Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cider, Perry & Gluten Free Beer at the Luton Beer & Cider Festival

Visiting the 30th Annual Luton Beer & Cider Festival.

Since visiting our first Beer Festival in October 2011 (as advised to and accompanied by fellow Minigolfer and hangover expert Kevin 'Don't call me Max' Moseley) we've since been to the Luton Beer & Cider Festival, as well as keeping our eyes out for good gluten free beers, lagers & ales, and cider - with the Cider Tap at Euston in London a favourite haunt of our.

The Luton Beer & Cider Festival is held at the Hightown Sports Centre!

Last year we decided to visit the Luton Beer & Cider Festival after hearing from the Beds & Mid Herts Coeliac Group that there would be bottled gluten free beer available at the event. It's nice to have the choice and I had a bottle of the Blonde ale as well as a fair few 'thirds' of cider and perry.

Another half of Hardings Cider almost finished...

This year we visited the 30th edition of the Luton Beer & Cider Festival, that was once again held at the Hightown Sports & Arts Centre in Luton. This year there were three gluten free beers available, alongside dozens of cask beers, a large selection of bottled foreign beers, wines and a good selection of cider and perry.

Photograph of a Green's Gluten Free beer leaflet
It was nice to see posters and leaflets about Gluten Free beer on display at the festival

As a big fan of cider there were plenty to choose from, with twelve ciders, one apple/pear mix and eight perries. Emily was also pleased to see her favourite "Apples & Pears" available. This is made by Millwhites in Hemel Hempstead. And our friend Simon 'Oscar' Hall was very pleased with his 'sampling' of many pints of incredibly dark and think real ale!

Coming from even closer to home is the excellent brew made by Hardings Cider. Having read about the only cider made in Luton in the Autumn 2012 newsletter from the South Bedfordshire branch of CAMRA I purchased a few pints of the medium and sweet cider and very nice they were too. They'll certainly be on the menu for the upcoming BBQ season!

The Hardings Cider was proving popular on the night and the particular edition was the Hardings 3 County Bounty. I sampled a half of it, along with some thirds and halves of the Ross-on-Wye Alpaca Perry(!), the interesting Dunton medium and the Millwhites Rioja Finish.

A great evening out and as a bonus I've got some bottles of Green's Gluten Free Blond & Brown Ale to have tonight. Along with a bag of Awfully Posh's Pork Crackling. Lovely stuff.

Photograph of two bottles of Green's Gluten Free Beer
Green's Gluten Free Brown Ale and a bottle of Blond too


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Friday, February 22, 2013

Gluten Free Lager at CELIA Time in London

Attending the CELIA Gluten Free Lager event in London.

We were recently invited to the CELIA Time Craft Beer/Gluten Free event at The Regent pub in London, where we had the chance to try out the new premium Czech gluten free lager.  

As a Coeliac the only beers I can drink are Gluten & Wheat Free ones, so having heard about CELIA Lager via twitter I was keen to give it a try. I found time to pop by The Regent pub and bought a bottle before Christmas and very nice it was too. The CELIA lager event last week was a chance to meet the team from CELIA, meet some fellow Coeliacs (always great to share tips of places to dine out and new products) and try out some surprise Gluten Free snacks!

It was a great evening and really good to meet Martin and Nick from CELIA, both are very passionate about the lager, the process in making it and in seeing people enjoying it. There were certainly a few of us enjoying the free samples on the night!

Reserved for Coeliacs and Craft Beer fans only - a no-Gluten zone

The food was supplied by the WAGfree bakery in Brixton, who provided some nice savoury quiches/tarts, and we were also served a selection of Pizzas that are on sale at The Regent. The pizzas were the best I've had since being diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and the bases (from Annie's Larder) are very good indeed. Emily and our friend Brad couldn't tell the difference between the Gluten free pizzas and normal 'ones'. Emily is used to having to eat Gluten Free most of the time due to my intolerance of gluten and wheat, but Brad was impressed by the spread he asked how he could sign-up to be a Coeliac lol.

All in all it was a great evening and I'm looking forward to finding CELIA Lager on sale in more pubs and restaurants that we visit on our travels.

You can also currently buy CELIA Lager from The Regent's sister pubs The Lauriston and The Hanbury Arms, at Olly's Fish & Chips and online via Deli Divine, The Gluten-Free Shop and Beers of Europe. As well as a few more places listed here.


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300,000+ blog pageviews! Blimey!

