Friday, 25 February 2011

Across The Pond: West Chester

God Bless America! I've recently come back from a trip to the states and I'd forgotten what America is like. It's a place of extremes, dreams and coffee machines. For my part I mainly stayed in a little place called West Chester just outside Philadelphia which is a ordinary home grown town. Big cars, big roads and lots of people that will randomly stop and speak to you about nothing in particular-but hey that's America!

One of my favourite places in the town was a micro brewery called Iron Hill. All the beer they serve is brewed right there on site and you get to taste whatever one you want before you order. Usually when I think of American beer, I think bud, or cools or some other weak, watery tasting drink but this trip to America opened my eyes to the underground beer scene which was fantastic. Most artisan beers started at about 4% and just went up which means you only need a steady few to be on your way! Iron Hill have a house brew called 'Vienna Red' which was lovely. It has a malty flavour which isn't too strong and it's not too fizzy which makes it smooth and refreshing to drink. I can easily polish off a pint of that.

But it wasn't just the beer scene that is exciting around West Chester. I visited a place called 'Va La Vineyards' which was sumptuous. For $10 you could go and have a three wine tasting session which was accompanied by local cheeses and lovely bread and oil. The Va La barn is rustic but classy and the wine is first class. I really enjoyed a light white wine called 'La Prima Donna'. It was crisp, clear and light but retained a lovely fruity spring flavour. With the sun setting over open countryside, a jazz pianist playing for tips and a glass of white, it couldn't get much better. Being at the Va La barn seemed to show how pockets of America are so different. I couldn't help feeling that some areas are yearning to be more european but doing in it in a very american will be interesting to see what has changed when I next visit the land of dreams.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Northern Force

In my latest adventure to the Northern lands I went to a little bit of water heaven just outside Newcastle. The High Force waterfall is in the Pennines and the landscape surrounding it is spectacular. The dark frown of the sky was brightened by the gushing sight of High Force. The spray and mist created from the shear mass of water flowing over the rocky crag was captivating. The luring water glistens and mumbles, inviting you to stay at the waterside just that little bit longer. It's an impressive natural beauty and at 70 metres, High Force is England's highest waterfall.

Whenever I go near a waterfall I can not help but think of my relative Captain Matthew Webb who died trying to swim across the Niagara Falls. Webb was also the first man to swim across the English Channel. He made lots of money out of his love of swimming and the dare devil inside him. I blame him for my reckless side and always wanting to jump in any river or ocean I see!

Water truly is captivating and "Nothing great is easy".