Tag Archives: Fever Tree tonics

A New Day Yesterday – Part Seven


It is not a pre-requisite of being a pre-tiree or indeed a full-time retiree to be a member of the National Trust but if our jaunts to the stately piles around southern England are anything to go by, a large proportion of the visitors and, by inference, members fall into one of these two categories. It is as though once liberation from the five-day a week work culture has been achieved active membership of the Trust is the product of some form of Benthamite hedonic calculus. Our focus is on doing something that promotes happiness rather than the reverse, a statement which put as baldly as this sounds very selfish. But the conduct of the true ultilitarian is focused on not just providing happiness to themselves but also, through their actions, to others

My thoughts travelled down this route as I was tramping around a Trust property the other week and engaging in polite and vaguely interested conversation with the volunteers posted at each of the rooms. It was clear they had a love for and a deep knowledge of the history of the place and the provenance of the artefacts on display and that they were overjoyed to be able to share it. Their pleasure was my pleasure and vice versa.

In idle moments the thought of being a National Trust volunteer has had some appeal but the rub has always been that it would involve a significant time commitment and there aren’t really any properties on the immediate doorstep. It seems, though, that there has never been a more opportune moment to put oneself forward as a volunteer. You see, the Trust is undergoing a bit of a staffing crisis.

Heavily reliant upon volunteers – the ratio of volunteers to paid staff is around 10:1 – they are finding that fewer older people are willing to put their hand up to assist. In a society where we are told there is a growing elderly population this seems somewhat counter-intuitive but according to the Trust’s Director General, the older generation has a wider range of choices. Many are travelling the world on a sort of silver gap decade but more still are stuck in the bind of caring for elderly relatives or acting as unpaid child carers for their grandchildren – a trend as alternative care disappears or the cost becomes increasingly prohibitive that is only likely to increase. The upshot for the Trust is that if this dearth of volunteers isn’t plugged they are going to have to reduce the number of rooms which are manned, reduce the number of guided tours around the sites and withdraw the more valuable artefacts from unmanned rooms. And the result will be a less fulfilling experience for the visitor.


My collection of botanicals aka premium gins has grown. My favourite to date is Sipsmiths with its dry and slightly lemony after-taste but it is run a pretty close second by Portobello Road No 171  which has quite a subtle mix of flavours and is supposed to be akin to the gins of yesteryear. While Asda’s own, Portland Premium Gin, is acceptable it is not a patch on the other three I’ve tried. Yes – I did succumb to buying Fever-Tree Premium tonic – that P word again – but I haven’t succumbed to organic lemons and mineral water – yet! I’m looking forward to expanding my collection.


My pride and joy!


A New Day Yesterday – Part Six


I am well into the next phase of my pre-tirement plan – down to three days a week and, I must say, it is working well. When I am at work I find that a good portion of my time is filled not with the normal power lunches in which we lay plans for the world domination of the financial services industry but rather by ambling down the pleasant byways in the direction of nostalgia. Many of my contemporaries, unsurprisingly, are laying their plans for escaping the rat-race and it is instructive to compare notes.

And then there are the retirement gatherings. These are events that hitherto, rather like school reunions, I would have run a mile from but as my own retirement becomes every day more imminent there is a grim appeal to them. I know the attendees of these events are self-selecting – after all, you would only trouble to haul your carcass up to the City if you were fit and able – but the over-arching impression of those assembled is that they represent the epitome of rude health. A common theme of their conversation is that in their desire to keep busy and active in retirement they find that they have over committed and after a year of or so find that they have to wind down some of their post-retirement activities. The concept of retiring from retirement is an intriguing one.

A man must have a hobby, they say, and one of the benefits of having a leisurely approach to retirement is that it gives me time to determine how I will spend my leisure time. Drinking has always been a feature of my life, mainly bitters, and with a bit more time on my hands I have decided to broaden my experience and educate my palette. I’m not much of a spirits drinker – I have dabbled with whisky and whilst I like it, it doesn’t like me – I think you need a greater body mass index reading than I have to combat the effect on your innards – and a G&T is usually my tipple of choice.

Having previously only drunk the bog-standard gins produced by Gordon and the like I decided to see what all the fuss about so-called premium gins is all about. Rather like the suffix organic the first thing to note is that any gin with premium attached to its label retails at about twice the price of the ordinary stuff. Whilst in St Ives I found a delightful wine shop called Johns and after some deliberation decided on a bottle of Elemental Cornish Gin.

One evening I decided to sample (ie two stiff doubles) the hooch. The bottle has an appealingly stubby appearance and the top was sealed with wax and had a stopper, plastic rather than cork. Pouring the liquid into a glass with a couple of large ice cubes I took in the aromas and I must say that it smelt very different from the industrial gins I’m used to – a sort of peppery aroma. Adding a splash of tonic – it doesn’t do to drown the spirit – I took my first sip and, wow, what a difference. There was a subtle blend of tastes with more than a hint of citrus to the fore at the beginning but turning to a more bitter but immensely pleasurable aftertaste. The more I drank the more pronounced were the bitter flavours and, frankly, it took all of my iron will to limit myself to the two doubles I had allowed myself.

Organic English grain alcohol and up to 12 different botanicals are used in the mix which is then watered down with Cornish spring water to an acceptable 42% proof. Only 80 bottles are made per batch. I suppose I should go the whole hog and buy premium tonics – Fever-Tree seems to be the trendy one at the moment – make my ice cubes out of spring mineral water and use only organically grown lemons but, even for me, that may be a tad excessive.

Anyway, I am now on the hunt for other premium gins to try. Cheers!