November Newsletter

November Meeting

Our guest speaker, Chris Stewart, introduced us to an array of garden creatures in his talk entitled The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Beautiful.  We were presented with numerous facts about these creatures.  I had no idea there are 400,000 known beetle species worldwide, 3,000 species of the humble woodlouse and 500 weevil species in GB.  True to the title of the talk Chris pointed out that some were beneficial to the food chain, while others were just plain evil.  The New Zealand Flatworm was an example of a threatening creature, which was first found in the UK in 1963. This demon feeds almost exclusively on earthworms, which can cause a lack of aeration to the soil.  Amazingly they can survive without food for 2 years by shrinking and then re-growing when they find another earthworm.  The Asian Longhorn Beetle is another baddy that will bore into trees, so making them unstable.  An infestation was found in Paddock Wood, which resulted in the tree having to be felled to stop the spread of the disease. Along with the bad there were the good and the beautiful, such as the delightful Tree Bee and the Scarce Tortoiseshell Butterfly.  Chris also stressed the need for more trees, however only ones of UK origin should be purchased to prevent the importation of diseases.   While on the subject of trees we heard an amazing fact about giraffes.  Interestingly, after 10 minutes of chewing leaves the tree emits an unpleasant taste and so the giraffe has to move on.  However, the poor giraffe cannot move to the next tree, as the tree sends warning signals to all trees within a large radius to do likewise.

Chris’ talk was accompanied by excellent photos of over 30 garden inhabitants.  The skilful photography even depicted the snail as being a beautiful creature.  A truly excellent presentation.


Wine of the Evening

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

Sweet: 1st Tom Rix, 2ndLes Maskrey, 3rd Bob Dye

Judges: Gerald Priestley and Les Bates




6 December is Christmas Party Night.  The evening will begin with one of Les Bates’ challenging quizzes followed by a buffet supper.  (Rumour has it that Les has already started compiling some tricky questions.)  Please can everyone bring a savoury or sweet dish for the buffet and wine.  Also, contributions to another super bumper Christmas raffle hosted by Marjorie Dye and Tom Rix would be most appreciated.  In order to cover the cost of room hire we will need to charge the standard £4 entry fee. 


Looking ahead to the January meeting, the committee are appealing for volunteers to present their favourite drinks.  We don’t want the evening to be a committee dominated event as it is a members’ evening - an evening for member participation.  It will be run on an informal basis.  You only need to bring along one of your favourite drinks and say a few words about it.  The cost of the drink will, of course, be reimbursed.  Please let me know ASAP if you would like to present a tipple, so that a programme can be compiled.


Here is an easy to make dessert with seasonal flavours.

Cranberry & Marzipan Crumble by Waitrose

Preparation time: 15 minutes    Serves: 4

100g butter, chilled, diced

150g plain flour

75g Demerara sugar

50g unblanched hazelnuts, chopped

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

1 Braeburn apple

300g fresh cranberries

Grated zest of 1 orange

100g marzipan, cut into small dice

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour to make a coarse, crumbly mixture. Stir in 25g of the sugar, the hazelnuts and the cinnamon.

2. Peel, core and chop the apple into 1cm cubes. Place in a medium baking dish along with the cranberries, and sprinkle over the remaining sugar and orange zest. Lastly, dot the fruit with the marzipan, and top evenly with the crumble mixture.

3. Bake in the oven for 30–35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with cream or custard.



Laithwaite’s Special Offers

There are many tempting offers from Laithwaite’s this month.  Two prices are quoted, the lower price for a mix of 12 or more bottles and the higher one for a single bottle.  Here are two wines which we enjoyed:

Don Cayetano Merlot, 2017, Chile, vol 13%, drink by 2020.  A plump, ripe and lusciously plummy, classic old-vine Merlot.  Medium bodied.  A very pleasant smooth wine, good value at £6.99-£7.99

Yarrunga Field Special Reserve Shiraz, 2017, New South Wales, vol 13.5%, drink by 2020.  A classic Australian Shiraz with fruity spice flavours.  Full bodied.  A smooth well-balanced wine. £8.99-£9.99

An additional offer:  If ordering 12 or more bottles of any wines, 3 bottles of New Zealand Sunday Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2018 are being offered at £5.99 each, reduced from £12.99. Offer ends 28 November.

Wine Tasting at Laithwaite’s, London Bridge

The Arch Tinsel and Baubles Christmas Tasting Wednesday 5 December, 7:15pm - 9:15pm

A selection of 20 wines to taste, advice from the experts and discounts. Tickets £15 per person.  The price of your ticket can be redeemed against orders of 12 bottles or more totalling £150.

Tickets to be purchased in advance, tel 0207 407 6378 or online at

The Arch, Laithwaite's Wine 219-221 Stoney St, London SE1 9AA

Sussex Federation of Winemakers Seminar

1-3 February 2019, Eastbourne

Ken Lloyd, one of our open show judges and a member of the Sussex Federation, has asked me to remind everyone about this popular event.  If you would like to attend please contact me for further details.


The Middle-Aged put Image before Health

Daily Mail & Daily Telegraph: A study at the University of Adelaide revealed that middle-aged British people care more if drinking harms their image than their health.  This age group believe that as long as they can carry out their duties without slurring, falling, vomiting or suffering from a hangover their health is unaffected.  The study found that their drinking limits are influenced by such factors as respectability, “knowing their own limit” and being sociable, rather than on recommended safe units.   In the UK alcohol consumption is highest among men in the 55-64 age group and women aged 45-54 years. 


Daily Telegraph: “Teetotalism now mainstream among young people as getting drunk is no longer cool” Another study, this time at University College London, has revealed that the number of people in the 16-24 age group who do not consume alcohol has almost doubled in the last decade.  Furthermore, a survey in 2017 suggested that only one in 10 millennials regarded getting drunk as being “cool”. 

The Balloon Glass Craze

Daily Telegraph: Despite the increasing popularity for balloon glasses experts believe that they are ruining the taste of G&T’s.  Which? has warned that a switch away from the traditional highball glasses could mean a warm, watered-down drink.  People tend to cradle the bowl of the glass in their hands, which can lead to a warm drink with the ice melting into the G&T.  Daniel Warren, the World Bartender of the Year, told the Daily Telegraph: “Gin globes, or balloon glasses, are an important part of gin-drinking history, originating in Spain and dating back to the 1700’s.  The current problem with these glasses is when the drink is made with cheap ice that melts quickly it waters down both the drink and the flavour of the gin.”  Despite this, sales of balloon glasses are showing no signs of slowing down, with John Lewis reporting that sales of these glasses have surpassed sales of all glassware.  I definitely prefer my G&T’s from a balloon glass!

Chill Out with a M&S Wine Bottle Label

Daily Telegraph: M&S have been criticised by Eileen O’Kellaigh, an addiction specialist, for selling an £8 bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with a label for colouring in and advertising it as being stress relieving.  She feels wine is a popular way for people to relax, especially women, after a stressful day and “slapping a label on a bottle of wine and talking about how it can help relieve stress if you colour it in isn’t a great idea”. M&S say it is just “a fun take on the growing trend for adult colouring books that are said to relieve stress”.  


£5,000 for a Box of Six Christmas Crackers

The Royal Mint are selling boxes of Christmas crackers for £5,000.  Prizes include a solid gold bar and a gold diamond necklace, but most importantly each one has a paper hat and a joke.  Several years ago, I bought a box of Robin Reed Fill Your Own Christmas Crackers, which I filled with bottles of spirit miniatures and I thought that was being extravagant! 

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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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