Tag Archives: wine


I had a flying visit up to Norfolk at the weekend. My friend Geoff was 75 years young and he had a party on Saturday, at the White Horse in Chedgrave.


The White Horse is a lovely old country pub, in the heart of the Norfolk Broads, and in the summer (it was a trifle too chilly for this on Saturday) there is garden right by the river, which is absolutely beautiful. Simon Peck has owned it since 2008 and really makes people feel welcome there. Kate had chosen the White Horse for the party as it’s a fairly central location for most of the people they were going to invite, and the food is good.

Geoff had invited about 24 people, so the three of us (Geoff, his wife, Kate and I) got to the pub soon after 11.30 so that Kate and Geoff could be there to meet and greet and I could do the photography. (I ended up taking 75 photographs.)

People started turning up from about midday onwards, some I knew; some I didn’t, but got to know as the day progressed. We had drinks in the bar for an hour or so and went through for lunch at about 1.30, and what a fabulous buffet it was!

There were chicken drumsticks, freshly cooked ham, a whole fresh salmon, hot buttered new potatoes, two different quiches (one was quiche Lorraine and the other, I think, had sun dried tomatoes), home made coleslaw (which was to die for) and a fresh salad. There were heaps of freshly made bread and gluten free bread for the likes of me. It was fab and I think I made it to third helpings (well, I couldn’t let that all that food go to waste!) Kate and Geoff love this pub, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who goes up to that part of Norfolk. As a Londoner, I thought the drinks were pretty well priced too (I think a bottle of Pinot cost £13.95) and a pint of Guinness was £4.00.


Kate’s hairdresser, Justine, made the cakes. You will see in the photograph of the big cake that she had decorated it with Geoff’s beloved Seething Tower. The photographs don’t do it justice, there is so much detail on it, and those who ate the cake said it was delicious. Justine also made four wheat free cup cakes for me – I’m not a big cake eater, but they were absolutely delicious. Justine, they were fantastic, thank you.



Geoff was so pleased that so many of the people he wanted around him were able to make it, some of them are not in the best of health but they pulled out all the stops to be there. Jim and his wife, Tony and his wife, Jack and Louise, Kate’s uncle John and his wife Dorothy, Geoff’s daughter Linda, Ron and Anne, to name but a few.

And you remember I wrote a few weeks back about Geoff’s grand-daughter Hari running in the Rome Marathon for Leukaemia research? Geoff didn’t know it, but she managed a flying visit up too. And she went for a run when she left the party! Amazingly dedicated, well done Hari.

Birthday Boy
Lovers...  Kate and Geoff
Lovers… Kate and Geoff

Hari has raised over £1100 pounds so far (her target is £1500) and a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed and to all those who gave money at the party. There is still time to donate if you haven’t done so thus far. Hari is working so hard for this; she really deserves to do well. She’s done a number of other races, including the Great North Run.

And thank you Geoff and Kate, your great friends, I love you lots.



© Susan Shirley 2015


Wine Tasting

I went out to one of my lunch clubs on Friday.  This is the one where there is (potentially) a large group of us, all of whom have worked together at some time or other, go out.  We take it in turns to choose the restaurant.

Friday’s choice was in the City, and there were six of us.  I won’t tell you the name; I don’t want to cause any embarrassment to anyone.  The food was very good, although there were a few errors, but also, something that none of us understood, so I thought I’d make it the topic of this week’s blog.

I prefer white wine, although I will drink red, and rose, if it’s one I like.  As I was the only white wine drinker on Friday, I opted for red too.  The wine waitress (I won’t call her a sommelier, because, truthfully, I don’t think she was a proper sommelier) was at the wine station and poured a good old slug of our bottle into a glass and tried it.  No asking first, mind you.  It’s not the first time I’ve seen this (and, of course, we made all the usual jokes about changing jobs) but why?  Our discussion in the restaurant was that it is pretentious nonsense.  Is it?

I checked my wine books at home, and they didn’t help at all, so I turned to my friend, the internet to find the answer.

Apparently, once upon a time, the sommelier’s job was to test to see if there was poison in the wine (well, I suppose, that makes sense.  The poor people like me wouldn’t be important enough to be poisoned, but the rich, well; they were at it all the time weren’t they?  Murdering kings and princes, I mean.  I’m sure there was a bit of a BOGOF offer going on, it was so rife.)

Nowadays, however, the role of the sommelier is to ensure that the wine is served in the right condition.  And – and this is the bit that I find priceless – most of us plebs, sorry, consumers, do not have sophisticated enough taste buds to know if the wine is in perfect condition!!!!!!!

I have two comments to make about that – firstly, if they (sommeliers) don’t communicate with me and tell me what I am supposed to be looking for, how will I ever learn?  Secondly, I’ve been drinking wine for a good many years, and, whilst I am by no means an expert, I’ve picked up a few things along the way.  Such as, I know what I like.  When I am paying £30 odd a pop for a bottle of wine, I think it’s my choice who tastes it, and I am more than capable of asking for help if I think I need it.

I am absolutely sure, all those high class waiters blanched when they saw us drinking red with scallops (not my preference, but I imagine they’d have been equally horrified if I’d ordered a bottle of white all to myself, and I flatly refuse to order wines by the glass in these places, even if that’s possible).  But that doesn’t mean that we are heathens who have no knowledge about anything.

So come on you so-called high class restaurants, stop the wine waiters having a slug of someone else’s wine without their permission.


©Susan Shirley 2013