Saturday 31 December 2011

Christmas in New York

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We spent a great (and exhausting) week in New York.

Ready for New York

We were up early on 21st for our flight and yet the kids didn't sleep on the flight over. So neither did we :-P

On our first morning, we had a walk to Times Square (our hotel was just around the corner) and saw a real reindeer outside the studio where they film Good Morning America. Times Square was hectic and at times it was difficult to move!
We then went for breakfast and I tried American pancakes for the first time. They are so much better than our pancakes.

We did a lot of walking during our trip as most things were only a few minutes walk away but we did have 'interesting' rides on the subway, from singing Christians and people telling their life stories to everyone in the carriage to getting on the wrong train. In the wrong direction.

There were lots of Christmas trees, including the huge one at the Rockefeller Center as well as giant fairy lights and baubles. Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the fairy lights lit up at night.

We took the kids to Macy's to see Santa. The displays while you wait were amazing. There were window displays telling the story of Miracle on 34th Street before you entered a 'train' that took you into a beautiful Christmas land with trees, mechanical animals and a huge sleigh filled with toys.
There was also a lovely window display outside the shop.

My favourite window display was at Lord & Taylors. The scenes were gorgeous and they also had pictures that children had drawn displayed in frames around the windows.

We spent Christmas Day in Central Park and went tot he zoo. My favourite animal was the polar bear. He kept switching between having a nap and having a scratch of his face.

During our trip to the Empire State Building I learned that a 20 minute wait for the lift is preferable to climbing six storeys. It IS that far. Also, it's a good idea to tie your hair back while you're up there. It's very windy and my hair was full of knots afterwards.

One of my highlights was watching Mary Poppins on Broadway with my 8 year old. It was brilliant and the scenery was amazing. We both really enjoyed it.

We all had a brilliant time in New York but I have to admit it is good to be home to have a rest!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

An Early Merry Christmas

I'm off to New York in the morning (eeeek! So excited) so I thought I would take the opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas while I have the chance.

I've never been further than Spain before and have never been away from home for Christmas so it will be a new experience for me. Most of the packing is done (only last-minute things to go in hand luggage), wrapping has been done ready for when we get back (we get to celebrate Christmas twice - yay) so we can relax until we go (yeah right!)

I will be back to bore you with photos on 29th December so until then, have a great Christmas.

Top Ten Christmas Songs

In no particular order:

What are your favourite Christmas songs?


Christmas Song, Fact & Cracker Joke of the Day

Christmas Fact:

The first Christmas celebrated in Britain is thought to have been in York in 521AD

Cracker Joke:

What athlete is warmest in winter?

A long jumper!

Monday 19 December 2011

Christmas Song, Fact & Cracker Joke of the Day

Christmas Fact:

Christmas stockings - When Santa lived in Turkey, he secretly gave money to three daughters by dropping it down the chimney. It landed in their stockings which were drying by the fire

Cracker Joke:

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?


Sunday 18 December 2011

Christmas Song, Fact & Cracker Joke of the Day

Christmas Fact:

In Britain, the best-selling festive single is Band Aid's 1984 track, Do They Know It's Christmas?, which sold 3.5million copies. Wham! is next in the same year with Last Christmas, selling 1.4million

Cracker Joke:

What did Adam say on the day before Christmas?

It's Christmas, Eve

Saturday 17 December 2011

Christmas Song, Fact & Cracker Joke of the Day

Christmas Fact:

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was invented for a US firm's Christmas promotion in 1938

Cracker Joke:

How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas?

Fleece Navidad!

Friday 16 December 2011

Christmas Songs Quiz: Answers

If you want to do the quiz, don't look down! Click here

Songs in Pictures:


Answer: I Believe In Father Christmas (I Bull-leaf Inn Father Christmas)


Answer: Fairytale of New York


Answer: Santa Baby


Answer: We Wish You A Merry Christmas (Wii Wish Ewe A Merry Christmas)


Answer: Let It Snow Let It Snow Let It Snow


Answer: Last Christmas


Answer: Driving Home For Christmas


Answer: O Holy Night


Answer: Walking In The Air


Answer: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Cryptic Songs...

