Today is a sailing day so there is no need to get up too early however as we have a safety exercise at 9.30 am we decided to set the alarm for 7.30 am. I have to say this was a good decision as I had the best nights sleep last night in so long. I think it was the sound of the water that must have relaxed me so much. If the alarm hadn’t have gone off, I’m not sure when I would have woken up.
There are no kettles in the room so hubby was keen to get up and head for breakfast so he could get a coffee.
I really wasn’t that hungry today so settled for just some fruit and a mint tea.
After breakfast I’ll be honest I went back to bed for a couple of hours, while hubby sat on our balcony reading and watching the activity on the river.
I think we are both very surprised how wide the river is and how much commercial traffic is on it. I don’t think we have seen any other passenger ships on the river yet. It’s so peaceful you can’t help being relaxed.
As I had a light breakfast I was getting quite hungry so around 12.30 pm we headed to lunch. You can either eat from the buffet or off the menu. You will never starve on this trip that is for sure.
I opt for a tuna salad to start followed by spaghetti bolognese and Chinese green beans, while hubby had the same starter with a lamb curry. I really fancied sorbet but it wasn’t on the menu. I asked Eddie our waiter who said it wasn’t a problem and quickly returned with some.
Drinks run freely over lunch so I opted for the fizz while hubby had a beer.
During the day there are activities going on. I was gutted to read I’d missed a lecture on the Yangtze River this morning. Now reading the programme I see there is a talk on Chinese medicines after lunch and a lesson in Chinese. I am planning on going to the latter. In the meantime I’m going to chill out on the top deck watching the world go by.
It’s nice and warm but there is quite a haze today. As I sit watching the activity on the river it’s hard not to fall asleep. It’s really is calming sitting on the deck. There are fishes jumping out of the river. I don’t know what they are but they come right out.
The staff come round offering ice tea or water to keep you hydrated.
When we pop back to our room the maid has been. Again, they have left some really lovely extra touches such as bookmarks. Hubby had been reading his book but didn’t have one so had folded it over. She had noticed and gave him a Viking one. She also left a card each for us with our own Chinese year on and what it means. They must have got our years from our details. Hubby is a rabbit and myself the rooster. The description for both of us was actually quite accurate.
I did go to the Chinese lesson but couldn’t get into it so decided to return to our balcony to chill. Later we have welcome drinks with the captain as well as a Chinese themed menu. Eddie assured us at lunch that if we didn’t like Chinese they would make us something else, but you can’t scare me with Chinese food.
Before dinner we were invited to deck 5 for the welcome party with the captain. On arrival we were given champagne which was continuously topped up. Canapés were offered too.
The evening started with a dance performance before the key staff were all introduced to us. The captain had been sailing this river for over 30 years so we are in safe hands.
As we were listening to the speakers, we looked out of the window and saw the most spectacular sunset. Sadly we didn’t have any cameras with us but will definitely be making a plan to get some photos tomorrow night.
After a quick briefing about the next days tours it was time for dinner, and what a dinner.
As it was a Chinese menu, food plates of different dishes were placed on our Lazy Susan for us to help ourselves. Kung po chicken, ribs, fried rice, fish etc etc. It kept coming. A lovely dumpling soup and banana sorbet completed the meal. Oh of course more bubbly.
After dinner we retired to the bar for a couple before bed! Tomorrow we are off to visit a school and the old wall.
It was a bit of a lay in this morning. The alarm was set for 6.40 am. Today we leave the Westin hotel in Shanghai to go to the airport, to fly to Wuhan where we will board the Viking Emerald.
I’d packed most things last night so this morning I only had to shower and pack the toiletries into the case, ready to be collected at 7.30am.
We don’t leave the hotel until 10.45 am for a 1.25 pm flight, but Viking are sending our luggage ahead. We don’t see it now until we are on the boat!
After the cases are outside our door, we settle to have our last morning cup of tea in our room before heading to breakfast.
As we have scales in our bathroom hubby thought it would be good to get on them as see how much Our weight has changed in the last 5 days. We seem to have eaten so much I wasn’t sure I wanted to know! In for a penny, in for a pound, I got on them. I had stayed the same! Woo hoo I was so pleased. Then hubby got on. Drumroll please………….. he had lost 1.4 kg!! How on earth did he do that ? I was gutted! He is always lucky that he can eat and drink what he likes and not worry too much about it. That’s men for you ladies! I can put weight on just eating lettuce!
