Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas Westies

Happy Christmas Eve! 

As I prepare to sign off for the holidays I wanted to leave you with a little festive gift, so here’s a selection of the cutest Christmas Westies for your perusal. You’re welcome.

I hope you have a great Christmas and I’ll be back next week with my annual round-up.

Have a good one,

Carla

A photo posted by Prince (@estonianwestie) on

A photo posted by Natasha? (@natalie_home) on

And a final Christmas cutie

My first Christmas tree

Growing up we never celebrated Christmas or had a Christmas tree. Then one day I grew up, went off to University and discovered a brilliant holiday!

I took that enthusiasm home and slowly but surely we started to celebrate Christmas. One year my parents surprised us with stockings. Another year we hung fairy lights. But we never had a Christmas tree.

Then this year, once I grew up a little more and moved into my own home, I decided it was time to get my first Christmas tree. I’ve literally been counting down the days since we moved in.

Our living room is decorated in cool blue and grey tones so we chose cool white LED lights over warmer gold ones. Alex topped the tree with a Santa hat he got at a Christmas party and then I got to work with the baubles…

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The first bauble I bought was a miniature version of the iconic red telephone box. Dusted with snow it just screamed traditional English Christmas.

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Whilst visiting all seven Christmas markets in Cologne I spent an insane amount of time browsing the bauble stalls. There were thousands of options but I was especially drawn to the delicate glass baubles. I bought a couple of a few different varieties and they catch the light beautifully.

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This glass icicle was another Cologne Christmas market find. I bought several of these to dangle off the end of branches.

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Growing up my grandparents had the most wonderful Westie dog that I loved, so I couldn’t resist this adorable bauble when I spotted him in Marks and Spencer back in November.

So there we have it – my first Christmas tree! I have to admit that decorating a tree is a lot harder than I imagined. It’s really tough to get the spacing right with the baubles for starters, so if you have any tips about how to decorate a Christmas tree be sure to let me know!

13 ways to celebrate Christmas in London

christmas in londonChristmas spirit doesn’t have to be about consumerism. For me it’s all about finding ways to embrace the cold winter months and spend as much time as possible with my friends and family. Here are 13 things I do each year to celebrate Christmas in London.

Christmas in London

1) Carols by Candlelight

Union Chapel in Islington is a working church, live music venue and home to The Margins Project for London’s homeless. Each year the not-for-profit space hold a free Carols by Candlelight event that’s the highlight of my Christmas in London. Think classic carols, silly tunes and festive thoughts – with a side of mulled wine and mince pies.

2) Create your own Christmas Eve rituals

I think it’s because I’ve never celebrated Christmas Day that I’m obsessed with Christmas Eve rituals. I just find them fascinating! I love that rituals have been passed down through generations and that new families create their own special ones too (here’s a Christmas Eve ritual that I love).

3) Ice skating

Since breaking my leg I don’t take any chances, so you won’t catch me on the ice this year! However if you feel like taking the risk there are lots of places to go ice skating in London this Christmas. My favourite places to ice skate are at the Tower of London and on Hampstead Heath – although the view from the Natural History rink looks rather special too.

4) Christmas cocktails

I love a mug of mulled wine as much as everyone else but it’s good to mix it up every now and then… Fancy making your own Christmas cocktail? Try this apple pie cocktail recipe that’s guaranteed to warm you up on a cold day.

5) Cologne Christmas markets

Sometimes the best way to celebrate Christmas is to leave London! This year I went to the Cologne Christmas markets for the first time and they were wonderful. The atmosphere is relaxed, friendly and festive and there’s lots to see and do. Unlike Winter Wonderland in London, all the Christmas markets in Cologne sell reasonably priced mulled wine (3 Euros a mug) and excellent street food that will leave you with change from a fiver.

6) Go to the ballet

A few years ago my friend Emily arranged for us all to go to the ballet before Christmas. Not only was The Nutcracker at the London Coliseum a truly festive extravaganza, but it was also the perfect excuse to see your closest friends right before the big day. If you’re not afraid of heights, the seats at the top will set you back just £10-£15 – not bad when you consider tickets to see a popstar cost ten times that amount.

