Friday, 26 July 2013

Baguette, Croissant & Champagne....we we!

Hello to my loyal Blog readers (Mum & Amanda)!!!!

We have departed the Netherlands, home of the clog, windmills and the infamous red light district and we caught a train down to Brussels, Belgium - the centre of activity for the European Union (EU) the reason for this visit was to get an understanding of the politics surrounding agriculture in Europe, and we were lucky to be there when the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) was passed, to come into effect in 2015 and as I mentioned in the last blog it is a very big deal for UK and Eurpoean farmers as it effects the subsidy they receive as well as tax laws. We heard from some very interesting lobbyists from both the British and American side, and had some good debates about the possibility of 'free trade' with the ever elusive EU market.

We then hung our suits up and jumped in a van and headed down for the Menin gate last post ceremony which was a great experience, Steve (NZ), Thiaboud (France) and myself (Australia) laid a wreath during the ceremony which was very special and it was great symbolism for the ongoing relationship and friendship the Aussies and NZ have with France post WW1. The next day we continued on and visited the famous battle sites and subsequent graves of the ANZACs such as Pozieres, Pheasants Wood, Fromelle, Ypres and Villiers Bretonneux where the ANZAC memorial is. I was also fortunate to find the grave of my Great Grandfather Lawrence Keith Buttrose on the anniversary of his death 96 years ago in the Battle of Messines in France 1917.

After our very humbling day honouring the ANZACs we arrived in Champagne, France - I may or may not have lost the toll ticket, trapping us on the motorway.....but our trusty pommy war buff guide Alan saved the day with some quick speaking French to get us out! We had a great day with Thiaboud (a 2013 Nuffield) at his winery and vineyard in Champagne, he and his Dad toured us around in the back of a restored WW2 jeep showing us their very impressive vine yard. Thiaboud is growing the grapes and then making the wine and bottling ing it under his name Brocard Pierre, the still press the grapes with a hand press 4 tonnes at a time. The champagne is bottled with yeasts and matured for 1 to 3 years. We had already done some tasting by the time we hit the winery part of the tour so I am a little foggy on thing I did find interesting was that the champagne has to be stored for a number of years with a steel bottle lid and the a cork is put in closer to the finish date, a fun fact I suppose!

After leaving Thiabouds place, we rode into Paris to have a day off before jetting to Ireland. We met up with Lachie Sears (SA 2013 scholar) and Tafi (kiwi 2013 scholar) and had a good night taking in the sights over a few drinks on the balcony of my hotel room which overlooked the Arc de Triomph (built to honour Napolean and his army) and the Eiffel Tower. We had a free day in Paris, where we spent the morning in the laundromat washing all our clothes (the Bain of travel along with finding free wifi!) and I then spent the afternoon with my Little brother checking out the sights of Paree as through Facebook I found out he was there....not great communication on our side!!!

That's me for now, we are heading to Ireland - after a few big nights in Paris, I need to detox a bit, but not sure if Ireland is the place to do it......

Look at my pics below....follow me on twitter CarlyButtrose


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Getting Dutched.....the next instalment

****i am having trouble uploading photos on blogger, if you would like to see my full blog with photos please follow me on twitter @CarlyButtrose *********

Hi everyone,

Well I have been a little bit slack with my blog for the last couple of weeks! I am finding it hard to sit still long enough to get things down on the iPad....

Well I left you in Washington, we flew across to London and everything was going well until jase got held up in security and missed the plane! Not to worry, he caught the next one and 3 hours later we were able to meet Djuka and Henk, 2011 Nuffield Scholars from the Netherlands who would be showing us around for the next 5 days.

The Netherlands farming industry is fascinating, there is 70 million Ha of farming land and 70 ,Million people live there, so there is a huge urban population which provides challenges as well as opportunities. Farm sizes are small but intensive, with the average farm size being 27ha (land worth 40 000/ha to buy, 1200 euro/ha to lease). The Dutch are also the second biggest exporters in the world after the US, a large portion of this being value added agricultural products and flowers. The Dutch have a generation that is totally removed from farming, no one knows where their food comes from so there is an emphasis on trying to educate with open days and farmers mingling in cities as part of a public campaign to promote farmers and the sustainable way they manage the land.

