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Journey To A Dream

In May 2002 my wife and I journeyed from Huddersfield in England's industrial north to rural Galicia. Join us on our journey and immerse your senses in the sights, sounds, and tastes of this remote and little known region of Spain.

The Some-day Supplement - issue 7
27 September 2017



Note from the editor – This weeks Some-day Supplement is proud to bring you an interview with George Mahood, the funniest indie author in the world - probably. For those with a sweet tooth, this week’s Canabal Cuisine features the most indulgent torte you will ever taste and our travel feature brings you a hidden gem in the heart of the Galician countryside. But first …
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Canabal Cuisine presents - Chocoholic’s Torte

Ingredients

 200gms plain chocolate
100gms caster sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons brandy
570ml double cream

Method

  • Line a 20cm loose-bottomed or spring-form tin with cling film. If you don’t have one, why not use a cake tin.​
  • Break the chocolate into pieces and drop into a food processor. Blend for one minute or until just a few pieces remain in the otherwise powdery chocolate (you can grate the chocolate by hand if you wish).
  • Put the sugar in a small pan with 90ml of water. Heat gently over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir occasionally. Turn up the heat and boil briskly for 3-4 minutes or until it becomes a thin syrup.
  • Set the food processor running and add the hot sugar syrup through the funnel into the chocolate so that it melts and becomes liquid. Add the egg yolks and process for a few seconds before adding the brandy. If you are not using a food processor beat all the ingredients together.
  • In a separate bowl beat the cream to a soft floppy consistency, then fold in the chocolate mixture.
  • Spread the mixture into the prepared tin, level the top with the back of a spoon.
  • Cover with cling film and transfer to the freezer for a minimum of four hours.

To serve, remove from the freezer, release from the tin and transfer to a plate.
Allow to soften. You can decorate with icing sugar and sliced strawberries.
Serve with a little single cream.
 
This really is a very easy, rich dessert that can be made ahead of time.

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TRAVEL
 
Chantada – A hidden gem waiting to be discovered

Chantada is an unassuming town in the heart of Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain. It lies along the Camino de Invierno (winter route) of the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James), the pilgrimage route ending in the city of Santiago de Compostela.
 
Over the last fifteen years, Chantada has undergone a transformation. Buildings of architectural significance have been restored, public spaces refreshed and a sweeping footpath created along the banks of the river Asma.

The old part of the town is characterised by cobbled streets lined with medieval porticos that merge on a small square. From here, a labyrinth of narrow alleyways criss-cross the town centre. Hiding within this maze of lanes and shaded passages are a host of cafes, bars and interesting shops. On warm summer evenings roadside cafés spill out onto the streets and locals gather to enjoy raucous conversation over a glass or two of local wine, inky-red Mencia or lively Godello white.

Unlike many Spanish towns, the meeting between the old town and the new is not an architectural collision but a smooth transition. If you arrive early enough, you’ll come across shops selling a vast range of fresh fish, landed in the morning at the port of Vigo and on the plate by lunchtime.
 
Dining in Galicia is as much about opinion as taste, and in my opinion Resturante Centro has one of the best Menu del Dia’s in the town. A hearty, three course lunch including a bottle of the best house white in the area, it costs a miserly nine euros. On our visit I chose Merluza a la Romana for my main course, a succulent fillet of lightly battered hake served with chips and salad.

After lunch, we stretched our legs and followed the road out of town until we reached a bridge across the Rio Asma. At the far side of the bridge a pathway leads down to a footpath at the river’s edge. We followed the course of the river with Chantada on your left and Galicia’s lush green meadows on the right.

Before long a modern suspension bridge slices dramatically across the river. This stunning piece of architecture fits comfortably into its ancient surroundings. A few hundred metres further and we were back where we’d started.
 
The next time you’re passing through the area why not stop for lunch in this hidden gem?

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Author Interview - George Mahood

Melanie and I have lived together for thirty-one years. In that time she’s read upwards of 30,000 books. Out of all those books only one made her laugh uncontrollably out loud. That’s how funny George Mahood’s writing is. So, who is this master of comedy?
 
George Mahood is an award-winning writer. Specifically, he was placed third in the Little Brington Village Fete's limerick competition (Under 11s category) in 1988.
 
