Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Winchester Cathedral Christmas Fair

On Saturday we went to stay with our daughter in Southampton. We had planned to visit the Winchester Cathedral Christmas fair on the Saturday but the rain was so torrential  we decided to leave it until the Sunday morning because the forecast was for a brief respite until more torrential rain in the afternoon. We were so pleased we chose the Sunday morning as the sun actually made a brief appearance.

Winchester is a gorgeous Cathedral City with many very ancient buildings. As with all ancient cities in the UK the city centre was never designed for modern day traffic. Winchester council have a very efficient Park and Ride scheme where you leave your car in one of 4 large out of the city car parks and hop onto a bus for the ride into town. Normally this service is only Monday to Saturday but for the Christmas Fair this was extended to run on a Sunday.

When we arrived at the Park and Ride we were delighted to see a fleet of the old Route Master green double decker buses waiting to take us into the city. These had been specially commissioned to provide transport just for the Christmas period. This sight took me back to the memories of the buses I used to take as a child (in London where I used to live though they were red. Green buses were classed as "country buses").

We clambered up the stairs to the top deck to get a better view for our journey.

Just look a the old seats. We even had a conductor who shouted "hold on tight" and rang the bell twice before we trundled our way into the city. We saw the effect the recent heavy rain has had  on the river, as we passed.

I snapped this photo from the top of the bus. You can see how the river was pounding under the building across the bridge at such a height. It was swollen to flood levels. Let's hope not too much rain falls as this could be very serious. Many parts of the UK are flooded at the moment and even in the normally dryer south and south east the ground is saturated and flooding.

The fair is held in the grounds of the cathedral and opened at 10 am. When we arrived, around 10.30, it was already very busy.

We joined the line of people walking through to the cathedral grounds which opened up into a large courtyard where the fair had been set up. All the exhibitors were in wonderful wooden huts, similar to those seen in German Christmas fairs.
The first thing we noticed was the amazing aroma, a combination of mulled wine and fruits.

This seller had the most amazing wreathes made of fruits and pine cones. The fruits included lime, orange, lemon and even cinnamon sticks and chillies. The smell was gorgeous.
Of course we also had a cup of mulled wine each to warm us up.

We spent a very pleasurable few hours looking around. There were some really quality goods being sold there. As  lunchtime approached the weather deteriorated and we made our way into the city centre again to find somewhere to eat. We found a great restaurant where we enjoyed roast beef with all the trimmings.

It was then time to walk back to the
Guildhall and wait for our bus back to the Park and Ride. The buses ran every 10 minutes and we were so pleased when ours drew up that we could get out of the rain. It was a really lovely day and we missed most of the bad weather.

I bought a couple of things which I am sure you would like to see. The first was one of those amazing fruit wreathes which I have already tied to my front door.

I wish you could smell the wonderful aroma that this gives off. When you enter my porch now it smells like Christmas ;0) The seller told us that the fruit will stay fine for 3 months so as I only need this to last until 12th night (5 January) I am very pleased.

We also found a very talented small business who make all sorts of cast pewter spoons, knives, pots etc. I snapped this photo inside their hut of some of the spoons they made.

I had a hard time choosing just one thing as I could have bought so many but we decided in the end to buy a wonderful cheese knife as we don't own one.

My photo of our knife does not do it justice. It  features a mouse with a piece of cheese. It is superb quality and very cute. What I love is that it is a hand made, not mass produced piece. Whenever we hold gatherings at our house we always serve a cheese board and it will be fun use this special knife. We will first use it on Christmas day in the evening with our Christmas buffet.

Today's card obviously needs to be a really festive one and I have chosen this one.

I have used one of my new LOTV stamps called Christmas Angel Oval bauble. I love this stamp and have made several colour variations. This one is a really traditional red, golds and greens.

I coloured the image with Promarkers and highlighted with Prismacolor pencils. I added some glamour dust to the wings for extra sparkle and little snow flake pearl using a Viva pearl pen. My ribbon is a lovely gold sparkly organza.
Speaking of ribbons can I mention the giveaway over on the Ribbon Girls blog. They have some super new rustic ones I hope to win!
The papers are from my stash and I have used a Martha Stewart punch to pattern the edges. The sentiment is a Whimsy one.  I even added 2 little bells which actually ring!

