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2015 was the year I first tried Pinkster Gin — interestingly, at a wine tasting.

My friend and I had two samples each, neat.

Neither of us has forgotten the subtle yet distinctive flavour resulting from a marriage of raspberry with juniper.

As the label says, Pinkster is an ‘agreeably British gin’. It makes a perfect holiday or host(ess) gift.

Pinkster’s founder, Stephen Marsh, says that his doctor advised him to give up drinking wine and beer as they no longer agreed with him. After two years, his doctor said he could have vodka or gin only. Any self-respecting Englishman prefers gin.

Stephen Marsh tells his story and that of Pinkster in this video:

Marsh, who was a keen maker of liqueurs at home, wanted to create a gin that would go well with food. As juniper is the dominant aromatic in gin, it has to be tamed for it to accompany anything other than game. He began experimenting with fruit. The Pinkster website has more about his final choice of raspberry:

A keen maker of sloe liqueurs and other concoctions, he turned his attention to gin and started experimenting at home, mashing assorted fruits with different spirit strengths.

He wasn’t intentionally creating a pink drink, it’s just that after working his way through an entire fruit bowl, raspberry delivered the best flavour.

With the recipe developed, pals started encouraging him to go commercial.

The rest is history. Marsh, a former accountant working in London, was able to now make raspberry gin on a large scale:

G&J, one of the country’s oldest distillers, was recruited to the cause. They produce the core spirit with five botanicals to our original recipe.

We then macerate with a further three botanicals, including fresh, plump raspberries grown nearby our rural base outside Cambridge.

Marsh is still involved on a day-to-day basis:

Stephen still personally oversees the production, ensuring consistency from batch to batch of fresh fruit.

Ironically, being told to quit wine was the best advice he’s ever received.

I did not know about his health condition or that Pinkster goes well with food. It makes a cracking good gin and tonic.

Pinkster also has some splendid personalities when they appear at tasting venues. My friend and I will long remember the chap who poured us our samples that evening in 2015: traditionally jovial, he had us in stitches.

Pinkster’s marketing is also splendid, the best in the UK gin world to my mind. Have a look at a few of their tweets:

Indeed not!

Here is the scene of a recent tasting:

Pinkster makes a delightful gift all year around, but especially at Christmas:

Visit the Pinkster online shop for more gift ideas, including Christmas crackers, all beautifully packaged.

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If the English aren’t enjoying a decent pint of ale or wine in the evenings, they’ll often be found drinking gin.

Two niche gins I can recommend come from Silent Pool Distillery in Surrey — not too far from London — which also offers tours.

Silent Pool produces several types of gin as well as tasting (Copa) glasses. One of their bottles or a boxed set makes a distinctive holiday or host(ess) gift.

Whilst I haven’t visited the distillery — 96% of Trip Advisor comments rate the tours positively — I have tried two of their gins: Silent Pool and Admiral Collingwood Navy Strength Hand Crafted Gin.

Silent Pool (£37, 70 cl, 43% ABV) comes in a pleasingly decorated green glass bottle with a snug fitting glass stopper. It has twice as many botanicals as the average upmarket gin. It is slightly cloudy when mixed with tonic and is characterised by light citrus and spice notes. The description reads:

Our signature gin, with 24 botanicals carefully chosen for their uniqueness. All the botanicals work together in unison to afford a romantic, complex flavour. Fresh floral and clarifying citrus notes are grounded by earthy and spicy cassia bark and cubeb. The smooth finish is achieved with the help of local honey. Refreshingly individual, intricately realised gin at an ABV of 43%. Recommended serve is with a generous handful of ice, a dash of tonic, and a twist of orange peel to garnish.

Admiral Collingwood (£32, 50 cl, 57% ABV) packs a punch. One friend said that it not only put hairs on but also removed them. The flavours are bold, reminiscent of herbs and spices:

The higher proof of this product allows a bold, robust flavour packed with rich juniper, floral angelica and bright citrus a hint of cardamom and nutmeg. It is a classic flavour profile which will stand up to any gin drink, enjoy in a G&T with a twist of lemon.

There are historical reasons why Navy gin was strong:

The gin was shipped at 57% ABV because if it happened to spill on the gunpowder at this strength, the powder would still light. It is also likely space saving might have had something to do with it….

Also:

Navy strength gins originate from the olden days when sailors used be paid in part with booze.

For the tasting, I enjoyed both gins neat, even though I was offered tonic water. A small sip of gin — a thimbleful, as my mother used to say — is best sampled that way.

I have since dipped into Silent Pool with tonic before dinner. Admiral Collingwood will be for the holidays, enjoyed as a treat which should last throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas.

I will be going to a general gin tasting in a few weeks’ time and am very much looking forward to it. Perhaps Silent Pool will be there.

At the end of May 2018, I wrote about the splendid dinner my better half and I enjoyed at Villandry Great Portland Street in London.

