Saturday, 6 June 2015


There are two reasons for this post. I want to highlight an event I went to recently where I got a taste of some damn fine beer brewed specially in honour of the 800th anniversary of the document that gave Brits freedom - the Magna Carta. The other is to to give my shorthand students a piece of dictation practise by reading some of the press release sent out by Bateman's Brewery, the makers of the beer.

I'm working on some writing projects with Visit the Seaside and Natterjack Creative who invited me along to the launch of the beer at Lincoln Castle at the former women's prison. It was a fascinating event and I got to have a good look around after managing to drag myself away from the bar after two half pints. Suffice to say the beer is moreish. One just isn't quite enough but with only 30 barrels brewed, I suggest you get in there quick because when they're gone, they're gone.

The prison had lots of interactive displays so it was easy to see and read old prison records and get a feel for how things were for the women sent there. Cells were small, functional and neat and, I would guess, rather more sterile and clean than they would have been back in the day. I wondered what the ghosts of the past might think about the beer on display if by some chance they found themselves transported to the future. A thought for fiction, perhaps.


Batemans, the family brewer based in Lincolnshire, has brewed a rich, ruby beer to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The county plays an important role in the story of the historic document and is home to one of only four surviving original copies. Named Law of the Land and available by bottle, this 5.5% ABV beer has been brewed with sweet English barley and spicy Minstrel hops to give a balanced taste of history.

Batemans has partnered with Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) and East Lindsey District Council (ELDC) to officially create this new beer for the anniversary celebrations, demonstrating the strong relationship between the county’s leading brewer and its councils. The beer was launched at an exclusive event held in the women’s prison at the newly renovated Lincoln Castle, where Lincoln Cathedral's copy of the document is now housed in the new David PJ Ross Magna Carta Vault.

Law of the Land is a rich and opulent old-style beer, brewed specially to be a modern-day representation of the type of ale that would have been enjoyed by the barons who created Magna Carta. It is indulgent, characterful and luxurious, with hints of berries and fruits to enhance the traditional flavour. The use of Minstrel hops is also deliberate, as they feature some characteristics of hops of that time.

The shorthand dictation of the first few pars of the press release can be found by clicking here It is read at 100wpm but has a 15 second break between each of the the three paragraphs. I know my students want more of this stuff so I might create a blog especially for this specialist aspect of my journalism work. For now, I'm simply buzzing that I managed to upload any audio anywhere on the web to enable a link here because previous attempts led to hours staring at a computer screen to then be told : "Computer says NO."

I will upload some shorthand outlines (both contemporaneous and neat) to go with this dictation as soon as possible, with the more unusual outlines explained that are worth drilling before attempting what is a quite difficult piece. My dictation has been amended slightly to reflect this.

UPDATE : You will find the shorthand outlines and some tips on transcription HERE

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