7) Take a walk through London streets

When everyone else is panicking in Oxford Street the weekend before Christmas, wrap up warm, grab your camera and take a long walk through your favourite London streets. That’s what I did in Bloomsbury a few years ago, before spending the rest of the afternoon at the British Museum. A pretty perfect day out.

8) Farewell to Christmas at the Geffrye Museum

Visit the Geffrye Museum on 6 January for their traditional burning of the holly and the ivy. I went in 2013 and loved every second. They’ll be carol singing, mulled wine and Twelfth Night cake outside in their beautiful garden – it’s not to be missed.

If you can’t wait to visit Hoxton, the Geffrye Museum can will still meet your festive needs in December with their 400 Years of Seasonal Traditions in English Homes exhibition.

9) Go to the theatre

My entire family love Elf, so when we heard they were turning it into a musical this Christmas we had to get tickets. We dressed up in our finest Christmas sweaters, donned novelty head ware and settled down for an evening of laughter at the Dominion Theatre.

10) Volunteer

Crisis at Christmas always need volunteers. Whether you have a specialist skill like hairdressing or just want to make sure the homeless are warm and fed this winter, Crisis need you. More information here.

11) Get crafty

Search Pinterest for Christmas craft ideas or attend a workshop in London to try making something new. The Wallace Collection has a couple of sessions that look good – the glass painting one looks particularly interesting.

12) Visit Trafalgar Square

One of these years I’m going to do what I’ve always said I’ve wanted to – visit Trafalgar Square on Christmas morning. I presume it’s super quiet and it must be magical to visit somewhere that’s usually swimming with people. Alternatively visit sometime before Christmas to see the tree and enjoy one of the many free carol concerts taking place in the run up to the 25th.

13) Visit the Charles Dickens Museum

Nothing screams Christmas in London louder than Charles Dickens. Take a journey through Christmas Past and see for yourself how Christmas was celebrated in Victorian times.

How do you celebrate Christmas in London?

Christmas Eve rituals

christmas eve rituals

On Christmas Eve you’ll find me and my family in the living room with a cheese plate and plenty of red wine for company. We might play cards or put a funny DVD on, and laugh ourselves silly until we are fully relaxed. Then it’s an early night for me in festive pyjamas so I can wake up early in the morning.

I love a good tradition and once had a friend whose Christmas Eve ritual included receiving a special gift pack from her parents on the 24th. It contained the same stuff each year including chocolate, pyjamas and a new toothbrush which I thought was adorable! I also love the Icelandic tradition of giving everyone in your household a new book on Christmas Eve that A Cup of Jo shared recently. I can’t think of anything nicer than curling up in bed with a mug of hot chocolate and a new book (preferably with snow falling outside!).

I love hearing about Christmas Eve rituals and traditions. What do you get up to? Do you go out clubbing every year with friends or are you a homebody like me?

Apple pie cocktail recipe

apple pie cocktail recipe

After 16 great days exploring California, London greeted me after the long flight with its traditional cold and wet welcome. Although I miss the Californian sunshine, I arrived back in London just in time for Christmas preparations to start – and I LOVE Christmas. I haven’t eaten my first mince pie of the year yet, but last night I finally perfected the hot apple pie cocktail recipe that will see me through winter.

I’ve been experimenting with an apple pie cocktail recipe for about a year now. With hints of cinnamon and a warming kick of bourbon I think I’ve created something that tastes as good as it sounds. Bonus: it takes considerably less time and effort to make than a traditional apple pie.

Obviously I’ve used apple juice as a base, with a squeeze of lemon juice to cut through the sweetness. Cinnamon and cloves bring the Christmas spirit and bourbon adds the warmth you expect from a hot toddy. Angostura bitters add depth and the honey liquor will sort out that lingering sore throat.