Talking of food, we then went down for our last breakfast in Shanghai. I’m sure the breakfasts for the rest of the trip are going to be just as good but in the meantime we savour the selection available to us.
We now have just under 2 hours before we leave for the airport so I relax on the chaise lounge in our room and catch up on @MYDIY on YouTube with Kathy. Today she is making scarecrow wreaths. They are so cute. I do enjoy watching her videos. The only challenge is in China you have to use a VPN to use your phone or iPad. It keeps cutting off, which frustrates me. I do finally get to watch it all though.
Right, it’s time to check out. We still have 2 weeks left of the holiday, but it’s still sad to be leaving Shanghai. We really have had a great time and our room has been so comfortable. The bath especially which is free standing and big enough to fit 2 people side by side! The boat will only have a shower but fingers crossed our rooms on Xion and Beijing will have baths too.
We are now on the bus to the airport. Terry is giving us an update on what will happen when we get to the airport. He is a character. He was telling us that when he sees phrases on movies he has to check it is suitable for tourists.
We arrive at the airport and are given our passports and boarding passes as well as our lunch boxes. Viking do make things so easy for you. All we have to do is go through security again.
We head to our boarding gate and all open our lunch boxes. It was supposed to be a club sandwich. When we all opened the bags there was a roar of laughter. Many of us instead of a club sandwich got something with a purple and orange layer! It tasted of butternut and yams. Hubby was lucky and got a club sandwich so kindly split it with me.
We were also given a banana and 2 madeleines which were nice. I was craving bananas so it was timely.
Our flight is boarded as I settle down. Hubby has taken the window seat again. The gentleman next to me has an awful habit of picking his nose. Not a little go by a full on rummage for most of the flight. To make it worse he was flicking it or wiping it on his table. I was literally heaving. I was desperately trying to not look, but it was so difficult. I was desperate to get off the flight.
There was some positives though. The air hostess noticed I was reading my book so put my light on for me. They also brought around water for us which I kept on my lap, not wanting to put anything in the seat pocket.
I did have a look at the duty free shopping magazine though. Now, I have to say I have never seen anything quite like it. When I first opened the magazine I came to knives, saucepans and kettles! If that wasn’t bizarre enough, I turned over and saw fridge, cooker and bikes! I couldn’t wait to see what their trolley looked like. Sadly I didn’t buy anything as my baggage allowance might have been exceeded!
The flight landed and thankfully the guy next to me rushed off so I was able to get my antibacterial wipes out without offending anyone !
As Viking were taking care of our luggage we just had to identify it so they could check everyone’s had arrived. As we left the airport Terry informed us that the sandwich issue was a mistake and had ordered us all a KFC to eat on the bus. That was a really thoughtful gesture and went down well with everyone.
Unlike UK KFC this wasn’t fried but marinated chinese style and was delicious.
Before going to the boat we did a detour to Hubei Museum where we first were treated to a traditional bell performance followed by a tour of one of the exhibitions.
The Bell performance was so relaxing I could have fallen asleep. I was so enchanted. The musicians and dancers were in traditional dress using old musical instruments, which were beautiful in themselves.
We were then given a private viewing of an exhibition of Marquis Yis. When he died, he had buried with him 13 girls and women whose ages ranged from 14 to 26. All were killed as human sacrifices. Within the tomb were musical instruments, food and wine vessels along with furniture. He believed in the afterlife, so all the items were placed in the 4 chambers for him. The women were to care for him and play him music. The tomb was discovered when some soldiers were trying to build their houses. It was really fascinating.
After the museum, we headed to the boat. As I got off the bus and I walked down the gang way I was so excited.
When on the boat we are greeted by the staff who take us to our stateroom and show us around. The staff are all very friendly and really want you to have a good experience.
The stateroom has a king size bed, sofa, coffee table, dresser and plenty of wardrobe space. On the balcony we have 2 more chairs.
The bathroom is basic with just a shower but I was over the moon when I saw they use l’octaine products. They had these on our previous cruise with them, and I have to say I do love them.
