The Bottle

With the festive season and Christmas just around the corner, so to speak, we are talking wine here, which will no doubt be needed to help with the celebrations. However, with a few exceptions the bottles are 75 cl, in size, and not really sufficient for two to consume at the dinner table or for a couple of people to relax during the evening.

It is an odd amount 75cl, as one can buy soft drinks in litre bottles, even detergent comes in that size, so why is wine in the smaller amount – is it because they want you to buy more?

Wine has been produced around the world for a long time; evidently it was Napoleon, well at least it was about his time when the French were keen to sell the British their vino. The people who were in receipt of it, loved it, as at that time they had no equivalent.

It became a popular beverage in the United Kingdom, so much so, the British became the largest drinkers of their near neighbour’s blend of the fermented grape, than anywhere else in the world.

The French leader had insisted that France used the litre as a standard measurement which is poles apart from the English benchmark of a gallon. And as one gallon equalled 4.546 litres there was a difficulty in selling the wine, as the difference in the two standard sizes made it complicated.

Then in the end some wag discovered that the British standard size barrel of 250 gallons contained 225 litres of wine, with a little further calculation that meant if the wine was in 75 cl bottles then a barrel would hold 300 of them.

So, as we find today, six bottles of that size goes neatly into a cardboard box, which is strong enough and light enough to carry, an amount that means there is enough wine at the table.

But it strikes me if the French were so keen to sell their wine why didn’t they bottle it into quart bottles, which is two pints, a recognised British measurement from decades previously

Holiday Time:

When spring arrives after a long hard winter, one looks forward to a glorious summer, and there is some disillusionment if it does not happen. It was one of those years; it had been a disappointing spring and by mid-June it did not appear to be getting any better.

As usual I was working from home with a drawing board in one of the bedrooms, which we had turned into an office. The evening before, with a glass or two, we had been sitting with a view through the patio doors looking at the miserable weather. We had been discussing our annual holiday, which was due at the start of July, where we could go to find some sun.

IT was the following day, and my normal lunch time arrived. Putting the pencils down I went into the living room and flicked through the channels on the television. I also looked at Teletext, and there it was, staring me in the face, a two-week holiday in Miami for ninety five pounds each.

Yes, ninety-five pounds. So, the two of us could go to America for one hundred and eighty pounds. Looking into the itinerary it got better, so much better, flight, car hire and hotel accommodation was all included.

It was unbelievable, which was also the view of my better half when I telephoned her. Despite the nagging thoughts of it being some form of a con, I took Del Boy’s words from ‘Only Fools & Horses’ fame – with a ‘who dares wins’ attitude, and booked it.

The airline tickets by Virgin Atlantic arrived via the fax machine but no hotel or car hire booking, which were advertised and included as part of the holiday. In itself a little worrying, but I was assured in a phone call not to worry, it would be sorted when we got there.

On the given day we set off dragging our luggage, I do not remember it having wheels, but we excitedly arrived at Heathrow Airport by car. There were plenty of parking facilities in those days adjacent to the area occupied by the four-year-old Virgin Atlantic company that was to fly us to Miami. The first step of the itinerary was true enough, but would there be a car and a hotel, for which we had no documents. Would they be as real when we arrived at our destination.

I think it must have been the early days of Virgin Holidays as the airline staff knew of us and directed us to a coach which we travelled in and arrived at an admin centre. There we were united with the car and hotel, both becoming a reality.

Incidentally, the others who were on the same holiday had paid four times what we had parted with,  someone, somewhere had made a big mistake – or perhaps they hadn’t! Anyway, you have to be lucky sometimes!!!

The car was new with only a few miles on the speedo as we set off for the hotel, which was in Ocean Drive on the seafront, where we were made very welcome despite, them still clearing up after the July fourth celebration. The bedroom with a balcony overlooked the beach. Perfect.

At that time there were very few British people holidaying in the USA and we were frequently mistaken for Canadians. When they understood where we had come from, most people were surprised, and we were made very welcome, so much so in one bar we visited, there were three cheers for us, and the drinks to our liking were freely lined up.

There was plenty of time to go to Canaveral Space Centre, also Disney World and Miami and its facilities, in a holiday not to be forgotten.

Facebook.com/percy chattey  –  Percy’s novels and short stories can be found on Amazon and Kindle.

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