I remember when Christmas jumpers were uncool. When Mark Darcy wore one in Bridget Jones’s Diary and it wasn’t a good look. Thankfully (in my opinion) things have changed, and a festive jumper is a strong choice for the season. I’ve collected a few of my favourites below.
Happy New Year! As I stumble through the beginning of another year, back in London, settling back into work in a luckily still-quiet office, I’m taking the opportunity to catch up on all those TV shows I missed over the Christmas period when I was busy reading, visiting family, and eating my own body weight in chocolate. Then I thought: why not write a post about all the Christmas television I enjoyed? Why not, indeed, so here it is. N.B. Most of these shows were on the BBC, mainly because I find the iPlayer so easy to use. Other channels are available.
Peter Pan Goes Wrong
I always feel a bit smug when I talk about Mischief Theatre, the company behind Peter Pan Goes Wrong, because as a theatre lover I was one of the first people among my friends and acquaintances to discover them and their brilliant début The Play That Goes Wrong. I’ve dragged friends along to both that and Peter Pan and they have all, without exception, loved them. This is their special filmed-for-TV version of Peter Pan Goes Wrong, featuring David Suchet. It isn’t as good as the live show, but it’s still laugh-until-you’re-on-the-floor hilarious.
The Witness for the Prosecution
Not quite as good as last year’s And Then There Were None (not entirely because of the absence of Aidan Turner), the 2016 Agatha Christie drama for the festive season was still an impressive offering. It may have been bleak, but it was gripping.
Inside No. 9: The Devil of Christmas
I love Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s creepy and bizarre series and this Christmas special featured a folkloric figure that seems to have become more popular in the last couple of years – Krampus. Very funny as usual with a dark twist at the end, and gloriously filmed in a 70s style.
Life in the Snow
I have a bit of a thing about the Arctic/Antarctic so I really wanted to watch this documentary about animals who live in the snow. Obviously I loved the penguins the most, but the owls and the Arctic foxes were incredibly adorable too.
Red Bull Soapbox Race
A bit of a departure from what I usually watch, but my dad loves this show and binged on it over the festive period, and I grew addicted to it too. It’s on Dave, a channel which I wouldn’t normally watch (I don’t even know if we have it in our house in London) but I’ve just discovered Red Bull have their own TV channel so I can watch it online! Hooray! Basically, the show involves ordinary people – some with specialist knowledge, others with none at all – building soapbox cars and racing them. They decorate them in elaborate fashion and perform pre-race sketches. Sometimes these homemade cars do pretty well and fly down the course, other times they fall apart mid-race or crash dramatically into the side partway through. I’m really not a sport or racing person at all but this is just so funny. Races take place all over the world and it’s coming back to London this summer – I’m so tempted to get a ticket and see it “live”.
I’m not too gutted about the end of the festive TV season, because January means a new series of Great British Railway Journeys. Woo hoo!
I don’t know about you, but I find the week before Christmas always flies by. I’ve been at home for a few days, but it feels like I’ve been here for ages.
My last day at work was Monday, and I caught the train to Durham really early on Tuesday morning. Despite being shattered I went to the Christmas quiz with my parents. My dad and two others take it in turns to do the pub quiz every Tuesday. This time, however, the one whose turn it was asked the others for help, so the three of them took it in turns to do a round each – a bit like the Three Wise Men. The pub provided Santa hats and crackers, which was nice: I got a mini bowling game in mine, which I’d like to have a go at when I get the chance.
On Wednesday I went to Beamish with my mam: I’ve got a pass for a year so I want to make the most of it, and I particularly wanted to see what it was like at Christmas. A few years ago they didn’t even open the place at Christmas, except for the town, but these days the whole thing is open and it was absolutely packed. The best bit was the Pockerley Waggonway, which they’d dusted with fake snow and made really Christmassy; they even had reindeer. The market in the town selling mulled wine was pretty good too.
On Thursday I arranged to meet up with one of my friends at the cat cafe in Newcastle. I still haven’t visited London’s cat cafe, but I really wanted to go to this one because of the name – it’s called Mog on the Tyne (my friend and I were singing the song constantly). The cats were so adorable and I was in my element, even though I had to dose myself on antihistamines to combat my unfortunate cat allergy.
