Wine Tasting at Veeno Chester

Veeno, just opposite Chester’s cathedral, is an Italian wine cafe and a foodie heaven, offering a great selection of fine wines and gorgeous Italian food.


Based on the concept of Italian Aperitivo, the ritual of drinking, nibbling and relaxing after work, Veeno was established in Manchester by two Italian guys Nino Caruso and Andrea Zecchino.


We were invited along to experience the Selezione Wine Tasting: a two hour feast for the senses which involved tasting six fabulous wines from the family’s own vineyard in Sicily, accompanied by a platter of meat, cheeses and appetisers, all from exceptional quality Italian producers.


We were guided through each wine selection by Anna, the restaurant manager, who explained the provenance of the wine, tasting notes, and guidance on which of the foods to sample with each of the wines.


I’m no wine expert so I won’t presume to give you my thoughts on each (after all you can taste them all yourself for £26.90) but in summary this is how it went:

We started with a classic Sicilian Grillo: a slightly oaky dry white to match with the light and fluffy buffalo mozzarella.  Next up was a more floral and fruity Zibibbo which perfectly matched the sharp Pecorino cheese.

At no time did we feel under pressure to move onto the next wine too quickly.  Anna was attentive and came back to our table with the next selection when she could see that we were ready.  This made for a very relaxed experience.


Alongside the meats and cheeses, we had several breads – great for dipping in the excellent quality olive oil and balsamic.

The third wine was a Syrah rose.  Light and fruity with notes of cherry, strawberry and pomegranate, this accompanied the speck (smoked ham).  Speck is quite a spicy ham but it didn’t overpower the wine.

Moving along the spectrum, we then got to the reds.  The first red, a Perricone had a definite taste of red fruits and was robust enough to live with the strong tasting Bresaola.  The second red, my favourite of all, was a deep and rich Nero d’Avola Riserva  with notes of cocoa.  This was matched with a rich and creamy Gorgonzola with walnuts.

Of course, no Italian feast would be complete without tiramisu, which was served with a shot of Limoncello and a sweet and soft dessert wine, Tagos.

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This made for a pretty perfect Friday night out.  It works as a couples experience, but Veeno also offers group wine tasting sessions which would be great for after work, or a Saturday afternoon treat.   They do gift cards too – just in case you are stuck for ideas for Christmas, birthdays or an anniversary treat.

Of course, it’s not just wine on offer here.  There are oodles of cocktails to choose from and coffees too.  While we were there, people were just popping in for a glass of wine and being just opposite Storyhouse I can see it as a great venue for a pre or post theatre drink and nibbles.


*I was invited to experience the Selezione Wine Tasting in exchange for my honest review.  It was fabulous!




Wild Goose Restaurant & Bar Chester

Every now and again you come across somewhere in your vicinity that you didn’t even know existed.  Just such a thing happened today when my bestie Linda and I had coffee and cake at the Wild Goose in Dodleston.  We had no idea it was here!  Hidden in the Cheshire countryside, but only a few miles from home.


To be fair, it’s only been open for a few weeks.  It’s on the site of Chester Lakes, a fishery which has been popular with anglers for a long time.

Anyway, I had won a Facebook competition for coffee and cake, so it was the perfect excuse to try it out (and follow it up with a visit to the nearby Grosvenor Garden Centre).


The décor is very country chic, with a quirky bar made up of wine crates.



Outside there are the cutest little huts overlooking the lake which would be perfect on a summer night.  Pity it was pouring with rain!



The menu looks good enough to tempt us back for dinner too!  PS I can recommend the chocolate cake!





Nordic Glass By Ella Rosinkrans

When shopping in the Grosvenor Precinct in Chester I came across this shop selling the most beautiful glass.  I got chatting to the lady behind the counter and it turned out that she is not only the owner of the business, but makes each piece of art herself.


These coasters were only a fiver each and I bought a set as a gift for my niece who fell in love with them too.

Ella Rosinkrans, the artist, is Icelandic and people from all over the world collect her art work.  This is her website if you want to take a look.


The bigger pieces of art are beautiful and would make good wedding or engagement presents.  There really are pieces for all budgets.


I rather liked this glass heart dish which I think would look great on my dining table.

