Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Goodbye 2014 Hello 2015

We've friends over tonight to see out the old year and welcome in the new one. Home made fish pie, with flat leaf parsley from the greenhouse. Lemon meringue pie, courtesy of Waitrose and lashings of fizz.

Jools Holland and some of his mates will be Hootenannying us as the old year slips away.

Hope you all have a happy and positive evening as the new year joins us.

I send all my best wishes to you for a fantastic 2015.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas One & All

It's here at last and we can all hopefully sit back now and enjoy the celebrations and everything the season brings.

This year has been a good one and I'm already looking forward to 2015 and some new beginnings. Self improvement and finding a new job that I enjoy will be my first priorities.

I hope all of you will have a stress free and enjoyable Christmas and I want to wish you all a healthy and happy New Year.

Before I go, as promised, here is my recipe for a Festive Twinkle cocktail.

Shake 30ml of Vodka with 15ml Elderflower Cordial and some crushed ice. Strain, pour into a glass with a little ice if you want. Then top up with some fizz. I used Prosecco and it worked a treat.

image via

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Father Christmas World

More of a picture post today as I'm up to my eyeballs in Christmas prep. Just wanted to show a few pics of my visit to Father Christmas World with my chum Prof. What larks.

Had to add this one to the sidebar too. Me on the right in the specs.

I'll be back soon with my recipe for a Vodka based Christmas cocktail, called Festive Twinkle. Just cleaning out the ice maker, cocktail shaker and Martini glasses. Hope they're big enough.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


As promised, a post about an extraordinary discovery in Wales.

The leaflet for Abbey-Cwm-Hir says, "Where style meets beauty in a time from the world".
Answers on a postcard please if anyone understands what that means.

The 52-roomed Victorian Gothic Revival Hall is open year round to visitors. And the current owners, Paul and Victoria Humpherston, are lovers of the themed room. But not just one theme, lots and lots of themes. Given the size of the house they have a lot of scope, and they use it to the max.

Christmas is their BIG thing. Every inch of the house is crammed with decorations, Christmas trees, kitchenalia and paraphernalia. I do not exaggerate when I say every surface in the whole of the house was covered in 'stuff'. By the end of the 'Tour of Enchantment' I felt quite claustrophobic. But that's not to say we didn't enjoy the house. It is a place like no other, a sensation, in the truest sense of the word, eccentricity at it's best.

Paul Humpherston, a charming man, took part of our tour and explained they had originally opened the house to fund the replacement of a boiler. They so enjoyed the experience it has really turned into their life's work.

These images are of my favourite things in the house. But If you want to get a real flavour of just how much they cram in, pop over to their site and look at the Christmas slide show. Prepare for your gob to be smacked.

Monday, 15 December 2014

A Few Days In Wales

We saw a lot of this in Wales. Which normally wouldn't put much of a damper on things, except we had hoped to get out into the Welsh countryside and have some good long walks. Never mind, perhaps we may venture there again in the Summer months. I don't think we will be staying at Llangoed Hall though if we do go back.

The hotel was quite spectacular, but dare I say it? Not worth the price tag. Our spacious room was just to the left of the picture with a double aspect and a decanter of sherry. All very nice, especially as we got a good deal for the three day break. But the evening meal which in my opinion was not quite up to standard, cost us the equivalent of two weekly shops. YIKES, and me a thriftanista!

Of course we still had a good time. On our first full day day we popped into nearby Hay-on-Wye. Mooching about the book shops was a real joy for both of us. The Folio Society Reading Room, is probably the best book shop I have ever been in.

I half expected to see young Wizards and Witches amongst the tall bookcases looking for their Winter spell books.

Lots of other fun bookshops too. Like this 'Murder and Mayhem' crime bookshop.

We also 'discovered' a new and thirst quenching craft beer shop atop the castle. The Mister had to bring a few bottles home of course. And a superb shop, probably the best shop in Hay-on Wye, called The Great English Outdoors. No, it wasn't like Millets.

They are specialist conservators and dealers in Welsh textiles, working with fine leathers and sourcing ethical and beautiful objects. I would say most, if not all the items for sale are hand made and most importantly are made from natural materials. We splurged out on some horn porridge spoons, a hand printed shirt for The Mister and some delightful Spanish cologne.

I'll tell you about day two in the next post. We visited a very unusual and quirky Gothic Revival house. It really deserves a post of it's own.

An update on the UK Blog Awards.

Unfortunately my blog wasn't short listed to go through to the next phase of the awards. Many thanks though for all of you who did vote for me in the first round. (And anyone who didn't is now on the naughty list, natch).

