked straight in to the packed main arena, which could easily fit 5,000 people, and instantly felt the great buzz about the place. This large arena-hall was massive – a large floor surrounded by banked seating.

We arrived half-way through the formal talk by the founders of the company – James Wyatt and Martin Dickie. They were both explaining to the assembled army of investors (called EFPs) just how much their investment had made a difference to the company, as well as the great things in store for the year ahead.

The talk was very funny and engaging. The company is clearly making great progress.

Regarding the two founders:

  • James is the brains behind the company’s business-dealings – with a degree in Law & Economics, he traded in his former career as a deep-sea captain (!), and ‘pursued his passion for great craft beer by setting up the company with Martin Dickie. James was awarded Great British Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014, and was Europe’s first Master Cicerone‘.
  • Martin Dickie is the brains behind the brewing – ‘with a first class honours degree in Brewing & Distilling from Herriot Watt University. He is a renegade artist on a mission to change people’s  perceptions about beer and challenge their taste-buds’.

You may have seen a recent TV show all about BrewDog (which I admit I haven’t watched yet) where unfortunately James didn’t come across in the most flattering light – and this I’ve heard from multiple people. All I can say was they both were very charming on stage and clearly passionate about the company – so to my mind very good figureheads for the company.

Swedish Death Candy in the The Punk AGM main arena

Swedish Death Candy in the main arena

After the talk, staff descended and cleared the main arena area of seats, so that bands could start to play. The bands included Idlewild, Swedish Death Candy, Hunter and the Bear, Honeyblood, Smash Williams, Frightened Rabbit – all playing long into the night. My particular favourite was UK Subs who were last on.

Linking off from the main arena within a short walk were several other areas and rooms. These contained a variety of different food stalls, seating, long tables, tasting rooms, outside smoking areas, art work, activities and lots more.

So while they were clearing the seats, this gave us a chance to look around. Such as at the Boyd Orr room (see further below) and at the many various food outlets and beer stalls.

The vibe

There was an overall really good feel and buzz to the event. A bit of a festival-type community feel to it, which is lovely to be a part of.

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The Boyd Orr room had a great vibe to it

Everyone was smiling and being polite; holding doors open etc. All the people we met were talkative. We chatted to people from across the UK – from Scotland, the north of England, London etc. We even got chatting to a bunch of lads who had specially travelled all the way from Sweden.

Generally the average age of stakeholders was around 30-ish. I think. The majority of them men at a rough 80-20 split.

We saw absolutely no trouble. There were no football hooligans or other idiots that you may see at similar events where everyone’s drinking beer all day. Everyone seemed to pace themselves, which the promoters are keen for everyone to stick to.

We didn’t see anybody falling over or being sick, or any argy-bargy at all. Though admittedly by the end of the night the main toilets were a bit grim…

The beers

There was an amazing selection of beers – more than you could possibly ever try. These included both BrewDog beers and guest beers. Drinks either came in 1/2 pint, 2/3 pint or pint glasses. No cash was taken at the many beer stalls. Only tokens. Generally it was 2 tokens per drink but some were 3 tokens. 3 tokens being the equivalent of £5. All was served refreshingly cold in plastic glasses.

First Punk IPAs of the day

First Punk IPAs of the day

As mentioned the beers are really very good and the key reason for BrewDog’s success. Punk IPA is clearly one of the best all-rounder they have and this shows as it accounts for a massive 55% of all their sales.

We set out to try as many beers as we realistically could, aiming for experiencing the beers in low-volumes rather than blitzing them (ourselves?) with too much quantity. A marathon, not a race, and all that.

Some of the beers really stood out for me. It was the first time I tried ‘This is Elvis’, which is a wonderful grapefruit-infused beer. ‘Grapefruit-infused beer’ sounds pretty awful, but it’s sheer zestiness, it’s refreshingness and drink-ability is truly amazing and something to be experienced. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you do when you get a chance.

Apart from ‘This is Elvis’, a complaint that could be levelled at BrewDog is that a lot of their beers are very similar to Punk IPA.

