November was a relatively quiet month, I didn’t really go anywhere exciting since a few plans got cancelled last month especially the big one, my husband’s 50th. I referred to this in October round up, I also wrote about anxiety and depression and how quite recently, probably the last 6-7 years, I’ve sometimes suffered this depilating condition especially when things don’t go to plan. I wrote about my experiences, how I deal with and have dealt with disappointment’s and low days by using my CBT skills (I attended CBT therapy at hospital two years ago). I drew on those skills to overcome some down days last month & I was being positive by telling myself that though the Birthday in Barcelona got cancelled, I was happy to look forward not back so we rescheduled the big 50 birthday for next year. November being the Birthday month, it was essential that it was re-booked for then and British Airways were brilliant in re-booking the flights with minimal damage to the pocket.
This month I began my Christmas prep, by that I mean cooking not just shopping although I did make a start on my shopping too. I also decided to give the house a blitz, a Spring clean but in Winter, I call it my Winter Clean. Twice a year, I go overboard in throwing out rubbish as I can be a bit of a hoarder and giving the whole house a good clean with hot water and household cleaners. I kind of feel re-born and there is that saying, “tidy house, tidy mind” This means that I’ve been able to put up my Christmas lights, tea lights and festive candles in preparation for Christmas, I’m a traditionalist so the tree goes up 12 days before.I love JoMalone and the White Company candles and my favourites for Christmas and winter are Pomegranate Noir and Pine and Eucalyptus from Jo Malone and spicy Winter from the White Company.
My twinkly lights are so pretty and add just enough dim light for a cosy feel in the evening, they also put a smile on my face and make me feel better, secure. I think that’s why I love the idea of hygge which is a Nordic idea of cosiness whether that is for the home with big fluffy sofa blankets, real fire, candles and lights but it’s a concept that is new to us in the UK. I felt hygge vibes when I visited Lapland in 2010 and 2012, the most magical place on earth which I will post about one day, it’s a major ambition of mine to visit again.
Lapland, from our trips in 2010 & below 2012. Nordic/Skandi Christmas’s are the best.
Getting the house tidy and clean has meant a rummage through my cooking magazines, sifting through the recipes and tearing out the ones I like to keep. I put these in protective coverings and specially made files so I usually have one for Christmas, savoury, desserts and bakes, this takes quite a bit of time up, I’ve still not finished. In terms of cooking, I made my Christmas Cake, it’s a yearly tradition in my family along with the Christmas Pudding and Mincemeat and other preserves. I’ve been making the cake since I was little when I was living at home, I vary the recipe a little bit every year and switch up the decoration of the cake to keep it different. Here is the cooked version all ready to be wrapped and fed with brandy every week until Christmas week when I will marzipan and ice it.
My homemade mincemeat above and Christmas cake below, it will be iced Christmas week.
I love baking, it’s so therapeutic and baking for Christmas fills the house with spices and as my children say, “it smells like Christmas”. In November, I visited mine and my mum’s favourite store in London, Fortnum&Mason. It’s a fabulous store with all sorts of wonderful things to buy, not just artisan food but there are things for the home/kitchen, a floor dedicated to the discerning Gentleman, beauty and exquisite perfume and of course, there are the restaurants and Afternoon Tea at the Jubilee Tea Lounge which opened in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. You may remember the Queen officially opened it with the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall. You can read more about the store here, it’s my post telling the story of Fortnum & Mason through the ages.
Fortnum and Mason’s in transformed into a festive wonderland at Christmas, there is no place like it. Mum and I always have lunch as part of our day at the store and we usually like the Parlour as it’s informal. Don’t be mistaken, they don’t just serve outstanding ice cream creations, they have a delicious menu of light lunches such as their famous Welsh Rarebit, salads, crushed avocado on toast, smoked salmon and of course, award winning coffee and tea and delicious cakes. They switch up the menu every few months, so the menu stays exciting and fresh.
We usually have a glass of fizz or wine with our lunch and always coffee and cake after, being Christmas, we had a Fortnum’s mince pie which was gorgeous, crumbly buttery pastry oozing with boozy fruits, yum!
This month saw me finally meeting Sarah Hawkyard, the brilliant singer I’ve become friendly with since my husband and I stayed at the Savoy in May where we celebrated our weddinganniversary. Sarah was performing at the BeaufortBar at the Savoy where we enjoyed some cocktails and listening to her soothing melodies. I’m not quite sure how we found each other on Twitter but we did, and she really is a beautiful lady inside and out, hugely talented with so many exciting things in the pipeline for her both in her personal life and her career. She’s so passionate about her music even though it’s a competitive industry, she’s lucky she’s able to dedicate most of her time to her music and she has the cutest ever dog called Sandy. She’s not sure how much longer she’ll be at the Savoy but here’s the link to her website with upcoming venues and dates, I really hope we keep in touch and I get to see her perform again. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make dinner at the Savoy last Saturday to see her perform as I’ve been quite ill with flu but I’m getting better, I should be able to make Afternoon Tea there on Thursday.
Sarah’s gorgeous doggy, Sandy, she was so well behaved and so very cute!!
That’s pretty much it for November, yes it really was a quiet month but one for reflection, recuperation and getting ready for December. There have been a couple of changes in my calendar but I’m back at the Savoy on Thursday for a festive Afternoon Tea. There are a few Christmas treats lined up for when my daughter finishes school, I’ll be taking her to the famous Wolseley in Green Park for Afternoon Tea and the ballet!!
It’s been an annual Christmas tradition since Zoe was about 5-6 years old and where possible, we try to go to the odd ballet during the year with my mum too depending on what’s on. Perhaps, one Christmas, I’ll try the Opera, I’ve always wanted to go, it’s so atmospheric and emotional, perhaps I will shed a tear the way Julia Roberts did in PrettyWoman, such a great film. I’m also visiting the Charles Dickens Museum where it really comes to life at Christmastime, they have some exciting events coming up mostly based around Dickens’ famous story A Christmas Carol” it’s my absolute favourite, I’ll be telling you all about that soon.
I hope you all have a fun in December getting ready for the Big Day.