WINTER REPAIRS

As cold creeps over Colorado and Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the horizon time to review all the repairs waiting in the wings.

First major item is of course the trailer and the missing hub and wheel which departed the ship on the homeward run from deepest Nevada.

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“Three wheels on my wagon…… but I keep rolling along”

The wheel on the other side of the axle was removed and all the components laid out ready to reorder. The people who sold me the trailer were contacted and they told me Roadmaster, the trailer builder, has gone out of business so now I’m researching the web for all the parts I need. Finally the whole axle was removed and humped into the back of the Cadi. Off to Coretez to a trailer shop but they are moving locations and won’t be open until next Monday. I had thought I could just replace the stub axle but with the grinding and rewelding required it may be cheaper to replace the complete unit.

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Axel off, grease nipple missing? Was it ever fitted ?

The NO Excuse Cub still has those oil leaks from the rocker shafts and I believe the problem is the newer washers which are much harder than the original soft copper. Also (thanks to over tightening) the exhaust rocker cover has become dished and the tappet hits it with am awful broken ring type ticking noise until the oil gets round. Ray says he has some spare ones.

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That explains the ticking noise!

Also need to change the bars round on the Yam and the Cub which need some bar risers when I put the bars on the Cub which are 6″ lift and the current Renthals are 7″ and old style like I used to have back in the 70’s. No I can’t fit the risers  on the Yam as that will push the bars backwards whereas the BSA yokes on the Cub are straight up and down. It will also mean NEW grips for both machines.

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…..And maybe some new Iridium plugs

Then we come to the Beemer and the electric hydraulic center stand which won’t deploy! A new one from BMW is $1300 and they don’t repair them but as I understand it the average shade tree mechanic can take it off and refill with oil which seems to be the problem.

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Well I think I can

Meanwhile in the house I’ve been completing intensive electrical work replacing a Chandelier, 2 corridor ceiling lights and a rather nasty fan…… all with the help of my assistant Midnight the new and curious Cat!

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The ever helpful cat Midnight

Into Thanksgiving week and first visit to the newly reopened trailer shop. Knowledgeable man on the desk tells me exactly what I want and gives me the options. Armed with the info off to the machine shop to see what it will cost to get the old stub spindle out, weld in a new one and the brake backing plate mount. Looking at the overall costs there really isn’t much in it so this morning its back to the trailer shop and order the complete axle. While I’m there pick up the spare wheel and some new lug nuts. On the way home stop at Big O who swap the new tire over onto my old alloy wheel and pop the worn one on the new steel spare…… FREE!   So a couple of weeks to wait on the axle but I’m ready to rebuild when it arrives.

……… well, while I’m waiting its time for those Christmas lights again

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

A PLUNGE IN THE POOL

The annual small town winter pool competitions began while we were away in Napa so interesting to see how it was all going on our return.

In the past the Hollywood Bar had always been the Saturday venue and then for those that couldn’t get enough a quick 18 mile drive to Mancos for the Sunday competition. However, this year after Travis, the Hollywood owner, imported his lady friend in as bar manager things went decidedly pear shaped. In her first week of occupation she fired 2 of the bar staff and threw out several regulars and refused to serve others?  This did not go down well!! The net upshot of all this was the other local bar, The Riverfront,  put on the Saturday competition and so we have 2 comps within 1/4 mile of each other and of course being patrons of both, and very friendly with Travis, we were torn between the two.

So far, the Riverfront, which has finally got a cook in the kitchen, is winning out both on numbers and on ambiance due to the huge patio overlooking the river…….. and the food is 10 times better than it ever was.

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A Riverfront table ready for action

The first weekend we were back we decided to go to the Hollywood and give them the initial support. By the 10 minutes to go to start time things were not looking good for a game so we hi-tailed it to the Riverfront and paid our dues there.

Going back to August we had some people in the park from Florida and one of their many skills turned out to be custom pool cues. He had 2 for sale, both exceptionally nice, and as it was my birthday and I couldn’t think of anything I really wanted one of them became mine and Brenda couldn’t resist the other one.

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Birthday sticks ready for the 2014/15 season

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All wood for Brenda

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A very pretty cue

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….and this one in Mine!

