Heyshott Bonfire and Fireworks

Heyshott Bonfire and Fireworks, West Sussex

Remember remember the best fireworks near Midhurst are at Heyshott

Round these parts, the Heyshott Bonfire and Fireworks is one of the highlights of the social calendar! The fireworks are as good as you’ll find anywhere (and I include my old village of Chiddingfold), and this year was no exception with the added advantage of fine weather and unseasonably high temperatures.

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Ellis O'Connell Sculpture at Cass Sculpture Park Blog

Cass Sculpture Foundation

Sculpture Park near Goodwood, West Sussex

On Saturday we took a wander around the Cass Sculpture Foundation. Set in 26 acres of woodland near Goodwood, it’s an incredible collection of modern sculptures. The Foundation has commissioned more than 400 sculptures over the last 20 years, and 80 or so are currently on display at the park – and they’re all for sale if you have room in your garden!

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Upperton Vineyards and The English Wine Week 2012

Upperton Vineyard

In addition to the Golden Jubilee and the Olympic Games which are fast approaching, another highlight of the British calendar that we have to look forward to this summer is English Wine Week.

Running from 2nd to the 10th of June 2012, the event is a magnificent celebration of the fabulous wines produced in this country.

To mark the event, Upperton Vineyards are putting on special vineyard tours and afternoon teas and a glass of one of their sparkling wines. The vineyard produces high quality English sparkling wines from traditional Champagne varieties and methods. Guests can learn about these grape varieties and organic methods used by the vineyard to cultivate them, straight from the proprietors of Upperton themselves.

After the tour, guests can then enjoy an afternoon tea made up of sandwiches, scone, cake and pastry, accompanied by a glass of sparkling white Upperton wine Nebula, and picturesque views of the vineyard and the South Downs. It really constitutes the perfect day out this summer!

The English wine industry is booming, and Andy Rogers from Upperton Vineyards explains why:

“We’ve seen an increase in English vineyards recently due to English wine producers such as Ridgeview winning international sparkling wine competitions. They are beating famous Champagne houses such as Moët & Chandon and Charles Heidsieck.”

His son James who manages Upperton Vineyards added, “The climates and soils of the South of England are comparable to the Champagne region and we have seen how English wines are capable of matching any Champagne. With this combination, no wonder we’ve seen such a sudden increase in plantings across the South of England.”

2012 marks the first summer of wine sales and events at Upperton Vineyards. In addition to selling their sparkling wine, they have packed their summer calendar with wine-related events. “We really want to make Upperton a destination of choice, attracting people into the area and ultimately boosting the local economy”, said Andy. “We are keen to make wine fun and educational. By drawing visitors to the vineyard and by running events we hope to put Upperton firmly on the tourist map.”

Event Details

Tours and afternoon tea are available from the 2nd to the 10th of June 2012 and costs £18.50 per person. To book please call into the vineyard shop, phone on 01798 343695 or email sarah@uppertonvineyards.co.uk.

Upperton Vineyards are working with Experience Card, London’s exclusive members-only experience club, to offer their members 33% off vineyard tours and afternoon teas (£18.50 usual price, £12.33 with Experience Card). In addition, Experience Card is giving away two free tickets to a member for this experience, please see the Experience Card website for more information on how to join to receive the discounts and also be in with a chance to win: www.experiencecard.co.uk/experience_provider.php?id=200.

Other Wine Events

The following events will also take place during English Wine Week as well as at other times in the year. For details or to book online see www.uppertonvineyards.co.uk. Upperton are also offering Experience Card members 2 for 1 on the vineyard tours and 33% off their wine courses. Please see the Experience Card website for more details: www.experiencecard.co.uk.

Upperton vs. the World of Sparkling Wine

A wine evening where Upperton wines challenge Champagnes, Proseccos and Cavas, comparing styles and quality. 7pm – 9pm, £35.00 per person (£23.33 with Experience Card).