He studied Communication Studies and English Literature at Leeds University. After spending a year travelling in the USA, he worked for several years in a variety of jobs including charity fund-raising and garlic bread making. He’s been the lead singer and guitarist of a rubbish band and the chairman and midfielder of an awful Sunday-league football team.

Author of the bestselling ‘Free Country’, George’s latest release, ‘Not Tonight Josephine’ tells the story of two Brits, George and Mark, who set off from New York City to explore the back roads of America.
 
In this calamity-ridden travel tale, George sets out in true clichéd fashion to discover the real America. Throw in plenty of run-ins with the police, rapidly dwindling finances and Josephine – the worst car in the world - and you have all the ingredients for a classic American road trip. Will George and Mark make it all the way to California?
And then there is Rachel, George’s girlfriend, left back in England. Would travelling to the United States without her turn out to be the stupidest decision he had ever made?
 
To find out more about George and his writing, click the following links:

www.facebook.com/georgemahood
www.twitter.com/georgemahood

 
Question time – our roving reporter asked George ten challenging questions.
 
1.    If a movie was made of your life, who would play you and why?
 
I would cast an obscure unknown actor to play an obscure unknown author. My stories all involve tales of an everyday guy, and they wouldn’t be suited to the glitz and glamour of a Hollywood actor.
 
2.    If you won a million pounds/dollar/euros etc, what would you buy?
 
I would spend it on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I would just squander (credit to George Best for that one). I would buy a modest house and then use the rest to set up some sort of community project/charity that I could devote time to when I wasn’t writing.
 
3.    What is your least favourite thing about humanity?
 
All forms of hatred. And those all-in-one hand drier, water and soap dispenser things that you get in some toilets. 
 
4.    If you were 80 years old and had children, what’s the most important experience you could pass on to them?
 
Don’t be prepared to work hard in a job you don’t want, to pay for stuff you don’t need.
 
5.    You’re a new addition to my spice rack, what are you and why?
 
A magical jar of undo powder. It undoes the taste of the previous spice you added, for those instances when you put in too much of something or the wrong thing entirely.
 
6.    In less than 50 words, how does the internet work?
 
Pedants sit behind computers all over the world, dishing out criticism to others. For example, suggesting that this question should read ‘fewer than 50 words’, not ‘less’. 😉
 
7.    How can you tell if someone is a nerd?
 
They can tell you in less (or fewer) than 50 words how the internet works.
 
8.    If you could add one word to the dictionary, what would it be and what would it mean?
 
Lob-a-lot. It’s a meal my mum used to cook all the time when I was growing up. It involved her lobbing a lot of whatever was left in the fridge into a pot and transforming it into something edible (with the help of the spice rack). I now regularly cook lob-a-lot for my family. If only I had the undo powder.
 
9.    What undiscovered technology will transform the future?
 
An all-in-one contraption that dispenses soap, water and then dries your hands. Wait…
 
10. What is the one thing you own you wish you didn’t?
 
A dominant procrastination gene. Better get back to work! Thanks for this. It has been fun.
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And finally - #normalwisdom

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This edition of the Canabal Chronicle, Some-day Supplement was brought to you by Craig Briggs, (with a little help from his wife Melanie) author of The Journey series of books.

 



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Canabal Chronicle - Issue 7
21 September 2017

Note from the editor: Due to the overwhelming success of our ‘Author Interview’ slot in the bi-weekly Some-day Supplement, we have decided to add this popular feature to the Chronicle. Today’s interview is with David Workman, author of the highly acclaimed Letter from Alabama. Also in this issue, we’ve added another new feature ‘The caption competition’. But first …

THE FOOD OF LOVE
Local residents were questioning whether dietary supplements are to blame for the rise in amorous liaisons after a group of local birds were seen nibbling on an unidentified substance.

By the time local authorities arrived to investigate, the mysterious morsels had been devoured. The birds seemed ecstatic with their treat which fuelled speculation as to the contents of the bowl and the intentions of the mystery donor. When rumours circulated of an unlikely village romance, photographers from the Chronicle were first on the scene to capture this unexpected rendezvous.

