A Cracker of a Christmas… 2014

Many a mulled wine guzzled, several hot chocolates (with toppings) and festive coffees consumed, Christmas Markets attended, Christmas Parties survived, Christmas films watched, chestnuts roasted, trees ornamented, Secret Santa’s successfully completed, presents (not so beautifully) wrapped, carols sung, decorations hung, family and friends fun, a billion chocolates (and counting) munched and one very popular Paddington Bear finally tracked down and welcomed to the family…. It’s been busy, but the festive season is over for another year – And what a lovely year it has been!

What with Christmas time being my favourite time of year, I felt a blog post was necessary, along with sharing some of the several thousand pictures I snapped… Here are some of my 2014 festive highlights 🙂

London at Christmas time….

London isn’t too shabby at any time of year, but during the festive season, it’s especially lovely. Here are a few pictures showing the Capital in all its holiday cheer:

Carnaby Street and Oxford Street shining bright…

Carnaby Street  Oxford Street - Festive

A Fabulously Festive Fortnum and Mason…

Fortnum and Mason Window 1 Fortnum and Mason Window 2 Fortnum and Mason Trees

As Harrods went all enchanted on us, I warmed up with a Christmas coffee…

Harrods plus Christmas coffee Harrods Window Harrods ballet

Christmas in Kew…

Kew lit up its gardens with a dazzling light display again this year and as they put it, ‘as twilight falls, the magic begins!’ It was quite pricey to get in (£15 per adult advance, £17 on the day), but definitely worth it for something a bit different.

Kew at Christmas 1 Kew at Christmas 2 Kew at Christmas 3

http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens/whats-on/christmas-at-kew-2014

Made Marras with Monty

For the non-fluent Geordie speakers, this is making ‘friends’ with Monty. Monty the John Lewis penguin.

The John Lewis Christmas ads have been the topic of conversation ever since they charmed us with the impatient little boy, so desperate for Christmas to arrive so he could finally give his parents a gift. The Smiths soundtrack also helped.

This year we got a penguin friendship plus love story! Everyone loves a penguin, so the Monty’s Dens which were set up throughout John Lewis stores (complete with Monty merchandise) were destined to be a hit too… I for one was a fan.

Monty and Me

Just chillin’ with Monty in his den (had to push a few kids out the way and step over a baby to get this picture… really though).

On a side note, spare a thought for the real @JohnLewis on Twitter who has to brace himself every year for countless tweets once the Christmas advert is revealed. @JohnLewisRetail miss out on a lot of the fun…

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/11/06/johnlewis-twitter-account-wrong-christmas-advert-2014_n_6113278.html

There were also some good parody versions worth checking out if you haven’t already, my personal favourite being:

Geordie The Penguin –

Or fellow Made in Chelsea fans may enjoy this –

And of course, the original –

Harry Potter Studio Tour… at Christmas!

Nothing says Christmas like Hogwarts in the snow! If you’re a Harry Potter fan, November – December is the perfect time to do the Studio Tour! My boyfriend took me as a birthday surprise and it was… spellbinding, actually! We wandered through The Great Hall, snuck into Snape’s Potion classroom, admired Dumbledore’s office, sat in the flying ford Anglia car, sipped/downed some butterbear… fun was had by all.

Perhaps my favourite aspect was witnessing adults of all ages, so at home in these magical surroundings. It gave me great satisfaction to hear a middle-aged woman queueing at the outdoor bar and quite casually ordering, “Two butterbeers, please”

And even more joy when I heard an elderly man walking through the gift shop shouting, “If anyone needs any advise on wands, just let me know!”

Maybe you had to be there… I should also mention, it was the BEST gift shop I have ever been to. In my entire life. So far. So many magical, wizarding accessories. So much excitement. Almost too much excitement. I must go back one day. If you have not been, you better go. That’s an order.

HP Wheels…

Flying car! Nice wheels

Diagon Alley, He’s behind you! (Snape’s potion room) and The Great Hall in all its glory…

Diagon Alley Snape's class The Greay Hall

HOGWARTS! Checking out Privet Drive with a Butterbeer and the obligatory #sortinghatselfie…

Hogwarts Privet Drive Sorting Hat Selfie

Christmas Markets…

I love a Christmas market! Luckily, London does too.

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is the biggest, boldest and brassiest of the markets. Yeh it’s crowded, ok it’s tacky, yu-huh drinks/food is probably overpriced … but it’s great fun and never disappoints!

This year a few of my best friends from home came to London for a festive weekend, so off to the Market we went…!

Winter Wonderland selfie Winter Wonderland

Southbank is another one of my favourite markets. It’s a lovely location and not too big, so you can have a good look around without feeling you have missed anything. The food stalls are also amazing with lots to choose from.

My friend and I work right next to Southbank, so it’s perfect for a post-work stroll! Next time we should  probably wear bigger scarves….

Southbank trees Southbank

Christmas Jumper Day

Every year, Save the Children add an important date to the calendar: National Christmas Jumper Day!

