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Alec James

FiftyYears11 12009 started out with a trip to Whitstable Brewery (see photo left taken in 2011). It was great fun but far too cold to get ratted! After CAMRA beer festivals at Leicester and Burton we tried Egham United Services Club / CAMRA Beer Festival, what a great place for a festival! Sadly after that health issues curtailed my activities. Some say it was Planet Thanet Beer Festival that started it but I should have heeded the warnings earlier. Fortunately I recovered enough to go to Devon on holiday in June and managed to get to the Lewes and Tenterden Beer Festivals on the way back (nothing changes much).

Thankfully SIBA moved their bash to Tonbridge Rugby club and so made it far more accessible to drinkers. The year ended with another holiday to Derby, Sheffield and Nottingham. Sadly most of my family in the Nottingham area had moved on to the saloon bar in the sky by now.

FiftyYears11 22010 started with a trip up to Manchester to see the Accrington v Gills cup match. Fine until the Friday evening when it snowed. No real hardship as there was a John Willie Lees pub next door. Saturday morning we awoke to 6 inches of snow on the ground and more coming down. After breakfast in the local Wetherspoon we discovered our match was called off.

After a quick phone round we decided to pop over to Liverpool and take in the Everton v Carlisle cup tie, not a flake of snow over there. A couple of pints there before the game and back to Manchester afterwards.

In March a short break at the John Thompson brew-pub at Ingleby, Derbyshire coincided with Leicester Beer Festival (please see photo above right, taken in 2013). After the SIBA beer festival in Tonbridge it was time for a really good holiday. Up one side of the country and back down the other. Of course on the way up, the CAMRA St Albans Beer Festival pulled us over before a night at the Four Alls, Ovington, North Yorkshire. On we went via Sunderland and Newcastle to Glenrothes in Scotland.

FiftyYears11 3This gave us a chance to meet up with old friends Brian and Eddie from my beermat collecting days. We also had a chance to go to my favourite Scottish town of Broughty Ferry and send some smokies back home from Arbroath. On and westwards to Ayr and the Troon Beer Festival. Next stop was a couple of nights in Carlisle (for yet another beer festival) and on to Keswick for the Lakes.

Another beer festival appeared in Kendal and there, sitting outside was Alan Gardner previously from Leyland now residing in Lancaster. We finished the holiday in Sheffield, now completely worn out. It was good to get back to work for a rest!

In January 2011 we took advantage of a Christmas present and had a few days in the elegant George Hotel in Huddersfield. The Rugby League as we know it was founded in this hotel in 1895. It also gave us time to visit the Nook in Holmfirth and Riverhead in Marsden, two quite impressive brew pubs. (See a photograph of the latter above left.) The stay was rounded off with a visit to the CAMRA National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester. (Please see a photo below right of one of the gigantic bars at opening time.)

FiftyYears11 4March saw another rarity, Burton Beer Festival and a 1-0 away win! In July I had what was to be my last pint in the Canopus in Borstal. A lovely 1930's pub gradually left to decay and its conversion to flats was no great surprise. I wonder what happened to the joystick donated by Short Brothers.

After the Nottingham Beer Festival we decided to have a Christmas break for a change. Having booked a hotel in Derby, when we arrived we found it closed for re-decoration.

They moved us to a really posh place nearby, not a bad deal in the end. Word of warning though, Christmas day was fine as we had booked lunch in advance but the evening was a complete dead loss and we ended up watching Carry On films in the room. On Boxing day we found a pub beer festival nearby and bumped into Garry from Oakham who thought he had travelled the furthest.

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