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London 2018: Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Day 4, Wednesday, June 27, 2018

We continued our tour of Greenwich with a brief walk through of the historic Greenwich Royal Naval College.  The buildings here were built between 1696 and 1712, and were originally the Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich, or more generally known as Greenwich Hospital.  The hospital was built on the instructions of Mary II, who was troubled by the lack of care for seamen returning from the Battle of La Hogue.  The chapel and the Painted Hall were both built at this time.

One of the buildings at the Naval College

Eventually the hospital was closed and the site was converted to a naval training center; it served this purpose between 1873 and 1998.  It is now managed by the Greenwich Foundation, which opened the site to the public in 2002, and does a variety of events, movie filming, and other activities there.

The fountain at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich

The Painted Hall is an artistic masterpiece; the work of Sir James Thornhill, between 1707 and 1726.  During this period, the United Kingdom was created, and the murals on the walls and ceilings depict the political change occurring at the time.  Other themes include cultural and scientific achievements, naval accomplishments and commercial enterprises.  The murals and ceilings are currently being restored.

Our visit was a little confusing; the guidebook and the Painted Hall’s website indicated that the site is free to visit. However, when we went in, there was obviously an admission charge of 11 pounds.  We decided not to pay, as we had a lot of other tourist activities we were doing, so we checked out the entryway artwork and exited.  I think that the site is technically closed because of the restoration, but you can choose to have a guided tour of the ceiling, and that is what the admission was for. It would have been nice if the Greenwich Foundation made this more clear.  If you can shed some light on this, please let me know.

One day I would love to see the Painted Hall, in all its restored glory; the art in the entryway was pretty amazing…  In the meantime, you can see photos at the Painted Hall website.

The entry of the Painted Hall

We did walk across the way to the original chapel, which is also an architectural and artistic masterpiece and dates from the time of the hospital.  I love seeing old churches, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. Both the art and the woodwork here are beautiful.

 

Costs: Old Royal Naval College – Painted Hall – 11 pounds? (not included with London pass), Chapel – free

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12 Corners Aromella

When I was in Michigan visiting my family, my cousin and I took a day to head over to Lake Michigan.  We had lunch at a brewery, did a little bit of shopping, went to a couple of the wineries in downtown South Haven, and checked out the lighthouse too.

We stopped at 12 Corners Winery tasting room in downtown South Haven, named for the Twelve Corners neighborhood where the vineyard makes its home, and did a wine tasting.

The Aromella intrigued me.  It is a hybrid grape; a cross between Traminette and Ravat 34, developed at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY in 1976.  It was renamed Aromella in 2013 (that took a while!).  I have had Traminette, and like it, but I have never had, or even heard of Ravat 34.

The result is a sweet (but not overly so) white wine that tastes similar to Moscato, but with more floral flavors.  The 12 Corners Aromella is estate grown, the residual sugar on this wine is 5.5 percent and the alcohol content is 11.8 percent.  It was delicious and a great opportunity to taste a new-to-me grape!  It is also reasonably priced at $14.99 a bottle.

If you have tried it, let me know what you think!

 

 

Wildside Winery Chambourcin

It’s been a while since I’ve had down time.  Between driving, sightseeing, searching for a place to stay for the night, and trying to keep up on posting photos on Instagram and Facebook, my wine blogging has been neglected…  I have visited some wineries on the trip, and collected some bottles that have been tucked in underneath my car bed for many thousands of miles across the U.S.

I visited Wildside Winery in Kentucky about midway through the trip, on August 15, 2018.  I was on my way into Lexington, and saw the sign on the side of the highway – sometimes you just have to make an impromptu stop.

While I was there, I bought a bottle of the Chambourcin, a grape we don’t see in the Pacific Northwest.  I pulled it out to drink, and was impressed with how well it held up to rattling around in my car for the last month and a half.  Yea, yea, all you purists out there who store all your wine in perfect temperature conditions and without shaking them up as they roll along thousands of miles of bumpy roads are probably cringing as you read this…

It’s a medium bodied red with notes of cherry and a bit of earth, slightly bolder than the Oregon Pinot Noirs I enjoy so much.  Unlike many mid-western wines, this one is bone-dry with almost no residual sugar.  Certainly a great purchase for $15!

