September Newsletter


Pujan Dhar gave an interesting talk on his holidays in Spain.  On his first visit he was attracted to the Spanish way of life and culture. He found the cities to be clean with wide roads and tree-lined pavements. 

Pujan’s talk then focused on three areas in Catalunya.

Roses and the surrounding countryside

The seaside resort of Roses is located in a sheltered bay on the Costa Brava with a 2-mile beach and is an ideal place to base a holiday. Fortifications, megalithic tombs and museums can be visited locally. 


Barcelona is a vibrant city with wide streets and pedestrianised walkways, the most famous being the tree-lined Ramblas, which stretches for 1.2 kilometres connecting Plaça de Catalunya in the centre with the Christopher Columbus Monument on the waterfront. The unfinished cathedral, la Sagrada Familia, designed by Gaudi, is a popular tourist attraction. Building work commenced in 1882 and the cathedral still remains unfinished. Other examples of Gaudi’s unique form of architecture can be seen in Barcelona. Panoramic views of the city are enjoyed on a cable car ride to Montjuïc.


The Salvador Dali museum in the small town of Figueres is also well worth a visit. The museum is full of his surreal works, such as a sculpture of Mae West’s lips in the form of a sofa and, perhaps the most impressive, the Rainy Cadillac.  A large Cadillac is parked in the museum courtyard with a shark headed chauffeur and a large statute suspended above it. Various paintings in the museum depict different images according to the angle of view.

Throughout the talk we were treated to the following Spanish wines:

1) Cava, Waitrose; 2) Torres Vina Sol, rosé; 3) Flor de San Martin Garnacha, Navarra; 4) Moscatel, sweet white; 5) Sol de Valencia, Gewurztraminer; 6) Baron de Barbon, Reserva, rioja.

After the talk many of us felt inspired to re-visit Spain (or visit for the first time).  Despite a technical glitch in the numbering sequence for the photos and more especially the last-minute re-location of the meeting room, Pujan gave a really good presentation.


Quarterly (Sweet Red)

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

Wine of the Evening

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

Sweet: 1st Tom Rix, 2nd Bob Dye, 3rd Cathy Rishman

Judges: Les Bates and Sylvia Rix


Our guest speaker, Mr DJ Marsh, will be talking on furniture restoration and showing a couple of examples of furniture that he has restored. Perhaps after Mr Marsh’s talk a number of us will want to get to work on pieces of our furniture requiring a little TLC!


WoE (dry and sweet classes)


I enjoy resureting old recipes and this month I have chosen a liqueur recipe from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. The liqueur was started in February of this year and bottled just in time for the North Tonbridge HS Autumn Show. I am very pleased to report that it came third. This was a fairly easy liqueur to make, although I had trouble clearing it and had to fine it a couple of times before bottling.

Ginger Brandy

70 cl bottle of brandy

1½ oz root ginger

1½ oz juniper berries

12 oz sugar

7 fl oz water

Crush finely the ginger and juniper berries, put them into a wide-necked bottle and pour in the brandy. Cover securely, let the bottle stand in a warm place for 3 days, shaking it 3 or 4 times daily. On the 3rd day boil the sugar and water to a thick syrup and when cool add to it the brandy, which must previously be strained through fine muslin or filtering paper until quite clear. Store for a few months to mature before bottling.



Hops ‘N’ Harvest Beer Festival: 8 & 9 September

Kent Green Hop Beer Festival & Canterbury Food Festival - 27-29 September

This is one of the nicer beer festivals to attend as it also includes food, which means there is something for everyone at the event.

Kent Green Hop Beer is made with fresh (green) Kentish hops instead of the more traditional dried hops. The beers have a characteristic fresh taste because the hops contain many of the oils that are normally lost when hops are dried. Each Kent Green Hop Beer has to meet the following criteria:

  • Brewed in Kent
  • Only contain Kent-grown hops
  • Only flavoured with fresh, undried hops used within 12 hours of picking

There will be over 40 beers to taste from over 30 Kent brewers. The Festival will also include more than 150 produce stalls and live music.

Venue: Dane John Gardens Watling Street, Canterbury, CT1 2UA


From Steelworks to Vineyards

Daily Mail: Kieron Atkinson of the Renishaw Hall Vineyard, near Sheffield, claims that Britain produces better wine than the Champagne region of France due to global warming: “Not only is the weather improving from a pure grape-growing perspective but it’s also getting warmer at key times. We get more flowers on the vine. There have also been increasing temperatures throughout Europe. Everything is generally moving north. … The climate is getting hotter and therefore worse for champagne [in France].” Renishaw Hall Vineyard produces around 10,000 bottles a year and over the last 20 years Mr Atkinson says the weather has changed in this part of the world. We now have “temperatures akin to what Champagne was 20 years ago”. The vineyard was planted in 1972 and was once the most northerly in Britain.

Currently Britain’s most northerly commercial vineyard is believed to be Ryedale in North Yorkshire, which produces 7,000 bottles a year from approx 12 acres of land. John Fletcher, whose family run the vineyard, also believes that we currently have better conditions than the Champagne region, however he did admit that our frosts can destroy the crops.

In 2018 the British wine industry produced 15.6 million bottles compared to 6.3 million in 2014.

(Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye)


The Re-invention of Elsie Mo

Good on you girl!

Daily Mail: Both Tom and Bob drew my attention to a recent article in the Daily Mail concerning gender issues on beer bottle labels.

Drinks with sexist names such as Dizzy Blonde and Vintage Bike were banned from the Great British Beer Festival last month, as were pump clips and bottle labels featuring big-bosomed and scantily clad women. CAMRA now want to move away from the image of beer as being just a man’s drink and make it more “inclusive”. Apparently, all 1,000 beers, ciders and perries were checked to ensure that they complied with CAMRA’a new code of conduct.  Abigail Newton, National Organiser, said: “We need to do more to encourage female beer drinkers, which are currently only 17% of the population. Beer is not a man’s drink or a woman’s drink, it is a drink for everyone”.

Interestingly in 2018 Nottingham’s Castle Rock Brewery changed the pump clip on its Elsie Mo beer from an American WW2 aircraft nose painting of a girl in stockings and suspenders to Elsie Mo in the role of pilot.

(Article kindly supplied by Bob Dye and Tom Rix)

The “Green Fairy” given protected status

Daily Telegraph: After a 15-year battle absinthe of Pontarlier, on the Swiss border in eastern France, has finally been granted the official European protected geographical indication, PGI, by Brussels. This fiery drink, nicknamed the Green Fairy, was popular among Parisian Bohemian artists in the late 19th century. It is said that Van Gogh painted The Starry Night while under its influence, but eventually the drink drove him mad. Geoff once bought a bottle and gave a small glass to a friend who afterwards could barely walk home!


Mrs Beeton’s thoughts on elderberry wine:

It is one of the very best of the genuine old English wines; and a cup of it mulled, just previous to retiring to bed on a winter night, is a thing to be “run for,” as Cobbett would say: it is not, however, agreeable to every taste.


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Latest comments

07.09 | 09:09

would the lady in hildenborough supply me with a demijon i live in hilden borough

02.09 | 11:53

Hi Linda - Thank you for your kind offer. I have contacted our members and will let you know if anyone is interested. Best wishes, Cathy Rishman

01.09 | 16:45

Hi - we have a vine that has produced quite a good few grapes this year.
The grapes are red, small and sweet would anyone be interested in them?
Can send photo

13.03 | 12:56

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

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