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Archive for March, 2013

In The Olive Garden

In The Olive Garden.

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Living with Blood Pressure is a trial and error thing. Firstly you are given tablets to bring it down – DONT READ THE INFORMATION PAPER – that alone can kill you. You visit the doctor twice a year for a check up and on the second visit a blood test is done to check everything is still working ok.

So you take the tablets for a few years then begin to feel really tired. Off to the doctors again for blood test and check up. There you are told to come off the tablets and are given new ones of a lower strength. Ummmm something is not quite right you now feel more sleepy than ever. Back to doctors more blood tests etc., then you are given another tablet to help ward off the effects of the new ones. At least they work and you are feeling better.

Apart that is from that strange noise when you move sounds like rattling….

© Michael Douglas Bosc
(Author of A Soldiers Wind & A Bengal Poppy)

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For The Future Budget.

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Every day it goes about its job efficiently, silently and, in part, unknown. No banner waving, no getting Boris to make a big show and sound off on its behalf, just a dedicated service that some people are very glad is there – the Tower Branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – Tower RNLI in short.

This may come as a surprise to most Londoners it did to me when I first heard of it. But think! the Thames is a very busy river and accidents do happen – the accident between the Marchioness and the dredger Bowdelle which resulted in 51 deaths in 1989. This tragedy brought home to people just how busy the river is – then in 2002 a lifeboat station was established at Tower Pier. The boat used for this work is an E-Class lifeboat which does 40 knots began its service on the 2nd January that year, and the new arrangements for search and rescue for the tidal reaches of the Thames came into operation at the same time.

It probably seems a strange statement, but Tower Lifeboat Station at Waterloo Bridge is also the charity’s busiest station. London has four stations in all Tower, Chiswick, Teddington and Gravesend. Tower RNLI like the other stations is manned by three people, the crew consists of two full-time and one member who in true to tradition is a volunteer. Thus enabling the boats to arrive at any incident within 15 minutes.

I have written about the RNLI before and cannot say enough good things in its favour. The sea-going Stations are manned mostly by volunteers who without thought for their safety go out in all weathers to save those in peril or just those who have misjudged the sea. I know some of these people from when we were sailing I have fond memories of some very brave people.

But it is stations like Tower RNLI working on our tidal rivers that are often forgotten. There may not be the drama of big seas, but a strong flowing river is just as dangerous if not more so. Here they are rescuing people who use the river for pleasure, such as rowers who have capsized, they have saved 250 lives – 250 people plucked from a watery death. THANK YOU!

They have a special certificate framed and signed by Surgeon Rear Admiral F Golden along with the Chief Executive. This was presented to Helmsman Mike Sinacola, Mechanic Michael Neild and Crew Member Will Lawrie for the first rescue which was carried out on 2nd of May 2004, involving a seriously injured woman and witnessed by a shocked crowd of onlookers.

 

The names of the other heros in the story are Ray and Audrey Lusty, Legacy and Hurley Burley, the boats. As we are aware The RNLI is a charity that relies on public donations in order to be able assist people in distress. In these times of hardship public awareness is crucial, these people help you – look after them London.

©Michael Douglas Bosc
(Author of A Loving Son & A Caring Killer)

Photographs via kind permission of Thames RNLI

 

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The Tory Vanishes [Original British Drama].

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You will remember I wrote about The Hungry Horse/Farmhouse Inn in Portsmouth, well I’m back there, and what a difference. The last time I was here they were closing the restaurant/pub side for refurbishment, well its completed.  This pub has an affiliation with Portsmouth City and now displays its history with pride. So let me tell you about our stay.

We arrived around 7pm tired and not having eaten since early morning starving, so went to book in.  Small problem, a room! We had not booked over the internet and the place was basically full. The only room available was a ‘executive suite’ so we are now in a spacious suite with work space and ideal for that cosy supper (yep even at our age) and impressed with the whole thing. It is clean, warm and just what we wanted.

