We’re 7 days into 2015 and I’m still thinking back on Christmas.
It was a strange Christmas here at Smaugish HQ. Illness and the aftereffects of our stressful year meant that a household normally overflowing with Christmas cheer was unusually quiet and somewhat tired. My mum was poorly with labyrinthitis for most of December (in fact, she’s still not completely better) and at about 2 o’clock in the morning on the 22nd my dad was taken off to A&E with kidney stones. He was only there til mid afternoon but still. Merry blooming Christmas!
However, in its own way, it was nice. Because of the sickness and the weird feelings, we were very relaxed and laid back. No one ate or drank too much, so we didn’t have any of that usual sluggish, over-full tummy and achey head feeling. But still. Weirdly quiet.
I still took some photos of the period, though, and thought I’d share with you!
In our house, we have two Christmas trees. One fake one in the TV room/dining room, which ‘belongs’ to my brother and I and gets everything chucked at it, and a real one in the living room which my mother decorates every year and meticulously colour co-ordinates, using beautiful silver and white decorations and switching between other colours every Christmas. Last year was blue; this year was black, and I think it looked amazing.
The fabulous ‘Santa threw up on this tree’ effect is wonderful, don’t you think? And this year it had a new decoration!
I insisted it was front and center at the top of the tree!
These baubles did not go on the tree, but this was my latest set. It’s become a bit of a tradition for my mum and dad to buy me a new set of Disney baubles every year. I don’t put them on the tree; I hang them from the curtain rails on lovely pieces of ribbon. I have Tinkerbell ones that do go on the tree, but I have Villains, the Dwarfs from Snow White and now these Nightmare Before Christmas ones!
This was my mum’s tree. We got it through a new company this year and whilst it was a LOVELY tree, it dropped like crazy. Still trying to convince her to get a decent, expensive fake and use pine scented room spray or candles.
Here’s a close up! There’s a mix of old and new decorations here; some of the crystal and glass ones have been going up for as long as I can remember.
After the trees and other decorations went up (seriously, this house becomes a grotto. My mum has about 300 snowmen and 100 Father Christmas figures and statues etc that go up throughout the house, we have antique paper bells and ornaments and lights and tinsel EVERYWHERE), we had a couple of weeks more work before the school my mum and I work at broke up and then. THEN. We embarked on our annual Christmas trip to Manchester!
I love Manchester. I love Manchester at Christmas more. The markets there are superb (you can keep Birmingham!) and we’d been looking forward to and saving up for this trip since the summer! I had done most of my shopping beforehand so whilst there were a few extra bits and pieces to buy for people, I was able to treat myself a little bit. And my mum and I just chilled and had a lovely time together. It was a great weekend.
As we usually do, we stayed at the Premier Inn on Portland Street and it was fantastic as always. Comfortable beds in an impressively sized bedroom, with a lovely clean bathroom. The rooms had all been refurbished since we were last there and they looked modern and stylish. There was a good selection of tea and coffee in our room and the lovely cleaners gave us SO MUCH MORE when we shyly and somewhat awkwardly asked for a replenishment. Cups of tea and coffee are a must for me and my mum! We also ate in the restaurant on the second evening of our trip and the meal was amazing. I’d stay at a Premier Inn time and time again, especially for a shorter stay- the Portland Street one is in a perfect location as well, a five minute walk from Albert Square and the Christmas market there and only about fifteen minutes from the main shopping areas and the Arndale. I’d recommend them whole heartedly to anyone looking to stay in Manchester and wanting to be central without being TOO central, if you know what I mean!
Whilst there, mum and I popped into the Simply Be store and I had to try on an armful of things- more on that later. Our self-made schedule this year was to hit the Arndale and surrounding, standard high-street shops on our first day. We had a train that got us into Manchester at around 12, so we dumped our stuff at the hotel (again, fantastic- our room was ready so they let us check in early!) and then nipped on over, starting at House of Fraser and working our way down. I made a few cheeky purchases at the MAC counter that I will detail in a later post! We then had a full on few hours of shopping, hitting everywhere from Waterstones, indulging in a good hour and a bit in Primark (seriously? HUGE and so much better than the one on Oxford Street in London) and whizzing around the Arndale before heading back to our hotel, changing and going out for dinner.
The next day? Christmas Market time.
If I can recommend just one thing to you, it is to go to the markets on a weekday (if you can) and to also go first thing in the morning as it opens. Last year we went on a Saturday and by about 2 in the afternoon it was impossible to move. However, this year we were there on a Friday morning and it was almost as if we had gone to a different place. Awesome. Being a vegetarian, I didn’t sample any of the interesting smelling wurst that were readily available BUT I did have a cheeky Baileys Hot Chocolate and a taste of Gluhwein with blueberry schnapps and it was tasty.
Tasty! We were at the markets for unusual Christmas presents, which they are always fantastic for, but also for the general atmosphere. I also bought another Christmas Jumper from the Afflecks pop up market indoors, and even though I don’t have a photo and it’s gone up into the attic for next year, I can guarantee it was a good one.
So that was our Manchester trip! It was fantastic and we bought so much I needed to buy a suitcase in Primark to bring some of it home in- but honestly that was justifiable because I needed a new suitcase anyway and most of it (I’d say a good 75% of what we bought) was for other people!
Last but not least in this mammoth Christmas round up post, I thought I’d share with you some pictures from Christmas and Christmas Eve.
These days I have more and more people to buy for or think about at Christmas. Being a private tutor, piano teacher and regular babysitter for a number of different families, I like to buy the kids a little something and take them something homemade for the whole family to enjoy. This year, I made Christmas sugar cookies (basically a shortbread that’s not quite as short) and peppermint candy-cane chocolate. I’m told they went down a storm!
Last but not least, here’s a shot of our Christmas table. Mum and I always like to lay the table on Christmas day, it’s one of our favourite things to do. Everyone got a little stocking full of chocs on their side plate as well!
I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, and are getting off to a great start with 2015!