11 Moan About Lack Of Poorly Digit
Answer: Mistletoe and Wine (Miss Ill Toe and Whine)

12 Smile! Ceasefire On 25th December
Answer: Happy Xmas (War is Over)

13 Mr Valentino Between Sprints
Answer: Run Rudolph Run (Rudolph Valentino between runs)


14 The Proclaimer's Song x 4
Answer: 2000 Miles (The Proclaimer's song [500 miles] x 4)


15 Stevie's Kingdom In The Colder Months
Answer: Winter Wonderland (Stevie Wonder's Land in Winter)

16 Ssh, Lancelot
Answer: Silent Night (Silent Knight)

17 A Games Console + Jimmy, Carl and Matthew

Answer: We Three Kings (Wii + Jimmy, Carl and Matthew King [from Emmerdale])

18 Shiny Grey Church Ringers
Answer: Silver Bells

19 The Midwife Cuts The Cord...
Answer: When a Child is Born

20 The Queen of Scot's Son
Answer: Mary's Boy Child

Anagram Songs...






Christmas Song, Fact & Cracker Joke of the Day

Christmas Fact:

"O Holy Night" ("Cantique de Noël") is a well-known Christmas carol composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau

Cracker Joke:

What's green, covered in tinsel and goes ribbet ribbet?


