Wine faves

This is my growing list of select favourite wines:

White wines

Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Marlborough
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
Cost: £10.99
Lovely crisp, fruity white wine. Can only be described as having the personality of some of my favourite red wines – packing some punch!

Split Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Grape: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)
Cost: £9.99 (Laithwaites)
Easy-drinking, notes of gooseberry and citrus. Crisp, fresh, fruity and smooth.


Red wines

Porta 6 2012 Lisboa
Grape: Castelão, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional
Origin: Alenquer and Cadaval mountain regions, north of Lisbon, Portugal
Cost: £9.99
Full-bodied with smells and tastes of forest fruit flavours and touches of spice. Goes down far too easily! 🙂

Churchill Estates 2008/2009 Douro
Grape: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca
Origin: Portugal
Cost: £11.49 (Special offer £9.99)
Smooth, fruity, full-bodied, velvety red.

Red Heads Rack 1 Shiraz Cabernet 2008
Grape: Shiraz
Origin: McLaren Vale, Australia
Cost: £9.99 (Laithwaites)
Immense, dark, fruity flavour with an interesting layer of toasty vanilla complexity. A big, ripe wine with lovely structure.

Wolf Blass Red Label Shiraz Cabernet 2008
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz
Origin: South Eastern Australia
Cost: £7.49 (Special offer £5.99)
A sumptuous, juicy red delivering plenty of ripe plum and red berry fruit flavours on both nose and palate, lifted by a subtle hint of spice and soft tannins on the finish.

Trio Reserva 2009
Grape: Cabernet Franc, Shiraz
Origin: Chile (D.O. Maipo Valley)
Cost: £8.99
A three grape blend that has distinct tastes of blackcurrant, plum and cherry. The Cabernet Franc adds something a bit different to add to the silkiness.

Montgras Reserva 2011
Grape: Cabernet Sauvignon – Syrah
Origin: Chile (Colchagua Valley)
Cost: £8.99 (Waitrose special £6.74)
Medium-full bodied, deep red wine with rich berry flavours and subtle cocoa and spice aromas.



Codorníu Reina Maria Cristina Blanc de Noirs 2010
Grape: Pinot Noir (Austria)
Cost: £14.99 (Special offer £9.99)
A lovely Cava that beats many higher priced champagnes hands down. Rich, creamy, full flavour, not too fizzy with dense bubbles.

The rut

In October 2012 we went over to the beautiful and enchanting RSPB Minsmere to see the star attraction on the heath, the red deer rut.  Although we’d missed some of the fierce mating battles of a couple of weeks prior, we still got a glimpse of the intensity of the rut and the wildly aggressive behaviour the males were displaying.
Our jeep safari took us as close as we could safely get to the action – very often taking us to the edge of a harem containing one large stag and several hinds.
On occasion we’d be moved on by a dominant stag holding his own, antlers impressively aloft, sniffing the air as he caught our scent.
Down wind, we could sit and watch the stories unfold a little longer and witness first hand some of the drama play out like a soap opera. We saw the smaller stags (/bucks) trying their luck as they wandered into dominant stag territory to entice some of the hinds with their call.  It didn’t work for the small boys without the real, bellowing roar, but we did see some success from some of the larger stags.
At one point we were in the middle of what felt like a competition as two large, rival stags would roar their echoing, baritone calls and thrash the ground as they strutted back and forth, gauging their opponent’s size and strength. A few stray hinds left one male’s camp for the other but not enough to cause a battle to ensue.
It was amazing to learn that the males had been doing this for weeks and weeks without food. It just echoed the fact that with every battle scar, every strut and each bellowing roar, the message they were sending was that this was a battle of stamina that only the strongest would win.

Feeding nine billion people

How we can take action (- excerpts from

10 actions which would make a difference…

1. Shop at a farmers market

Farmers markets are one venue where you can buy directly from farmers.
Buying directly from the farmer helps the farmer retain more money from every pound spent than if they are sold through conventional food retail outlets like supermarkets. In addition to supporting farmer livelihoods, purchasing directly from your food producer lets you ask questions about how your food was grown. Not all vendors at farmers’ markets sell produce they grew themselves: different farmers markets have different rules about what can be sold.

Check out this site to search for local farmers markets in your area

2. Join a community shared agriculture (CSA)

This is where the community shares in both the risks of farming and the bounty of the harvest. The way it works is you buy a ‘share’ of the farmer’s harvest in advance, giving the farmer the start up funds they need to grow their crops. Then you receive a box of food every week during the harvest. Similar to buying direct from farmers at farmers’ markets, buying direct from farmers through a CSA helps the farmer retain a greater portion of every pound you spend.

Simply post your search in Google for your nearest. I found this little gem for a CSA in Milton Keynes:

3.Try growing your own food

Growing your own food will increase your knowledge of food and reduce the miles your food has to travel to just about zero.  Additionally, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the lifestyle of a farmer.

There are numerous books on the topics of growing your own food.  The internet will provide you with a vast wealth of knowledge, however if you prefer a book, one title is “The Backyard Homestead” which will provide any aspiring gardener with the basic knowledge to get started.

4. Experience farm life

As the world shifts to predominantly urban, the plight of a farmers is increasingly farther removed from our consciousness.  To gain an appreciation for our food, it is important to understand where it comes from.  Try holidaying at a farm.