As it was after 7pm we went straight to dinner. Tonight was a western menu. You choose off a menu and as is Viking, they cater for all tastes.
I had ham and melon to start, salmon with new potatoes for main and sorbet to follow.
Alcohol is free during mealtimes so they keep you topped up with a drink of your choice. Mine was white wine.
The dining room is set out in tables of 8 so you get a good chance to meet and get to know the fellow passengers.
After dinner we have a briefing on floor 5 in the bar area so get ourselves a drink. Carey who took us to our room earlier serves us and he has already learnt our names, which I think is brilliant in such a small amount of time.
We are due to sail at 9.30 pm so hubby and I go onto the top deck. The buildings around us are lit up and change colour in unison. It is spectacular.
We sit on the desk for a while over a glass of wine, until the lights are now a distant memory.
We planned to have one last drink in the bar before bed, however we got talking to another couple and settled in for the rest of the night.
As we were outside of meal times you pay for your own drinks. We were recommended the drinks package. For £250 for both of us, we could have unlimited drinks. We decided this was a really good deal and signed up for it. I was even more glad I did it when I found out you could have fizz too.
I absolutely love it when that big yellow thing in the sky appears. You can’t beat the feeling when you step outside and you don’t need your coat! Even at 5 am! For me though,it is also bittersweet!
Take this week. Whilst I am cheering on one hand that the weather has finally improved. That we can use our braai every night for dinner, sit outside until late at night drinking a nice cold glass of wine, or even just be able to keep the patio doors open so the dogscanrun in and out. On the other hand, it means the inevitable chaos that is our public transportsystem.
If you read my blogs regularly, you will know that I commute 3 hours a day for work. Most of that is by train. It is never a dull moment on the trains here in the UK. It is either too hot, too cold, too wet, too many leaves, not enough drivers, not enough carriages, the list goes on!
Twice this week I have had the journey from hell. I’m going to save the best until last!
So yesterday saw the second highest temperaturesrecorded in the UK. Our weather station at home recorded a maximum high of 36.3 degrees, so it was a hot one! The BBC news in the morning warned of the potential for chaos on the railways so we were prepared. Apparently as the track heats up it expands, which can cause the track to buckle! Now I get that, but what I don’t get is how countries with hot climates cope! Surely, we should have built our railways to cope with all types ofweather. Apparently not!
From around lunchtime, we are all checking our phones to see what is happening with our trains. When I come back from lunch, a colleague warns me to check my line. It is cancellations after cancellations. He has taken the wise decision to take some leave and go early. I decide to hold out!
As the afternoon continues it becomes evident that we are not going to be going home on our usual route tonight. After a quick check, I notice a train is due to leave another station going in the direction of my parents. It means leaving work 30 minutes earlier, but I feel we have no choice.
Hubby and I quickly walk to the other station. It is uphill and the heat is intense. We arrive with seconds to spare! We are so grateful for the staff who hand us both a bottle of water as we get to the station. The train should be 4 carriages but today only 2. We are like sardines. The heat is intense, and I can feel beads of sweat pouring down my face. I’d be embarrassed if it wasn’t for the fact that everyone else on the train is looking just like me! Obviously, I’m standing which makes it worse!
Thankfully thetrainjourney isn’t too long,only35 minutes. I am so happy to finally get off and get some fresh if not hot air! My dad is waiting for us. Thank heaven for dads! He is going to drive us home so we can collect hubby car, then drive back to our station to get my car! It is all very long winded, but when I look at my phone, I am relieved we took that decision. It’s 8 pm and so far, no train haveleft to go to our station.
It may have taken 3 hours to get home, but we are home!
Now, let me take you back a few daysearlierto the worst day ever in my commuting history!
Tuesday was another hot day. Not the hottest but still hot! I left work in preparation to get my train. There was no indication that there were any problems.
As I arrive at the station, I check the boards. My train is due in on Platform 4, so I head down to it. I am then told by a member of staff that it is now coming into Platform 7. I grumble and head off to platform 7. The train is already late, I’m hot and I just want to get home!
