Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Mapperley Tops!

This week it was finally time to visit a few pubs in the immediate vicinity of my humble abode, in and around the Mapperley area of Nottingham. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the 2 premises in closest proximity, The Westminster and The Beacon, are closed and have been for a while, with no obvious sign of any pending reopening. With this in mind, my attention shifted to pubs in the area of what is known as Mapperley Top and, accompanied by my trusty drinking companion Matt, I made my way to this location full of optimism and hope. It helped considerably that, with the closeness to my home, I'd already visited the day's proposed locations on more than one occasion so I was in the unusual position of knowing what to expect.
Bounded by Sherwood, Thorneywood and Gedling, the area known as Mapperley and Mapperley Plains is located on lands that have been in use since at least the 14th century when a hamlet stood on the site. The area refers to land on both sides of Woodborough Road, from a point at the junction of Mapperley Road and northeast for approximately 3.75 miles to the point where that road forks towards Woodborough Village. The stretch of Woodborough Road between Mapperley Road and Porchester Road has been known as Mapperley Plains since at least 1851. At just over 400 feet above sea level, the main part of Mapperley is the highest area of Nottingham and affords excellent views across the city and towards the countryside. It is on a long, narrow spur, the remnant of a plateau eroded by glacial meltwater, that runs SW-NE on a narrow ridge that is now topped by Woodborough Road. Some of the largest brickworks in the Nottingham area once stood here as the local Keuper marl (now known as Mercia Mudstone) was suitable for brick-making and it is believed that bricks from this area were used in the construction of London's St. Pancras station. The name Mapperley Top refers to the collection of shops that runs along Woodborough Road and there is also a local radio transmitter on the nearby Mapperley Ridge which stands 122 metres above sea level.
Matt and I met for the day at the Sainsbury's local on the junction of Ransom Road and Woodborough Road, following long walks up some steep hills. Our first destination was not too far away, the Duke of Cambridge, literally just down the road.
Originally built around 1881, the pub is named after George William Frederick Charles, 2nd Duke of Cambridge from 1850. He was the grandson of George II, served in the Hanoverian army then became a colonel in the British army in 1837, major-general in 1845 and rose through the ranks before becoming Field Marshal in 1862. Inside, the pub is very much a 'locals' venue but we get a warm welcome regardless. The building is 2 storey with the kitchen located upstairs and the bar area on the ground floor with seating scattered around the bar which lies opposite the door. There is a substantial outdoor seating area on wooden decking at the side of the building. The pub is also dog friendly providing they are kept on a lead and are well-behaved. The atmosphere is very friendly and relaxed and the ale selection gets the day off to a promising start. There are 4 hand pumps on show with Harvest Pale and Bombardier available, one pump not in use and the 4th occupied by a guest ale, in this case All American Summer Pale Ale, brewed by Edinburgh's Caledonian Brewery. There is also Theakston's Mild available on a smooth flow tap. Matt and I opted for the Summer Pale and it proved to be a good choice. At 4.0%, it is very light, very hoppy and smooth with delicate fruity undertones. It goes down at a fair rate of knots and gets the day off to a good opening.
Leaving the Duke after our pints, we next ventured down Woodborough Road to Mapperley Top where our next 3 locations sat directly next to each other in a convenient line, set back from the main road. First of this trio is The Plainsman, a smart-looking Greene King pub.
Developed in December 2008, The Plainsman has the appearance of a traditional country house and takes it's name from the proximity of  it to Mapperley Plains. The interior is significantly better than Greene King pubs are usually renowned for with a new, modern appearance, a big, polished, wooden bar, curved in layout with a central location. There is a large amount of seating throughout the interior and several large TV screens showing the early stages of Wimbledon. The bar is very well-stocked both with spirits and beer, with chrome gas taps and smooth, white hand pulls, of which there are 6. The ale on offer is mostly the standard Greene King fare with choices between Greene King IPA, Olde Trip, Abbot Ale, Old Speckled Hen and Old Golden Hen, as well as one that we've never seen before. Twisted Wheel is a Greene King ale with a difference. Advertised with a bullseye-themed, 70s-style pump clip and with an ABV of 4.0%, it's light with a taste of ginger and a notable hint of spice. It's an unusual concoction but is very nice and a refreshing change from the usual mainstream ales that Greene King puts to its punters. The name is interesting too. According to one of our fellow punters, Twisted Wheel was also the name of a 60s and 70s northern soul club in Manchester. Whether this is the direct inspiration for the name though remains to be seen. Upon ordering our pints of this unusual brew, we took a seat in the outside seating area, which is mostly picnic tables but also includes plastic sofas, and discuss one of our favourite topics: Doctor Who.