We had planned to return this month. Unfortunately, only yesterday, we discovered that all three Villandry restaurants — including the one in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire — closed on August 9.

What awful news. The one in Great Portland Street offered exceptionally good value, especially on wine.

Investigating, I found that London Eater had a post on August 6, based on a Sunday Times article. The post said, in part:

Accounts made up to March 2017 show that Bicester — lost to the site’s landlord in return for a “substantial payment to the company” — made up 47 percent of the group’s entire sales annually. Paired with a 100 percent rent increase at Great Portland Street and a 16 percent increase at St. James’s, losses amounted to almost £1.5 million, compared to £683,564 the previous year.

London Eater noted that Villandry was not the only mid-market restaurant group in trouble:

In the last week, steak restaurants Gaucho and Cau have been lined up for sale, while burger chain Byron admitted that its finances were in serious trouble despite wholesale changes to operational strategy. Villandry, open since 1998, has introduced “pizza and prosecco” and bottomless brunches in an attempt to improve sales, but the news suggests that these innovations aren’t doing enough to account for such a sharp rise in costs.

On August 9, Eater announced that the restaurants had closed:

Eater first learned of the closure from a tipster, who reported that the Great Portland street restaurant was being boarded up this morning. Later, both the Great Portland Street and St. James’s reservation lines rang dead …

Eater reported that the restaurants were struggling last week, with recently filed accounts showing substantial losses. These were mostly accounted for by the closure of a restaurant in Bicester, which had accounted for 47 percent of group turnover 2016-17. Coupled with a doubling of rent at Great Portland Street and a 16 percent increase at St James’s, the restaurants simply could not survive.

Villandry’s final tweet appeared that day, announcing their closure:

On July 10, Time Out posted a brief review that captured the essence of Villandry Portland Street perfectly (emphases mine):

It’s not often you find a restaurant where diners are happy to eat alone, but this is one such place, owing to the unshowy, affordable menu and the chance to sit unhurried and unjudged by easy-going staff. The menu covers all bases: burgers, salads, steaks, plenty of fish and seafood, and weekend brunch. Duck confit was tender and moist, and plum crumble a deliciously fruity concoction topped with chantilly cream.

Villandry seems genuinely happy to accommodate your whims, whether that’s a simple quiche in the restaurant or takeaway chocolates from the compact grocery area. It seems they’ve thought of everything: come summer, there’s a juice bar and a counter serving frozen yoghurt and ice-cream.

We are sorry to see this loss from the London restaurant scene. I wish Villandry’s former employees well.

In 2016, friends of ours gave us a bottle of Hart of Gold English sparkling wine.

That was the year Hart of Gold won a Gold Medal at The International Wine Challenge.

We rather enjoyed it, and now that the height of summer is upon us, my British readers might be interested in sparkling refreshment.

Hart of Gold makes a reasonably priced host/hostess gift that everyone who likes a glass of fizz will enjoy.

(Image credit: wine-searcher.com)

The bottle is also a delight to read. The front label says:

MADE IN THE REALM OF ALBION

The back label winsomely describes the occasions which it suits best:

Just the ticket for boating expeditions and sheltering from the rain in a marquee, it is also worth opening a bottle at the end of a long day, just to toast the sunset reflected in your loved one’s eyes (even if your loved one is a labrador).

A quote from Justin Howard-Sneyd MW (Master of Wine) follows:

We hope you enjoy it!

Hart of Gold was made and bottled in Ditchling, Sussex, by Ridgeview Wine Estate, owned by the Roberts Family.

They use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes to come up with a very good product indeed.

Glass of Bubbly has more interesting information about this sparkling wine, which cannot be called Champagne, as it was not made in that region of France.

The English references hearken back to the days in mediaeval times when England was a wine producer (yes!):

‘Hart of Gold’ which is inspired by England’s rich history of viticulture especially in the Middle Ages. The name draws on folk legends of an elusive and mysterious white stag with golden horns – The Hart. This legend fascinated Richard II, who made the Hart his personal symbol.

Their article says that Justin Howard-Sneyd MW has spent his whole career in selling — and, more recently, making — wine:

Justin Howard-Sneyd MW has spent years buying wine and advising winemakers on how to make and market their wines, so has now decided to put his money where his mouth is and launch his own English Sparkling Wine.

After working at Chapel Down in 1997, Justin went on to buy English wine for Safeway, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, being instrumental in planting the John Lewis Partnership’s vineyard at Leckford Estate in Hampshire.

Whilst Global Wine Director at Laithwaite’s Wine, Justin started an initiative whereby anyone who worked in the Theale office was invited to adopt a vine in the 700-vine award-winning Theale vineyard …

Justin has worked with the Roberts Family at Ridgeview to produce Hart of Gold …

The article provides the tasting notes:

Eyes: A lovely pale gold in colour, with a persistent stream of fine bubbles.
Nose: A combination of citrus and stone fruit with rich toasty notes
Mouth: Complex flavours of refreshing citrus, alongside distinctive toastiness are underpinned by balanced acidity and a long mouth-watering finish.

