Category Archives: Culture

An Afternoon in Cambridge

Last week, I hopped on the train from Liverpool Street to spend an afternoon in Cambridge. I’d managed to book some £6 tickets in advance, and I couldn’t wait to have the day to myself, doing whatever I wanted and exploring a city relatively unknown to me.

It felt such a treat to just relax and read on the train journey, which went by very quickly as I read another Murder Most Unladylike novel (they’re absolutely brilliant). In fact, it was reading Mistletoe & Murder over Christmas, which is set in Cambridge, that mainly inspired my trip. I couldn’t put off my cravings for Chelsea buns at Fitzbillies (which Robin Stevens’ characters seem to devour at every opportunity) any longer!

I’m much more familiar with Oxford than Cambridge, as I used to visit Sophie (my fellow Tea & Tattle co-host) regularly in my undergrad days and stay at New College with her. Cambridge, on the other hand, is little-known to me, and I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in the past (you can read about one of my former visits here). It’s such a beautiful city, though, and so easy to get to from London, that I feel determined to explore it more thoroughly. Happily, too, I now have some friends who live there, providing yet more of an excuse to visit.

On arriving, I decided to pop into the Fitzwilliam Museum, which is home to a beautiful collection of paintings and ceramics. I was especially keen to see their Impressionist paintings and lingered in front of some enthralling works by many of my favourites: Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and Renoir.

As it was a bright sunny day, I resisted the temptation to stay too long at the Fitzwilliam Museum (making a mental note to explore it more thoroughly whenever I’m in Cambridge in less clement weather), and instead went for a saunter along the twisting, cobbled streets. Keeping well clear of the cyclists whizzing past (there seem even more cyclists in Cambridge than in Oxford, if that’s possible), I ambled along, happy to let my feet go wherever looked interesting.

I stumbled across some of the city’s famous bookshops: The Haunted Bookshop, G.David and Heffers, all a treasure trove of delights for the serious bibliophile. I resisted making any purchases, although I’m already regretting some of the pretty Georgette Heyer and Elizabeth Goudge editions I left behind in The Haunted Bookshop. I’ll just have to go back!

After strolling about for over 2 hours, my hands, gloved though they were, started to get very cold, and I decided it was definitely time to find a cozy corner at Fitzbillies and tuck into one of their deliciously warm and gooey currant buns. I’d arranged to meet a friend of mine at the cafe, but got there a little early, so pulled out another book I’d brought with me on the train and happily read (you know that scene in Gilmore Girls when Rory is debating what books to bring on the bus and winds up with a whole backpack full? I’m certainly her soul sister).

The buns were just as good as I’d remembered, and I happily chatted away to my friend until it was time to catch the train home. Of course, I bought some more Chelsea buns to bring with me back to London!

Have you been to Cambridge before? Do you have any recommendations for my next visit?

T&T 12 | Shine Theory

Tea & Tattle Podcast | Shine Theory - the importance of female solidarity and friendship, inspired by Ann Friedman and the Call Your Girlfriend Podcast

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast episode here or on iTunes.

In this episode of Tea & Tattle, Sophie and I discuss Shine Theory. The term was first coined by the journalist and podcaster Ann Friedman, and signifies the importance of female solidarity and choosing friendship over jealousy when confronted with successful, inspiring women. Shine Theory resonates with both Sophie and me, and today we bounce ideas off each other as to how we can celebrate the women we admire, strategies for banishing negative emotions such as jealousy and envy and ideas for how to best approach and befriend amazing women.

What do you think of Shine Theory? How do you celebrate the women in your life? Do you have any stories to share of how successful women have helped or inspired you?

Happy Listening!

My Top 10 Female Role Models

I was travelling to Geneva on the 21st, so did not take part in any marches, but my Facebook and Instagram feeds were flooded with pictures of all the women and men who took to the streets to protest, and it was incredible to see so many people and inspiring placards photographed all over the world.

Female solidarity has been on my mind a lot lately, and one question I’ve pondered quite a bit is which women (outside of my own family and friends) I particularly admire and look up to as role models. I decided to narrow the list down to women who are alive today, and so here are my final Top 10 Female Role Models.

