Waggy Walk in Brighton

Today, we headed down to Stanmer Park to join in the Dogs Trust fundraising event, the Waggy Walk.

Waggy Walks, Stanmer Park

We did 2 laps of an approximately 5k walk, very approximate as it turned out as there were short cuts being taken left, right and centre – and the marshalls seemed a bit too cold, wet and grateful to force people to do the full route. We’d parked in one of the car parks in the woods themselves, so between our journey to and from the car park, and the 2 laps of the route, we clocked up 6.83 miles, or around 11km. I tracked the route on my Garmin watch, and it is here for all to check and verify.

Waggy Walks, Stanmer Park

By the time we’d finished we were rather wet, but Skitters was pretty forgiving as the lovely ladies in the registration tent admired her cute ears and gave her some treats to munch on. A nice nap (for all) when we got home was just what the doctor ordered, and certainly the 4 legged one seems as full of energy as ever and ready to head outside for more adventures.

You can still sponsor us. Oh, and there are a few more photos too.

Sparkling wine thing

Last night we attended the latest geek wine thing event: Sparkling Wine Thing. It was a blind tasting of 8 sparkling wines, ranging from non-vintage champagnes, to new-world sparkling wines, to vintage Cava. We were given the list of wines, and then attempted to identify them one by one. Each one was revealed before we moved on to the next, so the last ones were easier than the first ones.

I don’t have tasting notes for many of these, but I did glean some Fizz Facts:

  • The reason champagne and other sparkling wines have foil around the top of the bottles is because originally they didn’t fill the bottles up after disgorging so it disguised the empty part of the bottle
  • Cava must use the traditional method to be a Cava
  • Polish glasses before pouring champagne as dirty glasses make the bubbles flat
  • Champagne can only be made from three grape varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir
  • Champagne should be served in fluted glasses which taper in at the top to trap the bubbles and the aroma. The goblet style glasses might have been all the rage at one point, but they don’t give the best champagne experience
  • Non vintage champagnes are popular because you get consistency for the blend – so Mumm, Veuve Cliquot, Lanson always taste like the same regardless of what year you buy it
  • Sparkling wines made using the Traditional Method will have beaded bubbles

And after all this, what did I learn? Well, I discovered that I don’t need a fancy champagne to keep me happy. I actually really enjoyed one of the cheaper wines on offer, the Lindauer Special Reserve NV from New Zealand, which I thought had good flavours, was quite full of bubbles, and had a beautiful blush of pink colour.

Big Wine Thing

On Tuesday Richard and I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Big Wine Thing. This was an extension of the usual, monthly or thereabouts, Geek Wine Thing but instead of purely wine tasting, this was a food and wine matching event. Again held at Hotel du Vin in Brighton, and this time led by both James and Fergus from Majestic and Pierre, the assistant Somellier.

The evening started with champagne as the participants arrived and settled down ready for an evening of food, wine and education.

Our meal started with a smoked salmon starter served with a lovely, clear, crisp chenin blanc, a Vouvray Coulée d’Argent 2008. This was a delightful wine, and another wine which will be finding it’s way into our fridge over the next few months (to join the albariño and the gavi di gavi from the previous tastings).

Our main course (for the carnivores) was lamb with dauphinois potatoes served with a vibrant collection of vegetables and served with a Chilean Syrah ‘Las Kuras’ 2007 Casa Lapostolle. This met with mixed reviews. It certainly smelled wonderful, really powerful, but the flavour didn’t quite live up to the bouquet.

Dessert was the biggest Creme Brulee I’ve ever encountered (and I managed to scoff the lot) served with a pleasantly surprising dessert wine, Beaumes de Venise ‘Domaine de Coyeux’ 2004. I say surprising because I’m not a big dessert wine fan, often finding them too cloying and syrupy. But this was clean and youthful and had a lovely smell of lychees and grapes.

We gained three wine facts from the evening:

  1. Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape, just labelled differently
  2. Many wines are organic but aren’t labelled as such due to the 10% charge that the soil association charge – this was the case for the Chilean red
  3. Muscat smells of grapes – as evidenced by the Beaumes de Venise

All in all another great evening, and certainly an event I’d be keen to participate in again.

Geek Wine Thing – La aventura Española

On Tuesday evening Richard and I headed off to the Hotel du Vin for our first Geek Wine thing in quite some time. This one was the second of the new format Geek Wine Things, now being organised and orchestrated by Fergus De Wit and James Reina from Majestic Wine.

