Pacific Northwest Beer Chick

Breweries, Beers & Good Times

Great Britain and Ireland (part 3) February 10, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — pnwbeerchick @ 11:00 am

Funny thing I found out about hotel life in the U.K….one must have an advanced degree in order to figure out how to work light switches, showers, and hair dryers. I awoke early the next morning to have everything ready and outside my hotel room door in time to load it on the bus. I did not want to be late again today. Well, when it came time to figure out to turn the shower on, I had to step back a second and play with the knobs before getting it right. The hairdryer on the other hand, stressed me to the point of tears. No matter what I tried, I could not get the hotel hairdryer to work. I plugged it into every socket in the room, pushed the reset buttons on the outlets, everything! But, could not get the bloody thing to work. I could have thrown my hair in a ponytail and called it a day, but, I had nothing to tie it back with. I have naturally curly, frizzy hair so letting it dry naturally was out of the question. At this point, I’m starting to run late again and I’m panicking. I called down to room service, choked back my silly, vain tears and ask for another hair dryer. The desk clerk, feeling my pain (I’m obviously not the first tourist he has had to explain this too), explained to me in the kindest voice that I simply had to switch the dryer on, then push the button on the side of the handle, and hold it down the entire time I’m drying my hair. Oy vey.flag

With my hair dry, my bags packed and in the hotel lobby, I climbed into my bus seat only to hear my travel mates complain about experiencing the same problems with he hair dryer and the shower. Now, I didn’t feel so ditsy.

The next leg of our adventure took us up to my ancestral homeland: Scotland. The countryside on the way up was postcard perfect. Rolling green hills and tiny Tudor villages kept me glued to the window. How I wished we could have stopped off into these darling villages, even only for a few minutes, just to check out the quant English country life. But, having to keep to the schedule, we pressed on.

Our first stop was right across the Scottish boarder to the tourist trap know as Gretna Green. Famous for runaway weddings, Gretna Green’s blacksmith shop hosts weddings complete with anvil to make the union “official.” There is the tiny chapel, a museum, and, of course, gift shops. It took us all of 30 minutes to see everything Gretna Green had to offer and Lauren and I spent most of that time in the gift shop. The saving grace? A

Me and Plee

Me and Plee

tiny bar inside the gift shop giving out free gin tastings!! Now, I’m not a hard alcohol kind of gal. To me, hard alcohol tastes like gasoline. But, how could I say “no” to a free tasting? The gin I tried was a blackberry gin made right there in Scotland. I was so impressed with the yumminess, that I actually bought a bottle!

We hopped back on the bus, but as we were backing out of the parking lot we noticed we were missing one passenger: Sue hadn’t made it back yet! So, we promptly alerted John and Simon and pulled back into our parking space. A few minutes later, Sue boarded the bus and took her short “walk of shame.”

Now in my first post, I mentioned my little friend Pleepleus. It felt strange when I first started taking photos with him. I noticed many a strange look from the other travelers. But, by the second day of our tour, if the others didn’t see him right way, they were asking where he was and smiling when I pulled him out to take photos with him. One day I left him on the tray table of my seat while we made a quick “pit stop.” Lauren stayed behind on the bus and said that every person that walked off the bus gave Plee a petting. She wished she would have taken a photo for me. For something I thought was childish and silly, Plee has become an ice-breaker and conversation starter. I’m so happy I decided to bring him. I highly suggest anyone who travels, take along a little friend. It’s amazing how many people you will meet and how much fun you will have!

Crossing over the Scottish border was eventful. Suddenly, all of the road signs were in written in English and Gaelic. So cool! We drove through tiny Scottish villages until we reached our destination for the next two days: Glasgow. Unfortunately, Glasgow was a huge disappointment. I got such a weird vibe from the moment we pulled into the city. The only way I can describe it…Imagine walking into a warehouse and there are boxes stacked in the corner because no one knew what else to do with them. That is the feeling I got when we pulled into Glasgow. Very cold, industrial, like everything there was not where it was supposed to be. I was uneasy the entire time we were in the city. Odd.

Luckily, we had dinner in neighboring Stirling. What an amazing little village! This tiny medieval village sits about 20 minutes outside of Glasgow. Cobblestone streets wind through he village with a mix of centuries old and turn of the century structures. There are a few old ruins dating back 500 years standing throughout the village. The cobblestone roads wind up a hill to the infamous Stirling Castle.