Dutch farmers are heavily regulated, both by the government through the CAP (central agricultural policy which applies to all farmers in the European Union) as well as by their urban society which have some very unrealistic expectations revolving around animal welfare. For example supermarkets have made a statement that they are committed to only buying 'sustainable' meat by 2020, and They, along with consumer will decide what is sustainable, and what is not. Farmers are in a risky position!

The government regulates farmers through the CAP and the individual farm payment scheme. Dutch farmers are heavily subsidised with some farmers recieving up to 900 euro per hectare! Initially we, as unsubsidised Australian and NZ farmers, thought this was an excessive amount, and we felt there was no way we could trade on a global scale in a fair way when farmers receiving this amount of money could afford to sell cheap commodities. However, as the week went on we realised the farmers really did need this payment as the constraints that are put on their production through zoning, quotas, and fertiliser restrictions, compulsory biodiversity (the new CAP will insist on a minimum of 3 different crops grown on each farm ant any one time) were costing them a lot.

Whilst we were in the Netherlands the new CAP had been passed to come into effect in 2015 .which had been modified to be more world trade friendly, with subsidies moving away from commodity based payments to a broader per ha subsidy of around 450 euro, which will halve the incomes of some highly subsidised farmers. This new payment will be attached to greening procedures, and farmers will be expected to return some of their more fragile land to nature conservation and biodiversity. The new CAP will also remove quotas from milk production giving dairy farmers an opportunity to expand.

The biggest thing I took away from the Netherlands leg was marketing, marketing, marketing!!!! From the farmer level, promoting themselves to the consumer and the resellers and ingenious farmers branding their product and getting great premiums. For example, Friesland Campigna (the biggest dairy coop in The Netherlands, same size as Fontera in NZ) had a advertising campaign where they took dairy farmers and some of their cows and did an exhibition in some of the cities and it was incredibly successful. They also have pictures of their farmers on their packaging.

Some farmers are marketing their produce specifically to the consumer who is worried about animal welfare, such as the Lindenhoff company, which is still family owned and run. They grow out a French breed of cattle in a semi housed environment which has an emphasis on comfort and aesthetics, such as pretty trees growing in the pens! But it works, they butcher their own meat (will received twice the money as 'conventional' beef), and have viewing lounges where chefs can come and watch their meat being processed. For example, Jamie Oliver has actually filmed a segment cooking in the actual feedlot building! It was an incredibly successful business and had a lot of points which Kangaroo Island could use into the future.

Well, I could go on and on about the marketing side of things - but my train tomLondon is about to arrive and I need to get my formal attire out so they will let me into the Farmers Club!

Cheerio ol' chappys

Enjoy my happy snaps below :)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Washington D.C Blog

I'm back! We have just spent 3 days in Washington DC where the focus was to get a feel for the political climate in the US. After arriving late Saturday night we all jumped on a DC lights tour, a tour of the monuments and White House at night. The monuments were pretty amazing and the Lincoln memorial was certainly a highlight (the spot where Jenny runs through the pond when Forrest is making the speech at the anti war rally in Forrest Gump) I was so impressed I walked back there the next day during the daylight to see it again!

Ok, I am going to attempt to give you a run down of the US political system....I will do my best! The US is a bipartisan government meaning it has two main parties. The Democrats (Obama) who could be compared to the Labour govt in Australia and the Republicans who are similar to Liberals and the coalition. Urban voters tend to go with Democrats and rural with Republicans. The US parliament or congress is split into a senate (the democrats hold power here currently) and a House of Representatives (Republicans hold the balance of power at the moment) and in order for the country to pass a new law or legislation (they call it a Bill) these two committees need to both propose a plan, agree on it in their own committee then come together and negotiate a deal together, take the revised plan back to their respective committees vote on it, then if it gets passed that process it goes to the President to sign off on. The president can veto a Bill, however if the senate can get a 2/3 vote in favour of the Bill, the Presidents decision is void. Phew, get that?

The reason I am explaining this is that the US congress is going through a difficult time at the moment passing a very important bill called the Farm Bill. A Farm Bill is revised and rewritten every 5 years and it is responsible for spending 900 Million dollars!!!! Despite the Bills name, all this money does not go to the farmers....80% of this money actually goes to a welfare programme called SNAP (supplementary nutrition assistance programme) aka food stamps for the poor. So the remaining 20% of the funding is available to farmers for crop insurance subsidies and direct payments.