Domaine of the Bee has more detailed information for oenophiles.

Time’s running out to buy Hart of Gold, as the drinking window expires in 2018.

This is your last chance to buy what remains of Hart of Gold 2010.

Before President and Mrs Trump left Stansted Airport for Scotland on July 13, 2018, Piers Morgan — the first winner of the American show Celebrity Apprentice — was granted exclusive access to Air Force One.

Morgan’s world exclusive interview was reported in various news outlets last weekend. The full interview aired on ITV1 on Monday’s edition of Good Morning Britain and again later that evening.

Morgan noted that time was of the essence that day. When Air Force One is at an airport, arrivals and departures are blocked until it leaves. As the Trumps’ visit with the Queen lasted 17 minutes longer than scheduled, they were delayed in getting back to Stansted. Morgan was keenly aware of this. That said, the interview was excellent, as he and the US president are long-time friends.

This is not the first time Morgan has had exclusive interview access:

It need not have been that way in January:

Last week, Morgan received a lot of criticism on Twitter from fellow journalists. As to why he never interviewed Obama:

‘Entertainers’ also had a swipe at Morgan:

Let’s face it, had other journalists been even somewhat objective, they, too, could have interviewed Trump. Only Lincoln Film & Media in England seemed cognisant of this. Well done:

Even Pip Tomson of ITV1’s Good Morning Britain didn’t mind missing a sports filled weekend to put finishing touches on an amazing interview:

Whilst waiting for Trump to return from Windsor Castle, Morgan explained the significance of Air Force One:

Metro gave us an inside scoop from Morgan:

But I’ve got to say, standing there, looking at Air Force One, going up those steps doing a little cheeky wave, which you’re not supposed to do… I thought since he was doing that anyway with the Queen, I thought I could do a bit of protocol breaking myself.

Then you get on this plane, which is just the most high-tech, sophisticated, extraordinary thing that flies in the entire world.

Air Force One staff gave him a tour of the plane:

I’ve been on a few fancy planes in my time but nothing quite like this one.

He pointed out that, when the president is on board:

Morgan wrote an article for the Mail on Sunday about his experience (emphases mine):

‘I’m sorry Mr Morgan, but you can’t sit in that chair. Only the President of the United States of America ever sits in that chair.’

I was in the Situation Room of Air Force One, the airplane used to fly the most powerful human being on earth around the world.

Hannah, the presidential aide tasked with escorting me around it, was very polite but also VERY firm.

‘You can in one of those,’ she suggested, pointing to one of the chairs around the Situation Room desk. ‘They swivel.’

Morgan continued to explore the Situation Room:

Under the TV are three digital clocks. They permanently display the same three times – Washington DC, local time and time in the next destination. To the right of the TV was a brown leather sofa. Two hi-tech phones were behind it.

‘Can I pick one up and call someone?’ I asked, reaching down to phone Lord Sugar and boast about where I was.

‘NO!!!!!’ exclaimed another aide. ‘Do NOT touch those phones… please. Thank you, sir.’

The President’s staff all exude an air of delightfully polite menace.

Morgan then checked out dinner for that Friday evening:

Cucumber Thai salad, a medley of cucumbers, radishes, spicy red chillis, chopped peanuts, basil, cilantro and mint, tossed in a homemade vinaigrette.

Thai baked salmon fillet, baked in sweet chilli sauce over a bed of jasmine rice.

Tarte lemon bar, topped with crunchy shortbread crumbles.

Metro reported:

perhaps the most surprising revelation is that the US president has specially packaged M&Ms – the blue and white striped box even has his signature on the back.

In fact, it turns out the plane is packed with sweets, also including presidential Hershey’s Kisses

‘He’s got an Oval Office there, he’s got a Situation Room, he’s even got his M&Ms. His presidential boxes of M&MS, with Donald J Trump on the back. If you get on Air Force One, you get to eat the M&Ms. Fascinating, fascinating evening.’

Morgan wrote in his aforementioned Mail on Sunday article that the staff were most thoughtful with regard to the chocolates:

‘Can I take some?’ I asked an aide.

‘We’re already ahead of you, Mr Morgan,’ smiled Hannah, handing me a large bag of the M&Ms and a dozen boxes of Air Force One matchboxes. They will solve the perennial ‘what do you get someone who’s got everything?’ birthday present dilemma. Money can’t buy this stuff.

Morgan wrote that, at one point, things got very structured very quickly:

‘The President will be here in 25 minutes,’ said Hannah, escorting me to the Situation Room. ‘Please tell your crew to hurry.’

There was now a controlled, super-efficient frenzy to her behavioural pattern. The ITV crew, who’d all been extensively security screened by the Secret Service, hurried.

