Christmas table

What an autumn this one has been! I haven’t stopped to take a breath  (not even over half term) and now I am begging for the winter break to hurry up so I can put my feet up, catch my breath and make plans for 2019. Is anyone else feeling the same way?

I’ve talked before about cooking Christmas dinner and about which wines to choose for Christmas in fact, I have a whole category labelled Christmas with all of my favourite things in there but today I am concentrating on how to make my table look wonderful.

Being a Wayfair Home Expert means I get to stay up to date on all of their fabulous products (and there are tons of them!) One of my favourite posts was the bedroom wall art and I still really enjoy this corner of my home. Wayfair was recently looking to peek inside blogger’s houses and see what preparations they made for Christmas. I replied that for me, my dining table takes centre stage and enjoying good food and wines with my family.

table food stand

There will be 12 of us this year on Christmas day, both of my brothers with their crew are joining us and it’s always a day filled with love and laughter. The brothers are excellent chefs and everyone in the family has grown up appreciating good food and learning to cook it. This year will be no exception. Everyone will be bringing some of their favourite products to the table and our eating starts on Christmas Eve and goes through to Boxing Day breakfast, that is a lot of eating!

I mentioned this in my email to Wayfair and they were curious to see what I would come up with to make this feast as enjoyable and memorable as past years have been.

They gave me a budget of £75 and I started to browse their shelves.

My first choice was for a new white tablecloth as my old ones are looking tired and the stains are refusing to budge – there are only so many things you can place on a table to disguise them! I was delighted to find this option and in different sizes too.  I went for the longest as my table extends to seat 12 people. It’s perfect and although you can’t see from the above photos (as I prepared the table for 6) it really will look the business on the day. Total cost £23.16

My second choice was for a tiered food stand. It’s a wooden frame with two removable slate shelves to place your food on and we have already had so much fun with it. We had a girl’s night in and filled it to overflowing with sweet treats for pudding, it was the perfect choice for two mums and their three daughters, chatting and eating sugary delights. I

In my Christmas photo, I dressed the stand with antipasti and I am planning all sorts of uses for my new centrepiece. Cheeseboard, condiments, more puddings and even a sushi evening! One other thing to mention is how easy it is to clean, just a quick wipe over with soapy water and air dry – Ii’s already ready for its next outing. £23.99

wayfair pot holder

My final choice was for a rather lovely pot holder. The shape caught my eye and the good quality of the wood. It will be the proud holder of the turkey on the day. £23.99

What do you think? Which product do you like best? Here’s wishing you the most wonderful Christmas this year.

Brighton Pier

Photo by Darren Coleshill on Unsplash

I have very fond memories of Brighton, my great-grandmother used to live in nearby Hove and we would often drive down to see her and spend a weekend or longer break there. I can vividly remember visiting the Royal Pavilion and being awestruck at the beauty and luxury of the palace. It was a day out that has stuck with me all my life.

I remember fun days on the stony beach, skimming stones and playing in the sunshine and walks through the town centre buying holiday souvenirs and postcards to send back to cousins. There used to be a nudist beach – I wonder if it’s still there?

Brighton is still a very popular holiday hotspot and over the years has become one of the trendiest places in the UK to visit. It’s not just popular with the Brits but Europeans and Americans too, they all want to spend a weekend in this beautiful seaside town.

The town has always been a hugely popular holiday resort and the past 20 years has seen Brighton flourish; it now has so much to offer visitors, you won’t want to leave! Whether it’s a weekend break or a longer stay, here are some of the best things to do and see whilst in Brighton.

The Royal Pavilion

I have to start with the palace as (as mentioned in my intro) I can still remember my childhood visit today. I would revisit it tomorrow. The Pavilion was built by King George IV as a seaside pleasure palace and is an eclectic mix of architectural styles including Indian and Asian nuances. On your visit, you will discover 200 years of history. You will hear about how it was used as a civic building and a First World War hospital.

Brighton Pier

Who doesn’t love a pier to stroll along? I do! Brighton Palace Pier owns the title of ‘finest pier ever built’ that alone should be enough to convince you of visiting. Walk along the 1722 ft, go on the rides, eat, drink and have lots of fun on a really fun family day out.

British Airways i360

An intriguing attraction is the British Airways i360 opened in 2016. The 162-metre observation tower on Brighton seafront has a futuristic glass pod with a cocktail lounge offering spectacular views.

