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Pamela with Martina McIlhatton and Michaela Nugent

Pamela with Martina McIlhatton and Michaela Nugent

Kelly Mulgrew from Downpatrick and Caoimhe Curran from Belfast at Down Royal races May Day 2010

Kelly Mulgrew from Downpatrick and Caoimhe Curran from Belfast at Down Royal races May Day 2010

Florence Kenwell and Gladys Greer

Florence Kenwell and Gladys Greer

Zara Beggs and Kerry Girvan from Candy Plum

Zara Beggs and Kerry Girvan from Candy Plum

Pamela with Martina McIlhatton and Michaela Nugent

A few years ago I decided to improve my education so I took part in a wine tasting course. It was the first time I have ever had to get a taxi home from school!

On the plus side I did learn a wee bit about wine. So when Ciaran Meyler and Melanie Talbot from United Wines invited me to a tasting in Bastille restaurant on the Lisburn Road I was delighted to accept and see if I had remembered any of my former tasting skills.

I need not have worried as Brett Crittenden was a font of knowledge about the intricacies of the flavours of Guigal wines, a family-owned winery based in France. Aussie Brett has over 35 years of experience working in the industry so to listen to how the Rhone valley can trace its vineyard roots back 3,000 years to Roman times was fascinating. Lunch, wine and an education.

Some of the guests from our finest restaurants were happy to take part in the tradition of spitting, but most of us were happier to tantalise our taste buds and swallow seven delicious wines. It’s not often that you can be recommended a wine to go along with frogs legs soup and not one person asked the waiters to hop to it.

Bank Holiday Monday and time to dust off the gladrags for the racing at Down Royal. Manager Mike Todd and his hardworking ladies Vickie and Molly are always coming up with new ways to attract more people to come racing and the latest innovation is the Fashion Afternoon Tea.

While we ladies never need an excuse to get dolled up the idea is to entice more of us to appreciate the Sport of Kings by holding fashion shows while sipping on a cup of Suki tea and nibbling on sarnies, scones and pastries before racing commences. Candy Plum provided beautiful couture for the show and the style of the guests was amazing. Caoimhe Curran was deemed the best dressed lady in the room but it was yet another toughie for the judges.

However, thanks to the strong northerly winds, goosepimples were the accessory of the day as hats and fascinators where blown across the course. Blue skin on leggy fillies is not a good look — I would suggest thermals under those summer frocks next time.

My biggest tip of the day was saved for myself — when windy don’t wear a large flowing skirt as my Marilyn Monroe impersonation took the light from a few punters eyes! At the next Down Royal tea on May 20 I will be wearing something tighter-fitting to spare my blushes.

Belfast Telegraph