I was pretty tired by Friday, so it was just as well that I didn’t have much on – just a haircut. Well, I needed to get my roots done too, so I was in there a while. They gave me prosecco so I was quite happy – not so my poor mother who’d brought me to the salon (it’s in our old town, so a bit of a trek). I always get my hair done when I come home as it’s so much cheaper than in London. I get on with the people in the salon too and I’m happy chatting to them, which is pretty unusual for me.
I posted a photo on Instagram afterwards, but my hair was tucked into my coat and I have a horrible feeling that everyone who liked my photo thought I’d actually got it cut shorter. I don’t care if other people prefer it – longer hair is so much easier to manage on a day-to-day basis so I’m not planning on getting it changed any time soon.
This morning, I wrapped all my presents then headed out to meet one of my oldest friends for lunch. As I’ve got older I’ve developed different festive traditions and this is one of mine – meeting up with her for food and drinks, though I still like to get home in time to curl up with a book in the evening.
Which is what I’m about to go and do now – Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
The fortnight covering Christmas and New Year is always a bit of a strange time. Frankly, I don’t know how I’m going to manage to go back to work tomorrow, seeing as I am used to going to bed late and getting up early, watching rubbish on TV and eating whatever I like. Having said that, I do feel a bit sick of chocolate and cheese, and the thought of eating a huge pile of vegetables and getting some fresh air is actually rather appealing. And as far as alcohol is concerned I really don’t fancy it at the moment, thanks to my monster New Year hangover.
I always go home to my parents for Christmas, but this year I went up a bit later, as I couldn’t get the time off work. On the plus side, this meant that I could spend the last couple of days before leaving work finishing off all the tasks I had to do, safe in the knowledge that anyone who might have sent me extra stuff had already gone on holiday. It also gave me the chance to see a Christmas show: Miracle on 34th Street in Watford.
Going home was strange, as it was to be the first Christmas in my parents’ new house. I went for a walk to explore the town, glad that I’d taken my warm coat up north with me, as it was freezing. I ended up in the local cemetery, where many of the graves date from the early 1900s and belong to miners killed in local colliery accidents, testament to the area’s mining heritage.
I then went back home and watched some of my Ghost Stories for Christmas DVD. I love the original black-and-white version of Whistle and I’ll Come To You, and the newer version is pretty good too.
I met up with my friend Elisa on Christmas Eve. We went for lunch in my old home town (nostalgia alert) and then went for a few drinks at a nearby bar. The cocktails there were lovely but so expensive – nearly London prices, which is incredible in the north! The Rudolph cocktail was pretty cute though.
For the first time on Christmas Day, we didn’t go to my auntie’s house, as she’d been invited elsewhere. This was the first time in my dad’s life that he hasn’t had to leave his home on Christmas Day – as a child he went to his auntie’s, as he got older his sister, my auntie, took over, so it was a bit of a novelty for him. Sadly we had to wait ages for our Christmas dinner as my brother didn’t get in from work until after eight – we relied on lots of chocolate and Pringles to see us through.
I got some lovely presents, including several on a somewhat similar theme:
On Boxing Day it was time for the annual trip to the sales (this year’s haul consisted mostly of Lush products and Boots Christmas gifts), followed by a family meal. After Christmas I sat around, read books, and ate more than was good for me. It was also great to see my parents’ friends, who arrived to stay for a few days after Christmas, sadly the day before I left. As usual, I came back to London for New Year and we had a house party. I definitely drank more than was good for me – the straight whisky at around 3am was certainly a bad idea – but the evening was certainly more sophisticated than a couple of years ago when I spent the entire morning of New Year’s Day mopping the living room owing to the amount of alcohol that had been spilt on the floor.
I had a lovely break and found the time to watch some TV: I never seem to have that much time for watching TV in my everyday life, but all that changes when I go home for Christmas. My mam and I watched the adorable Snow Chick: A Penguin’s Tale which followed the antics of the smallest chick in a group of Emperor Penguins. On Christmas Day my dad made us all watch Arthur Christmas, an animation which he swore was brilliant, and he was right: it’s going up there with my favourite Christmas films. On the same note, another Aardman Productions film, The Farmer’s Llamas, was very funny.
I watched the Downton Abbey Christmas special, and while I’m glad Edith got her happy ending, I’m rather glad to see the back of the show, as it got so silly in later seasons. Ghost Hunter was enjoyable, although nothing like Neil Spring’s book The Ghost Hunters on which it is based.
