Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Well, hello! Long time no speak bloggers, so first of all, I’d like to say a late ‘Merry Christmas’ to those of you whom read this blog or occasionally glance at it. It has been quite a while since I last blogged anything, and it’s been a very very busy few weeks. As I mentioned before, I had been revising for my last two exams of my undergraduate degree (yesss!). I must admit, these were tough but nonetheless, I finished for Christmas on the 13th, and was off to Lille the next morning at 7am for an impromptu holiday to relieve the exam stress!

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For 4 days and 3 night we were immersed into the hustle and bustle of Northern France getting ready for Christmas.

Speculoos waffle...oh yes!

Speculoos waffle…oh yes!

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The weather was surprisingly nice, the air was crisp but the sun was bright, making going for a walk around the town really enjoyable. I had read numerous reviews about the Christmas market just off from the main square. IT WAS RAMMED! People everywhere, rushing about and pushing to see the huge gingerbread cookies, homemade ipad cases, charcuterie meats and so on, to be honest, the business of it all did put me off, I’m not a fan of huge crowds…DSC_0144a

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During our time across the Channel, we decided to go back to Bruges for the afternoon. If, like us, you are unable to speak French, this can be extremely difficult to do. We walked to Lille Flanders station to purchase a ticket and find out when the next train was…still busy and unclear, we tried our hardest to navigate and explain where we wanted to go. Finally, we managed it, and at 11am we were on our way! It takes about 1.5 hours to reach Bruges, changing at Kortrijk.DSC_0172a

All the memories of our previous stay there came flooding back with its beautiful architecture, friendly people and delicious Brugse Zot beer. We sat on the main square in a lovely restaurant by a log fire, sharing a croque monsieur (10 euros for essentially a ham and cheese toastie), and people watching – because essentially, that’s the best sport around! After our little chow down and enjoying the warm, we decided to have a walk around and then eventually walk back to the station to catch the 5.30pm train back to Lille. Ohhh my, that didn’t go according to plan, I (shamefully) led us out of the city, around it, back in and along the main highway, oops! So although our feet killed, we were now tired and cold, we had burned off our food for the day, we did eventually reach the station at 5.10pm ready for the ride back.DSC_0200a

To sum up 4 days in Lille, I would recommend the City Tour, the Ferris Wheel in the main square, Fuxia (serving delicious Italian food), Elizabeths Tea Rooms, and if you’re into shopping, the gorgeous designer boutique stores littered around Vieux Lille.

SO, apart from exams and Lille, what else has kept me busy? On Thursday 19th, I went to Eric Lanlard’s ‘Festive Baking’ class, of which was a birthday present from my Mum. Starting from 9.30am and finishing at 5pm, we made a beautiful chocolate Christmas, a chocolate passionfruit mousse cake, and a Buche de Noel (Yule log). It was a truly amazing experience to learn from the expert himself, in a calm, relaxed, friendly and fun atmosphere. Eric is a great teacher, allowing you to just get on with it, work in pairs and follow the recipes. Photo 19-12-2013 21 09 59Isn’t it just everyone’s dream to have all the tins ready lined and the washing up done?! We were also treated to a delicious christmas dinner complete with wine and pudding – perfection! You can see a range of classes for 2014 here.Photo 19-12-2013 22 25 21

The next day was just completely perfect, as I spent it with my two bestest friends, we went for an ice-skating session at the Natural History Museum. I seem to have lost my ability as  I have aged…no incidents of falling down embarrassingly, but my hand tended to remain on the edge for the majority of the 50 min session, firmly on the bar. What I was reminded of though, is that London is an amazing place to live around Christmas time, walking along the Southbank with the German Market selling gorgeous hot chocolate, delicious hot dogs and crepes, yummy.

GETTING CLOSER TO CHRISTMAS!

When you sort out Christmas presents, what do you tend to do? For me, it’s a combination of baking/making and then buying the things that people truly want. Last year, I went all out with hampers with wooden baskets and the cellophane wraps, but this year, I decided against it. Buying baskets are a lovely idea but start to get incredibly expensive…so I went for a more rustic approach with  simple brown paper gift bag from Hobbycraft – easy, simple and plain which was later adorned with ribbon and a label. Simple. If only what was inside was that easy!Photo 22-12-2013 23 30 46

My house was like a production line, pumping out 60 mince pies, 60 gingerbead biscuits, 60 chocolates, 9 jars of chutney, 2 xmas cakes and 4 bars of peppermint bark. These may warrant future blog posts – the mince pies got rave reviews, probably because of the orange zest pastry!Photo 22-12-2013 16 31 24 Photo 21-12-2013 17 00 49 Photo 22-12-2013 17 01 05Photo 18-12-2013 19 42 01 Photo 18-12-2013 20 47 59Photo 22-12-2013 01 10 55 Photo 22-12-2013 21 48 46

It seems that I’ve treated this post as a bit of a diary entry! But I just thought it would be good to share something on here aside from a recipe and some of the photos I’ve taken…yep, the photography diploma has come in handy! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the best for 2014!

Cheers!

Cheers!

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