Festival

Another Year Another Bishop's Castle

2017 at Bishop's Castle for their Ale Trail weekend and it was another cracker. The forecast two days of grey proved wrong, with just a smidge of rain on Friday evening and some very hot sunshine for much of Saturday. Dehydration was a risk despite the ale on offer.

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In case you aren't aware of the place it is in Shropshire on the Welsh borders near Montgomery. For the last 21 years they've had this real ale trail where most the pubs in the village get involved and put on extra beers, food and entertainment. It is thoroughly recommended. I think I've been nine times now. Our local branch of CAMRA (Liverpool) until recently had the trip as the first one penned in every year and has even run two coaches on occasion due to the high demand. But for the last couple of years they haven't run the trip. I think people have been Bishop Castled out. It's a shame it's gone but having it as an annual trip probably was over the top with all the other options out there. Not that it matters if I can camp there and make a couple of days of it anyway.

Three of us went this year. It was almost four, but let's not go there. And thanks to Tony getting in early and booking it we got our place in the always excellent (and always full for the weekend) Foxholes campsite. The site is fab and at £8 a night including showers etc is a bargain. It is just a short walk downhill across a field (along the Shropshire Way) into the village. Usually the field is full of barley or wheat but this year was a desert so there were no people shaped holes in the barley this year where people inevitably fall off the path on the way back to the campsite after a few beverages and realise they've forgotten to bring a torch.

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About five years ago, when the Liverpool branch took two coaches of thirsty Scousers to the village, there was an issue at the festival. Nothing to do with them though. Two coaches of Brummies arrived who were supposed to be attending a music festival that weekend arrived after that festival was cancelled. In their wisdom with the coaches booked they'd found the nearby 'Bishop's Castle festival' and put two and two together and come up with a triangle. Needless to say when they turned up mid afternoon and found the village full of CAMRA types enjoying ale and music from covers bands it was not what the youngsters wanted. And after they'd drunk what they could of bottled and canned lagers on the street they started fighting amongst themselves. A few cars were apparently damaged in the fracas which was kicking off as the Liverpool branch coaches left.

Of course local journalists being what they are (lazy stereotypes are always right aren't they?) well when they heard there was trouble at the festival and there was coach loads of Liverpudlians there then it was surely obvious who the troublemakers were. And the 'journalist' actually called up the branch for comments about it. Sigh.

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The following year the festival was altered for good thanks to this and we could no longer drink from glass, but have to use plastic glasses. Booo! Still, they are pretty good glasses. And have been very handy to take to End of the Road and Glastonbury festivals ever since. The plastic glasses have remained a fixture as part of the permissioning to hold the festival. Ho hum.

Friday this year was the usual three pub effort. A pint in the Three Tuns. A pint in the Castle Hotel and then down to the Vaults for the rest of the evening where they always have a good band and good vibe. No change this year.

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After a night ending kebab it was back to Foxholes. A relatively incident free night ,bar some 'sexy dancing' by someone who will remain nameless.

Waking up at 4am I was lucky enough to see a beautiful sky developing and it heralded the lovely day ahead.

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Saturday was perfect. Bacon butty. Real ale. Sunshine. Bands. Sausages. Real ale. Music. Real ale. In addition to the three pubs from Friday (which we did again of course) we went to the Boar's Head and the Six Bells (the King's Head was understaffed and beer choice underwhelming so we walked in and walked out). In addition there were beers available in the Town Hall which made a nice change - and gave us a fab view down into the village (pic at top of page). Ste was suffering a bit at this stage from the heat but soon seemed to improve thankfully (going back to red faced from red faced via a very pale grey one).

Sunday, and I was met with a snapped tent pole. I have been totally underwhelmed by the quality of this tent (it's a Gelert Chinook 2-man). My last tent (a Euro Hike) survived ten years of festivals (multiple Ts, Vs, EOTRs, Glastonburys and Bishop Castles) and was easy to put up, this one is not as easy to put and to add insult to injury (fibre glass through fingers) has survived - just - three years and three festivals. Bloody awful.

Never mind. It didn't really spoil the weekend. I never got to like it so retiring the tent will not be painful to me.

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All in all a top couple of days with Tony, Ste and me. Smile!

Bishops Castle Flickr

A selection of photos have been uploaded on to Flickr (click on image above).


Comments

Bishop's Castle Real Ale Trail

Yeah! Off to Bishop's Castle in a couple of hours for their annual real ale festival. I'm not sure how many times I've been now, but guess this will be my eighth or ninth time. It's my fourth time camping there too so I get to enjoy a relaxed Friday as well as the Saturday. Always enjoy a cool pint in the Three Tuns before the most of the evening in the Vaults for their music (and last year... mucho Jaipur!)

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It's usually sunny or at least dry and it's lovely that all (or nearly all) the pubs in the village get involved. Live music, great food options, interesting people, pretty village and lots and lots of real ale choices. What's not to like?

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Some good stories from previous trips, usually painless. The most eventful year involved the hottest day for years several years ago and walking back to our campsite through a
midnight car rally stage - scary! Perhaps that story will make it into one of my Memoirs pieces... I'm over due a new one.

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Even managed to get some writing in first with a quick Microcosms this morning... now where's my tent?


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