Before too long, it was time to move on again and, just next door, is the local Wetherspoons, the Woodthorpe Top.

The building that is now the Woodthorpe Top was previously Woodthorpe Grange Motors, the successor to Hopcroft Motors, a local car mechanics, for which this single-storey building was initially built following the Second World War. The Mapperley war memorial is located directly in front of the premises. Paid for by public subscription and erected shortly after the First World War, this Gothic-style memorial stands on a triangular island of land donated by Lord Carnarvon. The bar is long and on the right hand side of the room as you enter. The bar frontage is wooden with white plaster cladding and the opposite wall has been stripped back to expose internal brickwork with pieces of slate used to give the appearance of older stone. Amongst the standard Wetherspoons mix of high tables and low sofas, is a partition wall dividing the central room from a number of booths along the internal wall. The centre of the pub is taken up by an unusual centrepiece, in this case an ornamental artwork in the form of a metal tree which adds an unexpected touch amongst the décor. I've spoken before about the strength of Wetherspoons commitment to ale and this place is no exception. 10 hand pulls are present with the regular presences of Abbot Ale, Ruddles and Hobgoblin. In addition though, is a wide range of guests, including 2 from Titanic Brewery (Plum Porter and Nautical Mild), Lincoln Green Marion (Matt's choice), Thwaites' Best Cask and Golden Spring from the Blindmans Brewery based in Leighton, Somerset. This latter is my choice for my next tipple and it proves to be a good one. Yet another one at 4.0%, this is golden and fruity with a slight malt kick and a very hoppy finish.
Our next destination and the last of the 3 in close proximity to each other is the Bread and Bitter, another excellent pub under the ownership of Castle Rock.
 Opened in 2007, the Bread and Bitter occupies the building that was previously Judge's Bakery until this ceased operation in 1991. Although the outer shell is almost identical to that of the original bakery, the interior has been completely rebuilt as a pub. Castle Rock has lovingly restored the original bread ovens and these have pride of place in the dining area. This is a very nice looking premises with a variety of seating areas, including directly opposite the bar and the Garden Room in a conservatory-like extension. There are also picnic tables available for outdoor seating. One area of the pub is a dedicated 'brewer's graveyard' of memorabilia from breweries that, for numerous reasons, have ceased operation and this can be found between the dining area and the entrance. Children and dogs are both welcome here, both until 9pm, as long as they're well behaved and dogs only in designated areas. The bar, as you'd expect from Castle Rock, is well stocked, with ales permanently available and a wide range of continental beers and spirits. Ale-wise, there is an excellent. The 8 central hand pumps are split evenly between Castle Rock beers and chosen guests. On this occasion, there is a choice of Harvest Pale, Preservation, Twayblade and Slow Worm (all Castle Rock, with the latter 2 part of the Natural Selection range) and 4 guests: Wentworth Plum Stout, Ramsbury Popham's Pride, Black Sheep Brewery Golden Sheep and Clark's Westgate Gold. We decided almost before we ordered, that it would be rude not to have more than one pint in here. Firstly, we went for a Castle Rock beverage each, with Matt choosing Twayblade (6.0%) and myself opting for Slow Worm. This is a ruby-coloured mild with a strength of 3.5% and it's very smooth and surprisingly creamy with a deceptively soft finish. For the 2nd round of beers here, Matt went for Popham's Pride whilst I was swayed by Westgate Gold (4.2%). This had an unusual creamy nose to it but was very hoppy with a fruity finish and a nice sweet flavour.
As hard as it was to tear ourselves away from here, we still had one more place to visit. Leaving Mapperley Top, we headed slightly back on ourselves and made our down nearby Porchester Road to The Punchbowl.
