Month: June 2011

Armed Forces Day 2011

Armed Forces DaySaturday 25th June 2011 is Armed Forces Day in the UK, an opportunity for the nation to show it’s support for all those men and women who make up the British armed forces.  The 2011 national event is to be held in Edinburgh although there will be many more events being held up and down the country.  The Armed Forces Day website has a useful events page highlighting events that may be taking part in your local area (Armed Forces Day Events click here).

The armed forces defend the UK and it’s interests, working around the world to bring peace to troubled nations, tackling drug smuggling, piracy, combating terrorism and delivering aid or protection to those who need it most.  The main objective of the armed forces is currently focused on restoring order in Afghanistan and reducing the grip of power that the Taliban have over certain provinces within the country.  Good news indeed that only today William Hague the UK Foreign Secretary announced that Britain was in key peace talks with the Taliban, this could mean that some of our UK forces serving in Afghanistan will be home before the planned 2015 withdrawal. (Sources, SkyNews, This is London.)

The Americans have been supporting Armed Forces Day since just after the second world war (1949), but the event is still relatively new to the UK, replacing Veterans Day in 2009, but it’s also a time to reflect on the service that those veterans have given to our great nation, and the personal sacrifice  that so many brave men and women have given to defend Britain and her interests.

If you’d like to read more information about armed Forces Day you can do so by visiting the Armed Forces Day website. If you are attending an Armed Forces Day event let us know by either posting in our comments section below, or by joining the conversation on our Facebook page. Cheers!

Keeping a pub afloat (Hollybush Inn, Hay on Wye)

Hollybush Inn Hay on WyeBarbara Lewthwaite, Landlord of The Hollybush InnHay on Wye, Powys, is something of an local eccentric, in a vision from God she was told to run a community. It made some sense then – that Barbara move to a small idyllic town such as Hay on Wye and take over a pub, surely the cornerstone of any community spirit.

Barbara recently appeared on the Hotel Inspector, Channel 5’s observational hotelier documentary. Issues with staff turn over at The Hollybush Inn led Barbara to seek help from the shows over qualified presenter Alex Polizzi, and The Hollybush Inn has been reborn. And it’s something of a phoenix pub if first accounts are anything to go by (source Barbara has put a lot of effort into the new ‘community spirited’ Hollybush Inn,… although with such dramatic changes in such a short space of time one does wonder if after a few months it will look like the Hotel Inspector had ever been there, but only time will tell.

Barbara recently also appeared on local BBC news, she loves the river Wye (Afon Gwy), the fifth longest river in the UK – it forms part of a natural border between England and Wales, virtually unpolluted it’s one of the best salmon fishing spots in the country.  And it’s her love of the beautiful river Wye that has made Barbara want to swim the length of it, from the source in the Welsh mountains at Plynlimon to its mouth near Beachley, Gloucestershire for the BBCs Big Splash – an inspiring scheme to get UK residents swimming on a regular basis. In some places the river Wye is too shallow or too treacherous for swimming, but Barbara vows to swim as much of it as she can for charity. The river is 215 km long, that’s about 134 miles, it’s not going to be an easy feat for Barbara to pull off. But with a personality as big as Barbara’s, and God on her side, we’ve every hope that she will succeed.

If you’d like to show your support for Barbara you can add a comment to our blog, write a good will message on BITEs The Hollybush Inn pub page, or join in the conversation on our Facebook page. Cheers!

Today’s blog post image was supplied by Flickr user and real ale fanatic “Everything That Happens“.

Great British Pubs in Films

Famous PubsAfter the heart breaking news to our blog team that the Mos Eisley Space Port Tavern in Star Wars IV was actually entirely studio set and not one brick of it a real pub/bar, we’ve decided to put together  a quick list of Great British pubs that have appeared in films.  These are the famous pubs, the ones that made it, and if you are ever in the presence of a famous pub – you should try to act normal, don’t ask for their autograph – famous pubs don’t like that sort of thing you know.

The Jackdaw – Canterbury, Kent features in the 1969 film “The Battle of Britain”,  Squadron Leader Colin Harvey (played by Christopher Plummer) meets his love – Section Officer Maggie Harvey (played by  Susannah York) for a drink and attempts to talk her into moving to Scotland.  (While the Battle of Britain was fought in the skies over this pub, the pub noted for serving the brave Airmen during WWII is the Plough in Shepreth, we posted about it in “Raise a glass to the Few” earlier this year.)

The Beehive – Buntingford, Herts appears in the 2005 movie “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, Ford Prefect (played by Mos Def) reveals to Arthur Dent (played by Martin Freeman) that he is from another planet, and Earth’s future has been scheduled to be flattened for an intergalactic super highway.

The Black Swan – Matyr’s Green, Surrey was renamed “The Slaughtered Lamb” for it’s appearance in the 1981 classic “An American Werewolf in London”.  After a very frosty reception in the Slaughtered Lamb pub by two Americans, David (played by David Naughton) and Jack (played by Griffin Dunne), the two travellers venture off onto the moors, and as the film title suggests, there is a werewolf involved.