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Back From Wales

I'll be posting proper in a day or two.

I hope you've missed me as much as I've missed you.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Winter Beauties

Artist Hester Cox

For a  special party, pop over to An Anglo In Quebec, for a clear and easy tutorial on making these ice lanterns.

And for some fun you can check out your Elf name. Btw, what's your favourite colour?

Signing off, Pudding Twinkle-Toes.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Another Money Saving Expert (Apart From Me)

I've been on a multi mission of sorts these last couple of weeks. De-cluttering big time. Donating to my local chazza shops, books, DVDs, a few home wares and some lovely good quality clothes that I haven't worn for years and am not likely to wear again. Well defo now as I've given them away.

I also sold a couple of party dresses and two jumpers on Ebay, which have paid for the tweed brogues from Clarks that I wanted. The 20% reduction offer eventually came through, plus I bought them through the Top Cashback site, and gained a few extra quid there too.

My philosophy has always been to only buy things that I really love or need, but I'm trying to take that up a notch and be even better at it. It feels good to get new things but by 'eck it feels good to get rid of stuff too. I even Freecycled an indoor Orchid I've had for over 8 years. When The Mister listed it on Freecycle he put "it has fallen out of favour with my wife". I'm sure the lady who came to collect it gave him a look of sympathy, she must have thought, watch out you might be next on the hit list.

In keeping with all things frugal and money saving, I wanted to mention the weekly 'money saving' email I get from Martin Lewis. I would think that most of you are already in receipt of his wisdom, as his email goes out to about 10 million people a week. But just in case you don't get it, I wanted to show you what you are missing.

There's a lot of useful information in his email and quite often a little gem or two. He highlights special discounts, deals and money off coupons. For example the Dr.Oetker range of pizzas have been on special offer for several weeks now. If you buy a pizza with the £10 logo on it as seen in the picture below, you will find a code inside the box which entitles you to two vouchers, one £1, and one £1.50, money off your next pizza purchase. You simply go on to their website and they send you an email with the printable vouchers. (If you are really lucky, like me, you might also win a £5 voucher off your shopping, at the store of your choice). Morrisons have been selling the pizzas at half price, £1.49, for a good few weeks now, I'll let you do the math, as our American friends would say.

In this week's email he also brought to our attention a £1 money off coupon for the Covent Garden range of soups. Again a download from their website. Morrisons are selling a number of the soups at £1.00.

I hope you're getting my drift. The shopping above cost me a total of 96p. Thank you Mr. Lewis, you are indeed the King of coupons.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Thank You Very Much

Voting for the UK Blog Awards 2015 closed last night. Thank you all very much for your votes. Every single one was much appreciated.

The top ten blogs who achieved the most votes will now be short listed for the second round. We will know who has been chosen by December 15th.

It sounds a bit corny but the response I got from my blogging community has been very heart warming. It's been worth taking part in the awards for that alone.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Downs & Ups of Life

Poor old Pendragon has been in the wars of late. She first had to visit the vet to have her fur combed through and de-matted, as she stubbornly refuses to let us groom her. Frankly she looked like a trampette. They had to put her out for that, which wasn't nice for her. But she looked like a kitten when she came back, quite the young thing. It even put her in a good mood for a few days.

A wee bit later I had to take her back to the vet for her annual vaccinations. The vet gave her a thorough examination and told me that unfortunately some teeth needed to come out because she had lesions on them.

In the event, they had to remove 4 teeth and she had an overnight stay. Poor thing, she trembles just sitting in the vet's waiting room. It has taken her over a week to get back to some sense of normality, well, as normal as a cat can be! And it has taken us more or less the same amount of time to get over it all as well. I surprised myself at just how upset it made me feel.
And the expense, OUCH.

Still not all bad news last week. My free 6 month membership of the Army & Navy club came through, compliments of my Lady magazine subscription. The club has a very swish address, which amuses me, as it's all very Downton.

My good friend Linda (aka Prof) and I paid a visit to 'my club' on Friday, as she had some business at Westminster Cathedral. We had a very reasonably priced lunch in the bar with a little drink and came away fortified to shop.

There was only one shop I wanted to visit - Anthropologie. They had 20% off everything in the store for one day only and I had a £25.00 gift voucher to spend. Definitely a win win situation. I'm pleased to say that I only made one purchase, a set of 4 bowls to replace some chipped ones. So I didn't get carried away with all the Black Friday discounts and Christmas hype. Very important at this time of year.

And doubly important when you're in a shop with so many temptations. Prof had never been before and was totally smitten. She came away with a bagful of goodies, mostly presents for her friends. That's the kind of gal she is.