Blessed haggis


We were to meet our guide for the night at the castle. He was the epitome of Scottish gentleman, right down to the kilt! We had a clear view of The Wallace memorial in the distance. I only wish we would have been able to visit the memorial. Instead, we all stood at the foot of the Robert the Bruce memorial statue as our guide told us the history of the area, including the famous Battle of Stirling and of Scotland’s favorite son: William Wallace. Freedoooooooom!!!! When the history lesson came to a close, our guide grabbed his bagpipes (real ones, not metaphoric) and like the pied piper started playing a gorgeous tune leading us down the cobblestone road to the place where we would dine for the night.

As we settled in for our meal, our guide began to tell the tale of the haggis. He stood with a large platter in hand and upon that platter was the dreaded clump of oaty, mincemeaty goodness. I don’t know about you, kids, but I LOVE haggis. But, in all honesty, I’ve only had the American version of it. So, to have real Scottish haggis was something I was looking forward to on this trip. In a booming voice, our guide held the platter up high while giving a blessing to the haggis in the old Scottish speak. He warned us ahead of time that when giving the story and blessing that we may not understand what he was saying due to the old world pronunciation, and he was right! We couldn’t understand most of what he was saying, but it was interesting nonetheless. Then, he pulled out a large dagger and plunged it into the haggis. We were each given a small portion wth our meal. It did not disappoint! One hasn’t truly lived until they have dined on haggis. I won’t go into too much detail about it other than it’s like eating a mushy sausage. I HIGHLY recommend trying it if you have the chance! It looks disgusting, but, it’s yummy! Promise, cross my heart!

The beer choices with dinner were quite nice. Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted Golden Ale and Harviestoun Schiehallion Craft Lager. Both were very smooth, malty. I couldn’t decide which I liked better. Both were perfect with our dinner, both were easy to drink. Let’s call it a draw.


Edinburgh Castle


The next day we were off on a field trip to the most amazing city I have ever been to: Edinburgh! This gorgeous city is a mixture of 13th century structures and modern 20thand 21st century architecture. Sitting on top of a hill in the middle of the city like a crown jewel is Edinburgh Castle. The closer you get to the castle, the older the structures. Once at the castle, my mind started wondering to what Scottish life was like 600 years ago. We walked through the castle walls and were greeted with a breathtaking view of the entire city! I walked through the open rooms of the castle and couldn’t believe I was walking in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots! It was a remarkable moment.

After touring the castle, Lauren and I exited the castle walls and walked through the ancient streets to a delightful tavern for lunch. Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, just steps from the castle walls, was charming and inviting. The ceilings were adorned with painted thistles and flowers. The food was delightful. I had my second helping of haggis (I love the stuff) along with mash (mashed potatoes) and some sort of mashed concoction called “mashed swede.” I took a couple bites of the swede (rutabaga) and left the remainder on my plate. Turns out, I’m not a fan of the mashed swede. But, at least I can mark it off my list of stuff to try.

Lauren and I did some shopping in this old section and I purchased a quaich


Edinburgh, Scotland

(pronounced “quake” with extra phlegm in your throat). It’s a piece of my Scottish history that I’ve wanted for many years. I now proudly possess one.

Once our shopping (and drinking) were complete, we boarded the bus and headed back to Glasgow. Once back at the hotel we got ready for dinner and headed out to our restaurant. I enjoyed a pint of Tennent’s and a lovely dinner. Unfortunately, our beer selection at dinner was limited to just this one beer but, I made up for it back at the hotel lounge. Calendonian Brewing (owned by Heineken UK) produces Three Hop Lager. This is a lovely beer, and probably one of my favorites of the trip! Most of the beers I’ve had on my trip up to now have been on the malty side. I LOVE malty beers, but this one was a bit crisper with a slight spice to it. Quite nice!

The next day we all boarded the bus on our way to the Scottish coast. We were to board a ferry to Belfast, Ireland, but, the largest hurricane to hit Ireland in over 50 years landed the day before throwing off all of the ferry schedules. The original plan was to take the Ferry to Belfast, tour the city for a few hours, then make our way to Dublin for the night. The hurricane delayed our ferry ride for four hours. So, to pass the time, our tour guide took us to the Scottish coastal village of Stranraer. What a darling village! Lauren and I walked through the village, did some light shopping, and then found a tiny, out-of-the-way tavern called The Arkhouse Inn.

