Sunday, 6 April 2014

Thair's nae place like hame

It's bin affy nice tae be hair, but frae now on, ye can find me o'er at


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Stands Scotland where she stood?

Aye, weel it’s been a busy month or two and noo we’re well intae vintage – all hands tae the pumps (gettit?).

First we had Macbeth, the Scottish play – right up ma street.  My it wis a grand effort wi’ witches, ghoulies, murder and death and stuff like that.  It was gory and brutal and threatening an’all.  Great, Ah am a terrir efter all.  They even had some auld dudes riding their motorbikes tae lend tae the atmosphere.  It was enuff tae raise the hairs on yer back.  And they played on in wind and a wee bit o’ rain.  They were as brave and hardy as the characters they wis playin’.  So, weel  done the actors and weel done the audiences fur puttin’ up with the Scottish weather (for the Scottish play).

The folks wi’ the production were affy nice tae me – throwin’ stones, lettin’ me help wi’ rehearsals, gi’en me the odd wee morsel when ah wis starving.  They were here fur a few days, stayin’ doon at the local marae – nice folks doon there an’ they were all gie well looked efter.  AH even went wi’ the auld yins (him and her) tae see the show in Wellington.  Och! Aye, I’m very much the wee man aboot town.  Always, aff tae the theatre!!  It wis great to see them a’ again and watch the show in a different place.  It was quite late oot fur me and the show was mostly in darkness wi’ great lights so’s you could see the action.  Ah was gi’en a ‘Macbeth’ bandanna tae wear so ye can see ah’m well in wi’ the cast.

Then, we had the Harvest Festival at the Cliffs on March 15 (“Beware the Ides of March” – ah know, ah canny help masel’).  It wis a great day as usual tho’ ah hud been worried sick that the weather was no gonna be any good.  In the event it was ideal.  Mind you, I was left behind (for no apparent reason) tae look after the customers at the cafe.

The cafe is goin’ like a fair an’ that keeps me busy chasin’ stones fur the customers.  Some days when it’s affy busy, ah’m knackered by the time everyone is gone – ah think some of the other staff are tae.  In winter, we’ll be more in the indoor restaurant which limits the distance people can throw stones fur me.  Ah canny remember if the auld folks let me chase stones in the restaurant.  Ah think they’re no’ too keen.  Ah say let the customer decide.  Ah’m game and as they canny throw stones too far indoors ah should be able to take it a wee bit easier – and hae a wee lie down in front of the cosy fire.

An’ noo it’s vintage.  Ah huv an important role at vintage tasting the grapes that fa’ oot o’ the de-stemmer/crusher or the press.  It’s a’ part o’ quality control.  The auld man and me take the role of quality control very seriously though he tends tae drink out o’ the bottle while I lap it up aff the concrete.

Anyway, why no’ come oot an’ see me while the sun is still shinin’ an’ then ye can come back later in the winter for a cosy lunch indoors wi’ yours truly as mine host.
A’ ra bes’ a’ ra time.

McLeod of McLeod

Monday, 6 January 2014

Ma Mate James

Ah just wanted tae let ye know that we were a’ sorry to hear o’ our chef James (McMenamin)’s passing in the early hoors o’ New Year’s Day.  We’re a’ gaun tae miss him.  He wis a great chef and he an’ me had some great wee chats about cookin’ an’ Scotland an’ rocks an’ that in our Glasgow patois.  He even used some wurds ah didnae unnerstand tho’ of course ah’m still quite young.  He’d throw stones for me (some times at me) but he wis a great mate an’ ah wis sorry tae see him fa’ ill.  Like everyone here at the vineyard café an’ beyond we are going to miss him, his cooking, his patter an’ his sense o’ humour.

Rest in peace James.

Where did the last year went tae?

 New Year to ane and a’.  Hope ye had a great time at Hogmanay and wurnae too sore on New Years day.  Tradition was ye hud tae be ‘first footed’ (the first person to cross your threshold in the New Year) by a tall dark handsome man bearin’ a lump of coal if ye were gaun tae hae a lucky year.  Well, am no tall but ah am dark and handsome and ah have been mistaken for a lump of coal.  So, anywise, ah hope 2014 is kind tae ye all.

Me wi' ma Santa hat on
Where did last year went tae?  The nights were short and then they came lang.  The trees were bare an’ then they wus green.  The daffydils were oot fur Daffydil Day and noo we hae summer roses.  ‘Ma luv is like a red red rose’.  Talkin’ o’ which (which we weren’t), in November ah was looked efter by ma frien’ Sarah fur a week while the auld folk were aff galavanting somewhere.  Remember Sarah.  She used tae work in the office and at the cafe.  She an’ I had a good thing goin’.  Still have - ah think.  Anyhow, the auld yins went away fur a week an’ who should turn up tae look efter me?  None other than Sarah.  Oh! it was rerr.  Mind you she went off everyday tae work but then so did I.  We hud some lovely evening thegither but – och, ah’m blushin’ now