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Drop dead gorgeous

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Signed and dated

With no competitions during the summer months mine had only had one practice session where I was on fire with it winning all 8 frames that I played.

As I’ve said before we play a standard 16 player tournament with double elimination. The first three places win the money and the first poor soul to go “out” gets a free drink. With 16 players,  in order to get your fingers on the loot, then you need to win your first 3 games as only 2 people can be undefeated at this stage. The winner of this one goes in the final while the loser plays the best of the rest who have come through the losers side of the challenge. The winner of this one meets Mr or Mrs Undefeated in the final where  Undefeated gets to break and only has to win 1 of the 2 frames.

The NEW Cue and I breeze through 3 frames undefeated and I meet one of our best players, John McEwan. Well at least I’m in the money and I have beaten John before but I’ve also only got to rack the balls against him when he has run the table on me! Today its fairly even and then I miss one and let him back in where he immediately cleans up. I now play the winner from the losers and win this one so its back to the final against John. I have to win both but get hammered in the first so the day is done and I get Second place and an entry to the main competition in December. Well done to the new cue!

The following week Brenda is much more determined, but we both lose our third round match so are now fighting up the loser’s side. We end up meeting for 4th and 5th and I win this one. My next match is going well until I fluff an easy shot, but not to worry the “leave” isn’t good and I can’t see the opposition making anything. Wrong! ……. a seemingly impossible shot is nominated and comes off and from there the game is lost. So, a 4th and 5th. Close but no cigar.

7 days click by and this time Brenda is in no mood for being Mrs Nice Guy and wins her way through to take second place to Isaac who is back on form. My showing didn’t come to much, I didn’t play badly, just didn’t play well enough!

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NOT to be triffled with today ………. 2nd place!

Saturday again and I lose an early match to Anita after beating her husband Mike who accidentally sunk the Black on his first shot. I’m playing well and win another and now I’m against Bob in the 4/5 match. I’m first on the black and play a long delicate shot and the crowd are applauding as it goes to the corner but then with about 6″ to go it rolls away as the table is anything but level! Bob was not expecting to get back in but suddenly comes alive and clears the table and then goes on to get in the final and win both frames for the victor’s slot.

Sunday and now time to go to Mancos and see what we can do. I win my first 2 games and now meet, guess who, none other than Bob. Once again I seem to have it all wrapped up but the white drops in a pocket and Bob takes over and cleans up! I play on and have a remarkable break sinking three stripes and leaving myself set up on two more. The opposition leaves me in a good position and I finish the rest. I now meet Pete who is one of the co-owners of the bar and also an ex US Navy F4 pilot. Between us we have over 5000 flying hours on this amazing aircraft and a LOT of stories to tell when provoked by the demon drink.

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The F4 operators in fierce contest

Pete is playing a lot better this year but I manage to get by him and I’m in the final where I meet Bob again. Seems Bob can do no wrong this weekend and wins to take home 2 first places at both the Columbine and yesterday’s Riverfont competition …… well done to Bob.

Six days later and we are at the Riverfront and now we are in the grip of a cold spell but still nice enough to be on the patio while the sun is up. Brenda picks the numbers and I’m No1. My first game is against one of the local girls from a group of teenagers who are learning the game very quickly. One of the problems with pool and youth is most younger players tend to hit the ball TOO HARD and today is no exception as the black gets side swiped and runs into a vacant pocket.

With an odd number of players today I get a “bye” in round 2 and now face Anita in round 3. Anita has been in top form this year and is a lot more accurate after a good session of home practice. A good win for me and now I’m up against John McEwan again who has already had 2 wins this season! Today its my time and I win this one and advance to the final.

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On the loser’s side Brenda has been going well after an early loss and is now playing Nick who has lost to her in their previous three matches. Nick wins and Brenda is in 5th again. Nick meets Anita’s husband Mike for the 3rd/4th shootout and Mike runs out the victor and now plays John McEwan for the slot in the final against me. John wins but at least Mike is qualified for the “big one” at Christmas.