The Ham & Egger Files blog reaches 300,000 pageviews.

The Ham & Egger Files blog recently saw the 300,000 visitor to the site! Amazing considering that this time last year less than 130,000 people had visited the blog, and between December 2006 when I set-up the blog until December 2011 there were 100,000 pageviews.

While writing this post the most recent visitors to the blog have been from the UK, USA, Italy, Japan and Russia. The all-time top visitors by country are the UK, USA, Russia, Germany and France. While overall the Ham & Egger Files has been visited by people in 115 countries - with the last ten 'new' countries being Andorra, Uruguay, Malta, Tanzania, Equador, Iraq, Laos, Bolivia, Antigua & Barbuda and Mozambique!

As a Coeliac I also blog about Gluten Free stuff and while none of my blog posts make the all-time top viewed posts the most popular amongst them include a trip to Merrivale in Great Yarmouth, Gluten Free Beers I've sampled (hic), Gluten Free Fish & Chips we've found on our travels, Gluten Free Sausages & Black Pudding and more Black Pudding (& a Haggis)

Thank you to everyone for reading my blog, commenting on posts, suggesting places to go, things to do, gluten free things to eat & drink, Minigolf & Crazy Golf courses to play and new sports & games to try. Many thanks also go to people linking to the site. Special thanks go to Tim 'Ace Man' Davies at - the premier resource for anything Minigolf-related - for all the links too.

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- The Ham & Egger Files – An Introduction
- Crazy World of Minigolf Tour
- Behold...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bar Billiards at the King Charles I pub in London

Playing some Bar Billiards at the King Charles I pub.

Prior to attending the CELIA Time Gluten Free Craft Beer event at the Prince Regent Pub me, Emily and Brad Shepherd headed to the King Charles I pub for a game or three of Bar Billiards.

Photo of Bar Billiards at the King Charles I pub in London
Finding the spot for the red, ready for a break

We haven't managed to play a game there since our first visit back in February last year. Every time we've been back since, the pub has been so busy that playing a game would be too difficult. Arriving soon after it opened on Monday night we were in luck and able to have a game and a drink.

When the barman uncovered the table we were surprised to see the green baize replaced with red material, it certainly looked different. The 'House Rules' however, remained the same.

Photo of Bar Billiards at the King Charles I pub in London
Last year's green baized table
Photo of Bar Billiards at the King Charles I pub in London
The red baized table this year

The pub is well worth a visit and can be found on Northdown Road (just off the Caledonian Road and near to King's Cross). While there we had the pleasure of having a chat with the barman about the pub game of Aunt Sally - it's big in Oxfordshire - and a pub character who was really pleased to see some 'young uns' playing Bar Billiards. He gave us some tips and also some suggestions of other pubs he'd played the game at (stretching back over the last 40 or so years!). One of which, that made me chuckle, was the brilliantly named Dog and Sausage in St Helier, Jersey. We also discussed the many variations of Dart Boards that exist.

It was thanks to Brad that we got into playing Bar Billiards after he pointed me in the direction of the old TV show Indoor League, which featured amongst the 'pub sports' a Bar Billiards contest. We played our first game soon after on the 27th of January 2012!

In the first game at the King Charles I on Monday I beat Emily 750 to 510 after Emily managed to make the 200-point shot on the sudden-death shoot-out, although this meant I couldn't wipe-out.

Photo of Bar Billiards at the King Charles I pub in London
Emily playing against Richard while Brad is engaged in pub chat

In game two I won a close match-up against Brad after he wiped-out a score of 370 on a shot at the 200 hole with the red ball. The final score was 440 to nil.

Photo of Bar Billiards at the King Charles I pub in London
Richard on his way to victory against Brad

A short break followed before Brad managed to defeat me 750 to 390 in the final game before we headed off to the CELIA Lager gluten free/craft beer event down the road near Angel.

Photo of Bar Billiards at the King Charles I pub in London
Brad lining up a shot with the red onto a white for a crack at 100 points

None of us got near the 'Table Record' of 3,040 points, that included a break of 2,860, set by Julian Coles on the 13th of October 2009.

The King Charles I is a great little pub, with a cracking Bar Billiards table and a nice and friendly atmosphere. We're looking forward to our next visit.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Visits to the Mini Golf course in Herne Bay

My brother and Minigolf rival Christopher Gottfried found himself in the lovely little seaside resort of Herne Bay, Kent yesterday evening. Unfortunately he was too late to play the great Minigolf course on the seafront.

