Friday, December 30, 2011

Charteris final wine tasting

London, England. Thursday 20-October-2011

I have been going to the Charteris Wine Society tastings since 2005. Always interesting and entertaining and now sadly no more. It is (was) a work based wine group and as people retired or left the company it has been harder and harder for the organisers to keep the tempo up. So the mission for the final speaker was to blow the budget and dispose of all the surplus funds built over the last couple of decades.


The presenter was Robin Lane ( and his brief was "personal favourites" which, given that he has over 30 years experience in the wine trade, has got to be interesting.

Jeremy Labram introducing Robin Lane...

... and this is what he came up with:
  • Menetou Salon Blanc Jean Teiller 2010
  • Pouilly Fuisse Domaine Daniel Barraud 2008
  • Bourgogne Rouge Cuvee d'Antigny (Avery Bottled) 1976
  • Lar de Paula, Rioja, ViƱedos Viejos, 2005
  • Hermitage Alain Graillot 2007
  • Chateau Haut Batailly 1996
  • Franz K Smit 2005
  • Quarts de Chaume Chateau de Pierre Bise 2009
My favourite of the evening was the Franz K Smit 2005.


Mary was not able to make it so our old friend Bron stepped in at the last moment - what a trooper!

Carolyn and Bron

What makes a good wine tasting is not just the wines but the back story that goes with each of them; that we got from Robin. A fine farewell tasting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

South Africa, October 2011 - Cape Town V & A Waterfront

Cape Town, South Africa. Saturday 29-October-2011.

The first day we spent exploring the V & A Waterfront - indeed our apartment was chosen for its close proximity to all the sights and restaurants therein.

V & A Waterfront - wheel 1
The Wheel of Excellence

A slightly smaller and faster whirling version than the London Eye but you do get four turns of the wheel instead of one. Good views and a nice greenhouse effect in the gondola on a cool day.

V & A Waterfront - wheel 2
Mary looking relaxed

They were re-painting the clock tower over a couple of days so we got a view of some unique patchwork effects as they did primer and undercoat - this is the final colour scheme.

V & A Waterfront - clock tower repainting

At one point being footsore and in need of refreshment we stumbled across a German style bier garten complete with oompah band. Somewhat incongruous but welcome and entertaining all the same.

V & A Waterfront - bier garten

Suitably refreshed it was back to the apartment to get ready for the evening.

Friday, December 09, 2011

South Africa, October 2011 - Wedding Licence

Talking of wedding anniversaries, Mary and I were married in *the* St Paul's cathedral. Mary would have preferred low-key registry do and sent friends a postcard from honeymoon. However courtesy of Dad's MBE we had the option of the chapel in the crypt. It cost me an antique, hand cut solitaire. Worth every penny.

Since this was not our local church we needed a special licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury no less and a wonderful document it is. Couched in positively Shakespearean language together with the legal habit of no punctuation and the liberal use of Capital Letters.


George Leonard by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of all England and Metropolitan by Authority of Parliament lawfully empowered for the Purposes herein written To Our Beloved in Christ Mark Sebastian McLellan of 76 Garfield Road Wimbledon in the County of Greater London a Bachelor and Mary Mitchell Galashan of the same address aforesaid a Spinster

Whereas it is alleged that you purpose to contract a true pure and lawful Marriage and earnestly desire the same to be solemnized with all the speed that may be We do therefore of Our especial grace In order that such your desire may more readily have effect and for other causes Us hereunto moving Give and grant by these presents Our Licence and Faculty (so far as in Us lies and the law doth allow) for you the Parties contracting for any Clerk in Holy Orders thereto lawfully authorised and for all Christian People willing to be present to celebrate and solemnize such Marriage between you in the Chapel of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire within the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul in the City of London between the hours of eight in the forenoon and six in the afternoon upon any day within three calendar months from the date hereof Provided there be no lawful impediment thereto

Given under the Seal of Our Office of Faculties at Westminster this twenty-fourth day of September in the year of Our Lord On thousand nine hundred and ninety-three and in the third year of Our Translation

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

South Africa, October 2011

Cape Town, South Africa. Friday 28-October-2011.

Our first trip to South Africa for two years, since our wedding anniversary in 2009 in fact. Again the timing was planned to allow us to celebrate our actual anniversary in South Africa. This time in Cape Town which we had not yet visited despite this being our fifth trip to South Africa.

After doing the tourist thing in Cape Town for four days (blog posts to follow) we went down to our apartment in Hermanus to investigate putting it on the market. It has not really been bringing in anywhere near enough rental to cover its costs and we have not been getting the use of it ourselves, partly because of our busy lives and partly the cost of the flights.