Inspiring Women | My Top Ten Female Role Models | Ines de la FressangeThe epitome of grace and effortless Parisian style, Ines de la Fressange reminds me that true beauty is ageless. At 59, Ines continues to inspire with her flair for easy-to-wear, yet elegant clothing. Her collaborations with Uniqlo are wildly successful, proving she keeps her finger firmly on the sartorial pulse.

Inspiring Women | My Top Ten Female Role Models | Shonda RhimesQueen of TV writing and producing, Shonda Rhimes is responsible for hugely successful shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. Her book, Year of Yes, is one of the most inspiring I have read. In it, Shonda details how she overcame her fear of public speaking, lost over 100 pounds, juggles life as a single mother, as well as why she never wants to get married and how she got to dominating Thursday night prime time TV in the USA. If you are looking for a woman to remind you that anything is possible, as long as you work hard and stay true to who you are, then Shonda Rhimes is your girl.

Inspiring Women | My Top Ten Female Role Models | Tracy AndersonThe fitness guru reminds me to keep my own health a priority, and her exercise routines always make me feel stronger, both in body and in mind. I love that Tracy Anderson celebrates and nurtures female solidarity, and her fans carry out her message by offering supportive communities in person and on social media (just check out the #tamily hashtag on Instagram to see what I mean). Although a trainer to a seemingly endless list of celebrities, Tracy never forgets the ordinary woman, and regularly features a member of the #tamily crew in her newsletters.

Inspiring Women | My Top Ten Female Role Models | Michelle ObamaThe former (already greatly missed) First Lady is the embodiment of her own quote: ‘when they go low, we go high.’ Michelle Obama has shown the world how to handle the spotlight with grace and humility. An equal partner to her remarkable husband, she has become a role model for women everywhere.

Inspiring Women | My Top Ten Female Role Models | J.K. RowlingIt’s hard to imagine a story more like a modern day fairy tale than the Harry Potter author’s rise from an out-of-work single mum to the creator of the best-selling book series in history. If I’m having a bad day, I like to listen to her Harvard commencement speech and remind myself not to be so fearful of failure. Unsurprisingly, Rowling always has a gift for finding the right words, making her (in my opinion), the Queen of twitter, and a brilliant example of how to use social media to further your message.

Inspiring Women | My Top Ten Female Role Models | Ina GartenWatching Ina Garten’s food show is akin to receiving a warm hug and always cheers me up whenever I have a bad cold or am feeling a bit miserable. Along with millions of others, I love Ina’s warm, sparkling personality and the way she always manages to make life feel a bit more fun (as well as delicious). Also, her marriage with Jeffrey is my ultimate #relationshipgoals. They are the sweetest couple, and their mutual respect, love and support of each other is abundantly clear.

Inspiring Women | My Top Ten Female Role Models | Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieBeyond appreciating Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as a brilliant writer, it is also her TED talks on the danger of a single story and on feminism that I return to again and again for their wisdom, humanity and truth. These incredible speeches push me to be a better person, to see the wider perspective and to take pride in being a woman, and a feminist.

Inspiring Women | My Top 10 Female Role Models | Sophia AmorusoDespite the recent bad news, the Nasty Gal founder’s autobiography continues to inspire me to be my own #girlboss. Sophia Amoruso’s story in initially building her brand shows how dedication, drive and trusting your gut are all qualities that will help you on the road to success.

Inspiring Women | My Top 10 Female Role Models | Gretchen RubinGretchen Rubin’s fantastic books and podcast help me both to understand myself better and to expect more from myself. The happiness and habits expert has led me to realise that I work best in the morning, that I should always strive to ‘be Miranda’ and that every individual has the capacity for transformation and growth, should they wish for it.

Inspiring Women | My Top 10 Female Role Models | Priyanka ChopraAs the star of the American series Quantico, Priyanka Chopra is the first actress from India to play the role of a main lead character on US television. A hugely famous personality in her home country, Priyanka has an incredible number of strings to her bow: Bollywood actress, Miss India and Miss World winner, singer, film producer, philanthropist, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, gender-equality campaigner – oh, and did I mention she’s only 34? It’s women like Priyanka Chopra who remind me to dream big, work hard and seize opportunity.

I’m curious: which present-day women inspire you the most?

Miranda’s Book Club Has Launched!