Further investigations by the Chronicle’s cyber division shed light on the murky world of online dietary dating sites. After hours of browsing, strictly for the purposes of investigative journalism, researchers came across this local advertiser on one of the world’s most popular websites, catch.com. Speculation mounts that Tom Boy could be the Mr Big of the Canabal passion food scene.

SHADES OF AUTUMN

Misty mornings and changing colours suggest autumn is in the air. Before long residents will be unpacking their winter duvet and switching on the heating.

The Chronicle’s tip for keeping warm is roast some chestnuts and enjoy a glass of red wine.

LOCAL LANDMARK
 
The town of Monforte de Lemos forms the beating heart of the Ribeira Sacra, a Denominación de Origen that produces excellent wines that are recognised throughout the world. It’s situated in the Val de Lemos, a vast undulating plain in the south of Lugo province, Galicia and is less than ten kilometres from the village of Canabal. The town boasts many historic monuments including the Torre da Homenaxe and the Monasterio Benedictino de San Vicente del Pino.

Perched on a hilltop in the centre of Monforte is the Torre da Homenaxe or Homage Tower. Built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries it dominates the skyline. The tower is 13 metres square with walls over 3 metres thick and stands 30 metres high. The views from the top of the tower over the town and surrounding countryside are outstanding. There are exhibitions inside including arms and furniture from the period. Visitors can also buy locally sourced handmade products.

The Torre da Homenaxe shares its hilltop position with the Benedictine monastery of San Vicente del Pino. Its origins date back to the tenth century. Today’s building was constructed in the sixteenth century in the neoclassical style. Ten years ago, after extensive restoration, the monastery opened its doors to the public as a luxury Parador hotel.

The cafeteria provides a wonderful location to enjoy a coffee and cake or sample a glass of the local wine.

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Author Interview
David Workman

David Workman is an American writer and editor with family roots in the U.K., the Netherlands, Alsace, and Germany, among other places. He was a journalist at several newspapers, then entered public service as communications director for several state agencies in Washington State. He was executive editor of state-published books and websites on natural resources, environment, and social and health services. He operates Workman & Associates, a communications consulting and publishing firm. In 2015, he released “Letter from Alabama: The Inspiring True Story of Strangers Who Saved a Child and Changed a Family Forever.” In 2016, he released "An Author Tells All: Surprises and Revelations from Publishing My Story."


David's life could turn out very, very badly. His mother dies suddenly when he is an infant. Then at age two, he is gone. Vanished, with his father, and abandoned in a far-away place. His future hangs on a Letter from Alabama, a piece of paper that must travel hundreds of miles in an envelope. Then it must land in exactly the right place in a busy office where nobody is under any obligation to read it or pay any attention to it. This is the true story of that letter, and all that will transpire because of it. It's the story of human failure, and human triumph. Forgiveness and redemption. It is a testament to, and a prayer of thanks for, good and decent people everywhere who stand up for a child when they don't have to-when they have nothing to gain and perhaps much to lose. It's a tribute to those who see the potential in a young person and give that person a chance to be the best that he or she can be. They are the heroes for whom this story is now committed to writing.
 
Follow one of these links to get your copy of ‘Letter from Alabama’

US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VQIIODK
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00VQIIODK

 
Question time – our globe-trotting reporter asked David ten challenging questions.

1.    If a movie was made of your life, who would play you and why?

I pick Brad Pitt. Why? Because he’s Brad Pitt!

For young David, I would go back to the 1950s and choose Jon Provost, the child actor who played Timmy Martin on the CBS TV series “Lassie” from 1957-64. Jon was a really cute towhead, and (I thought) really cool. ​Also I loved Lassie, and all the collies that “played” her.


3.    If you won a million pounds/dollar/euros etc, what would you buy?

This is a decision I would make with my wife, in conversation with our children and grandchildren. However, my first instinct would be to use about half the money to take care of personal / family matters. The other half, I would want to put to a greater good – for example, an important environmental project or a scholarship for the next generation.
 
 
3.    What is your least favourite thing about humanity?
 
I wish people would stop being mean – intentionally hurting and tormenting others. I especially dislike mean people in positions of power over nations, tribes, cults, terror groups, and families.
 