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The bed is in a wooden scroll style with a comfortable mattress, there is a pine wardrobe and dressing table/desk where I can write, bedside tables and adequate lighting.

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In the front part of the room is a comfortable leather settee with a coffee table facing a wall mounted television and a table with two chairs where I sit to use my laptop on the free WiFi. This room on the ground floor at the rear of the hotel is quiet except for the owl, his hooting made me feel quite at home but no pictures yet!!

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So now to the refurbished bit and WOW!  As we walked along the corridors to the Hungry Horse I noticed the walls were hung with new art work interspersed with pictures/paintings of  ships, sail boats and scenes of Portsmouth in times gone by.  Then there in the midst was a ‘hand bill’, looking for 3 men to crew a ship, the other was a Naval announcement of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar with lists of those lost. It made the walk a wander as we stopped several times to look at the photographs and study the hand bill, then we passed through the doors into the new dining area.  What a difference. It was nice to find the ‘crew’ back on station plus a few new faces all with big smiles and very very busy.  This is the one thing I have noticed here they ALL smile, have time to talk and joke whilst getting on with the job of looking after everyone.

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I will start with the sports bar.  Here in the back part of the bar I found the pool tables centre stage with new seating at both ends. The television’s are still dotted around but somehow there seems to be more light and space.

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In the main part of this bar I found my only concern.  This bar is still light and airy with a large television showing the sport. Add the new carpet, different upholstered chairs and you have a cheerful place to sit, eat and watch your sport. However, I have one slight comment to make.  There are two booths in front of the bar that face a television set behind it.  This does not sound so bad except that when you go to get a drink or order food you cannot get to the bar as people are blocking it.  A group of 4 is ok they fit into the booth, but any mates have to gather round the end hence a jam. That is my one and only down comment everything else is perfect, perhaps turning these booths to face into the room and the large television would free up the walkway and bar area.

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In the dining area there have been big changes.  Firstly the main part has been opened up, circular seating installed, small booths with  televisions dotted here and there, making for spacious areas. Chairs are upholstered in a variety of fabrics give life and colour to the area. Here and there are wall dividers which allow views of other parts of the dining area, these are dressed with coloured glass vases, giving an ambiance to your dining.

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But it is the murals that give the ambiance to the dining areas, Portsmouth in all its Naval glory.  This establishment is frequented by Naval personnel and considering Portsmouths history it is very fitting.  There are no pretensions here just a cheerful welcome and good food. Mind you it did seem to be busier than ever.

The Pony Club is going strong with a new look. There is a bar and seating area for the grown ups and play area for the children.  This includes an area with a television where they can try out various Wii style activities, and the soft ball area is there but bigger – memories of Sheldon….

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I have been talking about the Hungry Horse and the Farmhouse but lets face it without the girls on reception it would all be lost.  They are the first people you see when you arrive and greet you with a friendly attitude and smile.

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They are helpful and full of information about up coming events, one of which is a wedding show on the 24th of March.   They – along with the house-ladies who make sure your room is comfortable – are people of local knowledge. Again all of this is done with a smile that is genuine and you feel as if you had just returned home.

Also in reception is a map of the Portsmouth area so you can see where you would like to visit.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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It’s a long time since I wrote about the local wines. Events and other things seemed to get in the way then as is often the case I was looking through the photographs and came upon this little gem. A small family run winery but with a statement all of its own, so being worth another look here it is hope you enjoy – cheers!.

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One evening I was going through my mail when I found an invitation to visit a small local Celler and see how they made their sparkling wine.  I was rather pleased as the invitation came from Judith who was kind enough to show us round the Co-operativea in Batea.  So I duly replied and on the following Saturday we set out for a Celler that was truly traditional  in every way.  This Celler which without knowing we have driven past over the years, has been here since the 1940’s providing wine for the local people of Miravet a well kept secret.

