Monday, 29 December 2014

christmas collection

Rather than regale my family Christmas to you all- no one is interested in that- I'll provide you with a little snapshot of my time at home. I'm writing this on the train back to London, watching the very frosty fields sweep by. It's always so lovely to be home but work calls and I'm bringing in the new year in the city with friends. Needs must. 

We started our Christmas celebrations with drinks in the village with family and friends and a rather grown up, dress-wearing Father Christmas... We were also joined by Pumpkin, a very festive Shetland pony. 



Christmas Eve rolled into Christmas Day and after the obligatory Christmas morning church service, we settled in for the day. 



My brother looking spectacularly festive... ^^^




We ate like kings and played games in front of the fire until the late hours. 



Having held our breaths until the very last moments of the Downtown Christmas Special, we all retired to bed to get up early for a very rural Boxing Day tradition. 





Tally ho! I joined my brother in the pub after and caught up with friends over mulled wine. 

Over the next few days we took walks, pottered around the farm, joined more friends for drinks, read trashy Christmas novels and above all else, ate as much food as possible. 






A very photogenic Jess! 



Clearly Callie could tell I wasn't here for long... Shhhh, don't tell Mum! 


The temperature plummeted and our little country haven was transformed into a white wonderland. 






I think one of my new year resolutions is to go back more often, four months is a bit too long... And it really is too beautiful to leave behind for such a long time.   

Have a very happy new year! 


Wednesday, 24 December 2014

christmas eve

'twas the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...

Well, not quite actually. Our household is in full-on festive mode. Mum's been preparing vegetables for, what seems like, forever, presents are gradually being left under the tree and we're soon running out of surface space for all the sweet treats and cheese. 

As ever, the house is glittering in festive cheer. Here are a few little snaps. 





I'll be back blogging away properly in the new year. I will be the first to admit posts have been a little sparse since starting work and moving to London. I promise to be better in 2015! 

Until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Enjoy your turkey! 


Monday, 15 December 2014

a night at the ballet

On Thursday evening we went to the ballet. I can guarantee even the scroogiest of Scrooges can't help but feel a little festive after attending a ballet, particularly The Nutcracker. 

The English National Opera are quite the experts when it come to putting on a magical display of pirouettes and arabesques so I knew we were in for a treat. Plus it was opening night, even better! 


Our seats were at the front of the dress circle so we had full view of the orchestra, which is always lovely. We arrived early and took in the view and listened to the orchestra tuning up and practising little ditties. 


The Coliseum is quite a spectacular building, with a huge domed ceiling and plush red velvet seating. We decided next time we'd get a box and drink champagne from our golden buckets...maybe. 




The performance was one of the best I've seen, and I've been to a number now! I still can't get over how unbelievably strong the dancers must be and how the girls are lifted as though they weigh nothing (highly likely they weigh no more than a feather, though). The costumes are particularly impressive- the Mouse King is quite terrifying with his skull mask and the Nutcracker is obviously exceedingly handsome. 

I wish I could have taken photographs of the performance but that's not allowed, I can assure you though, if you find any last minute tickets grab them before they run away! 


If only to see the extraordinarily good bottoms of the male ballet dancers (really, they are quite, QUITE something) or to enjoy a cultured evening of festivities, I can't recommend it enough. 

I hope you're all surviving your office work parties and have battled the crowds on Oxford Street successfully. 

If not, get cracking...! 


Thursday, 4 December 2014

date nut bites

Continuing the festive streak, I have a little recipe for you. I take no credit for it though- the American brought it over the pond and it's one of his favourite things about Christmas. And I think it will be yours too.

Date nut bites (or balls, but I think that sounds a little suspicious) are tiny mouthfuls of deliciousness. I was admittedly a little sceptical thinking they'd be too sweet, but no no my dear readers, they.are.great. 

For a mountain of date nut bites you will need:

1/4 cup butter
8 oz pitted dates, chopped
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 cups Rice Krispies
1/2 cup walnuts
4 oz flaked coconut


First chop your dates and walnuts. The walnuts need to be fairly fine otherwise the bites don't stick together very well. 


Having chopped, melt the butter, sugar and egg together over a medium heat. Don't worry about the egg, it won't scramble on this heat, but obviously you want to cook it a bit so there are no dodgy tummies. 

Add the dates. 


Mix the walnuts and Rice Krispies together and then pour in your gooey mixture and combine. I'd show you a photo but we both agreed, at this stage, it looks disgusting. 

You now need to let the mixture cool a bit and go tacky. Ten minutes should do. 

Next prepare a clean work surface and pour your flaked coconut (desiccated) onto the surface. You want to take a small amount of the sticky mixture and roll it in the palm of your hand into a ball. I found this very tricky so my balls looked a little mutated compared to his. Once you have a ball shape roll them in the coconut and place on a plate.
No touching now!







Soft and chewy and full of flavour, they're great as an after dinner sweetner with coffee or as a pick-me-up, any time of the day. He managed to eat a vast amount like a little chipmunk and I don't blame him, they're the best.  

I'm going home tomorrow for a long weekend so there'll be plenty of posts to follow. Hope you're not sick of Christmas yet! 


Sunday, 30 November 2014

winter wandering

So far there has been no escape from Christmas. John Lewis launched their heart meltingly delicious advert at the beginning of the month (I've watched it countless times and been to JL to see Monty in person) and the Coco Cola advert has been whistling through our screens for weeks. It's official; Christmas has arrived! 

After a particularly exhausting week at work, the American and I decided a weekend of doing absolutely nothing was in order. Unfortunately we both get itchy feet and feel something should be done and achieved. Plus we were in the Christmas mood so this meant only one thing- Winter Wonderland. 






I've never been before so this was quite something. It was crisp and fresh, the perfect weather to wander stalls and take in the excitement of the rides. 


One thing I underestimated was the size of the wonderland. It's huuuuge! Thankfully he had been before so dragged me around, gawking at the lights and drooling at the smells. 



Festive cabins selling all kinds of treats- baubles, wooden ornaments, sweets, pottery, everything. 





These chappies were my favourite though. We could hear the ompahpah in the distance and followed our ears. In the heart of the Bavarian village is the music stand with a jazz band belting out all your favourites. You soon forget you're in the middle of London- it really does feel like an authentic German market place. 





Rather stupidly we didn't have any cash on us so if you do go, and you really must, bring cash- and lots of it! Mulled wine flows like water and it would be rude not to have a glass or few to get in the festive mood...