 
4.    If you were 80 years old and had children, what’s the most important experience you could pass on to them?
 
I hope to get there! I do have children and grandchildren, and they light up my life, and make this world a better place. I want them to know what I learned from the family who took me in after I was orphaned and abandoned. I want my children and grandchildren (and theirs) to know, unshakably, that they are deeply and unconditionally loved. I want them to know they have the capacity to let that love shine in the dark corners of life.
 
5.    You’re a new addition to my spice rack, what are you and why?
 
Salt. Sea salt. I love oceans and seas – especially tropical seas where you can see forever beneath the surface. Also, salt preserves, and it persists long after fickle water evaporates.
 
6.    In less than 50 words, how does the internet work?
 
People connect without going anywhere. If they’re not careful, or if they’re unlucky, they connect with the wrong people. They need to connect with the right people, and the right information.
 
 
7.    How can you tell if someone is a nerd?
 
If they’re anything like me, they could be nerds.
 
 
8.    If you could add one word to the dictionary, what would it be and what would it mean?
 
Ecam. It would be shorthand for the lesson that I learned from the people, including strangers, who saved me: Every Child Absolutely Matters.
 
 
9.    What undiscovered technology will transform the future?
 
Using all available means – old, new, and yet unknown – to seek and find objective fact, truth and reality. And valuing fact, truth and reality over self-satisfying propaganda, political rhetoric, and self-delusion.
 
 
10.    What is the one thing you own you wish you didn’t?
 
A dandelion puller. I wish those darn dandelions would go somewhere else besides my yard.

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And finally …  
The caption competition


Write a caption to the following photo and win an ebook copy of your choice from ‘The Journey’ series (books 1 to 4). Post your caption in the comments below and the winner will be announced in the next issue of the Canabal Chronicle.

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This issue of the Canabal Chronicle was brought to you by Craig Briggs, author of The Journey series of books.

 

 



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The Some-day Supplement - issue 6
14 September 2017

Note from the editor – In this week’s Some-day Supplement find out which town we nominate as The Prettiest Town in Spain. This week’s author in the hot seat is Sine Thieme whose bestselling memoir ‘Kilimanjaro Diaries’ will whisk us off to the east coast of Africa. What will this global adventurer make of our probing questions? But first …

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Canabal Cuisine presents – Briggs’ Baked Beans

Ingredients


750gms dried white beans
Half teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion
1 tablespoon thyme or sage or mixture of both
2 cloves of crushed garlic
5 cups crushed tomatoes (passata) I use a big tin (You can use fresh)
2 cloves
4 tablespoons Worcester sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco (I don't use that much)
Half a cup of sugar or to taste
Salt

Method

Soak the beans overnight in water
Wash and drain them. Add the bicarb and salt. Cover with cold water. Cook for about an hour, medium heat, until tender.
Drain them.
In a big pan, heat the oil and saute the onion for about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped herbs and crushed garlic. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, Worcester sauce, cloves, sugar and salt.
Simmer for 20 minutes and then puree the sauce.
Add the beans and cook for about 45 minutes. Adjust seasoning.

This is a great recipe if you need to feed 5000 or like us, you can divide them into portions and freeze them.

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TRAVEL 

Puebla de Sanabria – Possibly the prettiest town in Spain

The town of Sanabria (Puebla de Sanabria) is located in the province of Zamora, close to the border with Portugal, Galicia, and Castile and Leon. The town boasts a railway station with journey times from Madrid taking a little under three hours; by car it’s a little over three.

This small town is situated on a natural butte at the confluence of the rivers Tera and Castro. Its strategic location close to the Portuguese border made it the scene of many great battles. The medieval castle dates back to the second half of the 15th century with most of its walls remaining intact. Within the outer defences is an enormous castle keep surrounded by a moat and protected with a draw bridge. Next to the castle is the church of Nuestra Señora del Azogue which dates from the latter part of the 12th century.

The town’s charm is undeniable. Tourism is low key and the visitor experience is all the better for it. Wandering through the narrow streets feels like you’ve stepped back in time. Most village houses are immaculately maintained with architectural wonders hiding around every corner. Granite stonework, slate roofs and hardwood window frames take you back in time to a lost era. Potted plants hang from iron railed Juliet balconies and intricately carved coats of arms are proudly displayed on the façades of ancestral manor houses.

