….a little bit more…

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!” 

― Dr. SeussHow the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Advertisements

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2017!

 

 

imag2291_1

 

 

 

Elf about the Christmas Markets!

We’ve been spending our time at Christmas markets working out which ones we think are the best.

Our three favourites in no particular order are:

Southbank Christmas Market

Little wooden German market huts stack up down the Southbank, there are all the usual stalls, jewellery, candles, sweets, bratwurst and mulled wine.  Its glory is in the wonderful setting.  The lights glint of the river and the whole area smells like cinnamon and sausage, which is a surprisingly wonderful mix of smells.  It is busy but it feels more spread out than a lot of the Christmas markets.  Lovely and quaint and also close to the Southbank food market round the back of the Royal Festival Hall, in case you fancy something other than bratwurst.

https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series/winter-festival

Winter Wonderland

The Christmas market that has popped straight out of an over excited child’s imagination.  This place is crazy, its busy, full, there are rides that you can buy tickets in advance for.  The beer hall is a must, but do expect to stand.  The food here is good, and has a much wider variety than you can expect at most Christmas markets…. but don’t expect to sit down…and do expect tantrums and ques.  Is it worth it…yes! Don’t be a Grinch give it a go.

http://hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/#TfrvaiYcRfyyb0kR.97

Camden Christmas Market

We all love Camden Markets for the unusual and fun atmosphere, the Christmas markets here are just as quirky.  The mulled cider here is wonderful, this market has some of the normal Christmas stalls interspersed with the more unusual things, its only on a Thursday evening, so make sure you plan for this.  There is usually live music and its more of adult option for the Christmas market scene.

https://www.camdenmarket.com/journal/oi-to-the-world

Christmas poetry

In thinking about all the different Christmas celebrations and all the our friends and family across the world, this lovely poem holds some lovely images from our other home.

 

Christmas where the gum trees grow  –  By Val Donlon and Lesley Sabogal 

 

Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia’s hot
Cold and frosty is what its not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near

From England came our Christmas fare
They even said what Santa should wear
But here down under for summers cool
Santa should dip in a swimming pool

Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia’s hot
Cold and frosty is what its not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near

Santa rides in a sleigh on snow
But down here where the gum trees grow
Santa should wear some water ski’s
And glide around Australia with ease

Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia’s hot
Cold and frosty is what its not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near

To ride around the bush where its dry
To cart all the presents piled so high
A red nosed reindeer would never do
Santa should jump on a kangaroo

Christmas where the gum trees grow
There is no frost and there is no snow
Christmas in Australia’s hot
Cold and frosty is what its not
When the bloom of the Jacaranda tree is here
Christmas time is near

 

Pudding!

Christmas pudding, my favourite.  I have been cooking this recipe for the last few years and it is now a staple of Christmas day.  This is a Good House Keeping recipe which I have altered a little bit to suit us.  This recipe uses Guinness to give a deep and fuller flavour, the dark rum compliments this and I love the stickiness that the dates give the pudding.

 

Ingredients

  • 250 g dried fruit mix (I like to choose one that has orange peel in it)
  • 75 g each of four other types of dried fruit (this year I am using, big yellow sultanas, cranberries and two lots of dates)imag2225
  • 3 tbsp dark rum
  • 250 ml Guinness
  • Butter, to grease
  • 75 g vegetarian suet
  • 100 g light muscovado sugar
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 60 g plain flour
  • 5 tsp each ground cinnamon and mixed spice
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 50 g fresh white breadcrumbs

 

Method

  1. Put the dried fruit, rum, Guinness, into a large non-metallic mixing bowl. Cover and leave to soak for at least 48 hours, I find that the extra time for soaking means the fruit takes up more of the alcohol.
  2. Lightly butter a 1 litre (1¾ pint) pudding basin and line the base
    with a disc of baking parchment. Put a 35.5cm (14in) square of foil on top of a square of baking parchment of the same size. Fold a 4cm (1⅛in) pleat across the centre of both together and set aside.imag2230
  3. Add remaining ingredients to the soaked fruit, stirring well. Really make sure that you get everything mixed together well and dispersed nicely. Spoon the mixture into the prepared basin, pushing down well. Level the surface. Put the pleated foil and parchment square (foil-side up) on top of the basin and smooth down to cover. Tie a long piece of string securely under the lip of the basin.
    imag2227
  4. To cook, put a heatproof saucer in the base of a large, deep pan. Lower in the prepared pudding and pour in enough water to come half-way up sides of basin, trying not to get any on top of pudding. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, then bring water to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for 4½hr, topping up the water as necessary. Remove pudding from the pan and cool completely.imag2229
  5. When cool, wrap the entire basin, still with its foil lid, tightly in cling film and then another layer of foil. Store in a cool, dark place for up to two months

 

The Elf tip for this recipe is that you can use home brand dried fruit is just fine.  I also use a cheap dark rum because after all it is being cooked.  But, I always use branded Guinness and good quality golden syrup. 

 

Please do send me your recipes, I would love to try them!

Christmas is coming!

We’ve come over all Christmassy!

So, we are at the Christmas Grand Sale at the Royal Horticultural society.  Close to St James’s Park it’s easy to get to, there are tickets available on the door or you can book in advance.  With over 60 stands with a huge variety amongst them.imag2217

There is everything from wreathes to Christmas lights.  Silk scarves to flashing woollen
hats for walking the dog in!

It’s a bit squished inside the hall but we make our way around and try olives and chutneys and pick up a few early Christmas gifts.  It’s a good place to pick up some designer shirts or jewellery at discounted prices.  We don’t actually spend all that much but just enjoy imag2220milling though the stands and only spend an hour or so.

A lovely morning to start the Christmas season we don’t feel like finishing there so we jump on the number 11 bus and ride down to Covent Garden.  The 11 bus is great if you want a nice trip past Westminster Abby, Houses of Parliament, Horse Guard’s Parade and Downing Street before passing Trafalgar Square and jump off at Southampton Street to make the short walk up to Covent Garden.  I very much recommend this route if you want to show of London to visitors or want a cheap way to see the highlights of London.

Covent Garden is very busy this time of year and the whole area is full of performers, but we wonder the stalls and enjoy the decorations before ducking down a side street for coffee and cake.