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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

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Saints stun Tigers in Epic Semi-Final

Friday night rugby is something I’ve discovered since moving to Towcester and being fifteen minutes away from Franklin’s Gardens makes it even more accessible. I was one of the 13,491 lucky people to be in the ground this Friday just gone (16th May 2014) to view an amazing spectacle of full blooded fierce rugby union between two massive East Midlands Rivals.

Leicester Tigers are a modern day giant and the success they have had this last decade is a true testament to what has been built at the club. Northampton Saints are a team who are coming good, a side who tasted defeat to this Tigers side in last seasons Premiership Final. Some will argue that if it wasn’t for some poor discipline on the day, then it could very well have been Saints taking last seasons show piece. One thing is for sure, Northampton Saints can make the big finals, they just need to start winning some, to start what could be a period of success.

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Northampton Saints headed into this Semi Final with home advantage after finishing 2nd in the seasons campaign. Leicester Tigers were 3rd after another typical strong finish after the 6 Nations campaign which strips them of their internationals for 6 weeks of the season. Leicester had beaten the Saints in the previous 9 contests, so it was going to take something extremely special to win this battle.

The game was played in a passionate atmosphere with both teams in full voice. Chants of TIGERS were returned with choruses of “when the Saints go marching in” it was a vocal bombardment from the sell out crowd. Leicester took control in the first half and scored a couple of tries in the process. A couple of sin bins were also dealt out as both sides demonstrated full bloodied play. The Saints could only score a couple of penalties as they went into the break 6-17 down to a Tigers side in control, it was going to take something special to turn this around.

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The second half continued with the hard plays and Leicester had another player sin binned to which Saints tried to take advantage of. It became apparent after the break that the Saints had found another gear and suddenly possession was being kept into phases of over ten plays. A penalty brought the game back to 9-17 as Saints kept plugging away.

A tangle between Tom Youngs and Salesi Maafu saw Youngs sin binned but Maafu red carded. The Saints were suddenly down to fourteen men with memories of last years final back in everyone’s minds. The crowd were feeling it and as the game headed into the final quarter, George North found a way over the Tigers line to bring Saints back to within a score at 16-17.

The Saints didn’t let the numerical disadvantage put them off despite a penalty giving the Tigers a 20-16 lead. As the clock headed into the last five minutes, Saints kept turning the possessions into plays and were knocking on the Tigers line, asking their defense a lot of different questions.

Heading into the final 2 minutes, Tom Wood found a way over and the solid Tigers defense was breached again. Franklin’s Gardens was celebrating, everyone both on and off the pitch in Green and Gold jubilant. As the clock ticked into the final minute the conversion hit the post, Saints had 20 seconds to hold onto a 21-20 lead, their first lead of the night.

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And hold onto it they did, as the clock ticked past 80 minutes the ball was kicked out in front of us as the referee brought the game to an end. Northampton Saints are going to Twickenham and boy did they deserve it, there is now a real opportunity to end this season in style, starting next weekend in Cardiff in the European Final against Bath.

Well done Saints! We are all extremely proud of you.

DarcyB

The Northampton Clown

Friday the 13th came and passed by with relatively little trouble. I’m not that superstitious however I do have a thing about walking over three adjoined drain covers. I don’t know if there is a story behind this or why on earth I must always do it, but that’s my one thing. I do however believe in the unexplainable and have my share of fears. It is because of the latter that I had to write about what I’ve read this afternoon online.

I very rarely take notice of the Social Media rush when it comes to silly and random stories. These are usually constructed in an attempt to drive up followers and likes. It is because of the close proximity and nature of this one that I had to take note and read about it. It is at this point that I would like to make my opinion known regarding this story, I find this truly fascinating and mysterious.

Since the aforementioned date there have been sightings of a Clown in the Abington and Kingsley areas of Northampton. The motive and understanding of why this is happening is unknown at the moment, however it has certainly divided opinion of people since its taken to Facebook.

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One of my personal fears is clowns, I have had this for as long as I have known. I can’t honestly understand why this is, but this story has sent shivers of nerves down my spine with a little hint of excitement. I personally love testing my fears and to live close to where this has started is almost like flirting with my fear itself.

The first article about this Clown appeared yesterday and confirmed that 3,000 people had liked their Facebook page titled:- Spot Northampton’s Clown. This figure has raised to over 7,000 in less than 24 hours. The reaction as mentioned earlier is mixed, but there appears to only be a minority against this so far. I can imagine that something like this can make people feel uncomfortable and this is where people’s true colors and characteristics show their face. After three days since the first published sighting, there have been photos taken at: St Michaels Road and Cedar Road in Northampton.

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I am sure this will gather pace and develop further as the days and nights pass but what do we know so far about this? Well from their Facebook Page it appears that this is purely a way to get noticed and coverage. So far there has not been anything reported to suggest this Clown is a danger. The last post on their Facebook Page went as far to put people’s minds to rest and joked that they needed exercise and were planning a jog around the pond in Abington Park. The whole story has also inherited its own Twitter hash tag #northamptonclown

My concern with this is that it will inevitably strike the wrong chord with someone and it could end up causing danger to the Clown itself. Some people have tried spreading rumors about the Clown carrying a knife, which has been immediately dismissed. Social Media is a dangerous animal and the power of a few choice words can be the fuel to any fire.

So my opinion? I think this is magical and very very mysterious. I love the fact it’s Halloween next month and this is providing a thrilling storyline leading up to the event. I think about how I’d react if I was to suddenly be greeted by this Clown or to see it as I am living my day to day life. I really hope that their Facebook page is used purely to post photos that other people have taken and to give a public update on their sightings. The one thing I hope for the most is that this story doesn’t end in an unpleasant way. I’m sure there will be another blog regarding this in the not too distant future. Beep Beep Sleep Safe 😉

DarcyB