Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Chester Cathedral at Christmas

Chester Cathedral tree festival A last snippet of Christmas before the New Year. Over the festive period we visited Chester again after the joy of the winter watch parade and stepped into the beautifully lit cloisters at Chester Cathedral for the Christmas Tree Festival. Forty trees decorated by local business and community groups from schools to restaurants. There were such wonderful decorations - angels, shiny red buses, bottle of Tabasco sauce (!) and ribbons, bees and animals. Here are some glorious snippets to end the Christmas period. Chester cathedral cloisters at Christmas Chester Cathedral Christmas Chester Cathedral Christmas Tree Festival Chester Cathedral Christmas decorations

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Pug party free printables for the New Year

I love making printables as they are so quick and easy like my vintage tea party ones but with the New Year on its way I had to make some more. As a dog lover and with pugs being the favourite dog at present, I could not resist making some Happy Pug Year Printables

I have added some non New Year ones in there so they are suitable for a pug party at any time.

Pug Party New Year party printables
Click on any of the pictures to download any of the pug party printables or click here.

The party circles/cupcake toppers either cut out as squares or use a 2 inch craft punch to make circles. 

Sticky tape to a cocktail or lollipop stick and then use  to decorate sandwiches or cupcakes. 

Glue the bunting to ribbon or string. 

Use them for New Years 2015 or a birthday party.

Woof woof!

 photo Happy-Pug-Love-toppers_zps45cf188d.jpg

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Christmas magic in Chester

Chester Christmas market cabin Chester Christmas Market night time mulled wine at the Christmas market Christmas market eating Christmas market wreath seller Christmas market cabin greenery at the Christmas market The Bethlehem Shop bird food wreaths Chester Christmas Market December 2014 Chester Sweet Shop old fashioned sweet shop Chester old fashioned sweet shop Winter Watch Parade Chester Winter Watch Chester unicorn in Chester A tradition for us is to visit Chester for the Christmas markets and see the brilliantly dark yet entertaining Winter Watch parade.  We arrived with plenty of time to eat from one of the wooden chalets - LB and daddy enjoyed burgers sat on a bench where we could admire the pretty stalls.

Mulled wine and artisan crafts, beautiful chocolates and hand crafted gifts in the square in front of the town hall with its festive lights. A glorious array of sellers from across Europe and beyond selling such pretty wares and gorgeous food. The Dutch Flower Man was astounding with mini fir trees in wicker baskets (had to buy one!), the most beautiful door wreaths and rows of bird seed wreaths for the garden.

The drums started and we all followed the Winter Watch - a custom since Medieval times at mid winter of 'Setting the Watch' where after a procession around, the city leaders would hand over the keys to the city gates to the city watchmen.

LB was a little scared at times for ghouls played drums and towering skeletons moved sombrely over the cobbles. Phantom Roman soldiers marched and green dragons skipped to the beat of the Karamba Samba band. Gruesome Christmas cooks with black ravens following made this a spooky Tim Burton-esque spectacle that we ADORE! LB laughed at one of the dragons and it really was an amazing evening topped off with a bag full of colourful swirly, whirly fudge and a nosy in the quaint window of an old fashioned sweet shop.

I have made a litttle video of the parade for you to see this funny little custom.......

Hope you all had a great Christmas xx
fudge stall European style Christmas market colourful winter fudge

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

How to prepare your dining room for Christmas

The dining room takes centre stage on Christmas Day, so don’t miss an opportunity to make it stand out and impress your guests. There are a number of simple ways to achieve a winter wonderland in your own home, so read on for some tips and ideas to get your inspiration going:

Creative place names
Pay attention to detail and think of an original way to display place names, like a candy cane or a bauble with a tag attached – or even a hand baked cookie placed on each plate with a personalised decoration.

You simply can’t go wrong with choosing red as your colour scheme. It’s undoubtedly festive and brings warmth and richness to any room. Stick to red candles, napkins and glassware for an easy theme that takes little time but always looks effective.

Warmth and texture
Take inspiration from the Scandinavians by introducing some fur. It could be a rug on the floor, or placed over the back of some chairs, but reindeer skin paired with simple rustic wood or a white-based dining room will create a really wintery, seasonal appeal.

Another way to channel the ‘Scandi’ style is to hang a candelabra over your dining table. A full on Christmas tree could be bit much in the dining room but a candelabra filled with fresh pine will add colour and a lovely scent to the room in much the same way - and can be decorated with hanging baubles or tinsel.