There were 8 wines for tasting, 4 white and 4 red, made up of 4 classics and 4 bright young things.

8 glasses for tasting from

It was a great evening, and as when in the Hunter Valley recently, I made a series of notes. These are made up of “wine facts” and tasting notes. Some of the more useful are:

  • The Spanish wine system is really focussed on the aging process – so Reserva and Gran Reserva have clearly defined meanings on a bottle of Spanish wine. This isn’t the case when these words are applied to many other nations wines
  • Good vintages for Rioja are 2001 and 2004
  • The younger a red wine, is the more breathing time it is likely to need
  • When thinking about wine and food matching, a good hint is to choose the kind of food that is served where the wine is made
  • If you buy a Spanish Reserva or Gran Reserva, then you’re probably on to a winner

Checking the colour

Out of the white wines, my favourite was the first we tasted. This was Albariño Martin Codax 2008 Rias Baixas. Albarino wasn’t a wine that I’d knowingly tasted before, and is indigenous to that particular area of Spain. It was described as being a good halfway house between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Wine #5

Out of the red wines, there were 2 that I really liked. These were Emilio Moro 2006 Ribera del Duero and Muriel Gran Reserva 1996. The Ribera del Duero is an up and coming wine area, and the Emilio was a lovely drink. The recommendation was to buy two bottles, drink one now and bury one in the bottom of your garden for 3 to 5 years to age further. Apparently Robert Parker gave it a score of 92 – which marks it out as being a good buy. The Muriel is ready for drinking now and was a lovely smooth wine. As Richard said, if either of these were served to us we’d be delighted.

Apparently, Majestic are running a promotion on Spanish wines next month, so I’m sure we’ll be heading down there to pick up some of these for our drinking pleasure.

Brighton Science Festival

Last week was Brighton Science Festival and we managed to get to 2 events, although we did attempt a third.

The first one we attempted was the Cafe Scientifique festival special on “The Frog who Croaked Blue: Synesthesia and the Mixing of the Senses”. But we arrived too late and saw

on the door and so had to make do with a glass of wine in Browns instead…

Next up was the Big Space Show which consisted of 3 parts. The first was comedienne Helen Keen performing her show It Is Rocket Science which was an amusing and quirky look at space, rockets and science.

All in all, a great evening of learning.

The last event we attended was Big Science Saturday, a day of science talks and demonstrations.

Our first talk was The Science of Superheroes, a humourous and entertaining look into how the superheroes superpowers could be replicated in the real world. The most amazing of which, at least for me, was invisibility.

Invisiblity experiment closeup

Next was Dr Harry Witchel on The Secret Language of Negotiation which was an interesting introduction to tells and signs with some video footage to back these things up.

Dr Harry Witchel - The Secret of Negotiations

Final talk of the day was Ben Goldacre who allowed the audience to choose which talk he should do in a “choose your own adventure” style. He was fascinating, passionate and knowledgeable and we’ve since bought a copy of his book to peruse in our own time. Highlights for me were the formulas of “how to a perfect ” taken from the Daily Mail, the BBC and the Daily Telegraph

Choose your own adventure with Dr Ben Goldacre

If my teachers at school, or at least one in particular, had shown as much passion for his subject as the speakers did I might have managed to leave school with a science qualification. As it was, my Physics teacher announced on the first day of our GCSE course that “as far as I’m concerned women are only here to give pleasure to me and give birth to my children and I don’t see why I should teach you physics” which I’m sure you’ll agree is a great start to a 2 year course and something that affected my relationship with science. These type of events are a great way for me to reconnect.

Glenn on the history of his company

Tuesday, at £5 App, Glenn gave his personal view of the history of his company: The idea, name, table football, money, cake and the culture. The most interesting parts for me were his description of using scale to escape the for hire rollercoster (if you’re working as an agency), the importance of having a shared set of values, and using money as a tool.

Interesting stuff. It’ll take a while for it to sink in for me, but as Ribot caught the talk on video (part 1) (and part 2) you can judge for yourself.

[Disclaimer: Glenn is Jane‘s employer]

Snowboard shows

We managed to attend two snowboard shows over the past couple of weeks – firstly, the snowboard show at Tamworth and then the Sno!Show at Milton Keynes.

