Abnib Real Ale Ramble 2006

Claire & Dan Camping

In case you hadn’t guessed, the destroyed tent I posted a picture of to my blog a few days ago wasn’t Jimmy‘s at all, but another tent we saw while on the Abnib Real Ale Ramble. Jimmy has since gotten his revenge by ensuring I play Medieval II: Total War, which has occupied most of my life since we got back. Pictures from the entire weekend, mostly taken on JTA‘s (borrowed) camera, which had a habit of turning itself off without warning, are available on Abnib Gallery.

In the end, it was only Ruth, JTA, Claire and I that went to Llanwrtyd Wells for the Real Ale Ramble this year. Claire and I borrowed Jimmy’s tent and camped on the local rugby pitch, where the toilet/shower block (which doubles as the local scout troop hut) was unlocked for us. Of the three nights we camped, there were only other people camping there on one night: three tents appeared a little way from ours during our first day’s rambling, and disappeared again the following morning. The temperature was tolerable, given our heavy-duty sleeping bags, but the torrential hailstorms made camping a more exciting experience than we had anticipated, and it almost became necessary to re-peg the tent during one of the more violent storms.

Ardwyn House

Ruth & JTA, meanwhile, set themselves up at Ardwyn House, a B&B near the self-catering cottage in which we stayed last year. I’ll leave it to them to describe the comparative life of luxury they were allowed to live there. Still; it must be said that our campsite had a higher showers-to-guest ratio than them, so perhaps we win after all. On our final night, after returning from the pub, we all had a great and very tense game of Illuminati in the library (yes, their B&B had a library) and drank champagne to celebrate Ruth & JTA having been together for approximately three years. Again, suppose that’s more something for them to blog about.

We did the 15-mile ramble on the first day, which remains, like last year, about twice as hard or more as the 10-mile walk (which we did on the second), even without a broken foot. The pouring rain of the previous few days – accompanied by scattered showers on the first day – resulted in very wet conditions, and at times the mudslides made it difficult to stay in the same place, never mind making progress up an embankment. On several humorous occasions one or another of us would lose our balance and hurtle down into the mud, but we were prepared for this with waterproof or semi-waterproof clothing pretty-much all round. The number of “beer tokens”, each worth half a pint of beer (also exchangeable for hot and cold drinks and, sometimes, soup) was reduced this year to three per day, but the enforcement had been relaxed, and on the second day I recall that Ruth drank three pints of Cambrian Ale without handing over a single token while we sat at a picnic bench by a river.

Rambling Across A River

The evenings took us, predictably, to the Neuadd Arms, for a great number of interesting beers (Over The Edge, Red Dragon, Cambrian Ale, Russian Stoat, and a few others come to mind as being well-worth-tasting) – and some equally interesting conversation with strange and unusual people: we met a man who’s life was taken over by bonsai trees, a woman who graduated in Biology from Aberystwyth in 1985, and a lecturer who’d “disappeared” from his classes to come along to the festival, among others – but also, this year, to the Stonecroft Inn, where, in a gazebo out the back of the pub, they had a fabulous selection of ales, ciders and perries to try, as well as a flamethrower-like space heater that felt wonderful to stand in front of after a wet day in the hills.

Norman, the 70-something old man who beat us around both walks last year, was around again, and still managed to get around the walk faster than us, although we might have beaten him on the second day were it not for the abandoned beer tent at Station 1 and, therefore, the temptation to hang around for a second drink before hitting the trail again. He is, as I put it at the time, “a one-man walking machine,” before I realised how stupid that sounded. A few other familiar faces were to be seen, too: folks we’d seen last year giving knowing nods as if to say, “Ah, it’s you again.” Although, more often, they were saying things like “You’re camping? In this?”

Claire vs. The Phaal

One final highlight of the weekend that I’ll share with you is of a meal at the Neuadd Arms. On their menu they list a number of curry dishes, all rated by heat with a series of “radiation” symbols by each, from one to three. Except for their Phaal, which has five, and promises a medal to anybody who can clear their plate. Claire, being Claire, tried it. She didn’t manage to clear her plate, but that’s probably for the best, because the room was starting to feel warm and tingly as a result of the heat exuded by the dish. We all tried a taste of it, once she’d admitted defeat, which was quite painful – but tasty. Claire’s promised to get herself into “curry training” for next year.

Right; time to start planning the Abnib Real Ale Ramble 2007!

