The last couple of days of the bank holiday weekend have been an enjoyable end to the nine day break where I've focused solely on the family, with just a tiny smidgeon of work squeezed in. Yesterday evening was quite special. We went with our good friends Karl and Kate to her parents' newly purchased riverside dwelling in Chertsey. He's a vicar who will be retiring in a couple of years, and this is where they plan to live. It's a beautiful spot on the Thames, and at the moment there's just a caravan on site. The kids played, we drank some beer and wine, cooked some dinner and messed around with an old boat - not for long, though, because it wasn't very stable and there was a real risk of sinking. Then, on the way home I spotted a hedgehog on the road. We stopped, with the lights on - hedgehogs freeze when this happens. I took our kids up to the hog and picked it up. Their first encounter with a live hedgehog. Lovely creatures, and I have some history with them. It's a long story, but as a student I had a lot to do with hogs because I shared a house for a year with a guy doing a PhD on them.
Today we were off on another day trip, this time to the Seven Sisters Country Park at Cuckmere Haven, in East Sussex (pictured). We had a pretty chilled time by the sea. Lunch was washed down with a bottle of Paul Mas Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Vin de Pays D'Oc, which at a fiver from Waitrose is money well spent: fresh, crisp, quite precise, and not too grassy.
This evening's tipple is a deliciously peppery, savoury Syrah. It's Ogier's La Rosine 2001 Vin de Pays de Collines Rhodaniennes from the Northern Rhone. It's not a heavy wine, but the Northern Rhone character shines through with it's bright, peppery, spicy fruit, with structure coming in equal part from the tannins and the acidity. In a strange way it manages to be both rustic and elegant at the same time. Definitely a food wine, but a style that I really appreciate.