No other plane was being allowed to take off or land from Stansted until Air Force One departed. So every second I delayed things meant thousands of members of the public being delayed. That’s an unusual burden for an interviewer who wants to get as much time as he can possibly get from the President when he arrives.

Several senior Air Force One staff came to introduce themselves. They were all chisel-jawed but extremely courteous. The kind of people who would kill you with their bare hands, but then apologise.

We shot some behind-the-scenes footage, then Hannah rushed back in.

‘OK, we need to de-clutter this room asap.’

We de-cluttered.

Shortly afterwards, the US ambassador Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson boarded with his wife. Morgan said they were on their way to Turnberry with the Trumps for the weekend:

Suddenly, the plane’s intercom system announced it would be five minutes until the President arrived and energy levels on the plane instantly rocketed. People were streaming all over the place, making sure everything was perfectly prepared.

I looked again out of the window and saw a fleet of helicopters including Marine One sweeping down to land next to Air Force One.

Chief of Staff John Kelly appeared:

My brother, a British Army colonel, speaks very highly of him as a military leader, and he certainly exudes an impressive air of calm authority.

‘How long do you need with the President?’ he asked.

‘As long as I can squeeze the lemon,’ I replied.

We both laughed, knowing it would be entirely at the whim of President Trump how long the lemon would allow itself to be squeezed.

Then the president appeared. Mrs Trump stopped by briefly before leaving the two men to the interview. Of the Trumps, Morgan observed:

she and Donald still seem as relaxed and happy in each other’s company as they always seemed before he went into politics.

‘I hope this doesn’t sound too patronising,’ I told her, ‘but I have great admiration for the way you have conducted yourself as First Lady. A friend of mine (Sarah Brown) did this kind of job when her husband became British Prime Minister so I know how tough it can be.’

‘I just feel it’s important to be true to yourself,’ she smiled.

Then, it was down to business:

… after Melania left, he got into game mode.

‘OK, let’s go,’ he barked, ‘the plane’s waiting to take off!’

I’d been told we had a maximum of 15 minutes for the interview, due to the flight schedule

Our long time friendship is why I am the only British TV journalist he speaks to (this was my fourth interview with him since he ran for President, two as a candidate, two as POTUS.)

Please do read the rest of the article, which is essentially a transcript of the interview.

Trump answered questions about his meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and a possible post-Brexit trade deal. The Daily Express carried the exchange:

The President said he was certain there was a good deal to be done between the two nations.

“I think we’re going to have a great trade deal,” he told Piers Morgan. “I’ve really no doubt about it.

“We’re going to get it.

“Now, if they do whatever they do, they had to, I said make sure you gave a carve out — you know I call it a carve out from this,” he continued. “You have to have a carve out — where no matter what happens, they have the right to make a deal with the United States.”

“And has Theresa May looked you in there eye and said, ‘We will get there’?” Morgan quizzed him.

“Well, she feels she’s going to be able to make a deal and yeah,” the President replied. “And again, I have to tell you, I really like her.”

Morgan asked Trump about his plans for 2020:

Also during their 30-minute conversation, Morgan quizzed the President about whether he will run again in 2020.

“I fully intend to,” Trump told him.

“You never know, err, what happens with health and other things, and we know, let’s face it —“ he continued, before Morgan interrupted: “Are you fit? You look fit.”

“I feel good,” the President replied, saying it “seems like everybody” wants him to run again.

Reuters had a bit more:

Trump said he did not see any Democrat who could beat him: “I don’t see anybody. I know them all and I don’t see anybody.”

Morgan asked Trump about the Queen. The president knows better than to divulge specifics of their conversation, but he had nothing but compliments for her:

On Monday, July 16, as Trump was about to meet with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Morgan discussed aspects of his interview with a CNN presenter. He quoted Trump expressing his desire to bring about world peace and concisely summarised the current Brexit situation.

The presenter’s wincing smile fades quickly to a stony look. The cameras cut away from her while Morgan was talking. No doubt steam was coming out of her ears. Disgraceful.

Good job, Piers, for staying the course:

Morgan clearly enjoyed the experience:

As I write, the interview can be seen on ITV Player for the next few weeks (account required, which is no big deal). N.B.: I am not sure if it is geo-localised.

After the interview, the Trumps were on their way to Scotland for some R&R. No one could have anticipated what happened there, and I’m not talking about protesters. More to come next week.

On Friday, July 13, 2018, President Trump met with the UK’s two most powerful women.

In the morning, he met with Prime Minister Theresa May at the prime ministerial weekend residence, Chequers, regarding US-UK trade deals post-Brexit. Philip May, meanwhile, was with Melania Trump at Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Before arriving in Brussels for the NATO conference, Trump made frank remarks about the UK. On July 10, the Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Speaking to journalists as he set off for Europe, Mr Trump said there were a ‘lot of things’ going on in the UK at the moment and the country seemed to be ‘somewhat in turmoil’.

‘The UK certainly has a lot of things going on,’ he said.  

Boris Johnson’s a friend of mine. He’s been very, very nice to me. Very supportive.

