Montreuil: 21st Century Booze Cruise

The Booze Cruise, at its peak in the 1990s

The Booze Cruise, at its peak in the 1990s

The booze cruise of the nineties played out to a set rhythm: hire a white transit van, make a beeline to a greasy spoon, then a mad dash across The Channel to Calais warehouses where the booze was piled high and flogged cheap … and back in time for tea.

Hoards flocked across The Channel, fueled by 48p/litre petrol and £1 ferry crossings. They took advantage of the paltry amount that the French taxed wine and cheerfully crammed the boot full. Eight years ago, the enthusiasm for a ‘booze cruise’ started to waiver though. The pound began to slide. Petrol prices went up, and so did the cost of Channel crossings. A wider variety of cheap wine became available in British supermarkets, and lots of the Calais wine warehouses started to close…. 

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Johnnie Walker City Edition: London Launch

From left to right: view from The Eye; chinnock above The City; Sunset from the Shangri-La pool at The Shard

From left to right: view from The Eye; chinnock above The City; Sunset from the Shangri-La pool at The Shard

“Mmm … the best place I’ve ever drunk whisky?” ponders Colin Dunn. As a Diageo whisky ambassador it’s not a straightforward question. “Probably Fingal’s Cave,” he says, referring to a tasting he did in on the uninhabited, Inner Hebridean island of Staffa, in a grotto known for its cathedral-like acoustics. “So much of taste is linked to experience,” he says…. 

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Coalbrookdale Foundry: visiting the Aga factory

View from the Colebrookdale Foundry front door

View from the Coalbrookdale Foundry front door

It’s a bright spring morning, and I’m stuck in stalemate. My taxi is refusing to budge, and neither is the red-faced man in front of us, waving his arms out of his Toyota window. The two cars are nose to nose on a single-lane country road which was never meant for more traffic than one man and a few sheep. Lined by dry-stone walls, there’s little room for manoeuvre. So I sit and wait until one of them relents, and reverses back up the winding road to a lay-by…. 

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The British Pie Awards 2015

Melton Mowbray Pie Competition1

Last Wednesday I was in St Mary’s Church in Melton Mowbray – light streaming through the stained glass windows, and a voice booming from the pulpit: “now take your control pie…”

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