I wrote some notes on my phone (before it died mid-afternoon) about the beers we were tasting, which to my admittedly basic and unsophisticated palette went something like this:

  • Gamma Ray – Like Punk IPA, but less flavoursome
  • 5am Saint – Bitter. Smooth. Punk IPA like.
  • Born to die – Stronger IPA. Tasty. A lot of fuss about it.
  • Zeitgeist – Very tasty Porter stout thing. Black lager. Nice.
  • This is Elvis – Lovely and fruity. Really tasty and refreshing.
  • Hardcore IPA – Really strong Punk-IPA like beer. Bit too strong to enjoy.
  • Arcade Nation – Tasty IPA mixed with stout-like flavours. Interesting.
  • Jet Black Heart – Gorgeous, creamy stout. Full of flavour. Definitely a favourite.
  • Ace of Simcoe – Light hoppy beer. Very tasty.
  • Vagabond Pale Ale – Another light hoppy beer. OK.
A selection of beer for the weekend

A selection of beer for the weekend

There were also other drinks, like Jack Hammer and Albino Squid Assassin, which I cannot exactly remember now but thought they were very good too.

I know my beer tasting palette is poor and needs improvement – for example, even after drinking it many times, I only realised the other day how much Punk IPA tasted like grapefruit!

I’m sure after time that my tastes will become far better as distinguishing the different flavours of each beer. Really this I can only look forward to as a fun journey!

All in all you can definitely tell their beers are a premium product. You really do pay for what you get, which on reflection I’m more and more happy to subscribe to. I definitely think drinking less but drinking far better quality beer is the best direction to head in. Though I do draw the line at £10 for a can of Black Eyed King Imp however amazing it’s supposed to be.

The BrewDog Headliners range

The BrewDog Headliners range – No added ingredients or preservatives. No chemicals. No cheap substitutes. Just barley, hops, yeast, water and mind-blowing flavour.

Regular and enhanced ranges

Little book of Hops and Dreams

Little book of Hops and Dreams – click to open

The BrewDog range of beers is split up into several different overall groups/sections:

The Headliners range is the regular range and includes:

  • Punk IPA, 5.4% – Post Modern Classic.
  • Dead Pony Club, 3.8% – Session Pale ale.
  • 5 AM Saint, 5.0% – American Red Ale.
  • Jet Black Heart, 4.7% – Oatmeal Milk Stout.
  • Kingpin, 4.7% – 21st Century Lager.

Whereas the Amplified range includes:

  • Hardcore IPA, 9.2% – Explicit Adult Hops.
  • Elvis Juice, 6.5% – Grapefruit Infused IPA.
  • Jack Hammer, 7.2% – Ruthless India Pale Ale.
  • Cocoa Psycho, 10% – Russian Imperial Stout.
  • Tokyo, 16.5% – Intergalactic Stout.

Take part in the quick Apester poll below

If you’ve tried them, click on the below to take part in this quick poll to tell us what your favourite regular and enhanced BrewDog beers are:

BrewDog Apester poll - what's your favourite Headliner and Amplified beer?

BrewDog Apester poll – what’s your favourite Headliner and Amplified beer?

Beer tastings

As well as enjoying the beers on general sale throughout the event, there was the option to also attend separate beer tastings at £5 per ticket. These you had to buy tickets for in advance of the event and quickly sold out.

Two Gamma Rays at BrewDog Castlegate Aberdeen

Two Gamma Rays – a lovely dark ale

We attended the BrewDog tasting session at 5:45pm. It was 3 staff brewers at the front giving a slide-less stand-up talk about 2 beers which we got to taste. There were easily 400 people in the room. It was fairly noisy with all the chattering of the crowd, making it hard to hear was was being said by the mic-less presenters, but everyone was well behaved.

As we tried the 2 beers – one handed out after the other – we were told about the ideas for their creation, the brewing process and the presenters took questions. Both beers were again really tasty, though one was Marmite-inducing in that you either loved it or hated it. Unfortunately I cannot recall what the beers were.

The other tastings were put on by:

The food

Everyone knows drinking lots of beer makes food taste a whole-lot better and there was loads of choice. Some really tasty grub. Choices included Pieminster, vegetarian stuff, Mexican food, hot dogs, burgers. So everyone was more than well catered for.

Longhorn grub

Tasty Longhorn grub

Mid afternoon I bought a chilli for 3 tokens, which amazingly was literally just chilli with several doritos on top. No rice or anything alongside. I voiced my surprise to the chap who was serving and he sheepishly shrugged and apologised with a ‘yes I can’t believe it too’ look.

Outside were quite a few food outlets, along with the mobile Truck Norris BrewDog bar – which would be awesome to hire for your own party. One of the food outlets ‘Longhorn’ were selling some amazing looking burgers, but at a whopping £10 per burger! We were hungry and they looked well worth it, so we joined the back of the long queue. After 10 mins it started to rain, which then got heavier and heavier. We waited for 40 mins in the cold, but it wasn’t really that bad – we stood chatting to others in the queue, sharing umbrellas with others. It was a really very funny experience. Beer makes every one relaxed so the conversation flows and there was lots of laughter.

We also enjoyed the food afterwards. So well worth the wait.

The Boyd Orr room

Over the other side of the arena, via a short flight of stairs and a covered walkway over the road, was an ideal room in which to sit – the Boyd Orr room. Around the sides were more food stalls, plus large banks of stepped seating. At one end was a a massive screen showing a live feed from the main arena such as the many bands on during the day. The room had a great buzz and was very relaxing to sit in.

The Boyd Orr Room

One of the several bars in the Boyd Orr Room

The centre of the room was full of long, long tables where you could easily chat to others. There were various board games dotted about, similar to BrewDog bars. We tried playing Cluedo, but it didn’t work with only 2 of us and there was no-one else free nearby in which to join us (they were busy having fun chatting or playing their own games). So we had a go at playing Jenga. After we got bored of that, we built a massive tower, easily 4-5 foot high above the table on which we managed to precariously rest a pint of beer – much to the delight of everyone nearby. I unfortunately didn’t get to snap it though as my phone ran out of juice.

There was also a small stage at the front where various activities and demonstrations were on show. At one point a table tennis table was set up and two expert players were smashing Ping pong balls back and forth. They then got people up from the audience to try and knock over empty beer can lined-up on the far edge. It was obviously much more difficult than it looked with many hopelessly hooning the ping pong ball as powerfully as they could well wide of the mark.

The Good..

The experience was really positive. I’d definitely go again. The event was well run and very enjoyable to attend. The variety of excellent beer to try was great and the experience of a full day spent drinking the many choices whilst listening to bands and chilling in a relaxed environment was really fun.

It is an expensive day out though. Much like the beer which is a premium product.  It really would be a very expensive hobby if you were to solely drink their beer. For example I looked afterwards at buying some beer online, but a mixed batch of 24x 330ml cans are £44, plus you’ve got p&p on top. Though you do have a 20% discount if you’re a shareholder which helps massively.

.. and the bad

We left at event close – I think about 11pm-ish – to once again enjoy the cold, wet and blustery weather. There was a massive queue for taxis though – easily 50+ people and taxis were only arriving every 5-10 mins apart. After a bit we decided it was too cold to stand around waiting so walked round the block to the bus stop, which we discovered had an even bigger queue.

The Leicester BrewDog

Enjoy delicious beer at a BrewDog near you – such as the Leicester BrewDog

So we decided to start walking the 3 miles or so back to Aberdeen – and the rain just got heavier and heavier. We were justified in that on the walk back, only one packed-to-the-brim bus passed us. There were also no available taxis, even heading in the opposite direction to us going back towards the AECC.

We would have loved to end up that night back in the Castlegate BrewDog, but the weather finished us off, so a warm bed beckoned instead.

Tips for going in the future

  • Take good walking shoes.
  • Take a water-proof, warm jacket.
  • Read up on the beers beforehand so you know which ones to target.
  • Try new beers, including those from guest brewers.
  • Pace yourself – have only halves where you can.
  • Take lots of money.
  • Share taxis with others where you can.
  • Don’t worry about queuing for food. It’s worth it and you’ll get to know people in the queue with you.
  • Don’t stay to the end unless you want to see all the bands.
  • Enjoy yourself and talk to others. All are like minded people having a fun time.
  • If you have time – go visit the Aberdeen Brewery.
  • Overnight, stay in your own single room at the hotel and away from loved ones. That much beer doesn’t do any wonders for the stomach!

