The Christmas Tag 2014

Only this morning I was moaning about hearing Christmas songs on the radio and complaining that it’s only November. Hours later and I’m happily writing a festive blog post and reminiscing about Christmases gone by!

Christmas bauble

I spotted a Christmas tag post on Jen’s blog http://beautyjunkielondon.com and thought I’d join in. Why don’t you give it a go too? Feel free to copy and paste the questions and tell me the link in your comment, or else answer in the comments if you don’t have a blog.

  1. What is your favourite Christmas movie/s?

For comedy value I like Elf and Bad Santa but I prefer the more traditional Christmas films that remind me of my childhood. Either Home Alone (although that seems to be on TV all year round) or Santa Claus: The Movie.

  1. Do you open your presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?

Always on Christmas Day, I’m not sure I’ve ever opened any on Christmas Eve! We normally open ones from immediate family in the morning together. Then in the afternoon we’re joined by extended family and we’ll swap presents with them. It’s nice because it spaces them out through the day,

  1. Do you have a favourite Christmas memory?

I always struggled to sleep on Christmas Eve as I was so excited. I remember once waking up early on Christmas Day to see if Father Christmas had arrived yet and was very pleased to see he had – I had a pillowcase full of presents (pillowcases traditionally replaced stockings in our house) and something covered over by a sheet. I peeked underneath and was very pleased to see a Sylvanian Families house.

  1. Favourite festive food?

I absolutely love roast dinners so it’s got to be the main meal! This will be the first Christmas I’ll be eating meat after eight years as a vegetarian so I’m actually really looking forward to turkey this year.

  1. Favourite Christmas gift?

Best one I’ve ever received? I’m really not sure – my memory is terrible and I often can’t remember whether something was a gift for Christmas or my birthday! I think my brother and I got our Super Nintendo for Christmas one year so that would have been pretty awesome.

  1. Favourite Christmas scent?

Mulled wine or those Christmasey smelling candles – the mixture of spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger.

  1. Do you have any Christmas Eve traditions?

When I was little we’d go out into the square of the village we lived in, which was closed off for an hour or so and sing carols with hundreds of other people.

  1. What tops your tree?

We didn’t have anything to put on top of the tree last year so we made big goggley eyes out of cardboard and attached them to the tree along with a black foam moustache (not sure where that came from). We also always name the tree.

  1. As a kid what was the one (crazy, wild, extravagant) gift you always asked for but never received?

Probably one of those Little Tykes cars, I always wanted one of those.

  1. What’s the best part about Christmas for you?

The thing I love about Christmas is that it’s a chance to have quality time off, spent with friends and family, watching films, playing games and drinking and eating lovely food! What could be better? This year my little niece is due to be born too so it makes Christmas even more exciting.

Over to you!

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I borrowed a doggy and she stole my sleep

A few months ago I joined Borrow My Doggy. Yes it’s a real site – a very exciting one for aspiring dog owners.

I’d love to have a dog but a combination of factors prevent me from doing so. Firstly my boyfriend and I work full time so there’d be no-one around for most of the day. I work about an hour away from Brighton too, so wouldn’t even be able to nip home in my lunch break. I wouldn’t want to own a dog that I didn’t see much – I understand that for some dog owners this might be the only thing they can do and it may well work for them. But for me, I wouldn’t want to get a dog until I knew I could be around to look after it most of the time. The second factor is the cost. From pet insurance and vaccinations to food, toys etc I think it’d add up and we just don’t have the spare cash!

So when a friend introduced me to Borrow My Doggy I thought it was the perfect way around not having a dog. I’d borrow someone else’s!

I fell in love with the first dog I met: Daisy.

Daisy is a Staffordshire bull terrier crossed with a Border terrier. It was the Staffie part that actually drew me to her profile in the first place – I had one, Billy, growing up and I loved him so much. They’re a very friendly and lively breed and I knew what to expect. So I’d been on the lookout for a Staff (or pug or French Bulldog, which I also like). When I spotted Daisy I messaged her owner and we met on one summer afternoon for a walk in the local park.

Since then I’ve looked after Daisy a number of times during the day, but last weekend posed the opportunity for a sleepover. I was very excited.

Daisy was dropped off on Saturday lunchtime along with some blankets, food, a grooming brush and toys. We went straight to the local park for a run about and to play with her ball. We had a lovely time and she even made some new doggy friends.

Dog rolling around in the park

In the evening she ate all her dinner and settled down well on the sofa with me, resting her head on my tummy and snuggling under the blanket to watch a film.

When it came to bed time I thought it’d be best if she slept in the kitchen as it’s the smallest room downstairs which can be closed off from the rest of the house – and she’d be undisturbed by any trips to the bathroom in the night. I put her blankets down on the floor and gave her a fresh bowl of water. I showed her to her bed of blankets, said ‘goodnight’ and closed the door behind me. She stared at me through the door’s glass panels, looked confused and started to cry. I thought she’d stop once I wandered upstairs and was out of eyesight and earshot, but the crying got louder.

Rob suggested that perhaps we shouldn’t close the door as she might be scared if not in her own house. So I went back downstairs, opened the kitchen door and started to walk back upstairs. I heard little footsteps running up the stairs behind me. As I walked into our bedroom she was very excited to be invited in too and happily followed me towards the bed. ‘Ok’, I thought, ‘perhaps she’ll be happier if she stays in here with us’. I decided to get her blankets and put them on the bedroom floor but to leave the door open so she didn’t feel trapped.

