Tuesday 23 December 2014

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

After weeks of Christmas festivities and more alcohol than I'd care to admit, I was in dire need of sleep. But on reflection, I reminded myself that it's only Christmas once a year, so instead I set my alarm early (well... early by my standards!) and sought out the London Christmas markets - a must see if you visit London over Christmas.

First stop: Winter Wonderland. Despite going back every single year, Winter Wonderland never loses it's charm. There's everything you could ever need - food, craft stalls, ice-skating and rides. When you become hungry, there's so many different types of food on offer, it's quite daunting! In my personal opinion you just can't beat a bit of pork - whether it's hog roast or currywurst. This time we opted for a cup o' pulled pork with a side of sweet potato fries which were very satisfactory given the cold snap in Hyde Park that day.

I love looking at the confectionery stalls. Especially iced biscuits with cheeky messages:

And if you like sweets, then you'll love this game where you can win massive bars of chocolate:

Winter Wonderland is the perfect place for Christmas drinks with friends. My favourite places are the alpine / wooden chalet type huts in the village and the carousel bar which actually moves!

By about 1pm Winter Wonderland was absolutely heaving with people, so we decided to venture elsewhere. Just a short tube ride away, we moved to the South Bank to check out the Christmas markets. It was the perfect time for a hot drink. We found two ladies with a hot chocolate stall who sold a variety of different flavours including; chilli, raspberry, cinnamon rose, orange... We had mint hot chocolate and gingerbread hot chocolate which warmed our hands up nicely.

By this point it was growing dark and getting chilly - which sadly meant that our hot drinks didn't stay hot long... :( Martin invited me back to his where we had plenty more hot drinks and caught up on episodes of The Walking Dead. SO GOOD!

Have you visited any of the London Christmas markets?

Thursday 18 December 2014


I don't know about you, but for me, nothing feels more Christmassy (spelling?) than gingerbread. Whether it's subtlety adding a little something extra to your morning latte, or in glorious crunchy, crumbly biscuit form, that warming, spiced bit of heaven is just what you need when the weather takes a turn for the worst. And did I mention ginger's health benefits? Perfect for combating sickness - both travel and morning sickness - stomach aches, fatigue and colds. But also really good for blood circulation. There really is no better time of the year to indulge in a bit of ginger.

I absolutely love gingerbread. This has become increasingly obvious to everyone around me. Especially this week where I went on what can only be described a gingerbread frenzy. And here's what a gingerbread frenzy looks like:

Twinings gingerbread green tea - I was a bit nervous about this one as I really dislike their lemon and ginger green tea (the ginger in that one is wayyy too spicy to enjoy). But Twinings have got the gingerbread blend absolutely perfect here.

Monin gingerbread syrup - Yep, exactly the sort of thing you'll see in your local coffee shop. But my beef is that said local coffee shops only ever do gingerbread lattes - not hot chocolate - and I'm not a coffee drinker. Not just suited to hot drinks, syrups are also great in cocktails, baking, and as a topping on ice cream. 

Ready Brek gingerbread porridge - This was the first time I'd tried Ready Brek. I'm not a fan of the super sweet varieties of porridge, so was happy that Ready Brek wasn't really sweet. It's a decent porridge, but my only complaint is that I really wouldn't know it was gingerbread porridge unless you told me. It didn't really smell or taste gingery so I felt cheated.

Wax Lyrical Gingerbread candle - I have always loved the idea of a gingerbread candle. I didn't even think they existed. Then I managed to track one down the other day. It's always a bit of a gamble buying candles off the Internet because you never know how good they'll smell. Luckily this one actually DOES smell like gingerbread and it's a nice wintery scent rather than a sickly sweet one.

Do you like gingerbread?

Sunday 14 December 2014

Things I love most about winter

Chunky knitwear with arms long enough to shield fingers from the cold

Christmas cups at Costa and Starbucks

Christmas movies with copious amounts of hot chocolate topped with cream

Wearing my Timberlands in the snow

Layering with over-sized knitwear 

Knitted throws on beds and chairs. And long socks

Minimalist Christmas decorations

Dimmed lights and more candles than you can shake a stick at

Watching our cats play in the snow

Wearing knitted jumper dresses with bare legs

What are your favourite things about this season?

Saturday 6 December 2014

Red velvet cupcake wine and a very warming winter stew

Bonjour! The last few days have passed in a blur of cake, boissons chaudes, crazy French driving and arctic conditions. We didn't expect it to be that cold in Paris - resulting in me wearing pretty much all the clothes I'd packed every single day in order to stay warm. After spending a few days in the city, we caught the last train back to London and used the day after to recuperate. Having the house to ourselves, we went into town to stock up, and made the most of the kitchen. To drink we had this bottle of Red Velvet Cupcake wine which we've found in Marks & Spencer before. Previously we bought it for the novelty factor, but ended up actually really enjoying it's smooth consistency and chocolatey notes.

To start we cooked scallops and chorizo in a lemon garlic butter sauce

We also picked up some cod to make our homemade Spanish inspired fish stew. 
With lots of herbs, tomatoes and paprika, it's the perfect pick-me-up for a chilly day.

Crusty olive bread was ideal for dipping into that wonderfully smokey rich sauce.

To finish, we had chocolate melt in the middle puddings

Having been in Versailles the day before, we watched Marie Antoinette, trying to recognise all the different rooms of the chateau, scarcely believing that we were on French soil less than 24 hours ago! Paris pictures to follow!