The stuff that doesn't fit into my main blog Random Radio Jottings

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fursty Friday – Week 8

As a rule I tend to stay away from fruity beers. A taste of honey or hint of chocolate are OK. I was reminded of them during the recent series of The Apprentice when they had to concoct their own flavoured beer. The end results of chocolate orange (A Bitter This) and rhubarb and caramel (Rhubarb & Riches) failed to impress and Lord Sugar finally had the legitimate excuse to admonish the contestants about “piss ups” and “breweries”.   

Anyway this week’s pint is Forest Fruits, with the smell of bramble berries, and comes from the Wychwood Brewery.  And the verdict: well, remember that medicine you used to have to take as a kid....

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fursty Friday – Week 7

A few months ago when I went to visit former colleagues at City of York Council they’d not long moved into swish new office accommodation (converted railway company premises and a former station) on Station Rise.

It was a move designed to make for an improved and more efficient working environment and to save money rather than having staff scattered all over the city. I must admit I had rather a soft spot for my old basement office at St Leonard’s Place even with its limited views of passing buses and people’s feet!    

It’s mere coincidence that the new office block is just round the corner from the York Brewery on Toft Green and no coincidence at all that I’ve chosen this week’s pint as Yorkshire Terrier as yesterday was Yorkshire Day. Apparently one of the original brewers at York used to take his little terrier dog into work and tied him up to the mash tun. The dog also gives its name to the pub in Stonegate, where, on occasion in the past, I enjoyed the odd pint or two of said brew.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fursty Friday – Week 6

It was this inquisitive little fellow that inspired the name of this series of posts. In a week where both the UK and here in France we’ve seen temperatures soar into the 30s this bottle has been put into chill for a refreshing end to the week.

Hall & Woodhouse Brewery

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fursty Friday – Week 5

It’s back to the Black Sheep Brewery for this week’s pint: Yorkshire Square Ale. Named after the brewing vessels used at Masham the bottle features a square black sheep, apparently named Paul after the brewery’s founder.

For a real ale review click on the video below.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Fursty Friday – Week 4

In November 2009 when the Derwent and Cocker rivers burst their banks one of the places hit was Jennings Brewery (left) in Cockermouth. The water was waist high and casks floated out of the brewery with some ending up in Workington. Production temporarily moved to Wolverhampton and Burton, but Jennings was able to re-open early the next year.

This week’s pint is Cocker Hoop, a name “derived from ‘Cock-a Hoop’, an old custom of removing the cock (or spigot) from a barrel and resting it on the hoop of the cask before commencing a drinking bout”.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Fursty Friday – Week 3

Summer’s officially here, apparently. Though you wouldn’t know it. This week here in the Poitou-Charentes we’ve had downpours, thunderstorms and hailstones heavy enough to punch holes in plastic guttering. More English weather than what we’d expect in France.

How appropriate then that this week’s pint is an English Pale Ale from Marston’s, described as "refreshing, lighter blonde ale with subtle citrus flavours and a delicate bitter aftertaste."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fursty Friday – Week 2

Last winter was bad news for bees. Too much rain apparently. Friends of ours that have a hive sadly lost the lot.

Those clever little honey bees have their own particular dance, the waggle dance, to let their bee chums know the direction and distance to the nearest choice selection of flowers (I’m paraphrasing here!). There’s a taste of honey in this week’s beer: Waggle Dance from Wells & Young.

The weather has been dry and sunny this week apart from a heavy downpour yesterday. Fortunately the sun’s out today so I can put my feet, sip my beer and leave the hard work to the bees in the garden. 

Next week an EPA.

Your Starter for Ten

My favourite car sticker read: “Bamber Gascoigne Fixed My Starter for Ten”. The sticker was sported by my friend Peter who’d been on the Dundee team for University Challenge in 1982/3. On a couple of occasions we lent our support and made our way over the Pennines to the Granada studios. The experience proved two things: one, both on and off screen Bamber really was a nice bloke, and two, how a shabby green set can actually look quite good on the telly.

