Peel the pears but leave the stalks intact. Make the poaching liquid by putting all the ingredients into a pan just big enough to hold the pears with 500ml water. Slowly heat to dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat a notch and slip in the pears, they should be fully submerged in the liquid. Cover with a circle of baking paper and very gently simmer the pears until they are soft. Depending on the size and firmness of your pears this could take anywhere from 20-40 minutes. Check with a knife after 20 minutes, and if they are tender they will slide off the knife easily. Keep cooking if they are still firm in the middle. Once cooked, remove from the heat but keep in the liquid until you are ready to serve.