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Midsummer Music 2014 in Towcester

Towcester hosted it’s annual Midsummer Music event this weekend. The town was transformed into a showcase of local musical talent as various buildings, pubs and restaurants became stages for the acts to perform in. The weather was delightful once again as a sunny Saturday evening provided the perfect backdrop for this popular event.
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We started our musical adventure at The Saracens Head where Krissy Matthews and his three piece band performed in the courtyard. All of the tables were full as locals enjoyed his mixed playlist of self written and covered blues inspired tracks. Krissy was very vocal and despite joking that he had smoked something he shouldn’t have, he produced a set which kept the crowd going and opened up the event with punchy energy and style.

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We headed to the town square to see the Mayor officially open the festival at 7.15pm before quickly heading to St Lawrence’s Church to watch the Towcester Choral Society perform. This was truly breathtaking as the Choral Society performed famous songs from the movies which included Raindrops keep falling on my head (Burt Cassidy & The Sundance Kid) Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera and a selection of songs from Mama Mia. St Lawrence’s Church is a beautiful building and the tall ceilings and open halls created an acoustic delight.

As there were many acts performing in the evening it became apparent that we would be rushing around nipping in to see various parts of acts. We quickly made our way back to The Saracens Head to watch the Giocoso Concert Band in the Pickwick Room. From Swanbourne in Buckingham we heard them play the theme from Star Trek before they took a break. Once again we were back on foot to The Dolphin Cafe to watch Nathan & Katrina.

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Katrina Harris certainly delivered with her powerful vocals including a pitch perfect cover of Katie Tunstalls classic Black Horse & A Cherry Tree. Nathan Digby & Nial Hoggarth completed the three piece act who went down extremely well. Their songs were original, exciting and fresh with a mixture of classic and modern blues, soul, pop and rock pieces.

The next destination was Towcester Mill to watch Craig sing and play acoustic guitar. Craig was extremely quirky and delivered a high energy filled performance which included a couple of amazing covers including Crowded House – Weather with you and Queens – Don’t stop me now.

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We spoke to Craig after his performance and found him to be extremely pleasant and slightly humbled by the compliments we paid him for a fantastic show.

The Midsummer Music Festival then held it’s Firework Display on the Mount which lasted around half an hour and was typically exciting and didn’t disappoint.

The music didn’t stop there as we headed to The Brave Old Oak to watch The Band Isabelle. This six piece edgy pop and rock band are from Bedford and were the highlight of an amazing day/night. With a twist of funk and soul the lead singer ended a high temp medley of music with a flawless performance of the hit by Moloko – Sing it back. The place was filled with people enjoying the fresh vibes produced as the music went on past midnight.

It certainly was a success and I can’t wait for Midsummer Music to return in 2015.

DarcyB

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Towcester Food & Drink Festival

The weekend of the 7th/8th June saw the inaugural Towcester Food and Drink festival which was held at Towcester Racecourse. This was the first time I’ve been to the venue and the sunshine was out in force after the mid morning thunder storms. This event was extra special because one of our family members had his homemade cider on sale after receiving the seal of approval from the organiser of the event.

Situated amongst the iconic Racecourse there were plenty of Food Tents showing off a fine selection of locally produced produce including cheeses, cakes, pickles and spices. There were cooking demonstrations and live music creating a varied number of things to see and experience.
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At the Champagne Bar Andy had his Cider on sale. His dry cider was called “Two Faced” which came in at a tasty 6.5% ABV. This was a truly awesome achievement, one that we are all extremely proud of. On the Saturday Andy sold just over half of his bottles and the remainder were cleared out by the large crowds on Sunday. Up against some well known and established local Ciders, Andy held his own and looked very much at home next to them. Selling at £3.50 a bottle I asked a couple of people who purchased Two Faced what they thought of his cider.

“This is really nice, it tastes fresh and I’ll certainly be buying another bottle today”

“I do like dry cider and this one ticks the right boxes”

One guy joked when I asked him how he found the cider, he replied by saying in the bar through that door. He must have thought I was trying to sell him life insurance! A very funny line if ever I heard one.

