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CAMRA Somerset Beer Festival at Minehead Station, 17 September 2005

Beer, Butlins and more Beer: Part One

"We'd nearly finished getting the house ready to put on the market, we were due for a break, and we knew there was going to be a beer festival in Minehead. One of the three remaining outposts of the once-mighty Butlin's empire was located in Minehead - and Butlin's still offered accommodation for smokers. The idea of staying there was too daft for words. How could we resist?" Tempted by beer, Kay and Dave return to the West Country...

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Gralloching a pumpkin

"When I was a bairn, in the north east of Scotland, we had never heard of pumpkins. With the advent of colour television last year, I realised neeps had competition. In black and white, you can't tell the difference." Mike Clark takes a look at the origins of Halloween and the traditional celebrations running into Guy Fawkes Night.

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Halloween horrors

"I'm really not looking forward to this Halloween. I realise that I may be being unnecessarily curmudgeonly here – Halloween is meant to be a bit of fun. But I blame it on the season. Though there are things to enjoy at this time of year - the autumn leaves, conkers and (occasional) crisp bright mornings - there is no getting away from it, winter is drawing in." With all the hassles of dressing up kids for trick-or-treating, and trying to ration the resulting pile of sweets, Halloween is not Miranda Irving's favourite festival.

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Parking in the UK – forget it!

"Parking is one of those 'Don't get me started' topics. Everyone has a story and everyone, but everyone, has an opinion whether it's the cost, the evil nature of traffic wardens, the lack of free spaces, the insidious spread of parking meters into residential and suburban streets, or the fact that machines will never give change..." Miranda Irving on the frustrations of parking your car in Britain.

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The Twenty Forty-Five

"Bored now, Prince Shuggie tossed the paperback onto the cheap plastic table. Like he cared that cheap plastic tables were banned. He'd inherited it from his grandfather. It was his legacy." In a short story, Mike Clark presents his nightmare vision of a re-run of the "Forty-Five" Rebellion - three centuries on.

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