Photo of the iFun @ Sundancers Amusement Arcade in Herne Bay
The iFun @ Sundancers Amusement Arcade in Herne Bay - home to a great 18-hole Mini Golf course
The 18-hole Herne Bay Mini Golf course was the 78th that Emily and I played on our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour way back in November 2008!

Photo of the 18-hole Mini Golf course in Herne Bay, Kent
A view of the Herne Bay Mini Golf course
The course is well worth a play and can be found at 136-145 Central Parade, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6 8SS. Check out the course website here.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

A Re-visit to Southend-on-Sea's Arnold Palmer Minigolf Course

Replaying the Arnold Palmer Minigolf Course in Southend-on-Sea.

Photo of Richard Gottfried playing the Arnold Palmer Minigolf course in Southend-on-Sea
Wish You Were Here

Emily and I were recently in Southend-on-Sea and luckily for us the 18-hole Arnold Palmer Minigolf course on the Eastern Esplanade was open - and will be on Saturday's and Sunday's throughout the winter (weather permitting).

Photo of the Arnold Palmer Miniature Golf course in Southend-on-Sea
Emily playing the shortest hole on the course with Europe's longest pier in the background

We've played the course a number of times over the years and Arnold Palmer Putting/Crazy Golf/Minigolf courses are amongst my favourite types of Miniature Golf. They have that classic look and feel that I associate what the game is all about - the windmill, waterwheel, lumps, bumps and hillocks, and the all-important 'lucky' last hole.

Photo of the Arnold Palmer Crazy Golf course in Southend-on-Sea
A rough start for Richard with an overhit tee-shot landing in a bunker!

When we visited last December the course was closed, so it was nice to get a game of Crazy Golf this time round.

Photo of the Arnold Palmer Mini Golf course in Southend-on-Sea
This hole used to have the cup in another position

In our one-round match Emily and I scored a pair of 48's (having enforced the course rules as opposed to BMGA rules) to force a sudden-death play-off to decide the winner. On the the replay of the 18th hole we both scored twos, but I was able to win the game with a two on the 16th hole.

Photo of the Arnold Palmer Minigolf course in Southend-on-Sea
Playing out the Lighthouse hole

Predictably, neither of us won a free game on the 19th hole. I was quite close though.

Photo of the Lucky Last Hole at the Arnold Palmer Minigolf course in Southend-on-Sea
Emily having a crack at the Top Hole

Photo of the sign for the East Course at the Arnold Palmer Minigolf course in Southend-on-Sea
The sign for the East Course at Southend-on-Sea

Back in April 2007 I made my professional Minigolf Debut on the British Minigolf Association Tour in the BMGA British Masters competition that was played on the nearby Adventure Island Adventure Golf courses in Southend-on-Sea.

I think the course is always worth a play if you're in the area and you can find it at Darlowes Green, Eastern Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2ES.

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How much does this guy weigh?

How much does this guy weigh?

As a fan of Wrestling I recently enjoyed re-watching the 1994 WWF King of the Ring Pay Per View event on VHS. It stands out as a great WWF PPV show for a number of reasons - Owen Hart winning the tournament being one of them. But the best part of it in my mind is that one of the commentators for the event was a Baltimore Colts American Football Legend, one Art Donovan. The fact was he knew very little about professional wrestling, the WWF or the wrestlers involved in the show. This, combined with one of his fellow commentators, WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon, ignoring his questions for most of the show. For fans of wrestling (and Wrestlecrap 'quality' stuff) then I highly recommend you dig out a copy of the show.

If you've got 12 minutes to spare/waste then check out this YouTube video showing the 'highlights' of Art Donovan's WWF commentating career!

After watching the tape I headed online for more info on the event, why Art was booked, and who exactly was Art Donovan! My search led me to a number of sites, one of which is the brilliant "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog by Art0Donnell. The name of the author of the site is a play on words based on Gorilla Monsoon's incorrect introduction of Art Donovan on the show (he called Art, "Art O'Donnell". Not a good way to start off a broadcasting relationship). Check out Art0Donnell's blog post about Art Donovan at "King of the Ring 1994: Enter Donovan".