The area around Puebla de Sanabria is one of outstanding natural beauty. There’s a five-kilometre river walk along the banks of the river Tera and nearby you’ll find Lake Sanabria nature park. Formed during the last ice age, the lake covers an area of 368 hectares and reaches a depth of 55 metres making it Spain’s biggest glacial lake.

The area around Puebla de Sanabria is one of outstanding natural beauty. There’s a five-kilometre river walk along the banks of the river Tera and nearby you’ll find Lake Sanabria nature park. Formed during the last ice age, the lake covers an area of 368 hectares and reaches a depth of 55 metres making it Spain’s biggest glacial lake.

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Author Interview
Sine Thieme

Sine Thieme's debut travel memoir is equally poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. Part guide book, part travel memoir, and part history lesson, her story will keep you hooked until the last page - whether you're a seasoned hiker nodding your head in recognition, an aspiring Kilimanjaro trekker searching for tips, or an armchair traveller revelling in adventure stories from the comfort of your home.

When expat blogger and mother of four Eva Melusine Thieme first harbours the idea of ringing out her three years in Africa on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, it sounds easy. In fact, it has all the trappings of a dream vacation: no cooking, no fighting kids, and an army of porters to lug everything up the mountain. What can go wrong?

Tag along as Eva takes you on her journey up the slopes of Kilimanjaro together with her teenage son and a group of hilarious South African friends. From planning the trip to shopping for supplies to trudging uphill wishing with all her heart for an ice cold sip of water untainted by chlorination tablets, you will follow her step by step on her quest to scale the world's highest free-standing mountain. But the list of challenges is long: sub-zero temperatures, blistered feet, long drop toilets (of which, you may learn, the drops are not nearly as long as they have once been, if you get the drift), and the ever-threatening altitude sickness no one can quite escape from. Eva's climb turns into the most difficult test she has ever faced, and ultimately she must make a fateful decision on that mountain.
 

Click this link to get your copy of Kilimanjaro Diaries https://evamelusinethieme.com/
Or take a look at Sine’s blog about living in South Africa http://www.joburgexpat.com

 

Question timeour roving reporter asked Sine ten challenging questions.


1. If a movie was made of your life, who would play you and why?

 
Oh boy, I am so bad at this question! The biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten was when my daughters said my hair looked just like Jennifer Aniston’s. So maybe she could play me, as long as they just shoot her from behind.

2.
If you won a million pounds/dollar/euros etc, what would you buy? 


First, a badass new car. I am SO tired of my minivan after decades practically raising my four kids in one. Second, I’d replace all my furniture. After moving it around the world 6 times, I’m kind of tired of it. I’d probably want a new – but smaller – house to go with it, less to clean. That can be my third wish. I honestly can’t think of another thing, other than every single book I come across since I’ll now have all the time in the world to read them, what with not having to hustle up more money.

3.
What is your least favourite thing about humanity? 


Stupidity. Or wait, hypocrisy? People always want to tell you how to live, because they think they know better. I don’t think animals do that. So there, that’s my least favorite thing about humanity, the urge to control other humans. 

4.
If you were 80 years old and had children, what’s the most important experience you could pass on to them? 


Oh good, that means I’ll get almost 30 more years to figure that out, exactly. From my vantage point now, I’d want to pass on this: Don’t fret about what might happen before it actually has happened. Once it happens, you will have plenty of time to think about it. Don’t make yourself miserable thinking about things that may never even occur. I guess I’m with the guys who played in the band on the Titanic. Plus, the worst stuff that happens makes for the best stories. Just think of how great the telling of it will be one day. You won’t be talking about all the days you’ve had your feet up and relaxed! Oh, and also: Be kind. Oops, I just reread the question and it asked for an experience, not advice. The most important experience? The one you have no idea where it might lead you.

5.
You’re a new addition to my spice rack, what are you and why? 


This is even worse than the actress question. I really have no idea. Does lemon peel count as a spice? I’ve always loved to bake things with the scent of lemon. And I do tend to make lemonade when dealt lemons (see answer above). So I’ll just declare lemon peel a spice and I’ll be that.

