Departure lounge ramblings on music, places, climate change and stuff outdoors

One weekend / two discoveries

A wonderful trip to Bath this weekend has reaped two pleasant discoveries. First, a beer that purports to offer subtle hints of peach amidst its hoppy flavours, and actually does. And, second, an amazing new cycle route that takes in both the unfailingly beautiful Kennet and Avon canal, along with a cycle tunnel with an aural surprise.

Hailing from Burton upon Trent, the brewing capital of Britain, I can’t help feeling a bit of a traitor for penning my first beer review about an ale from Dorset. But Bass don’t produce peach-flavoured beer and Badger’s ‘Golden Glory’ is a highly satisfying pint.

Golden Glory is a summery, amber colour and light enough to taste a lot less potent than its advertised 4.5% strength. But its unique calling card is that if you stick your nose over the top of a freshly poured pint you’ll inhale the unmistakable fragrance of ripe peaches, a reference that is matched by your taste-buds in a quick sensation cross-check after a first sup.

We indulged in an early evening pint as a pre-prandial and it primed my palate perfectly for a dish of ratatouille and sea bass, accompanied by a strongly melon-flavoured sauvignon. Badger’s Golden Ale – you are my new favourite summer pint. What a shame I only discovered you as autumn is settling into its slippers.

That should be the sign-off for the Golden Glory homage, but just to assuage my hometown guilt let me shoe-horn in an unnecessary Burton reference by noting that Hall and Woodhouse, brewers of said Badger ale, started in business in 1777 – the very same year that William Bass started his world conquering operations in Burton. Clearly a good year for the brewing.

Saturday night’s food and beverage indulgence meant that fresh air and exercise were more essential than usual on Sunday, so I jumped at the chance to take a bike out in Bath this morning despite a drizzly start.

A few weeks ago I had enjoyed a friends 40th birthday bash just down the road in Pewsey, camping near the extraordinary Barge Inn (of which more on another occasion), so I already had an inkling of the untampered beauty of the Kennet and Avon canal which we followed for most of our route today. But I had never heard of the Two Tunnels Greenway which took us under Combe Down for the last couple of miles home.

Opened by Sustrans in April, the Two Tunnels Greenway runs on the line of the former Somerset and Dorset railway. This Victorian, stone-lined structure might be little more than a convenient short-cut were it not for the carefully judged lighting (enough luminosity for safety, but dark enough for a little underground atmosphere), and the inspired addition of sci-fi speakers delivering a gentle background of classical music to calibrate the cyclists’ tempo.

I pedalled through mouthing ‘wow!’ for most of the 10 minutes of tunnel time and so can heartily recommend that everyone who is comfortable on two wheels should find an excuse to take your bike there.

The morning already seems like a long time ago, sitting here in my living room on Sunday night, but with Matthew E. White’s amazing ‘Big Inner’ on the turntable, a glass of red at hand and the Antiques Roadshow about to start, I am strongly of the opinion that it has been a fantastic late-summer weekend!

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