Further Reading

Wii Have A Problem

Found this website – Wii Have A Problem – which is a blog dedicated to problems that people have had with their new Nintendo Wii as a result of “the human factor” (what we’d call PEBKAC if it were a desktop device with a keyboard).
In any case, it’s funny: the most commonly-occuring problem people seem to be having with their Wii is that they or their drunken friends let go of the controller (or the strap breaks) sending it hurtling into something expensive and breaking it… like their TV screen.

Let that be a warning to you all for when Claire and I get our Wii next week.

Just Because Beth Wouldn’t Want It

Had to share this now, from my phone, for the simple reason that Beth wouldn’t want me to. And because I’ll have forgotten by the morning.

Just witnessed Beth try to smoke a cigarette backwards… as in; she put the tobacco end in her mouth and tried to smoke the filter. Even Alex, who lit it for her, didn’t notice. She seems quite embarrassed by her mistake, so be sure to remind her about it at any opportunity.

Start Of The Weekend

Shaping up to be a reasonable weekend. Started last night with beer, curry, and a Pagan Wanderer Lu gig, which was pretty good: PWL had a few technical problems which he mostly managed to improv his way through. It was good to hear a few favourites like Our New Hospital Sucks and Repetition 2 played better than I’ve heard them before, The Gentleman’s Game played live, and whatever that song I didn’t recognise and couldn’t find on his website was (presumably it’s on the new EP).

Then some of the assembled folks retired to The Cottage for buttsex sorry; I meant American Dad and Drawn Together. By Paul‘s request I asked that people who’ll be going to Troma Night tonight leave before Drawn Together, but I’m not sure they did. Troma Night is at Bryn’s Place (Paul’s) tonight, by the way, because…

Claire and I are off to Preston for the day. We’re going to visit my folks and go to The Comedy Store Manchester this evening for giggle. We’ll be back in Aber on Sunday evening.

A Plan For The Evening

Here’s my proposed plan for this evening:

  • Finish work by 6pm.
  • Go to pub. Suggest staring in the Ship & Castle, because they’re (a) good and (b) close to where I work.
  • Drink. Always a good start to the weekend.
  • Go for curry. Yummylicious.
  • Go to Harley’s for the PWL gig. Starts at 8pm, but not sure when PWL is on.

What do people think? You game?

Binky said: I’m game, but we wont have enough time for curry with beer first probably.

Really? I was planning to go straight to the pub after work while people get their arses together. I’d like us to be at the curry place about 7:15pm. We don’t strictly need to be at Harleys by 8pm (and PWL isn’t on until second-from-last, apparently).

Right, I’m off to The Ship. I’ve had enough of this work lark: you all know where to find me…

The Man With The Golden… Banana

Dan wins the Golden Banana
Dan with the Golden Banana

It’s been a fastastic weekend overall. First came my surprise receipt of several hundred pounds from my bank, yesterday. Then came an enjoyable Troma Night on Saturday evening, which could only have been made better if everybody hadn’t got beds to go to. Then to top it all off came last night’s promised open mic comedy night at The Angel.

The event’s given me such a buzz that I’ll forgive myself outright for this shameless blowing of my own trumpet: my set rocked. Yeah, of course I can pick holes in it – that’s what I do best – but folks laughed out loud and at length as I did my bits on Muslim extremism, astrology, psychotherapy, “I’m a little teapot,” and, probably best-receieved of all on a Rememberance Day evening, Hitler’s birthday party. At the end of the evening I was awarded a banana wrapped in gold foil wrapping paper, nailed to a plank of wood. This is my award, and, unusually, I found it hard to contain my self-conciousness… as the crowd started shouting out “Scatman, Scatman!” towards the end of the night.

This is just a fantastic end to an already great weekend. Some friends and I took the oppertunity to galvanise the moment with a glass or two of champagne at Wetherspoons, which turns out to have been a little bit sillier an idea than I’d first thought when I realised that I needed to be at the office this morning before 8am.

Also particularly worthy of mention last night are Adrian O’Toole, who remains a great stageman and did a great job of keeping charge of the evening after the task had been dumped upon him; the first act, Sam, who cracked a few classic gags in the face of a cold crowd; “Tony from Llanidloes”, who turned up late and still managed to remain confident and funny onstage; and Heather.

Yes, that Heather. Perhaps the single bravest person in the crowd last night was Heather, who lost her comedy virginity in a spat of well thought-out, clever bits of original observational comedy, only a little nervously delivered. If there’s one person who above all else deserves respect for their activities last night, it’s her. I tip my hat to you.

Thanks to everyone who came along and lent support. You made a good night great.