Thursday 15 December 2011

Short Story: Christmas Spirit

My Christmas spirit began to sag as Wizzard’s 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' piped up, blaring through the speakers and causing my jaw to tighten. It wasn’t quite lunchtime yet but I must have heard that bloody song half a dozen times already that day, tugging at my thoroughly worn out Christmas spirit.
It was 1st December, the time when most people were starting to feel those first festive stirrings but I’d been surrounded by glittery baubles, shimmery tinsel and singing Santas since September. But that was the downfall of working at The Housing Warehouse. For eight months of the year, I worked in the Bedroom Department (which was ironic, considering the horrendous luck I’d had in that department over the years. My love life was not something to be proud of), but from September to December I was transferred to the Christmas Department to dress as an elf and emit constant cheer.
It wasn’t that I disliked my job. I enjoyed working there, working alongside my colleagues and interacting with the customers and I loved Christmas, but all those weeks in The Housing Warehouse’s Winter Wonderland were taking their toll and it felt like I was drowning in tinsel.
 'He’s put a great big smile on somebody’s face!' Fellow Winter Wonderland employee Kat was not suffering from my Grinch-like grumpiness as she sang along. She was sporting a pair of felt antlers with bells that jingled with each step as she passed.
 'You’re in a good mood.' I was glad that at least somebody was full of cheer.
Kat jingled to a halt and turned to face me with a wide grin on her berry-red lips. 'You’d be in a good mood too if you’d just met the man of your dreams.'
 'Ooh, tell me more.' I scurried down from the ladder where I’d been restocking pink glittery stars.
 'Well.' Kat took a deep breath and paused for maximum effect. 'He’s tall with blond hair and amazing blue eyes. I’m sure he was undressing me with them, the naughty boy.' She giggled, setting off another round of jingles.
 'So? What happened? What did he say to you?'
Kat’s smile faltered and she scrunched up her nose, folding her arms across her chest. 'Nothing. Marie marched over and told me to get back on the tills before he had the chance to sweep me off my feet.'
 'Never mind.' I reached out to give Kat’s arm a squeeze. 'Maybe he’ll buy something and you’ll get the chance to chat at the counter.'
 'Yes! You’re right. See you later.' Kat gave a little wave before jingling on her way.
I climbed back up the ladder, somewhat cheered by Kat’s enthusiasm, and resumed looping the decorations onto the stand. I found myself humming along to the music as I finished with the glittery pink stars and moved onto the glittery purple stars.
 'Nice view.'
Gripping hold of the ladder’s frame, I turned around, face contorted in preparation for the mouthful I was about to bestow upon the rude customer below. But my reprimand was frozen in my throat when I was met by the mischievous blue eyes and cheeky grin of an old friend.
 'Will!' Jumping down the ladder, I threw myself into his arms, which were a lot stronger than they'd been the last time we’d hugged. Will was broader now, with the beginnings of laughter lines around his eyes, but he was still as handsome as ever.
 'I was hoping to find you here.' Will squeezed the life out of me as he twirled us in a full circle.
I laughed. 'You mean you hoped I hadn’t got a life and moved on from the job I’d had at eighteen?'
Will and I had met at The Housing Warehouse as teenagers, working in the Christmas Department part-time while at college. Will had moved on to university while I accepted a full-time position in the Bedroom Department but he had still worked there every Christmas during the holidays. Once upon a time we'd sort-of fancied each other but there had always been obstacles in the way, mostly my boyfriend-at-the-time and Will’s fiancée-and-now-wife. But we’d remained friends until Will graduated and moved away to start a new married life with Kelly. It had been ten years since we’d last seen each other and, embarrassingly, I was still stuck in the same place.
 'I didn’t mean it like that.' Will released me from his grip and gave me a nudge. 'It was just easier to find you this way. It’s so good to see you again.' He grinned at me before pulling me into another hug. Closing my eyes, I found myself transported back to the last time we’d hugged, shortly after Will had married Kelly and my heart had crumbled into a million pieces.
 'Nice hat, by the way.'
I pulled away, batting Will on the arm. 'Get lost. You used to wear one exactly the same.'
Will grimaced, remembering his days as a Housing Warehouse Christmas elf. 'I know. But I didn’t look as cute as you do.'
I rolled my eyes as I batted Will on the arm again. 'We both know this outfit is far from cute.' I pulled at the thigh of my stretchy green leggings and let the material ping back into place, which made Will laugh.
 'Is it time for your break yet? I could take you out for lunch.'
I glanced at my watch. It was a little early but only by fifteen minutes or so. 'Let me have a word with my supervisor.'
Luckily, I managed to catch Marie in a rare reasonable mood and she let me go early. There was a café that was cheap yet full of greasy character on the main road, which we used to frequent eons ago and although it had changed hands many times over the years, I still felt the same warmth and familiarity as we stepped inside.
 'So how have you been?' Will asked as we sat by the window, sandwiches and cups of coffee in front of us.
 'Oh, you know.' I gave a shrug, not wanting to reveal the dull truth. I’d skipped from one unremarkable relationship to another over the last decade while remaining in the same job and the same flat.
 'That good, eh?' Will pulled a sympathetic face and I suddenly wished I had lots of exciting tales to amuse him with. I had none.
 'Unfortunately, yes. How about you? How’s Kelly?' I looked past Will, as though Kelly would suddenly pop out from behind him.
 'No idea.' Will took a sip of his coffee before elaborating. 'We’re divorced.'
 'Oh.' I always imagined I’d feel joyous at such news but I didn’t feel anything remotely positive. 'I’m sorry. How long?'
 'Eighteen months.'
 'What happened?' Will and Kelly had always seemed so solid, so happy together. The sight of them had conjured up a sick feeling of jealousy that I’d had to swallow while pretending I was just as happy with my boyfriend. I tried my hardest to recreate their relationship with Elliot but I never felt it. Elliot wasn’t Will, which was the only thing I'd wanted.
 'We wanted different things,' Will explained.
 'She wanted kids and you didn’t?' I asked but Will shook his head.
 'She wanted to sleep with other people and I didn’t want her to.' Despite the situation, I caught Will’s eye and we both started to giggle.
 'I’m sorry. It isn’t funny.'
 'Don’t worry about it,' Will said, still smiling. 'It’s taken me a while but I’m ok about it all now.' He picked up his coffee and took another sip. 'How about you and Elliot? Still together?'
I almost choked on my own coffee. 'God, no. We split up years ago.' The day after Will left to be exact. There hadn’t seemed much point in pretending anymore.
 'Good. He was never good enough for you.'
I picked a piece of limp lettuce from my sandwich and let it fall onto my plate. 'You could have told me so at the time.'
 'I didn’t think it was my place to say. I didn’t want you to think I was jealous.'
 'Don’t be daft,' I scoffed. 'Why would you be jealous?' I puffed out a little laugh but all the humour had been sucked from the room all of a sudden and I felt myself flush. It was absurd to think that Will had been as jealous of me and Elliot as I had been of him and Kelly.
 'I should be getting back to the shop.' Although I still had fifteen minutes of my lunch break remaining, I couldn’t face another bite of my sandwich and it was probably for the best if we said goodbye now before I embarrassed myself. Who knew what would happen – or what I would reveal – if I stayed. Perhaps the fact that I had been in love with Will since I was eighteen while pretending we were nothing more than mates? Or perhaps that I’d had to fight myself not to beg Will to call off his wedding or that I’d compared every man I met to Will ever since? It was no wonder my relationships never lasted.
Or maybe I would confess that all of those old feelings had resurfaced as soon as I'd turned around and clapped eyes on him again, feelings so fresh it was as though we had never been apart for a day, let alone a decade.
It was safer to return to work.
 'I’ll walk back with you,' Will offered and I nodded in agreement, knowing it could be another ten years before we saw each other again. Or maybe this would be the last time I ever saw Will. I swallowed hard at that thought and blinked back the tears.
Zipping up my coat, we stepped out of the warm café and out into the biting cold. We didn’t speak during the walk back to The Housing Warehouse but Will put a hand on the small of my back as we crossed the main road and it remained there until we reached the doors to the Christmas Department.
 'Here we are.' I filled my voice with the false cheer I'd adopted since the genuine stuff had started wane back in October. 'It was nice seeing you again. Have a nice Christmas.'
Will dropped his hand from my back and I dashed inside, biting my lip as tears threatened to humiliate me. I was a grown woman, I scolded myself. Many years had trudged past since I’d been a teenager mooning after a boy so why was I acting like one again?
 'Wait.' Will, having followed me into the shop, grasped my arm to stop me in my tracks. 'I was jealous of you and Elliot. Very much so.' He dropped his gaze to the polished floor and I did the same.
 'So why did you marry Kelly?' Even now, the thought of him saying those vows made my stomach twist itself into a knot.
 'Because I didn’t think you wanted me. You were so wrapped up in Elliot and I couldn’t compete. You were so happy with him.'
 'Happy?' I spluttered. 'I wasn’t happy. I was miserable. Do you know how much it hurt to watch you marry someone else?'
Will stooped to meet my eye and took my hands in his. 'I’m sorry. I had no idea. I never thought…' He gave a sigh as he rested his forehead against mine. I closed my eyes so that he couldn’t see the hurt glaring out of them. 'I never thought you felt the same way as I did.'
 'I did,' I whispered. And I still do, I added silently.
 'We’ve been idiots, haven’t we?' Will asked and I nodded, my eyes still clamped shut. 'But look.' Opening my eyes, I followed Will’s gaze to the bunch of mistletoe above us, dangling by a strip of red velvet.
 'Does it count if it’s plastic?' I teased. Will responded by kissing me, right there in the shop, and I knew then that I'd been injected with enough Christmas spirit to last me all the way through December. And possibly a lifetime after that.

