“Off to @KILVERCOURT this morning to take on a shopping challenge,” I tweeted on Friday morning, ”do they really have something for everyone for Christmas?”
Now I have to admit that at this point I wasn’t entirely convinced. I had been to Kilver Court in Somerset a couple of times before, but only when they had sale events on. My lasting impression was of crowds of well-dressed, middle-aged women in silk scarves fingering endless tables of cashmere jumpers. I’ve never really been a designer label kind of gal, so wondered if it was really the place for me.
I could not have been more wrong. Although they do market themselves heavily around the fashion and designer brands element, Kilver Court is actually much more than that and, as I was to discover, really does have something for everyone.
Sometimes I look at Belle and can’t believe she is so grown up. Other times she does things that make me remember that really she is still just a baby, like yesterday when I picked her up from school.
I was giving her a lift home because she had text me to tell me she had tummy ache. There was a sad face and about 27 kisses, so clearly it was desperate times. She came out clutching a pale green silky scarf like a security blanket. She got in the car and tried not to smile, wanting to give the impression of actually being very sad and in terrible pain, so that I would give her lots of sympathy and not feel like I’d come out in the car for nothing.
“How are you feeling?” I asked. Read more
We didn’t go abroad when I was a child. Money was tight and jetting off on cheap Spanish holidays wasn’t really a thing. Most of our family holidays were spent in caravans or cottages in Cornwall or South Wales, often with my Gran and Grandad in tow.
I have been thinking about holidays a lot lately though, and wonder if actually it matters at all that I wasn’t trekking the Sahara or anything, as the memories that stay with you from family holidays are often the most obscure or ridiculous things. Take our family holiday on the Gower – the only thing that I really remember from that is being in the car with my sister, Mum and Dad, and my Mum and Dad talking about all the complaining my Gran was doing. (She did like a moan).
She was particularly annoyed on this holiday as the ad for the cottage had promised ‘views of the sea a quarter of a mile away.’ We had read this as the sea being a quarter of a mile away, but what it actually meant was you had to walk for a quarter of a mile before you could see the view. Sneaky. Read more
The last few weeks have been all about Christmas for me. I know that some people get a bit stuffy about the run up to Christmas, complaining about the proliferation of mince pies on the end of every supermarket aisle and moaning about the smell of mulled wine coming from every craft fair, but I love it. The sooner I can mull a beverage the better.
That’s why I have been doing everything I can to get into the Christmas spirit.
First things first, when you are doing anything festive of an evening it’s important to be in your pyjamas. More specifically, I have been in my new Cyberjammies, appropriately decorated with reindeer. They are gorgeously soft and comfy and perfect for lounging around in, sherry in hand. They come beautifully packaged too, with a sort of magical ribbon that holds the box in place and yet comes mysteriously undone with no knots at all. (That was almost my best bit.) Read more
Events and conversations have been conspiring lately to force me to think about how I work.
“Sometimes I listen to the things you are doing,” a friend said to me recently, in a tentative but ultimately kind way, ” and I do wonder why on earth you are doing it.”
Do this sound like you?
It could be that you are a busy fool. It’s a common disease, particularly prevalent amongst small business owners and freelancers, especially those prone to panic about cash flow. I suspect also that more women suffer from it that men. Read more
Belle has always been a little high-maintenance in the sleep department. It’s not her fault of course (just in case you are reading Belle), it’s just that some children seem to find it difficult to sleep. They get scared easily, they find it hard to relax in their own beds, and it can quickly become a vicious circle of associating their bed and bedroom with feeling anxious or lonely.
Although Belle spent quite a lot of time in my bed as a young child (and would now if I let her), I have always tried to keep her bedroom as comfortable and relaxing as possible, and to not make it a place that she connects with anger or stress. We do this by making sure she has her favourite things around her, choosing colours for the walls and furniture that she likes, putting up pictures and photographs and generally trying to make it as welcoming as possible. Read more
I have been all about the competitions over the last month.
It seems there is something about Christmas that makes everybody just want to chuck presents at each other. (Not literally obviously. That wouldn’t be very festive. Although I did recently get a netball as a present – that would probably be OK to chuck if it was to someone looking in your direction.) My Win Christmas competition finally drew to a close on Saturday night and those gifts are now all wrapped and in my living room, waiting for me to post them off to the lucky winners.
It’s enough to make you want to refill your sherry glass and crack open another chocolate orange.
In this spirit of giving then, My Family Club are holding an advent giveaway. Every single day in the run up to Christmas you can click on the advent calendar to open up another competition. Read more
Of my my very favourite bits about Christmas – obviously – is the food and drink. Not only do I generally like eating and drinking, but I also like giving and receiving foodie things as gifts. At least when you give someone a box of chocolates you know that they are going to eat them and not just leave them for ten years getting dusty in the bathroom cabinet. (Unless you give them to my sister, in which case you know that you will have to eat them for her six months later when they are approaching their sell by date. Win win.)
I’ve been trying out some festive treats over the last few weeks, selfless woman that I am, to bring you a few food and drink Christmas gifts that I think anyone would be pleased to be given. Read more
This week I took part in a live cookery Google hangout with Great British Chefs and Tesco Real Food.
I have done a couple of these now and they are always great fun. You basically get to cook along with a chef – in this case Galton Blackiston – and ask them questions about anything to do with the recipe as you go. We were trying out one of their Christmas recipes – Christmas pudding ice cream.
If you are anything like my family then you buy a Christmas pudding because you think you should, have one portion out of it, and then get left wondering what to do with the rest. This recipe is a great way to use up those leftovers, but can work just as well with Christmas cake or dried fruit. It’s much easier to make than you think and you don’t even need an ice cream maker. Read more
Belle’s new secondary school has a fancy online payments system. Rather than take dinner money, every child has a card that you can top up from home in chunks. They also use the system to take payments for school trips to save the kids carrying round and then losing crumpled up cheques.
It’s a good idea, but having all your payments in one place does have its disadvantages, namely that you can actually see what you are having to pay for, rather than just writing a cheque early in the morning when you are being hassled on the doorstep and then instantly forgetting about it.
I logged on this week and this is what I saw: Read more