The Lanes

 

The lanes brighton

Photo by Darren Coleshill on Unsplash

Narrow streets lined with sixteenth-century buildings, each one home to cooler than cool shops, independent cafes, record shops, bookstores and artwork like you’ve never seen before. I mustn’t forget to mention the excellent choice of vintage boutiques either; an Aladdin’s Cave for shoppers!

The World’s Oldest Aquarium

Built in 1872, the Sea Life centre in Brighton showcases – apart from a spectacular range of underwater life – some stunning original Victorian architecture. A must see is the interactive rock pool where you can touch a starfish or a sea anemone.

The Brighton Dome

If you can, check out the programme in advance and book a night out at the Brighton Dome where you can enjoy a range of classical music, dance, theatre and poetry. Curiously, the Dome is connected to the Royal Pavillion by an underground tunnel which was built (so they say) so that the overweight King George IV could visit the stables unseen…

Where to stay in Brighton?

Why not go for something really comfortable on your visit and choose from a wide range of holiday homes to rent for your break? The Best of Brighton have properties all over the area, some rural, some on the coast and others further afield on the Sussex coast. Each unique property has been carefully selected and has had to pass rigorous requirements to be featured in the collection. Choose from contemporary, cottages, flats and large family homes, including pet-friendly choices too.

If there’s one place you visit in the Uk in 2019 – take a look at Brighton, I think you’ll love it.

All interior designers design 5* hotel rooms with the intention to make the guests feel as comfortable as possible, while also ensuring that they are waking up in a sort of mini-palace each morning.

hotel bedroom

 

Other than the out-of-this-world technology that hotels are starting to incorporate to make them stand out from their competition, a hotel room should be pretty easy to replicate in your own home, even if you’re on a budget.

Here are 5 ways that you can bring the 5* hotel right to your bedroom:

King-Size Beds

What is the first thing that you do when you get to your luxury hotel room after a long flight? I will tell you: you dump your stuff, and you check out the comfortability of the bed.
King-size beds are essential to a luxury hotel room, and it is rare that you find a hotel room with a double bed, or even singles. Not only does it give you extra space to starfish, but it gives you space to get away from your human-radiator of a partner during the hot weather.

Overfloor Heating

While underfloor heating is a massive luxury to any home, overfloor heating is inexpensive and can heat up the bedroom without spending a fortune on the energy bills each month.
It only takes a few hours to set up, and goes straight under your carpet, laminate or tiles rather than ripping up the floorboards. It is the perfect way to add luxury without costing a bomb!

Double Up

A hotel room is commonly designed for two people. As they want each guest to live as easily as possible during their stay, there is usually double of everything.
For example, there is always a bedside table either side, for each guest to add their glass of water, phones or even store their own underwear in the drawer underneath. And more often than not, each guest has access to their own plug socket next to their bed.
This is an easy way to replicate a luxury hotel room, and it will also stop your partner hogging your sockets at night or taking up your bedside table space.

Funky Lighting

Interior designers design hotel rooms with the guest in mind, trying to make everything as easy as possible. There are often light switches next to the bed, to save guests from getting out to turn the light on and off; they can simply roll over to turn the light off.
Add bed lamps and switches next to the bed so that you can have the same ease. Also, while dimmers are inexpensive to add to a bedroom, they certainly add a touch of modernity.

Crispy Sheets

When was the last time you stayed at a hotel that had black sheets, or even a weird green colour? Never. The reason that hotels always use white sheets is to prove to the guests that the hotel is clean, as white will show any stains (gross but true).
Opt to use crisp, white Egyptian cotton sheets on your bed, rather than a sheet with colours or patterns.

North Devon coast

I love Devon. The word itself conjures up memories of cream teas, crabbing in Ilfracombe under the Statue of Verity and watching the kids on their belly boards at Woolacombe.

It’s been a few years since we last managed to get down to the west country but I am sure sooner or later, that we’ll be packing the car up and revisiting our favourite places again.

verity ilfracombe

The fact that Paul’s dad was sent to Hele during the war meant that, as a child, every summer, his parents would pack up the car and go for a two-week break with their four boys. We cannot go down without spending a day in Combe Martin, a visit to Ilfracombe and a long list of plenty of other wonderful places to choose from.

From the quirky choices like Berrynarbour and spotting the flowerpot men around the village, to the fascinating gardens dotted throughout the rolling hills.