Operated by Ember Inns, The Punchbowl outwardly resembles a hotel or, as is more likely given the area, an old manor house. The pub is very food driven but also makes every effort with regards to their cask ale. Inside, the bar is opposite the entrance and roughly L-shaped. A restaurant/dining area is located to the left of the entrance down a small flight of stairs, although it is possible to eat wherever you like. To the right is a more traditional bar layout with higher tables, snug-like areas and a TV screen. The premises also boasts a large outdoor seating area with picnic tables and a smoking shelter, all located under trees that grow on the property. The front of the building is whitewashed and full of character. The building itself is mounted above the road with a couple of staircases leading up to the main entrance. Dogs are welcome here too but must be kept on a lead at all times. Mine threw up last time we brought him though. The bar is well-equipped, with 9 hand pulls serving the regular ales of York Brewery Yorkshire Terrier and Thornbridge Lord Marples. There are also regular guests, on this occasion Everard's Tiger and Moondance from Hampshire's Triple F brewery, although this is still settling at the time of our visit. After brief deliberation, we opted for the Yorkshire Terrier, which was certainly more interesting than the dog it was named after. At 4.3%, it's pale and smooth with a creamy head, hop flavours and a fruity aroma. I do like The Punchbowl and I've visited it a few times in the past. Their food is excellent too and they do a number of decent money-saving deals on various days of the week. I can also vouch for the excellent quality of their Sunday dinners! Matt liked this place so much that he suggest we have a second here as well, which I was more than happy to do, and this time we took a punt on Lord Marples. This is a mere 4.0% and is a classic British bitter with light toffee and caramel characters, a mixture of floral and spicy hop notes and a pleasing bitter finish.
And with the finish of these pints, it was time to call it a day. Despite recent disappointments on a couple of previous excursions, I think we both agreed that this particular trip was a roaring success. Mapperley has lots to offer the discerning ale drinker and I would heartily recommend a journey out this way to try it for yourselves. For the relatively small number of pubs in the area, you could do worse than to make a day of it and try them all like we did. It's always pleasing when you can find so many venues, so close together that share the same standard of quality when dealing with cask ale and this can certainly be used as an example for others to follow.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Ales of the Unexpected

Firstly, I must apologise for the longer than usual gap between blogs. Due to the rigours of my new job, I've spent the past week or so trying to adjust my body clock to my new and unusual sleeping pattern. Things seem to be going ok up to this point, so from this point forth normal weekly service shall resume.This week, I decided to stick a tad closer to home and investigate a few pubs that serve ale but are not widely known for it. My plan was to identify a few venues that, for whatever reason, don't get the recognition they deserve in the ale stakes. As it's about to become clear, this was easier said than done. My first stop was Fothergill's on Castle Road, in the immediate shadow of Nottingham Castle. This is a pub and bistro occupying a long, low building almost opposite the famous Robin Hood statue.Fothergills, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, NG1 6AA – The Good Pub Guide
 The building was designed and constructed in 1883 by architect Watson Fothergill, whose name it retains to this day. The frontage is glass with wooden furniture within and the interior has been recently stripped back to show off some of the original architecture and features, including the bare brick walls opposite the main windows. The bar and associated restaurant area are just inside the main entrance and there are a couple of small staircases leading down to further seating areas a short distance away. The bar is central and square in design with a number of unusual choices of draught lager and cider. There are also 5 hand pumps, which immediately drew my attention. Most of the options are local with Harvest Pale and Screech Owl from Castle Rock, Sunchaser from Everard's and Infinity from Blue Monkey brewery. There is even a real cider on hand pull, in this case Fanny's Bramble, a blackberry cider from Sandford Orchard. On this occasion I opted for the Infinity (4.6%), which was excellent. Whilst seated in a quiet corner I had a brief glance at the food menu, which sounded very appetising and may warrant a further visit in future. I also had the unfortunate joy of listening to a woman nearby describing her dairy allergy and using 'sheeps' as a plural of sheep, which sent my inner grammar Nazi into a rage and made me wish that someone else nearby had heard it too.
My next location was somewhat unconventional. Fat Cat Café sits on Chapel Bar, just up from Angel Row and old market square. Set over 2 floors, it prides itself on being a venue for good drink and informal dining.
The outside of the building benefits from floor to ceiling windows, giving the interior a light, open feel whilst inside is all dark wood and low lighting, complimented by leather sofas and low wooden tables. The premises is split over two floors with the lounge bar area downstairs and the restaurant area on the floor above. The bar is long and situated on the right side of the building, next to the stairs to the upper floor. A sign on the exterior window advertises real ale and there are 4 hand pumps but, sadly, this is as good as it got.