Cover all the senses
Cinnamon sticks tied with festive ribbon scattered over the table not only looks decorative and original, but they also fill the air with a sweet smell that we all associate with Christmas. Scented candles, either as a decoration directly on the table or in other locations around the room are also a great suggestion to help make the room feel extra special.

Christmas flowers
Poinsettias are in full bloom at this time of year and are a hallmark of Christmas time. They make fantastic centre pieces, as do other Christmas plants available from serenataflowers.com. They also have a huge range of bouquets and displays that can be delivered throughout the year.
Poinsettias from Serenata Flowers

This was a collaborative post with Serenata Flowers

Monday, 22 December 2014

The fir tree

night time at the forest fir tree forest at night pine forest choosing the Christmas tree light leak unwrapping the Christmas tree lit up Christmas tree 2014 Christmas tree
From the dark forest by pale moonlight, we chose our fir tree.

We turned him this way and that way. Checking him over. Making sure no straggly branches or bare patches. The careful process of deciding which tree is to be hung with all our precious baubles and encircled with fairy lights and tinsel. It actually did not take too long. But we didn't need to rush for Little Bird's sake as we have done in the Christmases of past- another sign of my boy maturing.

7ft and sturdy, a perfect shape and colour. Cocooned in  netting and taken home. I wonder if a tree knows? I wonder if he likes his new home and dressing of gold and glitter? It is a little sad, like an animal in a zoo and maybe next year we will buy an artificial Christmas tree. Or am I thinking too much....?

We watched a short film about the life of The Fir Tree, it was very cute. It's on the BBC iPlayer if you'd like to see it. Subtitled as it is in Danish which adds to the charm. Seriously will be the best thing you watch all Christmas.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas in our town

Christmas shop window Christmas in my town with the shops open late, aglow from within with pretty things to buy.
 Even the nail salon looks inviting by night with its flashing neon and masked workers busy within - I notice these curious salons everywhere now with rows of workers buffing and polishing.nail shop at night town Christmas parade A parade through the shopping centre with Disney characters, drummers and huge lanterns, decorated by local schools. 
An enchanting stream snaking its way through town towards the grand Christmas tree and the night market. 
We joined the tail end and followed the procession of swinging pyramid lanterns. A new tradition over the last few years for such candlelit parades. I'd love to have a go at making a lantern.
They are like the ones from last year's Lantern Magic at Chester Zoo. LB was in a pushchair then, no need for one now!
clothes sop window at night

lantern parade pantomime characters winter lantern parade To the twilight market with vintage wares, reflected candlelight in mirrors and teacups full of Christmas. Wreaths made of tiny bells and coloured bottles hanging from under the tarpaulin. 
A bewitching event for Christmastime. night market night marketsPast the old library where in Victorian times the sub-librarian was a gentleman called Edwin Evans who had my house and the one next door built for him and his two daughters. One never married and lived in my house all her life. 
The part of my house that is now the kitchen was filled with cabinets from the library and where I now warm myself by the woodburner, was her range where she cooked. I hope she would approve of the house now and the love and light within it. Maybe she still pops over.
food at the night market Stalls full of foodie goodies tempted us - pies, cheese, sweets and fudge. Cloth lined baskets full of the most gorgeous looking pastries and local producers offering samples. 
We saw the cheeseman and bought a wax coated cheese truckle - just love these. We adore cheese. This time we bought an El Gringo Chilli, Lime & Tequila Cheddar which was so tangy.
Rudolph sleigh Rudolph from the Round Table showed up. winter son We tucked into chips on a bench and waited for the fireworks display. LB clung onto me and managed very well with his sensitive ears. We didn't go to a display on Bonfire Night as we were unsure but these smaller occasions are perfect for testing the water. 
Fireworks cascaded over the library and the towering Christmas tree and LB peered over my shoulder and watched them in the glass reflection of the shops behind us.huge snow globe This was a huge inflatable snow globe that you could have a photograph taken inside of its winter wonderland. Children threw fake snow around and had a super time in there, followed by some snow princesses and an elf!
The whole town was brimming with festive cheer.
Cafes were open and people sat outside with hot chocolate in the chilly air.
Pantomime characters from the local theatre mingled and the sparkle in everyone's eyes matched the tree in the square.
We had a truly enjoyable family evening and all the better for LB managing the sensory delights of it all. I hope he will dream of all he saw and feel Christmas joy in his heart.
town Christmas tree lit up
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall