I don’t usually tag along to Adrian’s beery events. But I make a large exception for Badger Ales. Firstly because, as you know, I have this sort of badger ‘thing’ going on. Secondly because they are just so damn nice and such good fun (the Badger people I mean, not the badger badgers which are, in fact, beasts of a frankly surly disposition). Thirdly because they had invited Pete Brown (beery author with a wicked sense of humour) and Liz Vater (organizer of the Stoke Newington Literary Festival and all-round splendid person). And fourthly because a Badger do is never just about the beer – they know how to tempt.
This time the carrot was a six mile walk along the coastal path in Dorset, a stunning bit of the South-West coastal path sponsored by Badger (capital B). Then, just in case that wasn’t alluring enough, they said, ‘Oh, and we wondered if you might prefer to have a facial and pedicure in your hotel room while your husband is touring the new brewery.’ To which I replied, ‘Er…well…go on then.’
We started off with a light lunch at the Lulworth Cove Inn, a lovely place, recently refurbished, overlooking the beach. Fabulous food and a really laid-back seaside vibe (children and dogs murgling around in a pretty civilized fashion). We had the SP with us of course and Pete and Liz had brought his favourite sex toy, their aged dog Captain, and they started their usual malarkey under the table, fortunately away from the eyes of small children.
Then we climbed, and climbed, and climbed – up a gazillion steps to Durdle Door. Along with seemingly every other person in Dorset. ‘Don’t worry,’ said Mark, who has charge of the entire coastal path (yup, not just the South-West bit). ‘They’ll all give up at the top – we’ll be the only people from then on, pretty much.’ And he was right. We walked, up and down, up and down, and didn’t encounter another human – just wild wind and the long inhale and exhale of the ocean. And Naomi from Natural England fed us snippets of useful information about flora and fauna, including the unfeasibly complicated life cycle of the large blue butterfly which involves a frankly bizarre symbiotic relationship with the red ant. I’m not even going to go into it – if you’re interested you can read all about it here.
‘Holy crap,’ I said. ‘They really don’t deserve to survive, do they?’
Naomi nodded firmly. ‘It’s beyond fussy, totally ludicrous.’ And we then fell into a discussion about other creatures which have evolved themselves into a corner – like the giant panda with its ludicrous eating and mating preferences.
|Who'd have thought?|
‘Mind you,’ said Naomi. ‘Some creatures are just darn smart. Take the dunnock...’
‘The small brown bird,’ I said.
‘That’s the badger,’ she didn’t say. ‘But yes,’ (she did say)… ‘did you know the male dunnock has two penises?’
‘You what?’ I shook my head, wondering how, even on a nice country walk for a nice brewery company, the conversation had veered round to bizarre sexual habits.
‘Well,’ she said, warming to her theme. ‘Dunnocks are very promiscuous. So the male dunnock uses one of its penises to scoop out any semen before planting in its own’ (this accompanied by rather nifty hand gestures of the scooping and planting variety.
And so we ambled into Osmington Mills chortling with laughter and stumbled into the Smugglers Inn and downed a pint of Brewer’s Bee (the new Badger brew) or, in my case, a slug of Pearwood (pear cider) which was mighty refreshing.
And then we skidaddled off to the Inn at Cranborne where they held our noses and force fed us outrageously good beer cocktails (I kid you not – I’m trying to prise the recipe for the Bourbon and maple syrup one out of them). And they stuffed us full of even more excellent food. And Captain and Dante started up their own vaguely distasteful sexual floor show again (this time out in the open) but, praise be, the pub has its own modesty police in the form of a very small Jack Russell called Mikey who broke up their entanglements with a firm sniff.
And all in all it was a very fine day indeed.
Anyhow, what was the purpose of this post? Just that, if you're out and about in Dorset, do check out those pubs - they're all super-fine and dog, child, everything friendly. And if you know of any other creatures which really have gone a bit nuts in the evolution stakes, do let me know.