Upon entering, I was unexpectedly asked to take a seat so that the waitress could come over and take my order. Table service was a nice touch, although I only wanted a pint! Of the 4 available hand pulls, there was only one in use, providing Harvest Pale in decent enough condition, although it was a touch too warm. One can only hope that a greater range of ales is normally available to compensate for the disappointment I felt on this occasion. The atmosphere within was relaxing enough though so it wasn't necessarily all bad.
Leaving Fat Cat, I turned right and headed down into Market Square and towards my next destination, The Bank, on what is technically Beastmarket Hill.
A photograph of The Bank

As the name suggests, this was in previous years a branch of Barclays Bank, before their relocation further up the road, and the pillars outside the entrance provide evidence of their financially inclined past. The pub, in its current format, is owned by Mitchells and Butler and it is obvious from the outset that this is one of their more food-driven venues. Inside, there is an abundance of seating and a relaxed atmosphere with lots of in-house advertising of the various (and numerous) food offers. I was instantly struck by the irony of a former bank being so keen to save its new patrons some hard-earned cash. As I made my way inside, I couldn't help but notice the Cask Marque accreditation sign next to the door, which offered some hope as to what I might find. The interior is fairly spacious with much of the structure, such as support pillars and aesthetic touches, hinting at the pub's prior identity. The bar sits on the right hand side and extends almost the length of the wall. 6 hand pulls are present, and they are doubled up with Greene King IPA, Bombardier and Everard's Tiger. Not quite the range I was hoping for but, to avoid being rude, I stretched to a pint of Tiger which at least was well-kept. The pub was busy with locals and older people what with it being around lunch time but I still managed to find a decent seat near one of the many televisions showing BBC News.
Around the corner on Friar Lane is The Approach, a place that has recently been gaining a decent reputation with regards to its cask. The Approach is part of the Navigation Brewery estate, which also includes the Southbank Bar and The Cross Keys amongst others.
The stone and glass frontage gives way to a spacious interior with lots of high tables and chairs and some plush seating throughout the room. The bar is long and slightly curved, stretching across the majority of the right hand wall of the building. The Navigation Brewery pubs provide a collector's card which I am proud to already have so I was looking for another opportunity to get another stamp towards the 6 required for a free pint. Annoyingly, the bar will accept either CAMRA discount or provide a collection stamp but not both. I settled for the stamp as the difference is only 20p but it's something worth bearing in mind. Ale-wise, 2 were available from the 4 hand pulls on the bar. They were Navigation Pale and Wychwood Hobgoblin. I opted for the former as the latter is one of the few beers that I happen to prefer in bottled form, and took a seat facing one of the large TVs, this time tuned to Sky Sports News. This seems to be a recurring thing with Navigation pubs but I'm not classing it as a bad thing. As much as anyone, I like to be able to watch TV with an accompanying pint. The Approach is also big on its ability to host live music events and there was plenty of advertising material available to supply information on upcoming events. The place had generally a better feel about it than it had on my only previous visit, way back in 2006.
My final stop of today's tour was one of Nottingham's iconic pubs. I'm sad to say though that it turned out to be a disappointment on my part.

One of only 4 venues in Britain owned by the Eerie Pub Co., The Pit & Pendulum is a relative newcomer to the real ale vanguard in Nottingham. Located on Victoria Street adjacent to the tram line and with a second entrance on Pelham Street, this horror-themed pub is certainly very atmospheric and situated over two floors, decorated with all manner of horror and torture themed memorabilia. The ground floor contains the main bar and most of the seating, whilst the lower floor is accessible down a spiral staircase and contains, amongst other things, including more seating, a fake bookcase that is actually a doorway to the toilets. The lower level is actually incorporated  into the existing cave system and this provides an added dimension to the place, especially when a tram goes past and the whole building vibrates. There is also a second bar downstairs that is only normally manned in the evenings and on busy nights. The exposed brickwork that makes up part of the cave complex is clearly visible in many of the various snugs that are built into the walls.
