Secret gifts and bubbles

Valentine’s Day is approaching… that day when romance is in the air and the world sparkles with diamonds and bubbles.
I’m rather hoping for a little something from darling George this year. I know it’s supposed to be a secret, but a girl can tell…
As he is based in Norfolk, he told me the story of Jack Valentine – a chap who was once as popular in these parts as Father Christmas. And it’s given me an idea…
Jack went around the neighbourhood, creeping up to the door, knocking, and running away. The person who opened the door would see nothing except a present on the doorstep, usually sweets or a small toy, left by the mysterious visitor. Nobody ever saw ‘Jack’, but some say he was swarthy, wearing a large hat or cape which allowed him to disappear…
Sometimes the present would have a string attached and would be yanked out of reach every time the recipient tried to grab it. This was often accompanied by the sound of giggling from behind a nearby hedge. Naughty old Jack.
I think I might take my Valentine gifts out this year and do the same… Imagine the excitement!
I’m stocking up on champagne flutes this year in readiness for the big day. I say champagne, but prosecco is the big thing nowadays. It tastes just as good and is so much more reasonable… you can spend the difference on some of George’s lovely glasses (stock got quite low over Christmas so get your orders in soon so you’re not disappointed).
There are champagne flutes, tulips and saucers – I love the saucer… legend has it that it was modelled on the breast of Madame de Pompadour, chief-mistress of King Louis XV of France, but the glass was actually designed in England over a century earlier especially for sparkling wine and champagne in 1663.
The tradition of drinking champagne to mark celebrations originated in the royal courts of Europe in the 1700s, where the expensive drink was viewed as a status symbol.
It was also said to have positive effects on women’s beauty and man’s wit – a fizzier version of beer goggles, perhaps…
The purists rather looked down on prosecco (from Italy) and cava (from Spain) but the popularity of these two alternatives skyrocketed over the last decade. They are both softer and slightly sweeter than the real thing, but to be honest – unless they’re a real connoisseur – most people can’t tell the difference. And they are considerably cheaper.
Between 2013 and 2014, prosecco consumption in the UK doubled. And at less than a tenner a bottle it went from being just for special occasions to the perfect accompaniment to a night in front of the telly. Prosecco and PJs parties really caught on.
Cocktails based on prosecco are everywhere and you can even buy prosecco flavoured sweeties. I have a box of the gummi bears in my car to suck into on long journeys – but only when Sven is doing the driving. Safety first.
Alongside prosecco and cava are lots of lovely English sparkling wines which are grown and produced locally – the Chet , Humbleyard, Flint and Winbirri all offer delicious sparkling wines right here on our doorstep in Norfolk and Suffolk.
They’re very reasonably priced, too, so I might pop out for a bit of shopping so I can leave a trail of bottles for some deserving gentlemen of my acquaintance …
Chin Chin. Lady M x

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