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Last Wednesday, I enjoyed an evening drink in a pub, for the first time since 6th March, and that memorable Proper Day Out in Burton-on-Trent. I’ve obviously been in quite a few pubs since they were allowed to reopen, but all those visits have been either at lunchtime, or late afternoon, so my trip to the Nelson Arms represented my first evening trip in over six months. The occasion was a friend’s birthday, and I was one of the five other friends who turned up. The table was booked in advance, and the invitations circulated amongst a select group of drinkers, drawn largely from our weekend walking WhatsApp group.
Landlord Matt had reserved us a table at the far end of the former public bar area of the pub, but with only a handful of other customers, the reservation might not strictly have been necessary. Still the “Rule of Six”states a maximum of six people in any one group, so being upstanding and compliant citizens, we were pleased to do our bit to keep the “R” rate down, even though it is still very low in this part of the country. There were two other attractions at the Nelson that evening, apart from the opportunity of catching up with friends. The first was the range of “Green Hop” beers that Matt had got in, whilst the second was the pub’s own extension of the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme. So, with some novel beers to try, and 50% off the food, what was not to like?
Several of the party were already seated when I arrived, so after a quick dollop of hand sanitiser, I was shown to the reserved table to join the rest of the company. As is often the case these days, I didn’t get a chance to see what was on the pumps, but fortunately the beer selection was displayed on a printed menu left on the table.
Being a fan of Old Dairy beers, I opted for their Green Hop Challenger 4.0% abv. It was a pleasant, pale coloured beer with a slightly spicy aroma. I didn’t get much in the way of hops though, and the same lack of humulus lupulus was evident in the second beer of the evening. North Down Green Hop 2020 is brewed using a Belgianyeast strain, so that rather distinctive taste that is characteristic of beers from that Lowland country, dominated the beer completely overpowering the hop content; green or otherwise. Despite this, the beer went well with the Goan Beef Curry I ordered for my main (and only) course. The meal choices amongst the six of us, were split 4:2 between chilli con carné and the beef curry, so spice and heat were certainly the order of the day. My third and final beer of the evening – don’t forget, 10pm is chucking out time, was Wibbler’s Crafty Stoat, a fine 5.3% abv stout, based on an old brewery recipe from 1885. As far as I know, this stout wasn’t a Green Hop beer either, but it was by far the best beer of the evening.
Before the evening drew to a close, Matt brought out a complimentary selection of cheeses, in honour of our friend’s birthday. There was also a small glass of port each, which regrettably I had to pass on. With an important audit at work the following morning, I needed to keep a clear head, so much as I enjoy this after diner drink, it would not have been a good idea on top of the beer.
The promotion of Green Hop beers at the Nelson, is being run in conjunction with the Beer Seller, in Tonbridge High Street, so there’s plenty of opportunity over the next few weeks, to find some not only to my taste, but some that actually contain hops – green or otherwise! The whole green hop thing seems rather low key this year. Perhaps not surprising, given the current situation, but also disappointing as what had become an annul trip to Canterbury, to enjoy the Green Hop beers showcased at the city’s Food & Drink Festival, didn’t take place. This brings me onto the topic which still seems on every newspaper and TV news editor’s mind; that pesky Corona virus. They don’t appear to have got the message that most of us are fed up to the back teeth with “R” rates, contact tracing and number of infections per 100,0000, but like spoiled brats pleased that their self-fulfilling prophesy appears to be coming true, the media seem determined to keep Corona at the top of their agenda.
The dreaded Covid, did crop up from time to time during the evening’s conversation., but with two well-qualified scientists amongst out number, it was a sensible and rational discussion that ensued. Various clipping from “Private Eye” were also circulated amongst us, poking fun at the government’s mishandling of the situation and the absurdity of some of the new rules and regulations. The one that puzzles me the most is boy Hancock’s “Rule of Six.” There were six of seated around the table last Wednesday evening, which is in full compliance of Hancock’s most recent edict, which is fine until you consider that all six of us were from separate households. I was sat close to two of my friends, and definitely not two metres away. In addition, I was directly facing the two people sat opposite me.
So how does this work when I’m expected to maintain a social distance from my work colleagues, even though I am in contact with them five days a week, but can get up close to friends who I see far less often? I’m quite relaxed about the whole thing, but don’t Johnson, Hancock, Shitty Whitty and the rest of the control freaks who seem determined to inflict yet more misery on our lives, see the absurdity of the whole thing? We left the pub just before the now statutory 10pm closing time, because that’s when the Corona virus comes out to play. Despite the madness that has afflicted government and large swathes of the general population, it was good to catch up with old friends, and spend it in the company of those who haven’t lost their marbles and whose conversation is interesting, thoughtful and at times highly amusing.

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