I had high hopes for The Pit, as it's locally known, particularly when I spotted the sign outside one of the two entrances that proclaimed how proud they are of their ale. Upon reaching the bar though, it was a different story. 5 hand pulls are present on the bar but all of them had their badges turned around, indicating that they had all run out! However, not wanting to judge a book by its cover, I asked the lady behind the bar for confirmation, only for the shocking truth to be revealed: all the ale was currently gone but there should be some available within the next 40 minutes. Disappointed, but refusing to resort to lager or cider, I opted for a coke and went and sulked in one of the downstairs snugs, accompanied only by some sinister looking manacles mounted on the wall behind me. As much as I like the atmosphere of The Pit and was a regular in my Uni days, I'm of the opinion that, if a pub is going to advertise ale, it should ensure that at least one hand pull is in use at all times. Admittedly, I could've waited but 40 minutes seems like a very long time to wait for a pint of the good stuff.
The Pit & Pendulum redeems itself slightly in my eyes because of the alleged hauntings associated with it. Admittedly,there is a certain irony that a horror-themed pub should have ghost stories linked to it but that doesn't mean that the tales can be discounted. In this case, there have been many stories of staff being prodded by unseen hands, sometimes whilst serving customers. Shadowy figures have been seen by many people in the downstairs area and there have been numerous accounts of voices whispering in the male toilets. Overall, today's excursion has taught me that a pub is probably not renowned for ale for a reason. With the notable exception of Fothergills, the locations on this trip left a lot to be desired for fans of real ale. This does not mean in any way, shape or form, that they are bad places to go for a good time. It merely suggests, that for those of us searching for a specific type of beverage, that there are other locations better suited to our needs.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

An Unexpected Journey

With Jade having to travel to Guernsey with work, I could've been at rather a loose end until her eventual return tonight (Wednesday). However, with the rare situation of myself, Matt and Jess and Dean and Harriet all being free at the same time, we decided to use it as an opportunity to visit some of the pubs at the Sherwood end of Mansfield Road. This was largely decided because of the proximity of it to Matt's house, meaning I could leave the car there overnight, and the opportunity to visit a few places that are new to me. What followed was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of beer and laughter, although sadly lacking a few important people, especially Jade who would have had a fantastic time. Trying not to let our absentees bring us down though, our first destination was the local Wetherspoons, The Samuel Hall.

The pub is situated in half of an old tram and bus depot on the main street in Sherwood and named after a local lace manufacturer. Upon entry, the bar is rectangular and situated on the left side of the room with lots of seating opposite and more upstairs on an extended mezzanine that runs along the majority of the area above the bar. The pub is fairly narrow in terms of floor space but has a snug-like area with booths and low seating hidden away to the back and this is where we decide to pull up a pew. Ale-wise, 10 hand pulls are present, with a variety of different offerings from near and far, including a couple of milds. My first choice of the evening was Bus Depot Bitter, brewed by Nottingham Brewery especially for the Samuel Hall as part of a recent new range honouring local Wetherspoons venues. At 4.3%, it's golden, smooth and hoppy with a fruity finish on the palate and a perfect way to kick things off. Due to confusion about whether or not others would be joining us, we ended up staying here for longer than planned. This is certainly not a bad thing though as it allowed for more ale sampling time. Next up for me was Sherwood from Lincoln Green. Apt name aside, this is a very pale ale that is also very hoppy, and very drinkable at 4.4%. As conversation meandered between a variety of topics such as cats and Harriet's job at Rampton, we made a group decision that food was needed. Thankfully, it being a Tuesday, it turned out to be steak night so it didn't take too long for us to decide what we wanted. I went for a mixed grill which, as part of the deal, also came with a drink for the bargain price of £6.49. Wetherspoons have recently begun allowing ale drinkers the privilege of having any of the available ales as part of this offer, which pleased me greatly and allowed me to move onto Robin Hood from Springhead Brewery. At 4%, it's a dark, traditional bitter with a good head and an abundance of hop flavours. Certainly the right choice to accompany the mixed grill, which was delicious and barely touched the sides, even with the addition of Jess and Matt's tomatoes.
Eventually, the time came  to venture on elsewhere and our next stop was The Chestnut Tree, situated further down Mansfield Road and on the opposite side.