Christmas Song, Fact & Cracker Joke of the Day

Christmas Fact:

The chances of a white Christmas are just 1 in 10 for England and Wales, and 1 in 6 for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Cracker Joke:

Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas?

Santa Jaws

Wednesday 14 December 2011

Book 1 & The Dreaded Synopsis

I'm not quite sure why the synopsis is bloody rather than dreaded but it is. It's the best I could conjure up in five minutes.

I have now compiled a list of agents I would like to submit to when the Current Project is complete (hopefully January to February). I've done my research for each one and I've made a little synopsis doodle in paint. So there is no putting it off anymore. Tonight I have to make a start on the dreaded synopsis.

I don't like writing them. They're bloody hard (that's why it's bloody!). 90,000 words is a doddle compared to the 1-2 pages I am about to (attempt to) write. Does anybody want to write it on my behalf? Please?

Wish I Was Here...

To celebrate the launch of her new e-book Reaching For The Stars, Janice Horton is hosting a Blog and Twitter party.

I have made a montage of the place I wish I was right now...

I'd like to stay at a hotel with a pool overlooking the sea with cocktails and ice-creams on tap and a Kindle full of fab books. I would also love a hammock to relax in the shade with my hoard of cocktails and ice-creams and my Kindle and at night I would love to watch the sun set on the beach.

I'm not asking for much...

Reaching for the Stars is about a Scottish celebrity chef called Finn McDuff who is media stalked and disillusioned after winning his third star and losing his third wife. He decides he’s had enough of all the food campaigns, the TV cookery shows, the constant frenzy surrounding his private life and, after giving up all his accolades and closing down his restaurant, he disappears. With the enfant terrible of the kitchen missing, two rival newspapers, having lost their media meal ticket, compete against each other to whip up further public curiosity in the missing chef. Love him or hate him, everyone is out looking for Chef McDuff. Who will find him first and whose side will you be on...?

You can buy Reaching For The Stars from Amazon UK or

Christmas Song, Fact & Cracker Joke of the Day

Christmas Fact:

The names of the 'Three Wise Men' are not mentioned in the Bible. They are commonly known as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar as these names were detailed in an early 6th century Greek manuscript

Cracker Joke:

What do angry mice send each other at Christmas?

Cross Mouse Cards

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Christmas Song, Fact & Cracker Joke of the Day

Christmas Fact:

Christmas trees - British people started putting trees in their houses when Queen Victoria's husband Albert brought the idea over from Germany in 1841.

Cracker Joke:

What do you get if you cross a bell with a skunk?

Jingle Smells!

Monday 12 December 2011

Christmas Songs Quiz

Songs in Pictures:











Cryptic Songs...

11  Moan About Lack Of Poorly Digit

12  Smile! Ceasefire On 25th December

13  Mr Valentino Between Sprints

14  The Proclaimer's Song x 4

15  Stevie's Kingdom In The Colder Months

16  Ssh, Lancelot

17  A Games Console + Jimmy, Carl and Matthew

18  Shiny Grey Church Ringers

19  The Midwife Cuts The Cord...

20  The Queen of Scot's Son

Anagram Songs...






How many can you get? Answers here