The sun shone when we were in Stratford-upon-Avon for the night a few weekends back and it felt blissful to break away from the tight-cladded legs feel at such an early opportunity in the year. I'm not usually that fussed about breaking away from the opaques, I'm a fan (!!), but this year, maybe with a better stash of midi length frocks and skirts ready to get out at a sun beams notice, I feel I might go bare legged a little more often!Read More
I’m not sure if it’s an age thing, or the fact I just like things feeling a bit more personal, but I’ve come to realise that I don’t love great big bars anymore. Even those really quirky ones, with huge cocktail menus and wine lists and beautiful décor… like I appreciate the efforts, and always appreciate the gorgeous interiors, but truly, I’m happier elsewhere.
Give me a great quality pub, with friendly staff and solid drink offerings, or a fun wine bar type environment and I’m much happier. Like I’m happy going out anywhere frankly, but there’s just certain places that much better do it for me.Read More
You know when you just need a night away from home - not because home life isn’t OK, and not even because it’s been forever ago since you’ve been anywhere different, but just because you want some pretty surroundings, somewhere new to look about, and no big time restraint to rush home – well I’ve been feeling that feeling for a couple of weeks. I'm pretty sure Gemma has too.
This weekend just past, Gemma and I didn’t have anything planned for the weekend, and no dull commitments needed to be stayed home for, so we decided last week to make a hotel booking for Sunday night, and get away for the night.
Our destination – Stratford-upon-Avon.Read More
I've mentioned before that I don't work the usual Monday to Friday, and my weekend runs from 3pm Saturday through until... right about now! It's Tuesday morning, I'm sat at my dining table, in my unattractive leopard print onesie, drinking a big mug of tea in my Scrabble H mug. I've brushed my teeth and kissed Gem good morning; the sun is shining already and I can see blue sky from where I'm sitting.
And I've got approximately 24 minutes before I crack on with my working day. Get ready, out the door, drive the ten minutes to our cafe and get on with what we do...Read More
Wine. I like you. Let's be friends.
On Tuesday night I began my first ever wine course; the level 1 WSET Level 1 Award in Wines to be more precise. It’s an entry level course, but there is a small exam at the end leading to an actual qualification. And that, that, for me is the appeal. Something I can recognise, and maybe one day build upon, yep I’ll start there.
I like wine as much as the next thirty-year-old girl. I have my favourites, but honestly, I like most types. It goes down just fine… then sometimes, when drinking a better-quality wine, I really love it, and want to understand better what it is I’m tasting, and have better knowledge of a subject I would love to have a command of. So, when I saw that a smart local wine-bar-retail-shop-tapas’y-style-food-deli place near where I live was running this qualification based beginners course I thought, why not, let’s do it.
This interest in learning about a fun subject I feel I’ll always be interested in, coupled with the cloud dreams of future business ideas that could or could not maybe involve wine lists, or wine sales, or who knows what cemented my reason to join onto the course. I feel my future self, I’m sure, will always have a business in food and drink, and one day I may grow away from frothing milk and serving breakfast and I may want that funky wine bar, so I may as well start growing my interest and understanding now. Because who the F knows? And if it’s never ‘useful’ further, it is always something I’d like to know more about personally.
The course is being run over five 2hour sessions, every other Tuesday for ten weeks, and my dearest wife has offered to drop me off and collect me, because I definitely ain’t spitting that quality wine I’m tasting.
The first session was quite information loaded but delivered by one of the ‘Masters of Wine’ of the world – there is only 350 in total, so his knowledge was vast and drunk up – excuse the pun! In this first session, he took us on a brief overview of the:
- types of wine; light/still, sparkling, fortified
- styles of wine; colour, sweetness, body
- how some of the other factors in wine play a part in tasting; oak, tannin, acidity
- what makes wine vary; climate, location
- major grape types and the qualities these types possess; chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, Riesling, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir and shiraz.
This may sound a bit too much, but we only touched into these details, and it was all before we started the evenings tasting so I kept up; it certainly was the right way around to do it!
Following the more technical part of the evenings session, we had a led tasting of six wines focussing on tasting ‘typical’ types of wine made from six different grape types. The idea of the course isn’t to get too technical or highbrow pretentious thankfully, but it’s about trying to teach us what to look for, and how to taste. I always find it much easier to know what I’m looking for when someone points it out because then my mind and tastebuds can be lazy, but I’d really like to venture beyond this!