If you’re in Chester, pop in and have a look!  Otherwise you could check out her online shop.  I really do like to see independent shops and it is lovely to buy one off pieces now and again.

Christine x





beatSCAD: An Update Five Years Still Alive and Kicking!



Hello fellow Scadsters!

A couple of weeks ago, Becks Breslin, a pioneer of the UK beatSCAD charity, asked me to provide an update on what life is like five years post SCAD.

The beatSCAD website has lots of useful information for those newly diagnosed with this scary and bewildering condition.  I really wish it had been around five years ago when every cough, sneeze, ache or pain threw me into panic mode thinking I would have another dissection.

Anyway, still alive and kicking, this is the update I provided for the website:

I’m now over five years post SCAD, just coming up to 55 and the happiest I have ever been in my life. So what’s changed?
    1. I got healthy through eating well and exercising moderately (gardening, yoga, walking, badminton)
    2. I chucked my stressful job and now write a 50 plus lifestyle blog over at
    3. I re-joined my choir (Chester Ladies) and will become chairman next month.  We are a registered charity and I will be doing lots of public speaking (as well as singing of course!).
    4. My strategy for the future is ‘always have the next holiday booked’ so you have to be there for it!
    5. I travel extensively, although on a budget.  The picture is of me on the Brooklyn Bridge during a recent girls only trip to NYC!
    6. I don’t have much cash any more, but I spend on experiences, not things, which are no longer important.
    7. I’ve embraced charity shops!
    8. I am no longer scared of lifts (the worst already happened and I survived)
    9. I no longer get panic attacks (ditto)
    10. I still get premature atrial contractions, days when I’m exhausted, and days when my heart seems to play up all day, but I have faith that it will pass, so I don’t dwell on it.  I take my medication and hope for the best.
So what does the future hold?  Well, I’m thinking I may reach menopause this year (it’s now seven months since my last period) with the hope that my PACS will go away, or at least improve.  I’m waiting for my referral to Dr Adlam to come through so that I can perhaps ditch some of this medication.  I want to travel more, blog more, experience more, do more and just have fun.  I’m saying ‘yes’ to everything I can!



The Chester Food Drink & Lifestyle Festival

A few of my favourites from last weekend’s foodie festival at Chester Racecourse.

The Mezze Company

We sampled a few of these, but it was the black olive tapenade which made it into my shopping basket.


Choose Real Food

These ‘guilt free treats’ were super tasty. I chose a cacao and coconut ball to take home. Not too sweet and very filling.


Beautiful Bowls

I fell in love with this pottery from Sytch Farm Studios.  If I’d had cash to spare I would definitely have indulged! It’s gorgeous.


L20 Hotel School

Fine dining from budding young chefs for only £4 a course? John and Greg eat your heart out!




Say Cheese!

I picked up two cheeses from The Saddleworth Cheese Co: the first, a creamy blue which Steve really enjoyed  and the second, a creamy Camembert style cheese which is probably the best and creamiest I’ve ever tasted.


Thanks to CH1 Bid for the tickets!



The Chester Ladies’ Choir : Vocal Makeover


Do you watch those programmes where someone takes a property in need of some TLC and turns it into a sparkly new, bang up to date, palace? I do too.

Well, something similar is happening to the choir that I sing with, Chester Ladies.  We’ve been working with our new musical director David Bebbington BMus (Hons), PGCert, MA, DipLSM, FLCM, FHEA for about nine months now.

David is a talented vocal coach, pianist and teacher as well as a long established musical director and is bringing a fresh approach to learning and performing choral music.

Rehearsals now include vocal warm ups, tips and techniques on how to improve the voice, and a distinct focus on perfecting rhythm and musicality.  Many of the choir are reporting an improvement in their vocal range as a result of the exercises.

We’ve been tackling some really tricky pieces such as Bill Withers classic Lean On Me, which is not only vocally challenging, but requires sound effects which make us giggle but are certainly effective.
There’s no doubt that being in our choir is not an easy, once a week hobby.  It requires commitment to learning words, as we perform without copies, and we are encouraged to stretch ourselves vocally.  You never know what you can achieve until you try.
We welcome new members, so if you love to sing and are willing to commit your time and energy to being a better singer, then why not give us a try?
Details are on our website

Chester Unlocked: Deva Codex


Today we’ve been unravelling the mystery of the Deva Codex Cat Quest in our home city of Chester.  This is a fun treasure hunt which takes you to many of Chester’s hidden historical places, giving you an insight into what really happened in the city in days gone by.

