Descent to the caves of Taittinger

Eighteen metres (59 feet) below the ground in Reims, France, lie the caves of Taittinger, one of the finest producers of champagne. To make the descent to the caves, you must negotiate this spiral staircase.

spiral staircase to the Taittinger caves
The Taittinger caves occupy some of the vaults of the ancient Saint Nicaise Abbey. These stairs are in the old abbey vaults.
stairs from the old Saint Nicaise Abbey
In World War I, the caves were used as places of refuge for civilians and Allied soldiers. If you look closely, you can make out the year 1914 in this graffiti carved into the wall.
World War I graffiti in Taittinger caves
A pupitre with bottles is visible at the foot of these stairs. The bottles of champagne are placed in the pupitre and rotated so that the sediment collects in the necks.
pupitre at the base of the stairs
And this is what it’s all about…
Taittinger champagne
(The first four photos were taken in the caves of Taittinger in May 2005 on a poor quality print camera, and later scanned to digital. The final photo was taken in October 2014: the champagne in the glass is not Taittinger, but the backdrop is a bag from Taittinger; it appeared recently in this post.)


Champagne Day redux

Taittinger champagne

I don’t make a habit of posting twice in the same day, let alone two posts on the same topic, but that garish ‘Bordello Bubbly‘ post has been making me cringe all day. I couldn’t let that stand as my ode to Global Champagne Day! So here is something rather more tasteful.

With apologies to Taittinger, I must confess that this is a glass of Mumm champagne. All I can say in my defence is that Mumm is on sale in Sydney this week! The very elegant glass itself was, uh, liberated from the Dorchester in London. The backdrop is genuine Taittinger: it’s the bag they put my ice bucket in when I bought it in Reims.


Happy Champagne Day!

Be sure to raise a glass on 24 October to this most delectable of tipples.


Happy Champagne Day!

 (I’m not sure about the crazy colours in these photos, but there’s no time to take new shots and still post on Champagne Day itself.)

Champagne Day Update

The members of the Champagne Club where I work marked the day in style.

champagne day

That is not my photo, it’s from a colleague’s iPhone. Here is what the ‘In Session’ card says (I did make the logo and sign):

in session

An experiment in refraction

Pink flamingo swizzle stick refraction

One well  known effect of the refraction of light as it passes from air to water is that a stick partially submerged in  water will appear to bend where it enters the water. Water is boring, and I don’t have any sticks, but in the interests of science I experimented to discover how much a pink flamingo swizzle stick will appear to bend when partially submerged in sparkling wine compared to in a martini. The results are quite different, which makes me wonder if the shape of the glass has anything to do with the effect?

The stick does appear to bend slightly as it enters the bubbly, but the effect is not dramatic. Interestingly, you can also see how the black line that swirls around the glass appears to 'jump' where it passes behind the wine-air boundary.

The stick does appear to bend slightly as it enters the bubbly, but the effect is not pronounced. Interestingly, you can also see how the black line that swirls around the glass appears to ‘jump’ where it passes behind the wine-air boundary on the right-hand side.

pink flamingo swizzle stick in martini

Now, here we have a dramatic bending effect! Look at that sharp zig zag shape in the stem of the swizzle stick. Also some very cool reflections happening inside the glass.


Oh, the things I do in the name of science!

Roger Brun champagne bottles

Bubble Babe

The Daily Prompt says: If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?
Oh, this is too easy! There’s a reason they call me Bubble Babe …

(click any photo to expand the gallery)

PS: I see that the other posts for this Daily Prompt are written. This is my first foray into the Daily Prompt. Is it meant to have a written response? Oops. Perhaps I should have read the fine print?

Kuranda station signals

Travel Album: A train ride into the past

Bench Kuranda railway tracks wheels

The Kuranda Scenic Railway

This bench made from old railway tracks and wheels is a reminder of the important role played by the railway in the existence of Kuranda, a village northwest of Cairns, in Queensland, Australia.

(click any image to view the gallery of larger images)

The site of the village was first surveyed by Europeans in 1888. Completion of a railway from Cairns on the coast led to trade and people moving over the Macalister Range. Coffee was grown until severe frosts in the early 1900s wiped out the harvest. After a significant military presence in the area during World War II, tourism became the primary money earner.

A popular way to visit Kuranda from Cairns on a day trip is to take the skyrail one way and the train the other.
Construction of the railway began in 1882 and was completed to Kuranda in 1891. Fifteen tunnels were dug by hand through stone and 37 bridges were erected over ravines to allow the railway to climb from sea level to Kuranda’s elevation of 328 metres (1,076 feet). Passenger services began on 25 June 1891. The first dedicated tourist train from Cairns to Kuranda ran in 1936.

Known now as The Kuranda Scenic Railway, today’s train takes 90 minutes to cover the 34 km (21 miles), passing spectacular waterfalls and providing stunning views of the lush rainforest. The KSR uses carriages that hearken back to an earlier era of train travel, with wooden panelling and windows you can open. It is indeed a relic of an almost forgotten time.

And finally, this photo has nothing to do with history or relics — it’s one of those spectacular waterfalls I mentioned. I shot this from the train as we passed.

waterfall Kuranda Scenic Railway

Information about Kuranda and the Scenic Railway taken from: