Cycle Ride - Janice Munn
A dozen of us met in the car park at Grafham Water to make sure we were all fit and ready for action and suitably equipped. Luckily the temperature had dropped from the tropical heat of the previous few days, although there was a slight chance of a drop of rain. As we set off Carol assured us we could all go at our own pace - she would bring up the rear to make sure no-one got lost along the way. She also assured us she had available a puncture repair kit - but didn't know how to use it!
The track started off heading along the edge of the water before taking a slight detour through the village; at the end of the road re-joining the cycle track. It was at this point we discovered there were some gradients involved (both up and down) so it was time to try out the gears and the strength of the knees! the most strenuous incline was luckily just before the pub stop (not sure how many made this one without a dismount - I'm sure a few did). Anyway we felt we deserved a well-earned rest, along of course with a hearty snack and a drink, or two. The pub was lovely with a great deal of choice on the menu, along with daily 'specials'.
Gorge Walking in The Brecon Beacons - Sue Smart
The weather forecast wasn't good (rain and gale force winds) but hey we were going to get wet anyway!
After the grunting and groaning of donning wet suits, helmets and buoyancy aids, we were led to the start of our adventure. The first thing we had to do was jump in the water to acclimatise ourselves and get the essential layer of water in our wetsuits to keep warm!?
Jon our instructor warned us that the water was 'Baltic'. He wasn't wrong.
We then made our way up stream clambering over rocks and in pools and up a small but quite strong fall. It made you realise the power of the water.
We continued until we came to a wider fall. Here we climbed onto a ledge and crawled through the falling water to the other side. The water was so cold it numbed your brain. Ice cream head Jon called it. We then jumped into the pool a few feet below. Very exhilarating.
En route Jon showed us the interesting geology of the area which was also the site of an old silica mine.
Onwards and upwards we made our way to loonies leap! The remains of a gunpowder factory were still evident.
We waded across to some old workings to do the next jump. It was about 8 feet high but looked more.
We all bravely jumped in and then clambered up the opposite bank.
Then came the grand finale! We were invited to peer over the edge to see where we were going, a 30 foot drop to the water below. (So that's why they call it loonies leap!)
Lyn, Tony and Doug all jumped without hesitation. However Lucy and I weren't too sure.
After a bit of dithering Lucy decided to go for it. That was it! I couldn't be the only one not to do it. Wow what a feeling. I'm so glad I jumped.
Thank you Lyn for all your organisation and to Miriam for braving the weather to take photos.
It was well worth freezing your bits off for!
Potbelly Micro Brewery Visit - Bill and Kate (mainly Kate!)
Having arrived very nearly on time we found our brave group standing in the brewery's car park with no sign of anybody being inside the building, Pauline having knocked on each of the two obvious doors.
We waited a little longer unable to think of any other option, other than Bill's tentative shaking of a few barrels to see if they contained anything drinkable (they didn't!).
Pauline stepped forward, leadership skills to the fore, and hammered on the one remaining door that, at first glance, appeared to have nothing to do with the brewery: (lo and behold - our host for the evening) appeared, looking slightly bewildered and with a pint in his hand, having wondered where we were!
Just at this moment, Kate happened to notice that one of the parked cars had a flat tyre and it turned out that the car belonged to Maureen so, just as the rest of us were eagerly following our host into the building, Maureen and Geoff (who had travelled with Maureen) were busily trying to find a jack to change the wheel. (Don't know who Jack is!).
Our reduced party then began the serious business of sampling some of the brewery's products and amusing ourselves with table football and darts whilst we awaited the missing members.
The search for a jack was unsuccessful so the RAC was called and Maureen and Geoff then came in to join the rest of us. Unfortunately Maureen, in her understandable eagerness not to fall behind our consumption, failed to notice a small step into the bar area and fell flat - and that was before she'd had a drink!
After our multiple tasting session we started our lesson in the art of brewing beginning with a short history of the brewery itself. Then it all began to sound very technical with the various processes and treatments that the ingredients go through, the different types of hops, some of which have to be imported and the lovely old names for the barrel sizes into which go the finished products.
The names of all the Potbelly beers have some allusion to pigs: Beijing Black, Pigs do Fly!, Hop Trotter and seasonal favourites like Jingle Bellies and A Limp Pig Gold!
We then returned to the bar for further sampling opportunities accompanied by fish and chips - all very nice but there were those who thought the chips would have been improved by the vinegar that was discovered behind the bar about half an hour after we had finished them!
By now, the good old RAC man had got Maureen's car back into running order and we spent some time trying to work out how many people she would have to ferry home (at 25p per mile) to buy her a new tyre! After all that beer though the maths was just too taxing so she settled at 3: Geoff (her original passenger) and Kate and Bill, saving the latter the cost of a cab.
This was an excellent evening and thanks go to Pauline (for insisting that we go and try as many beers as possible!) and to our most genial and entertaining host.
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