The schoolboy hero of twenty-six books by Anthony Buckeridge (born 1912). The first book was Jennings Goes to School in 1950, and the most recent is Jennings Breaks the Record in 2000.

They are set at Linbury Court Preparatory School, a boarding school in Sussex. Jennings begins as a new boy, as does Darbishire. They become friends and have all sorts of adventures and scrapes. The adventures are of the realistic schoolboy kind, usually involving getting into trouble, avoiding masters, and hare-brained schemes that make perfect sense in boyish logic.

The older boys include Temple (nicknamed Bod) and his cohorts Atkinson and Venables. The masters include the kindly Mr Carter (called Benedick because he says a grace containing the word benedicata), and the irascible Mr Wilkins.

Their exclamations often include "supersonic" as an intensive, "mouldy" and "ozard" meaning bad (opposite of wizard, quite logically), and "fossilized fish-hooks!". Their insult is "hairy ruin".

The books were once immensely popular but in recent years their decline was highlighted by the success of Harry Potter, and the decision in 2000 of their publisher, Macmillan, not to reprint them. An independent publisher House of Stratus agreed to take them on.

Jennings, written by Anthony Buckeridge (born in 1912) is a classic but somewhat overly positive idea of old fashioned boarding school life. An example of what I mean is the fact that nobody ever gets caned and nothing nasty seems to happen to anyone, ever! Of course I'm not saying the books have to be filled with blood and gore but it would be a nice break from 'punishments' such as missing footy and 50 'beastly' lines to do before tea. Nevertheless they are very funny and light hearted if you're into that sort of thing.

Jennings meets up with his pal Darbishire who is 'a bit of a weed' and is always talking about his father who apparently knows everything. Jennings however is sporty and his head is brimming with 'hare-brained schemes' and rather eccentric plans to get him and Darbishire out of trouble. Their friends are, 'Bod' (real name Temple for some reason), 'Atkins' and 'Venebals' who can be usually relied on to get them out of a 'scrape' and their favourite master, very kind and rather elderly, Mr Carter.

Jennings usually gets himself and unfortunately Darbishire into trouble so they dive into a ditch or two and end up rolling down a few hills. The adventures they go on usually consist of going to town without 'permish' and creeping back to school with masters round every corner. A particularly funny episode was when Jennings fell into an extremely muddy lake, got completely encrusted in mud and spent a sleepless night fretting over what 'matron' would say next morning.

I used to love these books and still to this day have almost a full collection but now as you may have gathered, I'm slightly cynical of them even though they are very cheery and can be quite funny. I think they might appeal more to the younger generation who haven’t been to a boarding school.

They aren’t as popular as they once were but now are being republished and I've seen them lining the shelves of many a bookshop and my younger brother still seems to enjoy them hugely!

Jennings Brewing Company was founded as and still is a family business. Currently based in Cockermouth, Cumbria, the brewery was established in Lorton in 1828. Lorton is a picturesque little Lake District village, now a twee tourist trap but then a traditional community of hill sheep farmers and associated wool merchants and butchers.

The family heritage of the brewery goes back to its founder, John Jennings, who had brewing in his blood - his father, William, was a maltster by trade. In search of a larger market, the brewery moved to Cockermouth, at the confluence of the Derwent and the Cocker rivers. The site allowed the Jennings to sink their own well for the brewery. This is still a point of some pride, and the head brewer has said that Jennings beers are impossible to copy exactly, because of the unique composition of the Lakeland well water. Whatever the homespun spin, other ingredients in the beers are better known and easier to source. They include Norfolk barley, Kentish Golding hops and the famous Fuggles hops.

While traditional brewing is still pursued, the brewery itself has invested in newer machinery, including a substantial refit in 2000/2001. This replaced, among other things, the old grain elevator with a new computer-controlled system of silos to mix the barley and hops in exact proportion. The quaint old casks and tuns shown to tourists on the brewery tour have been replaced with steel vats and containers that evoke biological weapons factories more than a quiet country pub.

Barley oats are boiled in a container called a mash tun because of the constant physical mixing and stirring they undergo in this phase. The resulting infusion, called wort, is siphoned off and passed through a heat exchanger to cool before being poured into six containers, each roughly the size of a steam locomotive's boiler. Hops and malt are added to the wort to soak and impart their flavour before the yeast is put in. During fermentation, the liquid's dirty froth can be seen through thick smoked glass portholes.

The beer is allowed to cool and stand, particulate being removed by the addition of finings (actually ground up fish bladders, but don't let that put you off - all the finings sink to the bottom of the barrel, below what is actually pulled through a pub's pumps). Jennings ales are decanted into three different sized containers. Firkins are 9 gallons, kilderkins are 18 gallons and a barrel is 36 gallons. Although imprecise, for ease of reference I'll refer to all of these as barrels.

The different sized barrels are moved to the storage/transport area, near the brewery's main courtyard. This is the archetypal cool, dark place all your packets of perishables instruct you to keep them. The barrels are racked in steel rows along each wall, in a long low L-shaped area. From here, they are wheeled to transport wagons which squeeze their way in through the main gate and inch backwards to be loaded up.

Jennings distributes their casked ales to over 100 Jennings pubs in the north of England, mainly in Cumbria but also in the north-east, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Lancashire. They operate these on a tenant landlord basis, although they also supply ale to free houses (national chain JD Wetherspoon often has Jennings as guest beer).

Leaving aside the esoterically named Cross Buttock Ale and their regular Bitter, the best known Jennings beers are Sneck Lifter, Cumberland Ale and Cocker Hoop. Cocker Hoop has quite a light colour for an ale, an almost pale golden tint. It is an all malt brew, with a quite distinctive and bright flavour. Their Cumberland Ale is fairly conventional, being a fine example of a bitter but not exceptional. Sneck Lifter, however, is potent and rather wonderful stuff. Dark and ruddy in colour, its rich taste is distinctive and at 5.1% ABV it is to be savoured rather than gulped. Highly recommended, if you can find it.

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