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DotW, SotW, Dry Jan, Sale, Couriers & Car’s the Star

I hope you all enjoyed your festivities over the last week. Burns Night in our household involved vegeterian haggis, swede and carrot mash (preferred to turnip) and roasted potatoes – a bit of a deviation from the traditional haggis, needs and tatties but delicious all the same. Being predominantly veggie during the week we didn’t do the full Aussie barbee on Wednesday. But we still had fun.

We have mostly updates in this last January edition of Sheldon’s Times. An update on Dry January, an update on the super Sale and an update on the delights of the courier service. This is all top-and-tailed with DotW, a return of Sketch of the Week and a smashing Car’s the Star. Oh, and we have tried just one last low alcohol drink before we all get back on it in February. Not that I haven’t heard tales of accidental slippage in the last few days. Good for you. Now read on.

Dog of the Week

Unlike the cars we have in Sheldon’s Times, we are still playing catch up with the doggy visitors. Back in mid-November Josh and Hannah came in with Sybil. She is a rather delightful fox-red Labrador. Doesn’t she look majestic, standing with her feet together, patiently waiting for a little something to nibble on.
It continues to be a real pleasure to have you visit with your lovely furry friends. Many thanks to Josh and Hannah for coming in with Sybil. If you remember last week we had Frank, the short-and-long-haired Jack Russell. He popped in again this week and got so excited he nearly took my finger off while jumping for a treat. Not quite as well behaved as Sybil. We love it.

Sketch of the Week

In the early days of Sheldon’s Times when we didn’t have quite enough DotW photos we occasionally replaced DotW with a Sketch of the Week. As I have had a couple of recent sketch entries we are spoiling ourselves by having both a DotW AND a SotW in tonight’s Sheldon’s Times.
This masterpiece has much interest in it. The composition is centred around a house, with two cats beside the house observantly eyeing the cat bed in the picture foreground. The three birds are all flying against the prevailing westerly wind, one of them being decidedly close to one of the trees on the left hand side of the work. The use of orange adds a striking contrast to the otherwise consciously black-and-white style of the picture.
Many thanks to Nicholas for putting breakfast to one side to create this presentation. Rather good I think.

Dry January update

We know many of you have been observing Dry January, some in part (i.e. allowing yourselves the odd glass) and others going for the full month of complete abstinence. Well done to all of you who have managed to hold on. The weekend ahead comprises the final few days in January. Drinking can begin again in earnest next week. For our part, Trish and I will go through to the 6th February at which point the breaks will come off and our re-acquaintance with the hard stuff will commence.
Throughout January we have been trying a variety of new (certainly to the shop) low alcohol alternatives. Here are our top picks from the month:
This year’s no/low alcohol winners
Best Beer and overall winner: Butcombe Brewing Co Goram IPA Zero – we thought this had more flavour and body than all of the others, and to boot it is the cheapest of the bunch. Amanda and I have order a case each to see us through the weekend ahead. We will continue to stock this as our low alcohol beer.

Best Lager: Smashed Lager by Drinks Unlimited – again, great flavour and you don’t miss the absence of alcohol that much. This will also become a regular line for us.

We will also continue to stock Lucky Saint which is excellent, and Hogan’s High Sobriety Cider. Together this makes a decent selection of low alcohol alternatives for regular consumption.

Wanting to go out with a bang rather than a fizzle, we have tried one last low alcohol offering. The Crafty Nectar Cider Co make a range of quality craft ciders including a version which is aptly named “0.5 alcohol free cider“. The alcohol level is lower than our regular Hogan’s High Sobriety (a full 1% alcohol). Craft Nectar refer to their 0.5 Alcohol Free as a ‘unicorn’ cider, “a mythical low alcohol cider with all the taste of a full-bodied cider”. Amanda, our resident cider expert and a big fan of High Sobriety says “very pleasant, lots of flavour and good depth, a touch sweeter than Hogan’s and the lower alcohol is noticeable, but perfect for a lunchtime tipple”. At £2.50 for a 500ml bottle we think it represents fair value for money but it is not going to knock Hogan’s off the top spot.

Sale Update

One more week to go with the Sheldon’s Super January Sale. There are still lots of lovely bottles in the sale so jump in this weekend before we dismantle it at the end of the week. The last day of the sale will be Thursday 3rd February. Don’t come complaining to us if you miss it.
For the third and final Saturday in a row we will have a bottle of Le Due open tomorrow for people to try. This Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot has been a hit for everyone who has tried it and we have already seen folk coming back for more. At a tenner it is ridiculous value, grab it while you can.

Courier situation update

Firstly a huge thank you to all of you who responded for feedback on the courier article I wrote a couple of weeks ago. Apologies to those who I didn’t manage to respond to directly, your emails were read and I am grateful for all of the input. We are still trying to untangle some of the missed deliveries, a full month after Christmas.
The general consensus from the replies I received were that we should either offer a service that includes insurance for the goods in transit or not offer a long distance delivery service at all. Of course the insured option comes with extra cost for the customer. The benefit of such a service is that the value of the lovely bottles in transit will at least be covered for breakage or loss. But the actual service itself doesn’t change (same couriers, same issues). One of you captured in words the way we should think about this (thanks Gary):

The quality of your delivery service should match the quality of the service we receive when we come into the shop.

As a team we all agree with this sentiment and at the moment, even with an insured courier delivery, the quality of the delivery service doesn’t meet the expectations we would like. It is clearly unaffordable for us to deliver long distances using the small team here in the shop, so at this moment in time we are still trying to decide how we meet the objective of offering a delivery service that matches the service our walk-in customers receive. We will keep you posted.

Car’s the Star

I heard this one coming before I saw it. What a smasher. A Jaguar C-Type (the ‘C’ stands for ‘Competition). The car is based on the XK120, it’s official name is a Jaguar XK120-C. The car has many key modifications to the XK120, including a highly tuned engine (205hp as opposed to 180hp in the standard car), improved structural and other engine components and a new aerodynamic aluminium body. Released in 1951, only 53 were built. It won at Le Mans in both 1951 and 1953, and in ’53 it was the first car to achieve an average speed of over 100mph, clocking up an average of 105.85mph over the 24 hours.
The confession of course is that the car above is a near-exact replica of the real thing. Built around 20 years ago it looks absolutely spectacular and is only a tiny modification away from being able to race as a true C-Type. But perhaps this one is too nice for racing. A huge thank you to Richard for popping by and an even bigger thank you for taking me down the road and back. I was smiling like a Cheshire Cat for the whole experience. What a treat.
Normal service will resume from next week when we might have rather a comprehensive list of New Ins for you. Yes, we haven’t been sitting around drinking coffee throughout the quiet month of January. Instead we have been selectively stocking (and restocking) the warehouse and cellars with some marvellous new wines that will set your minds racing. And due to a cancellation we have a four spaces left on the Cellar Tour next Saturday (5th Feb) so if you fancy re-engaging with alcohol with others in a fun setting in the afternoon, give us a call and we’ll book you on. First come first served.
Weather wise it looks like this marginally milder weather is going to be with us for the next few days – wholeheartedly welcomed by us because it has been freezing in the shop. This weekend Jude, Trish and I will be here to look after you, drop in and say hello and perhaps try a glass of Le Due.
Shane, Amanda, Jude, Esther, Nigel, Trish and Carol

Your Butcombe-drinking, C-Type-admiring, Sybil-loving wine team at Sheldon’s Wine Cellars

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