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;
Stamping for the weekend #22 use some texture
Forever Friends Fortnightly challenge Glitter and sparkle #50
Party Time Tuesdays anything goes #96
2 Sisters winter wonderland #119
Hooked on Craft #27 Christmas
Stamp Sensations Traditional Christmas

There are now only 28 days left until the big day. Yes it is exactly 4 weeks today that we will be waking up on Christmas morning. I am sure that most of you are stepping up a gear with all your preparations. I have bought quite a few of my presents and the next thing I need to get going with are my annual hand made Christmas crackers. I hope to start those on my day off on Thursday.
I really hope my fellow bloggers in the UK are keeping safe with the terrible flooding we have seen across the country. After such a wet summer the last thing we need is more rain and yet it keeps on coming. Even this morning it is pouring again.

Remember that you have until 5pm this Thursday 29 November to enter my giveaway here Everyone is welcome but you need to enter a comment on that post to join the fun.

I will be back at the weekend to announce the winner of my bag charm. Until then keep dry and for those of you who are abroad, keep warm and enjoy the run up to my favourite time for the year. Thank you to everyone who left such kind comments on my previous, 200th post, it was fun to have shared that special occasion with you all over a virtual cup of tea ;0)

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane x

Thursday, 22 November 2012

200 posts, 100 followers; Join me for a virtual cup of tea and a giveaway

There can be nothing quite as quintessentially English as Afternoon Tea. I can not imagine not drinking tea and I spend many hours discussing all sorts of things over a cuppa. I believe you can put the world to right over one too. One of my most memorable presents my husband treated me to a few years ago was afternoon tea at Claridges. It was just exquisite. And more recently as part of my daughter's hen weekend in July we had a wonderful Afternoon Tea at the Dorchester. Tea really is a great pick me up.

On my recent trip to Harrods I decided to choose try a new blend.

This is just part of the tea department.
There were hundreds to choose from and I decided to try the No 16 Harrods afternoon special as recommended by the server.

He weighed it out for me and then decanted it into it's own special bag.
I was amazed how many different tea accessories they also sell.

I loved all the tea strainers..these were silver plated and not cheap. They will be added to my ever lengthening wish list ;0)

This is my little bag of tea which came home with me and yes it is delicious.

I make it in my little tea pot and I have a special old Sylvac tea strainer that I have owned since I was 19.

Mmmmmm, that's better. You can see I like my tea quite strong, just a dash of milk and no sugar. I hope you also are able to sit down and join me with a cup of tea too..;0)

Now all these thoughts of Afternoon Tea set my mind thinking that this would be a great range of bag charms to join my recent Alice in Wonderland range. I found some very sweet tea related charms and created one to add to my Etsy Shop here

How cute is that slice of cake and tea pot...

How cute is this tiny tea cup and saucer ;0)

and this was a specially commissioned "English" bag charm I made for a great blogging buddy of mine, I even found a tiny tea spoon charm.

 Now unbelievably this is my 200th post, yes for my "regulars" you have been subjected to that many over the last 2 years and 4 months. I have also just gained my 100th Follower (thanks so much).  I think this deserves a thank you to everyone who visits me here. As well as joining me for a virtual cup of tea I have decided that I will hold a little giveaway and 1 lucky winner will win a bag charm of their choice. It can be one of my new afternoon tea bag charms or or you can choose one of your own. Have a look in the bag charm section of my Etsy shop here. To enter just mention the giveaway in your comment together with a colour/theme request for your winning charm if  you come out of my hat (or teapot). I will draw a winner on 29th November at 5pm (GMT). I will post world wide, if you don't have a blog just email me or convo me via Etsy, everyone is welcome to join in.

My card challenge for today is also a "thank you" Christmas card... dedicated to you all and it is from another very important person who appears in my blog..my dearest Billy

Here he is keeping watch from the roof of my Studio....you may have noticed that I have changed my Blogger Profile photo to this..I just think it's a perfect blend of my crafting with my furry boy. Billy would also  like to say what fun he has had appearing in quite a few of my 200 posts.

OK I know there is a little artistic licence here as the card kitty is more a tabby than Billy but hey I don't often wear pink socks ;0)
The image is coloured with Promarkers and highlighted with Prismacolor pencils. I have used the fun LOTV stamp called Make it Festive. I have added lots of snowy details including backing papers, die cuts and hand punched snow flakes. I know I cropped the very top of the photo off using Picmonkey but I think you can se the design fine.  I also used some pretty lace as well as pearls and gems to add some festive bling. The sentiment is also LOTV.

