7 May 2016

Do Something New Each Day - April 2016

Day 92 - 1 April 2016 - Tried ''Fuller's 1845' ale

Last Friday was the start of a brand new month and the hope of finding a non-Belgian beer I liked. A few drinks after work, to say goodbye to a good colleague of mine, gave me the excuse to do just that. This time I stayed clear of IPAs and tried this one. It had won many awards, has received great reviews and is not an IPA. Definitely better than IPAs but, still, not one to look for when I want to enjoy a great beer.

Day 93 - 2 April 2016 - Tried 'Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen' beer

I guess this is a beer that you normally don't order by its name but, rather "Can I have this one?"! And this is how exactly I ordered it.

The first thing you notice when you open the bottle is the smell. It does smell like smokey bacon crisps - and this is because that's exactly what its flavour is!! Schlenkerla is a historic brewpub in Bamberg, Germany, renowned for its smoked flavoured beers and, especially, this particular one!!

It definitely has a unique taste. And I'm still sitting on the fence on whether I like it or not. Maybe on a cold winter's night and accompanied by grilled meat it could be a great accompaniment. But on the night, I could not manage to finish the whole pint of it! But will certainly try it again, under different circumstances.

Day 94 - 3 April 2016 - Read the book 'The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow' by Jerome K Jerome

What a wonderful and witty book that was!! I've never heard of Jerome K Jerome before, but after reading this humorous collection of essays I'll definitely read some more of his work.

Published in 1886, it gives the author's views on a number of subjects, such as love, vanity, the weather, food and drink, cats and dogs, babies, dressing, etc. And after reading it, it is difficult to believe how society, stereotypes, views, have not changed one bit since the 1800s!! If you want to read a book that's very relevant even today, even though published in 1886, this is the one. A few of my fav quotes from the book:

"We drink one another's health and spoil our own"

"The weather is like the government, always in the wrong"

"Young ladies take their notions of our sex from the novels written by their own, and compared with the monstrosities that masquerade for men in the pages of that nightmare literature, Phytagoras' plucked bird and Frankenstein's demon were fair average specimens of humanity."

Day 95 - 4 April 2016 - Saw a play at the Playhouse Theatre, in Liverpool

The Playhouse is one of the Liverpool theatres I've never been to. So it was time to put that right. It's a small theatre, right in the middle of the city centre. And when a great play such as 'The 39 Steps' was making its opening day, and the ticket price was just £10, I grabbed the opportunity.

I read the book years ago but haven't watched the Hitchock movie adaptation. But the play was absolutely brilliant! Four actors playing 130 different characters!!! And I was in fits of laughter throughout the play.

Day 96 - 5 April 2016 - Saw a play at the Unity Theatre, in Liverpool

After the previous night's entertaining play, I decided to visit another theatre the following evening! Unity Theatre is only 5 minutes walk from my house and I've always walked past it, thinking I should give it a go one day. It's a very small, quirky place, but it certainly punches above its weight and is very popular with locals.

The play I saw was called 'Brakin' Pad', a comedy created and played by Liverpool actors and writers. Not as good as the play from the previous night but enjoyable nevertheless. For more info on Unity Theatre click here.

Day 97 - 6 April 2016 - Watched the movie 'Taxi Driver'

Shock horror!! Yes, I know! I hold my hands up and I say "Up to now, I never got to watch this classic!!". But since last Wednesday, this is now a thing of the past! Not much to say, really. Great film, great actors, great director. Click here for more info.

Day 98 - 7 April 2016 - Tried '24 Carat Gold' beer, by Liverpool Organic Brewery

Who would have thought that it'll be a local brewery that would finally give me a non-Belgian beer I can easily drink! Here's a refreshing pint that goes down really well and its organic too! Still not on the same level as Belgian ale but very good nevertheless! For more info in Liverpool Organic Brewery click here.

Day 99 - 8 April 2016 - Saw Britain's smallest police station, The centre of London and Benjamin Franklin's house, in London

Most people, when they visit Trafalgar Square in London, don't realise or know of these three 'secrets'.

Britain's smallest police station (1st photo) is located on the south-east corner of the square. It was originally installed by Scotland Yard in 1926, allegedly so that police could keep an eye on the frequent demonstrations held in the square. Nowadays, it is used to store street cleaning equipment.

A little bit to the south of the square, in one of the traffic islands, is a plaque on the pavement (photos 2 and 3) that marks the spot from which all mileage distances in Britain from London are measured.

Finally, a few steps from the square at 36 Craven Street (photos 4 and 5) is Franklin's only surviving home. Nowadays it is a museum.

Day 100 - 9 April 2016 - Made 'Low Carb Chocolate Brownies'

To mark the 100th day of my 'doing something new' year, I decided to treat myself! But when you make something sweet there is a big danger you're gonna end up eating the whole lot yourself!!