At the Snowboard show we attended a talk on photography by Russ Shea before having our first ever rails lesson with Hamish McNight and Stu Edwards. We caught up with Ash and collected a couple of demo boards he’d brought down for Richard to try, whilst I made the most of the exhibitors and took a Salomon Ivy and a Burton Feelgood out for a spin. The Ivy was much twitchier than I’m used to and is a lot more of a handful than the one I tried in Breckenridge a few years ago, but that could be because it has become more of a freestyle board in the intervening seasons. The Feelgood was lovely, a really enjoyable ride.

The Sno!Show seemed busier, and had taken over a lot of the snow area of Xscape catering to both skiers and snowboarders. Again I took out a couple of different boards, firstly the omatic super by Tara Dakides and then the Head Fountain. I didn’t find the omatic board very interesting and defnitely not as much fun as my Ride Kashmir. The Head Fountain however I loved – it was really responsive and I spent most of the time riding this with a great big smile on my face.

When I bought my Ride Kashmir 18 months ago I bought it because it was the best board of the 2 I’d been able to hire whilst in Breckenridge. These demo days make so much sense as I’m a firm believer that, at least for me, it isn’t the graphics that matter, it’s the ride style. I tried 2 boards that I wouldn’t have ever dreamt of trying, and one, the Head Fountain, turned out to be a really fun board to ride and one that I’m looking for a good reason to buy to add to the collection :-D. I’m sure I’ll be making the effort to attend this kind of day again to try out more new shiny things…

World Beard and Moustache Championships

Musketeer bear
Originally uploaded by Jane Dallaway

On Saturday, the World Beard and Moustache Championships were held at the Brighton Centre.

The event started, for the public (and for us thanks to a tip off from Andy) with a parade from the town hall, through the lanes to the Brighton Centre before starting for proper an hour or so later. Prior to the event starting, I thought it would all be a bit of a joke, but I hadn’t been prepared for the sheer amount of effort that people had gone to, especially their costumes. As if growing a large amount of facial fur wasn’t enough, at least one guy had painted himself silver for the occasion.

We met up with friends and headed off and the girls watched the ‘tache competition whilst the boys spend an hour (yes really) queueing for beer at the bar (which had 5 members of staff serving for 2,300 people – nice). After finally getting our beer we sat down in comfort for the freestyle moustache and the partial beard categories. Jeremy, Kirsty and Rory headed home mid way through partial beards, and we spotted Dom, Fiona and Amelia and so went and watched a few more rounds with them before deciding we were all bearded out and needed to head home.

There are, of course, more photos to be perused. The next championships is in 2 years time in Alaska, somehow I don’t expect we’ll be attending.

Moo’s Hot and Sticky Party

Suits for stickering
Originally uploaded by Jane Dallaway

On Thursday Richard and I headed off into London with a load of other Brighton geeks to Moo’s Hot and Sticky Party. Richard managed to attend another moo party earlier in the year in San Francisco and after hearing about that there was no way I was missing out on this one. This party was to launch another new product – sticker books and we got to take away samples (as well as stick them on each other, moo employees etc etc).

We met some new faces, put faces to names (especially Will and Tom who I’ve known of for years but weirdly never met) as well as catching up with someone I haven’t seen in over 5 years.

A great party put on by a company who obviously know how to celebrate! I even got 2 photos included in the moo blog post about the evening. More photos.

Geek Wine Thing

Checking the colour
Originally uploaded by Jane Dallaway.

Last night we attended the first Geek Wine Thing organised by Danny and held at the Regency Town House.

Henry Butler from the Butlers wine cellar led the tasting, and for the cost of a tenner we tasted 8 different Spanish and Portugese wines. As a total novice in the wine tasting world, it was interesting to learn more about how to smell, look at and taste wine. Henry was an excellent and enthusiastic teacher.

The tasting started off very quiet and subdued, but before too many glasses had been consumed we got noisier and noisier.

The wines we tasted were:

Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2006 – Spain
Soalheiro Alvarinho 2005 – Portugal
Castello D’Alba 2005 – Portugal
Navajas Crianza 2003 – Spain

Monte Real Reserva 2000 – Spain
Clos Le Fites 2002 – Spain
Quinta de la Rosa Tinto 2004 – Portugal
Niepoort Redoma 1994 – Portugal

The white wines were split into unoaked (the first 2) and oaked (the second 2) with one each from Spain and Portugal. As usual I preferred the unoaked – so another nail in the coffin of oaked wines for me.

Next time, and I hope there will be a next time, I’ll try and remember to bring a pen to make some notes, as somewhat unsurprisingly I don’t remember too much beyond the first couple of glasses 🙂

As usual, my photos from the evening are all on flickr.