Beer, I have learnt this week, is a town in Devon. It was the starting-point earlier today for a coastal walk, which involved cliffs, steep hills and fields. We had to enter some of these fields through those wooden gates that you have to climb over, stiles as they’re called. Before today none of the four children in our party knew the word but they might remember it now. I probably made enough references to the following Tim Vine joke for the word to lodge in their memories: “I’m not the kind of person to walk up to a gate like this and say, ‘I own this’, because … that’s not my stile.”
We were able to refer back to it throughout the afternoon, whenever we encountered another one on our route. “Is that yours?” one of us would ask. “No, that’s not my stile.”
Our route took us along Branscombe beach, where the container ship MSC Napoli ran aground in January 2007. I followed the story at the time but the name Branscombe hadn’t rung any bells as we approached it. That shipwreck brought home to us just how many different things are loaded into containers and shipped around the world. I remembered the BMW motorbikes that made the news, the most valuable of the items that were looted from the wreck.
We finished up back in the town of Beer and I was able to have a single pint of the local brew before driving back to our holiday home. In the past I have tasted champagne in the Champagne region of France, eaten Loch Fyne oysters overlooking Loch Fyne itself and had a Fiorentina pizza in Florence. Now I have drunk beer in Beer.