Another busy day and an unfamiliar journey to Earl's Court thanks to engineering works on London Underground. No problem really. I got a seat on the incredibly busy, small and stuffy Piccadilly line which made it tolerable, reading on the way CAMRA's beer magazine, which really has improved such a lot.
There always seems to be a different crowd on a Saturday - geeks don't tend to turn up on a Saturday as they know choice is limited. (It is a general rule of beer festivals in case you didn't know it - get there early.) Saturday's crowd was less knowledgeable perhaps and possibly less discerning. The repeated question of "what's your strongest?" is rarely heard earlier in the week.
I stuck it out to the end and when "Time" was called, we sat briefly at the back of the bar, sipping a beer and glad to have saw it through to its gruelling conclusion. A curious mixture of regret and relief really. After half an hour or so the announcement that the hall was clear of the public came and our quiet reflection ended. Within seconds we were dismantling the chairs and table we sat on and stripping the bar. Within minutes the Festival Site Team were out, a mass of whirling fork lift trucks and cages for the various fittings. Within half an hour the public would not have recognised it. Bars were being collapsed, handpumps stripped and removed the sounds were of clattering metal. I wasn't doing the party this year, so I said my goodbyes to my friends and colleagues and made my way upstairs, casting a glance back to the feverish activity below me. These guys deserve their party later on believe me.
At home E had a cool bottle of Pinot Grigio waiting for us. We supped that and then went out. I couldn't be bothered with a sit down curry and was all beered out, so a shared bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc did the trick instead. Then an excellent take away curry and, slightly pissed and completely knackered, I nodded off on the sofa, waking up, mildly disoriented at 04.40. It somehow seemed a fitting end to a busy and successful week.
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