When I arrive at 7, I am told that the platform change was a mistake and it is still coming in on 4. I turn around and head back to 4. I’m then told it is coming in on platform 1! So,another trip up to 1. When I get to1I’m told no,I need to go to 3. By this time, I am not very happy to say the least. I get to 3 and am told its back on 1. Off I go again, to be told it is on 5. Oh,no, we think it’s 6. I arrive at 6 again to be told it isdefinitely comingin on platform 2a! I get to 2a as the announcer says platform 4, but thankfully says she is sorry that was a mistake it is coming in on 2a.
We are all waiting on 2a. It’s very crowded and hot. It is now almost an hour since I arrived for my train!
They then announce the train isactually waitingon platform 2b! We allhave toquickly try and get through the crowds to get to the other side of the platform. This is really testing me now!
As I get on, I grab the first available seat. I’m so grateful for it. The train fills up and I now have a man’s crotch in my face. Lovely! The train then sits there for half an hour whilethey try to find a driver! It is so hot, and I am extremely dehydrated by this point.
Finally, the train moves, and I head home. What should have been1.5 hourjourney home is now 3 hours! I’m hot, sweaty and tired. I have the most amazing hubby everthough. As I finally walked through the door,he handed me a lovely glass of Slimline Wine. Just what I needed. He had also prepared the food for the braai, so all I had to do was shower, sit in the garden with my wine and relax!
Now theysay,‘let the train take the strain’, but in my experience it is the train thatcourses the strain!
I’mdefinitely nota fan of public transport. I appreciate we need to try and use it to save the planet, but when you have days like this, you reallyhave toquestion if it is worth it!
Thankfully tomorrow is Saturday, and I do not intend to go near a train for the rest of the week! Have a good weekend!
How many of you wait for a special occasion to pop open that special bottle of bubbly ?
Champagne has always been thought of as the go to drink when you have something to celebrate! The more you spend on the bottle, the more it seems you have to celebrate !
Champagne varies hugely in cost and taste, starting at around £14 for a supermarket h,ome brand to £48 for your Bollinger!
We all know though that the price tag doesn’t always reflect the taste!
Some of us like it sweet and some like it dry! At £48 that’s a lot of money to spend on something you later realise you don’t like !
Price also means that you may hold back on celebrations. I mean what counts as a big celebration?
What if you could find a champagne that was excellent value for money and tasted amazing? Well you can ! Ok it won’t be called champagne, but as you know the name is the region, not the quality or taste!
Slimline wine now have 2 sparkling wines, that will give any bottle of champagne a run for its money at a fraction of the price !
All the Slimline wines are produced in Calamandrana in the Piedmont region of Italy and therefore can’t carry the Champagne name! But wants in a name ? You don’t buy a car without checking under the bonnet!
So if you are considering a celebration, before you go running to the champagne, consider these two options:
Made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, this sparkling wine is equal and better than any champagne I have tasted
If you like a sweeter taste this is your baby ! Made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Barbera it’s fruitier that the white . It’s like no other pink champagne on the market !
The best bit!
Both wines are gluten free, sugar free, carb free, suitable for vegans, and due to the reduced sulphur doesn’t give you a hangover ! I can certainly vouch for that!
The whole bottle is only 410 calories so perfect if you are watching your weight!
Less than 2 weeks ago, I was one of the lucky people given the opportunity to see where and how these wines were made. I also tasted a lot of bottles (for research purposes of course!). Both bottles are equally as good, but for me the new white is the new Bollinger! I am no longer going to be spending almost £50 for a celebration! Its Slimline sparkling all the way!
What’s more, because of the price, I don’t have to wait for a really big celebration to share it with family and friends. In fact every weekend is now a celebration!
Both are currently on offer for £9.99 a bottle. It’s currently only available on-line but if you buy 6 bottles , use SLIM offer code and get free delivery !
Why not give yourself more reasons to celebrate! At this price you can pop that cork more often!
Summer is here, the BBQ’s will be coming out. You will be having garden parties, birthday, weddings, christenings, or just because events. Make sure Slimline sparkling is a feature of them. It will make your event go off with a sparkle!
It is also very versatile for cocktails. Visit them on Facebook to see some of the many suggestions.
