We’ve moved!

Today, we get the keys to our very first home. Excited is not the word.

IMG_9145

However, this does mean that until Mr BT arrives on Monday to install the phoneline and broadband, I am without internet access. Fear not, I’ve scheduled enough posts to see me over the festive season, but I’ll be unpacking dusty boxes and arranging furniture for the next few days.

My Christmas will be hectic. But lovely.

Back soon x

Advertisements

Ten Things #6 20.12.2013

IMG_9291

  1. Seeing a kestrel coming in to land on a streetlight just as we drove underneath it.
  2. A little pre-move in tour of our new home.
  3. Discovering that I actually rather enjoy packing. Which is good as we’ve had an entire flat to pack up! Christmas decorations are staying up as long as possible though.
  4. Remembering how much I love old episodes of Friends- it’s been my packing company over the weekend. It’s great to discover that an episode I’d seen many times still had me giggling away.
  5. Visiting my parents for a cup of tea and being very jealous of their lovely Christmas tree.
  6. A work trip out to a site that is usually permit only led me to discover that this site was BEAUTIFUL. Absolutely magical even and it made me feel incredibly privileged to be there. I’m already applying for that permit in my mind…
  7. A delicious work Christmas lunch with great company. I am very lucky with my colleagues.
  8. Catching up with an old friend. And her leading me to this. Apologies if you’ve never worked with brand guidelines and it means nothing, but I found it hilarious!
  9. Seeing a flock of city centre redwings on my way to work on Friday.
  10. And finally- knowing that we get the keys to our new house later today. SO excited.

Belgian chocolatiers

IMG_0528

One thing that immediately strikes you on wandering around Brussels city centre is the sheer number of chocolate shops. At times it seems as though every other shop is bursting at the seams with all manner of chocolate goods. As my trip was a surprise, I’d not done any research as to where to go, so I relied upon our Rough Guide to point us in the right direction, so here’s a little summary for any of you headed to Brussels in the future.

  • Frederic Blondeel– Apparently the place for connoisseurs according to the rough guide.
  • Galler– We didn’t stop off in a Galler stall, but apparently it’s the royal warrant holder and chocolatier to the king, however not often seen outside Belgium.
  • Godiva– this chain seemed to have shops everywhere and very nearly tempted us. The marzipan looked amazing.
  • Lèonidas– competitively priced but tend to be more sickly than more expensive counterparts
  • Neuhaus– This chain has a much more modern look to it, and everything felt quite contemporary. I think Neuhaus might be available quite widely- we even saw this on sale in Amsterdam. Said to be considered the home of the praline.
  • Pierre Marcolini– thought by many to be the worlds premier chocolatier- simple and wonderful. The shop felt like a designer boutique, with very helpful assistants. I even managed to have a little conversation in my stilted French! This was the one shop we caved at and bought a box to bring home- we’re saving them until we’re in the new house though.
  • Wittamer– Although I’d never heard of it, this chocolatier is one of the most famous and still family run today
  • Laurent Gerbaud-This didn’t appear on the list in our guide, but we stumbled across it on a walk as it was very close to our hotel. The hot chocolate was divine and with it we were able to choose a chocolate each from the counter to enjoy with it. They had a beautiful range of chocolate covered dried fruit- too many to choose from!

Winchester Christmas Market

IMG_9313

While it’s nowhere near the same scale of the German markets I visited, I love the market that comes to Winchester each year. Although Winchester is lovely all year round, I think it really comes alive at Christmas when the lights add a magical touch to the city. I had a quick stroll round last Thursday after work, enjoyed  a mulled wine and picked up a few Christmas presents. All in all I’m feeling really festive now.

IMG_9311 IMG_9310 IMG_9309 IMG_9306 IMG_9317 IMG_9316 IMG_9314

The market stalls are all scattered around the cathedral, which makes it feel very special. After a walk round the market, we managed to sneak into the cathedral, where they were setting up for a carol service- it was all rather lovely.

5 Ways With Mince Pies

P1220591

Most of us love a traditional shortcrust mince pie at this time of year, but if you’re looking for something a bit different, I’ve rounded up a few different ideas:

Shortcrust mince pies- the traditional and best. I like to make my own shortcrust pastry to this Jamie recipe, then once cut and in the tins, I add ready-made mincemeat, top with a lid or a star of pastry and bake for 15-20 mins at 200C in a fan oven.

Puff pastry mincemeat swirls– super easy to throw together in a hurry, try this recipe for starters.

Puff pastry mince pies– another idea, these are a flakier, more indulgent pie.

Filo mincemeat parcels– try this recipe for a lighter, crunchier mincemeat treat.

The non-mincemeat festive pie– I love these Pear and Cranberry tarts- delicious.

Dutch Treats

IMG_9258

One of my favourite shops to visit in the Netherlands is HEMA. It’s ridiculously hard to describe- it literally sells everything- a lot of really cheap but good quality basics always with fantastic attention to detail. There’s a TripAdvisor review that describes it as a cross between Woolworths and IKEA and I think that’s about right. Whilst in the past I’ve bought myself and my sister one of their basic snoods for €5 (these are amazing!), this time I stumbled across the Stationery section and was not disappointed.

IMG_9256

I can hear my Mum in my head as I type ‘Josie Rosanna you do not need another notebook…’ but this one is beautiful and for €2.95 I couldn’t resist! I also picked up some beautiful stickers, washi tapes, page markers and stamps. I’ve been after a set of alphabet stamps for ages, so these were a steal at €2.50.

Next time you’re in the Netherlands, keep an eye out for HEMA- you may surprise yourself!

Ten Things #5 13.12.2013

IMG_9260

1. Drinking fresh mint tea on a cold day.

2. Discovering a beautiful interiors shop in Amsterdam.

3. Relaxing with a coffee in the hotel bar before our flight home. I felt very smug all wrapped up in the warm when it was cold and drizzly outside.

4. A Brass Band playing Christmas Carols outside Waitrose

5. Having a coffee in the newly opened cafe above a local gallery- expect more on that one soon. The Passionfruit and Orange fruit tea was divine.

6. Buying some beautiful little reindeer in Sainsbury’s. I saw them in another lady’s basket and dragged Chris around the Christmas aisles until we tracked them down!

7. Bumping into good friends in Ikea and spending Wednesday night with others.

8. Making my first batch of mince pies and giving my Christmas mug it’s first use.

9. Spending the evening drinking mulled wine and exploring Winchester Christmas market with colleagues last night. I found some perfect presents.

10. Feeling festive- inspired by another blogger, I’ve strung up some twigs with baubles and added a fee candles round and about. Mulled wine and baked Camembert added to the feeling.