We were simply thinking about acidity levels, body types and primary fruit flavours and aromas, and for the reds the tannin levels. It was good to be following a tasting that wasn’t getting to convoluted by minute tertiary tastes that we were nowhere near tasting yet. There was no pressure, and no competition, just a great tutored tasting, leading us to understand some of the main styles of what we were tasting in different wines. We were being taught how to recognise things like the acidity and tannin levels; for instance, high acidity is felt from the mouth-watering sensation and pooling of saliva in our mouths, whilst tannin makes our mouths feel dry.
In the white section, we tasted a very light bodied pinot grigio, which was very easy to drink, a Californian Chardonnay, that in my head I may have thought I wouldn’t like, but I did! Full bodied, but interesting. Many people rule out Chardonnay due to bygone over-oaky times, but this one was great! Champagne, and the French wine Chablis are chardonnay! Our third white was a French Sauvignon Blanc.
Red wine grapes covered were a very light Pinot Noir, an Australian full bodied medium tannin Shiraz, which I really enjoyed and finally a higher tannin level Cabernet Sauvignon.
It was a great session, I enjoyed learning about something I love and the wonderful tasting to corroborate some of the learning after it.
Our homework… drink some wine, mindfully, and think about what I can taste, like really try to taste and think! Ummm, OK, like I always was a homework doer and academically focused, but yep, definitely, I can do that homework!
I really don’t wanna sound like every other blog post I’ve read recently… but I’m going to have to because I feel exactly the same; where the F has 2017 flown to so far? It’s MARCH!
This year’s been fun so far. The nesting and down time I treasure has been well matched with some fun times too. Additionally, business has been ticking by nicely and despite a few electrical faffy things that have needed looking at, it’s not caused much stress, or big bills which pleases me immensely!
Time has galloped on to mid March without much more than a triple blink, and Gemma and I have only just gotten around to talking seriously about Easter weekend, and what we’ll do at the shop in terms of being open and also about when we can get round to making our first abroad trip this year.Read More
Nearly two years ago I had one of those moments where I felt like everything I had done in life I couldn't remember. Of course I could remember the big bits; finishing school, sitting uni exams, graduating, first days at jobs, big birthday celebrations, first dates with my wife, opening our cafe, getting hitched... you get the idea. I CAN remember the story of my life, the ebb and flow, and I CAN remember lots of the details, the feelings I had, the smells, the sounds and the tastes. (Smelling Burberry London perfume still instantly transports me back to my second year uni bedroom getting ready for nights out in Newcastle!)
But in this moment I just felt like as I was getting older with each birthday, and as time whizzed past faster than ever, the day-to-day stuff was just bypassing me.
AND it scared me!
It scared me to think that literally weeks could go by, and in the future I may not be able to recall what happened in those whole months of my life.Read More
Last week just past we went Saturday night out! You know the good type of Saturday night out with friends; glasses of fizz at home whilst waiting for the taxi, cocktails someplace new, and dinner in a good solid gastro-pub type setting - that type of Saturday evening out!
After an unplanned, but very hibernation themed January after returning home from holiday, it's been good getting out on a Saturday night more regularaly and joining other people for the evening. It makes the weekend feel longer for me, and gives me an excuse to get dressed up... I like getting dressed up, always have.Read More
I have not worked in an office for over four years now, but I did squeeze in a little over three years worth of office working, Monday to Friday, 9-5 style, between graduating from university and quitting it all to own a cafe. What I remember doing a lot of with my work colleagues back in my office days was discussing the weekends. This may not be the same now, or it may have just been me and my particular co-workers, but I have a very clear memory of having the same types of conversations, with people from around the offices, and even across the different places of work I held in that time.
Monday to Tuesday would be full of discussion of "what did you get up to at the weekend?" in amongst some work chat as well, because, I did do some work!Read More
I've started writing this on Tuesday morning at 7:08am. There was light as I woke and left my warm bed at 6:32; I can hear birds and there is more light... spring is coming.
This is just a quick post to self, that I shall likely expand on in a proper post at a later date as there's a few factors I could go into wayyyyy more.
I'm not a personal body hater, and I count myself lucky as being in the small portion of women who aren't always looking for their faults and berating themselves due to the ideals other people (read media) place upon us.Read More