We all know the expression – do you remember where you were when President Kennedy was shot? Well I certainly remember where I was when I heard I was one of the lucky few invited by Slimline Wine, to see where and how their amazing wine was produced! The date was 5 March 2018 in the Novotel Hotel in Leeds!
A few weeks before, Slimline had announced 5 lucky winners who were going to be taken on a trip of a lifetime to Italy. I waited in anticipation as the names were called out! I was away with work in Darlington, so was sat on my bed praying it would be me! As the names came out one by one, Stu, Jac, Gaynor, Lisa and Sue, my heart sank. I was pleased for the winners but disappointed for me.
I still loved the wine and believed in the company, so continued to follow and support them.
They had now started doing a cooking show live of Facebook with Chef Andy. I loved this as it paired the wine up with some amazing meals. I would set my alarm on my phone each week to make sure I tuned in.
I was away with work again on 5 March. The Wi-Fi in my room was breaking up, so I was having difficulty in getting to watch that weeks cooking show properly. Eventually I managed to watch it back on catch up. To my complete surprise and joy, Miriam announced live that they wanted me to go too. If I said I was excited I would be underestimating how I felt!
A group chat was set up with all the winners, and over the next few weeks we would message each other daily. We were a group of strangers with one important thing in common. We all loved Slimline Wine!
We were all given the option to bring along a plus 1 on the trip. Sadly 1 of the group couldn’t make it. Another winner, Julia, though was added to the happy band of Slimline friends.
If you want to know more about the wine, check out my previous blog ‘Slimline Wine – So what is the fuss really all about!’ (https://bit.ly/2IfbP0A)
On Friday 15 June 2018 11 complete strangers met at Gatwick Airport along with 2 of Slimline Wines staff – Matthew Tanner and Simon Palmer. The only thing in common was the wine. We could absolutely hate each other or become lifelong friends!
One by one we arrived and introduced ourselves to each other. Straight away there was an ease about us all. It was like we had known each other for years!
We had time in the airport so took the opportunity of visiting the shops, before having a drink in the bar together.
We all boarded our 1 hour 45 minute flight, and travelled the 546 miles to Turin Airport. There, we boarded a large minibus and embarked on the 1 hour 30 minute drive to our Hotel in Calamandrana – the home of Slimline Wine.
Our hotel – Le Corte was absolutely beautiful. An old farm house, it oozed rustic charm. As I stepped off the bus, the views took my breath away! We walked into the courtyard to be greeted by a voice in the distance, inviting us to drop our bags off and to have a drink! None of us needed asking twice! The voice was from the one and only Paul Anthony Gidley. The man on the back of the bottle! The man who started the company and after a conversation with his partner Miriam, came up with the idea of a wine with lower calories.
We were greeted by Sam the waiter serving us a Slim Aperol Spritz. I’d never tried this before, but I will certainly be having it again. It’s a mix of Aperol, Slim white fizz and sparkling water. Perfect for a hot Italian evening and so much better than Pimms. This is the new summer drink!
This was our first chance to really sit down together as a group and get to know each other. More Slim followed until it was time to check into our rooms and change ready for dinner at 8 pm.
Our room was 204, the junior suite. It was absolutely stunning, with amazing views.
Dinner was a set menu, with of course Slimline Wine. The restaurant had, just like the whole of the hotel, dramatic views. We watched the sun set over the vineyards whilst sipping our Slimline Wine. The food was really tasty and plenty of it!
The staff at the hotel were so friendly. It was like everyone was part of the family.
It was a perfect first evening, and by the end of the night (ok early hours of the morning!), we were all truly good friends!
Considering it was a late night, we were all up early the next morning ready to start our tour of Slimline. Well ok, all except one of the group, who had forgotten to move her clock forward!
The first stop was the factory where the wine is made and bottled, in Calamandrana. There we met the other important man behind Slimline Wine, Dan Cusmano. (Photo above). Dan gave us a tour of the factory explaining how it was made, from the moment it leaves the vines, to when it is bottled.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing some videos of our tour on my Youtube channel so make sure you subscribe to it, so you don’t miss them!
What was evident was the passion both Dan and Paul had for their product. They had spent many months making sure they had the perfect grape, the perfect combination and conditions, to give us what we have today.