It starts in Pierpoint Lane and ends at the Northgate, but that’s all I’m going to tell you because there’s another week to go before the quest closes its doors on January 31st and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you!

If you manage to crack the code, there is a £300 prize up for grabs which you can spend in Chester’s many shops. Of course, I hope I win, but we saw a few other treasure hunters on our tail, so who knows!

As all intrepid treasure hunters know, you need sustenance, so we started with brunch at The Three Kings Studios and finished with a cuppa at Tea On The Wall.

Have a look at some of the sights!  Anyone else cracked the code?





Hello Hygge

Our friends in the north know a thing or two about getting through the cold dark months and I can tell you that deprivation and frenetic gym visits are not on their agenda. If I lived in Copenhagen I’d be indulging in ‘hygge’: getting cosy with the fireside, a couple of blankets, cashmere socks and the cat on my knee.  Well, it’s true that I’ve been spending more than the odd afternoon immersed in my Christmas box set of Game of Thrones, but now that January is here, I am making an effort to be more active and eat more healthily.

This morning, we’ve been for a long walk along the River Dee in Chester and had brunch at my current favourite independent tea shop  Three Kings Studios.


I’m back to my usual classes at the gym too, but promising not to be too hard on myself.  After all, you can’t restrict comfort and joy to just one month in the year!  I’m intending to enjoy January and I hope you are too.

Christmas With The Chester Ladies’ Choir



When you sing with a choir, Christmas starts early.  Very early.  In fact we started learning Christmas music in October, so it’s fair to say we are pretty consumed by the season of goodwill already, even though it’s still two weeks away.

This week there have been two Christmas concerts.  Our main event was at Wesley Church Chester where we showcased our seasonal repertoire which includes firm favourites White Christmas and Winter Wonderland as well as sacred pieces Pavanne For A Silent Night and Gaudete.

Our audience had to do their bit too, with a sing along of Saviour’s Day to end the night.

We had some amazing guests:  Dylan Cernyw on harp and local Chester singers Megan Lamour and John Henry.  If you have never heard a harp played professionally, then seek out one of Dylan’s performances.  I promise you will not be disappointed.

We raised £248 for Guide Dogs, a charity which is especially close to our hearts, as one of our choir members, Clare, will have her own guide dog in the new year.

Our second gig was at Chester’s St Mary’s Centre, where we were guests of Theatre In The Quarter, celebrating choral music with ‘Joy To The World’.  We shared the stage with some wonderful local choirs: Dee Sign Choir, Hoole Community Choir, Dragonsong and Hope Street Harmonies. The atmosphere was buzzing as Matt Baker hosted this fun evening which was a real treat for anyone who loves to hear a choir sing.

Of course, it’s not over yet!  Next week we are singing for a local charity and will also be at M&S Outlet Cheshire Oaks singing carols to raise money for Guide Dogs.

If you would like to be doing this next Christmas, then why not join us in January?  We meet at St Luke’s Huntington 7:30 to 9:30 Tuesday evenings.

Enjoy your Christmas, music lovers!





Girls On Tour in London: The Chester Ladies’ Choir

After months of intense rehearsal (and fun) we finally made it onto the stage at the Royal Albert Hall last night for the fabulous Festival Of Brass and Voices in aid of Cancer Research UK.  To sing in such an iconic building was such a privilege and I had to pinch myself a couple of times to check it was really happening.  Here we are at our hip and trendy Clayton Hotel in Chiswick, all set for the performance.

DSCN0037Earlier in the day we had queued in the rain to get into rehearsals.


After what seemed like hours, we finally got in and ran through the whole programme until William Relton (in his signature red braces) was happy with us.

Then it was performance time!


The concert was amazing. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as soon as we sang the first few notes of With A Voice of Singing and then continued to do so, as we enjoyed many wonderful pieces from the bands and choirs.  I particularly loved the Grand March from Aida (the odd forgotten word notwithstanding) when I really felt the full impact of such a huge number of voices singing en masse.


Socially, we had a great time getting to know one another and no doubt making friends for life.


Would I do it all again?  Ask me next week when I’ve recovered!