Swig hip flask

The people at SWIG got in touch recently and asked if I’d like to review one of their hip flasks. I clicked on the website to have a look and I was really taken back at how gorgeous they are.

I clicked through the various possibilities and spent quite some time working out which one was my favourite.

Luckily for my younger brother it was birthday time of year and of course he kept popping into my mind as he is quite difficult to buy for and I never know what would really make him smile. I had a feeling that a SWIG hip flask would do just that.

swig hip flask

He is a man who appreciates an object of beauty, one that has good design and attention to detail. He is also a practical person and a hip flask would fit very nicely indeed in his life, for music festivals, weekends away and many other occasions where it is fun to take a swig of your chosen tipple out with you.

When the package arrived I opened it and knew immediately that he would appreciate it. Presented beautifully in a black box with red ribbon, it can’t fail to please.

swig hip flask

I love surprising people, don’t you? When we were in London to celebrate my niece’s 16th birthday early August, I passed over my gift and apologised he’d had to wait so long for his present. I watched as he opened and could see that he really liked it.

For once I got something for him without asking if he ‘needed’ anything. You see nobody needs a hip flask but once you’ve got one it’s like you always had one.

swig hip flask

I asked him a few hip flask questions

What’s the best occasion to use a hip flask?

I am going to use it to take a drop of the good stuff up to the boat. The size is perfect for a weekend break. Instead of lugging a heavy 0.75 lt glass bottle. I’m always trying to lighten the load we carry.

What’s your favourite tipple to fill your SWIG?

I think I might christen it with a nice nautical rum like Kraken I have just seen a really cool ginger beer as well. Or it would be a malt whisky like Dalwhinnie.

Who would you buy one for?

I think all guys like a hip flask so any of my mates.

Disclosure: I received this beautiful SWIG hip flask for the purpose of this post, all opinions are my own – or my brother’s.

Spicers of Hythe

I know, I know you’re expecting posts on West Bay in Dorset and Folgaria in Italy and they will come I promise. What you are not expecting is for me to talk about Christmas as… well it is taboo to mention the word before November. People will frown and tut at me. They will ask me if I have gone mad and the answer is absolutely not.

The very kind people at Spicers, who have been in the grocery business since 1926 when great grandfather Percy opened up his store in Hythe, have sent me a Christmas hamper to review. It arrived in between holidays (that makes me sound so VIP) but hang on in there as I really want to let you know about my hamper because, these guys put them together for all sorts of occasions; birthdays, weddings, get well and every occasion you can think of. Mother’s day, Father’s Day and even Valentine’s Day.

There’s even one that would be perfect for my beer loving husband.

Spicers of Hythe


The beauty is there is a wide price range and a huge selection to choose from, The Belmont for the ‘all singing and dancing hamper’ comes in at £115 whereas the lowest is priced at £15.95.

Interesting fact #1: There are 55 luxury hampers within the specialist Christmas hamper range.

What’s included?

I have just munched my way through a packet of The Dormen chocolate raisins, in the name of reviewing of course and they were delicious stating on the packet ‘perfectly pampered chocolate raisins.’ I’m glad Spicers included these as I haven’t heard of them before.

I have biscuits, fudge, toffee, chocolates, tea and coffee. I have preserves, crisps, wine and a cordial (Belvoir which I adore) I have mulled wine, shortbread and cake and I also have Rhubarb and Custards, which I have not had in years by Monty Bojangles. Try saying that with a Rhubarb and Custard in your mouth!

There is also a very interesting relish by Scarlett & Mustard intriguingly called Auntie Frog’s Lime & Chilli Dressing, ‘A zingy, piquant and aromatic dressing.’ which I am looking forward to trying out.

Interesting fact #2: 3500 pallets can be held in the Spicers warehouse

Spicers of hythe

The packaging

My hamper arrived in a box. A box in a box. A beautiful big, red cardboard box with a printed black and white lid on top depicting vintage scenes of Spicers shop in the olden days. Gorgeous, and much to my husband’s dismay I shan’t be throwing the box out as it’s way too pretty to depart with.

The bottles are carefully wrapped in corrugated cardboard and all of the products are protected from bumps and knocks with lots of those polystyrene bits that shops used to use for their Christmas snow displays.

Interesting fact #3: Santa’s sleigh would need to travel at a speed of 2,340,000 mph to reach every home in the world in one night. Spicer’s have a 24 hour courier service to UK mainland.


A big thumbs up from me. I love the choice of products selected as they are all special and unique. I would be very happy to receive any of their hampers as a gift. I love that this is a family business grown internally since 1926.

Disclosure: I have received the above mentioned hamper in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Visit Santa Broadditch Farm

How many years have we got left of believing that the Big Man is real? I’ve been asking lots of mum’s recently when their children cottoned on as I can’t remember with my older two the exact point that they passed from believer to understander.

Broadditch Farm is where we booked in this year for our annual trip to Santa. We went there a few years back, in the snow and it was the perfect Santa trip. Over the years we have tried others, one was very disappointing, for me and dad – long queues, short time with Santa, expensive photo and shuffled through a trail that left dad and I a bit slump shouldered, even the gift was cheap.

When that happens you feel like you’ve lost an experience that you can’t get back.


It has to please mum and dad more than the kids, that is my answer. If the parents come away thinking it was brilliant, it was.