If any of you have tried the white fizz, you may have experienced problems getting some of the corks out! This was a great opportunity for me to ask Dan about this. He explained that in the early days, the focus was on creating the perfect wine. The cork wasn’t one of the main priorities. On learning our difficulties, they realised they needed to fix this, so new corks were produced. The new ones come out a lot easier!
The next stop was one of the vineyards. As you walk through the straight lines of vines, you can feel the love that has gone into planting them and making sure they grow into the perfect grape.
The grapes won’t be ready for picking until September. We were invited to go back to help with this. I’d love to do this, however as I already have a holiday booked at this time, I sadly may have to decline this offer!
Lunch was at a beautiful family run restaurant in Loazzolo. The views from this place were amazing, as was the food. The lunch consisted of 5 courses! We weren’t expecting that much initially, so filled up on the bread! Big mistake! It was absolutely delicious. No Slimline wine was served, but we did get to try some other white and red wines of the region. Equally as good however with more calories!
After 5 courses, a walk was required, so we did a visit to a lovely town called Acqui Terme. In the square there was a fountain where natural hot spring water flowed.
It was then time to return to our hotel for quick dip in the pool before dinner!
Tonight’s dinner was being held at the home of Dan’s father Raymundo. His villa was just above the hotel. When I thought our views couldn’t be improved on, Raymundo’s balcony blew me away!
Raymundo personally cooked us a variety of meats and breads on his BBQ, served with fresh salads from his own garden. It was such a lovely gesture. We were so relaxed and had a great time. This was all washed down with Slimline wine and some great company!
We returned to our hotel to have a nightcap or 2, of more Slimline Wine!
Today was a going to be a little bit more relaxing!
After breakfast, we had a quick wander into the village of Calamandrana before heading off to Canelli. Here, we went on a tour of the wine cellars of Bosco who produce Asti Spumante. At the end of the tour, we got to try 3 of their products. I have to say, whilst I loved the tour, the wines are not a patch on Slimlines!
We then retired to a lovely bar in the square waiting for a classical concert to start. Sadly, by the time our transport back arrived, the concert hadn’t started!
On our return to the hotel, we headed to the pool. Whilst the boys had a dip, the girls relaxed and enjoyed more slimline wine. A lovely table of cheeses, hams and breads was laid on for us, with yes you guessed it, more Slimline wine.
This should have been our last day! Today we headed back to Turin Airport for our return flight home!
Unfortunately, due to an accident on route, we were held up in traffic and so we missed our flight home! Were we cross? No! We had had such an amazing time, we were all good friends, it was no-ones fault, so we did the only thing we could do! We worked together to make arrangements for alternative flights home.
This ended up being another trip to an airport hotel in Milan, with a flight booked for the next day!
That evening, we enjoyed a drink in the hotel bar, before heading off to a local restaurant. It was a lovely evening.
We all said our goodbyes and headed home.
Thank you Slimline Wine
We had the most amazing time thanks to everyone at Slimline Wine. We wanted for nothing during our time there.
Paul, Matthew and Simon were the perfect hosts. Slimline Wine was as amazing as ever, and now I know what has gone into making it, I will be enjoying it even more!
If you haven’t tried it yet, please do! Its only online at the moment, but will be coming to a Tesco store near you, very soon.
We drank a lot of the wine while we were there! I can promise you, I never woke up with a hangover once! The reduced sulphur is an added bonus!
Follow them on Facebook. You never know when they will be having another competition like this one. It really isn’t something you want to miss.
When I started drinking Slimline Wine, I never realised how it would change my life! I can now drink wine that doesn’t give me a hangover, is less calories and has helped me make friends with a great group of people!
What is not to like!
What does the future hold?
Slimline is going to keep growing. With smaller bottles planned already, you know there is more to come. Seriously, this is a company to keep a watch out for!
Get clicking on their Facebook page, and be one of the first to find out their new products and deals!
Hot off the press
On Sunday 24 June they are offering our first opportunity to buy their vintage fizz for £9.99 a bottle, with free delivery on 6 bottles ! Having the pleasure of being one of the first to try this in Italy, I would highly recommend it !
Get yours while stocks last ! Much better and cheaper than any champagne you will buy!
Check out my YouTube Channel to see more photos of the trip