So, should you join the club?

So if you’re not a BrewDog shareholder, firstly well done for getting this far in the post. But should you invest in BrewDog and become a shareholder? What are the costs and benefits etc?

BrewDog Equity for Punks

BrewDog Equity for Punks – click to see the Equity for Punks IV prospectus

To invest and get a shareholder card costs upwards from £95, which buys you 2 shares and brings you plenty of benefits. See the Benefits of investing in BrewDog. This describes benefits such as the discounts you can get in bars and online, the exclusive first options on all new beers and more.

Upwards from £95, you can access some pretty amazing bonus shareholder perks, such as free beer for life, be the brewer, your own sour beer cask, behind the scenes tours, beer truck parties and loads more. These benefits though start from £5,000, so you have to be pretty special benefactor and/or have the spare cash to go for these. See Boosted Benefits for details.

So the last bit of advice I can leave you with, is if you like awesome beer and you fancy being part of a community of like-minded craft-beer lovers, then this would be right up your street.

I’ve certainly very much enjoyed being part of this wonderful community. I always enjoy visiting their bars in any city I stay at and have started to buy from their excellent online shop.

Use my referral code

If you do want to join then this is an ideal opportunity for me to shamelessly promote my referral code. Please do use this when you join as it gives me referral points, which add up and give me some fab benefits.

So when Equity for Punks is next open, visit the Equity for Punks webpage and use: R036212. A big thank you from me if you do, and please contact me so I can arrange to buy you a pint – maybe at the next BrewDog Punk AGM!

What I’d like to see next for BrewDog

By far the cheapest way to currently enjoy their beer is oddly not directly via BrewDog (either online or via a bar) but instead via Sainsbury’s who stock the larger BrewDog Punk IPA 660ml bottle at only £2.50. You can buy this in store or via their website.

I’m not sure how long this deal will last but I’m definitely taking advantage of it whilst I can.

I’d love to see these larger bottles rolled out for the entire Headliners range. This, in my opinion, would open up and allow these lovely beers to be bought and enjoyed far more cost effectively by many more people. It’d even be great if other supermarkets such as Tesco etc could be brought on-board to sell these too.

Your comments

So did you go yourself to the Punk AGM? Please leave me any thoughts below. Thanks.

Miniland at Legoland Windsor

22 December 2012 1 comment

In the summer of 2012 we all went to Legoland Windsor and had a fantastic time messing about on the rides and looking at all the cool full size models built out of Lego.

At the time I had plans to write a full-blown post on what it was like to visit, the costs, where to go etc etc but never did get round to doing this!

Instead I was inspired by the ‘Showcase Your Images with Galleries‘ post on the WordPress blog to create the below rectangular gallery.

This gallery is just of photos taken in the Miniland part – a particular area in the centre of Legoland Windsor that has loads of amazing model scenes of well known locations throughout Europe and the USA. Apparently nearly 40 million bricks worth!

If you have kids I fully recommend you go there – it’s a doddle to get there and to park, the queues aren’t too bad for the rides, the food’s inexpensive and above all you’ll have a great time! Trip Advisor has some great reviews of Legoland Windsor if you wish to read them.

See www.legoland.co.uk for full details. The Interactive map is especially good as you can zoom in and out using the scroller on top of your mouse and drag the map around too.

Legoland Windsor Miniland photo gallery

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Video of the shuttle launch

Enjoying the sights and sounds of Borough Market, London

1 May 2012 6 comments

Borough Market is one of the largest food markets in London and sells a large variety of foods from all over the world.

We spent a few enjoyable hours there in early Feb 2012, soaking in all the sights and sounds of this fantastic place (plus taking a few photos and tasting various delicious foods).

Delicious Mediterranean food such as Baclava - yum

Delicious Mediterranean food such as Baclava – yum

The covered market is situated in Southwark, just south of the river from London Bridge, and is renowned as a particularly fashionable place to go shopping for your food.

A mountain of chocolate Brownies - and yes, they tasted good..

A mountain of chocolate Brownies – and yes, they tasted good..

It’s easy to realise why it’s so popular once you’ve visited and seen the huge variety of amazing stalls, delicious food and heavenly smells. It really is a definite ‘must see’ place.

