Sunday, 15 July 2007

Chelmsford, birthplace of radio

Good news everybody... we're back! But don't get too excited, as we're probably about to go away again on holiday. But do get excited, because we could well be about to embrace the technology of three years ago, and venture into podcasting! Mr Wilson has a new mp3 recordery thing, and I vaguely remember recording some ramblings outside a pub late last night. If we can record another bit at the ASRA student radio old farts event on Thursday, we might hack something together and put it out on the interweb.

In the meantime, Chelmsford has provided us with two rather fine drinking events recently. The first was the Cathedral Festival. Cathedrals and beer don't - to the best of my knowledge - generally go together. But these are enlightened times, and the refreshment marquee was open to all and stocked some fine ales, including one brewed specially for the occasion, called Celebrate Chelmsford (more of this later!).

The nice location, on the back of the Chapter House lawn, the marquee and the well-dressed people attending the events, made it feel liked you'd crashed someone's wedding. But nothing beats drinking outside on a summer's evening and this was a nice opportunity.

And then came the Chelmsford CAMRA beer festival. I was expecting one tent and a couple of trestle tables. But no, this was a big 'un, taking over a whole field, with long marquees on three sides and catering trucks and toilets on the fourth, forming a square in the middle for sitting in. If one of the bar staff is to be believed, they sold 10,000 pints on Friday - which given that only 60,000 people live in the town of Chelmsford, means some of them were very thirsty!

I got the impression they were a bit overwhelmed at times, which made me feel even more guilty about not having supported my local CAMRA branch and volunteered to do my bit behind the bars. But overall, it was a great day, with good weather, and what beers remained - many of the bars (and even the pickled egg stall) had sold out - were excellent. Particular mentions go to the Farmer's Ales (Maldon) A Drop of Nelson's Blood, which has brandy in it, and the very fruity Felstar Celebrate Chelmsford, while the Brentwood Chockwork Orange (6.5%) had lots of chocolate but not much orange.

Somehow afterwards, we ended up trying three Chelmsford pubs I hadn't been in before. The Rockin' Bay Tree on Moulsham Street, was, er, rocky. I wasn't really wearing enough black and/or eyeliner to be truly accepted in there. The Railway Tavern, which I'd never been in despite walking past it twice a day was nice, if quiet - but sadly the Black Sheep Bitter had just run out. And the White Horse on Townfield Street, which has a good reputation for ales, had a friendly enough welcome for what looks like quite a locals pub, but we ended up having a final pint of mild as there weren't any interesting ales left.

Next it's three beer festivals in one, as Clacton overlaps with both The Viper at Brentwood and the Queens Head, Burnham on Crouch. Hope it's sunny! Meanwhile, the alternative is the "Gentleman's Evening" at Chelmsford City FC, with not one, but two lovely girls!


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