MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! 🙂
I hope everybody’s having a wonderful time, whoever you’re with and whatever you’re doing. Or if you need support and comfort because things aren’t going so well, then I hope you’re able to find some solace and company to make things easier. And if you’re working today and over the holidays, especially if you’re in the emergency services and other essential jobs, you have my utmost admiration and respect.
Also a very big thank you to everyone who has supported my blog and my adventures over what has been an incredible second year in London for me. It’s been full of even more amazing surprises and adventures than the first year, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings. And I hope you’ll stick with me for it.
But we need to wrap up 2018 first. And I’m going to do that over a few posts, as there’s a lot to tell you about. In this post I’m going to tell you about the Christmas food I’ve been over-indulging on, and a few items of festive clothing that I’ve got this year. Then in the next post, I’m going to tell you about all of the entertainment I’m enjoying right now, and then I’ll tell what I’ve been doing to while out & about (apart from the Christmas meals mentioned below).
I’ve also produced a video to accompany this series of posts.
So I hope you enjoy reading about my favourites over the festive period. And feel free to check out my other Christmas posts & lists if you want even more to occupy your time with. 🙂
As is to be expected, I’ve been indulging in lots of lovely Christmas food. Not just at home, but also at the many Christmas meals I’ve been fortunate enough to share with family, friends and social groups. Thankfully they were spread out over the month, with 2 a week at most, so I wasn’t in a situation like Geraldine in The Vicar Of Dibley, where she had to have multiple meals with her parishioners in one day! I love that episode, and have already watched it again this year.
So the meals I’ve had with friends during the month included the following…
RNIB Connect East at The Mallard (Harvester), Hemel Hempstead
I went along to this with my friend Claire, and the food was really good, with generous portions for the roast turkey main course, and a huge slab of deliciously rich chocolate fudge cake for pudding. So I was very pleasantly stuffed after that. But the event was particularly notable because I got to meet a fellow blogger – the lovely Elin from See My Way, who was very friendly and interesting to talk to. So do go and check out her blog if you can. Even though she hasn’t updated it in a while, it’s still well worth reading. Her time as a volunteer in Belgium was a great experience.
London Vision South East at Bill’s, Clink Street
It’s always great to meet Jessica Beal and the rest of the group, and this was no exception. Everyone was really friendly and enjoyed themselves, and the food was great too. I had wild mushroom soup, followed by roast turkey with all the trimmings, and finally chocolate orange bread and butter pudding, the latter being as amazing as it sounds!
London Vision East at JRC Global Buffet, Ilford:
This is my local group, so I always enjoy hanging out with Bhavini and the gang when we get together. This meal also made a nice change from all the other big Christmas dinners, because this was a buffet where you go up and choose from a whole variety of things, having as much as you like. So for my first plateful I had some Chinese food, mainly with chicken plus a bit of fish too, and then on my second plate I had things like chicken balls, fish fingers, chips and onion rings. And for dessert I had pieces of chocolate gateau and strawberry gateau, along with a few profiteroles. So it was a nice variety.
London Sports Club For The Blind at Marquis Cornwallis, Marchmont Street:
This turned out to be a rather noisy pub, so it was quite difficult to have conversations unfortunately. But it was still nice to see everyone, and I enjoyed my roasted pumpkin and lentil soup for starters, turkey for the main course, and chocolate tart for dessert. This was the first dinner where they had Christmas crackers on the table as well, as most of the meals I went to didn’t have those. But given the noisy environment, I think they’ll be aiming for somewhere else next year. It’s a nice pub, don’t get me wrong, but not ideal for that kind of occasion unless you can afford the expense of a private room.
Work Christmas Dinner at Bistrot Pierre, Torquay:
Being a homeworker, it’s always great to see my colleagues again after a long time away. So it was wonderful to stay in Torquay for a couple of nights and have a catch up. You can see photos of the town’s decorations on my Instagram.
We had a really nice meal, for which I had tomato & red pepper soup, followed by pan fried chicken breast, and finally sticky toffee pudding. And then we went elsewhere for drinks afterwards. We were sensible about it of course, and I was able to get safely back to my hotel room at a reasonable hour on my own. But it was a great evening. Credit to the Yates bar in particular for maintaining a safe party atmosphere, putting on decent music (including 80s hits and Christmas classics) that we were all merrily singing along to, and giving us free Santa hats!
Christmas Food Shopping
We’ve also got plenty of goodies at home of course. And as it is only once a year, we’ve been treating ourselves to goodies from Fortnum & Mason, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose during the month. We very rarely shop in those places the rest of the year (Fortnums in particular we only go to at Christmas), so it makes them all the more satisfying and rewarding when we do check them out. And we’re really enjoying everything we’ve got, of course.