We also needed to find new agents to manage it for us. We sacked the previous agent (don't ask) and our friends Percy and Ronel had been holding the fort for us. As they are tourist guides and coming into their busy season it would not be fair to impose on them any longer. Our plan was to find a local agent who could do the meet-and-greet and arrange cleaning and laundry which we did - more anon.

Cape Town - Apartment front

Mary found us an excellent and characterful apartment just 10 minutes walk from the historic V & A waterfront - Green Point holiday cottage.

Cape Town - Apartment garden

It was great to be in such a historic building and really convenient for a short stroll into the V & A Waterfront which we did on a daily basis for the sights and the restaurants.

Cape Town - Apartment plaque

This restoration was officially opened by the Hon. Dr. Wm. Nicol
Saturday 15th November 1965
These cottages form part of the original quarters, barn, and farm workers homes erected about 1815 and attached to the De Goede Verwachting. Proclaimed to be an historic monument in 1964.

Full set of photos on Flickr:

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Olive Harvest 2011

Puglia, Italy. Friday 26 November 2011

The usual close down visit and olive harvest with additional birthday planning.

As every year we go out long after the last paying guests have departed to prepare Trullo Azzurro for the winter. That mainly consists of putting all the bedding and linens into VacuSacs but also rearranging the furniture - the garden tables and chairs get brought indoors or stacked into the antechamber of the pizza oven.

We also go out to harvest the olives. Our friends Carol and Mino had already harvested theirs so we only had ours to do. We were expecting a small harvest because of the heavy pruning in spring. This year we only picked 18kg compared to last year's 84kg. However we predict a bumper crop next year because of all the new growth plus the habit of fruit trees in general to alternate good and lean years.

We also had time, therefore, to harvest a couple of trees belonging to our neighbours, Mark and Sue, which yielded another 7kg off their two trees. At a 12 percent yield that means our combined output will be 3 litre.

Storage space is at a premium which means the nets needed to be very carefully folded away so they will fit inside the crates which can then be stacked away inside the pizza oven storage space.

Olive nets - 01

Olive nets - 02

Olive nets - 03

Olive nets - 04

Mary insisted on a shot of me stripped to the waist as proof of how warm and sunny it was even in the middle of November.

Olive nets - 05

Olive nets - 06

The other item on the agenda was finalising the date for my 60th birthday celebrations to be held at Truddhi in the local village of Trito. We fixed on Sunday 23-September-2012 rather than the Saturday. That fits in better with Truddhi bookings which are Saturday to Saturday. Also Mino is normally doing weddings on a Saturday, so by having it on the Sunday makes it much more likely he will be there as well.

Trullo Azzurro logoTrullo Azzurro: beautifully restored trullo in delightful, secluded valley near Locorotondo, Puglia, Italy. Available to rent on a per week basis, sleeps 4-6. For more information visit

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Jazz vs Blues - compare and contrast

We went to two very different concerts on successive nights: Phronesis and Taj Mahal.

Purcell Room, London, England. Wednesday 14-November-2011

Once again my sister and BIL double booked themselves and we got their spare tickets. They went off to Ronnie Scott's whilst we went off to hear someone we'd never heard of but that's fine by me; that way you to get experience things you might not otherwise.

The novel feature was the second half which was played in the pitch black which I found an intriguing and worthwhile experiment. It did allow me to focus on the music without being distracted by watching the musicians. The music was enjoyable but I couldn't write a review about avant-garde jazz so here a couple I found on the interweb:On the down side the Purcell room is not the most charming of venues and so we went to The Archduke for a post concert glass of wine.

Taj Mahal

Under the Bridge, London, England. Thursday 15-November-2011

We only learnt about this concert because we follow Marcus Bonfanti and he was rumoured to be playing support for Taj. A new venue to us, this is under Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge ground and only a 20 minute bus ride away. Unreserved seating so we aimed to be there not too long after the doors opened even knowing (guessing) that it would be some time before the performance.

I got chatting to a man behind me who said he had been waiting 40 years to see Taj and had bought his tickets as soon as he heard about the gig. I am embarrassed to say that I "place-dropped" that we saw Taj a couple of years ago in New Orleans at The House of Blues.

As it turned out there was no support act so it was straight into a good long set from Taj. In NO he did a much more up-tempo rock style set; this time he did much more of an old-style set. He switched instruments playing several consecutive songs on each of electric guitar, keyboard, acoustic guitar, mandolin, etc.

Taj Mahal, Under the Bridge

I took a couple of photos on my iPhone but the security guard saw and insisted on me deleting them. Which is daft as they have put up their own photos on flickr for the world to see:

And back home in 20 minutes on the 28 bus. Damn I love this city!