 

berrynarbor

One thing we do when we’re in Devon, is to eat pasties. There are some fabulous pastie shops with all kinds of wonderful recipes to try. In fact, they are so good we always buy a huge box to bring home and freeze so we can extend our holiday memories that little bit longer. There’s nothing quite so sad as pulling out the last pasties from the freezer!

We have stayed in plenty of different places in Devon but one idea that really captures my curiosity and one that gives the real experience of living in the area would be to book a cottage, that way we could really make the most of our time and for a moment live the west country like the locals.

Christmas by the Sea

woolacombe beach

There, I’ve said it. I have said out loud what would be a dream Christmas for me – Christmas by the sea in Devon. I’m imagining long coastal walks wrapped up in gloves, hats and scarves, I’m picturing pub lunches in villages that are celebrating the locals rather than crammed with tourists. Drinking local ales and eating freshly caught fish or locally reared lamb.

How about a family night in your seaside cottage playing board games whilst the Cornish pasties are being reheated? Candles flickering on the fireplace and a log fire burning in the hearth?

I know Paul would want to go in the sea with his wetsuit and belly board, I would place money on the girls following him in too…imagine doing that on Christmas Day? There would be nothing to say you can’t do it, just push back the roast turkey to later in the day! In fact, there are some wonderful places that can sleep large families too and are dog-friendly too; Baxter would be in his element down there.

The more I think about it, the more this idea is taking hold in my mind and, fingers crossed, one day I will celebrate Christmas in Devon overlooking the sea and feasting on pasties and cream teas.

Where would you like to spend an alternative Christmas? Norfolk also offers a wealth of things to do and see.

Disclosure: A collaborative post

autumn in norfolk

If you haven’t considered taking a family break in autumn or winter before, then now is the time to start considering the idea. As the days get shorter and colder, the desire to wrap up and snuggle down becomes greater but this doesn’t mean we can’t be as cosy and comfortable away from home.

With cottages all over the UK available for rent for long weekends or longer breaks, it seems silly not to take advantage. It’s the perfect excuse to take the family away to discover some more of our beautiful country. From Yorkshire to Cornwall, there is something for everyone and this time we are shining the spotlight on Norfolk

Autumn breaks in Norfolk

Norfolk is a relatively flat countryside so it’s perfect for walking and getting outside without getting too strenuous. Autumn is renowned for colour and you can choose from the coastal path or a number of ‘Ways’ that take you on some spectacular journeys through the county. (Angles Way, Peddars Way, Boudicca Way and plenty more to choose from). If walking isn’t your thing then maybe cycling the routes could be a better way to get out and explore.

Beaches of Norfolk

The beaches are just as beautiful out of season – if not more and I know Baxter would love to run up and down a few of Norfolk’s favourites like Winterton, Brancaster and Wells next the Sea which is lined with the prettiest beach huts to photograph.

I didn’t know that Norfolk was a great place to watch birds. This is the time of year when birds are migrating from the Arctic and you can see the familiar v-shaped formations of geese as they travel down from Iceland and Greenland. I hear that Welney is the perfect Sunset spot to capture the wild swan feeds; the area fills with swans and ducks as they make their home for the winter.

Norfolk food and beer

Harvest time of year always brings lots of food festivals and special occasions to take part in. There are funghi forays, nature trails plus Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse has a wonderful Apple Day to visit. Maybe you could buy some and make a crumble or a Toffee Apple cake.

The city of Norwich always has plenty going on if you’re looking for a buzz, if not, enjoy the cobbled lanes and quaint town centre, maybe pop into a pub for some local beer from one of the many local breweries.

Heritage railway

The beautiful heritage railways of Norfolk travel all over the county and this is the time of year that you can take the children on a Santa Special. Sit back and take in the glorious scenery, I am told that the North Norfolk Railway from Sheringham to Holt is breathtaking.

Norfolk has a wealth of stately homes and museums to discover, parks full of wild deer and other wildlife and what’s more, it apparently has the best climate in the UK too.

You can find out plenty of more things to do on the Visit Norfolk website

Cottages to rent in Norfolk

Now all you have to do is find the right cottage for you to stay in. Norfolk Cottages has plenty to choose from for example, The Old Coach House in Pentney sleeps up to 8 people and allows dogs… just look at the swimming pool!

autumn in norfolk

Or The Granary? A luxury property in Aslacton. Take a look at the photos – I don’t think I’d ever leave it’s so beautiful.

autumn in norfolk

Have I convinced you to take a look at Norfolk? Do let me know if you go there and where you visit.

Disclosure: A collaborative post