A return to the Empire was required, so a trip to Gibraltar was in order. We set off along the Malaga - Cadiz route in search of the last nugget of the British Empire. It should be said at this point, we were in a hire car, and if you are doing the same, remember by going from Spain to Gibraltar, you are leaving Spanish soil so you may not be insured. I have never seen so many motorbikes weaving in and out of the traffic, so it is not a chance worth taking without the insurance - better to leave the car in La Linea and walk in.

We arrived on the rock, and it is in a very much better state than when I was there a few years ago, more prosperous and very much cleaned up. The old garrison town has moved into the 21stcentury and the wonderful Barbary monkeys still run wild on the rock.

That is the end of the positive side. If you go down the High Street you will find all the High Street chains, and you could have been in any town in U.K; however, the duty free is as cheap as it gets which filled me with hope. Surely a pint of cask conditioned ale is just around the corner, but no. We searched high and low; I can't understand why we can't sell real beer in our own provinces. In despair I stumbled across a pub ( yes, they still have temerity to call them that even without real ale,) with a couple of Greene King umbrellas, and I though to myself, G.K, all is forgiven. Nothing could have been further from the truth I suspect what was masquerading as "the flagship brewery's finest" was something akin to King Keg. Still, if you are a giant, the worst you can do is emulate Scottish and Newcastle by getting your beers in worldwide, never mind the quality of the ale from a cask conditioned position. Whilst it is easy for me to sit here and prognosticate on different breweries, G.K. should be given credit for at least getting their beers into our last Mediterranean foothold.

The point is that CAMRA should be trying to promote real ale in Europe, especially in our own empire, and if they would like to fund a research study, I will sacrifice my own habits to help out. Maybe I could become a missionary to the cause though naturally this sabbatical will require frequent visits home for refresher courses.

As an after thought, have they banned smoking in pubs in Gibraltar as well?

Jerry Brown