Arkhouse 2

Me and The Arkhouse Inn

It’s odd, when in the larger cities in Scotland, the brogue isn’t very thick and I can understand pretty much everything everyone says. These smaller villages…not so much. I felt incredibly obtuse asking the locals to repeat what they said so I could understand them. But, everyone I met was incredibly kind and patient with this dense American. Lunch at the Inn was simple and pleasurable. I had a Belhaven Best with lunch and enjoyed listening to the locals discuss their day (from what I could understand of the conversation).


Our time to board the ferry came and I have to admit, I boarded with a bit of trepidation. I knew I was possibly going to be seasick. I took some seasick pills and hoped for the best for the 2hr ride across the Irish Sea. Turns out, I fared pretty OK. We landed in Belfast 4hrs past schedule so a tour of the city was out. However, our tour guide was able to give us about 20 minutes at the Maritime Museum in Belfast. The museum sits at the site where the fated Titanic was launched. The museum building site was built to represent the Titanic’s icon bow. Each corner of the building is built to scale of the ship’s bow and demonstrates how massive the ship was. It’s quite breathtaking and awe inspiring!

We jumped back on the bus and made our way down to Dublin. I was fascinated by the signage along the highways. The names of the streets, highways and towns were written in English and Irish. I learned quite early that the Irish do not call their native tongue “Gaelic.” They speak “Irish.” Please, remember that!!!

We made it to Dublin and were quite exhausted. Luckily, our hotel had a pub. Lauren, Sue, Buttons and I grabbed a table, a couple of pint and chilled for the night. Tomorrow we hit he Irish countryside. But, fingers crossed I can figure out the shower and hair dryer. Ha!


Great Britain and Ireland (part 2) December 24, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — pnwbeerchick @ 11:56 am

I struggled to get a sound night’s sleep. Excitement, I imagine. But, I had to have my bags packed and ready by 7:00am to load onto the bus. The next morning I dragged myself out of bed, showered, and staggered downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The typical fare was being served: sausage, eggs, cereals, etc. I noticed that British “bacon” is nothing like American bacon. British bacon is actually a small, thin slice of ham. Yummy!

I woofed down what I could (I was running a bit late) and headed down to the bus. There I met our guide for the duration of the trip: John. He is quite handsome and his New Zealand accent is too adorable. Anyway, I looked at the seating chart and boarded the


Shakespeare’s birthplace

bus. My seat was the first seat right behind our driver Simon. Both gentlemen were wonderfully patient and very entertaining. My seat mate was a tall, witty lady from Australia. Lauren proved to be a great seat mate and travel companion! She was quite funny and always kept me entertained. Sitting across from us was a sweet lady named Sue and her very hilarious husband “Buttons.” They are originally from New Zealand but now live in Australia. They are grandparents taking a whirlwind tour all over Europe. I adore all three of these fine folks and we spent a great deal of time together on this 10 day tour.

So, we all took our seats and started off on our journey. Our first stop was Stratford-Upon-Avon. Located on the banks of the River Avon, this darling Tudor village is the birthplace of William Shakespeare. His childhood home is a beautifully preserved two-story cottage turned museum. We walked through each room of the home and I couldn’t help but admire the beautiful yet simple rooms. Exposed beam ceilings and uneven floors revealed the age of this home. The period furnishings are not original to the house but you still get a feel for what life was like 400 years ago. It was amazing to think that I was standing in the home where one of the world’s greatest writers was actually born and raised.

After the tour we had about an hour to grab some lunch and head back to the bus. Rebel that I am, I decided that I would flip lunch the bird, set out on my own, take a quick stroll through the village and head over to the church where Shakespeare is buried. I walked through the busy village admiring the centuries old structures that still housed shops, apartments, and pubs. I made my way to the outskirts of the village to the Church of the Holy Trinity. This gorgeous gothic church is surrounded by large, shady trees and a graveyard with headstones almost as tall as I am!

I stepped inside the church and right away was in awe of the beauty of the architecture. Giant vaulted ceilings, stained glass, and intricately carved pews filled the room from top to bottom. I was overtaken by the beauty in the craftsmanship. I thought of the men that painstakingly carved, chiseled, hammered, and nailed this amazing structure and all that it housed. I was in awe.

