Friends, Fizz and 25% Off Al Fresco Fun

I’ve been spending some much-needed time in our garden in the last few weekends, replacing a couple of pots that I had thought were frost proof but turned out not to be, potting on a beautiful dark red Acer that turned out to be pot bound.

And during the course of all this activity my neighbours, Peter and Judy, asked if I could give the lilac a haircut as it was giving them unwanted shade. We did have a go at this a couple of years ago and at that point I borrowed from Peter his friend’s extending lopper, which, it turned out, was so much better than mine as the cutting blade was shaped in the form of a hook and I could pull the branch towards me as I cut….very efficacious.

Somehow though I managed to get the tool stuck in its extended form (about 12’ long) and try as I might, I couldn’t budge it.

Red faced, I returned said garden implement to Peter, with abject apologies. He though, is a resourceful fellow and urged on no doubt by the fact that it wasn’t his, did eventually manage to free it, much to my relief, and his I expect.

Move back to the present, and the lilac (now about 20-25’ tall again) needed a prune, and it so happened that I’ve a friend who is horticulturally trained and a bit of a force to be reckoned with (some would say head strong, but that might be a little unfair).

She took one look at the lilac, then another and probably several more before suggesting that it really needed some pretty drastic work doing to it….to which I somewhat reluctantly, eventually agreed, as I could see the necessity.

Two weekends later, we now have a lilac that has been dramatically thinned out and that, I’m assured, will blossom beautifully next year and will be a doddle to keep under control.

So that‘s good, and of course it puts me in very good odour with my neighbours, which is also a plus point (particularly in view of my destructive knack with their garden tools).

And actually, whilst talking excellent neighbours, those who live the other side of us are having some works done and obviously feel that they were inconveniencing us in some way. On my return home Saturday afternoon, I found a bottle of prosecco on the doorstep along with a lovely note of apology for the mess.

Actually there was no mess to be found aside from a bit of dust on my car (E39 Touring in a much sort after  “Imola Red”, referred to by my friend Nick last week,  as a hearse…).
Later that afternoon, in the course of having a chat over the fence with Judy I got invited round for drinks (must have been forgiven for buggering up Dave’s lopper) and noticed that the prosecco bottle looked familiar. Turned out that it had the same provenance!

The following evening when we opened our own bottle, the only difference was that this time we drank it out of my Riedel Veritas Champagne glasses. Not a dramatic difference, but it did noticeably bring out more of the flavour compared to the same Prosecco in a flute the previous evening. 

I suppose, as this is meant to be a sales email, and as we were drinking outside that I should take the opportunity to sell you the idea of using our plastic flutes. But I really can’t bring myself to do so as the thought of drinking wine out of plastic, for me, really is a bridge too far. 

However, keeping an open and non-judgmental mind and in a half hearted way trying to make a sale, if you can (drink wine out of plastic), you will find Guzzini Happy Hour Flutes in our shops. 

Moral of the story. If you find good neighbours, do your best to keep them. In my case they’ve been worth their weight in garden tools, prosecco, food and are just very good people to be living next door to!
To picnicware

And I suppose, that as this is a sales email I’ll direct you to our picnicwares as it’s an appropriate time of year.

And this year it includes some rather stylish plastic drinkware*, plates, bowls, rugs, bags and baskets. Some of which are listed below. 

 *This may sound a bit two faced after what I’ve said about plastic. Plastic glasses do have their place, perhaps where there are young children involved, or when going on picnics or if you are lucky enough to have a swimming pool. For me though, I no longer have young children and no swimming pool. And in actual fact, sad git that I am, I do take Riedel O Riesling glasses (no stem to break) with me on a picnic…what else do I drink my Sauvignon Blanc from….?


For this weekend you can save 25% off any Epicurean or Navigate picnic ware from us when buying 4 or more pieces. Tell us who you are if coming into Cobham or Reigate, or use code PICNIC24 if shopping on line.

And if you are a Prosecco or Champagne drinker, whether it's Sainsburys Prosecco or a bottle of Moet (pronounced Mwet incidentally) may I offer you some advice. Avoid plastic, it tastes. Avoid flutes, if you can make yourself.

Instead use a tulip shaped glass or better a Riedel Champagne Wine Glass (which are roughly diamond in shape) you have a choice from either the Vinum, Veloce or Veritas ranges. 

If it’s Champagne you’re drinking, even a Riedel Pinot glass, which is a very counter intuitive shape, but as Champagne is made from the red pinot grape, but with the red skin removed (this stops the colour from the skin colouring the wine red) it is rather strangely, a good glass to use.

Why do I say avoid flutes? Typically, they get filled to the top(ish) and all the aromas disappear off into the ether because there’s no bowl to retain them. Try testing this out and I expect that you’ll see what I mean. 

I say expect, because I have one champagne drinking friend, also called Andrew, who to some extent disagrees with me on this and as for decanting champagne, he frowns on this mightily, preferring instead the fierce fizz that you get on the tongue with a freshly opened bottle.

Personally, I think decanting improves it (and to name drop, so does Maximillian Riedel).  So, when it comes to decanting, I prefer my Champagne with the edge taken off (the fizz reduced).  I feel I taste more when it’s like that.  But whatever your preference for bubbles, the Champagne Wine Glass remains the ideal tool.

I hope you have a pleasant and peaceful weekend full of tolerance and understanding.

Warm regards


Andrew Bluett-Duncan


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