I think the week between Christmas and New Year is probably my favourite week of the year. The stress of Christmas is behind us, tummies are full, hearts are happy and the fridge is full of leftovers. The weather is just cold enough that I don’t feel guilty curling up with a good book and a hot whiskey but not so cold that I can’t get out for a long walk with the dog to work off some of that stuffing. Read more
Oh Christmas Tree, oh Christmas Tree,
You know not how you’ve aged me.
As a child I always loved putting up the Christmas Tree. We had one of those fake, glittery ones popular in the 70s and a beautiful collection of colourful, sparkly ornaments built up over a number of years. Mam would put up the lights, ensuring they were perfectly symmetrical with one light at the top to reflect off the star. My sister and I would then add the decorations. When it was finally complete we would enjoy our first slice of Christmas cake and perhaps our first movie of the season. Read more
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yet most of us are in a flap. There are presents to be bought, cakes to be baked and a sense of impending dread at the thought of having to cook a fabulous Christmas dinner. TV chefs are wooing us with mini tartlets and smoked salmon blini that can be prepared “in minutes” and add “a touch of sophistication” to your festive cooking. Every supermarket has their own glossy magazine full of cooking and decorating ideas and can provide mini tartlets and blini pre-prepared (but with a hefty price tag) that you only need to “pop in the oven”. The options are endless and dizzying. Somewhere along the way, the concept of a tasty home cooked meal shared with the people you love gets lost and is replaced by panic and over-complication. If this all sounds familiar, then maybe my 10 Tips for a Stress-free Christmas Dinner can help get you back on track. Read more
But certainly not forgotten. This photo was taken on our epic road trip round Europe last summer. We set out with a plan and a map, but got so sucked in by the beauty of Spain that we ended up spending most of our time there. We were enjoying the road so much we always left it quite late to find somewhere to park for the night. This had its advantages – no one really minds if you park in a forest or supermarket car park for just a few hours after dark. It also meant we saw numerous glorious sunsets, such as this one near the town of Jerez in southern Spain. I had spent a few happy hours earlier in the day sampling sherry at Tio Pepe (to ease the pain of the 22 mosquito bites I got the night before, you understand). This sky was so captivating we pulled over to take photos and ended up staying for the night. The memories from this trip will stay with us for a long time. Read more
Christmas is a time for tradition. What’s fascinating to me is how much those traditions vary from country to country and even from family to family. Some children post their letter to Santa up the chimney, some through the regular mail. Some leave out milk and cookies for Santa, but in our house it was a bottle of Guinness and a few mince pies. (Clever ole Dad!) Some traditions don’t believe in Santa at all. Read more