‘And maybe we’ll speak to him when I get over there. 

I like Boris Johnson. I’ve always liked him.’ 

Asked by DailyMail.com whether Mrs May should continue as PM, Mr Trump said ‘that is up to the people’.

However, he added that he had a ‘very good relationship’ with Mrs May. 

Mr Trump joked that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin might be the ‘easiest’ leg of his trip to Europe.

The Mail said that the Prime Minister was unruffled and looked forward to meeting with Trump:

Asked directly abut his incendiary comments, she said: ‘I am looking forward to seeing president Trump not only at the Nato summit in the next couple of days but also when he comes to the UK. 

‘There is much for us to discuss.’

She added: ‘We will be talking positively about how we can continue to work together in our special relationship for the good of people living in the UK and the United States and, actually, for the wider good‘ …

Downing Street insisted they were ‘relaxed’ about the intervention, pointing out that Mr Trump also stressed his ‘very good’ relations with Mrs May. A spokesman said the president was ‘being humorous’ with his remark about the Putin meeting.

The weekend before, Mrs May convened ministers at Chequers to put forward a ‘soft’ Brexit plan, released as a government white paper on the day of the dinner at Blenheim Palace, July 12. A number of MPs resigned their ministerial posts as a result. A leadership contest could well be in the offing. In addition to Boris Johnson, another front runner is the ‘hard’ Brexit MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who took London’s LBC talk radio calls on July 10:

This seems off-topic until one considers that Trump said that the US might not be able to make trade deals with the UK in the case of a ‘soft’ (EU-tied) Brexit. Instead, the US might have to negotiate with the EU to trade with Britain.

Whilst the dinner May put on for the Trumps, the American entourage and British business leaders at Blehneim Palace on July 12 went very well, Trump had sounded a warning on future trade negotiations in a Sun interview that appeared that evening. BT.com reported:

Donald Trump has warned Theresa May her Brexit plan could “kill” any UK-US trade deal because Britain would remain so closely aligned to the European Union.

The US president said he would have done the Brexit negotiations “much differently” and claimed the Prime Minister did not listen to his advice, in an interview with The Sun.

His highly-controversial remarks came at the end of a day in which he had already waded deeply into the Brexit row over Theresa May’s white paper ahead of his first official visit to Britain as President.

He had used a Thursday morning press conference in Brussels to attack the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan and highlight Cabinet divisions.

In a Sun interview released while Mr Trump and First Lady Melania were being entertained by the Prime Minister at Blenheim Palace, the president said: “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal”.

The comments, following on from the morning press conference, will a cause of great concern for Mrs May.

She had used the Blenheim black tie dinner with political and business leaders to press Mr Trump on the benefits of a free trade deal after Brexit …

Speaking to reporters in Belgium after a fiery Nato Summit, Mr Trump had described the UK as a “hot spot right now with a lot of resignations” and dismissed the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan on the next stage of Brexit.

That day, May’s 98-page white paper appeared, proffering an ‘Association Agreement’ with the EU. BT.com reported:

The 98-page document sets out a significantly “softer” version of Brexit than desired by more eurosceptic Tories, and prompted the resignation of Boris Johnson and David Davis from Mrs May’s Cabinet earlier this week.

Extracts of Mr Davis’s alternative White Paper, published on the ConservativeHome website, show that the former Brexit secretary was planning a “Canada plus plus plus” free trade deal based on mutual recognition of independent systems of regulation.

By contrast, Mrs May’s plan involves the UK accepting a “common rulebook” on trade in goods, with a treaty commitment to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules.

It envisages the UK entering an Association Agreement with the EU and making continued payments for participation in shared agencies and programmes.

And it states that an independent arbitration panel set up to resolve UK-EU disputes will be able to seek guidance from the European Court of Justice, but only on the interpretation of EU law.

The Eurosceptics are correct: that is not what 52% of voters had in mind when they voted to Leave on June 23, 2016. Trump was diplomatic:

Mr Trump said it seemed the Prime Minister’s plans meant the UK was “getting at least partially involved back with the European Union”.

Borrowing one of Mrs May’s old slogans, Mr Trump told a Brussels press conference: “I would say Brexit is Brexit. The people voted to break it up so I would imagine that’s what they would do, but maybe they’re taking a different route – I don’t know if that is what they voted for.”

That was part of the backdrop to Trump’s meeting with May.

However, there is also a historical aspect to America’s trade with Britain, explored below:

Over the past few years:

Meetings had taken place beforehand between Liam Fox and Woody Johnson:

Defence is highly important …

… as is international co-operation:

With the last two areas of shared interest in mind, it was not surprising that the Prime Minister hosted Trump at Sandhurst that morning before their meeting at Chequers:

After the bilateral meetings at Chequers concluded, May and Trump held a joint press conference (YouTube video here), excerpted below.