Online and London Book Club | Miranda's Notebook

I’m so excited to announce the first book for the Miranda’s Notebook Book Club; some of you who know me well will likely have guessed which author I would pick already….so (drumroll please) the first book is:

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

‘After the death of her mother, Mary Yellan crosses the windswept Cornish moors to Jamaica Inn, the home of her Aunt Patience. There she finds Patience a changed woman, downtrodden by her violent husband, Joss Merlyn. Mary discovers that the inn is a front for a lawless gang of criminals, and is unwillingly dragged into their dangerous world of smuggling and murder. Despite herself, she becomes powerfully attracted to a man she dares not trust – Joss Merlyn’s brother. Before long she will be forced to cross her own moral line to save herself.’ – Virago Modern Classics

Daphne du Maurier is one of my very favourite authors, and I always think her novels are fantastic for sparking discussion. As the blog theme for February will be romance, I thought it appropriate to pick one of her most dramatically romantic books. I first read Jamaica Inn as a teenager, and haven’t revisited it since, so my recollections of the novel are rather hazy, and I’m looking forward to finding out what my impressions of the book will be as an adult.

I can’t wait to read it together and discuss it with all who take part!

There will be opportunities to join both an online and in person (for those in London) version of the Book Club. Both will be held on the last Wednesday of every month. The in person meet-ups will be held at a location on the Southbank, from 6.30-7.30pm. I’ll most likely be bringing along cake, as I do always feel a slice goes rather well with book chat! If you’re interested in joining the London Book Club get-togethers (and I do hope you are!), then please pop your email in the form below (or here, if you’re reading this in your email and can’t see the form) so I can provide you with more details (you’ll only be signed up to receive London Book Club news):

Please don’t be shy – all the Miranda’s Notebook readers I have met so far have been a very friendly bunch 🙂

In terms of the Online Book Club, I’ll publish a blog post recounting my thoughts on the book, with questions to invite further discussion on the last Wednesday of every month (see below for a list of dates and upcoming titles). There will also be some Cornwall / Daphne du Maurier themed posts published throughout February. I’m toying with different ideas of how best to host an online book group at the moment, so please bear with me as I iron out any initial wrinkles. If you have any ideas or suggestions for what you’d most like from an online book club, then please let me know.

If you’d like to read ahead, then here are the book choices for the following few months, with the dates for discussion and meet-ups:

**February 22nd – Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier

**March 29th – Longbourn by Jo Baker

**April 26th – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Will you be joining the Miranda’s Notebook Book Club discussion? Have you read any Daphne du Maurier books already, or are you excited to start your first? I’d love to know your thoughts!

Fun Things | January 2017

I always enjoy writing my ‘fun things to see and do’ posts each month, as they encourage me to seek out the best of what’s available in London, as well as more general ways I can get the most enjoyment from the passing months. There are some especially good exhibitions currently on or just about to begin in London, so I foresee a lot of cultural outings at the start of the year.

1/ Go to the Dulwich Picture Gallery. It’s definitely time to renew my membership to the DPG, as 2017 looks set to be a stellar year for this beautiful gallery. There’s still time to catch the fascinating sounding Am I Rembrandt? show, which I’d like to see. Also, Bloomsbury Group lovers can rejoice at the upcoming Vanessa Bell exhibition (incredibly, the first major solo exhibition of her work), which opens the beginning of February. I’m also extremely excited for the John Singer Sargent exhibition (one of my very favourite artists, and his paintings are always even more luminescent in person) and the celebration of Tove Jansson’s The Moomins. If you know any children who love Moominland, then be sure to drop by Adventures in Moominland at the Southbank Centre too.

2/ Continuing the Bloomsbury theme, on 28th January Sussex Modernism is opening at 2 Temple Place and is a must-visit for fans of Charleston. The exhibition is free entry so there’s no excuse not to go, especially as this beautiful space is generally closed to the public.

3/ Go to the cinema. A friend and I got each other membership to the Prince Charles Cinema as a Christmas present, with a resolution to see more films together in 2017. The cinema is fortunately easy on the pocket, with members’ tickets costing as low as £1, so it’s a perfect January activity!

4/ Eat what you love. I very much enjoyed this timely article describing food writer Ruby Tandoh’s philosophy on eating for pleasure, as well as nourishment.