Everywhere you turn there are stalls providing fresh cooked food

Everywhere you turn there are stalls providing fresh cooked food

See the below website for information on opening times, exact location, types of market stalls, produce, events, and more.
 
This meal was £4ish and was chorizo and salsa on fresh bread - an amazing taste

This meal was £4ish and was chorizo and salsa on fresh bread – an amazing taste

A great review from www.yelp.co.uk/biz/borough-market-london-2:

Go hungry. You’ll want to eat your way through this market. There is food everywhere you turn. Pallea, fish and chips, cheese, baked goods, fruit and vegetables, sandwiches (ranging from beef to ostrich to lamb) and drinks (fruit shakes to Pimms and lemonade)….the list just goes on. Rain or shine, this market is packed. Bring cash, few vendors accept credit cards. Be prepare to rub elbows and eat standing, while being bumped.  Farmers and vendors providing some of the finest in London….you can’t get any better. Give yourself two hours, wear closed toe shoes, and bring your camera. MUST SEE!

Bringing a little bit of Paris to London

Bringing a little bit of Paris to London

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borough_Market has lots of background info on the market should you be interested.

You can be healthy..

You can be healthy..

..or try something more naughty

..or try something more naughty

Loads of the stalls let you sample the food too

Loads of the stalls let you sample the food too

A fun day out in Cambridge

10 October 2010 Leave a comment

On the River Cam with the 'Bridge of Sighs' in the backgroundAnother year has past and to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary my wife (Moira) and I decided to stay overnight in Cambridge.

Arrangements were made for Nanny to look after the kids for the night, Moira spent some time looking round at reviews of local accommodation and deliberating hard as to where we should stay (she loves doing that), clothes were packed and we were finally off down the A14 on a short drive to the university town.

Now I’ve never been to Cambridge. I’ve been a fair few times to Oxford and really enjoyed that, and as the two towns are supposed to be very similar I was very much looking forward to it.

To cut a long story short, the town certainly didn’t disappoint.  It was a lovely town and we really enjoyed it. The town centre was very picturesque and full of people (mainly students) bustling about its pedestrianised streets. Watch out for those bikes mind as they shoot about everywhere and at a fair rate too!

We were really lucky with the weather and it was really warm with glorious sunshine – perfect for mooching around in.

During the day we looked around the shops (me for a retro style brown suit for work, and Moira for some long boots with a high heel) and did a spot of sightseeing round the town visiting all the wonderful colleges and buildings. For lunch we went to the Eagle, the oldest pub in Cambridge and had baguettes, chips and two pints of tasty real ale.

Punting on the River Cam in CambridgeWe then spent £18 for the both of us to go up and down the River Cam on a punt for 45 mins. It sounds expensive but I really recommend it as it’s well worth it. The river is so serene and kept in great condition. It also winds past all the major colleges in the town centre (Trinity, St Johns , Kings and Queens) and is by far the best way to see them and to learn about their history and famous connections. The chap who did the punting was called Dillon and he was a very charming tour guide. He gave details of all the fantastic buildings we were passing and answered all our questions.

The evening was spent enjoying various drinks in several bars and pubs across the town, mainly sitting outside in the warm evening air. By mistake we ended up staying there during ‘Freshers Week’ (Cambridge University starts much later than other Unis), so there were loads of groups of students about, all chatting feverishly while getting to know each other (I know what it’s like having done that many years ago). One bar was full of students all dressed up as pirates and all tied via the ankle so they had to travel everywhere as 3-legged men. Of course this morphed into many people joining up so you’d get lines of people all tied via the ankles trying to get round the place and falling over each other. What a hassle when one of them needs the loo!

Moira chose a fantastic B&B just north of the town centre, called ‘Home from Home’ which was ran by a lovely couple. The room was clean and looked good, and the breakfast was even better. We crashed back there late at night after a great day and evening.

All in all a top time! I’d recommend the town to anyone as a short stay destination.

This is the year that was 1997

18 August 2010 Leave a comment

THIS IS AN article i wrote for my work’s internal magazine…

We don’t have many 10 year olds working for the Council, so practically everyone reading this will relate to 1997 and be able to recall memories (good or bad) from this eventful year.