So why can't they pass the farm bill? Essentially the US government is taking strict budget cutting measures to help get their massive debt under control, which means that there is not the money in the budget to give everyone what they want this time around and cuts have to be made- the senate has come up with a Bill however the House of Reps can not agree on theirs! There was a historical moment last Friday where the proposed bill was taken to the floor and voted down in the House, something that has never happened on a Bill before - so there was a bit of mind changing done at the last minute as one would assume it would not be taken for a vote if they didn't think there was support for it. Capitol Hill is reeling from it still, so it was a very interesting time to be there talking with the people involved.

The issue is who should take the brunt of the cuts, the poor urban American or the Farmer? Interestingly the US system does not really align according to Party, it is more aligned by the southern states stick together as do the northern states (each state gets 2 senators per state in the Senate and House Representatives are determined by population density) so in the case of the farm bill it has become farmers vs urban with no one wanting to concede any ground. It is a clear indication that the US government is not functioning properly and no one really knows how to move forward. Best guess from those in the know is that the current farm bill will be extended, but this is not a great option because there are some very important reforms that need to be implemented to move the country forward. So it is a pretty monumental stalemate.

The general consensus is that in the new farm bill if it is ever passed direct payments to farmers will be removed, leaving a subsidy for farm crop insurance in its place. One thing I have learned this week is that not all commodities in the US attract a subsidy. Most livestock enterprises don't (dairy is the exception) however rice and cotton are heavily subsidised (up to $150/acre) and soybean, maize and wheat ranging from $9-$15/acre. As you can imagine it is the rice and cotton guys that are the most worried about direct payment removal. The main reason direct payments are being removed is that they are difficult to justify in a time when US farmers are killing the pig! Record beef and grain prices (largely driven by Chinas expansion and ethanol production) are making it hard to justify money for nothing especially when the country is in so much debt. It is also more WTO and free trade friendly not to have them.

A quick comment on China and the US. China is driving the agricultural boom in the US, over 20% of US ag exports go to China (like Australia) and with the credit crunch which has happened in China in the last week or two there is concern about the exposure the US has to this (much like how it will effect Australia's export demand). Another interesting piece of trivia is that one of the largest meat processing companies in the US, Smithfield, has been bought out by a Chinese company in the last couple of weeks. It was put very well by the diplomats at the New Zealand embassy that we met with that, it is the first time that we Western countries (Australia, NZ and USA) major export trading partner is not a traditional political or military ally which makes some nervous.

We also met with Gary Baise, an Agricultural attorney who was actually instrumental in Developing the EPA in the states, but now helps agricultural companies and farmers fight the EPA as he feels it has really begun over reaching in the last 10 years and he is worried about the criminalisation of Agriculture in theUS. We discussed the Indonesia live cattle export debacle and he highlighted the importance of us being on the front foot promoting agriculture and getting our NFF type organisations to start helping us.

That is a brief-ish (!)run down of what I have learned in the last couple of days of discussions with the NZ embassy, NZ Beef & Lamb and many political staffers on Capitol Hill. It has been a highlight of my trip so far. Many thanks to Hope for organising such a fantastic programme for us!

Ok, about to board a flight to the Netherlands, I will report soon :)

PS. In a brief chat with the NZ Beef and Lamb guy at the Embassy he mentioned what a great job the Australian MLA is doing promoting our lamb to the US masses (NZ beef and Lamb does not have anyone in that kind of role in the US) which I was happy to hear.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Louisiana Blog

Hi everyone, on the plane to Washington, leaving Louisiana was sad to leave as we all had a brilliant week staying with our new friend Reggie Skains on his farm in North Louisiana. Reggie, who is also the Mayor of Downsville (smaller than Parndana) hosted us on one of his properties where we had the luxury of staying in one place for a entire week! A group of visiting Australians is a big deal in a place like Downsville, where most of the farmers rarely get to a city in Louisiana, let alone overseas. Hence there were not too many early nights with different locals dropping in most nights to have a drink with us.

