Posted by: musinganorak | August 29, 2010

Go West! Again!

Another trip along the M4 with Bath, again, being the first destination. This time I am going to try and finish off as many of the 14 lions as I can. Realistically there are 12 available to me as 1 is only viewable from Monday to Friday and the other is at Longleat in an area where you have to pay an admission charge. I personally think that if businesses wish to host one of these public art works then they should be available to be seen by the public without the need to pay any admission or make a specific appointment.

I concentrated, initially, on the outlying lions and managed most of them quite easily. The problem one was Quercus S Rex which was being hosted by the Royal Oak pub in Twerton. The pub was scheduled to open at 12:00 and so I left this to the last one before heading in to the city. At 12:15 there was still no sign of life in the pub and when I rang them there was no response. It is a superb pub that I have visited once before, and on that occasion it was late opening up. Seems they are a bit lax in these parts with published hours. I eventually went nosing around the back of the pub in case there was another entrance that was open. There was. But it was closed. However I did find the lion sitting outside in the beer garden. Job done and when I left the pub still wasn’t open.

I headed in to the city centre and after parking up I set about my task. Unfortunately the maximum stay where I had parked was 1 hour meaning that I had to locate my missing lions before I got a parking ticket. Luckily, as this was my second attempt at most of these lions, I knew where they should all be and managed to scoot around the city and locate them all with time to spare. I also got some “bonus” lions, a new one that had been placed in a shop foyer, a “hospital” lion that was standing in for a damaged one, and in the Lions of Bath shop they had a plain white lion covered in scratches and mud that featured in the promotional video. It acquired the scratches and mud at Longleat where it had been placed in the lion enclosure and the real thing had well and truly given it the once over. I am left with just the two “unobtainable” lions as well as a couple of other additional lions that are to be introduced. All being well I should see all of these in October when all of the lions are gathered together in front of the Royal Crescent prior to being auctioned off for charity.

With the lions out of the way I turned my attention to football and another FA Cup game. First choice had been Odd Down (Bath) as I didn’t know how long the lion hunt would take. As it happened I was finished with plenty of time to spare and so I checked the fixtures to find myself a new ground that was in range and also on the way back towards home. Calne Town fitted the bill perfectly. They were hosting Corsham Town which meant that it had the added spice of being a local derby. Both teams play in the Western League, albeit in different divisions following Calne’s relegation at the end of last season.

Upon arrival at the ground I was met with a very friendly welcome indeed. I spent quite some time chatting to the gateman who then introduced me to the club secretary and a further quarter of an hour was spent in pleasant conversation with him. I discovered that, similar to Melksham, Calne are quite keen to strengthen their links with the local community. It also turned out that a number of Corsham’s players had been at Calne the previous season. Yet more spice thrown in to the mix.

The match proved to be very competitive and was very even. Both sides had chances before the visitors took lead in shortly in to the second half. This spurred the home side on and within 5 minutes were level again. Neither side were happy to settle for the draw and both had chances to go ahead. In the 84th minute Calne were awarded a penalty which they calmly converted to take the lead for the first time. They hung on to the end to claim the victory, thanks in no small part to their goalkeeper who made a superb save from virtually the last kick of the game. Calne therefore earned the local bragging rights as well as the prze money and the chance to host Brading Town in the next round. Or so I thought. Whilst checking details for this post I discovered that Calne had fielded an ineligible player during the tie and had subsequently been removed from the competition. Corsham had been reinstated and it was they who faced Brading Town. They lost.

In the evening I went in to London and met up with Gazza Prescott, the man behind the scoopergen website, at Brew Wharf. A pleasant hour or so was spent discussing the Italian beer scene and his recent foray into the brewing business with Steel City Brewing. The Brew Wharf Military Intelligence, 6.7%, a black IPA was absolutely superb. On the way back to the station I called in at The Rake and ordered a half of Goose Island Bourbon County 2009, 13.0%, and was charged £6.30 for the privilege! It was OK but nothing special. It does however take the award for the most expensive half I have had in a British pub!

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