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When I pulled into the  yard I was pleased to see that this really is a working Celler that actually does things by hand.  Not here big machines that rattle bottles around to be filled then corked. In this Celler a small filling trough does the job filling 6 bottles at a time, then the bottles are taken inside where they are corked and labeled by hand.  Judith greeted me and introduced her husband Hose-Louise the wine maker, who was busy preparing the yeast for mixing with the wine. This is no simple job everything has to just right and the garvity of the yeast mix is checked before it is added to the wine. When this is done and the wine and yeast mixed well the wine is  bottled, capped then taken to the cellers for it’s 10 month fermentation.

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In the mixing room were the turning racks with bottles waiting to be de-caped then corked. These have been turned each day so the sediment arrives at the neck next the metal caps are taken of by hand no freezing the necks here, as we were to see first hand later on.

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Whilst Hose-Louise was busy Judith showed me round the small Celler. It is attached to her father-in-laws farm where the grapes are grown alongside peaches, apples, figs, pears and several other fruits.  The part of the Celler she took me to housed the vat of white wine which is sold to the local people of Miravet in plastic containers, or a container they may bring with them.  But she wanted to show me the ceiling which has been carefully restored down to the nails where tobacco was dried before the government decided to levy taxes so making it illegal for the farmers to grow their own.

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We then returned to see the wine being mixed in the vat. It is a process that is taken very seriously by both Hose and Judith, and with good reason the result is something rather special. These are two people with a passion for what they are doing and a vision of their wine being sampled by the world.

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Then Judith showed us how the bottling machine worked explaining that the wine is pumped along a tube into the trough then the wine is fed into the bottles through feeder tubes when this is done they are taken to be corked or in the case of sparkling wine capped.

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Judith then fetched a bottle of sparkling wine which was ready to have its cap removed and be corked.  Holding it up to the light we could clearly see the sediment in the neck.  So following her outside to the area where the caps are removed she showed how it is done in the traditional way.

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It was wonderful to see the pride they have in the traditional ways of wine making.  They are doing a great job here both coming from the industry and villages that make some of the best wines around, they bring knowledge and ideas to their wines that are something else.

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Cami de Sirga: This is a smooth fresh and fruity wine made from Sauvignon and Macabeu grapes.  It is a wine perfect with fish, salads or chicken a wine I would pick for my table.

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Vi Dolc: This is a sweet wine made from Muscatel and Macabeu grapes.  There is the aroma of figs, almonds and honey, whilst on the tongue you get the hint of sultanas.  This wine is 16% vol and would go well with cheese.

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Vi D’Aperitiu: This is a rather good Vermouth, made by mixing Vi Dolc and red wine but no sugar is added giving this wine an aroma of fruit.  This wine is perfect over ice or as it comes.  This wine is 17% vol.

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Cavi de Sirga:  This is a sparkling wine that is something special. The grapes used are Sauvignon Blanc and Macabeu which give this wine its body and clean crisp taste. This is not a sweet wine but its smooth with a clear pale golden colour and small bubbles slowly rising the sign of a good sparkling wine which has a certain style of its own. My first taste seemed to indicate lemons but the next was smooth leaving a desire for more. I could happily have spent the afternoon sitting in the sun drinking this wine.

Although Hose and Judith produce white wines they have two reds that will give their white wines some competition.  Judith let me taste each of them to see what I thought.  The first a young fruity red with good legs/tears a light but solid colour. To my pallet it was perfect.  The other red was too dry for my taste and I thought it could do with maturing in a barrel, this was what she and Hose thought and the wine was from the barrel still busy working away to its final strength, which I am sure will be a very fine dining wine.

These two people have a passion for wine making and their heritage, resulting in some fine wines being produced.  They not only have passion but also a vision of their wines being drunk by the world.  You know what I think they will make it too.

If you would like to try some of these amazing wines  you can contact them by e-mail at  pedrola97@yahoo.com enjoy.

© Michael Douglas Bosc

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