The Art0Donnell blog is full of brilliant old school wrestling reviews and nostalgia and other stuff. As a big fan of underdogs (those loveable Ham & Eggers) one of my favourite posts is of "Jobbers of '93", which gives a rundown of all the enhancement talent local athlete jobbers that 'competed' on WWF Monday Night Raw in 1993! Brilliant stuff.


Whatever happened to the blogs of 'The Machine' & 'Clockwork Orange'?

Two Minigolf blogs go unwritten on for a year and a bit.

It's been just over a year since my friend, fellow blogger, Minigolf rival and occasional team-mate Oliver 'The Machine' Florence blogged.

The last post on his blog - The Minigolfer - was about the dreadful weather conditions that prevented me making a trip to Guildford in a blog called "Snow luck for Gottfried as Guildford curse strikes again". It caused a blog post be written here in Luton too.

I did eventually make it to the county town of Surrey for a day of games, a visit to the castle and a look at a giant beetle in April last year. There was also an incident involving a car that Ollie should of blogged about. Maybe in a podcast format considering the vocal outburst made by Mr Florence.

Another blog to have fallen by the wayside in the last year is that of another friend and Minigolf Wunderkind Seth 'Orange Clock' Thomas, whose Forever Pushing Buttons blog hasn't been updated since January 29th 2012!

I wonder if either will be updated in 2013...


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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Not Playing the Buttons at Southend's Amusements

Finding a playable, unwinnable, 2p machine at 'the Buttons' in Southend.

As a big fan of seasides and amusement arcades I had a fun trip to Southend-on-Sea on Saturday. At one of the Amusement Arcades Emily and I spotted that one of the 2p pusher machines was working, but had no money in it!? 

Photo of a 2p arcade machine in Southend on Sea
The unwinnable 2p pusher in the Southend Arcade

Oddly, somebody must of played it as there were a few tuppences in the machine! As a veteran ratter and tatter (and 2012 Worlds Tat Challenge Champion) I know better...

Not playing the Buttons

I also spotted a fruit machine based on my favourite comic of all time that managed to rob me of 70p.

A Viz Fruit Machine in an Amusement Arcade in Southend on Sea

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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Play Portaputt Crazy Golf at Cwmbran Shopping Centre

Portable Crazy Golf course to be set-up at Cwmbran Shopping Centre on Saturday 30th March.

Edited 25th March 2013

The team at Portaputt Crazy Golf will have their Crazy Golf course available to play for free at Cwmbran Shopping Centre on Saturday 30th March 2013.

The Miniature Golf layout will be at Gwent Square from 11am to 4pm.

The event had been due to take place on Saturday 30th March, however the unseasonably snowy weather put paid to that! Fingers crossed the weather is better this weekend!

The Portaputt Crazy Golf course is ideal for a range of events and activities and can be hired for use at corporate events, fund raisers, by schools, for wedding receptions, parties (for the young and old) and by pubs & hotels to name a few!

Portaputt Miniature Golf course, Cwmbran
The Portaputt Crazy Golf course at the World Alternative Games 2014

There will also be a special discount given for people making bookings for Minigolf parties after playing the course on the day!


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Friday, February 08, 2013

Dodgeball to be shown live on Eurosport 2!

Eurosport to televise the 2013 European Dodgeball Championships LIVE from Chester, England in August!

While playing at Harpenden Dodgeball Club recently I heard that this year's European Dodgeball Championships will be shown live on Eurosport!

The 2013 European Dodgeball Championships will be taking place in Chester on the 24th and 25th of August and will see Eurosport screen two hours of live Dodgeball action on each day.

The tournament will be run by the UK Dodgeball Association and take place at the Cheshire County Sports Club in Chester, England. The two-day tournament will see championships contested in both Men and Women's categories.

Great news for a great fun sport. I can't wait to watch the action!


Mini Golf at Tea Green Golf Club near Luton

A visit to Tea Green Golf Club for a bit of Minigolf and some Driving Practice.

Last Sunday Emily and I headed up to Tea Green Golf Club at Wandon End near Luton to check out the new Golf Driving Range and have a game of Mini Golf. We haven't been up there in quite a while so it was nice to have a quick Putt around on the 9-hole Mini Golf and hit a bucket of balls on the Driving Range.

Photo of Emily Gottfried using the Driving Range at Tea Green Golf Club near Luton
Emily having a go on the upgraded Driving Range at Tea Green Golf Club

In our Minigolf match-up - for the Coffee Mug in the Hedge 'Cup' at Tea Green - Emily defeated me 17 to 19, shooting a hat-trick of holes-in-one on holes 3, 4 and 5!