Just as we all like our apple pie differently (plenty of pastry, hold the sultanas), this cocktail recipe is easy to adapt. You could swap the bourbon for a dark rum, omit the bitters or add a split vanilla pod – whatever takes your fancy. Don’t rush out and buy ingredients just for this drink (I’m looking at you cloves) but do spend a little more than usual on an apple juice that isn’t too sweet.

Apple pie cocktail recipe

  • Apple juice
  • Bourbon
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Three cloves
  • Lemon
  • Angostura bitters
  • Honey liquor

Heat the apple juice, cloves and cinnamon stick on a low light. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and leave to gently simmer for five minutes. At the last minute, add the bourbon, honey liquor and a dash of bitters and stir. Strain into a glass and enjoy.

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Sunday Selection

It’s been a quiet weekend on the whole, bar a walk around Bloomsbury that you’ll read more about tomorrow, a quick visit to the British Museum and a few drinks at home on Saturday night. I’ve spent the majority of this weekend catching up with some favourite blogs and indulging in the ultimate pre-Christmas activity – circling the programmes I want to watch in the TV guide! Midsomer Murders, Mrs Brown’s Boys and celebrity University Challenge are all on my list.

A few Instagram snapshots from my weekend:

instagram photosL-R: British Museum; Netflix fire video; University Challenge

London museum of the week

The Charles Dickens museum is the only attraction that I’m aware of that is open in London on Christmas Day. The museum is a Georgian terraced property in Bloomsbury that Dickens called home between 1837 and 1839.

Tickets for the Charles Dickens museum on Christmas Day will set you back £18 but you will (supposedly) be transported back to Dickensian London for the price. Expect film screenings, authentic decorations and naturally readings of the author’s Christmas stories.

Cocktail of the week

Warm yourself up with a hot toddy.

Blogs

  • Transport for London have a new website in Beta. They are currently testing this nearby function.
  • Wouldn’t commuting be better with Christmas decorations on the tube?
  • Test your London transport knowledge with this quiz from the London Reconnections blog.

A bit transport heavy this week! I’m sure I’ll be back with more frivolous links next week.

Twelfth Night Geffrye Museum

Twelfth Night at the Geffrye Museum

A quick apology for the lack of blogs recently. Life was a long and bumpy ride last month with lots of sad things happening. It feels nice to be writing again.

I had a brilliant London weekend walking around town and visiting a couple of attractions in the East End that I highly recommend. On Saturday I went to a rare opening of 19 Princelet Street – but more on that another time.

On Sunday I went to one of my favourite museums in London to attend their annual Twelfth Night celebrations. For the past 21 years the Geffrye Museum of the Home has hosted an afternoon of carols, stories about Epiphany, mulled wine and twelfth night cake to bid farewell to Christmas.

Twelfth Night Geffrye Museum

Twelfth Night ‘Farewell to Christmas’ celebrations at the Geffrye Museum

I got there early and waited on a bench for my friend to arrive. We then collected our free mulled wine and twelfth night cake and made our way towards the large fire to keep warm outside the museum. We grabbed a carol sheet and when the festivities kicked off proceeded to sing our little hearts out for 45 minutes.

Apparently record numbers made their way to Hoxton yesterday to bid farewell to Christmas, and I heartily suggest you pencil the event in your diary for next year. A big thank you to all the volunteers at the Geffrye Museum who handed out drinks, food and song sheets in the cold for all of us to have a fantastic time.

30 things I love about Winter

Happy December everyone! It is a slightly belated greeting because I took a rather last minute trip away this weekend, far away from Wi-Fi. But more on that shortly…

I love Christmas but was recently asked to explain why. I’m not Christian but living in a Christian country means that we have one day each year that everybody will have off work. That’s pretty rare and an amazing opportunity to spend time with your nearest and dearest.

But there is more to Christmas than the day itself. I love the anticipation and the little things that happen in December that make me forget about the cold, wet and miserable weather and the fact that London gets dark at 4pm. I could list loads of things I love about December and Christmas and have decided to do just that, hopefully for your enjoyment too!

Pop back to my blog everyday in December for one more reason why I love this season. Otherwise known as my little advent calendar of winter cheer.

Enjoy!