I made my way through the other tourists to the chancel where Shakespeare and his wife Anne are buried. For a donation of £3 I was able to step into the chancel and stand


“The Shambles”

literally inches from the grave of the greatest playwright that ever lived. William and Anne are buried side-by-side in the floor of the chancel. As I stood and studied these graves, it hit me as to where I was and what I was looking at. It was a humbling moment.

Suddenly, I glanced at my watch and realized I only had about 10 minutes to find my way back to the bus! But, where the heck was I in conjunction to the bus lot?!?! I RAN all the way back while navigating the streets trying to remember which ones I took to get to the church. I made it to the bus just in time. I took my “walk of shame” down the aisle as I was playfully harassed by my travel mates for almost missing the bus. Our next stop was the medieval town of York, AKA “The Shambles.”

This amazing city is the oldest medieval city in England. Though many of the structures date back to the 1300’s, the history of York begins around 71 AD with occupation of the Romans. All of the buildings are still in full use today and rumor has it that J.K. Rowling fashioned Daigon Alley after the town. After seeing for myself, I think those rumors are true! What a whimsical place!

The city is surrounded by ancient stone walls for protection from invaders. The streets are narrow and paved with the original cobblestones and have become a bit uneven over time making walking on them a bit of a challenge. The centuries old structures are two to three stories high and hidden alleyways are sprinkled throughout the village. Crowds of tourists, shoppers and residents fill the streets making it a bit hard to see all of the details, but, it was exciting to see a town this old still fully in use. It was also refreshing to notice that there was not a Starbucks or other “big name” shop in the village. Just “mom & pop” shops and pubs. Some having been in the same spot for centuries!

The heart of York is it’s minster. Construction of this gorgeous, gothic structure began in 1080 by Archbishop Thomas. Again, due to time constraints (and the fact that it cost £10 to walk inside) I decided not go go any further than the minster’s massive front doors. Perhaps I will on my next visit.

There clearly wasn’t enough time to see everything in York. This is a city I must (and will) visit again.

IMG_4254 (Edited)

The Pine Marten

We hopped back on the bus and headed to our dinner stop for the night in Beckwithshaw. The Pine Marten is a pretty, stone restaurant surrounded by mature trees. The sun was setting as we arrived and the pink and orange sky highlighted the structure beautifully. Lauren, Buttons, Sue and I sat down to our “Welcome Dinner” (as part of our tour package) and enjoyed a lovely traditional meal of Yorkshire pudding and bangers & mash. I ordered two of the local beers on tap. Tonight, I had Black Sheep Best Bitter from Black Sheep Brewery in Masham, Yorkshire and Leeds Pale Session Bitter from Leeds Brewery in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Both are 3.8% ABV, both are quite nice and easy to drink. Malty, smooth, and complimented my meal rather nicely.

After our dinner and pints, we headed off to our hotel in Harrogate for the night. I remembered my age as soreness crept into my legs and back from walking on uneven cobblestones and sidewalks for the last day and a half. But, I wasn’t going to complain. So far, my dream trip was off to an amazing start! Day 1 of the tour comes to end as I do my best to calm my mind and get some rest. The day held more amazing sights than I could have ever dreamed of. And this is only my 2nd day in England!

Tomorrow…off to bonnie Scotland!

IMG_4254 (Edited)



Great Britain and Ireland (part 1) November 10, 2017

Filed under: beer,British Beers & Ciders,Great Britain & Ireland,IPA — pnwbeerchick @ 4:46 pm

What can possibly be written about Great Britain and Ireland that hasn’t already been put to paper? The beauty, history, tragedy, and triumphs of these two islands have inspired artists, poets and writers for millennium. And after my recent trip, I can certainly see why.

Last month I took a 10 day tour of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had and I would like to share it with you fine folks.IMG_4139

Now, my very dear friend Joy suggested that I take something with me to take photos with, like a doll. I thought about it and remembered that I had a Pleepleus doll that may be kind of fun to take with me on my travels. This proved to be true! So I packed Plee with me and took him everywhere. He was a great conversation starter, and it really was a lot of fun taking photos and creating a little story just for him. He will now be my permanent travel companion.

I signed up through Trafalgar Tours. The trip was to cover all five countries in eight days. And boy, did we ever!