Seven Hundred Pounds Less Poor Than Yesterday

I received a cheque this morning for just over £700 from my bank. Legal bollocks means that I can’t tell you in public forum (privately, with friends, is probably okay) how or why I got it, or even the background behind it, but rest assured I’m very happy to receive it and I’m glad I didn’t have to go as far as court. ‘Cos then I’d have had to iron a shirt or something.

In completely unrelated news, ConsumerActionGroup.co.uk is a great website. I particularly like the use of colours and stuff and the way their forum is run.

WOO! And stuff.

Birmingham, Troma Night, And Open Mic

The Aber folks seem to have a busy weekend ahead. Tomorrow about a half-dozen people seem to be planning a trip to Birmingham. Not me: I’m busy, but I thought I’d share the news. Oh; scratch that. I’ve just heard that it’s been cancelled. Apparently there might be a more popular trip to Brum in a few weeks time. Tomorrow evening’s Troma Night will be at The Cottage, for such film delights as the fantastic Children Of Men, Phantasm, and, between the two, something who’s name I forget. Paul‘ll remind me, I’m sure. Because we’ve got three full-length films lined up, we’ll be pushing the latest episode of Drawn Together forward to 7:30pm, so if you want to see that, that’s when to be around, and we’ll be kicking off promptly with the films at 8pm. You have been warned. There might even be one or two new people, from what I hear, and you all know what that means. Sunday Night I’ll be doing the comedy open mic at The Angel, after last time turned out to be Gorilla Monsoon and not open mic night at all. If you haven’t heard enough of my worst jokes on Troma Night or just generally during the rest of the time you’ve known me, I’d love for you to come along and give me a little support. At least that way somebody’ll be laughing if I mistakenly slip in to in-jokes-mode again. The open mic night acts are sometimes great, sometimes not-so-great, but it’s always a nice chillin’ night out. Oh, and here’s a news story that tickled me: Backside Firework Prank Misfires. I remember that in the year I turned 16, they increased the age requirement for firework sales from 16 to 18. It turns out that age wasn’t the problem after all, but plain old human stupidity. Thanks for reading.

My Cat Built A Shrine To Andrew Lloyd Webber

I’ve discovered the most fun free game on the entire internet. At least, this week. Here’s some filler to warm you up:
Did you ever play Eat Poop My Cat? No; well, you’re not entirely alone, but I have found myself having to describe the game several times so far today. It’s a bit like Chinese Whispers bred with that game where you each write a line of a story and they had a child that looked suspiciously like their friend Pictionary but Chinese Whispers swears she was faithful. Basically, the first player writes a line: the more bizarre the better: such as “eat poop, my cat.” The second player has to draw a picture to represent this notion. The third player, given only the second player’s picture, has to describe it in a line of text. The fourth player draws their interpretation of what the third player wrote, and so on, until eventually you have an interpretation of a picture that has nothing to do with the original premise. Hilarity ensues.

Well; there’s an online version called The Sentence Game. It’s free, doesn’t require confirmation of an e-mail address, and great fun. Here’s two of the five games I played today: Dan reinterprets microphone/mermaid marriage; Andrew Lloyd Webber becomes Elvis’ mustache.

Give it a go.

How To Camp

Adam provides a very practical, (well-manicured) hands-on guide:

How To Camp, the book

How To Camp

5 Stars A Real Eye-Opener by C. Waltham

Mr. Westwood’s new book provides an intelligent look at the problems that face many modern men when it comes to camping. The book answers key questions (such as “How do I hammer in tent pegs with a limp wrist?”) in informal language, and is a perfect complement to your favourite gay or metrosexual man’s bookshelf.

The section on dealing with unwanted bears – who can advance upon your camp without warning – is also a must-see. Great value.

4 Stars Good, but not great by bookworm331

Like many men, I’m already familiar with Adam’s work. I’ve been eagerly awaiting my pre-ordered copy of his new book for some time. Like his previous “how to” books, Getting Ahead By Giving Head and How To Pack Fudge, and his autobiography, A Gay Man Trapped In A Gay Man’s Body, this book brings big answers into a tight space and expresses it all through Adam’s friendly, approachable style.

He genuinely wants to help people get the most out of their camp experience, bending over himself to cover every angle of this homo-unfriendly pastime. I’ll certainly be keeping Adam between my pillows next time I’m in a tent.

My only criticism is that it’s a little on the heavy side, and if I’m in bed it can be hard to keep it up for more than a few minutes. Perhaps the upcoming soft-cover version will be a little more manageable. In the meantime, I’ll be looking out for his supplementary volume, Camping Within Tent.

