Tag Archives: Christmas


Christmas; a time for giving. If public transport yesterday is anything to go by, there’s going to be a lot of giving, so many people are doing their last minute Christmas shopping. I, of course, can sit here quite smugly because I finished all mine a few weeks ago, but then I stated in June. I don’t normally start quite that early, but I saw something that I thought someone I was going to buy for would like, so I bought it. I don’t do well in crowds at any time, so I always start early.

I’ll be spending Christmas with my family, as usual, which is always lovely, although we’ll be having Christmas dinner at my brother’s home this year, for the first time in several years. We’ve gone out to a local hotel for the past few years, which was great, but it’s safe to be at home this year, now that Bro and his wife have bought a dishwasher.

My memories of Christmas when I was a child are a house full of people coming round on Christmas morning, having a drink and eating the sausage rolls and mince pies that my mum used to make. I was allowed port and lemonade, although I think the port was only there for colouring. Later on, I progressed to snowballs, with a cherry on the top.


There were always bowls full of nuts in their shells, and dried figs and dried dates. There was always a lot of food in the house – a full English breakfast was a common start to the day, and Christmas dinner… I know we had turkey when I was an older child, but I’m not sure that’s what we had when I was very young. That said, I don’t remember what we did have, but I do remember there were always boiled potatoes as well as roasties. We always had the traditional Christmas crackers with Christmas dinner too. And we had to sit there wearing the paper hats that were inside.

The dessert. Well, this was always home-made Christmas pudding, complete with sixpenny pieces in it, a couple of mince pies and custard or cream. Or both. And if that wasn’t enough food for one day, we always had turkey sandwiches for tea. My Dad did take us out for a walk after we’d had lunch, and because we lived in the country, we could do a few miles around the country lanes.


Boxing Day always involved a boiled ham, and bubble and squeak. I love bubble and squeak, the proper stuff made from leftovers, not the frozen, pre-prepared stuff. Boiled potatoes and pickles finished off the dish. I think the only thing that surprises me with all that food is that we were not all obese.

We always had Christmas stockings too, when we were children, full of small presents; the big presents went under the tree. The tree was always real and tall, and I think my Dad used to stand it in a bucket of sand. We kids were allowed to help decorate the tree, and help put the rest of the Christmas decorations up. We went for it big style with decorations back then.


Life was good, but time passes by and we lose people we love, but that’s just life. I started this post by saying that Christmas is a time for giving, and I’m going to end with a little advert.

My dear friend Geoff contracted a rare form of leukaemia some years ago. I wrote about it here:


Geoff has two granddaughters, Izzie and Hari. They are the apple of Geoff’s eye and Hari is running the Rome Marathon in March, to raise money for leukaemia and lymphoma research. I’ll update you about this in due course, but if anyone does want to donate, please click on the link below.


Meantime, wishing you all a very, very happy and peaceful Christmas.


© Susan Shirley 2014


On Monday, I went on a London walk named A Foodie Themed Christmas Lights.

The highlight of the evening for me was that I met fellow blogger Gianni of Across the Hog’s Back fame (https://acrossthehogsback.wordpress.com). I always like meeting other writers; it gives me a chance to get a different perspective on what I’m doing. I also knew that we’d both write something about the evening in our blogs but that they’d both be very different.

She and I ended the evening going for a drink; well, it would have been rude not to! I don’t know the name of the bar we went to, but it was near to Piccadilly Circus, and it was the most magnificently decorated place I’ve seen in a long time, including a chaise longue in the ladies, but so, so loud! We could barely hear each other speak! I’m not going in there again unless I’ve got one of those bone-inducting headsets on. However, I digress.

The walk started outside a pub – the only pub – in Thayer Street, W1, The Angel in the Field. We walked from there down some side streets and up to St Christopher’s Place. I’m not sure whether my photographs do justice to the Christmas lights here, they were light giant baubles and very pretty.


Sarsden Buildings is one of the properties managed by social reformer Octavia Hill back in 1869. Hill was also one of the co-founders of the National Trust. From here we turned into Wigmore Street and ended up crossing Oxford Street to go down South Molton Street, where there are these lovely blue arches dotted down the street. At the bottom of South Molton Street is Brook Street, with Claridge’s over to the right, and the passageway leading to Handel’s House Museum opposite.

We walked down Lancashire Court and passed the entrance to the museum, which is well worth a visit, by the way, and stopped opposite Hush, a brasserie that won the Tatler test of Time restaurant of the year award this year. Apparently, it’s a good place to eat, but I just loved the way the lights covered the whole of the top of the building.

From there, we made our way to New Bond Street. These lights were like big ostrich feathers, and quite magnificent. And I had to take a photograph of my old workplace, Sotheby’s as we were passing.



Further down in Old Bond Street, this beautifully decorated place is Cartier, the French jewellers.



And this one, Ralph Lauren. In 2012, he was estimated to be the 191st richest person in the world.

This is the top of Burlington Arcade, built by Lord George Cavendish, who lived in Burlington House next door, now the site of the Royal Academy.


From here we made our way down to Carnaby Street. Personally, I don’t think there’s much to say about Carnaby Street now, I don’t think it’s anything very special.


The mural below is called the Spirit of Soho, in Broadwick Street, just off Carnaby Street, was completed in 1991. It depicts St Anne as the main figure, with her skirts showing a map of Soho, London landmarks and various famous people and craftsmen. You may notice that there are dogs and hares in the mural – this is a reference to the days when Soho was a Royal hunting ground.


There is a clock set into the mural, and when the clock strikes the hour, the depiction of opera singer Teresa Cornelys winks at Casanova who blows kisses back at her. Karl Marx just gets to take a sip of Coca Cola.

Somewhere along the way I’ve missed a bit because we went along to Regent Street and Heddon Street, where the photograph for the album cover for The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was taken, before it became very trendy. There is even a plaque there saying something like “Ziggy Stardust was born here.”

So, that was my Monday evening. We did look at some restaurants along the way, although I think there was less food involved than I might have desired, and I will have to go back to investigate further at some point, but that’s it for now.


© Susan Shirley 2014