John and myself (again) only this time I get to break and only need to win 1 of the 2 games. Nice break but nothing drops so John is in and elects stripes taking 2 down at the bottom rail but can’t find his way onto a third. I’m back and have a nice run of 4 but screw myself with poor cue ball control for the next. John picks off a couple of sitters  and then looks to be about done but makes a magnificent bank shot that has me appaulding. He then makes another bank shot to prove its no fluke and now has only the 9 ball left which by his standards is fairly easy. The black, however is mid way up the table and tight against the rail. My brown ball is up by the black but about 6″ out in the clear with the green and yellow balls at the other end of the table. John spends a long time looking at the shot and we are all thinking from the way he is lining everything up he must be looking to see where he wants the cue ball to be for the winning shot after taking the easy 9 ball……….. but then he fires at the 7 ball and sinks it!!!

I’m back on, and the cue ball is now down with my green and yellow balls. Study the sequence, green first to the left, then having stopped the cue ball a cut on the yellow and bounce off the rail to mid table or less for that cushion shot on the black. Perfect shot on the yellow and the cue ball position is exactly where I want it for a left hander. Remember the old saying “don’t aim at the ball, aim at the cushion beside it” ……. repeat the saying over to myself a few times and a nice accurate soft hit and the black stays glued to the rail and trundles down it to drop in for the win.

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A pleasing WIN today!

Well then, the story so far as we approach mid season and people are trying hard to qualify for “the big one”.  Brenda is in with her fine 2nd but is going all out for the coveted win. I’ve had a 2nd and now a 1st at the Riverfront and also a 2nd over in Mancos at the Columbine.

Of course in this pool game you can NEVER discount anybody at any time so every game IS important ! As we approach  Thanksgiving  and the ritual of Christmas lighting I have 9 days off from school so I expect we will try for both weekends at the Riverfront and the  Columbine………. as the sun sets over the the Dolores river as seen from the Riverfront’s pato.

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Heres my “Kincaid” with the camera from the patio

 

TONY DOWN

 

 

 

 

 

WIND & WHEELIES ON THE WAY HOME

Get up early for leg 1 of the return trip but its dark!! With dawn breaking over Calistoga time to load up and get the show on the road. 8 tie downs on the Beemer and 4 more on the bicycles and switch the water over to refill onboard tanks and I’m nearly ready so now it will be the quest to find fuel and a lot big enough to get in and out of with this rig.

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Saturday morning leaving Calistoga

Nothing suitable on the 30 mile run to I80 but once on there fuel is easy enough to find. The plan is to make Elko NV for the night stop. A pleasant days driving coming out of CA and once more completely trouble free on the old overheat problems.

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Coming down Donner and NO overheat problems

Sailing across Nevada the sun is going down in the west and long shadows are on the super smooth freeways ahead of me. I can’t help but notice a strange “arm” flapping in the shadow so at the next available exit we pull off to investigate.

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Super smooth freeway through Nevada

It seems that a roof cowl has come loose and although secured at the front is now swinging around and flapping in the breeze …….. also notice that one trailer tire is a bit soft ? Out with the pump and try for a bit more pressure but clearly we have just picked up a nail which I soon spot in the tread.

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Great !

So here we are in the middle of nowhere, and I mean nowhere, when I look over my shoulder and there is a german pointer having a huge pee in the field behind me. A voice asks if I need any help and we are soon in conversation about bird shooting and wheel changing. The good Samaritan rushes in with jack and wheel brace and all is well and we are on our way in short order.

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On with the NEW

At Elko we pull into Walmart and settle down with 570 miles in the bag. About 0300 Brenda wakes me up to listen to the 50 mph wind which is rocking the ship and is pretty violent ! Depart Elko on the last leg and refuel 50 miles down the freeway at the Flying J, its bitterly cold with that very strong wind but as far as I can tell the cowls are still there. More violent winds as we come out of Wendover and exit Nevada for Utah. All seems well and we are making a good 60 mph average and should be home about 1700.

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Out of Wendover into some violent winds

Across the salt lake, down the 50 miles of I15, passing Salt Lake City and onto 6 for the run over the mountains to Price and onward to Moab, Monticello and home.