A bit about Agriculture in is a very diverse state in regards to Agriculture with forestry being the biggest income earner for the state. We passed wall to wall pine forests which when harvested are taken to chipped at a mill within a 30 mile radius (I talk in imperial now!) and then trucked to the local paper mill in West Monroe. Forestry is particularly popular with older farmers which do not have children coming back on the farm, as it is a lot easier to manage than a grazing or cropping operation. The next biggest industry is broiler rearing. Similarly to Australia, farmers are contracted to grow out chickens for the processors, where the chicken and feed is supplied by the buyer. It is the farmers responsibility to house the chickens for up to 9 weeks and they are paid on weight and feed conversion. Most farmers are achieving a 1:2.1 feed ratio conversion. The biggest production challenge the chicken farmers face is heat and humidity, the humidity when were there was incredible, and in these conditions chicken losses can be high. Despite this challenge, good chicken farmers are only having 3-4% mortalities. It seems that having a broiler house is not a get rich quick scheme, with a shed costing $250 000 to build and the net income from that is $20 000 per year, not much given they have to be there to look after them every day of the year and working on a batch to batch contract. The chicken litter out of their sheds also provides extra income, and a cheap way to fertilise cattle grazing pastures, with some paddocks typically getting 12t/ha of litter per year.

We saw numerous cattle operations in north Louisiana, being such humid and tropical climate, most farmers are running Brahman composite cattle, usually a brangus to help cope with the intense heat. Most farmers sell their calves in early summer via a video auctioning system. Cattle are grazed on tropical grass pastures consisting of Bermuda and Bahaia grass, low quality in terms of energy and protein but very fast growing. Cattle prices are at record highs at the moment, with 300kg steers selling for $4/kg!!

We spent a day travelling down to the delta region of the state, where the land flattens out and we are essentially on the old alluvial flats of the Missisippi river. Very fertile and the land is worth twice that of the hill country in North Louisiana (delta = $4000/ac). 41% of all surface water run off drains through to the Mississippi and out of New Orleans, it is also the key freight route for all of the US Grain exports. There is a huge levee system which directs to path of the river and assists in controlling flooding. Key crops in this area are corn (yielding up to 12-15t/ha), soybeans and rice. We had a very interesting meeting with Lannie Philley at Delta Land and Farm Management, an impressive company which owns a rice mill, rice drying operation, a transport venture and banking. Lannie had some frank observations of US agriculture stating that the rice industry is in for some tough times as it is the highest subsidised crop in the US ($160/ac wheat is only about $13/acre) and as of October 1 this year direct payments or subsidies will no longer exist in the Revised US Farm Bill (more on this in my Washington blog after I go to Capitol Hill). It is forcing rice growers to become more efficient, a comment made by the rice growers in our group was that his yields were not that flash given their climate compared to Australia. Just another example of the inefficiency that is bred out of subsidising agriculture!

This leads me to another highlight of our week in Louisiana, a visit to Landrys vineyard near Monroe, who are culturing the rednecks of North Louisiana with their wines, they even have a wine called 'redneck red'....anyway it was the venue for a great networking opportunity with the heavy hitters of Louisiana agricultural politics, we even had senators fly in on their private jets to meet with us...we had a great night swapping information and the key things I took out of it were, even if politicians are not from the same party they still work as a team for the common result (not like Australia!) and they could not fathom how Australian farmers make a living without subsidies and direct payments. It was great to get an insight into the Agripolitics of the US and has put me in good stead for our stint in Washington DC.

Well I am aware that this blog is getting a bit long but a few comments on the Louisiana culture, we made quite a few friends during our stay and the people are incredibly friendly and generous, their accent took a bit to get used to and I had morenthanone conversation where I had no idea what was said! The food tasted great, we tried crawfish (like yabbies), cornbread, bullfrog legs, alligator, fried green tomatoes, catfish, shrimp and I don't think a day went by that I did not consume at least 1 burger! No one in the group lost weight in Louisiana that's for sure!

Well that is all, if you made it to the bottom of this page, thank you for reading :)

Sunday, 16 June 2013

China Blog

Hi All, I am on the plane on the way to Louisiana, USA leaving the insane smog of China behind me. After spending 12 days in China I am just going to give you a bit of a summary on a country which Steve our token Kiwi on the trip referred to as a "a big black hole on the map" - a country which for the last 60 years has been enveloped in a shroud of communism and is often regarded with suspicion and mistrust by the western world.

China has a massive population (1.2 billion official and up to 2 billion unoffically) is going through a huge economic boom (which is apparently slowing, but there is still plenty going on!), their current GDP is around 10% being driven by heavy investment in construction. Every city we visited had at least 50 high rise developments and major road infrastructure projects. The majority of these new buildings are empty, driven by government encouragement to get the largely rural Chinese population into the urban areas.

