Lake Festival in the Aravis

Lake Festival in the Aravis

Le Lac de la Cour, Chinaillon

In the meadows above us in Chinaillon there are a couple of man-made lakes which store the water which is used, in the winter, to make artificial snow. However in the summer one of the lakes is put to good use for recreation, fishing and sailing. And for La Fête du Lac – a Lake Festival in the Aravis.

Lake Festival in the AravisAlthough you can walk up to the lake it is fun to take the chair lift.

Lake Festival in the AravisKeen mountain bikers take their bicycles with them on the chair lift and use the special bike tracks.

Lake Festival in the AravisAs with skiing there is a blue run and the gentler green track – however watch out for cows!

Lake Festival in the AravisThe short walk down to the lake.

Lake Festival in the AravisAs with many of the events in Le Grand Bornand there are welcoming smiles and an aperitif.

Lake Festival in the AravisPeople started to arrive and make themselves comfortable around the lake.

Lake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisThere was a joyful bonus with music by the Flutes du Soleil, a group of flautists from the UK who have visited Chinaillon for a week in summer for the last few years to study, relax and share their talent.

Lake Festival in the AravisTime for a glass of wine,  a beer or a soft drink.

Lake Festival in the AravisThere was a short queue to get our food.

Lake Festival in the AravisLocal fare served seriously.

160726.115 Fête du Lac, Chinaillon_blogTrays are provided.

Time to dine and raise a glass to a lovely evening.

Lake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisTime to enjoy the lake and its reflections.

Lake Festival in the AravisTime to paddle.

Lake Festival in the AravisEven time for a game of cards.

Lake Festival in the AravisAs dusk started to fall lily candles floated on the lake.

Lake Festival in the AravisA chance to buy a marshmallow kebab and a Génépi, the local digestif.

Lake Festival in the AravisToasting the marshmallows on braziers.

Lake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisTowards the end of the evening sky lanterns were lit to send wishes of hope and friendship.

Lake Festival in the AravisAll too soon the evening Lake Festival in the Aravis was over and torches were lit for the walk back down to the village.

Lake Festival in the AravisThis was the first of two Fêtes du Lac organised by the shopkeepers of Chinaillon who worked hard a lovely and special evening in their lovely part of the world. Merci beaucoup!

The second Fête du Lac will be on Tuesday August 9th and I look forward to visiting again with my family, who will be staying in Chinaillon that week.








Mellow fruitfulness

All Saints, Rettendon

A couple of weeks I ago I was travelling through south Essex, delivering the latest Wine Maestro wine club case, when I noticed that there was an open day at All Saints Church, Rettendon. I managed to find a parking space and went in.

And what a magnificent sight! This fine Essex church was thronged with people drinking tea, eating sandwiches, buying jam, books and toys – generally enjoying the occasion and raising money for the upkeep of this medieval building.

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A little jazz and some wine

We’ve had a busy weekend with exciting website developments in progress, planning wine tastings and preparing for our trip to Portugal to attend the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference #EWBC. However we managed to tear ourselves away from whirring computers to drive to Greenwich for some jazz on Saturday evening and to walk along the Regent’s Canal on Sunday for an open day in an excellent wine shop.

Eager for some live music I scoured Time Out and discovered that Peter de Wit’s Café offered ‘Sausage and Mash and Jazz’ every Saturday evening in the autumn. We booked, managed to park nearby and discovered this tiny café shoehorned in a row of shops on Greenwich Church Street.

10240 Branco Stoysin Duo, Peter de Wit's Cafe, Greenwich 24 Oct 09

With just enough room for 18 diners the musicians were squeezed in by the piano: Branco Stoysin, guitar, accompanied by Leslee Booth, on 6-string contra bass. This splendid instrument, we learnt later, was built (too grand to have just been ‘made’) by Branco.They played their own music, mostly composed by Branco. Indeed, when a diner requested a ‘standard’ he was told they don’t do standards, nor requests!


The menu is as tiny as the room, offering sausages, either Cumberland or vegetarian, and mash or a vegetarian quiche and salad. The wine list was equally concise with a Barbera di Piemonte and Le Bosq white; beers are from the local Meantime Brewery. There are a couple of robust puddings and a cheese plate, all very pleasantly served by a keen young lad.

We both had the Cumberland sausages, so filling that there was no room for a pud, and the Barbera was decent too. It was an interesting experience and a bit different. Keep an eye open for the Branco Stoysin duo or trio – have a look at Branco’s website for details of his music and forthcoming gigs.

Bottle Apostle Shopfront

Sunday dawned bright and we walked along the canal to Victoria Park Village, Hackney to participate in the open day at the Bottle Apostle, the wine shop run by our friend and colleague, Tom Jarvis.

Enomatic in the red wine room

The last time we’d been to see the shop was just before it opened in July, so it was a pleasure to see how smart it looked in its black livery with the shelves of wines cradling the enomatic wine dispensers.

10252 Bottle Apostle Open Day  25 Oct 09

There was a steady stream of people, some just to have a look, tasters using the Enomatic machines with knowledgeable familiarity, shoppers buying wine (to go with the Sunday joint of meat from the Ginger Pig butcher nearby?) as well as tasting wine from a couple of supportive suppliers in front of the shop.

10253 Bottle Apostle Open Day  25 Oct 09


We were intrigued by the clever colour coded wine categories which will certainly help people with their wine discoveries. Every wine on the shelves has a pithy description, as well as the wines in the four Enomatics, with 16 whites and 16 reds available to try in 30cl, 60cl and 90cl measures.

Tom gave us a taste of a red:  Montefalco Sagrantino 2004, Paolo Bea
Lovely rusty colour with rustic cooked black fruits. Big fruity, herby concentration, long rich finish.

We also tried three more wines.

An unusual pink Prosecco; from just outside the new DOCG area, the addition of 15% Marzemino makes the colour and enhances the flavour.  Prosecco/Marzemino Rosato Spumante nv, Cantina Beato Bartolomeo
Red fruits on nose, off dry. Fruity gentle acidity lovely red fruits. Med bodied, medium finish.

From a new producer in Marlborough, New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc, Stanley Estate 2009
Crisp dry gentle acidity, good minerality, lush herby with a long finish.

And, finally, ‘why pay for Barolo’ when you can enjoy this Nebbiolo d’Alba 2005, Marziano Abbone
Ruby. Red misty fruits. Dry good acidity  soft tannins. Red fruity plump ripe.

10259 Bottle Apostle Open Day  25 Oct 09

With a last glance at the green wine display,

10263 Bottle Apostle Open Day  25 Oct 09

and a lingering look at the Gosset Champagne  collection,

10282 Victoria Park, Bottle Apostle Open Day  25 Oct 09

we set off for a pleasant walk home, admiring the autumn foliage in Victoria Park, returning to the whirr of our computers and the joys of the internet.

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