Gin for the win – again. Oh, and some vodka!!

I have blogged before about my love of gin, and since then a fabulous shop stocking, amongst other things, a huge range of gin has opened in our village.  I believe it was a complete coincidence that such a shop opened so close to where we live, and there wasn’t a demographic study completed to securitise funding against the future gin consumption of the local area………  Gin & Pickles is great for a coffee and cake, when it’s too early for gin, and gin and a cheese & meat platter later in the day.

Gin & Pickles has also hosted some gin tastings which I’ve gone to. The first couple I went to were hosted by The Gintleman, as in my first gin blog, and thankfully I’ve always consumed so much gin, lots of the information is forgotten between tastings!  The most recent gin tasting was by Chase Distillery.  This was a fortnight before my birthday – and the lovely brand ambassador, Tilly, mentioned that you could do tours of the distillery – and that they have a sister hotel that you can go to for a meal or even an overnight stay before or after your tour – and they will ferry you between the two places.  This seemed an ideal birthday present from my husband to me (which obviously I sorted out myself #controlfreak) and last week we headed off for our tour of Chase and overnight stay at Verzon House.

We arrived at the hotel, checked in, and had a welcome drink – a gin and tonic, natch!

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Welcome drinks – gins, of course!

 

We were then whisked 20 minutes away in a mini bus to the Chase estate.

The tours can be anything up to 15 people – but there were only 5 on ours.  There was us, a guy who had just started work for Chase, and then a couple from Devon.  (Turns out they were actually originally Brummies like us – but had moved to Devon to run a hotel).  We were a lively bunch – but that definitely added to the tour.

It was incredibly interesting – and almost emotional – I was so proud of them growing the potatoes which they make initially into vodka (using spring water from on site and wood to power the wood burning stoves from the site too) – which then is either flavoured as vodka, or distilled with juniper to become gin!  So when people say they like vodka but don’t like gin, it’s often because they don’t like the taste of juniper (or in my sister’s case, we realised it was the tonic with the gin that was the issue – she’s now a gin and rose lemonade kind of girl!)  But for people to say they like gin but don’t like vodka is a bit weird!

We got to smell and taste the output at different stages which was ‘interesting’ – my husband was not backward in some of his descriptions (it tastes like petrol etc!)

It’s also amazing to think that every bottle of booze with the Chase name on it goes through that distillery – Fat Betty and Ginny are working super hard (these are machines rather than staff members, of which there are 54 now – the new bloke on our tour being the 54th!!)

After we’d looked at all of the gin memorabilia, including the entire range of bottles – and smelt lots of botanicals, and posed for photos in front of Fat Betty – we then got to go downstairs and try LOTS of the produce!  Given we already own most of the gins, we tried lots of the vodkas – and I am a total convert.  The straight potato vodka is lush – just so smooth compared to teenage experiences with cheaper grain based vodkas!  And the flavoured ones wonderful – we came home with quite a few!!!   The bottles we acquired being presented in potato bags was a fab touch.

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We were then escorted back to Verzon House to prepare for dinner.

The hotel room was lovely – although somewhat warm (not helped by the husband having a boiling hot bath in the middle of the bedroom!)  There is quite a lot of stuffed animal art on the walls – it didn’t bother us (although the husband impersonating all of them got a little wearing!) but we did wonder what a vegetarian might think if they stayed there?!

The food was AMAZING!  The cocktails were great too.  There wasn’t a huge amount of atmosphere in the restaurant, but it was a mid week stay in March – so not many tables.  All of the staff were really attentive and did a great job.

Breakfast the next morning was served in the bar rather than the restaurant – and we were the only guests – but it was plentiful and tasty.  I’d recently been converted to the product of another sister company, Willy’s Apple Cider Vinegar, and thought I’d miss my daily dose whilst away – but they had some with breakfast! The husband wasn’t converted though…….

Overall it was a fabulous experience and one we’d highly recommend.  There is a shop at the distillery so you can get products at bargain prices – but you really should do the tour as well! And you can get almost the entire range at Gin & Pickles too – to save the drive to Herefordshire.

 

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Our purchases!

 

This is not a sponsored post, we bought and paid for everything at all of the places mentioned above, I’m just sharing the love of gin – and now vodka! Cheers! 

 

 

 

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Book Review: After The Last Dance by Sarra Manning

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I am a sucker for a bargain – and Sarra Manning, who I know through being a Red Magazine subscriber, where she tells me what to read each month – mentioned on Twitter that this book from her back catalogue was a good deal on Kindle, so I downloaded it.

Here is the blurb:

“After the Last Dance: Two women. Two love affairs. One unforgettable story

Kings Cross station, 1943. Rose arrives in London hoping to swap the drudgery of wartime for romance, glamour and jiving with GIs at Rainbow Corner, the famous dance hall in Piccadilly Circus. As the bombs fall, Rose loses her heart to a pilot but will lose so much more before the war has done its worst.

Las Vegas, present day. A beautiful woman in a wedding dress walks into a seedy bar and asks the first man she sees to marry her. When Leo slips the ring onto Jane’s finger, he has no idea that his new wife will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

So when Jane meets Rose, now a formidable older lady, there’s no love lost between them. But with time running out, can Rose and Jane come together to make peace with the tragic secrets that have always haunted their lives?”

It sucked me in right from the start.  Initially the stories are very separate, and I was guessing how they might come together – but it’s not obvious – and there are twists and turns throughout the book.

I enjoyed the wartime setting for Rose – and thought it was very well written and really evoked the feeling of London during the Blitz.  Equally the chapters set in the present day were also great – and felt very different – as I guess they should.