The Sailsbury, Leicester Square, London appears in a few scenes in the Victim (1961).  A film way ahead of it’s time, The Salisbury was used effectively as the focal point of the film’s homosexual community.  A story of blackmail and social issues, it’s just as relevant today as it was when it was first filmed.

The Red Lion, Avebury, Wiltshire appears at the end of the cult film “Still Crazy” (1989), the story of Strange Fruit, the rock band who had it all, lost it, became normal everyday people, and then during middle age attempt to make a comeback.

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – Fleet St, London appears in the British crime drama “The Twenty Questions Murder Mystery” (1950), a murderer sends to the BBC Twenty Questions Panel a note before he kills someone.  The movie also stars the BBCs Twenty Questions panel of the time, Jeanne De Casalis (panelist), Richard Dimbleby (panelist), Norman Hackforth (mystery voice) and Stewart MacPherson (chairman).

The Duke of Albany – New Cross, London provides the external shots of The Winchester pub during the zombie stand off in “Shaun of the Dead” (2004).  The main cast featuring the duo Simon Pegg and Nick Frost hold up in the pub while outside hordes of zombies congregate, Pegg gives a notable speech about wanting to be in a familiar, safe environment… the pub.

The Pavillion – Battersea, London appears in the 1968 social drama “Up the Junction”. A rich girl from Chelsea (played by Suzy Kendall) gives up her lavish life and tries to make it on her on in the (then) slums of Battersea.

The Lamb Tavern – Leadenhall Market, London provides the back drop for a fight scene in the 1975 movie “Brannigan”. Jim Brannigan (played by John Wayne) brings his own kind of American/Irish Justice to the streets of London. Commander Swann (played by Richard Attenborough) continues to batter Brannigan in a very true upper class British way that the use of hand-guns on British streets is forbidden by the police force.

If you know of a famous pub used in a film, or your local has appeared in a movie – let us know in our comments section below, or by joining in the conversation on our Facebook page. Cheers!

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A Toast to Her Majesty

The QueenIt’s her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday tomorrow (Sat 11th June).  And if you’re down the pub, remember to raise your glass to the Queen.  Born on 21 April, 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, London, if you are near Bruton Street tomorrow you might want to pop in for a pint at the Coach and Horses, one of our BITE users mentions the pub is “… an excellent and popular little pub. Terrific value for money.”

The Queens birthday is officially celebrated in Britain on the second Saturday of June each year. The day is referred to as “the Trooping of the Colour”, the official name is “the Queen’s Birthday Parade”. Over 1,300 soldiers from the Household Division parade for Trooping the Colour together with over 200 horses and more than 400 musicians, also a fly past is scheduled for the day including some of Britain’s most prestigious aircraft like the Spitfire, Lancaster and Typhoon. You can read more about the celebration on the Armed Forces Website.

So, Happy Birthday (once again) to the Queen, cheers!

If you’d like to leave a comment you can do so in our comments section below, or by joining in with the conversation on our Facebook page.

Food Safety Week

Food Safety WeekThis week the Food Standards Agency is raising awareness of hygiene in the home with  Food Safety Week (Germ Watch), running from today 6th June to the 12th of June 2011.  Hygiene and cleanliness is high on the agenda for many of our BITE users, quite often we recieve comments regarding the cleanliness, or lack of, in the pubs BITE users visit.  But how much do you really know about food hygiene?  How much do you really abide hygiene advice when you are in your own home?

The Food Standards Agency has released a handy food hygene myths test, click here for the PDF. The FSA material will help you dispel some of the common myths surrounding food hygiene and teach us all a few things we might not yet know about safe food preparation. 

BBC Health reports that there are up to 9 million cases of gastroenteritis each year in the UK, that’s around 14 percent of the country’s population.  Many of us may feel that we are food conscious, but there’s always going to more that we can all do, especially this week, if you find any of  these basic food hygiene facts interesting, remember to spread the word and not the germs…

Food hygiene did you know?

1. Although the kitchen sink contains 100,000 times more germs than a bathroom or lavatory, most people still think of the toilet as the most contaminated part of the house. (Source NHS Choices website.)

2. Bacteria can grow and divide every 20 minutes. One single bacterium can multiply into more than eight million cells in less than 24 hours. (Source NHS Choices website.)

3. There are more germs on a computer keyboard than there are on your toilet. (Hygieneic Solutions UK website.)

4. Despite the pressure you may feel to rid your life of bacteria right now, a number of common bacteria (microflora) are essential in our diet and even help prevent harmful bacteria from spreading, bacteria form the foundation of life itself and first step in most food chains, they aren’t about to go away any time soon… (Source Buzzle website.)

5. The 5 second rule, is a myth, dropping food onto your floor and retrieving it within 5 seconds, harmful bacteria will make the leap to your food item in less than 5 seconds.  (Source Suffolk Coastal website.)

If you’ve got some good hygiene tips to use around the home and would like to share them with other BITE users, you can leave your thoughts in our comments section below or join in the conversation on our Facebook page.