Breaky Bottom – Peter’s Notes March 2024

29th April 2024

Peter Hall Breaky Bottom Animals

A Spring morning

Work continues in the vineyard and the ewes are about to start lambing; yet forgive me, but for some reason, loudly, I can hear the speaker of the House of Commons shouting “Order, order…..!”

So instead, I have chosen to focus on the delights of spring and the animals and plants which fascinate me. We have a 17-year-old cat called Toto and we speak an invented language that nobody else understands – it’s private…….. Yes, I talk to the animals.


Above is a photo of me in conversation with a friendly ewe – not sure if I am asking her a question or responding to something she has asked me, but we are clearly both very attentive.


Although Peacock butterflies don’t appear till around March, this one visited us in January of this year, pictured with me in my labelling room. It seemed very tame and friendly. Apparently when they are threatened, they rub their fore and hind wings together to make a hissing sound, audible to humans, but this one seemed amiable and remained silent!

Peacock butterflies lay massive numbers of eggs, chiefly on nettles – it’s so important to maintain our plant diversity, and nettles support a myriad of beneficial insects. Visitors sometimes politely raise their eyebrows at the number of nettles at Breaky Bottom, but I am always able to reassure them of the essential role they play.


Normally March is the busiest month for the welcome activity of amphibians in our ponds. Male frogs fill the night air with their croaks, hoping to seduce the females into submission…

Sadly, there has been no evidence of frogs or toads this year at Breaky Bottom and I have learnt of the relatively recent arrival of Ranavirus which is decimating frog and toad populations in the UK, particularly in the South-East.

So, with no frogs or toad pics, I have decided to show you my father’s bronze toad, one of my most treasured possessions – Why? See the story below!

It was given to him by a man in a restaurant who said it had brought him bad luck. It was in London, wartime. Pop said, OK, I’ll take it, but before the food was served there was something in his mind that told him to get-the-fuck out of there. He went out, with the toad. Soon after there was a direct hit with a bomb which blew the whole place up. So it brought my father good luck.


And lastly, to roundoff my rather irregular Peter’s Notes, I want to mention the bird-life which has always been my special delight. Those who visit Breaky Bottom will be familiar with what I call my ‘Michelin-three-star’ restaurant which gets topped up every two or three days. I have to declare that the photos above of the Robin, Blackbird and Great Spotted Woodpecker were not taken here, but sourced from my computer. My pick is the Blackbird, whose sweet song is second-to-none in the world of music, from dawn to dusk.

With all best wishes from the Breaky Bottom Team, Peter & Christina

Ciao Peter

Peter Hall

Peter has had 50 years of making wine at Breaky Bottom. He has come to appreciate that the best wine is made in the vineyard. The winemaker’s job is to let good grapes express themselves naturally.