The average Chinese farm is about half an acre, this is really holding their production back. There is little to no mechanisation, the farming community is uneducated and there is a stigma of poverty attached to the rural Chinese community. The government wants to consolidate these small acreages to increase productivity to eventually be totally self sustaining (china currently provides 90% of it own primary produce...not a bad effort when you see how they farm). Interestingly, and a major factor that is holding Chinese agriculture back is that a farmer can not own the land, he or she can only rent it from the government which stifles any real investment into infrastructure and fertility improvements.

Food safety has been the key message we have taken home from China. The Chinese people are becoming more affluent and are becoming more conscious of where their food comes from. This is providing huge opportunity for Australia and New Zealand, who the Chinese have identified as a safe food source. Milk is certainly under the spotlight since the melamine scandal, with wealthy Chinese happy to pay 3 times the price for infant formula from overseas as they don't trust their local industry.

As the Chinese become wealthier they are wanting more dairy products. Dairy is regarded as a luxury product, especially fresh pasteurised milk (majority is consumed as UHT). We visited a number of dairies in China including Migenu which supplies 20% of chinas dairy market, it seems to be the go ahead ag industry where dairy herds are vertically integrated in the the processing and distribution chain to be assured of quality and traceability. US and european dairying styles have been implemented with all these dairies housing their cows and feeding a ration of traceable feed stuffs.

China is turning the corner from its insular communist past, it has recognised the western world has got a lot of things right and now it is in catch up mode. The Chinese are hungry for advice and information to make them more competitive and productive. This is heavily encouraged by the government, for example the government is buying Australian dorper and Suffolk embryos having them transplanted into the native Chinese sheep to get some genetic improvement and giving them away to the farmers.

A quick note on sheep in China....well the province of Inner Mongolia has 80 million sheep alone, but they are a motley crew I can tell you! Sheep are really run as a sideline type thing, grazing on roadsides (the government has recently banned this practice which will wipe about 30 million of the population in Inner Mongolia) Lambs are sold at around 5 months old at 35kg. Sheep tend to be run in the dryer areas (200-300mm annual rainfall) and observing some flocks they don't get drenched too often. A positive thing for Aussie lamb farmers is that in the last 5 years chinas demand for lamb has risen by 50%. Pork is the most popular protein in china, however on a visit to the major meat market in Huhot nearly half of the sales were lamb. The cuts the Chinese prefer are different to us, they like the poorer cuts, which reflect in their pricing structure, where a lamb shank is worth $5/kg and the loin is only $9/kg (wholesale prices). A carcass retails for $7/kg.

Well that's all for now, I am going to take this flight as an opportunity to recharge after nearly 2 weeks of cultural experiences (good and bad!) a rather large night partying in Beijing (still wounded) and the brilliant experience of climbing the Great Wall of China (you have got to see it to believe it!)

Cheerio xxxx

Philippines Travel blog

We have arrived in the Philippines, a steamy 40 degrees with a relative humidity I'd about 90%, a bit of a shock for those of us from SA! I think I experienced a bit of a culture shock on arrival, and quickly learned that I could not apply western standards in the Philippines, there was no doubt I was not in Kansas anymore!

The main reason for this leg of the trip was to visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a world class research facility focused on feeding the world and providing farming improvements for rice growers throughout Asia and the World. The facility is also the site for the rice 'gene bank' where there are 117 000 varieties in cold storage, designed to remain viable for at least 100 years as a source of genetic material for rice breeders around the world.

3 billion people rely on rice as their staple food and this demand is projected to rise by 2% year on year.

Funding for IRRI is a combination of government and private sponsorship, with Bill Gates providing 27% of the total funding, with a large portion of this looking at creating a C4 rice plant (essentially making a more vigourus and fast growing plant) which is a very big ask but if achieved could drastically increase yields. Researchers are also looking at addressing mineral and vitamin deficiencies in these developing countries by creating varieties that have high levels of iron as well as vitamin A.

We were fortunate to be hosted by some great Australian scientists who are working at IRRI and they gave us a great insight into the vast differences between the way we farm in Australia compared to Asia which are polar opposites, farming in the Philippines is still very second world, with small land holdings and very little mechanisation.

We also had a couple of fantastic meals with our hosts Leigh Viall (2008 Nuffield scholar) and his wife Sue as well as Duncan McIntosh whose father was also a Nuffield. The most memorable in a good way was trying mangosteens a yummy tropical fruit and the most memorable in a bad way was the Filpino desserts (think black bean porridge and some weird concoction of jelly, baked beans, purple potato and milk, not good!)