PRIME MINISTER MAY: … This morning, President Trump and I visited Sandhurst, where we saw a demonstration of joint working between British and American special forces. Just one example of what is today the broadest, deepest, and most advanced security cooperation of any two countries in the world …

That partnership is set to grow, with our armies integrating to a level unmatched anywhere, and the UK set to spend £24 billion on U.S. equipment and support over the next decade.

Today, we’ve also discussed how we can deepen our work together to respond to malign state activity, terrorism, and serious crime. In particular, on Russia, I thanked President Trump for his support in responding to the appalling use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, after which he expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers. And I welcomed his meeting with President Putin in Helsinki on Monday. We agreed that it is important to engage Russia from a position of strength and unity, and that we should continue to deter and counter all efforts to undermine our democracies.

Turning to our economic cooperation, with mutual investment between us already over $1 trillion, we want to go further. We agreed today that, as the UK leaves the European Union, we will pursue an ambitious U.S.-UK free trade agreement. The Chequers Agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me to agree an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies, a deal that builds on the UK’s independent trade policy, reducing tariffs; delivering a gold standard in financial services cooperation; and, as two of the world’s most advanced economies, seizing the opportunity of new technology …

And that is why I’m confident that this transatlantic alliance will continue to be the bedrock of our shared security and prosperity for years to come.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. Prime Minister, thank you very much. And it is my true honor to join you at this remarkable setting — truly magnificent — as we celebrate the special relationship between our two countries. On behalf of the American people, I want to thank you for your very gracious hospitality. Thank you very much, Theresa …

Today, it’s a true privilege to visit historic Chequers that I’ve heard so much about and read so much about growing up in history class, and to continue our conversation, which has really proceeded along rapidly and well over the last few days …

Before our dinner last night, Melania and I joined Prime Minister May, Mr. May, and the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough for a tour of the Winston Churchill Exhibit at Blenheim Palace. It was something; it was something very special. It was from right here at Chequers that Prime Minister Churchill phoned President Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. In that horrific war, American and British servicemembers bravely shed their blood alongside one another in defense of home and in defense of freedom. And together, we achieved a really special, magnificent victory. And it was total victory …

In our meetings today, the Prime Minister and I discussed a range of shared priorities, including stopping nuclear proliferation. I thanked Prime Minister May for her partnership in our pursuit of a nuclear-free North Korea. She’s been a tremendous help.

The Prime Minister and I also discussed Iran. We both agree that Iran must never possess a nuclear weapon and that I must halt, and we must do it — and I’m going to do it and she’s going to do it, and we’re all going to do it together. We have to stop terrorism. It’s a scourge. We have to stop terrorism. And we have to get certain countries — and they’ve come a long way, I believe — the funding of terrorism has to stop, and it has to stop now.

I encouraged the Prime Minister to sustain pressure on the regime. And she needed absolutely no encouragement, because she, in fact, also encourages me. And we’re doing that, and we’re doing that together — very closely coordinated.

The United Kingdom and the United States are also strengthening cooperation between our armed forces, who serve together on battlefields all around the world.

Today, the Prime Minister and I viewed several U.S.-UK Special Forces demonstration — we saw some demonstrations today, frankly, that were incredible. The talent of these young brave, strong people. We saw it at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Seamless cooperation between our militaries is really just vital to addressing the many shared security threats. We have threats far different than we’ve ever had before. They’ve always been out there, but these are different and they’re severe. And we will handle them well.

We also recognize the vital importance of border security and immigration control. In order to prevent foreign acts of terrorism within our shores, we must prevent terrorists and their supporters from gaining admission in the first place …

I also want to thank Prime Minister May for pursuing fair and reciprocal trade with the United States. Once the Brexit process is concluded, and perhaps the U.K. has left the EU — I don’t know what they’re going to do, but whatever you do is okay with me. That’s your decision. Whatever you’re going to do is okay with us. Just make sure we can trade together; that’s all that matters. The United States looks forward to finalizing a great bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom. This is an incredible opportunity for our two countries, and we will seize it fully.

We support the decision of the British people to realize full self-government, and we will see how that goes. Very complicated negotiation and not an easy negotiation, that’s for sure. A strong and independent United Kingdom, like a strong and independent United States, is truly a blessing on the world.

Prime Minister May, I want to thank you again for the honor of visiting the United Kingdom — a special place. My mother was born here, so it means something maybe just a little bit extra; maybe even a lot extra. And we had a wonderful visit. Last night, I think I got to know the Prime Minister better than at any time. We spent a lot of time together over a year and a half. But last night, we really — I was very embarrassed for the rest of the table. We just talked about lots of different problems and solutions to those problems. And it was a great evening.

As we stand together this afternoon at Chequers, we continue a long tradition of friendship, collaboration, and affection between ourselves and also between our people. The enduring relationship between our nations has never been stronger than it is now.

So, Madam Prime Minister, thank you very much. It’s been an honor. Thank you. Thank you, Theresa.

BT.com reported that Trump apologised for the biting statements he had made to The Sun (article since updated to show photos of his UK visit) before he arrived. The article also has a photo of Mrs May smiling broadly:

Mr Trump said he apologised to Mrs May over the Sun front page story, and she replied: “Don’t worry it’s only the press.”

But he repeated his praise of Mr Johnson, saying: “Boris Johnson, I think, would be a great prime minister.”

Mrs May said it was “all of our responsibility to ensure that transatlantic unity endures”.

The PM said the United States is “keen” to do a deal with the UK.

“We will do a trade deal with them and with others around the rest of the world,” she added.

Then it was time for the US president to rejoin his wife and meet the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Elizabeth II has met every serving US president during her reign, except, it seems, for Lyndon Johnson. She has met Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama — and, now, Donald Trump.

Visiting the Queen meant a lot to President Trump, because his mother, born in Scotland, was an avid fan of hers and watched her appearances when they were transmitted in the US.

He gave The Sun his longstanding impressions of her earlier in the week:

You can see how pleased he was here:

BT.com reported that the visit, which included tea, lasted longer than previously scheduled:

The president, whose visit to Windsor Castle lasted 57 minutes – 17 more than expected – kept his jacket unbuttoned.

The Queen greeted the Trumps:

The monarch and the president then inspected a Guard of Honour:

Then:

The video below gives a view of where the Queen and her guests stood in relation to the Guards:

Afterwards:

Here is a bit of history about the Coldstream and Grenadier Guards:

Then it was time for a tour — and tea:

The Queen provided a reception for those accompanying the president, which included his press secretary:

These two short videos nicely recap the Trumps’ first official visit to England:

Then it was off to Scotland for the weekend at the president’s Turnberry golf resort:

More about Trump’s weekend tomorrow.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left NATO for England on the afternoon of Thursday, July 12, 2018.

Mrs Trump enjoyed her time in Brussels:

The day before the Trumps’ arrival in England, a distinguished former British ambassador to the United States had been brutally attacked at Victoria Station. One possible reason? He defended President Trump:

Prayers for Sir Christopher’s full and swift recovery. He must be in much pain. The Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Sir Christopher Meyer, 74, was at Victoria when he was set upon by two attackers, his wife said to The Times

The retired diplomat, who was on his way home, was left with a bleeding and swollen eye socket, a burst lip and a suspected broken nose

Sir Christopher’s wife, Baroness Meyer, said he does not remember the attack, but that police believe the pair may have wanted to rob him.

I’m absolutely shocked by the level of the brutality. They really beat him. It’s appalling — like something you would see in a war zone,’ she said.

‘He looks terrible.  

His left eye is like a golf ball and bleeding, the nose looks like it could be broken. At first I thought that the attack was politically motivated

He is opinionated, and sometimes people have different opinions, but the police told me they believe that it is more likely that they might have wanted to rob him’ …

Fortunately:

Baroness Meyer told The Times nothing was stolen and police ‘acted quickly’ and the first thing her husband remembers was them being by his side.

Sir Christopher served as ambassador to the US during the latter end of the Clinton years and the first two of Bush II’s tenure:

He spent six years in Washington, from 1997 to 2003, becoming the longest-serving holder of his office since 1945.

As ambassador, he welcomed around 35,000 guests to his home a year and was made Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.

After retiring, he became chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, the former newspaper regulatory body.

For President Trump, the UK is a yuge danger zone. The Conservative Treehouse explained:

The U.K. is considered the most dangerous nation in the world for a terror threat against the President. The scale of the security force assigned to protect President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump is three times larger than the traveling military deployed/needed during the 2017 Mid-east trip to Saudi Arabia.

The following video shows the arrival of Air Force One at Stansted Airport in the county of Essex, just outside of London. Ambassador Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson and UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox met the couple, who took Marine One to the centre of the capital, where they stayed at the US ambassador’s residence, Winfield House, in Regents Park:

Winfield House was commissioned by and owned by Barbara Woolworth Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth fortune, in 1936. Her grandfather Frank’s middle name was Winfield, hence the name and the branded line of Woolworth’s products.

During the Second World War, the Royal Air Force used Winfield House as a 906 barrage balloon unit and as an officer’s club. Interestingly, Hutton was married to actor Cary Grant at the time. They divorced in 1945, after three years. He used to visit Winfield House from time to time.

After the war, Hutton sold the house to the US government for one dollar. Initially, the US Third Air Force used the building as an officer’s club. It became the official US ambassador’s residence in 1955 and remains so to this day:

That evening, America’s first couple were guests of Prime Minister Theresa May at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, home to the Dukes of Marlborough and Winston Churchill during his early life. The Spencer-Churchill family still live there and parts of the palace — e.g. the state apartments — are open to the public.

The Trumps left Winfield House to be airlifted to Blenheim Palace:

The Prime Minister and her husband, Philip May, greeted the Trumps upon arrival:

The purpose of the dinner was to introduce the president to British business leaders in the hopes of forging trade between the two countries post-Brexit.