By then UC had been  a TV fixture for 20 years. The first ever edition aired at 22:45 on Friday 21 September 1962. Taking part were the Universities of Leeds and Reading. Producer Barrie Heads told the TV Times: “The questions are chosen to test quick reaction, fluency and general knowledge. The emphasis of the whole programme is on speed – and the atmosphere of the whole thing is going to be kept entertaining”

There was, however, one additional now long forgotten aspect to the game that must have been dropped fairly early on. The TV Times tells us that: “Competitors then face the additional hazard that, at any stage throughout the game, they may be asked to speak for 45 seconds on any subject. Here again (said the producer) the accent will be on wit rather than the vast intimate knowledge of the subject.”

The quiz was axed in 1987, ITV having shunted it around the schedules like unwanted leftovers,  a sure sign that it was about to be put out of its misery.  Its saviour though was a Granada theme night on BBC2 on 28 December 1992. As part of that evening’s entertainment the show was resurrected with Bamber at the helm for a pro-celebrity match. The students were from Keble College, Oxford, the last winners on the final ITV outing. The celebs were Alistair Little, John Simpson, Stephen Fry and Charles Moore.

BBC bosses obviously thought the revival of University Challenge was a damned good idea so they commissioned Granada to make a series that started in 1994. The new incarnation saw TV’s Mr Sneery, Jeremy Paxton, cajoling the students and seemingly seeing the task of explaining the rules as bothersome.  The show was a ratings winner for BBC2.  

Listen to the Archive on 4 programme on 50 Years of University Challenge
Bamber Gascoigne’s 1987 appearance on DesertIsland Discs is also available to listen again or download.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Goodbye Granadaland

With ITV finally decanting out of Quay Street studios into Media City there’s a rare moment of introspection from the commercial broadcaster this coming Saturday night as Peter Kay recalls the programmes emanating from Manchester in Goodbye Granadaland.

Granada Theatres Ltd was the first group to attempt to apply for a commercial television licence long before they were actually advertised, writing to the Postmaster General from 1948 onwards. The group, run by brothers Sidney and Cecil Bernstein, had the concentration of their cinemas in the south but eventually opted to bid for the northern licence. They later told the Pilkington Committee: “The North and London were the two biggest regions. Granada preferred the North because of its tradition of home-grown culture, and because it offered a chance to start a new creative industry away from the metropolitan atmosphere of London”.    

Initially Granada TV was a coast-to-coast broadcaster covering both sides of the Pennines from the Winter Hill and Emley Moor transmitters – though the latter only came on stream some six months after the launch.

Work had begun on their Quay Street headquarters in August 1955. The designer was Ralph Tubbs who’d built the Dome of Discovery at the Festival of Britain. It was to be Britain’s first purpose-built television studio complex; all the previous ones had been conversions.

On the station’s opening night on 3 May 1956 amongst the delights of Arthur Askey and (an inebriated) Quentin Reynolds was a Tribute to the BBC introduced by former BBC-man Aidan Crawley. Whilst acknowledging the debt it had made to broadcasting it effectively threw down the gauntlet to the Corporation.

Some 36 years later BBC TV celebrated the work of Granada in a theme night on BBC2.
Part of evening’s viewing included this documentary From the North with contributions from such Granada luminaries as Denis Forman, Jeremy Isaacs, Gus MacDonald, Tim Hewat, Silvio Narizzano, Leslie Woodhead, Derek Granger and Michael Apted.

From the North was broadcast on 28 December 1992.

Goodbye Granadaland goes out at 20.30 on Saturday 15 June 2013 on ITV1

Granada: The First 25 Years (BFI Dossier 1981)

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fursty Friday - Week 1

When I’m asked “what do you miss about Britain”, my response will inevitably include “a pint of beer”. Yes I know I’m in France and supposedly surrounded by vineyards (in fact the nearest are about 30 minutes away) but you can’t beat British beer.

Before we emigrated our regular Friday night after-work tradition was to pop to our local, the Warton Arms in Woodmansey, for a drink. Here in France we try to continue that tradition. Weather permitting, during the summer months, this libation takes place under the pear tree. My Friday night tipple of choice is often a glass of red wine but now and again I open up one of the bottles of bitter purchased on trips back to the UK.

Well summer’s finally here, it touched 30 degrees today, and each Friday I’ll be posting my “Furtsy Friday” pint.  Today it’s the always reliable Black Sheep - "crisp, dry and bittersweet". The glass was bought at the Black Sheep brewery in Masham. If you ever visit it why not pop into the cafe and try a slice of fruit cake, some Wensleydale cheese and a pint of Black Sheep. You can’t beat it.