After a 9 ½ hour, non-stop flight from Seattle, I landed in London on Friday the 13th. I had a private driver take me from the airport to the hotel. As we made our way through London, my driver was kind enough to point out various areas I may want to visit during my stay and gave me a bit of a history lesson along the way. We passed by so many amazing sights: centuries old buildings and homes mixed in with modern construction, gorgeous parks, and monuments a plenty. My head was swirling! I couldn’t believe I was actually in London!

My hotel was across the street from Hyde Park and the Marble Arch. I was traveling alone. Having never been to London before, I did not know my way around. My tour didn’t leave until the next day so I had the afternoon and evening to do with as I pleased. I asked my concierge to point me in the direction of Buckingham Palace. Yes, I’m fascinated by the romance of the British Monarchy. So sue me.

My concierge was concerned that I was going to walk there, by myself. He tried to talk me out of it by telling me it was a good 30 minute walk. In my best Maureen O’Hara I replied “that’s just a good stretch of the legs” and asked him to point me in the right direction. He pulled out a map and highlighted the best route. Off I went.

The walk along the busy city street of Park Ln was fascinating. I was surrounded by every ethnicity I could possibly imagine. Languages and attire from all over the world, just on this one street. It was fascinating and beautiful.

IMG_4118The sidewalks were a combination of old cobblestone and modern concrete. One really had to watch their step to keep from tripping and falling you’re your butt. As I crossed streets, I glanced down the alleyways and side streets. The beautifully aged buildings were covered in layers of black soot. History.

I crossed the main street called Piccadilly and made my way through Green Park. The park was full of tourists and locals. All enjoying the lush trees and green lawns of the park. Many were sitting or strolling in the sun. Others were taking a snooze in the shade. I wished that our parks back home saw such wonderful use.

I got to the edge of the park and looked up to the familiar building: Buckingham Palace. We’ve all seen the palace on TV or in magazines, but it’s not until you are standing in front of it that you really appreciate the majesty of the structure.

I crossed one final street and made my way to the front gates. Heavily armed guards stood watch at each entrance reminding me of the current times we’re living in. As I looked up I saw the grand balcony. For centuries that balcony has seen first wedding kisses, birthdays and coronations. It was exciting to be standing in front of such a great piece of British history and majesty.

The sun was starting to set so I finished snapping my photos and started heading back toIMG_4142 my hotel. I crossed back through Green Park and hoofed my way up Piccadilly. Down one of the aforementioned alleys was a darling pub straight out of a travel guide: Rose & Crown No. 2. I had forgotten I hadn’t eaten all day so I decided to stop in for a bit to eat and a pint. The pub was quaint and traditional. Old character and charm, wood panels, paintings and portraits of England’s heroes. There was even the expected fireplace in the corner! It was everything you would expect to see in an English Pub. I made my way past the glances of the locals and found a table all to myself next to the fireplace. I made my way through the crowd up to the bar and ordered my pint and a bag of “crisps” (potato chips to us Americans) and took my seat back at my table.

My first beer in the U.K. was GK IPA by Westgate Brewery. I love British IPA’s and this one was particularly nice. It was smooth, malty, and very easy to drink. Pair it up with some salt & vinegar chips…sorry, CRISPS, and it was a nice snack before dinner.

I settled in to my table and just observed the humanity around me. I listened to the wonderful accents and enjoyed the moment. I was really in England. I was really in the country I’ve dreamed about visiting since I was a child. It still didn’t seem real, but there I was.

As the sun lowered and the sky dimmed, I decided it was best to finish up and make my way back to my hotel. Buses and black cabs lined the streets picking up passengers. Luckily for this dumb tourist, there were markings at each cross walk reminding me which way to look for traffic. More than once I was almost barreled over because I forgot that Americans drive on the “wrong side of the road.”

I got back to my hotel, kicked off my shoes and realized how ridiculous tired I was. It was only 7:00pm but I was absolutely exhausted. I decided to call it a night. Jammies on, lights out, and settled in for the night.

Tomorrow, the tour starts.


October 11, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — pnwbeerchick @ 10:58 am

Making final preparations for my trip to England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales! Stay tuned, gang!

You can follow my trip on my Facebook and Twitter pages!


Hey, kids! I’ve been taking a bit of a break. But, new postings are coming soon!!! August 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — pnwbeerchick @ 11:02 am

January 27, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — pnwbeerchick @ 10:20 pm

PNWHC_Poster [259481]


December 24, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — pnwbeerchick @ 5:51 pm

Merry Christmas, everyone! Thank you for your support through the years!

More postings coming soon!!



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