The Royal Lancashire Show

I have fond memories of going to the Surrey Show when I was very young. There was always a marble stall, which for six year old me was the most exciting thing in the world. More recently my parents used to attend the New Forest Show. My mum loved watching the dray horses from various breweries, and my dad enjoyed watching the New Forest Plonkers, who are a similar musical group to the Lancashire Hotpots, but from the south. He also drew a brilliant watercolour of The Plonkers, which is safe with my nephew.

Anyway, the Royal Lancashire Show is similar, in that there were a number of displays, lots of farm animals, plenty of stalls, food and drink, and hundreds of dogs.

First stop was to watch the shirehorses from Thwaites brewery. Magnificent beasts. Huge but incredibly kind and gentle.

We had a good wander around the ground, watched a bicycle display, looked at some pigs, which were very interesting to Nelly. Watched a falconry display, who was having trouble with his birds. One of them tried to attack a Tern, and then the wind was too strong for the owl. We then watched a Shetland Pony grand prix, which was also great fun.

There was a dog agility course which you could pay to have a go with your dog. Nelly declined the opportunity, so instead we entered her into the fun dog show, in the Golden Oldie category.

Nelly wasn’t in the top three, even though she was brilliant. No complaints with the winner. The woman with the green top next to Helen and Nelly won, with her 16 year old dog. She immediately burst into tears, that is how strong the bond is with dogs.

We then had a bit more of a wander and bought some spiced rum from Two Lasses Spirits. The two women had set up their own distillery during lockdown, and their spiced Yorkshire rum was too good not to purchase a bottle.

All in all a great day out, and we even managed to time our escape a few minutes before it started to rain. We’ll definitely be back next year.

Book Review 2018 – Part VIII

Something different here, following on from the theme of Black Tot Day which I wrote about a couple of days ago (read about it here), is a book about rums.


As with any books like this, 101 bicycles to ride, hills to climb, guitars to play, films to watch, etc, it is all very subjective. One of the best rums that I’ve ever tried, La Hechicera from Colombia, isn’t included, but the book does include a few distinctly average rums. I wouldn’t have included Bacardi, Kraken or The Duppy Share. Bacardi do produce some very good rums, but the white rum isn’t one of them. Kraken is a marketing win, and there are plenty of other spiced rums on the market which are far better. At least Malibu wasn’t included, although the very excellent pineapple infused rum from Plantation is.

That’s the negative stuff from the book out of the way. The good stuff is that it does include some very good rums which I’ve tried, El Dorado from Guyana, Angostura from Trinidad and of course Goslings. The book also contains reviews of at least 70 odd rums which I haven’t tried, all varieties, ages and prices, and as each review seems fair it will help with each new bottle that I decide to try.

If you’re not a fan of rum, then I would suggest you try a Dark ‘n Stormy, Goslings dark rum mixed with ginger beer, or a good quality sipping rum, anything from the Foursquare distillery or from Doorlys. Either way, rum is a much maligned spirit with far more depth than is given credit, and it could well be the next big thing.

Black Tot Day

The 31st July is now widely known as Black Tot Day. This is because on the 31st July 1970 the Royal Navy issued the last daily ration of rum for the sailors. It was probably a good move considering the equipment involved, although the practice of a tot of rum goes back to 1655. Back then it was half a pint of rum twice a day. I would struggle to drink that much rum in a month. By 1970 it had been reduced to 90ml, which is still a good sized measure.

I’ve been a fan of good quality rum for many years. I used to work in a student pub in Oxford for many years and I had done a favour for one of the regulars and a couple of days later he offered to buy me a shot. He noticed that we sold Goslings Black Seal Dark Rum, and after telling me that his family owned it, we had a shot together. He downed his but I sipped it and found it to be a very pleasant drink. Goslings like to promote themselves as a family run business, although in fact only about 20% is owned by the Gosling family. Seeing as my friend from the pub was Nathaniel Rothschild, there is a very good possibility that his family did own the brand, or still do.

Last night, to celebrate Black Tot Day me and my wife each had a small glass of Premise single blended rum made by the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. 46% alcohol and aged in oak casks for ten years. I raised my glass to the memory of my father’s father, who died before I was born. He and his three brothers were all career sailors, so that might be why rum is my spirit of choice.

If you wanted to try something a bit more ‘Navy’, then Pusser’s 15 year old dark rum is seriously good, although the whole Pusser’s range is worth looking out for.

If you have a few thousand spare, then you can still find the old bottle of original navy rum, and the Whisky Exchange sell bottles blended with some of the original rum for £650 a bottle. It is very unlikely that I will ever try it.