October Newsletter


Our guest speaker, Melanie Gibson-Barton, gave a most informative talk on The Life and Times of Edith Cavell.  Melanie had meticulously researched her subject through many visits to places where Edith had lived, which gave an excellent insight into the story of the British heroine who died in Brussels in 1915.  Her portrayal of Edith’s life was supported by an extensive collection of “then and now” photos of the places that she was associated with and photos of people and artefacts of her time.    

Firstly, we were introduced to Edith as a vicar’s daughter living in Norfolk.  After working as a governess for a number of years, she became a nurse and later a matron at a new training school for nurses in Brussels in 1907.  The Great War interrupted Edith’s nursing career and drew her into a world of helping Allied soldiers escape to neutral Holland to avoid imprisonment, which lead to the Germans arresting and charging Edith with treason.  Sadly, she was executed at dawn on 12 October 1915.  Her execution received worldwide condemnation, therefore her name has not been forgotten.

Despite the tragic aspect of Edith’s story, Melanie introduced lighter elements throughout the talk, which made us feel that we really knew Edith and her world.  We heard that Edith’s early childhood at the vicarage had been a carefree one, where she admitted to her 2nd cousin that her father’s sermons were boring.  Champagne, we were informed, was issued as a pre-med in Edith’s nursing days (I’ll drink to that!).  Finally, it was good to hear that Jack the dog enjoyed a happy retirement at the de Croy country estate in Belgium, despite his calf-snapping misdemeanours. 

I imagine many of us will be seeking out Edith’s statue in Trafalgar Square on our next visit to London.


Wine of the Evening

Dry: 1st Cathy Rishman, 2ndTom Rix, 3rd Les Maskrey

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

Judges: Wyn Priestley and Carol Hughes


The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Beautiful

Guest speaker, Chris Stewart, gave a talk to us on the hop in 2017.  On 1 November he will be making a return visit, this time to talk about creatures living in our gardens.  In Chris’ words:  "The inhabitants of your garden are not plain and boring.  What is lurking outside?  What new pests are coming your way?  Some are the gardener's friend and a joy to espy, but be prepared to be scared!" 

All “green-fingered” friends are most welcome to come along as guests (standard £4 entry fee).


WoE (dry and sweet classes)


A long-serving committee member will be standing down in April.  Please think seriously about joining the committee so that we can continue to function as a viable club.


The schedule is included as a separate attachment to this newsletter.  Please make your choices and return the form to me ASAP or at the November meeting at the very latest. 


October is the month for quinces, but these hard fruits are an absolute pain to prepare for the making of wine, jam or jelly.  However, a couple of years ago I found a really easy recipe for quince liqueur, where everything is fed into a liquidiser, core, skin and all. 

Quince Liqueur

1 ltr preserving jar
3 quinces
60g caster sugar
Approx. 600 ml vodka

Wipe the fluff from the quinces with a dry cloth. Cut them in half so that they will fit into the feeder tube of a food processor.  Grate the quinces - skin, pips and all. The scented fruit will more or less fill your jar. Add the sugar, then the vodka, making sure that all the fruit is covered. Seal. Put in a dark place for a couple of months - there's no need to turn it. This will need straining in December or January.  If it is very cloudy a second straining will be required after a couple of months.  Once clear more sugar may be added.  



French Wine Tour at Lidl

Lidl are currently promoting a range of French wines, including a selection from the lesser known regions, ranging in price from £5.99 to £11.99.  Geoff and I bought a couple of bottles from the upper price range to enjoy with our family for a Michaelmas lunch (29 September), served with goose (Lidl’s, of course) and apple pie.

Gigondas 2017, 75 cl, vol 14.5%, £11.99, drinking: now to 2 years.

A Grenache-basedred fromone of the wine villages in the southern Rhône, making similar wines to its famous neighbour, Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  Medium bodied with a dry finish.  A good wine, but we felt not worth £11.99.

Muscat de St Jean de Minervois Languedoc Roussillon 50 cl, vol 15%, £5.99, drinking: now to 3 years.

A well-balanced sweet wine.  Sometimes served in France chilled with ice as an aperitif.  An excellent dessert wine, worth buying now and keeping to drink with Christmas pudding.     

Sussex Federation of Winemakers Seminar

Friday - Sunday 1 - 3 February 2019

Haddon Hall Hotel, Eastbourne:haddonhallhotel.co.uk

This event is much closer to home than the NAWB conference in Manchester, which appeared in last month’s newsletter and may be of interest to more members.  The price of £140 per person includes 2 nights B&B, dinner Friday and Saturday, dinner dance Saturday, Sunday lunch and all gratuities.  The weekend seminar comprises talks, tastings and a “judge your own” liqueur competition.  If this event is of interest please contact me for further details.

CUTTINGS (Beer and cidery matters)

The Demise of the Apple Orchard

Daily Mail: It is feared that the current trend for fruity ciders will kill off many of our traditional orchards, as cidermakers, such as Magners and Bulmers are reportedly using concentrates from abroad to make these drinks.  It seems that the demand for the traditional bitter-sweet cider apple has declined.  Apple growers from the South West fear that by the time the fad for fruity cider has passed many of our apple orchards will have been sold off for housing development.  Julian Temperley of Somerset Cider Brandy Company, who are traditional cidermakers and distillers, said: “I know someone operating on Magners’ behalf who is reducing their requirement for 40,000 tons of traditional cider apples to just 10,000 tons – a 75% drop across Somerset and Devon.  Bulmers are doing the same.”  He believes the 1996 increase in tax on spirits to 40%, which included the then popular alcopops, has caused the emergence of fruity ciders.  Companies began promoting fruity ciders in an attempt to target former consumers of alcopops and so avoid the 40% tax. 

Admittedly, some of the fruity ciders make refreshing summer drinks, but I do sympathise with Julian Temperley’s statement: “Cider is our regional drink and our West Country identity is about to be cut down.”

A “Snappy” Green way of selling Beer Packs

Daily Telegraph: Carlsberg, the Danish brewery, have developed an environmentally friendly way of sticking together multi-packs of lager with adhesive in place of plastic ring holders.  This method should reduce plastic waste on packaging beer cans by 75%.  It has taken 3 years to develop an adhesive that is strong enough to withstand journeys from supermarket shelves to homes, yet sufficiently brittle to break when twisted.  The idea was born when Christopher Stuhlmann, a Carlsberg employee, experimented with sticking cans together at home from a range of adhesives purchased from his local DIY store.  He then produced a video for the CEO.  Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, head of sustainability at Carlsberg, said once the Snap Packs are available worldwide the company will reduce its plastic use by 1,200 tons a year – the equivalent of 60 million plastic bags.

Barley Crop crisis causes Beer Fear

Daily Mail: Beer supplies could be hit by shortages of barley caused by the crop dying in heatwaves that have swept the continent.  European breweries, which supply many of Britain’s pubs, have been struggling to obtain supplies.  The price of a tonne of European barley malt is at a 5 year high of £205 while crop growth is down 50%.  It comes after a shortage as CO­₂ threatened beer supplies earlier this summer.


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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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