With that in mind, the Americans from Trump’s cabinet and administration were also invited:

Beforehand, there was time for a photo op and a military ceremony with music:

Then, they went inside:

Sky News reported:

The US president and First Lady Melania Trump were given a red carpet reception at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, where the prime minister pressed her case for an ambitious new trade deal after Brexit.

Addressing Mr Trump in front of an audience of business leaders at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Mrs May insisted that Brexit provides an opportunity for an “unprecedented” agreement to boost jobs and growth.

And in an apparent plea to the president to remember his allies when he meets Vladimir Putin on Monday, Mrs May noted that Britain and America work closely on security “whether through targeting Daesh terrorists or standing up to Russian aggression”.

The military bands played music prior to departure:

No doubt the evening ended all too soon for some:

I can appreciate Dan Scavino’s enthusiasm. Everyone who visits Blenheim Palace enjoys it.

Tomorrow’s post will look at what happened on Friday, July 13.

A Twitter user from Britain enquired what people’s impressions of President Trump were during his visit to the UK last week.

The poll was taken by:

Here are the poll results:

A superb comment thread follows. This poll did not go as planned:

I especially liked this comment from MAGA!!! Mattdaddy:

Nice one!

Oh, well, better luck next time!

Detailed posts on the NATO summit and President Trump’s visit to the UK will follow next week.

For now, Prime Minister Theresa May’s husband Philip May hosted First Lady Melania Trump on Friday, July 13, 2018, more about which below.

As the Trump baby balloon was being inflated before floating over Parliament Square, President Trump was on his way to Sandhurst with the US ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson.

BT.com reports:

He is expected to view a joint US-UK special forces military demonstration at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst …

The president flew into the British Army’s official training centre on Marine One, preceded by two accompanying helicopters.

Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to Britain, was onboard with Mr Trump.

Also attending Sandhurst are several of the president’s aides, including John Kelly, John Bolton and Stephen Miller.

The report left out the Prime Minister:

Meanwhile, Philip May met Mrs Trump at the historic Royal Hospital Chelsea. Suzanne Johnson, the ambassador’s wife, accompanied her. They were greeted by Lieutenant Colonel Nicky Mott, hospital CEO Gary Lashko and Chelsea pensioners John Riley, Alan Collins and Marjorie Cole:

Mrs Trump also met pupils from Saint George’s Church of England primary school, who were making Remembrance Day poppies:

When she arrived into the room, she said “good morning” and asked the children if they would like to show her how to make the poppies.

Mrs Trump had a go at making one, and told the children: “Thank you for helping me.”

She showed Mr May her effort and joked: “Very professional.”

After the poppy making, Mrs Trump listened to school children talk about values and service.

Mrs Trump sat in front of a poster which said “Be the best you can be”.

Mrs Trump recently launched a campaign for American schoolchildren called ‘Be Best’, a poster for which shows in the following tweet:

St George’s has a programme called ‘Be the Best You Can Be’:

Then it was time for bowls:

Meanwhile, Prime Minister May and President Trump were engaging in talks at the weekend home of British prime ministers, Chequers:

One can only imagine what is going through Trump’s mind. Probably something along the lines of, ‘This is a historic moment, because, next time I come here, Theresa May will no longer be Prime Minister’. Sadly, that is a very real possibility — through her own doing for a ‘soft’ Brexit.

By the time this post appears, President and Mrs Trump will have enjoyed tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle and will be in Scotland at Trump’s golf resort, Turnberry, for the weekend.

Mrs Trump tweeted her thanks for a lovely Friday morning:

In closing, for those who are interested, this BT.com article has more information on Mrs Trump’s attire.

On Tuesday, July 10, 2018, Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) celebrated 100 years of defending the United Kingdom.

The most important part of the day was the RAF’s receiving a new colour from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The colour was consecrated at Westminster Abbey:

A Service of Thanksgiving, open to the public, was also held that morning at St Clement Danes in the Strand, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. The church is unusual as it sits in the middle of the Strand.

Afterwards, the Presentation of the Colours was made at Buckingham Palace, where the RAF gathered in the forecourt. The centenary ceremony attracted a large number of spectators around the Palace and along the Mall, suitably decorated with Union flags and RAF flags:

The Presentation of Colours ended with a magnificent flypast of RAF planes from the Second World War to the present day. They flew in from various RAF bases around the country. It took months of work behind the scenes logistically to ensure that the planes — numbering 100 in total — arrived for the flypast on time and in position.

This is the Queen’s relationship to the RAF:

Below are a series of tweets of the ceremony:

Afterwards:

Another reception took place on Horse Guards parade:

It was yet another occasion to make one feel proud to be British!

Profound thanks go to the RAF for all they have done — and continue to do — in defence of the nation!

May God continue to guide and bless the RAF over the next 100 years!

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