1997 has always been a special year for me. Mainly because it was a year of new beginnings and packed full of interesting events, both for me personally and also historically for the UK.

1997 was the birth of Cool Britannia

It was the year I turned 18 and moved away from home to begin life as a student in Bristol and experience a wonderful new life of cheap beer, dirty dishes, and no discernable work to do.

Nationally, change was in the air and the UK was in a good mood – the Labour Party under Tony Blair defeated the Conservative Party to win a landslide result in the election. There was lots of talk and promise of change for the better under New Labour.

The age of ‘Cool Brittania’ was in its infancy and the music scene at the time was particularly good. Radiohead released OK Computer to huge critical acclaim and was shortly voted the greatest album of all time by Q Magazine, whilst Roni Size’s album New Forms won the Mercury Music Prize.

Oasis released their 3rd album, Be here Now, which became the fastest selling album in UK history. David Bowie turned 50, and Paul McCartney was knighted alongside a smiling Linda McCartney. New bands also formed – among them Coldplay, Muse, The White Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age.

It was also a special year for the Spice Girls, who were at the peak of their popularity after releasing their second album Spiceworld. Records were smashed by this album; the first British group to have a US number one with their debut single, the first to have a number one with their debut album, the first act in the UK Top 40 singles charts to have four consecutive number one hits, and the first British band since The Beatles to have two albums in the US chart at the same time.

Infact Spice and Spiceworld amassed enough sales for one out of every two people in Britain to own a Spice Girls album (though I can hold my hand up and say I do not count is this very large brigade). The Spice Girls even managed to find the time to launch a brand new national terrestrial television channel – Channel Five.

The year also saw the publication of the first Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Which was made into a film several years later. Hit films of 1997 included Titanic, Men in Black, and scenes of working men stripping off in the Full Monty.

The year was also a significant year for endings – Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al-Fayed died being chased by the hounding Paparazzi during a high-speed crash in Paris. What was to follow was an unprecedented outpouring of national grief in the UK. The same couldn’t unfortunately be said for Jeff Buckley, the Notorious B.I.G, and Gianni Versace who departed to the great big catwalk in the sky.

Headlines in the news included the Hand over of Hong Kong, Referendums in Scotland and Wales for the creation of new national assemblies. The British au pair Louise Woodward was found guilty of the baby-shaking death of eight-month-old Matthew Eappen. Scientists at the Roslin Institute announce the birth of a cloned sheep named Dolly, the IRA declared a ceasefire (the Real IRA followed a year later) and the UK’s entry Katrina and the Waves even managed to win the Eurovision Song Contest!

Michael Schumacher commits the infamous Dry Sac corner incident at the Spanish Grand Prix, allowing Villeneuve to go on to win the F1 world drivers’ championship. Elsewhere across the Black rock Desert an even faster driver, Andy Green, sets a new land speed record of 763mph driving ThrustSSC, the first time the sound barrier is broken on land.

Interestingly the 1984 film The Terminator and its sequel, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, both referenced the year 1997 as the time in which the fictional computer entity Skynet would launch a nuclear attack on mankind on August 29.

That’s one thing I am glad didn’t happened during this eventful year!

Categories: Places

The Cape of Good Hope, Warwick

13 August 2010 Leave a comment

Situated off the beaten track (tucked down a small side street quite a distance from the town centre and sitting on the Grand Union Canal), this fantastic little place is up there with many good pubs that i’ve been fortunate enough to visit. The walls are crammed full of knick knacks and assortments. There are also plenty of friendly locals to chat to as when enjoying a tasty pint of real ale.

The Cape of Good Hope, Warwick

I had the fortunate experience of being invited to a ‘hat party’ there where you could only get entrance if you wore a hat! The whole evening was very tongue in cheek and I really enjoyed the loud live band and jocular atmosphere between the landlord and the pub locals. It had everyone laughing and I had a great night.

Go there if you are travelling along the canal and pitch up for the night there, or even if you fancy walking out of the town centre down Cape Road and finding yourself in a good local pub.

66 Lower Cape
Warwick
CV34 5DP
01926 498138
www.capeofgoodhope.co.uk

Categories: Places
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