6.
In less than 50 words, how does the internet work? 


I have no idea how the internet works, other than with wifi. And boy is it a crisis when the wifi is out. It’s the only time our kids come out of their rooms to talk to us. If yelling “Mom, the wifi isn’t working!” is considered talking.

7.
How can you tell if someone is a nerd? 


I suppose if they won’t stop talking about a single topic that fascinates them but is boring to most of the rest of the world. Oh, and also if they wear Birkenstocks with socks.

8.
If you could add one word to the dictionary, what would it be and what would it mean? 


Is #clusterfuck already in the dictionary? If not, it should be added to describe the current American presidency.
 
9.
What undiscovered technology will transform the future?  

This is sounding more and more like a college essay. I have no idea if it will transform the future, but I’ll tell you what’s yet undiscovered: A machine that will take my laundry from the dirty laundry bin, through the washer and dryer and folded back onto my shelf without lifting my finger. I have a feeling though that it will remain undiscovered. I mean, we’ve split the atom, and fused it to another atom, we’ve found a plethora of teensy particles much smaller than the atom, we’ve build a hadron collider to accelerate them to ungodly speeds, but we are still standing there over the kitchen sink every night cleaning the dinner plates. Weird.

10. What is the one thing you own you wish you didn’t?  

Have I told you yet about my minivan?

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And finally - #normalwisdom

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This edition of the Canabal Chronicle, Some-day Supplement was brought to you by Craig Briggs, (with a little help from his wife Melanie) author of The Journey series of books.

 

 

 

 



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Canabal Chronicle - Issue 6
08 September 2017

Note from the editor: Welcome to the latest edition of the Canabal Chronicle. In this special issue, we invite our readers to take advantage of an amazing limited time offer. Plus, an in-depth report into the practical side of Galician winemaking.

On Sunday evening, Mother Nature treated the residents of Canabal to a magnificent display of light and sound. The performance lasted well over an hour, in which time barely a spot of rain fell on the spellbound audience.
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GRAPE EXPECTATIONS

For the residents of Canabal, this year’s vendimia (grape harvest) was a none event, three days of heavy frost at the end of April saw to that. The cold snap decimated the young grapes wiping out entire vineyards. Fortunately, the nearby region of El Bierzo was not affected. Following a telephone call to a local wholesaler, we agreed to purchase 350 kilos at a cost of 80 cents per kilo. The red, mencia grapes were the same variety we would have grown had Jack Frost not intervened.

After the official weigh-in, work began in earnest. Tradition is one thing but if you’d ever smelt my wife’s feet, you’d know why investing in a modern crusher was worth its weight in gold.

The crusher removes the stems making this part of the process quick and efficient.

A shower of grape must tumbles into a waiting bucket.

From bucket to vat in a continuous stream. This is where a willing labourer comes in handy. Having sampled the fruits of our efforts, Melanie is only too happy to lend a hand.

The first day’s work draws to a close. While the willing worker cleans the equipment, the vinatero (me) takes precise measurements and calculates the must’s properties using mystical formulas. A specific gravity of 1105 indicates an alcohol content of 14% by volume – perfect.

The addition of potassium metabisulfite stuns the natural yeast and helps protect the must from unwelcome bacteria. Enzymes assist the breakdown of the grape pulp to ensure maximum juice extraction.

After resting quietly for a day, a starter yeast is added to the must. The next twenty-four hours are critical. If the fermentation fails to start, it’s back to the drawing board. Thankfully, we had no such problem and the miracle of turning grapes into wine began.
 
Four days in; the fermentation was two-thirds complete. Time to separate the liquid from the solids.

Once the young wine has been transferred from the fermenting vat into the storage vat. The solids: grape skins, seeds, and anything else unfortunate enough to have fallen into the crusher, can be removed.

To make sure every last drop of wine is extracted the must is pressed.

Pressing grape must is a great way to build up a thirst.

The result is a weighty cake of pressed skins and seeds which makes great fertilizer but is more commonly used to make aguardiente, the local firewater.

The end result is a 250-litre vat, full to the brim with red wine. All we have to do now is wait six months, hope for the best and fingers crossed.

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THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

Book four in ‘The Journey’ series is available to pre-order from today but who exactly is Craig Briggs?
 
