My favourite noble gas is argon

· life ·

It's amazing what you can find in small provincial market towns. We went up to visit friends who live in Leek this weekend: it's a small town in Staffordshire, 25 miles or so from Stoke-on-Trent. In the evening, we went out to a (of all things) a Belgian beer house and restaurant called 'Den Engels'. They have somewhere in the region of 77 different types of genuine Belgian brews*, and some rather quirky ordering policies. If you have a Kwak (great name, eh?), you have to leave one of your shoes in a basket which gets winched down from the ceiling and then up again. This is to prevent wandering feet from walking out with the complicated glassware that the Kwak gets served in. The glass looks like something from your school chemistry lessons, supported by a nice bit of woodwork. For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, Belgian beers are famously strong -- up to 12%. The next morning you do feel somewhat as if you've taken part in a chemistry experiment, so the glass flask thing is actually rather appropriate.

We were celebrating our friend's birthday, and had some helium balloons at the table while we were eating. Ah, the comic possibilities that arise when you combine strong Belgian beer, friends and helium. When the birthday boy started telling us all about his favourite noble gas after he'd inhaled nearly a whole balloon, we were pretty much helpless with laughter.

*I only know this because I counted them afterwards on the beer list -- I had totally lost count after only a couple.