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Coming up HWY 6

 

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Rugged stuff

The weather is good, traffic is light, and the fall scenery quite delightful. A small mountain downpour to wash the windscreen but other than that plain sailing all the way home and pull in at 1700 as planned.

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Storm up ahead

Venture out with dogs, and well pleased to be home, but then I see it and have to have a double take …………

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Yes, I’m missing a WHEEL or more accurately the WHOLE F&($%#)$ assembly!!!! Never noticed or felt a thing! It looks like the bearing seized and then tore out the rollers from the bearing and ground down the retaining washers until the wheel could escape …….. which it did taking the hub with it! All that remains is the stub axle (still with its nut and tab washer bits) and the brake shoes which had their linings chewed off!! I suppose the only saving grace was that when it left the ship it didn’t touch a thing and there is not a mark on the custom alloy fender,  which I would have thought would have been ripped to bits? Very lucky in that respect ……….. anyhooo, if you see a wheel with its hub anywhere along the 450 miles from somewhere in Nevada to Dolores CO, then its mine and there is a REWARD.

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With everything from the bus unloaded it seems there is yet more carnage as a view from the lounge window reveals yet another cowl has decided to jump ship and is somewhere between Nevada and Dolores.

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The Nevada “flapper” is still there

 

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Rear AC cowl missing, looking like a Shuttle on re-entry with all the missing bits!

Oh well, in an operation this size you have to expect a few losses!

TONY DOWN

TO SEE THE SEA

More Beemer work today on our last day as madam wants to cross Sonoma and get out to the coastal highway on CA1. On one of these visits Jason wants to take us to the best that Sonoma has to offer as he lives over here. Today we are exploring solo so we will see how that goes. Brenda reviews the route and it seems we are passing by Korbel’s the makers of el cheapo champagne that we normally use in our Christmas cocktails ….. got to be worth a visit.

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More bendy roads through quaint little villages amid the trees and of course the ever present hillsides and fields full of grapes ….. never build anything where you can plant!! Temps are up in the 80’sF and no wind so the ride is very pleasant and we come up on Korbel’s estate. Impressive buildings in a lovely setting.

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Lovely jubbly!

Set about a tasting and enjoy some of their better champagne and a rather nice port which surprised me. By comparison everything is much cheaper but there again our Christmas selection of their wares is often around the $6 a bottle. This is reflected by the older hostesses who are more interested talking amongst themselves rather than pay much attention to the prospective customers. Well no matter, we buy some, and yes its tasty and could easily be used on its own. A quick tour of the gardens and then the duty purchase and stowing on the “tanker” and we are off to find the Pacific coastal road and see the Sea.

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The original owner’s house

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A fairy circle ? how appropriate

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A quick stop at a bar/brewery for lunch and another ratburger and beer but nowhere near as good as yesterday’s offering on the Pope Valley run through Middletown.

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Not bad, but not as good as yesterday!

 

As we ride towards the coast the temp is dropping and there is coastal fog drifting down some of the valleys. By the time we are out on a very bendy slow speed coastal highway it is anything but pleasant and despite a search of about 10 miles not a bar to be seen amid the last bastions of limited civilization. ………… “time we were leaving!”

 

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YUK !!

Enough of that! time to beat feet back to Calistoga and get ready for our final anniversary meal at one of our regular restaurants in town.

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A magnificent meal at the bar, mussels to die for!

The meal lives up to expectations with superb food and wine all beautifully presented and is a fitting conclusion to a wonderful week.

 

TONY DOWN  & BRENDA ON LOCATION .

POPE VALLEY REVISITED

Thursday’s mission is to do some Beemer riding and finish at Pope Valley Winery for a tasting and purchase of some of the best wine around.

First part of the day will be to visit Chateau Montellena then a run through the “bendies” on the way up to Middletown, a quick drink at Noble’s Bar, maybe lunch, then down the Pope Valley road to the winery.

The Chateau is indeed a very beautiful place with gorgeous gardens including a lake by the parking area.

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By the car park the gorgeous lake in the grounds

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Quite a building

Some late harvest grapes are coming in and being offered to the picking machine and after watching the process we wander into the tasting room of this impressive building and sample some of their wares.

