On Saturday 9th September a group of Bognor Regis ladies and one husband boarded the Sammy Community Transport bus (one of our current 2017 charities) and headed for Halnaker and the Tinwood Estate for some serious wine tasting.
The Dutch Tukker Family purchased the farm in 1985 and planted the first vines in 2007. They currently have 200 acres of land with 65 acres planted with a mix of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, which all do well in the flinty chalky soil of the South Downs. The Tinwood logo bears the Halnaker windmill, but is also a nod to the family’s roots in Holland.
With the (rather loud) hum of the Goodwood Revival race track in the background, we stood atop the viewing platform and surveyed the vineyard. Butlins white tent tops were to our left in the distance and we could just see the Isle of Wight through the trees on the horizon ahead.
Our wonderful host Jody took us through the growing cycle explaining that there is a rose planted at the front of every vine, alerting them early to any mould. Roses are extra sensitive and pick up disease 2-3 weeks before a vine. Between the vines they actually plant sunflowers, beans and weeds to keep the soil as nutritious as possible. Everything is done by hand including weeding and ensuring that grapes are kept dry for the October harvest. We were encouraged to assist in pruning the vines and the visual differences between the leaves was explained.
Following this exhausting talk/tending of the vines we headed back to the stylish tasting room and began sampling their three sparkling wines, accompanied with an impressive cheeseboard with honey accompaniment (a Dutch tradition.) Jody continued to educate us on the actual making of the sparkling wine and how to taste them as we downed a Blanc de Blancs 2015, Brut 2011 and a Brut Rose 2014.
The estate is beautifully manicured and with the very luxurious lodges available to stay in, bees buzzing around their hives and the drone of the spitfires above our head; we could have all stayed there all afternoon; relaxing and chatting, however we maybe would have needed a couple more bottles!
On Monday 7th August 2017 20 members of BRWI plus a daughter and 4 husbands arrived at the Chichester Festival Theatre for our ‘Behind the Scenes Tour’. Having been suitably refreshed with coffee from the theatre cafe, we were introduced to our 2 guides-Richard and Joe as well as 2 volunteer helpers.
We were given a brief history of the theatre-the original theatre having been built in 1962. Local individuals and businesses had raised the £105,000 needed. It was the first modern theatre with a thrust stage arranging the auditorium around the stage. The RENEW project designed to restore and upgrade the theatre was launched in 2012. It was completed in July 2014 at a total cost of £22 million.
Dividing into 2 groups, we were shown all around the backstage areas walking along the corridors lined with large pictures of famous actors from previous productions. We visited the technical areas, which change for each production. We were all fascinated by the Wardrobe housing all the costumes for the current production of Fiddler on the Roof, which most of us had seen. (We saw Omid Djalili’s trousers hanging on a rail) One corridor had all the dressing rooms with the names of the actors using them on the doors. Each dressing room was identical-no special treatment for the stars of the show. Behind the stage we saw all the props needed for each performance-the candle sticks, suitcases, masks for the ghost scene, crates of pretend food, barrows.
And then the highlight of the tour. We were invited onto the stage itself with all the theatre lights shining onto us. Very special. Standing on stage, you seemed so close to the audience.
Finally as we made our way back to the foyer, we were shown a specially designed window on the south side of the theatre through which we could see the towering spire of Chichester Cathedral. Another Chichester icon.
Everyone agreed that this had been an excellent visit-so informative. Next time we go to see a production at CFT, we will know exactly what is going on ‘Behind the Scenes.
For more photos please click here
We had a fun and informative visit to Barfoots farm on a sunny, if rather chilly, evening in mid July.
We all parked up and made our way round to the tractor and trailer. Everyone made light work of climbing up onto the trailer and we were soon bumping over the farm tracks on the tour.
Katie has given me the notes she took (I couldn’t remember all the facts and figures) while listening to our entertaining guide.
Barfoots grow, process, pack and market sweetcorn, kale, courgettes and other semi exotic vegetables. The farm was set up by Peter Barfoot in the 1970’s and has grown to employ over 200 people. They supply the major supermarkets and restaurants. There is a 3-4 month UK growing season for their main crop, sweetcorn, and they import from around the world to provide a year round supply.
Their farming methods are sustainable and ethical. The waste from the crops goes to their anaerobic digester plant, which makes enough renewable energy to power 3000 homes a year and also produces a trailer of organic fertilizer per day. This is a ‘loop’ system producing very little waste.
The highlight of the tour came as the tractor took us along the main Chichester to Pagham road from the sweetcorn fields to the courgette fields amidst the rush hour traffic. The tractor wasn’t quick and the queue behind us stretched back to Chichester. There were many surprised faces from passers-by as we drove along chatting and laughing – maybe they were wondering if we were the latest picking crew.
At the end of the tour we were all given some delicious corn to take home.
Thank you Barfoots for a great evening.
For more photos please click here.
On 21st July Jan, Lesley and I spent a very enjoyable morning at Laburnham Grove Junior School helping a Grade 3 class to make bread rolls. We brought in risen dough, with all the ingredients used to make it. We talked to them about how it was made and then they all took a handful of dough, kneaded it and then shaped it into hedgehogs, snakes, snails, butterflies, and even snowmen. While the rolls were proving the children did a word game involving the words they had been using …. Prove, yeast, knead, dough etc.
This visit was a repeat of similar school visits we made last year prior to the Big Bite artisan food festival at Hotham Park in the autumn, which will be on again this year in September (27th and 28th). The idea is to promote home cooking and the use of local food (we used Weald and Downland wholemeal flour). We brought in vegetables from our gardens and allotments and talked to the children about the more unusual veg … a large yellow patty pan squash and large round courgette, yellow zucchini, fennel (which the children smelled) and sugar snap peas (which they tasted).
The children certainly seemed to enjoy themselves and we did too … I’m looking forward to a second visit on September 24th – and we will need volunteers … especially as these children will be a year younger.
Bognor Regis Observer were at the school taking photos and interviewing us and the staff, so if you haven’t seen their news item – click here …..School visit