Wine in a Day

Upperton demystifies the world of wine by guiding guests through the major types of red and white from around the world. 10am – 4pm, £99.00 per person including a two course lunch (£66.00 with Experience Card).

Shop, Tours and Tastings 

The vineyard shop is open Thursday – Saturday from 11am – 5pm.

Tours are also available Thursday – Saturday at 1:30pm (with an additional 3pm tour on Saturdays). Tours cost £5.00 per person and run for approximately an hour and include a tasting of the wines (available on a 2 for 1 basis with Experience Card).

About Upperton Vineyards

Andy Rogers planted his first vines in the quaint village of Upperton near Petworth, West Sussex, in 2005. Starting with a trial of just 800 vines Andy embarked upon what is turning out to be a truly epic journey.

Having owned Upperton Farm for some years, he sought ways to exploit his beautiful surroundings. In 2004 he discovered high quality wine from English vineyards and realised the potential of Upperton’s fertile slopes, and planting commenced the following spring.

During the course of 2005 Andy secured the mentorship of Ridgeview, world respected English sparkling wine producers from Ditchling near Lewes, in East Sussex. Under their guidance, 12,500 vines were planted in 2006 comprising the three main Champagne varieties of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Further plantings in 2008 and 2010 grew the vineyard to its current 32,000 vines.  

Happy Halloween!


Sussex Halloween…

Check out the bat-shaped eyes on our scary pumpkin, oooohh spooooky…

We thought our pumpkins were good, but check out the Halloween display at Slindon in West Sussex which is made up of more than 600 pumkins, squashes and marrows! This guy is bonkers…

Here’s an interesting recipe for the leftover seeds from the pumkin… toss the seeds in oil, sprinkle with a little salt and cook in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes until they’re just being to puff up and toast. An easy Halloween snack, packed with goodness and the kids loved them.

Pick of the bunch


Green tomatoes UK!

What a miserable end to the summer – this is the best we got from our crop of outdoor-reared tomatoes… not very impressive at all!

That said they look very pretty 🙂

We searched the web for something useful to do with them, thinking of green tomato chutney or something similar. Nigel Slater has some thoughts but I think even he has doubts about eating green tommies!

Sussex Wild Damson Vodka Recipe

Damson Vodka Recipe

It’s been a great year for fruit in the hedgerows, so I just couldn’t resist picking some Wild Damsons as there were literally thousands of them overloading a tree near our house. My logic for picking them was that it seemed wrong to let such fine fruit go to waste!

Naturally I considered making either jam and chutney, but with a little persuasion I agreed to make some Damson Vodka… Damsons are a bit like Sloes, just sweeter and larger and more suited to Vodka than Gin. A typical Damson is about 20-30mm long and slightly rounded, with a skin that is often a dusky matt purple colour (see the photo above).

A quick search on Google revealed a wide range of recipes for making Damson Vodka, so I’ve created an ‘average’ recipe from all of them and will see how it goes… I’ll let you know!

To make Damson Vodka you will need:

  • To walk around the countryside picking Damsons
  • Roughly a pound of Wild Damsons
  • About 6 ounces of white sugar
  • A 70cl bottle of mid-price Vodka
  • A sterilised 1 litre Le Parfait Jar or similar

I gave all my Damsons a good wash, and then put them in the freezer. Freezing them splits the skins, plus there are lots of great rumours about freezing improving the sweetness of the fruit. Not sure if that’s true though! Defrost the fruit and put it in the sterilised jar. Add the sugar and vodka, taking care to fill the jar nearly to the top (air can make the fruit go off). Give it a good shake, put it in a dark place, and shake it every day for about 3 weeks.

Here’s the tough part. The broth now needs to be left for about 6 months to mature. After about six months, the liquid can be strained through a muslin and decanted into bottles. Try a bit at this stage and decide if it needs more sugar… And here’s the REALLY tough bit! The Damson Vodka should now be left for another 6 months!

I think we’ll be drinking our liqueur on Bonfire Night 2012. But I’m sure it will be worth the wait…