23 April 2017

Perfect toddler friendly pub in the New Forest

I don't often dedicate a whole blog post to one pub. However, as a toddler mum, one of the things I constantly search for is a pub where I can go for Sunday lunch where my child will be happy (and so will my furry puppy child). And, judging by the numerous Mummy posts on Facebook groups about this topic, I'm not alone.
I stole this from their website
hope they don't mind!

And Mums, I may have found the mecca of all establishments (for the summer at least).

The Rising Sun pub in Bashley is about 40 minutes drive from Salisbury towards Milford on Sea. It is ideal because, in the garden there is the huge, wooden play park. It's just fantastic because you can sit and have a drink and meal in the sunshine while your toddler plays happily on the slides and climbing structures. You just take it in turns in your group to go and stand with the kids.

It's also lovely because, being in the middle of the New Forest, the wild ponies constantly wander past. And, if you have your doggy with you, there are plenty of places to walk before and after the meal. (although we carried onto Milford of Sea which is just great for doggies.) They even give you a little water bowl for your pooch.

The food is general sort of pub fare. But pretty reasonably priced and comes with a smile and, even though it was Easter Weekend when we went, the service was extremely prompt and efficient.

Previously, we have always gone to the Red Shoot pub in the Forest. It's closer to Salisbury and has lovely walks on the doorstep through. But the last time we went, the service was appalling and we waited nearly two hours for our meal without any apology. 

We will definitely plan a trip there in the near future. Thanks to my Mum and Dad for telling us about this place!

4 February 2017

Selecting a new rosé wine for Naked Wines

Me tasting the good stuff
As an Archangel for Naked Wines, I was recently lucky enough to be asked to to help them choose a new Provencal Rosé wine for their website.

It was pretty exciting stuff as it was the first time I'd visited the Naked Wines offices and met a lot of the people I've been chatting to online since 2012. Plus, I hadn't drank for 33 days previously. What a way to break dry January with a rosé tasting with Naked Wines?
Outside the Naked Wines
offices with Archangels
Simon and Darren

When I arrived at the offices, I did not feel let down by the Naked experience. The funky reception was dominated by a huge slide that transported staff between floors. Everything was quirky and open plan with meeting rooms named after principle Naked wine makers and wine vending machines for staff to sample latest vintages. What a fab place to work.

Archangel, Phil, 
shooting down the slide
And then the rosé wine arrived. Bottle after bottle after bottle of delicious looking wine. Some more delicate and blushy and some more red and fruity in colour. Turned out there were 37 of the stuff. It was like some sort of fantasy come true!

But when MD (and super fox) Eamon Fitzgerald kicked off the tasting, it became apparent that this was no jolly for Naked Wines. 

Wine Guru, Toby, had literally spent months talking to rosé producers in Provence to secure a selection of wines that would be, not only delicious, but exclusive to Naked. Plus, most of the wine makers were fairly small, artisan producers. And, if they were to secure distribution through Naked Wines, Eamon told us, it could be life changing.
Just a few roses to choose
from then....

On the train to Norwich, Archangels Simon and Darren had told me about a wine they selected at a previous day like this one. And, apparently the wine the Archangels chose was really unpopular with the Naked Angels. It literally "bombed". I did not want to be responsible for choosing a wine that the Angels don't like and I didn't want to let Eamon and the team down! 

We were instructed to use the spittoons and make the right decision. No pressure then.

I really hope that we made the right decision. Because the task was much more difficult than I'd anticipated!
Gorgeous Eamon laying down
the law. This was serious
business (I promise)

For starters, never before had I tried so many wines in such quick succession. Now, I'm a drinker and I've done a lot of tasting! But, we had to whittle 37 wines down to one which would go on sale on the website that evening! 

Our group initially had 12 wines to taste, then we tasted the 6 shortlisted rosés from all the groups and finally we selected one. I felt like I was literally tasting one wine after another after another! (I know, it's a hard life!)

Look how serious we were
Archangels Darren & Sarah
In addition, we had to keep in mind that we were helping to select a wine that would be popular with Naked Wines Angels. So, we had to consider the cost of the wine as well as whether it would be something that Naked customers would want to buy and would expect from a Provencal Rosé.

However, a few of the wines really stood out. And I was really pleased with the wine we chose. 

The Chateau Saint Hilaire Provence Rosé by Bruno Lapierre was mouth wateringly zingy with fresh strawberry fruit flavours, pale and blushy-pink in the glass and would be dangerously drinkable on a summer's day in the garden. 

My Archangel friend Ray
We finally met for the first
time that day!
In fact, 3,600 bottles went on sale that evening as a marketplace deal and nearly all of them had gone in just a few days, which hopefully showed we made a good choice.

I had such a great day and it was definitely worth the train fare and the total of 8 hours of travel to get there. I've also learned loads more about rosé wine (who'd have thought that a third of the wine drank in France was pink? They definitely have good taste). Thanks Naked Wines for an absolutely amazing afternoon (an AA afternoon).