Archive for July 23rd, 2013
Portland Bill And Football Bill As Bingo Beats Real Madrid In Bournemouth

Fresh air blasting through our ears, maybe that would shake the beer cobwebs away, so as Karen prepared an early afternoon breakfast Neal drove me out to Portland Bill, the highest point of the area. Keen walkers and explorers stared up at the lighthouse and the big obelisk near the rugged edge of the cliffs. Here’s a bit of useless info, lighthouse spotters are known as farologists and they describe visiting these tall towers as “bagging”. The views were inspiring and the rock formations would have sent a geologist into raptures but we were just doing our best to ignore the hangovers after the previous days fun in Weymouth.

I ventured as near to the edges as I dared but it was so busy at this popular viewpoint I couldn’t quite get to the southern most point in the UK. Feeling at least a little better we drove back into Portland with a cheeky beer stop at The Clifton before taking breakfast. It was the day of the pre season friendly game between AFC Bournemouth and Real Madrid so we took the long drive into Bournemouth and checked in at the Cooper Dean Travelodge giving Neal and Karen an easy route to work the next morning and me a short hop to the local airport in Hurn.

My friends are loyal fans of The Cherries as well as keen converts to CD Tenerife so we headed to the Bournemouth and Boscombe Royal British Legion, their pre game watering hole near the Dean Court stadium. My Ryanair flights were booked last minute and the match tickets had all sold out previously even at 55 quid a pop to members and 60 pounds to others. Even if tickets had been up for grabs I couldn’t have justified that much to see the pampered Primera side, especially when Bournemouth paid them one million pounds to come over. Neal and Karen had a certain reluctance to the circus of a game but loyalty to their side had won over, I was quite willing to pass a few hours in the Legion supping ale and their friends were very friendly and welcoming.

I was gutted that the only hand pump ale was off but was saved from a diet of keg by Matt pointing out they had Ringwood Fourtyniner and Doom Bar in bottles, and very nice they both were. As we chatted various interesting snippets emerged, one chaps son was a mascot for the game and he had been told there was strictly no asking the visiting players for autographs or photos – so much for positive PR and good old fashioned pleasing grass roots fans. I found out later that Madrid had taken over an entire hotel, The Haven in Poole and had a police escort to the ground, the financial juggernaught clearly didn’t want any commoners getting near to them.

Pre game I walked across the park with the others to have a nose around and get a few photos. Glossy programmes were on sale for a fiver and street vendors were knocking out dual scarves to mark the game, they were 10 pounds but had dropped to five just before kick off. AFC Bournemouth had reportedly made just 600,000 from ticket sales, their must have been other corporate money earners, advertising and sources in Tenerife confirmed that Gol and Marca TV were screening it live but it still didn’t seem a good financial adventure. Bournemouth’s ground impressed me, I had a look around their new football superstore that fronts the Goldsands Stadium and particularly liked the gnomes, the diehard fans still call it Dean Court.

The thing that most caught my eye was the photos of former squads and players around the walls of the stadium perimeter. The Heliodoro sadly lacks this homage to past heroes, clubs should be proud of their history and have a strong identity that fans can relate to. As the game kicked off young fans were trying to peek through the gaps in the pitch gates and back at the Legion there were several Cherries fans that were not going to the match. Bingo was the big event of the night, I declined an invitation to play, I was quite happy to sit near the entrance with a nice breeze blowing in as I demolished a few beers. It’s serious stuff this bingo, they all had magic marker pens and special check lists, I tried to keep a straight face but the caller had a voice just like Jo Brand, I sniggered away in the corner waiting for her to mention cream cakes and how useless men are.

Time and the beer went quickly and my friends were soon back after a 0-6 home defeat with two Ronaldo goals in front of a 9,600 full house. A few more beers and we headed back to the Travelodge and said our goodbyes before crashing out. My return flight to Tenerife went well the next morning and I was soon in a Los Cristianos bar reading the Bournemouth match report in the Canarian newspapers. What a fine week – and before you wonder, I did actually manage to get plenty done in my ongoing legal wrangles. Cheers to the Dorset crowd and good luck to The Cherries for the new season.

Muzzle That Seagull, I‘ve Got A Hangover

They breed the seagulls big and noisy in Portland, a loud screechy one was perched on the roof of Neal and Karen’s house as I awoke with a delicate head after a great day in Weymouth. I have fond memories of Dorset from holidays in my youth and the last two days of my England trip allowed me to create some new picture postcards in my mind.

The previous day I signed off in Oxford tying up loose ends and I had the chance to savour a few good pubs. Coming back to town from Wantage with a rumbling tummy the bus stopped on Botley Road outside The Seacourt Bridge and it seemed to reach out and lure me in so I went in for some food. I always liked the pub when I worked near there and was pleased to see it looking unspoilt inside with 5 good ales on hand pump and some great food offers, I went for the Golden Greats package of plaice, chips and beans followed by apple crumble with cream for just 4.35. A nice pint of Rascal and England taking a pre dinner break wicket on the TV left me feeling rather smug. At night I met up with some old mates at The Chequers in town before ending up in the St Aldates Tavern (formerly The Hobgoblin, my home from home). The beer choice was superb and it was good to see the pub bustling, and restored to its gleaming best.

Saturday morning I was on the platform at Oxford station clutching my ticket and ready for the Bournemouth train. I was down there just in time to catch my link train to Weymouth and the Jurassic coast, stations like Wareham and Poole triggered reminders of youthful excursions as we chugged through the Purbeck hills. Weymouth was buzzing on a scorcher of a day, a quick drop of at my friends house at the top of Portland gave me some stunning views of the modern marina used for London 2012 and then Chesil beach stretching out below. The last time I was in Portland was the big drought of 1976 and the grass was again starting to turn the same parched brown colour. It was time to break the beer drought and a taxi back into the centre of Weymouth dropped us at The Globe, an excellent locals pub with plenty of real ale.

The sun was calling and with some new friends in tow we moved to the old fishing quay where the pubs were spilling out onto the street as the fishing boats bobbed up and down beneath the road bridge that rose and parted to let tall boats sail by. It was a lovely setting and the company made it even better, the beer flowed as we mingled outside The Royal Oak. Some fine local ales like Knob and Jurassic kept me well watered and a cracking afternoon was had by all. Apparently in the recent hot weeks several people had come a cropper on and below the bridge, I bet the 6.8 strength Crazy Goat cider in the bar had played a hand in a few tumbles.

For a well deserved food stop we popped around the corner to a big chippie with a sit down section, the fish and chips portions were large and tasty and even here there was more great ale like Piddle in a bottle. It all got a bit hazy as the evening wore on but when the three of us returned to Portland myself and Neal nipped out for a late few beers in Portland. All the liquid intake ensured I slept well and even my seagull alarm call and the hangover that came with it couldn’t detract from a great start to the Dorset adventure.