May 2018

May Meeting: The Paranormal – The Unexpected and the Unexplained

We were treated to a fascinating talk by Dave Tester about the paranormal – the unexpected and the unexplained.  Although I am very much a sceptic, Dave’s talk did pose a number of anomalies which could not entirely be explained by science or logic.

Dave introduced the talk by telling us not to think in the box and always keep an open mind.  He stressed the importance of putting strange phenomena into context with scientific developments of the time.  We were then shown at couple of video clips.  The first showed a large apelike creature filmed by Americans, Patterson and Gimlin, in 1967.  Dave felt there was an 90% chance that this was a con by a couple of men trying to make a fast buck.  However there was a slight chance that it could be genuine.  The second clip was an interview with Father Gill, an Australian missionary who believed he and 37 other people had witnessed the sighting of a flying saucer in Papua New Guinea.  There was an 85% chance this was genuine, as they were all credible witnesses, yet there was a possibility that these people had possibly seen a fishing vessel out at sea.  Dave then related a number of incidents that had taken place in Somerset, including the mysterious disappearance of Owen Parfitt, the Mendip Panther, “cold spots” in Shepton Mallet jail and his own experience of seeing a large panther-like creature in the snow at 4.00 am outside his house.  To all these events Dave could offer rational explanations, but also suggested that these could be the workings of other forces.

Dave is an accomplished and entertaining speaker and judging by the response from the audience relating their experiences of the paranormal, I feel that he captured our imaginations.


The annual dinner was held at the Rose & Crown Hotel for the second year running.  The food and service was, as usual, excellent and the company good.  Gerald entertained us with a witty after dinner speech on the history of the wine club.  Gerald also talked about his and Wyn’s pre-wine club days when they were living in Seaton Delaval, where he brewed a very potent beer using hop extract, among other ingredients, while Wyn made wine from a crate of overripe peaches. 

Our thanks once more go to Lin and Les Maskrey for all their hard work in making this wonderful evening possible.


Quarterly (Dry White)

1st Cathy Rishman, 2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Tom Rix

Wine of the Evening

Dry: 1st Les Maskrey,2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Bob Dye

Sweet: 1st Les Maskrey, 2nd Les Maskrey, 3rd Cathy Rishman 


Local historian, Patrick Hellicar, will be giving a talk on 7 June entitled “The Day Amy Dropped In”, about the day Amy Johnson made a “flying” visit to Chelsfield.  It should be interesting to learn more about a pioneering woman aviator and her unexpected and, I assume, unplanned visit to Kent.


Jock Franklin Cup: an English style grape wine, red or white

WoE (dry and sweet classes)


Elderflowers will soon be in full blossom and ready to pick. One of the easiest wines to make is elderflower wine, as it only requires a small quantity of flowers.

Elderflower Hock, by CJJ Berry

300 ml (½ pt) elderflowers (4-5 sprays)

1 kg (2 lb 2 oz) sugar

100 ml (3.5 fl oz) white grape concentrate

3 lemons

¼ teasp tannin

4.5 ltrs (1 gall) water

Hock yeast and nutrient

Trim the flowerlets from the spray with scissors and put them into a fermentation bucket with the sugar, concentrate and lemon rinds (no pith) and pour 3.5 ltrs (6 pints) boiling water onto them.  Stir to dissolve the sugar and leave to cool, then add the lemon juice, tannin, nutrient and yeast.  Leave in a warm place, closely covered, for 4 days, then strain into a demijohn.  Once vigorous fermentation has ceased, top up to just below the neck of the demijohn with cold water.  Leave in a warm place until fermentation is completed.  Rack and add Campden tablet.  Leave for a few months to mature. 

This wine should be ready for drinking by Christmas.




This is an excellent website for wine and beer making ingredients.  Apart from providing a good range of dried fruits, flowers, concentrates and chemicals, Ballihoo stocks 11 varieties of Gervin wine yeasts.  Although the company is located in Somerset, it offers a fast and reasonably priced delivery service.

Delivery charges: up to 50g £1.19, 50g to 2kg £2.50, 2kg upwards £5.90, Free shipping for orders over £60.

Tel 01934 742182,

Waitrose Blueprint Wines

Waitrose have recently launched their Blueprint range of wines representing the world's classic wine regions and styles.  They include 38 wines, six of which come in a half-bottle size of 37.5 cl.  Prices for a full size bottle range from £5.99 for a South African Fairtrade Merlot to £12 for an Amontillado fortified wine.

Geoff and I have tried a couple of Blueprint wines:

Thumbs upWe particularly enjoyed the Grüner Veltliner (2017, 12.5% £8.49), which is an Austrian white wine from the grape bearing the same name and until recently little known in the UK.  It is a fruity, petulant wine with a slight hint of spice.  Waitrose recommend serving it with sticky pork ramen.  This dish, together with the wine, proved to be stunningly delicious.  Recipe cards are available in Waitrose or via this link:

Another excellent wine in this range is the Carmenère Reserva (2015, 13.5%).  This is a rich, smooth Chilean red wine and good value at £7.49, which compared favourably to a Carmenère from Laithwaites at £8.99.


Only Five Glasses of Wine a Week!

SadA Daily Telegraph report on Friday 13 April revealed that drinking six glasses of wine a week could reduce our lifespan by two years.  Oh dear! 

Research from the University of Cambridge and the British Heart Foundation published in the Lancet now recommend that our safe limit is five pints of beer or five 175 ml glasses of wine a week.  Rather amusingly Tanya Gold, a Saturday columnist, wrote an article the following day entitled “I would gladly give up two years of life for that extra drink”.  A difficult one!  Let’s hope the researchers have got it wrong.

The Pub versus the Coffee Shop

According to an article in Waitrose Weekend there could be more coffee shops than pubs by 2030.  Research for the London Coffee Festival found there are 21 coffee shops opening a week in Britain and 25 pubs closing. 

Over £10K for a shot of Cognac

The Daily Mail reported that a 40 ml serving of Rome de Bellegarde cognac sold for a record price of £10,014 in a British bar.  It was a first blend created by French winemaker, Jean Fillioux, in 1894.  The previous record was set in Hong Kong in 2016 at a mere £7,012!


Scientists have cracked the Rose’s DNA Code

In a few years time it should be possible to engineer a highly scented and even redder rose (Daily Telegraph).  We all know that the better the scent, the better the wine or dessert.  Perhaps we will soon be producing winning rose petal wines or an even tastier strawberry and rose tart (July 2012 newsletter).  MEMBERS let me know if you would like a back copy.

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13.03 | 12:56

anyone interested in 4x 50 litre wine carboys. I stopped making wine about 15 years ago. open to offers.

16.01 | 20:27

Same you only allow 160 caricatures on your site I would like to wright more !!!

16.01 | 15:40

Thank you for your kind comments. You are more than welcome to join us at one of our meetings - the first Thursday of each month.

16.01 | 15:26

Hi There I have just come across your website ...and very impressed, you seem to be a well organised club with monthly events and good membership BRAVO

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