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;
Ladybug Crafts Ink snowflakes
The Crafty Pad It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas #197
My Mum's Craft shop Inspiration from a song my inspiration for my card is the song "Santa Claus is coming to town" as sung by the Crystals in the early 1960s as I think this stamp has a real 60s feel to it and I have gone with some very non traditional colours for my card and given it some 60s bling!
Joanna Sheen Cold and frosty
Penny Black Allsorts any die will do my die is a Marianne circle die cut. I still have to buy my die cuts but Santa is bringing me my own....I can't wait.
The Squirrel and Fox anything goes #31
Stampin with the Dragon so cute
Crafts and Me Circles #111 my circles are my die cut, sentiment and my pearls and gems.
ABC Christmas W for wrapping my kitty seems to be doing more playing than wrapping but those ribbons as such a temptation!
Papertake weekly Ribbon and/or pearls I have added pearls to my card.
Top tip Tuesdays Kids and teens #90
Bearly Mine snowflakes
Creative Card Crew anything goes
Lili's Little Fairies anything goes
Crafty Hazelnut's Christmas Challenge use something more than 6 months old my stamp is from last Christmas
Cute Card Thursday #244 girls only
Make it Monday linky party #116

The march towards Christmas seems to be speeding up with only 33 more sleeps to go now. On Saturday we are going to the Winchester Christmas Fair with our daughter. So much Christmas excitement ahead. I hope some festive spirit reaches all of you too.

Remember to enter my little giveaway you need to mention it in your comment with a choice of bag charm/colours. Thanks again for reading my posts and some of you have actually read ALL 200 of them, you are stars! I do so enjoy our blogging world and friendship. And to my American friends may I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving today.

Thanks for joining me for afternoon tea whatever the time of the day it is for you at the moment ;0)

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane (and Billy) x

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Christmas is coming

Well here we are in mid November with only 38 days to go until my favourite day of the year. Yes Christmas this year seems to have appeared again in no time at all. My Mum and I enjoyed our annual visit to Harrods to see their Christmas department, which is always such a joy. This year was no exception and I actually remembered my camera. Last year I had to make do with my phone for photos. I also took some photos of the amazing food hall which I will share in another post soon,

This enormous Harrods Bear was standing at the entrance to the Christmas department, he was taller than me and was a huge (literally) talking point.

We try to visit first thing in the morning before the crowds arrive. The displays are always breath taking. All the decorations are set out in "themes". Now this year I am really "into" gingerbread men and as my Mum always buys me a new decoration we went looking for a gingerbread man.

There was a whole "candy" selection and we found so many lovely things to choose from.

There were lots of gingerbread men (and women ;0) to choose from

and the festive displays were so delightful. I love this one with the Harrods logo. So which one did I chose.......

Here he is...don't you think he looks so real. He is made from a fimo type resin but I think he looks edible. The "sugar" even glistens! I can't wait to hang him on my tree in December.
Here are a few more shots from the Christmas department.

Now I have been looking for a fun gingerbread stamp for ages and have not been successful. I found a lovely PMX stamp by searching Google images only to find that it has long been discontinued. The ones that appear on Ebay seemed to be reaching ridiculous prices. However a couple of weeks ago I found one as a Buy it Now on Ebay.com and even with the shipping charge from the USA if was half the price of the ones being sold here. I was delighted  when it arrived.

Here he is, a wood mounted stamp which nowadays is quite a rare way to buy stamps. He has such a happy smile and I had a play with him last weekend, trying 4 different cards. I tried colouring him on white card stock and also just stamping him onto  Kraft card. For one of the cards I even tried cutting him out.

Would you like to see my cards....I have made a little sneak peek collage...

My card challenge creation today is one of these cards and it is this little fellow.

He was coloured with Promarkers and highlighted with Prismacolor pencils. He has a sweet little  red heart gem in his middle. I "made" scrabble pieces from a download by the very generous Fuzzimo He has some amazing freebies. Do try his embosser he designed, it is such fun.
I added some festive die cuts and a punched snowflake. The tag is LOTV and the small square stamp is Whimsy.  This card is already sold but I do have another in my Etsy shop here and I also have a few more to make for orders.

