Sunday, 6 June 2010
Bloggers Meet Up
On Saturday I met up with fellow Beer Blogger and all round nice-guy, Paul Garrard. I feel as though I owe a debt of gratitude to Paul, as he was the person responsible for getting me interested in bogging in the first place. Paul has hosted the excellent Real Ale Blog for a number of years, and it was in response to a request on his site for guest writers to contribute articles that led me to become involved. I had been writing articles on beer and pubs, for a number of years, with the aim of eventually getting them published. I e-mailed one of these articles to Paul, and a day or two later, was delighted to see it posted on the Real Ale Blog.
I followed this original post with a couple of other articles, one of which was freshly written on a topical subject. I hadn't at the time, intended to start my own blog, but after looking into it and discovering how easy it was to open a Google account, I took the plunge and set up a blog of my own. The rest, as they say, is history.
Although it's been less than two years since this process was initiated, I feel that I've got to know several fellow bloggers quite well - purely from reading their blogs, posting comments and receiving replies. This is, of course, a reciprocal arrangement and I've had some interesting comments and responses to some of the things I've blogged about. I discovered, quite early on, that I had quite a bit in common with Paul. For instance, he lives in Norfolk, a county I know well as my parents retired there, a decade and a half ago. I also learnt that Paul and his partner ran their own Beer Shop, in Bury St Edmunds. This is something I have particular experience of, as for nearly six years my wife and I ran our own successful Real Ale Off-Licence in Tonbridge. Paul had suggested meeting up a number of times previously, but somehow there always seemed to be a clash of events or prior engagements.
This time though was different. Paul informed me, via Facebook that him and his partner were planning a visit to Maidstone on 5th June, and would I be able to meet up for a drink? Maidstone is only 15 miles or so away from here, and is readily accessible by public transport, so after thumbing through the local pub guide, we decided upon a pub to meet up in. Both of us wanted somewhere that would do food, but not at the expense of the beer, so the Rifle Volunteers, one of only two pubs belonging to the local Goachers Brewery seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
My son Matt and I travelled to Maidstone by train, and as we arrived early we had time for a bit of shopping, before walking up to the the Rifle Volunteers. Paul was waiting for us in the bar, and after introductions we settled down to enjoy a few pints of the excellent Goachers beers on sale in the pub. I used to live in Maidstone, and know the Rifle Volunteers quite well. The pub used to belong to Shepherd Neame, but was sold to Goachers quite a few years ago. It is still run by the same landlord, and apart from the change of brewery ownership, has hardly altered at all over the last 30 years.
We spent an interesting few hours chatting to Paul, mainly about beer, CAMRA, running a beer shop and, of course, blogging. The Goachers Fine Light was especially good, and at £2.70 a pint was excellent value. We parted company shortly before the Rifle Volunteers shut for the afternoon. Paul went off to meet up with his good lady; Matt and I for a further look round the shops. It had been really good to meet up with Paul, and we hope to have a return match in Norwich in the not too distant future.