I showed her to her bed, again which was quite confusing to her and I got into my bed. She happily trotted over to me and started to jump up on the human bed too. ‘No Daisy, you go to your bed,’ I said. She sat and stared blankly at me. I switched off the light and got into bed. For a while she trotted around the sides of the human bed, sniffing about. She looked up at us but we looked away, to discourage her from jumping up and to encourage her to retreat to her blanket bed to go to sleep. Eventually she settled on her blanket but not without a big sigh to let us know she wasn’t best pleased about the situation.

About 10 minutes later she trotted off to the landing and I heard her go downstairs. She didn’t come back for a while so I assumed she was either happily sniffing around somewhere or she’d found somewhere (probably the sofa) to settle and sleep.

About half an hour later, before I drifted off, she came into the bedroom again, presumably to remind us she was there. I turned away from her, thinking the lack of attention would make her go back to wherever she’d made her bed. It worked. For about an hour. She decided it’d be a good idea to come and see us every hour and to greet us with a cry, a lick on whichever limb was protruding from the sheets or a jump on the mattress.

She did have a very cute face… and I did feel guilty… but I stayed strong. Until 5.30am when I eventually gave up. I walked downstairs with a very excited waggy tail alongside me and I settled on the sofa with a blanket and a doggy hot water bottle for company.

Dog having a nap on the sofa

Not long afterwards, Rob got up as he could no longer sleep either.

Daisy was ecstatic that she had our company and full attention and spent the rest of the morning enjoying a fuss.

Dog enjoying a fuss

When her owner collected her I told her about our night-time adventures and she explained that Daisy normally stays in her bed with her. That’d explain Daisy’s cries and confused face then! She later texted me to say that Daisy had been fast asleep all afternoon. I wasn’t surprised!

It made me realise just how difficult it is to own a dog. You could easily replace the word ‘dog’ in this post with the word ‘baby’ and it’d probably work just as well – when she was crying through the night it wasn’t unlike having a baby!

I’d still love to have a dog as I know it’d be such a rewarding experience but it reminded me that it’s not all cuddles and play – it is a full time commitment that affects every part of your life.

I think next time Daisy comes to stay I’ll sleep with her on the sofa…

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Is living in Brighton overrated?

brighton seafront housesPhoto by Les Chatfield via flickr

This is not a post which is intended to slam Brighton. Before I start I just want to say that I do love living in Brighton and feel very lucky to be here. I grew up in Northamptonshire, which the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire board game once told me is further from a beach than anywhere else in the UK. So six years later on the south coast, every time I see the sea, I feel excited.

But there’s a downside to living here.

That’s the cost.

I know it’s not as expensive as London and what I pay in rent would probably not stretch to a shed in central London, but there’s one difference. The salaries and cost of living vs rent. In London, you do pay a lot in rent, but you also earn a higher salary to help with the greater cost of living. That’s not how it works in Brighton. It’s more expensive to live than anywhere else (I’m talking outside of the south east) but you don’t get paid any more. I have friends that live in the midlands or the north who do similar jobs to me and get paid the same (or in some cases more) and yet their rent is half what mine is. So I have less disposable income and very little left to save.

I really don’t mean to moan – and yes of course the upside is that I live somewhere wonderful. It’s got loads going on, it’s got a fantastic atmosphere, anyone and everyone is welcome (usually without discrimination – in my experience) and it’s also brilliant for vegetarians or anyone with food intolerances and the like! I love Brighton. Loads of people come here on holiday for a reason.

It’s just a shame that it’s so bloody expensive!

Any other Brightonians feeling the tightening of the purse strings?

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Review: Gluten free roast dinner at The Farm Tavern, Hove

I’ve been craving a roast dinner for months so was delighted when I found out (via www.gfdining.co.uk – thanks Alice!) that The Farm Tavern in Hove caters for the gluten free diner. Not only that, there’s more than one choice of Sunday roast on the menu!

I’d never been to the pub before, I actually didn’t even know it was there. I’m a little bad with venturing outside of Brighton, hell, even Hanover when it comes to pubs as we’re spoilt for choice. (There are easily about 15 pubs within about a five minute walk from my house). So Hove is no man’s land as far as I’m concerned, unless I have a friend that lives in that zone in which case I might venture that way, but only if I really like them.

The pub was on a relatively quiet, one-way street not far from the seafront. It was small but warm and friendly – definitely seems like a good winter pub, although I can’t recall if I saw an open fire which for me is a deal maker or breaker. The staff were very friendly and although we couldn’t get a seat downstairs despite it only being about 12.15pm (they only started serving food 15 minutes before – but that’s got to be a good sign?), we discovered another seating area upstairs so marched up there to claim a table.

We did have to wait a while for food, but it was worth it. (And I enjoyed listening to indie classics belting out the stereo while thinking about my food.) I got the gluten free roast chicken which came with, wait for it, gluten free gravy AND a gluten free Yorkshire pudding plus all the trimmings! Wahey!

I had to avoid the stuffing and cauliflower (I’m a slave to the low fodmap lords) but all else was delicious. Loads of chicken, perfect roasties and plenty of side sauces to choose from.

gluten free roast chicken

I was a happy bunny and shall be returning soon.

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Things that have really tickled me this week

I’m still laughing to myself about this first one in particular…

Celebrity Gogglebox

I was catching up on Googlebox at the weekend and it was the Stand up to Cancer episode which featured celebrities watching programmes as well as the regular characters. In one part it showed everyone watching University Challenge and everyone playing along at home trying to guess the answers to the questions.

Sarah Hadland (from Miranda) did a hilarious impression of one of the contestants which is still making me laugh.

It’s here (it repeats it about three times but to be fair that’s exactly what I did when I first saw it)…

Coorrraaallll

A Walking Dead Facebook post showed all the actors on the red carpet. Continue reading

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