The evening saw us take part in the Towcester Food Festivals “Real Ale Trail” the event allowed customers to purchase a glass tankard and visit five local pubs/restaurants to try out new ales. These were provided by Crispin who had organised the festival over the weekend. For £7.50 we were set to have 5 x free quarter pints followed by another half at the Towcester Mill Brewery, our new tap house.

We had some great tasters of Golden Ales and some Darker Ales. Sadly one venue didn’t buy into the spirit of this event. The Plough is a pub we have not visited before and it’s safe to say the way they made us feel as we entered the venue was not pleasant. They told us that they had sold out of the Ale and were not prepared to give us an alternative. Apparently according to the rather bullish lady who greeted us “they weren’t big enough to give us another option” the near packed front bar was a very poor alibi to her claim.

Needless to say I’d like to thank the barman at The Brave Old Oak who had ran out of Pitstop (Silverstone Brewery) who gave us a couple of other options, thank you. The numbers taking part suggested that there was a good take up on the offer to sample local Real Ales, so that was a positive. I would also like to thank The Dolphin Cafe who made us feel extremely welcome in comfortable surroundings. The evening concluded at our new local tap house, the Towcester Mill.

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As we arrived at a packed Towcester Mill we were able to sit under the moonlight amongst the peaceful fields the Mill is set within. The odd bat flickered across the moons beams in a lovely tranquil atmosphere. This was certainly the best place to conclude this night and we enjoyed the last hour in the bar as the temperature started to drop.

This is our new favourite pub and one place we will certainly be enjoying our weekend evenings in. I would like to thank Crispin for an amazing food festival which has put Towcester on the map. I would also like to congratulate Andy on his successful debut launching Two Faced. It has been a pretty decent experience, The Plough aside!

DarcyB

200 Unique Ales down, many more to come!

Last weekend saw me drink my 200th unique Ale on Untappd. In the last year or so it’s been a fantastic journey. I’ve tried some absolute crackers and I’ve had some total stinkers. I’ve been to three beer festivals in 2013 which has given me not only a great opportunity to try some awesome ales but I’ve been in the perfect surroundings to enjoy them to the maximum.

This little blog will focus on 3 of my crackers. These are Ales that I’ve given the highest accolade to, five stars. I rarely give these out, but there are three delights that I’ve loved on my journey and I’d like to share them with you.

1. Redbreast – Jennings Brewery, 4.5% English Strong Ale

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This Ale had me purring from the first sip. Currently on tap at the Brave Old Oak in Towcester, this is an absolute delight. Not sure how much longer this will be on tap but it’s got such a deep velvety flavor to it with a creamy taste. I only tried this last weekend but it’s the best I’ve had in 2014 so far. I will certainly be looking to buy this from another source once it leaves Towcester. Please try it today, you will not be disappointed.

2. Warm Welcome Nut Brown Ale – Ridgeway Brewing, 6.0% English Brown Ale

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I was bought a bottle of this Nutty Ale at Christmas and was infused by the wonderful dark hoppy flavor that this English Brown Ale offered. I am a big fan of Dark Ales and this one didn’t disappoint. Full of nuts, chocolate and deep hops this was a pleaser. I hope that this is available again this Christmas, loved it!

3. Old Tun – Whittlebury Brewery, 4.1% English Bitter

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Old Tun is an absolute delight. We purchased a case from our local brewery in Whittlebury. These boys do not disappoint, Old Tun is a lovely deep flavoured English Chestnut Ale. This went down so well at our Engagement Party and lasted less than half a day as it was drained right down to the end. Whittlebury Brewery are my local brewery and they set high standards. I can’t wait for their new Ale House to be opened in Towcester Mill. I will hopefully have some photos of the Mill soon to share with you all.

Please follow me on Untappd, my username is markyjb. It would be great to see if we’ve tried any of the same ales and to compare our ratings.

Here’s to the next 200!

DarcyB