This afternoon, Christina and I were just about to make our way back from Bristol to Bath, when we bumped into a super-friendly, super-random local. Next thing we know, we're at the bar of the "White Lion" pub in downtown Bristol, guzzling some fine dark local ale, and getting to know the crazy but colourful characters of this city. It wasn't planned; but once done, it sure as hell wasn't regretted.
This evening was my first proper introduction to what they call "stout" ale here in England: that is, black beer. I'm not too fond of Guinness — the world's best-known stout — or of most other stouts that I've tried so far in my life. However, the local dark ale around here isn't bad: it comes in several shades, from autumnal-brown to black as tar; and all of them are finely brewed and taste quite good. Perhaps even better than what I've always considered to be "real beer", i.e. draught or "blonde" beer.
But the local beer was definitely not the main attraction — the local people were. The guy who dragged us in was a talkative old dude in his 60s, who kept talking about "getting away from the missus" (his purpose for being in the pub, I assume), and who was very excited about tourists being in "his pub". Another guy at the bar was missing about 5 of his front teeth, and I suspect that none of them were lost by accident — he says that he "loves Aussies (especially the 'birds')", and he had a packet full of weed on him, that he explained was smuggled in from a trip to the Caribbean.
All the locals — no matter how loud or how reserved they were, and no matter how many or how few teeth they possessed — were great characters; and all of them spoke a colourful but utterly incomprehensible "Bristle English", that left us laughing our heads off, but unable to make head or toe or the conversations. Just goes to show the biggest lesson that I've learned on this trip: the best things in life aren't planned or foreseen; they just stumble upon you. Never, ever pass up a trip to the pub with some locals — it can easily turn out to be one of the highlights of your trip!