5/ Join a library. It’s definitely the month to curl up with a good book in the evenings, but January is generally also a time when you’re watching your pennies, so why not check out on what’s on offer at your local library, rather than buying something new? It’s also worth noting that library memberships often give you (free) access to online sources of audiobooks. I’m currently working my way through a vast list of Agatha Christie books, which I listen to as I cook or embroider.

6/ Celebrate Chinese New Year (28th January). Indulging my love of dumplings, I’m thinking of making this soup from Smitten Kitchen. I would also love to see the Magical Lantern Festival at Chiswick House & Garden.

7/ Visit Greenwich to see the raved-about Emma Hamilton exhibition at the National Maritime Museum. If you happen to be called Emma, then you can even visit for free this weekend (14-15th January)! Just bring along some proof of ID….

8/ Celebrate Burns Night at Mr Fogg’s in Mayfair. From 6pm on the 25th, guests will be greeted with bagpipes, haggis canapes, whiskey and a poetry reading in honour of Scotland’s much-loved poet, Robert Burns.

9/ Do Yoga for your face. Much as I appreciate a great moisturiser (and sun block!), I also believe that exercising the muscles in your face is as good as exercising the muscles in your body. I keep this book by the mirror in my bedroom and have started trying to incorporate some of the suggested movements into my morning skincare routine. This article has some quick and easy to do exercises too.

10/ Write your thank you cards. I managed to send some of mine off just after Christmas, but then I lost momentum and still have a few to do. As I recently reorganised my office, I realise I’m positively overflowing with pretty stationery, so there’s no excuse not to write all my thank you notes!

A Few More Things

++ Meeting a blog reader for the first time in Richmond today, as well as attending a fun skincare related event at Debenhams.

++ Cocktails with friends at Quo Vadis (my favourite Soho hangout).

++ A day trip to Cambridge. There were some fabulous £6 ticket deals available for trains to Cambridge, so I’m treating myself to an afternoon exploring a different city.

++ Spending a week in Geneva at the end of the month.

++ Having an ‘Ask Miranda’ Skype chat with Melanie.

++ Working on my current embroidery project.

++ Meeting up with some of my lovely blogger friends, Milly and Isla.

Has anything on my list resonated with you? What are you looking forward to this January?

P.S. If you love London, why not sign up for my newsletter? I send out a weekly ‘Postcard From London,’ featuring bitesize information about my favourite London discoveries, as well as a monthly roundup sharing what I’ve been doing and loving most lately. Simply fill in your email address below (or go here) and check your email to confirm your subscription.

T&T 08 | Christmas Traditions

christmastraditions

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here.

In our final episode of 2016, Sophie and I have put together a special Christmas bumper edition of Tea & Tattle. We share some of our favourite traditions that we each celebrate every Christmas, and read aloud extracts from some much loved festive reads. This episode is a little longer than usual, but we picture you listening to it with a mince pie and hot chocolate (or mulled wine!) to hand, enjoying some well-deserved relaxation (it should also provide you with some good company if you’re still in the throes of Christmas wrapping and baking!). We’re taking a little break from T&T over the winter holiday, but will be back with a fantastic interview episode on 3rd January (see more details here), so be sure to tune in again then!

Happy Listening!

T&T 07 | A Chat With Ysenda Maxtone Graham

The latest Tea & Tattle Podcast Episode is live! Listen to it here, or on iTunes.

In this episode, I’m interviewing the writer Ysenda Maxtone Graham on her recently published book, Terms & Conditions: Life in Girls’ Boarding Schools, 1939-1979. I read this book after being invited to Ysenda’s book launch at Daunt Books, and once I started it, I couldn’t stop reading! An Old Boarding School Girl herself, Ysenda has written a fascinating account of what British boarding schools were really like from the 30s-70s. In researching the book, Ysenda interviewed a great deal of women, some of them famous (I was especially interested in Judith Kerr’s anecdotes), some of them not, but all of them offering an engrossing glimpse into a bygone age.

Many of the stories of the girls’ lives at the eccentric establishments Ysenda describes will appall the modern reader, but Terms & Conditions is written with so much quiet humour, that it’s almost impossible not to chuckle your way through the book. I had a marvellous time interviewing Ysenda about her writing process and inspiration behind her latest publication, and I’m sure you’ll love listening to her too!