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Fully mechanized

Now for the bendies and these are just as tricky as the last time and they certainly give you a very good cornering workout unless you are a local and know the road! Caution is the “word” as these come one after another with varying degrees of camber, for and against, most are blind, and many have variable radii so to get them right you would need an awful lot of practice….. and then add to that they are in the woods with a lot of dappling sunshine creating strange effects but however you choose to ride them they are FUN !!

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Brenda was a bit out of practice to photograph the tight ones!

Bends complete and the stop at Noble’s for a drink and Brenda wants a new t-shirt. We get the drink but they are out of shirts. Across the road to the Brewery and a surprisingly good beer! so we stay for lunch which is equally surprising?  We thought it would be poor but what arrived was fantastic and needed yet another beer to complete the morning’s fun.

Refuel and down the Pope Valley road which seemed to have a lot more vineyards than I remember from our previous visit. More bends but a lot easier to negotiate.

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Not quite so blind and higher speed

Arrive at the vineyard and pull up to the tasting room. the place is still as rustic as ever and although their “standing” in the wine community has gone up in leaps and bounds they are still maintaining that undiscovered feel.

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Still has that rustic feel

The wines are good and the port is outstanding! Some time later after sampling their wares and joining their wine club the case is squeezed on board the Beemer and we set off up another bendy road back to Calistoga ……… GREAT DAY!

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A full case of wine goes in the trunk and the Beemer is being transformed into a wine Tanker

TONY DOWN

ANOTHER DAY WHINING

Well that might be true, but today its our full mystery WINE tour with driver Jason. Jason has been our regular driver every time we have been to Calistoga and was the “witness” at our wedding here in 2007.

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Jason used to be a driver with California Wine Tours but struck out on his own even buying a NEW Lincoln stretched limo. He duly arrives at 1100 and the fun begins. A little special treatment with bubbly on board to freshen the palate.

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” I could get to like this ! “

Well we never know where we are going with Jason but there again we are never disappointed either and today turns out to be no exception and Brenda only has one request to do some wine stomping!

Trying to re-piece the day has not been easy as it seems a bit jigsaw -ish as the memory goes foggy in many places. Our first stop is “Lava” where the group of owners are into music and are having fun regardless. Can’t remember if we bought anything here…… I’m sure we did ?

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More bubbly palate freshening (I could get to like this) and arrive at Heitz which has a patio with giant stone pillars with grapes coming down from the roof.

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The vines look unreal, almost as though they were forged in concrete to match but closer inspection reveals they are the real thing even if they look petrified!

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Time moves on and with 2 tastings done + the bubbly, time to go grape stomping at Grgich Hills where the famous wine was made and won the Paris Tasting in 1976 and put Napa on the map as a World’s best producer which came as a bit of a shock to all the European wineries. First up the tasting!

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Wine tasting goes well, quick look around the barrels, photo with the maestro, join the wine club, etc, etc.

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The “Man”

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The Prize Winner

Now its stomping time (if she can stand up) so with another glass in hand time to visit the barrel…..

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Happiness is your feet in the grapes…… nb, Brenda has carefully selected a dress that will NOT show any grape or wine splashes during the course of the day ……. Very Clever!!

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The results ……. a T shirt !

Now its time for lunch so having viewed their picnic area time to get a bottle to go with the cheese

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That will do nicely!

Outside is perfect and we are soon enjoying a very good wine in a perfect setting with some great cheeses and fig chutney.

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The picnic area all to ourselves

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The table is set and the wine is poured

Lunch completed in a lovely setting and now we move on somewhere else to Goosecross and I have no idea if we joined their club or not but common sense was slipping away by this stage. Not sure if the hostess had been sampling herself but very, very friendly and I assume we enjoyed it ?

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Our friendly server

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Yet another purchase

Still daylight so time for another tasting on the way home at a pretty little room bearing the portal “Elizabeth Spencer”.  Another purveyor of fine wines and I know we bought some here as I’ve seen the glasses around the house …… little escapes me!

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Last one

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By now we are done and Cinderella needs to get the overstocked pumpkin home!

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The limo is full …….

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……. and so is the passenger …….. HAPPY DAYS in NAPA !!

 

TONY DOWN