5. Eat in season

When you’re eating peppers in the middle of winter, they came from a long way away.  Eating in season means that the food you’re eating is from the same region and that you’re supporting regional farmers.  For advice on how to do this, see the links below.

6.Eat efficiently

Foods from animals generally require more land, water and fossil fuels to produce than plant foods because not all of the feed livestock consume is converted into meat, milk and eggs. Try experimenting with vegetarian recipes or start a Meatless Monday tradition to cut back on your animal food consumption. There are many factors that contribute to efficient food production. For example, organic, grass-fed beef raised and consumed locally could be more efficient in terms of resources consumed in production than industrially produced fruits, vegetables, or vegetarian protein options produced and processed long distances from where they are consumed and shipped half way around the world to get into our supermarkets. Become informed about where your food comes from and what is required to produce it so that you can make more efficient choices.

7. Become informed about food

Gaining knowledge our the food system will help you make better choices and understand the current issues regarding food.  The website provides some useful pointers.

8. Concentrate on food waste

Estimates state that globally, 30% of the food grown is wasted at some point between the field and the dinner plate.  Much of this waste is on the consumer end, as those leftovers aren’t as appealing on their third day.  Try making this a focus in your kitchen by being conscious of it and planning smaller meals so there aren’t so many leftovers to be wasted.  Additionally, preserving and processing raw vegetables is a great way to lower the amount of food waste in your kitchen.  The food waste you do have you could compost.

As a society, we are continually using more of the earth to store our garbage.  When you throw out compost this fills up the space in landfills and required us to use even more space for our garbage.  Additionally, if you try growing your own food, the compost will help improve the quality of your food.  Learn more about composting.

9.Volunteer professional skills or donate

There are many organizations which are working tirelessly to improve our food system in many ways.  They require resources to keep their efforts alive.  Consider donating or volunteering your skills and time as a way to get involved and make a difference.

Let’s have ‘The Talk’

overpopulation-scalesBy 1850, we had reproduced so successfully that in 200,000 years we had 1 billion people on Earth.  The next billion came in 100 years.  Now we add 1 billion people to the planet every 12 years!

In 2011 the world population reached 7 billion people.

As a species, we are a biological success story – we survive.
We are also a religious success story – we have gone forth and multiplied.

But now we have to stop… or it will be our downfall.

Every day we add 229,000 people to the planet. This is unsustainable… which means the world’s population has to stop growing.

The question is how?  Will it stop over famine, disease, war over resources or will it stop growing because people choose to have smaller families?

Actress Alexandra Paul discusses her lifelong concern about human overpopulation and the fears we all have about discussing the issue. (January 2013)

The fastest and most efficient way to stabilise the world population is to send girls to school and to empower women. To give everyone access to an education on birth control.


My pledge

My pledge –

– Addressed to:  All of  us


1. I recognize our population and economies have grown beyond a size the Earth can sustainably support. I realize our beautiful Earth is small when we visit 7 billion people upon it. I acknowledge Earth’s resources are not unlimited.2. I pledge to change my life. I will do my part to bring the scale of the human presence on Earth back into sustainable equilibrium. I will scale back my footprint on the planet while increasing joy and fulfillment. I will set an example for my friends, neighbors and children.a. I will bring into this world no more than two children. If I’ve already produced more than two, I will not produce more.b. I will take steps to get out of debt and stay out of debt.

c. I will continually strive to “live small,” reducing the size of my ecological footprint with conscious, responsible decisions and actions about energy and materials consumption.

d. I will work less and spend less. When I’m able, I’ll share my job with someone who needs one.

e. I will loan and borrow items that aren’t needed daily. When I must acquire goods, I’ll seek quality goods that last. I will buy used and buy local.

3. I pledge to change the system. I withdraw my participation in, and support for, societal activities and public policies that encourage, accelerate, or rely on growth in population, resource extraction or energy consumption.

a. I will inform my elected representatives that further economic or population growth are indicators of failure rather than success. I will give them permission to pursue stability or contraction.

b. I will insist on elimination of growth subsidies (These include most urban renewal incentives, tax increment financing, enterprise zones, utilities tap fees that don’t recover full cost, impact fee abatements, most economic development incentives, and tax breaks and other financial benefits for larger families.)

c. I will support public policies that fully connect the costs of growth with the behavior.

d. I will root out antiquated metrics, strategic plans, and language that reinforce the old growth-seeking paradigm.



Taken from ‘ Pledge to think small’, 

One of the most violent films of all time… only it’s real!

Three primary life forces exist on this planet:
1. Nature
2. Animals
3. Humankind

We are the earthlings.

We enter as lords of the earth bearing strange powers of terrors and mercy alike. Human beings should love animals as the knowing love the innocent; the strong love the vulnerable.
It seems the fate of many animals is the inevitability of being unwanted by man or wanted too much. Isn’t it enough that animals the world over live in permanent breach from human progress and expansion? And for many species there is simply nowhere else to go.

It takes nothing away from a human to be kind to an animal. Make the connection.

Man – an amazing animal?

“Isn’t man an amazing animal?

He kills wildlife by the millions in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed…
Then he kills domestic animals by the billions and eats them…
This in turn kills man by the millions… because eating all those animals leads to degenerative – and fatal – health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease and cancer…
So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures for these diseases.”

– C. David Coates