 

4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Northward

Day 5, Friday, March 30, 2018

We had such a good time in San Francisco, but it was time to head northward towards home.  We got showered, packed up, tetrised the car, and got on our way…

Me with the Golden Gate Bridge

We stopped in Sausalito to poke around in some shops and walk along the water.  What a cute, peaceful little town!  Then we met up with Lelani’s friend Susi for lunch in Tiburon at Sam’s Café.  It is dog friendly and we sat outside on the patio to enjoy our meal.  I had fish and chips and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo.  The weather was amazing once again, sunny and much warmer than a typical March day!

Me after lunch in Tiburon

Our next destination was Santa Rosa for some wine tasting.  We stopped at Matanzas Creek Winery.  I did a tasting while the rest of the girls bought a bottle and sat out on the patio to share; I joined them when I was finished with my tasting.  They had some really good wine, but it was pricey.  It was really nice hanging out on the patio soaking up the sunshine!

Sharing a bottle

 

Selfie at Matanzas Creek!

Next we headed over to Muscardini.  They had some really good wines but I felt like the service could have been better…  They were dog friendly both inside and out though so Shaka loved it; she found a bone that another dog had left behind and was in heaven.

Muscardini

Our last stop in Santa Rosa was at Palooza for dinner.  There was a bit of a wait, but they had a waiting area where you could play a giant game of Jenga, so we didn’t mind the wait!  The girls shared pizza, but I wasn’t in the mood for more pizza so I had a Mushroom Alfredo that was to die for!  Another of Lelani’s friends had dinner with us, and she enjoyed catching up with him!

Concentration…

My mushroom alfredo and calamari appetizer at Palooza

By the time we left Santa Rosa the sun was setting, and we weren’t sure how far north we were going to get.  We had originally planned on camping on the Oregon Coast again, but after the misjudged distance on the way down earlier in the week, we decided that it would be better to just head back up I-5.  Laura and Brenna drove, and they are able to stay up way later than Lelani and me, so we made it all the way to Redding before deciding to turn in for the night.

We stayed at the Super 8 there; it was supposed to be dog friendly but they didn’t have any dog friendly rooms available for the night.  We were bad; we snuck Shaka in instead of making her sleep in the car.  She let out one big woof and a few quiet ones when some guys walked past the room on the way to theirs, but after that she was quiet.  Whew!

What a long, fun day!

 

2018 Whidbey Island Weekend

March of this year was really busy!  I had my 15K the first weekend, a weekend trip to Whidbey Island with friends, and then at the end of the month a girl’s road trip coming up!  I had to turn down a girl’s trip to Boise since I had so much going on!

My friend Brandon was having a birthday, so we decided to celebrate by renting out another friend’s AirBnB house at the south end of Whidbey Island, in the town of Clinton.

We headed down Friday after work, and since March is still winter, it was long dark by the time we got to the house.  We chose bedrooms, and lit up the gas fireplace on the deck for some chat and relaxation.  I had a glass of wine and just chilled.  It was such a nice evening!

The next day, we were up for some exploration, so decided to choose a winery to try.  The first place we had planned to check out wasn’t open yet for the day, so we stumbled upon Comforts of Whidbey winery a little way down the road in Langley, WA.  What a gem of a place!

Brandon and I did a tasting (Brandon was a sport, even though he isn’t much into wine) and I was very pleased with the wines I tried.  They had some amazing sparkling wines!  I also loved their Madeline Angevine, Siegerrebe, and Syrah wines – delicious!

After Comforts of Whidbey, we went over to the Whidbey Island Distillery.  They gave us a little tour of the distillery – it is a very small batch operation, basically all being operated out of one small room, but the owner really gets into the science of distillation and created a complex, amazing still! I won’t even try to explain it, since I wouldn’t get it right; just suffice it to say that he has made some technological advances in the distillation process.

The distillery is best known for its Rye Whiskey, which contains 51% Rye and 49% Barley.  I am not a Whiskey drinker (I have tried and just continue to fail to like it), so I had a little sample and declared it, “not my thing.”  However, they also make liqueurs…  Blackberry, raspberry, loganberry and boysenberry.  These were absolutely my thing! They also had little recipe cards to make cocktails with their liqueurs – I got the raspberry to bring home.

