Secret Stonehenge

It has been a while since I properly wrote something on here; I have been rather slack over the summer with so much going on and holidays. It has been a crazy couple of months and there is still so much more going on.

Where shall I start…. I know…. My Birthday, always a good place to start! So it was a decade year this time around, sob, and my lovely family decided to treat me to a fabulous week away to celebrate/ commiserate me turning 30!

My snazzy stonehenge hut!

My snazzy stonehenge hut!

It was a total surprise, so as a control freak it was hard to let someone else take the reins on my holiday planning. However, these guys did good!!! The journey began with a sibling road trip. Trying my very best not to look out of the car window as we three kids drove to the destination the first stop on our tour arrived, Stonehenge. It was very exciting indeed as I have never been before. It was amazing, driving down the road and all of a sudden there on the horizon was the famous, glorious stone ring. It looks exactly as it does in the pictures. So we clambered out of the car (minus the delicious strawberries we picked up from a guy selling them by the side of the road – only in the countryside!) and dashed for the entrance trying to beat the buses full of tourists. It’s a popular spot and there is no way of getting away from the tourists that visit, but it’s not the end of the world.

delicious!

delicious road side treats

ingenious!

ingenious!

Now there are two ways to get up to Stonehenge from the new snazzy visitors centre with its 360 degree view of the stones, you can walk across cow dotted fields or take the little shuttle bus service. We had time limits on the visit as we had places to be so we chose the lazy option and got the bus. Naughty!

Getting off the bus the walking route takes you around the stones, it may have been cloudy but on occasion the clouds cleared and the sun shone through and even more the crowds cleared and there was periods when you could see through the stones and not people, hurrah! As you walk around you cannot help but be amazed at the sure size of the stones, their age and the skill that went into getting them to this spot and carving them. The sheer wonder of this ancient site!

The Glorious Stonehenge

The Glorious Stonehenge

Stonehenge StonehengeIf you are ever in the area then I highly recommend a stop. Even if ancient history isn’t your thing, you have to appreciate the wonder of these things.

Anyway, exiting through the gift shop, where else, we headed back to the car for the next stop on our secret adventure…… lunch! And what a great lunch stop it was, the Lincoln Inn. This is a small local pub that serves delicious food. The staff were friendly and attentive, the food was great and it was in a stunning location. This was of course the location that my parents arrived as a ‘surprise’ …. Not going to lie the table set for five was a giveaway, plus a few other things! But a fabulous gastropub lunch it was.

Setting sail one more, now in convoy, where on earth were we heading……..

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A trip around Fullers Brewery

Beer, it’s one of the oldest beverages in the world! It’s been drunk through every great empire, it became a staple in Europe thanks to the brewing by monks in monasteries and today is a global business. Over the last decade or so the craft of beer has become more and more popular, with fine ale and craft beer societies making their way into the University society lists, micro breweries popping up all over the place and pubs now offering a brilliant choice of beer rather than the run of the mill european larger that have a monopoly on the market.

While at university I was like most people and would drink what ever the cheapest bottle beer was, as it was cheap and you could dance with it in your hand. However, moving to London I have slowly become a lover of craft beers, I blame this partially on long weekends in Berlin, and over the last couple of years with the emergence of micro-breweries around me its hard not to like these new beers. Brixton Brewery is down the road from me, Camden Town brewery is also close, plus the smaller ones like the Kernel Brewery are all temptations. Plus We Bought Beer have just opened their first shop in Balham! Of course all this fine ale drinking means more time in the gym so a beer gut doesn’t form but I feel its worth it!

Now there are some bigger breweries that have been going for much longer but still hold onto the traditional values and want to create fine craft ales that can be appreciated and not just chugged down. One of these which I have been a fan of since moving to London and stumbling upon them ( and their pies!) is Fullers. They are London’s last traditional family brewery and strive to produce quality beer like they have been doing for 160 years.  Based in Chiswick and all their beer is made on site there they are heavy weight in British beer. A majority of their pubs are based in or around London but also get as far as the midlands. They are a familiar scene in London and if I was given the choice of one of their pubs and another brewery, I would take Fullers. Not only is the beer good, the pubs full of atmosphere but the food is also great. They are a company that are focused on quality produce.

I was lucky enough to recently get a chance at touring the brewery. It was great! Not only did I learn about how beer is brewed but I also got to sample some of the fine ales they produce. Now this tour is something they offer and its such a good idea. It runs Monday – Friday between 11am- 3pm and only costs £10 and that includes tastings.

Fullers BreweryThe tour starts in the Mawson Arms, the brewery pub, where your knowledgable guide will collect you. From there you are taken around the brewery, shown the processes, questions answered and all in all very educational. I always had a general idea of how beer was made but now, now I know all. I think on tours like this the guide makes it or breaks it, our guide completely made it. He was humorous and entertaining and was a wealth of knowledge, he clearly loved what he was doing.

Who doesn't love a tour with a high vis-vest

Who doesn’t love a tour with a high vis-vest

On Tour!

On Tour!

At the end of the tour you end up in the tasting room, of course what we had all been waiting for! As it was a hot sunny day, a cold bottle of Indian Pale Ale – the Bengal Lancer was very much enjoyed. We also tried our hand at the Honey Dew, which as its name suggests has a hint of honey about it.

Old School delivery bike

Old School delivery bike

Fullers BreweryThe tour was such a good idea and something I would definitely do again. Its nice in a world where there are so many faceless food and beverage companies that a company like Fullers that has been around for such a long time is still so accessible and open. Its staff are friendly and love what they are doing. Lets hope that it stays a family business for another 160 years as it would be sad to see such a London institution get absorbed into a faceless company!

Fullers BreweryIf you are looking for something a little bit different to do with a day off or a visit to London then head to Fullers Brewery!