As many of you will know, I don’t drink. By which I mean I don’t drink alcoholic beverages. I do drink other things. Just not the sort that make your head light. So it was something of a shock to the system to find myself at a Beer Festival on Thursday.

After a slow afternoon kicking my feet, Alex and Ian came round for lunch and to get everything ready for our holiday. It had been decided that we would all go away for a night and camp out somewhere, and the venue ended up being a railway museum where CAMRA was holding a Beer Festival. We got free camping, so that was a bonus. The site wasn’t too far out of Colchester either, so there was no mention of “are we nearly there yet”.

We got the tent up pretty quickly, and started settling ourselves in. The first problem we came up against was that the pump we were using to blow up the air bed developed a leak, so half the air was blowing across the field instead of going into the bed. The second problem was that we discovered that we had left the milk in my fridge at home. So I was left in the field pumping furiously while Alex and Ian drove off to find a shop. By the time they got back I had the air bed nicely pumped up and the other camp bed assembled and everything inside the tent. Then of course there was the obligatory cup of tea, which was very welcome.

Then we headed off to explore the beer. It was all set in the works yard of the railway station, with a large bar set up in one of the engine sheds, other beer purchasing locations in other buildings, and plenty of seating in some of the trucks that were parked at the platform. There was a huge range of beer there, all of which had obscure names. Alex had brought his book “300 beers to try before you die” and was trying to work his way through that, while Ian was just trying beers with funny names. Needless to say, I was on J2O all evening, but I did manage to sample two varieties that I hadn’t tried before, just to make sure I was in the right spirit.

For dinner we had pasta and sause, all cooked on Ian’s little gas hob. Very clever piece of kit, that. Almost space-age, compared to the camping kitchen our family normally uses when we go camping. Afterwards we headed back into the festival to try out the hog roast they were putting on. Even though I didn’t eat any of it, it did smell wonderful! I really am a rubbish vegetarian…

That night we all got to sleep fairly quickly, which wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. I think we were all expecting to be sat up until late chatting away, but in the end we were all just so tired that all we managed was about half an hour and a brief game of “bogies” before we all endulged in some shut-eye. In fact we all slept rather well, considering it was fairly cold and we were sleeping in a tent.

The following morning we enjoyed a cooked dinner, courtesy of Ian’s marvellous culinary expertise. Instead of fried bread we had fried muffins, which worked surprisingly well. We also had fried eggs, sausages (including a vege variety for me), bacon and some baked beans. That was followed up by a pot of real coffee. I’m sure our neighbours must have hated us that morning.

After that we packed up the tent and piled into the car, and drove down to explore Mersea Island, since none of us had been there before. We started off going to East Mersea, which is the empty end. Ironically we found ourselves in a vineyard, and stopped in for some refreshment. They had a lovely little tea room there, and although we didn’t get to go inside there was also a winepress where they made their own wine. Alex had a beer, Ian had an Earl Grey and a piece of hummingbird cake, and I had a cup of normal tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.

Further down the road we found the sea. We parked up and walked the coast for a bit, stopping off at an old pillbox on the way, where we took some pictures and generally mucked around. Then we discovered the remains of the old fort that was once a key defense, but which is now just a triangular shape in the ground by the beach. Unfortunately the path to the pillbox at the end of the beach was flooded due to the high tide, but Ian managed to find his way around by other means, while Alex and I recorded the event on our digital cameras. In fact, we got so into the filming thing that we ended up filming extra bits on the way back so that we could create a whole film about the experience! So watch this space, and hopefully soon you’ll be able to download “It’s a Mersea Adventure!” and the accompanying “making of” documentary…

So, that was our brief holiday. It was only about 24 hours, but we managed to pack a lot into it, and we all had a great time. I’m sure we’ll try to do something like this again sometime, we all enjoyed it so much. For pics from the holiday, check out the PhotoLounge extra.

In unrelated news, I went round to Billy’s this morning to get my new ball joints fitted. Looks like I’m going to need new tie rod ends as well soon, the engine stabaliser bushes are rather worn too, and the auxilliary fan doesn’t appear to be working. So once the car’s been MOTed we’ll have to sit down and try to sort that out too.

Categories: Miscellaneous

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