Monday, 5 December 2011

Feeling Festive!

O-M-Good Golly Gosh!! Another two weeks passed & not a Christmas card written or a gift wrapped!!

Secret Shopping! But that’s OK…I’m staying calm & prioritising!!

Christmas has definitely arrived!

It was all kicked off with a visit to the ‘Oh so secret’ shopping location (Karen says if I tell you where it is she’ll shoot me….& I don’t think she means with her camera, so best not eh?!!) with the lovely Hilary!

They were holding a Christmas Evening & the setting was just perfect with a brass ensemble playing carols & the scent of mulled wine in the air! After a good mooch about & a couple of selective purchases, followed by mince pies, coffee & a couple of succulent sausages (they were just tasters on sticks, not great big ones!!) each… Christmas had begun!!

01 Dec 2011 007 Not long after this I hopped aboard a National Express coach & headed off to meet these two special people for a browse around the ‘Frankfurt Christmas Market’ in the streets of Birmingham city centre.

It was a dull damp day, which only added to the atmosphere! there were so many goodies to look at, but I didn’t actually buy anything at all!!

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I was amazed that even at lunchtime on a Thursday there was quite a crowd at the ‘Bier Cellar’….all that was missing was an Ooompah band!!

We shared a lovely lunch in the Chinese quarter & then hit the rag market for some haberdashery bargains!!

With barely a pause for breath, 48 hours later & I was on a train heading north to York! This time with my long-time friend Amanda to soak up the atmosphere of the annual St Nicholas Christmas Fayre!

01 Dec 2011 031 Of course our first port of call was Betty’s… 
…we joined the queue that snaked around the building & 45 minutes later were seated in the oh-so elegant Art Deco Tea room, enjoying a brunch of Rosti with cured bacon, poached egg & mushrooms! Yum!

01 Dec 2011 039The world & his wife seemed to have descended on York this day. The Christmas Fayre is only there for four days & make this particular weekend the busiest of the year! Walking up into York from the railway station there was not an inch of pavement spare as trains & coaches deposited ever more eager visitors into the city!!

Once we’d emptied the teapot & our plates were clean, we set out to explore the street stalls for gift ideas!

I would love to have been able to share lots of photo’s of Yuletide York with you, but to be honest there was such a throng it was impossible to actually see what each stall held until you were right on top of it & it was like swimming upstream to try & break off to actually step into one of the stalls!! However we both managed a few purchases of some unusual crafty gifts!

After the market we headed off into the maze of narrow streets that make up the historic centre of York…along ‘The Shambles’, where, while still very crowded we were able to get into some of the most beautiful shops…

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01 Dec 2011 050…Amanda fell in love with this dress & was considering it for her Christmas Party…until she saw the price tag!!

  There was a wedding taking place in the Minster & we waited a while hoping to get a glimpse of the happy couple…

…but it was too cold & damp to wait for too long & besides, Betty’s & afternoon tea was beckoning!!!

We timed it just perfectly & the queue was not so long! We were soon ensconced in the upstairs suite, awaiting the arrival of our Tea!!

01 Dec 2011 055 It did not disappoint!!  Elegant sandwiches of chicken, beef, egg & cress & salmon & cucumber. Freshly baked fruit scones with strawberry jam & clotted cream, A selection of tiny delicate cakes…all washed down with lashings of (no not ginger beer!!) special Christmas blend tea!!

Amanda experienced her first ‘Pikelet’…when she asked the waitress what they were she pronounced it ‘Pikilit’ which raised a smile!!

One of my favourite features at Betty’s is the mirror, situated in the corridor outside the loo’s in the basement. It bears what is basically graffiti  written by servicemen stationed in York, during the second world war & makes very poignant reading. I tried to get a good shot of both the mirror with its etchings & the plaque…but with my little point-&-shoot  this was the best I could do!!

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The plaque reads…

The Betty’s Mirror 1939-1945

This mirror bears almost 600 signatures, most of them airmen – British, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, who were stationed in this area during World War 2.

We were proud to offer them hospitality during those dark days when, for the Canadian bomber crews in particular, Betty’s Bar was York’s unofficial ‘Ops’ room, where amidst the rumours & speculation about impending bomber sorties, friendships were made & absent friends mourned.

Each year many veterans return to Betty’s & we invite them to make themselves known & to sign the visitors book.

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If ever you do ever find yourself in the vicinity of Betty’s, be sure to pop downstairs & check out the mirror for yourself! 

As we left to make our way to the station for the homeward journey, the Christmas tree in the square was fully lit & a choir was singing carols…it has to be said, six hours was not enough time to make the most of what York has to offer…

…& that means we’ll just have to go back another day!!!

1 white christmas movie poster

That’s almost all from me for today…I’ll leave you with a bit of festive scrappiness & a challenge! It’s a great movie poster for inspiration over at ‘From Screen 2 Scrap’ this month…’White Christmas’!


The added criteria for extra points are:

1. use white cardstock
2. A two tone title
3. Christmas hat(s)


So with that in mind, my submission used a photo (& not a very good quality one at that!) of Alex talking to his Nanny on Christmas Day last year. Because of the snow & icy weather conditions she wasn’t able to join us for Christmas, for the first time in years!!  Alex was wearing a ‘Santa Hat’ but as well as being a bit blurry, the photo also cropped his hat, so I reconstructed it with felt!! That’s all three criteria checked for me!!!

2 Happy Xmas Nanny!

If you can find a little time, why not play along with us with this one? There are some great prizes up for grabs!!

So, Thanks for stopping by…I hope everyone is staying calm for the festive season!…& I do hope you’ll drop by again very soon! :)


Anonymous said...

Oh,just remembered they have reindeers tonight at the "secret place." Oh well,bit late now, I'm in my nightie! I have never been "Up North " to York.I'd love to go one day.

scrappyjacky said...

We visited Bath christmas market last weekend and loved it....but it looks like York market may have to go on our calendar for a visit next yesr.

Sian said...

I think you have done very well for Christmas photos - you have got me feeling all festive!

How's that shoulder of yours doing?

Sandra said...

Oh yes you've bought the Christmas spirit to bogland alright :). Looks like you're enjoying the holiday season, and rightly so

Suzie said...

Hi Sandy! Looking festive here!! Thanks for trying out the linky thing - no, you don't need to sign up, you'll just link to you blog post like you did today :D

humel said...

Plenty of festive sights here :) And plenty of yummy food!! I want my dinner now!!