Tag Archives: beer

Reading Habits

Like a good little writer, I read a lot. You might say obsessively. All things considered, I guess I read between 2-4 hours a day. I read widely, across a lot of platforms and topics, but mostly in the sport, lifestyle, travel and paranormal areas. These are the areas I usually work in, so being knowledgeable helps me follow trends and keep my finger on the pulse.

Newspapers

Yeah, I know they are going out of style, but I’m keeping the dream alive. For me, The Times is the best newspaper out there. I don’t agree with all their politics. In fact, I usually skip those sections. But they have excellent writers and the articles are usually not only newsworthy but informative and often a bit quirky. There’s something quintessentially British about The Times, and I love how it treads the line between broadsheet and tabloid. My ‘happy place’ is a quiet pub on a rainy afternoon, with a pint of craft ale and a copy of The Times.

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If I can’t get a copy of The Times, the Guardian will do. Or the Observer on a Sunday. I never get The Sunday times because it’s like a metre-squared fucking Argos catalogue. My tabloid of choice is The Sun. It gets a lot of bad press (ho ho!) but it serves a purpose and the sports pages are outstanding. Wales on Sunday and the Western Mail are my regional newspapers when I’m in Wales but I rarely buy them these days. The quality of local journalism has nosedived. It’s largely due to less people reading newspapers and consequently their resources taking a hit, but you could argue that one reason less people are reading newspapers is because the quality of the product isn’t what it used to be. It’s the chicken or the egg scenario. My most hated newspapers would be the Metro, because it reads like it was written by a bunch of 6-year old’s, and the Daily Mail, because that’s why.

Magazines

Ten years ago, there were eight or more different magazines I bought religiously every week or month, depending on their frequency. Sadly, most of them are gone now. Of the few that remain, the only one I subscribe to (and I have done for twenty years or so) is Fortean Times. I like the crazy. I also buy Classic Rock almost every month, and either GQ or Esquire. Both are slightly pretentious, but they are the closest thing remaining to FHM and Loaded, and they make decent toilet reading. I also like going to large newsagents and impulse buying whatever catches my eye. I grab Kerrang! Empire, Fighters Only and Mojo semi-regularly, along with the occasional travel title or hobbyist writing magazine. One day I woke up hungover, fully-clothed in my bed, covered in about £35 worth of mags. What a glorious day that was. When in London, I make sure I pick up whichever free mag is being distributed that day, Sport and Shortlist being pick of the bunch, with Escapism and Red Bulletin third and fourth.

Websites

I spend a lot of time surfing the net, but there aren’t many websites I use on a regular basis apart from Facebook and WordPress. Does Wiki count? How about Bet 365? Otherwise, MMA Fighting, Louder Than War and BBC News are probably my most visited. I habitually used Wales Online a lot until recently. But this outlet is suffering in much the same way as the print products Media Wales oversees is. In an effort to maximise profits, the quality of reporting has declined to laughable levels and the site is literally clogged up with advertising. It often takes several minutes to load, and when it finally does you are inundated with pop-ups. Sometimes you have to participate in a survey before you can even read the article you clicked on. I understand they have to (try and) make a profit, but that’s just intrusive. Life’s too short.

Books

I try to read widely, both fiction and non-fiction. I love sports autobiographies, travelogues, and rock memoirs, along with a healthy dose of true crime and the occasional tale of survival-against-the-odds.

The fiction I read is almost exclusively in the horror genre (as broad as that is). If there are no ghosts or zombies, or at least a demented serial killer on the rampage, I get real bored real fast. I’ve never been the kind of person to read one book at a time, but only when I wrote this post did I realize how bad things have got. I really should show some more composure, but there are just so many books and so little time. At the moment, I have no less than seven on the go. For the interested, these are:

Physical copies:

Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen

Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead, Neil Strauss

PDF’s on the PC:

DOA 3, various authors

Wild Talents, Charles Fort

And on the Kindle:

Sinister Scribblings, Matt Hickman

Unit 731, Craig Saunders

Battlefield, Amy Cross

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Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem

One recent Sunday afternoon, I found myself at a loose end in Nottingham. Obviously, the first thing I did on checking out of the hotel after a heavy session the night before was to find a J.D. Wetherspoon’s and get a traditional English with a beer chaser. That business concluded, with about three hours to kill before my train came, I decided to take a stroll over to the castle, which was (almost) on my route. Being Welsh, I have a thing for castles. No disrespect, but as it happened, Nottingham Castle has nothing on any castle I’ve seen across the border. I don’t know why, I’m not an expert. It just didn’t seem to have much character. Not enough to make me stop for long, anyway. So I kept on walking, and down the road a bit I stumbled across a cute little whitewashed pub set in a courtyard called ‘Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem.’ Sometimes you find the best things when you aren’t looking for them.

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I remembered thinking what a strange name that was. A lot of pubs in Britain are named after something connected with the local history. The Plough, The Hope & Anchor, or The Railway Inn. As far as I knew, Jerusalem was a long way from Nottingham. I could tell the pub was old. It had that clumpy, uneven look about it. But I didn’t realize how old until I saw the sign outside that said, ‘The oldest Inn in England, Est. 1189AD.’

That settled it. There was only one place this path was leading.

Inside, it looked just as old as it did on the outside. Wooden tables and chairs, sloping ceilings, there’s even a suit of armour standing in the corner. I couldn’t bring myself to buy a cheap imported lager in a place like this, so I got a pint of Fuller’s Wild River, took a seat in a quiet corner, and whipped out my Kindle. That felt weird too, and I found myself wishing I’d brought at least a paperback, if not some form of ancient scripture to read instead. It was like being in a time slip. I kept expecting a buxom blonde waitress with a massive heaving bosom to come waltzing through. Or I might have just been hoping. Either way, no such luck.

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When I got home I Googled Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, and found that the pub is attached to rock caves which were once used as a brewing house, and are believed to date back to around the time Nottingham Castle was built in 1068. As you can probably imagine, it has a suitably grisly history. The pub is said to be plagued by poltergeist activity, and there is a disused condemned cell on the premises where prisoners were shackled to walls and left to starve to death. My favourite story is the one about how they keep a cursed model Galleon in a glass case. Superstition has it that anyone who cleans it will die or suffer terrible luck, so everyone stopped cleaning it years ago and now it’s covered with a thick layer of grime.

I also discovered that Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem isn’t the only place that claims to be the oldest pub in England. In fact, there are two more in Nottingham alone. If I’d had more time I could have gone on a mini-pub crawl and decided myself which one was the oldest, or at least which one was the best, but I had a train to catch.

*All photographs nicked off the internet. If they are yours, blame Google Images.


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