Ah’m getting’ worked aff ma feet these days.  Ye should see the length of them.  Ma bums almost scrapin’ the grass.  Ah could’ve said something a wee bit more coarse (and rhyming) but ah’m a highland gentleman.  Anyway, it’s been hard yards (feet) during the hoaliday season but ah’ve just had a rerr wee hoaliday wi’ a’ the family at Taupo – 6 adults and 6 weans.  Mind you, sometimes it wis hard tae tell who were the adults and who the weans.  The great thing aboot Taupo is the pumice staines.  They’re so light that ah can retrieve some pretty big yins without hurtin’ ma nose too much.  Trouble is ah can also chew them and the wee bits get stuck in ma stomach.  So, ah hud a coupla days there when ma stomach was givin’ me gyp.  Still, what goes in comes out – eventually.  An’ all’s well that ends well.  And ma ends well noo!
Talkin’ of Shakespeare (which we weren’t).  We’ve got the Scottish play (Macbeth shhhh!) being performed by they students from Victoria University on 6, 7 and 8 February (kick off 6.00pm).  It’s gonnae be great.  Ah’m hopin for a small part (get it?).  Ye can get yer tickets frae the vineyard, Hedley’s Books in Masterton, Almos Books in Carterton or the Wine Centre in Martinborough or on-line from

“Stands Scotland where she stood?” That’s a quote frae Macbeth y’know.  Reminds me o’ Chic Murray, a Scottish comedian from long ago (pre - Billy Connolly) who when asked if he had ever seen Dumbarton Rock said he’d looked at it many a time but never seen it move once.  Ha ha!

A’ ra best for 2014


Monday, 26 August 2013

Comment ca va??

Ah weel it’s been a wee while since we hud our last wee blether. We’d just finished vintage and everyone was knackered. Anywise all the wines are safely in their tanks or barrels and me an’ Bella have had time tae relax and enjoy the rewards o’ a joab well done. Noo, we’re well into prunin’ wi’ frostie starts and lang days. An’ the bottlin’ o’ some o’ the new wines is underway

Talkin’ of well done (though we shouldnae) Bella’s been joined (for a wee while, shoosh) by two wee porkers by the names o’ ‘Sausage’ an’’Sizzle’. Nice names right enough but Ah don’t know why the oulds aye snigger when they tell folks. Anywise ah get along wi’ them fine an’ Bella pits up wi’ them as long as they stay away frae her food. Ye can come an’ visit them if ye like.

We had a great wee weekend around Bastille Day (quatorze juillet). Of course, ye know we (wee) Scots are great mates o’ the French. Those of you who have drunk our ‘Auld Alliance’ (our Bordeaux blend) will know the first auld alliance dates back to the thirteenth century. While it was a military alliance, the great thing then was that the best French wines came to Leith (Embra) before they went onto Tilbury (Lundin). This is why the first ever breath test was to be able to say “The Leith Police dismisseth us” without slurring yer wurds. Ah slur ma wurds anyway, so ye can never tell wi’ me.

The Scots luv fur Claret came frae thae days. Tha’s whit Rabbie Burns drank – explains a lot. In those days they drank it by the pint. At that time claret hud about 9% alcohol no like today’s 12 or 13 – but a pint?! Nae wonder Tam o’ Shanter could see witches and ghoulies as he rode o’er the Brig o’ Doon. Anyhow we had a wee decorous glass of our Auld Alliance as part of our special Bastille Day lunches. No me mind. I wus oan duty.

Apparently, les escargots were tres magnifique – they musta been because there were none left over efter ‘cos ah hud a good look. ‘Paris breasts’ were the most popular desert. Ah don’t know what James our chef was thinkin’. Ah’ll no’ try to describe the dish but it was two mounds of brulee with strategically placed cherries on top. Tres jolie, righ’ enough We had French music too and the tricolour was well in evidence. An’ ah had a great audience for ma rock retrieval exhibition.

During the school hoalidays we had a’ the weans here fur whit seemed like weeks but was only a few days. Actchully, it was rerr. They played on their bikes an’ ah tried tae keep up – see ma wee legs gaun like the clappers. An’ they threw stones for me which was great. An’ they let me play in the dress ups wi’ them ho’ nane o’ the cloathes quite fitted.

An’ now we’ve got Spring (printemps) tae look forward to. Soon enough it’ll be Daffodil Day an’ ah’ll have tae update ma stone pushin’ routine. They say ye’ve got tae have a good nose to work at a winery – well ah’ve certainly got that.

Au revoir pour maintenant

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Vintage McLeod

Ah weel!  Ah havae tae say ah’m knackered.  See, this vintage, talk aboot hard work.  Well first there’s the pickin’.  Ah don’t dae much o’ that.  That’s fur Kyle and his team.  My they work hard – credit where credit’s due.  A course, before the pickin’ there’s a’ the decisions that go intae deciding what’s the right time tae bring them in, and what tae bring in an a’ that.  Ah don’t get involved in that much – it’s down tae Christine, Kyle and Alexis - tho’ ah dae check the odd grape tae see it’s ripe enough.  An’, of course if a throw in a wee bit o’ advice, they always listen – yeah right!

