I was lucky to be invited to the launch night of the Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle this week. Despite the freezing conditions, the sub-zero December temperatures only added to the festive atmosphere.
Sudeley Castle is near Winchcombe, in the heart of the Cotswolds. It is the only private castle to have a queen buried within its grounds. The 15th century chapel is the final resting place of Katherine Parr, the last wife of King Henry VIII. Now a private home, opening to the public, the castle has a royal history dating back 1,000 years.
It has become an annual tradition for Mum and I to eat, drink and shop our way around a European city every December. We’ve visited a Christmas market in Europe every year for the last 12 years or so. With all this experience under our belts, I’ve put together my 10 top tips for getting the most out of your Christmas Market break: a Christmas Market Survival Guide.
Mum and I have visited a European Christmas market every year for the last 12 years or so. Having become somewhat something of a Christmas Market connoisseur, I’ve put together my guide to the Top 5 Christmas Markets in Europe.
While a lot of people think visiting Christmas Markets is all about shopping, for me it’s the food and drink that draws me in. Every one of these markets has the evocative smell of mulled wine wafting through the air. Depending on the location, this often mingles with the scent of hot sausages, roasting chestnuts or melted cheese. Over the years, we have worked our way through countless mugs of glühwein, along with hot chocolate mit rum, bratwurst, waffles, gulaschsuppe, crêpes, raclette, tartiflette and, one of my favourites so far, hot wood-smoked salmon.
This year I managed to make my autumn colours pilgrimage a little earlier than usual. I did this by visiting Westonbirt Arboretum at the end of October, rather than chancing it to the middle of November. I’m glad I did, as, according to our guide at the arboretum, this particular weekend was deemed to be one of the best.
I’ve enjoyed a couple of cookery courses this year, and when I saw the range of classes on offer at The Foodworks Cookery School, it was an Indian cookery course that caught my eye. The cookery school is located on the edge of the Colesbourne Park Estate, between Cheltenham and Cirencester, in the Cotswolds.
It’s the first time I’ve been to The Foodworks and it was fairly easy to find. The converted barn was brightly lit and welcoming on a dark October evening. I was warmly greeted at the reception desk with a glass of wine and a Foodworks apron, then ushered through to the kitchen.
Usually when I’m visiting London, I’m on a mission, whether work related or catching up with friends or family. But recently I had an opportunity to spend a day making the most of the city, with no agenda apart from to indulge my favourite pastimes of eating, street art and photography. I stayed around London’s east side, rather than going into the centre.
Here are my top 5 recommendations for things to do on London’s east side:
I had a Saturday afternoon free to myself in London and wanted to make the most of exploring a different side to the city. I have trained in and out of Liverpool Street station countless times over the years, but never explored the surrounding areas of Spitalfields and Shoreditch. I took a Shoreditch street art tour to find out what gives this newly fashionable area, its beating heart.
As a first time visitor, searching for the best things to do in the city of sin, it was a foodie tour of Las Vegas that jumped out and tickled my taste buds. Exploring a destination by its food offerings is often the best way to get to know a place.
Known as a gambling mecca the world over, it’s a little known secret that Vegas is fast becoming a foodie destination. While the who’s who of celebrity chefs are queuing up to open restaurants in Sin City, I discovered Lip Smacking Foodie Tours offers the inside track on the best places to dine.
Mum and I usually plan an overseas trip together once a year. Considering one of our favourite mother and daughter holiday pastimes is seeking out the best places to eat, or wandering around markets to try out local produce, why wouldn’t I think a cooking holiday in Italy might be just the ticket?
Seeing Carol Kirkwood, from BBC Breakfast, giving her weather forecast under grey skies at Cotswold Lavender this morning, I realised how lucky I was to visit the lavender farm last week on the hottest day of the year.
I made my journey that day as I knew it was close to harvest time and didn’t want to miss the lavender at its peak.