So, using the amazing app and blog of my good friend Martina Slajerova I followed one of her recipes and made low carb chocolate brownies!! I knew I was going to love them and eat them without feeling too guilty, as I have tried many of her creations (and still waiting for her to give me the recipe of that amazing birthday tart she made on my birthday a few years ago!!! :P). Needless to say, the brownies are delicious and decreasing in number by the minute!

If you are someone who avoids carbs or follow a keto/paleo diet, then you should definitely check out Martina's site in this link.

Day 101 - 10 April 2016 - Read the book 'Children Of The New Forest' by Frederick Marryat

Today I finished another book, this time a children's novel published in 1847. Set in the time of the English Civil War, the story follows the fortunes of four children who are orphaned during the war. This is (obviously) a very easily readable and feel-good book. I guess it's worth reading if only for the great difference between children novels nowdays compared to the 19th century. For more info click here.

Day 102 - 11 April 2016 - Watched the movie 'Blindness'

Considering the cast and director, this movie had the potential to be much better! At the end, it's an OK film to watch, but nothing too exciting. Click here for more info.

Day 103 - 12 April 2016 - Tried 'Chimay Triple' beer

When you have a very busy week with work and other commitments, it's very difficult to find enough time to do something exciting. So, since the sun is out you may as well try some new beers!!!

This time I reverted to my good and trusted Belgians, and tried Chimay Triple. Chimay Blue is still my favourite from the Chimay range I've tried so far, but this one is a very good beer that goes down really well. Be careful though! At 8% it may be small in size but packs a punch!!

Day 104 - 13 April 2016 - Tried 'Duchesse De Bourgogne' beer

What an unusual beer!! No wonder I am so fond of Belgian beer - it never fails to surprise me!

Close your eyes. If you smell it, you'd think you're having a glass of red wine in front of you. Taste it and you'd find it hard to guess it's a beer: fizzy, with undertones of dark ale and fruits. I think it can be a definite winner with the ladies but it goes down really well with the lads, despite it's fizziness. And only 6.2% of alcohol too!

After its primary and secondary fermentation it is matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of a younger 8-month beer and an 18-month older beer.

Day 105 - 14 April 2016 - Tried 'Page 24 Brune' beer

Time to try a French beer this time...I wish I hadn't!!! After a few sips I could not drink anymore!!!

It's not the fact that it has a 7.9% alcohol content. I like strong beers. However, you can actually smell the alcohol on this one and it's quite off-putting in a beer when you can do that.

But, above all, it has a Whisky aftertaste - and I hate Whisky, my palate cannot cope with its taste. So it couldn't cope with this beer either! But don't feel sorry - it didn't go to waste. I used it to make a rather tasty beer & mustard loaf.

Day 106 - 15 April 2016 - Attended 'Cream Classics' at the Liverpool Cathedral

When you combine one of the biggest and best clubs/labels in the world, with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and you gather them in the longest cathedral in the world (and 5th largest), then you know something special is going to happen. And it did!! The show lasted for only 90 minutes (but there was an afterparty at a nightclub), but will live long in memory. 

Day 107 - 16 April 2016 - Had lunch at Delkery, in Liverpool

Another place I wanted to visit for sometime and, to be honest, I feel a bit guilty for marking it as 'average' on Tripadvisor. But it's Tripadvisor's fault for having a marking system where you can either choose 'average' or 'very good', with no option to choose 'good'. You can read my review here.

Day 108 - 17 April 2016 - Visited the childhood homes of the Beatles

A must for every Beatles fan and also for every Liverpool resident. Although the tour takes you only to the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, the people presenting them do a great job in taking you around each room and giving you an insight in the life of these two legends, including stories told by family and friends of the two musicians. For more info click here.

Day 109 - 18 April 2016 - Tried 'Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier' beer

Oh yes! Now we're talking!! This is definitely one beer to stock up to on a hot summer's day! Weihenstephan is the state brewery of Bavaria (in Germany) and also claims to be the oldest brewery in the world. It could be true but I don't care. This wheat beer is awesome!!! And you can find it in most supermarkets, so I think you have no excuse not to try it.

Day 110 - 19 April 2016 - Watched the movie 'The Intouchables'

I had this movie in my list ever since I saw the trailer at the cinema back in 2011. Completely forgot about it until now!!

What a great movie! Five starts from me! It had me in stiches throughout. Although it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Movie in a Foreign Language it did not win; but won numerous other awards. A must watch!

Day 111 - 20 April 2016 - Tried the beer 'Nightmare On Bold Street- Double' by the Mad Hatter Brewery of Liverpool

The Mad Hatter Brewery in Liverpool, as the name suggests, produces craft beer whose name or appearance has to do with characters from 'Alice in Wonderland'.

This particular one, shows the Rabbit in the story dressed as Freddy Krueger - but instead of Elm Street, the nightmare is on my favourite street in Liverpool, Bold Street. I just love their imagination!!!

