Thursday, 30 July 2015

National Paralympic Day 2015

I was very lucky to win tickets to the National Paralympic Day 2015 last Sunday at the Aquatic Centre and Queen Elizabeth Stadium in London - thank you Channel 4 :)

We didn't have to opportunity to be at the stadium for the Olympics in 2012 and our daughter's friend, Rhys Jones, was running in the T37 race so it was a pleasure to be able to go. We drove to Luton and used Thameslink and London Overground to get to Stratford - one of the nicest rail journey we've ever made around the capital.

The swimmers and athletes were amazing - as was the support from the crowd. It is impossible to pick out favourite races or highlights as every race had some excitment. Before I share a few photos of the day I have a little plea:

Paige Murray is one of the wheelchair racers - Sunday was her first race representing Team GB and Paige is hoping to race for her country again. However she needs a new racing chair and has set up 'Race to 4K'.

Paige says  " My current racing chair (Violet) is no longer suitable because my body shape has changed as a result of all the training I’ve been doing. The chair it is extremely restricting, limiting power through the rims and bruising my arms. For the time being until I secure funding for a new chair I am using a borrowed chair (Twiggy). The new chair will support me to continue my progression."

Please could you share Paige's Website on Twitter, Facebook, by email, in fact any way you can - and if you can make a donation it will help Paige get nearer her goal and new racing chair - thank you :)

Paige Murray
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium 
Ewan Thomas checking his notes
before the competition starts
My Mummy (Georgina Hermitage)smashed her world record
Women's 400m T37
Richard Whitehead - first past the post - amazing race
Men's 200m T42 
Libby Clegg and her guide Joe McDonnell took Gold
200m T12
Our loudest cheers for Rhys Jones 
Rhys passes the line with his first official under 12 seconds
Men's 100m T37
I just loved these mini Sainsbury's vans
remote control discus collectors 
Aquatic Centre
Amazing swimmers in all the races
We had an amazing day 
Thanks again to Channel 4 for our tickets - thanks to Sainsbury's for sponsoring the Games - and a HUGE thank you to all the officials, volunteers, swimmers and athletes who made it such an amazing event to watch - I hope you all enjoyed it too !! 

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Beer Tasting

Following our successful wine tastings last year we decided to host a beer tasting night. I wanted to include a variety of beers, although not local as they are easy to visit.

I had bought some Belgium beers when we were in France earlier in the year and some Brittany cider from our recent holiday. Here's some of our beers, not in any particular order as I took the photos as I was writing my tasting notes.

Wychwood Black Wych, Purity UBU,
Purity Gold and Bateman's Mocha
Elerflower from Snowdonia Brewery, Shropshire Lass,
Tripel Karmeleit, Shropshire Lad
and Ginger Grouse (although I decided against this) 
Breton Doux Cider, Hoegaarden, Breton Brut Cider,
 Rince Couchon and Blonde beer.
The beers varied in strength and just for the ladies we started with 'rouge' beer. Rince Couchon is my favourite brand and they do a red beer (added red fruits). It's quite strong at 7.4% and you certainly wouldn't want many.

I make my own version as it's cheaper and not so alcoholic, although you can't beat the real thing. From France I also bought some lower priced lager and a bottle of no-sugar fruit cordial. A splash of cordial with the lager gives a 'rouge' beer and you can make it as fruity as you want.

Our next two beers were 'weis' beer or white/wheat beer. The first was Blue Moon from USA which has a hint of orange and Hoegaarden from Belguim. Mini pretzels went great with these beers, the saltiness a perfect match for the weis beer.  These were followed by,

Hobgoblin and Scarecrow which are both from Wychwood Brewery in Oxfordshire. We have visited them a few times and really enjoy their brewery tours, especially tasting the various grains used in brewing. I contacted them to explain about our tasting; Jon (their second brewer) kindly sent up some grains and after a bit of research  I could explain their use - watch out Jon !!

Grains from Jon at Wychwood
To go with our beer tasting we had a ploughman's buffet:

Pork pie
Cheddar cheese
Crusty bread

Moving a little further north our next two beers were Shropshire Lass and Shropshire Lad from Woods Brewery. Both of these were new to me, the Lass had a lighter blonde flavour whereas the Lad was a darker spring bitter.

We popped over to Wales to try Purple Moose Brewery's Elderflower beer - not one you'd think of trying, and yes it's flowery but it's a really nice beer and was enjoyed by all.

And staying in England we move to our own county of Warwickshire, down in the south. We were introduced to Purity beer at a Majestic wine tasting in Leicester, as enjoyed another pint at the Ricoh stadium when watching Wasps v Tigers rugby.

UBU and Gold were the two beers we had for the tasting. It's good to now have Purity bottles available in some supermarkets, it is lovely beer.

Our final beers were two dark ones. The porter was another Wychwood brew - Black Wych, a real treat. The other dark beer as Bateman's Mocha, full of coffee and chocolate, best served in a large wine glass to appreciate it's full nose.
To accompany our final two beers I had made a Chocolate Guinness Cake - a Nigella recipe that is always appreciated, although I don't add the topping.

My favourite Wychwood slogon
It was another great night - but it's back to wine next time. A little less work for me as everyone is bringing their favourite bottle of wine and a plate of food to make up our buffet.