Monday, 10 February 2014

Tour or not; free beer; donating our time

Saturday 8th February to Sunday 9th February 2014

Young Dorothea had been at her organisational best – 8 of us were off to the Titanic Brewery in Burslem for a factory tour with product sampling – later there would be a chance to have a further pint and something to eat at The Bull’s Head (Burslem) – all inclusive in the price – seemed like excellent value.

All we had to do was get ourselves there.

Perhaps understandably Andy and Sue decided to drive there – Andy was a little bit indisposed but determined not to miss the outing; so that left just the remaining 6 to make our to the bus stop and with a change at Newcastle we would be almost there.

Sally kinded offered to drive us to the bus stop – Dot, Diane, Roly and Rob being able to squash into the vehicle – Gordon and I deciding to walk anyway as it would take as long just to wait – in the process we missed Sue who had come over to provide additional taxi services.

Eventually we caught the 101 bus to Newcastle – Rob with a wide grin, being the only bus pass holder, was a free rider.

Luckily Dot and Diane, between them, managed to ascertain the time and stand number of the next bus to Burslem – just a 5 minute wait – sorry guys, no chance of a quick one before we had to go.

It was just like military precision – Dot knew where we had to get off and following the satnav directions on the phone we made it through the thicket and the marshland to arrive 30 minutes early.

Only one thing to do –head back to Ye Olde Smithy for a drink first – an excellent way to spend the time. We managed to view a bit of the Yeovil v Leeds match (a high stakes encounter with a ‘huge’ TV audience to be expected) followed by the first few minutes of the Liverpool v Arsenal clash – enough to see that the first goal was scored by an offside Skirtl – but they won 5-1 so probably no influence on the outcome anyway.

After that it was back to the brewery – this time with many more people and doors open and ready for us.

Sue and Andy had arrived by car and were waiting for the rest of us.

We have done a few different tours of factories over the years and you tend to think of seeing the processes involved in producing the end product. There seemed a bit much emphasis on sampling the end product and it was obvious that this was a much more preferred way to go by the 40 odd people who had arrived. There were a few who did not crave for so much tasting of the product as others, but we wouldn’t want to spoil the enjoyment of others.

Both Sue and Roly were out front in their support for the
6 nations rugby

Poor Gordon - in a quandary about which
one to drink - special thanks to Roly

No not too much for Andy yet - just
overwhelmed by it all - taking it easy
on the "chair" of choice
Eventually as the barrels (4 in all) were reduced to echoing vessels, the tour began – Wayne, the guide (and one of the drivers), still bearing L plates (guide skills) showed us around the plant and explained some of the changes that would be taking place.

Somewhere, somehow this will find it's way into your glass
Diane, of course, visited the gift shop –in need of a T-shirt to show that she had been there – and she had.

After this were adjourned to The Bull’s Head – Dot showing us the way again, and managed to lead a trio of young men astray as well – well at least to the pub.

Whilst I was not so much interested in the free ale, I did spy that they had on offer 3 bottles of any of the Gales variety for a lazy £25 – including the much favoured (and sought after) Black Beer and Raisins variety – couldn’t go past that – and by the end I hadn’t.

The food was quite well done as well – so glad that there was a vegetarian option –Diane and Roly were in their element – Diane with the sausages and onions in a roll times three and Roly with the double cheese double burger option times two – later he was to enjoy it over and over again –certainly got his money’s worth.

The trip home was a bit slower than the trip there, mainly due to just missing the connecting bus to Stone by 1 minute – so off for a coffee to wait (also a tea and 1 lager). Then came the decision – do we stop off at The Exchange for a drink and wish Michelle (the licensee) a Happy Birthday or simply head home – it was a split decision and three of us – Gordon, Roly and I – decided on the celebratory route.

We even managed to grab our usual table in the front window – just a single drink each but as happens we discussed the problems of the world and put all of those right – without the need total talk about batteries or toilets.

Rejecting the need get full value from the All-Day bus tickets and seeing that exercise was all important we set off on foot for the marina – part of the thought process being that the bus didn’t go anywhere near The Three Crowns and the footpath did.

Settling ourselves down into comfortable chairs in a quiet corner, it didn’t stay quiet for too long as the earlier conversations resumed – we will all deny any knowledge of exactly what was said – if only someone had been there to act as minute taker, Mr. Cameron would have had a blue print to resolve all of the problems in the kingdom.

Surprisingly, or really not so surprisingly (as we all have lovely better halves) there was no disbelief at the time that each of us made it back aboard our respective boats.

Without a trace of any ill-effects from the activities of the previous day and night we all seemed to have had a good day out.

Diane needed to see Elaine about medicating her; we both needed to see Bev to wish her a Happy Birthday; I needed to see Roly about batteries; and finally Paul and I were off to Old Trafford for the Man United v Fulham game.

We got to nb Klara (Bev and Roly) first – the birthday song was sung with a repeat rendition in the background from Paul – who was not quite ready for us – so aboard with B&R for a cuppa and chat about batteries (more to confirm pricing); sample the chocy’s from Elaine and Paul.

Then as we were about finished, a tap on the boat from Paul signified that we needed to be off to the M6 and beyond.

It only took a little over the hour before we were pulling into the car park at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground and a short stroll down Sir Matt Busby Drive and we were at the Foundation Centre – the lovely girls in charge sorted us out and in the blink of an eye we were kitted out and with T-shirts on and buckets in hand we were calling loudly for any and all donations for The Christie Hospital.

It was a different way to spend just on 3 hours and certainly a beneficial manner to pass the time – between us we managed to raise £245 – with Paul’s much prettier face attracting more than mine.

The rain, hail and snow managed to hold off; the people were lovely – except for those miserable well-heeled lot who had forgotten where their pockets were; the kids were the best along with the pretty young girls (I didn’t really say that dear - it was Paul saying it).

After failing to manage to get tickets to get into the ground, it was time to head back home. We thought we might be able to catch the second half somewhere, probably in Stone – after hearing the score at halftime it was a 50/50 decision as to whether it was a goer.

If we had known that we would be next to a PITA (pain in the a__e) in the pub and that Darren Bent would score a last minute equaliser we might have bypassed it.

But still, the end of a satisfying day out, a drink at the pub and the thought of a warm boat at the end of it was enough.

I stowed some of my stuff aboard the boat and headed a few pontoons along – Dot and Gordon had invited us for dinner at 4pm – but they knew where I was going and that I would be late –so they all ate first and I did so when I got there – Dot, it was all lovely –Banjo will testify to the Yorkshire, although he would have liked to eat the entire portion.

We finished off with a game of UNO – we needed to keep playing until Dot had won a game – the two girls are so very alike – a duplication of traits that appeal to Gordon and I alike.

Thus ended a pretty full-on weekend – certainly glad to get into bed on Sunday night – sleep came pretty quickly – goodnight!!

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