My festive highlight has to be And Then There Were None. It was a brilliantly done Agatha Christie adaptation, true to the spirit of the book, and utterly compelling (the presence of Aidan Turner had absolutely nothing to do with this, oh no). Sadly, despite looking forward to it for months, I found the Sherlock Victorian special rather disappointing – self-indulgent, anti-feminist and trying to be too clever by half.
So that was my festive holiday. Now to look forward!
I’m about to finish work and head home for Christmas and I am SO excited. It’s going to be really strange having Christmas in a house that isn’t the one I grew up in, but my parents’ new house has enough space for TWO Christmas trees, so there are certainly some advantages.
I have a three-hour train journey ahead of me, so naturally I have gathered together some books to keep me occupied.
The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell – I adore penguins (I’m incredibly excited about the BBC’s new show Snow Chick: A Penguin’s Tale, which is on tomorrow) and when I saw this book mentioned online somewhere I was determined to read it. Apparently a true story, it is the tale of Michell’s life in South America with a penguin he rescued.
S. by J. J. Abrams and Doug Dorst – My friend recommended this book to me ages ago (it’s going to be the final book in my 2015 Reading Challenge) and the premise is incredibly intriguing. It’s a book within a book: a story called Ship of Theseus and the tale of two of its readers, whose annotations add an extra layer to the story. It contains so many bits and pieces that I haven’t dared try and read it on my commute, so I’m glad to have the chance to really get into it this Christmas.
Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards – I’ve read several British Library Crime Classics (early 20th century crime stories republished) in recent years, and one of their publications – Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon – was my train read last December. I love a good festive mystery and I’m looking forward to sampling this selection of short stories.
What are you reading these Christmas holidays? Are you hoping to find any books under the tree?
This is by no means a beauty blog and it’s not going to turn into one, but I found this list of questions on another blog and thought it would be fun to fill it in.
1. Favourite winter nail polish?
Despite buying several nail polishes this year, including the Ciate advent calendar, I struggle to find the time to apply them. I’m hoping to make time tomorrow, however, to apply my Barry M red glitter polish, which I love as it reminds me of the ruby slippers.
2. Favourite winter lip product?
I’m loving my Vaseline Crème Brulee which I had left over from last year. It’s really moisturising and tastes yummy.
I’m really into owls this year. I bought an owl hat and gloves from Primark and I love them: cute as well as warm.
5. Favourite winter scent/candle?
I don’t really use candles, although lots of people I know rave about Yankee Candles and I’d quite like to give them a try. I’m obsessed with Lush and like to wear two of their limited edition perfumes at this time of year: Snow Showers, which smells like Buck’s Fizz, and Snowcake, which has an almond scent.
6. Favourite winter beverage?
A nice glass of mulled wine is always a winner, particularly when sitting inside an old-fashioned pub on a wintry evening.
7. All time favourite Christmas movie?
I love It’s a Wonderful Life, which always makes me cry. The Muppet Christmas Carol is brilliant too. Which reminds me – I haven’t watched it yet this year!
8. Favourite Christmas song?
‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ by Judy Garland. There are other decent versions of this song, but none as brilliant as hers.
I always eat far too much chocolate at this time of year, including the white chocolate Toblerone I always get in my Christmas stocking. I also love the garlic roulade that my mam and dad get for the cheese board. It’s so fattening I won’t let myself eat it at any other time of year, but I make up for it during the week between Christmas and New Year when I practically devour the whole thing myself.
10. What is your favourite Christmas decoration this year?
I bought my parents a William Shakespeare decoration, which they liked. I’m rather fond of it too.
11. What is at the top of your Christmas wish list?
I’ve been very organised or very naughty (delete as appropriate) and bought my own Christmas presents, which my parents are going to give me the money for. Therefore I don’t expect any surprises on Christmas day: I just want a bag of chocolate coins in my stocking, as Christmas isn’t Christmas without them!
I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas, and best wishes for 2013.
Christmas always comes as a bit of a surprise: it seems weeks away for ages, then suddenly you realise it’s next week. I have been doing Christmassy things like going ice-skating. I went to the Canary Wharf ice rink with a friend for my first ever ice-skating experience. I can say with certainty that it will also be my last. I fell over twice and spent most of the time clinging on to the side for dear life. After fifteen minutes I gave up and went indoors to sit in the bar with a glass of mulled wine.
I came home to the north east on Wednesday and have already been to see my brother’s band playing at the Angel in Durham. I’m going to the pantomime tonight in Sunderland, which should be fun!