Category Archives: Wine

700km, two punctures, one crash, a lot of Haribo

Supping a cold beer on a sunny Tuesday afternoon in St Emilion…it’s remarkable how the pain and effort of a near 700km bike ride over five days melts away. 

It comes right back the next morning though, I can tell you.

Regular viewers will know that for the past few months I’ve been organising a charity bike ride between London and St. Emilion.  Well, last Friday was the day of reckoning as the ten riders gathered at Hampton Court Palace along with our trusty support vehicle driver Nuts (not his real name…).

To cut a long story short, we all made it to the finish.  We had one crash – spectacular but no serious injury – two punctures, a little bit of rain, plenty of sunshine, a lot of laughs and some extremely sore limbs.  We’re all very aware of where our perineums are and have boosted sales of Sudacream and Haribo to new highs (Haribo soon to be repositioned as the elite athelete’s energy boost of choice).  British drivers are as dangerously impatient with cyclists as French ones are respectful.  A fresh baguette filled with butter, cheese, ham and Dijon mustard is the world’s best lunch, without question.  Vittel is the water of champions (but Chateau d’Yquem ’95 is otherworldly). There are some extraordinarily good and generous people around.  There’s a deeply meditative quality to the sound of ten well-prepared road bikes whirring along an otherwise silent French country road in the sunshine.

I can’t wait until I get the chance to do it again.  And best of all, in addition to having an amazing trip, we raised somewhere in the region of £10,000 for charity. 

Can’t be bad.

Groggy Froggies

sarkozy.jpgI read on today that research has found the French to be more moderate drinkers than previously thought, and that historical figures have been inflated to the benefit of the increasingly powerful French anti-alcohol lobby.  You can imagine, I’m sure, the heat of the debates that take place between the anti-booze lobbyists and the French wine trade bodies…

I think it’s a fair argument.  The previous statistics have simply divided the amount of wine sold in a country by the number of inhabitants (presumably of drinking age, though that isn’t made clear) and doesn’t take into account wine bought that isn’t drunk (i.e. stuck away in cellars) and even includes wine bought in France by tourists.

Certainly in our experience of living in France we’ve found that the French drink nowhere near as much as the British.  The lack of a binge drinking culture has been well documented, but even beyond that they don’t seem to be as regular drinkers of even moderate amounts of wine.  Hell, we’ve even got a friend who – and now in her early 30s – claims that she’s never been drunk in her life.  She’s no teetotaller, just never drinks enough to get hammered.  How odd.

Still, as President Sarkozy lands on British shores today, it’s nice to see that some Frenchies can get stuck in when they want to.  A happy combination of topics which allows me to link to a lovely little video of Sarkozy turning up a bit late for a press conference at a G8 conference after a long and clearly bozze-fuelled lunch with Putin.  Smashing stuff.  I imagine he and Phil the Greek will be hitting a few of Windsor’s boozers tonight.

It also striked me that Carla Bruni must also own a fairly hefty pair of beer goggles…