Tea Green Golf Club near Luton
The coffee mug in the hedge at Tea Green

Photo of Richard Gottfried playing Mini Golf at Tea Green Golf Club near Luton
Richard playing a shot on hole four of Tea Green's Mini Golf course

It was a bit too cold to play much more, but I am determined to have a few rounds on the 9-hole Golf course at Tea Green this spring and summer.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Crazy Golf on "Rory and Will - Champions of The World"

The "Unofficial Worlds TV Crazy Golf Championship Challenge" played in Hastings and shown on Channel 5!

Back in September 2012 the 'Castle Golf' World Crazy Golf Champion Michael Smith and three-time Women's World Crazy Golf Champion Ruth Burke and I (ably supported by BMGA Tour Pro Steve Sturdy) filmed a piece for the lighthearted travel documentary "Rory and Will - Champions of The World" for Channel 5 at the famous 18-hole Arnold Palmer Crazy Golf course in Hastings, East Sussex. A few photos from the day's filming are below.

Rory McGrath lines up a Putt on the tough 14th hole in Hastings as his Crazy Golf Coach Michael Smith  looks on

The British Minigolf Association's Crazy Minigolfing Team in Hastings after filming, from l-r Rory McGrath, Ruth Burke, Michael Smith, Will Mellor, and me! (pic by Steve Sturdy)

Rory & Will's Champions of the World 'Unofficial World Crazy Golf Championship' Trophy - with customary seaside 99 with a flake!

If you missed the first airing, then you can watch the episode when it's repeated on Friday 8th of February at 7pm. You can also watch the programme on Channel 5's 'Demand 5' service!

If you enjoyed watching the programme, like Crazy Golf & Minigolf and fancy giving the sport a go then why not sign-up to the British Minigolf Association - there are FREE and paid options available and you can find out more on the BMGA website's Membership page.

The Hastings Crazy Golf course is the host venue for the 'Castle Golf' World Crazy Golf Championship and 2013 will see the eleventh edition of the tournament held. If that's too long to wait to take part in a Crazy Golf tournament then you can enter the first-ever BMGA British Crazy Golf Open that will be held in March!

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Fish & Chips, Gluten Free Dessert and some Bar Billiards in Baldock

A fun Tuesday night out in Baldock.

With the Fish 'n' Chick'n' fish & chip shop in Baldock, Hertfordshire continuing to offer Gluten Free fish & chips (and battered mushrooms!) on the last Tuesday of the month, a group of us (including a pair of Coeliacs) headed there for a slap-up feed. As the Orange Tree Pub in Baldock also does Gluten Free food we decided to head there for some post-fish & chips Desserts and Bar Billiards.

The Orange Tree is a great pub and there's always a nice welcome on offer. As I was driving I couldn't have a Gluten Free beer (Hambleton's Ale is stocked there), but our party ordered the Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie that was being freshly prepared! While we waited we had a mini Bar Billiards tournament.

The Bar Billiards table has been moved into its own little room at the pub and it's also been refurbished and has a brand new baize!

Emily ready to take to the newly baized Bar Billiards table

In game one Emily took on Simon 'Practice' Hall in a closely fought contest that saw Simon win 440 to 380.

In the second match I faced off against the debuting Cat 'Corner' Patterson in a game that went to a sudden-death shootout on the black mushroom 200-hole! I won in a 870 to 420 match.

Following the Gluten Free pudding we contested a doubles match that also went to a sudden-death shootout and after I missed the first attempt at the 200-hole Simon stepped up and nailed the shot to win the tie 740 to 650 for his pairing with Emily.

The pub has had a garden renovation too and there is a great looking outside seating area that we'll be making use of in the summer.

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Happy Groundhog Day 2013

Punxsutawney Phil predicts an early spring!

This morning legendary Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil prognosticated whether there would be a prolonged winter, or an early spring. As tradition dictates if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather! This year, for only the 15th time in the previous 116 Groundhog Days Punxsutawney Phil did NOT see his shadow, so we are in for an early spring.

Emerging from his burrow on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, USA the prognosticator of prognosticators Punxsutawney Phil spoke to the President of the Groundhog Club in "Groundhogese" who conveyed the prediction to the crowd and the world at large!

A 'Punxutawney Phil' doesn't see his shadow while another 'Punxutawney Phil' does see it. Photo for illustrative purposes only.