We ordered the food for our Christmas dinners plus some Christmas cakes online from Marks & Spencer and picked it up on the 23rd, so we were all set for the festive fortnight. Our haul consisted of these delicious goodies (which you can see photos of on my Instagram):
- British Boneless Oakham™ Turkey Breast with Pork, Sage & Onion Stuffing
- The Collection Easy-Carve British Four-Bird Roast with Turkey, Duck, Chicken & Pheasant
- A British Outdoor-Bred Garnish Selection (stuffing balls & pigs in blankets)
- The Collection Posh Turkey Gravy
- The Collection Ultimate Yuletide Log Sausage Roll
- The Collection Outdoor-Bred London Cured Ham
- The Collection Six-Month Matured Golden Shimmer Tree Christmas Cake
- The Collection Winter Woodland Cheesecake
- Hand-Decorated Christmas Postbox Cake
We also did an online order from Fortnum & Mason earlier in the month, getting some of their lovely mince pies, a Christmas pudding, a Melton Mowbray pork pie, a chocolate selection, a marzipan fruits selection and a couple of ribeye steaks, all of which was great.
And we also visited Waitrose and Marks & Spencer in Westfield Stratford City (a couple of weeks before we picked up our M&S food order). In Waitrose we got a couple of the wonderful Charlie Bigham ready meals they do (Beef Bourguignon for me and Lamb Moussaka for Mum), as well as a Fruited Panettone (an Italian cake that we’d never had before, but we thought it was ok when we tried it), and traditional things like Christmas puddings and mince pies, among other bits and pieces. And in M&S we got a Tunis Cake (which seems to get harder to find in the shops each year), more mince pies and a Yule log.
We also got a delightfully chocolatey Yule log, tasty mince pies, Pringles, some Strongbow cider and other treats in Sainsbury’s, as part of the regular shopping we do there. I was able to use our saved up Nectar loyalty points to get most of the money off our shopping on a couple of trips, which worked out really nicely. And we also had a couple of advent calendars from Hotel Chocolat this year – both identical, but one contained milk chocolates and the other had caramel chocolates. That way, my mother and I could have a chocolate each per day, and we could choose which we wanted.
So we’re eating well, without a doubt. Like I say, it sounds like a lot, and it is when you add it all together. But it’s all been spread out over the month, and it is only once a year. And we have achieved a lot during 2018, so we feel we deserve to treat ourselves. So we’re very happy with all of that.
I bought a couple of fun new Christmas jumpers this month, bringing my total up to 4. I already had an Only Fools And Horses jumper and a London skyline jumper, which you can see in last year’s Christmas Q&A.
So this year I got a Doctor Who jumper, which has the phrase “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey” over an image of the Tardis surrounded by snowflakes. And the other is a Queen jumper, showing the members of the band in the centre wearing Santa hats, in between the words “Snowhemian Rhapsody”, which I thought was very cool, and very apt given their recent movie. Both jumpers are very comfortable and cosy, so not only do they look great, but they are actually very practical for the winter too.
And finally, I also got a very useful clothing gift – a pair of nice warm woollen gloves from Marks & Spencer that are designed for use with touchscreens. This means they have special padding on the fingertips that allow you to interact with a mobile device without taking the gloves off first. They work nicely with my iPhone 6, so I’m really pleased with them, they’re very comfortable and practical.
We Built This City On Sausage Rolls
That’s almost it for this first part of my Christmas Favourites for 2018, I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and be sure to check out my next post for my entertainment favourites.
But, as it’s appropriate for the theme of this post, I also wanted to flag up this year’s UK Christmas number 1 single, which thankfully isn’t by some boring manufactured X Factor winner or some other dull generic pop act trying to cash in on Christmas for a change.
This is a charity single by Youtuber LadBaby (Mark and Roxanne Hoyle), who have produced an amazing cover of Starship’s We Built This City, called We Built This City On Sausage Rolls! The fact that this single has reached number 1 in the charts is fantastic, so very well done to everyone involved!
All profits from the single are being donated to The Trussell Trust, a foodbank charity that tackles hunger in the UK. For all my talk about the food I’ve been eating, and in spite of all the culinary delights you may be enjoying as well, we mustn’t forget that there are millions of people in poverty across the UK, including children, who are reliant on foodbanks and other forms of support to keep them alive. It’s awful that foodbanks have to exist in the first place, and that the government aren’t doing anywhere near enough to tackle it. But as it stands, this support is a lifeline for so many people, and they need and deserve our support.
So please do watch the video and buy the single, which is available on iTunes and Amazon, and probably elsewhere too. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, I just think it’s a brilliant song and a very important cause. You can then rest in the knowledge that you’ve helped people less fortunate than yourselves this Christmas.