Photos Below: Me at Corregidor Island, invaded on the first day of WW2 and occupied by the Japanese for 4 years and lookng around IRRI with Australian researcher Dr James Quilty

Monday, 25 March 2013

Canadian CSC

 Its snowing

Well I have just returned from my first official engagement as a Nuffield Scholar! A 10 day trip to Ontario Canada for the Contemporary Scholars Conference. All the 2013 scholars from around the world (NZ, Ireland, Scotland, England, Canada, France and Brazil) attended this event and the networking opportunity was invaluable  I met so many amazing farmers from around the world, it was incredibly inspiring and has given me some great people to visit and learn from in my future travels.

The land of Abundance....

View of one of the Great Lakes from Skylon tower, Toronto (looks like the sea but is 100% fresh water)

There is a large Mennonite population (similar beliefs to the Amish people) in Ontario, it was quite a cultural experience having dinner in a Mennonite Community one night. Here is a buggy!

Ontario is the home of 20% of the worlds fresh water ,withthe Great Lakes situated within this province – lakes which stretch so far Iwas quite sure it was actually the ocean I was looking at! Ontario and themajority of the places we saw whilst we were there were focussed on intensiveagriculture. There are chicken barns everywhere, both for meat and eggs as wellas many dairies. Due to the long cold winters and intensive nature of the dairyingoperations most dairy cows will never graze a pasture, with cows being fed a100% supplemented ration of grains and silage.

Location, location, location....

Ontario has a very unique marking is withinone days truck drive to New York City and its surrounding population – thelargest in the US and the third largest in the world. With millions ofconsumers on its doorstep, Ontario has taken advantage, by verticallyintegrating nearly all of its produce and selling it as a processed value addedproduct. Ontario also has a very strong domestic demand as it is home to thelargest Canadian city, Toronto. 79% of Ontario’s exports go to the US and thevast majority of these in the value added form, so whilst it is a high riskstrategy having all your eggs in one basket (literally!) it is working well forthem.

Supply Management

Canada uses a quota based system for many of itsagricultural products, including milk, pork, eggs and poultry products. Growersmust buy the right or quota to produce their product. Essentially Canadiangrowers can only produce what they consume, with the aim of this to protectmarket prices where Ontario farmers will earn 60% of the retail dollar, makingdairy farming in Ontario very different to Australia. On a visit to CranstonFarms we were told by the owners that they would earn 20 cents per litreprofit, getting paid approx 60 cents with 40 cents worth of costs – muchdifferent to Australian Dairy! With many UK & Irish scholars in the group,they are very wary of supply management and subsidy schemes as they tend tofoster inefficiencies within an industry – however every Canadian i spoke towere proud and grateful for the way they manage their markets.

Bioproducts the way forward?
Ontario seems to be leading the way in regards tobioproducts. What is a bioproduct? Basically a bioproduct is any sort ofmanufacturing which uses some kind of plant material in the process. We hadscientists show us foam car seats made with 30% soybean oil, plastic made of25% grass, engine grade oil made with soy and the list goes on! As we use upour finite resources of fossil fuels, we are having to look at alternatives andmuch like ethanol production, plants seem to be the answer. Of course there isthe debate of the fuel vs food issue, however the things they are achievingwith the more ‘environmentally friendly’ plant products are quite amazing.

 A plastic storage container made of 25% Switch Grass (The grass was purpose grown by a local Ontario Farmer.)


Well, it wasnt all work all of the time (just most of the time!) and we got to experience the amazing and breath taking Niagara Falls. It is coming into the end of their winter, so a quiet  time in regards to tourism which was perfect for us as it gave us the Falls all to ourselves!

The Canadian 'rainbow' Falls
 Chilly -10 degrees

Did someone say Wine?

Yep, whilst most people don't associate Canada with wine production there is a unique little micro climate around the Niagara lakes area that grows mainly white wines. It is famous for its Ice Wine, no that is not a wine slushie, it is actually a way of making a very sweet rich wine where the grapes are left on the vine at the end of autumn and are harvested once frozen in early winter. They are picked frozen and pressed frozen. We were fortunate enough to do a bit of wine tasting at the Pondview Winery!

Well that was just a quick summary of what I got up to in Canada, my next post will be in June when I begin my Globa Focus Tour where we head to the Phillipines, China, USA, Netherlands, Belgium, France and Ireland!