Life began on the 12th of July 1962, in St. Luke’s hospital, Huddersfield: Craig was the second child, and only son, of Donald and Glenys. Donald was a humble lathe operator working for one of the town’s largest employers. A telephone call from the hospital informed him of the new arrival but all was not as expected. Young Craig was not a ‘normal’ baby. He was born with congenital feet deformities: I cannot imagine a crueller phone call.

On my first birthday, I received a gift that would change my life forever. A unique present that gave me what the Vespa had given to the youth of the 1950s; freedom and independence. As you can see from the photo, my first shoe wasn’t quite as stylish as the Italian built scooter but from now on, Master Briggs was on the move.

Over the next five years a series of surgical procedures changed the way I moved. Early recollections are few but these infant experiences undoubtedly coloured my future life. In the 1960’s NHS visits were restricted to one person for one hour per day. The anguish of a young mother listening to the tortured screams of her young son begging her to stay are unimaginable – it wasn’t much fun for me either.

When the time came, mum walked me to school like any other proud mother and Dad gave me his first and only piece of worldly advice. ‘If anyone hits you, hit em back’. With one exception, my mind was sharper than my boxing prowess. School life and education didn’t really do it for me; I found it difficult to concentrate on anything that didn’t interest me. 


​I left comprehensive school with mediocre exam results and drifted aimlessly to sixth form college. In May 1980, my education came to an end and I entered the employment market. At the time, Margaret Thatcher was busy dismantling British industry and unemployment was running at a post war record high. I signed on and spent the summer lounging around the house watching the Wimbledon tennis finals on telly. In September that year, during one of my many visits to the job centre, a notice caught my eye, ‘Wanted trainee retail managers’. The idea of becoming a manager sounded quite appealing so I applied.
 
There were 560 applicants chasing 6 places. I pleaded my case and found myself one of the lucky half dozen. After a two-week training course in the seaside town of Southport, I passed with honours achieving the rank of assistant manager. When asked where I’d like to apply my new-found retail skills, I chose London – the city paved with gold.
 
I left Huddersfield a naïve child and returned three and a half years later a wiser and more mature young man. A brief period of letting my hair down followed, catching up for lost time and lost youth. During these wild and hedonistic few months, I won the greatest prize of all - love.  After weeks of persistent pestering, the young barmaid at my local pub finally agreed to a date, a date that changed my life forever. That beautiful young barmaid was Melanie.

My career in retail lasted six and a half years. On turning 26 I decided to go it alone and resigned. My ambition of owning my own shop came to an abrupt end when the bank refused to fund my plan. That disappointment led me to reinvent myself as a self-employed financial consultant. My, ‘Big Break’ came two years into my life as a death insurance salesman. I stumbled across two young men running an ailing printing business. They needed financial support and asked if I was interested in joining them. Against all professional advice I jumped at the chance, re-mortgaged the house and bought an equal share.
 
Finally, I’d found my true vocation. The business was losing money hand over fist; the bank had taken a second charge on each partners home and called in the overdraft. Whilst others worried about our impending doom, I applied myself to resolving the problems. We weathered the storm but casualties were high. After 13 years of blood, sweat and holding back the tears, I ended up owning and running a modestly successful business. Later that year a chance remark to the company accountant led to discussions about a buyout, the opportunity to realise my dream finally presented itself.

On the 6th of May 2002, with the car laden to capacity, me, Melanie and our dog Jazz set off for Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain. The contrast between our lives in England and our new life here couldn’t have been greater. We’d leapt into the unknown and in our wildest dreams could not have imagined the rewards.
 
Our new life wasn’t without its challenges but we met them together and gradually settled in to our new surroundings. Two years into our new life I started writing about our experiences for an online magazine. Several years later I began writing my first travel memoir ‘Journey To A Dream’ which was published in 2013. The latest book in The Journey series ‘Opportunities Ahead’ continues that story.

​To thank everyone who’s been following our story and to encourage those who’ve yet to start, I’m offering my new book ‘Opportunities Ahead’ at half price but hurry, this is a limited time offer which ends on the 15th of September.

Follow the link below to pre-order your half price copy of

Opportunities Ahead

 



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