Liqueurs at Whidbey Distillery

Along the way, a few other friends met us, so our little party was growing!  We headed into Langley and got lunch at SpyHop, a brewery just a few blocks of the main drag.  It was outside of normal lunch hours, so it was really quiet and the food was fantastic!  I had fish and chips – yummy!

Fish and Chips with Iced Tea – Spyhop

We poked around the shops for a bit, splitting off from others as we saw something we wanted to check out.  There was ice cream had by a few, and beer by a few.

The Olympic Mountains through the telescope

As the town was winding down after 5, we headed back to the house to relax and talk and enjoy some beverages.  We walked down to the beach to watch the sunset.  It was a nice day!

Sunday morning I made breakfast for the gang – eggs and bacon, and sliced avocado.  So yummy!  Then I headed down to the beach to wander – I found a huge, intact oyster shell and it posed for some photos for me.  I took it home with me to decorate the garden, but sadly, the racoons at my house found it as intriguing as I did and absconded with it a day or two later!

Before we headed home the next day we headed to Greenbank Farm for a late lunch and pie!  If you have a chance to have the pie at Greenbank Farm, do.  You won’t be disappointed!  We also poked around in the various artisan shops for a bit before saying our goodbyes and heading home.  It was a nice, relaxing weekend spent with friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Sleight of Hand The Magician Riesling

Yesterday, a day after getting home from a fabulous spring break road trip down to California on Sunday, I pulled a bottle out of the wine fridge.  It felt like summer in California, even if it doesn’t feel like summer here at home, so I wanted a summer sweet Riesling!

My friends and I visited Sleight of Hand Cellars when we were in Walla Walla last Memorial Day.  It was a great visit, and they had wonderful wines!

The 2015 The Magician Riesling is sourced from Evergreen Vineyard, which located high on the cliffs above the Columbia River in Central Washington. 2015 was a warm year in Washington for wines, but Evergreen Vineyard is a cooler site, which allowed for extra hang time for the grapes.  It has a delicious balanced acidity, with green apple and pear flavors, crisp minerality, and plenty of citrus.

2015 Sleight of Hand Riesling

It is sold out at the winery, but I think it cost about $18.  If you have tried it, let me know what you thought!

 

Walla Walla 2017: Wine on the Way…

Day 4 – Monday, May 29, 2017

The last day of our trip we headed out of town, stopping at Sleight of Hand Cellars along the way.  I had known about Sleight of Hand, but never been, and Lelani had found them and decided that should be where we went.  Of course, she didn’t have to twist any of our arms…

Sleight of Hand has a Magician theme.  Their wines are delicious and have magician themed names!  The tasting room has is brightly decorated in a modern theme, and they have a ton of music posters (many are autographed) and magician posters on the walls.  They also have records – over 2,000 of them – they always have something playing on the record player!

I brought home their Magician’s Assistant Cabernet Franc Rosé and their Conjurer Red Blend.  That isn’t to say I didn’t love all their other wines, because I did, but they are a bit above my price point, starting at $45 for their varietal reds.  I did get a tank top though – which I love!  Lelani found a Prince Purple Rain themed tank top there too!

Me at Sleight of Hand – I’m not sunburned – it’s just the red umbrella above me

 

Lelani took this photo, not realizing I was photo bombing her!

 

After Sleight of Hand, it was time to get on the road and start working our way home.  We stopped in Yakima for Miner’s Burgers – Home of the Big Miner Burger – these burgers are huge!  Trust me, if you go, split the fries.  One order of fries is probably enough for four people if you plan on having a burger to yourself!  Especially if you have a milkshake, and trust me on this too, you should have a milkshake!  Miner’s has been a Yakima institution since 1948.  We left stuffed, and happy.

Waiting for our burgers!

Our next stops were the Fruit and Antique stand in Selah, just outside of Yakima, and the Thorp Fruit and Antique stand.  I love going there!  We all spend some time poking around and checking out the fruit, gourmet foodie items and antiques.

Brandon, me and Lelani waiting for Joel

Soon enough, it was time to hit the pass and get back over the mountains toward home.  The traffic was just as bad on the way back and this time I was awake for it!  It was, however, the end of a really great friends weekend…