Yes, there's something going on here other than milling around in a parking lot.
Jerry: For those who are not familiar, it's like a yard sale, except all together. Everyone drives their stuff to the same spot, pays for a merchant stall, and sets up outside the boot (American: trunk) of their car. The end result is kind of like an outdoor thrift store. There's also some professional full-time mobile retailers, the way you can have professional ebay sellers alongside casual people just clearing out the attic. I dont know why we don't have these in America. It's brilliant.
Laura: For you Californians: it's a swapmeet, which apparently aren't things in Chicago. It makes sense, considering there's pretty much no point of the year in Chicago where you want to be standing around outside all day. I got the scotch tasting set for ten Euros at one in Ireland. I looked it up and it was going for about nintey euros on ebay. On ebay. Not even regular retail. So I flew half-way across the world, and in two months I've now gone to two swapmeets (not at all disimilar to the Santee swapmeet). Apparently this is what I do now. I'm the international swapmeet expert.... I'm cool with that.
Jerry: After lunch and tasting some lovely local cheeses, Paul took us to try some local cask ales at the oldest pub in Lancashire, which dates from 1320 and is a Grade II listed building. For a little perspective, that's during the reign of Edward II.
Laura: It was here that Paul introduced us to bitter + brown and brown + mild. You order half a pint of either an English Bitter or an English Mild and then you fill the second half of the pint with a bottle of Mann's brown ale. The point of this lab experiment? Apparently this is the "old man drink" in England (along the lines of pulque in Mexico). That kind of disgusting drink that only the old-timers in the shady corner of the dive can still throw back. I've now decided my goal is to find the OMD of every country I go to. We shall record my findings here, so that these beautifully nasty lab-experiments can be saved for posterity. And then I can open a hipster bar.
Jerry: It wasn't disgusting.
Laura: Well, not to us, but we both voluntarily drink Malort. I suppose the barometer I'm measuring the "old man drink" by is this: if it's presented to you by a gruff, blue-collar old timer with an expectant look on his face like he's sure these young fancy-pants are about to do a spit-take.
This is not a Malort Face.
Jerry: That's a fun thing we're discovering about the culture in the north of England. It's nothing like Americans picture all things British. There's an economic (and resultingly, political) divide between the north and south of England that has been well-documented by people much more educated than we are. I'll therefore stick to the people-level observations that writers and actors are good at: Everyone in Lancashire is of pointedly simple tastes and extremely friendly and hospitable. Everything midwesterners hate about New York, northerners hate about London. Taking us to try local cask ales was the first Paul had realised all the pubs around him do tasting flights, and even that pushed the limits of "posh" for him.
"It's a fair enough idea, if you like that sort of thing."
Laura: To quote Paul: "I don't do posh." That line could basically sum up Lancashire (in a good way). They seem predominently anti-bullshit in the north. I kept thinking my dad and Paul would probably get along great.
Jerry: We rounded out the day with a lovely traditional Sunday roast made by Dawn's mother, and playing with their parrot. Paul finally forgave us our mutual background working in posh bars when we taught him our whiskey class trick of lighting citrus peels on fire.
Fortunately, liking fire trancends class politics.
We left for Sheffield Monday morning, which we'll post about next week. Thanks Dawn and Paul Chapman for an excellent week's stay in Burscough!