It’s a great way to raise money for charity, whilst having fun dressing up in your finest/trashiest, festive knitwear. Here’s some of our office contenders this year:

Christmas Jumper Day 2014Christmas Jumper Day Getting our festive on…

The Nativity

House parties are always fun. Christmas house parties are particularly special. Christmas fancy dress parties are the best of all! This Christmas, my friend organized a Nativity themed party. Though 3 of us were annoyingly feeling under the weather, we still enjoyed joining the sheep, wise men, shepherds, angels and bright star and of course, meeting baby Jesus himself. And what’s a Nativity without lobsters? As we discovered in Love Actually, there WAS more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus. So it would have been rude of us not to attend.

The 3 lobsters (who are apparently incapable of counting…), The Bright Star and the Angel having ‘a moment’ and The Nativity itself:

Lobsters Nativity 1

Nativity 2

Tree Decorating! Now that I live southbound, I’m not normally home early enough to decorate the family Christmas tree, so it’s important that I gatecrash other tree decorating sessions in London. This year I found two!

Tree time and ‘Love Actually’ night with my boyfriend and his flatmate and a further tree decorating session at his family home… a festive win!

Vo Ho Tree Ealing Christmas Tree

When Jessica went on a mission to find Paddington…

Paddington. What-a-Bear. Friendly, very well-dressed, exceptional taste in preserves, well-travelled, super articulate…cuddly. Just the kind of bear you would like to take home with you to meet the family. Apparently the rest of the country agreed… after the release of Paddington the movie, hunting down Paddington became trickier than I’d hoped, with many of them selling out. Here began my Christmas mission to find Paddington.

My mum has always wanted a Paddington bear, so this was a mission I simply could not fail. To cut a long and rather dull story short, I’ll get to the good bit: Paddington was finally located! Better still, I found him in Paddington Station (should have really just looked there first… idiot…).

Paddingtom Bear Hunt Padders

As if things couldn’t get better, I also bumped into THE Paddington when out one Saturday with my friends. He was just hanging out in Selfridges, you know, as bears do…

Paddington in Selfridges

But of course the best moment of all came on Christmas Day when my mum and Paddington were united at long last! May they live happily ever after.

Mam and Padders

Home Sweet Home for Christmas

Went home to Northumberland for two weeks at Christmas and it was dreamy. Met some of my friends (and friend’s babies) and got to spend lots of lovely time with my family. Couldn’t capture everything on film (as hard as I tried). My mam falling over the dog on Christmas Day, leading to her falling flat on her face in the hall for instance. Didn’t get the camera out on time and also had to show a bit of compassion/sympathy whilst my brother (albeit after being prompted) helped her up. It’s not that we weren’t concerned, it’s just she fell in such style it was hard not to be amused … she took it well!

Some of the best bits captured on camera are….

Christmas Eve drinks – After carols at the church, a Christmas Eve drink at the local pub has become tradition, as demonstrated here by the girls!

Christmas Eve Drinks

Ballantyne Bakers – Dad and I ‘helping’ mam in the kitchen. If you need any baking tips, Daddy Rex is your man. Look out for his new baking show, ‘You’ve Got to Fold it in’, coming to your screens in 2020.

Baking with Momma  Pops baking

Cosy, festive comforts are even better when you’re at home …

Oh Christmas Tree  Fav tree toys  cheeeese Mama's Cake!

Betsy is another one who can’t get enough of the home comforts.  Here she is not-so-sneakily lurking around the alcohol. She was also our best friend when the Turkey arrived…

Betsy on the booze

Christmas wouldn’t be the same without these two classics…

Christmas Eve Eve movie of choice… Miracle on 34th Street, the David Attenborough version. The ultimate Santa Claus. ‘I believe….’

Christmas Eve Eve Movie

Christmas Day movie of choice – Home Alone!

Home Alone time!

The Wet Bandits… my favourite scene:

 Santa forgot a reindeer, his loss was our gain! 

Reindeer Betsy

Walks with my brother and Betsy the pooch… Riverside Rothbury and a stroll around the lake at Cragside. Made friends with a Robin and Heron on route…

Betsy making a run for it Robin red breast Selfs with bro

Betsy pooch  Heron at home Cragside

Family Love ❤ Festive fam catch up with the lovely Pattison’s. Our game of Articulate got a little competitive…

Fam love 2 Fam love Tuco chilling

Family Selfies with the use of the almighty ‘selfie stick’. Also known as the ‘Telescopic Twat Pointer’, as labelled by somebody on Twitter… probably a more accurate description, but didn’t stop me from annoying everyone with it! According to my Facebook feed, this also seemed to be the most popular Christmas present with everyone this year!

Boxing Day fam selfie Fam selfie on christmas day

Grandma selfie

New Year’s Eve pamper time with Mother Goose… Sanctuary Spa’ing it up with a delightful detox mask!

Pamper sesh with mam

And finally… NEW YEAR CELEBRATIONS! Family, friends, food, drinks, first-footing, board games and Bob!

Festive and NY DrinksNY drinks

Bob time!HNY

Rothbury Highland Pipe Band on their traditional walk through the village on New Year’s Day and Sherry at my Aunty and Uncle’s home/grotto to celebrate the start of 2015

Pipe Band Aunty Ivy and Uncle Jim's Grotto

Well… that was fun. And now there’s plenty of time to plan this year’s Christmas (sorry dad… it’s not cancelled)!

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL – Here’s to a fun and healthy 2015 x