Anyway, back to this beer. The normal bottle is a luxuriously creamy milk stout, cold infused with the best coffee beans from Bold Street Coffee (a great independent coffee shop in Bold Street). But the bottle I tried was a 'double', in other words, double the coffee and everything else.

I think that fans of Guinness and stouts in general would love it!! A very dark colour and thicker than normal consistency, but with very good taste. I'm not really a fan of stouts, but will definitely try the other beers from this brewery!!

Day 112 - 21 April 2016 - Had dinner at 'Olive Bar & Restaurant' in Liverpool

A lovely evening with friends in town and dinner, for the first time, in this restaurant which has received great reviews on Tripadvisor and was very busy when we visited.

It serves a selection of pizzas, pastas and steaks. I personally found it OK but nothing too great, mainly because the food was a bit hit and miss: the soup was great, the pizza so and so (not the largest or tastier in Liverpool), but the dessert was also very tasty.

My review has yet to be published on Tripadvisor, so will add it when it does. Click here for more info on the restaurant.

Day 113 - 22 April 2016 - Watched the movie 'Twin Sisters'

Another great movie to watch, this time a Dutch film that tells the story of twins German sisters who are separated at the age of six.

The film was nominated in 2003 for an Oscar for best foreign language film, but did not win it. Very surprised it hasn't won many awards as I found it very gripping. For more info click here.

Day 114 - 23 April 2016 - Attended the lighting up of the Perth Rock Lighthouse, in New Brighton

New Brighton, to those who don't know, is a lovely town on the other side of the river Mersey. The Perth Rock Lighthouse was decommissioned back in 1973 but, this Grade II listed structure, remained a well-loved landmark to date.

After 42 years the Mayor of Wirral light it up again and I was there to see it! Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me (as I went there straight after the Liverpool game) so the photos are not as good as I hoped.

Day 115 - 24 April 2016 - Tried 'Imperial Russian Stout' by Liverpool Organic Brewery

This is the second product I tried from this local brewery. Unlike the '24 Carat Gold', this one was not really my cup of tea. I guess stouts are a bit of a hit and miss with me, anyway, but didn't quite find the taste of this bottle very appealing. For more info on the brewery click here.

Day 116 - 25 April 2016 - Tried 'Toxteth IPA' from the Mad Hatter Brewery of Liverpool

This week is 'beer drinking week'. No, I haven't decided to become an alcoholic - it's just that May will involve loads of travelling so I have to take care of things at work and home so I don't have to do them when I get back.

Monday's beer comes yet again from the Mad Hatter Brewery. Even before tasting it I knew I wasn't gonna like it (being an IPA), but when it's named after your neighborhood you HAVE to drink it!!

Yeap, didn't like it - too bitter for me. Oh well!

Day 117 - 26 April 2016 - Tried 'Maredsous Blonde'

Back to the good old trusted Belgians then! Really liked this one. Doesn't taste like your usual Belgian. Instead, it reminded me a lot of my teenage years and drinking beer in Greece. Can't think whether it was Henninger, or Fix or any other name at the time, but it certainly brought back the time drinking it!

Day 118 - 27 April 2016 - Tried 'Absence Of Strawberries' from the Mad Hatter Brewery of Liverpool

Well, I really don't know what to say about this strange beer!! Initially, the smell can be off-putting: something between hops, fruits and something sour. Then you pour it into a glass and you get so much fizz that it's as if you dropped one of those soluble tablets in it!

The taste? Again, not sure! Partly hops, sour fruits, and fizziness. Initially you don't really like it but as time passes it gets more and more drinkable.

Day 119 - 28 April 2016 - Tried 'Saison Dupont'

Another lovely Belgian ale, very easily drinkable on a warm spring day!

Day 120 - 29 April 2016 - Visited Maidstone

Maidstone was my 'base' for my Bank Holiday weekend, but I didn't get to see much of it as I was mainly elsewhere. So I'm afraid if you want to know more about the city, you need to click here.

Day 121 - 30 April 2016 - Visited the Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

This place has been on my bucket-list so I'm very pleased I got to tick it off!

The castle is in Kent and the gardens were created in the 1930s by Vita Sackville-West, poet and gardening writer, and her husband Harold Nicolson, author and diplomat. Nowadays it is owned and maintained by the National Trust. It is one of the most famous gardens in England.

April Review

Well, the weather much improved this month, so loads of new beer and visiting new places was the theme. In total, I tried 13 new beers, watched 4 new movies, read 2 books, made one new recipe, and tried 2 new restaurants. I also visited 2 theatres for the first time, attended the awesome Cream Classics at Liverpool Cathedral and the lighting up of the New Brighton lighthouse. Finally, paid a visit to the Beatles' childhood homes, saw some interesting parts of London, and visited Maidstone and Sissinghurst Gardens. 

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