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;
Paper Crafting Journey anything goes
Craft room Challenge Punches and die cuts
Whimsy Card Challenge 3rd and final entry Traditional Christmas colours
Divas By Design Anything Goes #61
My Mum's Craft Shop Winter wonderland #84
Joanna Sheen Cold and Frosty I also had the exciting news this morning that I won their blog candy ;0)
Stamping with the Dragon So cute
Forever Friends Monthly challenge anything goes
Crafty Hazelnuts Christmas Challege Use something more than 6 months old #99 Well the stamp I bought is so old it is retired but also my faithful snowflake punch, which I use again and again is at least 3 years old.
Penny Black and More any die will do my die is the lovely snowflakes by Memory Box

It has been a pretty dark damp day here but tomorrow is forecast to be cold and bright. Today went t o a little Frost Fayre being held in Wimbledon. I really enjoy Christmas Fayres and try to visit a few as you can often buy such unique presents and little stocking fillers. There is also a Cath Kidston in Wimbledon so I popped  my head in there too. Everywhere is beginning to look very festive and there are already a lot of Christmas shoppers out and about. Have a lovely weekend everyone and for those who enjoy Strictly .............keep dancing...we are learning a new Samba at the moments...such a fun dance ;0)

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane x

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Shaken, not stirred

At the weekend we went to see Skyfall at the cinema. We were not disappointed at all, it was Bond at it's very best. I always smile when I see James Bond served his Martini...shaken not stirred and it does feature in this latest film. I mentioned in my last post that I had some more stories to tell about my recent trip to Harrods. When I was in Harrods there was a window display announcing that the wine department was having a special "Bond" themed celebration.
We decided to pay a visit to the Wine Department and find out more.

The wine department is in the basement of the store and as we descended the escalator this advert for Vodka Martini greeted us. They were showcasing 5 special Vodkas at this event as well as the Bollinger Champagne.

At £150 a bottle I did pass this offer by!

The 5 special Vodka displays were terrific featuring huge cocktail glasses and very realistic giant ice cubes made out of acrylic.

Even the lime slices were made of acrylic, they were so realistic.

Each display had a  free recipe leaflet for different Vodka based drinks and the one for the Vodka Martini used this Russian Vodka on the right here.
What was fun was that they were also selling little miniatures of each of the vodkas so I picked up a recipe and the ingredients in miniature to have a play with at home.

Here they are, they are really a fun size.

So on Sunday armed with my cocktail shaker (aka my Hb) he make me my very own Vodka Martini..........................

Shaken, not stirred...of course. Served in my fab cocktail glass my daughter bought me some years ago,  with an Olive, just like James Bond.

 Now at this point I would love to tell you how delicious it was....hmmmm....well honestly.....it was very bitter. I prefer drinking red Martini with lemonade.  Now what was good fate for my Hb was that he loved it and happily polished it off.
I went back to a nice warming glass of sherry instead....much better in my opinion. It was a chilly evening so it was more appropriate too I think.

Now the dark nights are setting in so early this past week and it is getting dark nearer 4pm. I really dislike this but of course Christmas is coming (in 42 days)....so my card challenge needs to be something warm and cheerful to brighten up our long nights, just like my glass of sherry. Here is today's creation.

These 2 little bunnies are keeping snug and
warm in their Christmas stocking. This stamp has become another favourite of my Lili of the Valley stamps.
I coloured it with Promarkers and Prismacolor pencils.I really like the deep red and golds. I used papers from my stash and a pine branch die cut. I hand punched some snowflakes and holly leaves. The round sentiment is Magnolia and the tag is LOTV. I added some bling with glamour dust and some gems and finished off with a rich satin red and gold ribbon.

This is for sale in my Etsy shop here

I would like to enter my card into the following challenges;

Totally Papercrafts Cute and Girlie #142
Ribbon Girl Sparkle
Whimsy Card Challenge Traditional Christmas Colours #53
Visible Image Sparkle I would like take the opportunity here to say a thank you here to Helen of Visible Image for sending me 2 fab stamps I won in their recent Face Book Draw,they are brilliant and I will enjoy having a play with them soon.
Allsorts Challenge Blog Young at heart #180
Crafty Catz anything goes #158
2 Sisters Use your favourite Christmas stamp #117
Joanna Sheen cold and frosty
Christmas card weekly challenge #50
Holly Jolly Inspired by a carol my carol is "We Wish you a Merry Christmas"
Craft Room Challenge Punches and dies
Forever Friends Fortnightly Challenge Use ribbon/twine #49

I am actually off to do some Christmas shopping on Thursday, I am  meeting up with my best buddy. We will have lunch after she finishes work (she is taking a half day off). We will spend the afternoon trying to get some of our present list bought but of course we need to stop for afternoon tea too at some point ;0)
If you get a chance do try to see Bond on the Big Screen, it's a great movie. There are also some good films coming up soon including The Hobbit and Les Miserables...I shall add them to my wish list.

Have a great week and thanks for stopping by,

Back soon,

Bye for now,

Jane x