1 Stars i dont get it by whiner

DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK!!!!11 I bought this book for my nephew and was shocked when I casually fingered the first few pages: the authros confession is clear – he was never a boy scout.

how can we trust in his integrity? as a straight white GOD-fearing man (never mind as an expert on all things camp-related) if he was never part of our nations most valuable anti gay youth movement. i repeat DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK

Competitive Week Naming

Turns out that last week was both British Sausage Week and National Vegan Week. How cool would it be if they’d both tried to book the same venue to stage their events. If I was the venue owner, I’d let them, if only to see the fight ensue.

Who’d win in a fight between sausage-fanatics and vege-freaks? We have to take several factors into account before placing bets, I feel:

  • Sausage-fanatics almost certainly get more protien and are quite possibly more muscular than their vegetarian arch-nemeses.
  • On the other hand, people who eat sausages for a living are more likely to be overweight than the veggies: the inevitable side-effect of a well-balanced diet taken too far.
  • People who enjoy sausages are almost certainly more numerous than people who don’t eat meat or animal products at all. Who doesn’t like a good sausage from time to time?
  • But then, vegans – particularly those who organise conferences – are significantly more likely than almost any other group to consist of militant nutters.

Other questions are raised, too: if the fight came down to the position of just one conference stand, and that stand belonged to a company that made vegetarian sausages, which side of the fight would they find themselves on? Or would they end up being equally-hated by both sides?

In honesty, I think the strong sausage-suckers would have it, easily kicking the collective arses of the lefty leaf-lickers. But they’d probably suffer heavy casualties themselves, mostly a result of cholesterol-induced heart attacks among the more portly members as they try to chase down retreating vegetarians with frankfurter forks.

What do you think?

One In A Thousand

Next up for review is Claire‘s new autobiography:

One In A Thousand, the book

One In A Thousand

5 Stars A Real Eye-Opener by C. Waltham

Claire’s story is moving: a young girl, dragged into a the cult of an unwinnable game. From her early involvement in this “harmless” pursuit, we begin to see the true horror of what she went through and how it affected her ability to live her life. A particularly moving part is where, towards the end of the book, she successfully walks by a multi-storey car park without feeling the need to walk around it. Inspiring.

4 Stars Good, but not great by bookworm331

Most people who pick up this book will never before have heard about Consecutive Number Plate Spotting (CNPS) or CNPS Addiction Relapse Syndrome (CARS), but this is a real problem that affects a significant minority of people. I myself was diagnoses with CNPS addiction several years ago, and this book was a great reminder of the kinds of things I had to struggle through.

The biggest problem for many CNPS addicts is how alone it can feel. I’m sure if I’d had this book when I was actually a sufferer, I could have recovered a lot sooner.

Of course, with the introduction of the new British number plate styles, number plates suitable for CNPS are becoming rarer, and the disease will slowly disappear too. This book, while an inspiring story, comes a few years too late to help people suffering from CNPS addiction today. In addition, it lacks information on CNPS withdrawal symptoms, which caused me difficulty for some time after I was “cured.” Still, a great story.

1 Stars i dont get it by whiner

GOD knew that number plates would be dangerous when he wrote Revelations 13:16-18 and warned us all about this mark of the beast I really feel for the poor souls who have been trapped by this dangerous cult and pray for them every day but unless they repent then GOD will strike them down and they will answer to S*TAN!

I Just Happened To Have These Two Tickets

I’ve got two tickets to the research showing of the uncut version of The House On The Edge Of The Park, tonight, at the Arts Centre, but Claire‘s discovered that she can’t go, so, I’ve got a spare ticket. Does anybody want to come along with me and hold my hand during the scary bits*?

Here’s the blurb: this Italian (wouldn’t you know it) film was submitted for a BBFC UK cinema certificate in March 1981, but because of the scenes of rape and violence it was rejected. In 2002, in light of changing times, a version of the film was cut that did get a certificate, but this was almost 12 minutes shorter, as several scenes had been removed. Tonight’s showing is possibly the first ever UK cinema screening of the uncut version.

I’ve got these two tickets as part of a research project into the attitude of the BBFC in censoring some kinds of material. After the show, we’ll be asked to fill in a quick questionnaire detailing things like whether we approve of the kinds of things shown in the film being censored or not. It’s likely to be at least a little horrific, if the BBFC saw fit to censor it in the first place, but it’s got potential. The film could be shite, but it’s unlikely to be worse that most of the crap we watch every week at Troma Night.

If you want to come along (it’s at 5:30 at the Arts Centre) with me, leave a comment here, or give me a call. First-come, first-served.

* Hand-holding is not mandatory.

EDIT: We have a winner! Gareth from work just shouted across to me that he wants to come.