This building has the look of an old manor house is raised substantially above the pavement thanks to some stone steps that lead directly to the rather large smoking area. Inside, the bar is central and curved and there is plenty of seating and a few TVs, on this occasion showing 90s music videos. The pub itself is nice enough and looks very clean, light and spacious, but the ale selection leaves a lot to be desired. Of the 3 hand pumps in use, Castle Rock Harvest Pale has run out, leaving the choice of Pedigree or Brakspear Bitter. I opted for the latter, largely because it was something different. Thankfully, the beer was in condition, auburn in colour with a malty, traditional bitter taste that is surprising for its low strength (3.8%). Generally it was rather nice and we soon learned to ignore the 'local' lads who were shouting out to random people across the road, as our conversation moved on to piercings, tattoos and Harriet's tendency to randomly pass out. The evening was very pleasant weather wise and we'd decided to sit outside, although the temperature soon began to drop so another relocation was called for. Next up we ventured to somewhere off the beaten track. Running parallel to Mansfield Road, lies a street called Loscoe Road and approximately halfway down is the excellent pub known as The Gladstone. 
Well camouflaged in the middle of a Victorian terrace, The Gladstone is a haven for ale drinkers. Named after a former Prime Minister and retaining all the character of a traditional pub, it features a central, double, C-shaped bar with 12 hand pulls featuring Timothy Taylor Landlord; Fuller's London Pride; Harvest Pale; Brewster's Decadence and 2 beers from one of my favourite breweries, Peterborough-based Oakham Ales. Their offerings Scarlet Macaw and Bishop's Farewell are both available and I decide on the latter, which is a 4.6% pale ale, dominated by elaborate fruity hop notes with a grainy background and a dry finish. It's very delicious and in great condition, as it was when I was last here, and I'll definitely be returning again in the not too distant future. We again venture to the beer garden, taking in as we go the memorabilia decorating the walls, including old cricketing gear and school equipment, as well as an old bicycle suspended on the wall above our table. It's probably a sign of the amount of alcohol consumed at this stage that causes the conversation to go in slightly darker directions, taking in subjects including Alzheimer's Disease and accidental racism from the older generation. Soon though, it became time to move on again, to our last scheduled stop on this tour and it's one I've certainly been looking forward too. The clock is ticking though as it's only half an hour before the next place shuts. Luckily, it's not that far away, which is just as well, as I would've been rather unhappy if we hadn't managed to get in for last orders. We're back on Mansfield Road proper now, on our way to Nottingham's first micropub, the incredibly popular Doctor's Orders.

Located, as the name suggests, in an old pharmacy, Doctor's Orders is unique and one of the breed of micropubs springing up around the UK. There is no bar, no cellar and no standing. Orders are taken at your table and the beer is poured from barrels that are racked in an adjacent room, behind the old pharmacist's counter and visible through glass partition windows so that you can see what's happening. It's not busy on our visit. Besides the 5 of us are a couple sitting together and a 40ish metal fan by himself. The brews on offer include 5 ales (from Mallard, Navigation, Nutbrook and Magpie respectively) and 2 real ciders. Whilst we're there, the Navigation beer runs out and is replaced by Red Feather from Welbeck Abbey. All pints are priced at £3 each and we all decide on different things, with myself venturing for Webbed Wheat from Mallard. It's golden, sweet and slightly fruity with a nice hop kick and just a little hint of the wheat that gives it its name. It's drinkable too at a very sensible 4.3%. It's certainly a quirky and charming place with some of the original features still remaining, including the bell that sounds whenever someone enters or exits. We arrived with about 25 minutes to spare until close, giving us time to properly enjoy our beers before we decide what to do next. We eventually popped into the Golden Fleece for a quick one before I decided to head home to the dog. The Golden Fleece will get a proper review at a later date as a return visit will fit nicely into an investigation of the other pubs at the City Centre end of Mansfield Road. All in all, it's been a highly enjoyable and, from my perspective, very productive evening and it's left me with lots to mull over for future reference. Mansfield Road is certainly a place where the ale is plentiful and, with less than half the pubs there visited on this trip, one can only hope that the trend continues. 
With my return to work imminent, I'm still planning on trying to fit an excursion in at least once a week to keep the blog up to date. All being well, my next excursion should be more City Centre based. It all depends on how my shifts at my new airport job work out. Keep an eye out for updates though. I'll do my best to keep things going as they have been.