Archive for September, 2007

B&B in the Champagne Valley and a bit about Champagne

September 26, 2007 Leave a comment

photo-accuel The place we stayed in France last weekend was a nice Bed & Breakfast named Chambres d’Hotes: Sabine et Simon Blin. Simon grows grapes for the Blin winery, which makes good champagne and he volunteers there by giving tours. We followed along as he gave a tour in French to a busload of retirees from Paris. Thankfully we had already had a champagne tour at Veuve Clicquot in English, so we sort of knew what he was talking about. A woman working there occasionally translated for us and chatted to us a bit too, which made it even more interesting. I’m not sure Simon speaks English, but his wife Sabine does speak English and she is the one who runs the B&B. We were the only 3 guests (they can’t handle much more anyway) and we had half of the house to ourselves, including our own front door, dining area, and living room. However, since it was nice out, we preferred their back yard with their two dogs who loved having our attention. If we go back to the area, I’m sure we will try to stay there again. Their info is:

  • Chambres d’Hotes: Sabine et Simon Blin
  • 22, rue de la Tour / 51700 Verneuil / France
  • Tel: (click here to figure out how to dial France from your location)
  • Web: 
  • E-mail:
  • Description: "This former farm that bred work horses was transformed into a beautiful maison bourgeoisie. In a desirable location in the heart of the village, where a little river runs at the bottom of the garden. Inscribed in history, it was once a ‘Komandantur’ command post during the Second World War and deeply involved in the WW1, shown by the fragments of shells encrusted here and there. Today, enclosed by walls, numerous wild ducks have made it their home. Sabine has put her heart and soul into decorating the house with different techniques and styles. Outside there are plenty of areas for relaxing, by the river, on the bowling pitch or in the former annexes that served as pigeon lofts and stables, now converted into a summer kitchen. Sabine and Simon run a Champagne vineyard, so they are well placed to advise you on their own wines and which caves to visit in the area. They can also arrange for you to try your hand at grape-picking and assist with the vendanges!"

And if you don’t know much about champagne: There are only 30,000 hectares (74,000 acres) of Champagne vineyards that are entitled to use the "Champagne" name, otherwise it is a sparkling wine. There are only 3 types of grapes used in Champagne:

  1. Pinot Meunier: Black grape with white juice, produced along the Marne valley (not much of this one is used, at least in the ones we tried – maybe 10% at most, if at all)
  2. Pinot Noir: Noir Black grape with white juice, produced on the slopes of Reims (roughly 50% or more of the wine is from this grape)
  3. Chardonnay: Reims Chardonnay White grape with white juice grown on the Cote des Blancs

Champagne Region of France

September 23, 2007 Leave a comment

VueveClicquot_label Lorie, Anne, and I just got back from a long weekend in the Champagne region of France and our highlight by far was our tour and tastings at Veuve Clicquot. It was a combination of the fact that we already like the champagne, we were looking forward to it, but also the brand management they have done for over 100 years, the strong female characters associated to the wine, their environmental approach to their business, and their old Roman-era chalk caves where they store much of the champagne. We were able to sample their La Grande Dame (very high end) and their demi-sec (extra sweet) and learned that Lorie and I really liked the sweet one, much like a dessert wine. We of course came home with our fair share of bottles to enjoy later. We also stayed at a great little bed and breakfast, saw a couple of small towns, checked out a couple of other vineyards, and sampled other brands of champagne…. I will explain all of that later after some sleep and catching up with work, and I’ll post some photos.  

A Night in Paris

September 19, 2007 Leave a comment

Back in Paris

September 18, 2007 1 comment
10:30pm and I just got off the Eurostar and am now waiting in the typically long taxi line outside of Guard du Nord. I would take the Metro, but I’ve never been to the hotel I am heading for. My usual one was full, as is most of the city due to some Rugby game(s).

House update: we now have hot water, but need a new boiler before we have heat in the house.