Ah dae most of ma work at the receival stage.  The grapes come in in big bins and Kevin (he’s Canadian but he’s OK) drives the forklift.  He tips the grapes intae the press under Alexis’s supervision.  She’s Canadian too (but OK).  She’s the boss so she tells Kevin whit tae do.  There married an’ a’ so Kevin has quite a life o’ it.  Anyhoo there are endless press loads and pressings and the juice is piped intae big tanks fur fermenting.  It’s non-stoap.  Occassionally, there’s a wee bit of spillage and that’s where ah step up and dae ma tasting.  It’s like a final check and if ah gie the nod then it’s all go

Sometimes the grapes go through the de-stemmer crusher tae get rid o’ the stems, before they go in the press.  Bhreagh works this or at least deals with the stems.  She’s a dab hand aroon’ the winery.  She’s Canadian too (Ah know!) and she husnae learned tae spell here name (what’s wi’ all the ‘h’s?)  Ye’d think at her age she’d be able tae spell proper (p-r-o-p-e-r).  Ah know ah’m too funny fur ma ain guid. 

Ah don’t know what it is with a’ they Canadians but at least they all come frae Nova Scotia.  Ah come frae Antiquus Scotia, get it – “Old Scotia”.  So maybe they’re ma rellies frae way back.  Mind, they don’t look like me.

Now, the big joab wi’ the reds is the plunging.  The reds stay on their skins fur three weeks afore they go in the press.  This gies time for the skins tae gie the wine colour but, ye huvtae stir the mix.  They ca’ it plunging because, tae begin, the grape skins form a cap at the top of the vat and ye huvtae plunge through that tae get the skins tae mix wi’ the juice.  It takes about three weeks for the skins tae become suspended in the juice an’ then ye can press it and pit that intae vats or barrels tae let the fermentin’ begin.

The plungin’s hard work so the young folks, Alexis, Bhreagh and Kevin dae maist o’ it.  Ah entertain them by chasin’ stones fur them – just tae take their minds aff the hard work.  The old lady does a bit tae help but the big yin is useless - and notable by his absence.

Alexis and Christine had a wee pow wow, not to be confused  wi’ a wee bow wow (me!).  They declared the vintage a success with really good flavours comin’ through.  So that’s good

Roll oan the prunin’ – but furst maybe a wee break.  Aye, gies a break!!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Comedy in the Vines

Ah like the title.  Ah saw a poster fur ‘Comedy on the Vines’ (5.30, Easter Saturday 30th March Gladstone Vineyard) an’ ah thoct “Aw no, no me an’ Bella oan the stage”.  Ah mean ah could dae a wee juggtlin’ act wi’ ma petanque balls an’ tell a few Scotty jokes but what’s she gonnie do?  Naebuddy would unnerstaun’ her.  Ah mean a few grunts can be a’ right at the right time but frankly her timin’s all aff.  Anywise ah read on.  Who’s comin’?  Jeremey Elwood, he’s great, Michelle A’Court she’s rerr and, if course, Steve Wrigley chews gum.  Gettit?  Aye, ah’m a right wee comedian when ye set me aff.

Talkin’ of comedy turns you should ha’ went an’ seen meat the beach at Taupo.  Now this is a bit of a long story but like Billy Connolly ah’ll get back tae the point eventually.  Ye see, we’ve had this great summer and we’ve had the weans Finn and Meg stayin’ wi us for quite some time furst at Taupo and then at Gladstone.  Ah get on great wi’ them.  Well they’ve got me in the watter, speshully doon the river at Gladstone. 

Ah’d never known ah can swim.  Anywise, ah can – sortie.  Ma plan is tae watch the weans get in sae far (up tae their oxters) and then follow them in.  What seems tae be the problem is ma steerage.  Ah keep forgettin’ tae turn aroon’ an’ heid back fur the shore (apparently).  Well by the time ah get tae mid-stream my wee legs are goin’ like the clappers but, being of robust build, it’s quite an effort to keep ma bum up while ah’m tryin’ tae breath at the other end.  So, gravity bein’ what it is, the bum goes down, the wee legs paddle faster, the nose goes up, an’ ah dae a very good imitation o’ a submarine with its periscope up.  Thankfully, the old folks are usually about tae gie me a wee lift an’ point me in the right direction.

Anyway, back tae ma story.  Here ah am on the bonny banks o’ Lake (Loch?) Taupo when out comes this jaicket thing which they pit oan me.  It’s quite comfortable an’ smart.  Anywise, ah boldly go into the watter in my usual enthusiastic manner (oh! aye am keen) and low an’ behold not only am ah swimmin’ but my bums being haud up in the water.  The jaicket’s some sortie flotation device so am able tae Keep paddlin’ in a horizoantal manner wi’oot my bum draggin’ me doon.  So that’s ma story but the comedy turn was when him with the grey hair and beard found a hannle oan the back o’ the jaicket, lifted me up wi’ it an’ started walking along the beach tellin’ folk’ ah was his new fashion accessory.  Ah wis black-affronted tho’ nabudy could tell ‘cos ah’m black oanywise.  Mind you, ah’ll know tell ye what ah cried him when he wis carryin’ me – but Billy Connolly wid ha’ been proud!