Broadditch Farm Visit Santa

Visit Santa Broadditch Farm Southfleet Kent

We arrived at Broadditch Farm in good time for our 2.30 appointment and made our way to the reception tent. Lots of other visitors were already there but the elves were taking very good care of the young and old. There was a table with lots of different pictures to colour in to take to Santa which helped distract the younger members whilst we waited our turn.

Santa tractor Broadditch farm

Silly Billy Bunting arrived with his tractor and trailer all decked out with tinsel to take us on a journey to meet Santa. We all climbed on and sat down on the benches very excited to be on our way and the coloured in pictures in mummy’s handbag.

Broadditch farm elves

Sparky and Tinsel the elves accompanied us and we sang, When Santa got stuck up the chimney and Jingle Bells as we made our way to Santa’s lodge in the woods.

Broadditch Farm visit Santa

We arrived to a fabulously lit up area that took our breath away. Lights, animals, Christmas tree cutting areas and an elves crossing led us to Santa’s lodge. Once there we stood outside and the elves told us Santa was sleeping so we had to shout loud to wake him up and get him to let us in.

Santa selfies

Santa was very pleased to show us some selfies taken with him, including the Queen herself! He said people are always asking to have a photo with him but he was very good and told us he doesn’t charge like some others do ;) We saw photos of him with Clint Eastwood, David Beckham, even the Grinch!

broadditch farm Santa grotto

He then read us a story about his elves and the trouble he had finding helpers before deciding on elves. All of the children were gripped. He then stood up and said he would allow the children ONE present now, any others would be delivered on Christmas Eve.

The Elves handed out the gifts according to age and each child walked with a massive smile out of the hut towards Silly Billy Bunting with his special tinsel tractor. We sang ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas,’ to Santa before departure and he danced for us! I must admit his dancing was a bit odd and lots of the children thought he was hilarious.

Twins christmas 2014

At the last part of our return journey Silly Billy Bunting had to reverse his tractor so it would be in the right position for the next visitors but his ‘beep beep’ was broken so the elves asked us all to beep for him. Great fun!

Verdict – LOVED it. The best Santa we have been too so far. I will most definitely be booking up this one again for next year.

The gift was a Maze Ball for children over 7, the next gift down was 3 – 5 and I thought it might be too young for the twins so I put them down as 7 year olds. We allowed them to open it  and it kept them amused for ages. Even dad asked to have a go. Top quality gift that will provide amusement for years not just a moment.

Maze ball


Children £10 (worth it considering the gift and experience)

Adults £6 – worth every penny, I was a child again for a moment.

I didn’t see any unhappy faces.


Dress up warm as both times we have been it has been cold – last time there was snow!

Arrive early so the children can colour in a picture to take to Santa

Other Visit Santa trips include

Millbrook Garden Centre – needs writing up oops!

Shorne Country park


mini christmas pudding trifles

What to do with all the remnants of the year’s biggest feast?

Well the classic Turkey and ham pie goes down a treat and is always welcome on a cold January night, plus it’s freezable.

Any cheese leftover will make a very tasty Cheeseboard quiche always a favourite of mine which is good for lunch or dinner. And if there is any Christmas Pudding leftover, then these mini trifles are delicious, look good and are suitable for the whole family.

christmas pudding leftovers

They take minutes to make and can be kept in the freezer, plus they’ll use up any custard, brandy sauce and cream you have lying around too.

The Handpicked Collection invited me to browse their site and choose a couple of items to review. I fell in love with these gorgeous glasses and teaspoons and decided to use them for my mini Christmas pudding trifles.

handpicked collection

Important to remember is this is quite a filling pudding as it is rich so the smaller you make it the more likely it will be eaten.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Mini Christmas pudding trifles - leftovers!
Prep time
Total time
How to use the leftover Christmas pudding in a stylish and delicious way
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: British
  • Leftover Christmas pudding broken into crumbs
  • Custard
  • Whipped cream (I used a canister of spray cream)
  • Sprinkles if desired
  1. Fill a third of a small glass with the broken bits of Christmas pudding.
  2. Top with a good layer of custard
  3. Complete with a squirt of cream and chill in the fridge or serve immediately.

Disclosure: Handpicked Collection sent me the mentioned items for the purpose of this post. A word of warning – the glasses are NOT dishwasher proof, all of the beautiful colours came off :(

christmas decorations - kids

Every year we get the boxes down from the loft containing all the necessary for decorating our home and spreading some christmas cheer. The tree, the tinsel, the baubles collected over the years and the wreath but every year I always manage to buy one or two things to add to the collection. I just can’t help myself.

John Lewis invited me to take a look at their Christmas selection online and asked me to choose some special decorations.

christmas wreath

I wasn’t happy with the wreath I had and John Lewis have so many to choose from that I invested in a new one, here it is hanging on the door, what do you think?

cushion stag head

With the arrival of our new sofa this autumn I have had my eye on some new cushions too (even if I don’t strictly need them) Anyway, I fell in love with this one, isn’t he gorgeous? the teddies seem to think so.

This year I have bought the girls a small tree for their bedroom and have enjoyed looking at the hundreds of decorations on sale, I went for these in the end but it wasn’t easy deciding.

christmas tree


I have hung some of our old favourites including this Christmas garland with letters cut from card and held up with pegs.

christmas garland

We have our train on display which the girls adore and of course our new Disney Princess advent calendar too.

Advent calendar train

We’re feeling quite festive, are you?

In fact why don’t you have some of my chocolate salami? Or get lots of other lovely ideas from my Pinterest Christmas board

chocolate salami

Disclosure: John Lewis have given me an allowance to buy Christmas decorations for the purpose of this post.