A difficult day

September 18, 2007 1 comment

DSC03397 What you see here is a hole in the ceiling of our kitchen. That’s because we had a pipe that wasn’t soldered together and it broke loose, spilling water all over the kitchen – through the ceiling. As it turns out, there were three pipes that were not soldered together, and one of the was the gas. If that had come lose, we would have blown up the flat and probably the entire block according to the guys who fixed it.

So here’s the ingredients for a difficult day:

  1. Have a really bad head cold and lose your voice a bit.
  2. Have your big energetic dog in a cone with stitches in one leg. He has figured out how to use the cone to push people down the hallway.
  3. Have water raining through your kitchen ceiling
  4. Have your kitchen torn apart to fix it, thus leaving a mess of a kitchen with water damage everywhere.
  5. Learn that you could have blown up and that it was dumb luck that we didn’t. Although, never cooking turns out to be a smart thing in this case.
  6. After all this, we still don’t have hot water. "Thankfully", we are still paying rent through the end of the month at the place we were living in, and it does have hot water for taking a shower.

Hopefully next week will be better!

Milo is injured again!

September 16, 2007 Leave a comment

IMAGE_00212 We took this picture of Milo trying to find squirrels inside one of the fenced dog areas at Bishops park on Saturday evening. Moments after taking it, a dog walked past the other side of the fenced area, but on the outside of the fence. Milo was so hyper from the squirrel sighting, that he sprinted across the fenced-in area directly towards the dog to do his usual barking routine saying "come play with me".  But since this dog was on the other side of the fence and Milo was beyond his normal hyper self, he bashed right into the metal fencing. He hit it so hard that his face was stuck in the fence for a moment. Yes, he’s a smart one. The result of all this fun:

  1. Five stitches in his front left leg.
  2. Some skin is scraped off of his face under his left eye.
  3. He gets to wear a cone again, probably for about 10 days.
  4. He can’t go out and play with other dogs every day to burn his energy off, so we will have a hyper dog with a big cone around his head bouncing around the flat.

And to top it off, I am fighting a really bad head cold right now. I’d rather sleep, but Lorie needs to work and Milo needs to be reminded to relax. At least we aren’t bored. smile_regular

Share your photos with me

September 14, 2007 Leave a comment

Hi everyone, this is my plea to get you to start sharing your photos with me as I have been with you. It might even encourage you to go on some adventure just so you have something to share! Here’s how:

  1. Install the new Windows Live products from (click the "Get Windows Live" button)
  2. Run Windows Live Photo Gallery
  3. Import your photos from your digital camera if they aren’t already on your PC
  4. Select some fun photos and Publish them. If you don’t already have a Spaces site, it will take care of it for you. You can use your existing Hotmail e-mail address when it asks you to login, or you can get a new one if you don’t already have one.

Or to put this graphically:

WLPG to WLSpaces

Let me know when you do so I can see what you’ve been up to.


September 11, 2007 Leave a comment
My taxi ride from the Microsoft office in Munich tonight included another Microsoft guy originally from Venezuala (sp is way off), speaking Italian to the taxi driver… in Germany. I realy wasn’t sure where I was! I love it, but wish I knew a few more languages.

A night in Munich

September 10, 2007 Leave a comment
Since it is midnight, I just got to my hotel, and I won’t be seeing anything before flying out tomorrow, I felt obliged to sample the local goods. Thankfully, with this being Germany, the hotel room mini bar includes a decent beer and a proper beer mug to enjoy it. Only in Germany do I see this, plus 2 types of peanuts and a sausage snack all as part of the mini bar.

Off to Munich

September 10, 2007 Leave a comment
With the boxes at home unpacked and our stuff sort of organized, I am off to Munich for a night and full day of meetings. I wonder if the Oktoberfest beer is flowing yet? :-)

Not that it matters for this trip though, since I won’t be there long enough to even get into the city. I need to get back to attend the 2nd day of ReMix UK For yiou non-Microsoft people, it’ a geeky software designer & developer event.

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