Tag Archives: party

Champagne baby, Yeah!

Now personally I am rather partial to Côtes du Rhône, love a Gigondas, and delect over a delicious German Riesling. And I go crazy for a 2005 Ciaccipicolomini, the best red ever! But occasionally Mrs P needs bubbles, and there’s only one thing to do – a road trip to Champagne!

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And it really is like a road trip. Frankly the driving is a joy. Three and half hours on empty roads from coast to vineyard – I drive fast – a dream compared to the M25, where are all the people? (in the south of France is the answer – I mean, if you can why wouldn’t you!). I should be in a sports car with the top down, but hey, I need the space in the boot for the bottles, and I respect Mrs P’s barnet, so we’re in the people carrier.


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Épernay is the destination, and it’s the Fête du Champagne this weekend. We are meeting friends, so the party is on. We shall do some private tastings at micro-Champagne houses, and then go for the big boys at the Fête. It’s party time!


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Did you know that there are 100 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne (count them if you don’t believe me). Le Champagne is the drink, La Champagne is the region. And the Côtes des Blancs is so because of the Chardonnay grape, not the chalky soil.


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See that little straw in the barrel above. They take that out to let some air in when they bottle from the barrel so that the wine doesn’t disturb the sediment at the bottom of the barrel. Amazing how easy it is to learn stuff when you’re having a little drink…


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Bouquin-Dupont Blanc de blancs. Creamy and dry at the same time, like a crème brulée zapped with an electric current. Awesome, and a steal if you buy direct from Dominique, the grower, at 15€ a bottle. And we did, buy that is… Lucky I had the space in the boot of the car for all 50 odd bottles. Should keep Mrs P happy for a week or two.


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(All photos with the iPhone – who needs a Leica..? Me, I do, I do, I do!) Santé! Prost! Cheers and Happy Christmas to all! Joyeux Noel as we say in French. May all your festivities be filled with bubbles! À la prochaine…

Church, Kissing, High heels and Vodka. Must be Kiev!!!

I love these eastern cities, they are raw and vibrant, and desperate to have a good time. And beautiful too!

St Sofia church

Spot the Saints…

Built originally in the 11th century.

I noticed this in St Petersburg too – everyone seems to be snogging. Couples just can’t get enough of each other, and they’re not too bothered about privacy. I know Doisneau had to fake his photo of the couple kissing by the Hotel de Ville in Paris, but in Kiev there is no need to fake. Just point the camera…

(next to the Church)

(on top of the statue)

the full tongue and throat in front of the river view!

Kiev(ians) clearly don’t want to hide away. Everything is on display. Especially the girls – high heels are ubiquitous, and being dressed up as if your off clubbing is considered normal. Great for street photography!

standard uniform here…

everyday wear!

Short skirts de rigeur…

There was some great graffiti, rather risqué, and not all of it suitable for this blog. Adds to the electric feel of the city.

Swords and flowers and chain-mail???

Of course, a visit to Kiev is bound to end with some serious vodka drinking, and the inevitable raucous evening party (followed by hang-over meeting the following morning). One of the group below didn’t actually make it to the meeting the next day. S/He will remain nameless, but you know who you are!

He’s a Kiss fan…

Lining them up!

These two smuggled their drinks onto the bus…

Alcoholic halo…

Impromptu piano playing…

And the girls looking worse for wear

And the party went on, but we’ll draw a veil over it there!

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Royal Wedding – time for a party!

A Royal Wedding, what a fantastic day! The whole country seemed to have forgotten all the bad things going on and decided to have a party. A huge wave of happiness throughout the country. It really felt like a celebration of the best of being Brit, everyone in a good mood, smiling, laughing, welcoming and neighbourly. And the sun shone – our luck was in.

A good excuse for a street party

We had a Dutch family over to share in the festivities. Well, we weren’t going to wait for the actual ceremony to start celebrating, so we piled off to a local restaurant to have a posh English breakfast: that would be fruit & yoghurt – organic, probiotic, gut friendly of course – followed by sausages bacon and poached eggs (maybe not so gut-friendly, but scrummy) all accompanied by copious amounts of champagne. Champers before 10am, deliciously decadent! All Fridays should be like this!!!

Then hurry to the TV to gawp at the pomp and circumstance. And wasn’t she stunning, what a dress! The Abbey with trees! The cheers of the crowd outside echoing down the Nave! Awesome choir! (‘I Was Glad’ brought tears to my eyes). And Pippa – what a cracker, come on Harry, get in there!


But as fantastic as all that was, this was really a day for local community. So we and the Dutchies jumped into the car and zoomed off to Wyatts Green (home of Granny and Grandad) for the street party. This is where we got to see what real local relaxed easy-going England is like. Bangers and sausage rolls, crisps and fizzy pop. Trestle tables laden with food, and everyone chatting to everyone else. In England! So these photos are to show a snapshot cross-section of an Essex village community on an April afternoon in 2011. Let’s see what we’ve got….

Here's to the happy couple.

‘Cheers’ in Union Jack paper cups, from girls in summer dresses.

A hat that seems to be rooted in Texas, but decorating itself in the old country…

Union Jack on a Stetson...

Immy with a UJ alice band. A piano hauled out for a sing song, with some Chas and Dave numbers belted out. Not quite sure what the youngsters made of the songs, but the ladies definitely enjoyed them – bit of boogie on the street never goes amiss…

A toast for Wills and Kate

Chas and Dave piano music

The will remember this for ever


Dancing girls

And what would a party be without balloons, patriotically coloured of course. And if you’re 3, you can get away with balloons AND a princess dress AND sandals and still look cute!

Can't have a party without balloons

and reluctant Dads...

Mmmm, not amused. Not quite sure how Adam ended up with a serviette on his head. I don’t think he knows either! Risk of sun-stroke…?

Now some things are just designed to send kids into rapture. And this is one of them: a chocolate fountain. A good way to get kids to eat a lot of fruit of course! There’s the odd adult too who can’t resist. Just get this Mum barging her way in…!

That is so Yum

Happiness is a chocolate fountain

Mum pushing in!

Once order was restored, and the chocolate invading parents pushed out of the way, more sedate activities took place. Here’s Bert judging the plate decorating contest. And check out how happy one of the winners looks…

judging the talent

and the winner is...

What on earth out Dutch friends made of it, I don’t know….

But let’s leave the last image to Kate + Wills (it was their day) + a young admirer. Great wedding, great hat, great chocolate mouth. A happy Britain! Congrats Wills and Kate, good luck from Wyatts Green, Essex!

cool hat