Friday 30 December 2011

Ring Out The Old, Ring In The New.

In a secluded corner of the garden a pink hydrangea from last summer
continues to add colour, whilst bright yellow daffodils begin to push through to the light.

Ring Out The Old, Ring In The New
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Joining in with the last Pink Saturday of 2011
with Beverly at How Sweet The Sound

Happy New Year Everyone!

Destination 360

Thursday 22 December 2011

Glacé fruit topped Christmas cake.

Last month I blogged about baking Mary Berry's Victorian Christmas Cake.
Click here if you missed that post or would like the recipe.
Since then I have given the cake a little tot of whisky about every 10 days or so to keep it moist.
When it came time to decorate the cake I first warmed through 2 tablespoons of apricot conserves with 1 tablespoon of Calvados apple brandy.
(What can I say? It's a boozy cake!)

Abricots, poires, clementines, prunes, figues, tranches de citrons, tranches d'oranges and bigarreaux.
Apricots, pears, clementines, figs, slices of lemons and oranges and cherries.

I brushed the cake quite liberally with the conserves and then artfully (!) arranged some glace fruit and pecan nuts before brushing once again with the remainder of the conserves until all was beautifully glossy.

I purchased the fruits glacés from Les Fleurons d'Apt a wonderful online emporium full of Provencal foodie treats.
This will be the last post of 2011, whew! hasn't this year just flown by?
Like many of you, I'll be taking a short break away from blogging until the New Year.
Until then dear friends and followers may I take the opportunity of wishing you all 
A Very Merry Christmas
 A Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2012.

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Home for Christmas.

Back home again after a wonderful time in the UK, although not all went to plan.
There was a bit of a hiccup when the Senior Partner needed to pay an emergency visit to the dentist because of a wobbly crown and a couple of things slipped off the agenda, but we thoroughly enjoyed everything else.
The ferry crossing on Thursday wasn't as bad as we had expected and we made it to our hotel without mishap.
On Saturday morning there was some snow on the ground but it didn't impede our onward journey to Hereford Cathedral for the Advent Market and Carols for Shoppers at midday.

Hereford Cathedral

We estimated that there were over a thousand souls gathered together inside this magnificent place of worship.
The Very Reverend Michael Tavinor, Dean of Hereford made us all welcome and informed us that in the ten years of Carols for Shoppers services this was the biggest congregation yet.

Life size wire mesh sculptures of the
Three Wise Men
part of a Nativity scene inside Hereford Cathedral
So many in fact that the overflow from the nave had filled the side aisles and the transept too!

The Hereford Church Singers opened the festivities by singing "Ding Dong Merrily On High" which was swiftly followed by the Congregational Carol "Once In Royal David's City".

We also sang "O Little Town Of Bethelem"; "Whilst Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night"; "O Come All Ye Faithfull"; "It Came Upon The Midnight Clear" and concluded with "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".
The  Hereford Church Singers and the Herefordshire Junior Singing Club also sang several lesser known Carols which were interspersed by Bible Readings recounting the story of Jesus' birth.

After the Carol Service we headed to Ledbury to the apartment that we had rented for two nights.

Here's where I digress a little, bear with me please!
I announced in this blog post in early January that my word for 2011 was "de-clutter" and that is why all of this

found it's way to here.

The St Michael's Hospice Charity Shop, conveniently located two floors beneath the apartment in Ledbury's Homend, I'd call that serendipity!

The comfortable apartment living room,
 complete with
a very pretty Christmas tree and a
challenging thought!
As there was no wifi available at the apartment I was unable to visit all my favourite blogs but just as soon as everything is back to normal around here, hopefully tomorrow at the latest, I'll be calling round to catch up with everyone during the final run up to Christmas Eve.
ho ho ho!!!

Saturday 17 December 2011

Sunday Favourites with Chari.

Joining Chari @ Happy To Design for the final Sunday Favourites of 2011
 with a rerun of a post from Christmas 2010.
I haven't come across this game in blogland so far this year
and thought we could have some fun with it once again.

Dining room tree, where did all the snow go?
Earlier this week I came across a Christmas meme that the lovely Lorrie @ Fabric, Paper & Thread had joined.

Now that I have most of my decorating done, just the tree in the library to finish off, I sat down with a cup of tea and played along.
1.Hot Chocolate or apple cider?
Hot chocolate.
2. Turkey or Ham?
3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree?
After many years of one of each, we now have 2 fake trees.
4. Decorations on the outside of your house?
 Usually just a pair of wreaths on the double front doors although last year I did decorate the box topiaries too.
5. Snowball fights or sleddin’?
As we Brits would say, “sledging”.
6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping?
 If it’s downtown London yes, otherwise no.
7. Favorite Christmas song?
 Happy Christmas (War is over) John Lennon. Favourite Carol: Once in Royal David’s City.
8. How do you feel about Christmas movies?
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without watching “A Wonderful Life” at least once.
9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?
November 30th.
10. Stockings before or after presents?
Stockings in bed with tea & toast.
11. Go to someone else’s house or they come to you?
We always spend Christmas “a deux” at home.
12. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when?
13. What do you do after presents and dinner?
 Watch the Queen on BBC television.
14. What is your favorite holiday smell?
15. Ice skating or walking around the mall?
Neither, a long dog walk on the beach would be my preference.
16. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day?
One table present each during dinner on Christmas Eve.
17. Favorite Christmas memory?
A horse drawn sleigh ride with friends through the snow to a schnappshaus deep in the forest of Ellmau, Austria.
18. Favorite Part about winter?
The first snow fall and log fires.
19. Ever been kissed under mistletoe?
Many times!

My latest tree ornament:
 A portly French waiter with tray aloft
holding a bottle of wine & a glass.
Souvenir from HHI
Care to play along?
Simply cut & paste the questions below.
1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider?
2. Turkey or Ham?
3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree?
4. Decorations on the outside of your house?
5. Snowball fights or sleddin’?
6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping?
7. Favorite Christmas song?
8. How do you feel about Christmas movies?
9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?
10. Stockings before or after presents?
11. Go to someone else’s house or they come to you?
12. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when?
13. What do you do after presents and dinner?
14. What is your favorite holiday smell?
15. Ice skating or walking around the mall?
16. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day?
17. Favorite Christmas memory?
18. Favorite Part about winter?
19. Ever been kissed under mistletoe?

With many thanks to chocolatechic for starting this thread.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Christmas Open House Tour Part 2 – Festive.

Welcome to the second and final part of the Presbytère house tour.

In the library the tree is finally decorated and the dining room table is looking festive.

I began with a pair of table runners overlaid with silver and gold chargers.
The china is Rosenthal "Classic Rose".

The red napkins were a TJ Maxx purchase the last time we visited Hilton Head, SC. and the white napkins are from the Spode Christmas Tree range, as are the coasters beneath the stemware.

The stemware is vintage Baccarat, bought at auction in Bayeux several years ago. I think the pattern is Harcourt.

The green English pressed glass dishes are vintage too, I’ll serve one of our favourite appetizers in these; avocado prawn cocktails with Marie Rose sauce, very 1970’s!

I kept the centrepiece simple, a large white candle inside a plain glass hurricane surrounded by a faux wreath embellished with faux white poinsettias and gold accents.

I love Christmas Carols, singing along to them when playing CD's at home or, even better, going to a Carol concert and lending my voice (not good!) to all the others, an opportunity that I rarely have living as we do in deepest rural Normandy.

When our house & pet sitter called to let me know that she was available for a few days due to a cancellation, the Senior Partner and I quickly agreed that a long weekend back in the U.K. was just the pick me up we both needed.
Herefordshire is a favourite place of ours to visit and so we decided to head back there and experience it during the festive season.
I saw on line that the Goodrich Village Choir the “Roaring Megs” would be appearing at the Hostellerie in Goodrich on Friday evening. There was mention of open braziers, hot chestnuts, mulled wine, sausage rolls and mince pies whilst the lovely choir entertain us and bring the whole spirit of Christmas to our doorstep.
I booked a room and dinner for two, tout suite.
Then I read in the December issue of "Herefordshire Life" magazine that an Advent market and Carols for Shoppers would be taking place Saturday morning in the grounds of Hereford Cathedral, and that the Ledbury Community Choir would be performing at a Carol Concert in Ledbury on Saturday evening.
After a few minutes spent on google I'd found a lovely apartment for two in the centre of Ledbury, a beautiful little town steeped in history, and booked it for Saturday and Sunday.
So, there will be carols, shopping, good food and wine, carols, a seasonal client meeting for the Senior Partner, did I mention carols, and a rare opportunity for retail therapy with a friend for me.
As we’ll be on the overnight ferry back to Normandy late Monday, a cosy cabin to ensure a good night’s sleep in case of a choppy Channel crossing has also been reserved!

Isn't that enough to make anyone feel Festive?
Joining Jenny @ off on my tangent
I'm sure there will be lots of festivity happening this week in blogland
 as we celebrate the letter "F"!
Jenny Matlock

Saturday 10 December 2011

Christmas Open House - Part One.


Welcome to the first of my Christmas Open House posts.

As you enter through the double front doors 
Colonial Williamsburg
Byers Choice Carolers
 are waiting to welcome you
with a ballad or two, a cup of grog and a choice of seasonal fare.

This year the mantlepiece in the library has a new look,
but still traditional!

Meanwhile, in the dining room,
Bavarian Santa presides this year over Spode "Christmas Tree" china tea things.
He has his eye on those mincepies, I can tell.

The other Santas can only watch from on top of the mantlepiece.

In the window,
The Byers Choice Salvation Army Brass Band and Choir
sing Christmas Carols to entice
Shopping Carolers.

However, the Shopping Carolers seem to have been waylaid
decorating their own tree.

Maybe they think they're in the Rockwell painting of
Stockbridge, Massachusetts?

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of  my favourite Christmas vignettes
and will stop by again to see more displays soon.

Joining the Tablescaper
Click on the link to take a look at
more seasonal delights.