The back stories for Rose – and how she got from the innocent teenager to the formidable businesswoman – and on a smaller timeline for Leo and Jane – were cleverly revealed as the book went through.

I felt the flipping from one time period to another kept a real momentum through the book and kept me wanting to read just a little bit more each night.

Overall I really enjoyed the whole book – and felt it well written and structured with excellent content – which makes me want to read other books by Sarra Manning.

 

 

 

Making a boob

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Last week it was my birthday.  My lovely husband decided he would pop into our local Bravissimo store to buy me some underwear as a pressie.  He couldn’t remember my size – but knew that they would have the information on my account – so asked for the bra he’d selected – and matching knickers – in the last size I’d bought.  Sensible.

Apart from the fact that the last bras I’d bought were for our 15 year old daughter………

I haven’t been that size since 4 children and about 4 stone ago!!

But it’s ok – I will pop in and exchange them (and change the thong for some proper fat pants too!!)  It’s the thought that counts!

P.S.  The photo is a lovely Bravissimo model, and not me nor our offspring – although it was that bra!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Absolutely Smashing It by Kathryn Wallace

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I have come across Kathryn Wallace’s postings on social media before – where she writes under the name ‘I Know, I Need To Stop Talking’ with some hilarious parodies of the omnipresent (if you have small children starting to learn to read) Biff, Chip and Kipper Robinson (slight show off that I know their surname!!) and other musings on life as a parent.

Then my oldest friend (oldest as in she came to visit me in hospital when I was born rather than in her own age being substantial!) noticed that the publisher had tweeted to see if any book bloggers wanted an advanced review copy – and she suggested me!  Never one to turn down a free book, I immediately sent my details, and the book arrived the very next day!

Here is the Amazon blurb:

”  “SAM! AVA! Get downstairs, NOW. Have you done your TEETH? HAIR? SHOES? Come on, come on, come on, we’re going to be bastarding late again. No, I haven’t seen Lego Optimus Prime, and nor do I give a shit about his whereabouts. Sam, will you stop winding your sister up and take this model of the Shard that I painstakingly sat up and created for you last night so that I wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. I mean, so that you wouldn’t be in trouble with your teacher. No, it doesn’t smell of ‘dirty wine’. Well, maybe it does a little bit. Look, Sam, I haven’t got time to argue. Just hold your nose and get in the car, okay? AVA! TEETH! HAIR! SHOES!”

Gemma is only just holding it together – she’s a single parent, she’s turning 40 and her seven-year-old daughter has drawn a cruelly accurate picture which locates Gemma’s boobs somewhere around her knees. So when her new next-door neighbour, Becky, suggests that Gemma should start dating again, it takes a lot of self-control not to laugh in her face.

But Becky is very persuasive and before long Gemma finds herself juggling a full-time job, the increasingly insane demands of the school mums’ Facebook group and the tricky etiquette of a new dating world. Not only that, but Gemma has to manage her attraction to her daughter’s teacher, Tom, who has swapped his life in the City for teaching thirty six to seven year olds spelling, grammar, basic fractions – and why it’s not ok to call your classmate a stinky poo-bum…

It’s going to be a long year – and one in which Gemma and Becky will learn a really crucial lesson: that in the end, being a good parent is just about being good enough.”

 

As expected, the book is all about the stresses and strains of parenthood – and is pretty sweary! It is true to life in lots of ways – everyone who has waited in a playground can identify the different types of parent! And feels quite similar in genre to lots of the Mummy bloggers who have gone on to write books (such as Why Mummy Drinks ) – but I guess parental experiences are quite similar, so that’s why they feel alike.

I liked Gemma and wanted everything to work out for her personally – not just as a mother and as an employee, but as an individual too.  Her friendship with Becky was also explored  – and definitely shows the importance of having Mum friends that you actually want to be friends with – not just because they have children the same age.

This book is not going to set the literary world alight – it is a simple, easy, non-challenging read – but sometimes that’s what you want after a long day of parenting.  There are some laugh out loud moments (so much so that I was told off by the 7 year old for making her bed shake when reading it one evening as trying to get her to sleep!) and I didn’t regret reading it – but I’m not sure #absolutelysmashingit has been achieved.

Thank you very much to the publishers for my free ARC – and the book has now made it’s way across the Irish Sea to the aforementioned oldest friend for her to read too.

It’s released on 7 March 2019.

 

Parents’ evening funtimes

 

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Tonight 3/4 of the children had parents’ evening.

  1. Parents’ evening for G, year 2 – I cried*
  2. Parents’ evening for E, year 4 – I cried**
  3. Parents’evening for L, year 9 – I laughed hysterically, but at least I didn’t cry***

 

*G has been chosen, with one of her friends, to represent their class in the school talent show.  She is playing the piano whilst her friend does an interpretative dance.

**E has had the same lovely teacher for 3 of the past 4 years.  The whole class and teacher have been through some pretty traumatic stuff in that time, that no one – and especially first school kids – should have to face.  They’re all leaving first school in the summer, so it’s quite emotional.

***We sat down to talk to L’s English teacher who commented that he was such a hard working student!!!!!!!!

 

Super proud of all of my super stars – even the one who escaped parents’ evening today.  Whilst I’m chuffed with their academic achievements – I’m more pleased at the fact the teachers all seem to like them, and the other skills of caring, inclusion, empathy that the staff have talked about.   This parenting lark can be pretty stressful and unforgiving at times – but nights like tonight I am pleased we’re doing something right.  Time for a celebratory pancake!