Christmas Reads | Books for Babies

Christmas Reads | Babies and Toddlers via Miranda's Notebook

*** A N N O U N C E M E N T ***

Would you like to become a part of Miranda’s Notebook?

This post marks the first contributor post to Miranda’s Notebook! I’ll be gradually taking on some contributors over the next few months, leading towards a slight change to the blog in the summer. Would you like to get involved, or do you know someone who might? Please help spread the word! There will be opportunities to contribute both one-off articles, or to be featured as a regular contributor. This partnership would be perfect for anyone who’s interested in guest-posting to direct more traffic to their own site, or for people who are keen to build a portfolio of written/creative content online, but don’t feel they have the time to commit to creating and building their own website.

Get in touch at: mirandasnotebook@gmail.com to learn more. Please note: I do not accept guest posts written for PR companies, or containing sponsored links, and the tone and style of the content & photography must match the rest of my site. If you’re interested in writing about books, crafts, recipe posts, motherhood, travel, fitness and self-care, or collaborating with illustrations or photography then please get in touch! 

***

I’m excited to introduce my very first contributor to Miranda’s Notebook: my mum, Donna! With a background in English Literature, and an especial expertise in children’s books and how to get young children reading, she’ll be making some regular book-related contributions to the blog. For this first post, Donna describes one of our much-loved Christmas traditions: buying a special book each year for Christmas. She also gives some brilliant suggestions for books to buy for a baby or toddler, as well as tips on what to look for when buying picture books for small children.

Christmas Reads for Babies and Toddlers

 by Donna Mills

It’s that time of year, Miranda and I “get the Christmas books out” and pop them in baskets, on shelves and in piles around the flat wherever we might be tempted to pick one up and browse its pages. Carefully put away for the rest of the year (shelf space is rarer than hens’ teeth chez nous!), I can not tell you how much fun it is to see the treasured volumes again, read and share aloud pages or whole stories to one another.

‘How fun it is to see the treasured volumes again, year after year.’

When you have a newborn or toddler, you generally don’t have much time to think about “making” traditions: you’re too busy in December doing – helping them make Christmas cards and decorations, their first gingerbread house and biscuits, and praying that their inevitable colds and coughs won’t turn into whooping cough or go to YOUR chest. Nevertheless, if you have time for a thought at all, one of the most undemanding and fun Christmas traditions you can start is to have a collection of books that come out only in December and that you read and share with one another. No child? No such tradition? Don’t worry! It’s never too late to start one for oneself and, indeed, Miranda and I are still adding to our own collection and can never resist the urge to pick up something new (to us at least) in the bookish line for Christmas to read and wrap for one another, ready for Christmas morning.

My suggestions for anyone starting such a collection is to by all means try out titles from the library first and then always buy the best version of the book you can – if all you can afford at the time is a discard from the library shelves 20p paperback version, get that, if you’re able to spend a bit more go for a hardcover version every time. Generally for babies and children of 2 or under you want to be with them, reading the story, talking about the illustrations and generally being unobtrusively in charge, showing by example that books are treated gently, pages turned carefully and with joy, and are always put back from whence they came on high up shelves carrying book and child to show them where it goes (take it from me as a mother and former teacher, tidying up is a skill you cannot start teaching too young!). If the book is available in a board book format get one of those too if you can swing it. Children need their own little shelves and baskets where robust versions can be handled independently, pored over and shown to teddies, Daddies, dolls and you.

‘Children need variety as much as adults.’

Remember, children need variety as much as adults. The books you choose for them (or for yourself!) should be rich in language and style. That’s not to say they should all sound like the St James Version (though of course you’ll want a picture book of the nativity whose text is exactly that). You want the poetic and the commonplace, American, British, Canadian, New Zealand etc, don’t forget translated texts beautifully rendered into English – the more varieties of English as it is spoken then and now the merrier. Here too is your chance of placing before your child’s eyes a variety of illustration styles, and all of the highest quality. Search out everything from black and white line drawings, to woodcut prints, to watercolours and oils, to comic style and rich abstract design. As long as the illustrations illuminate and enhance the text, you can’t go wrong. These books can be about Christmas specifically or about Winter generally.

And now to some specifics: Miranda and I have put our heads together to give you a small list of what you might consider buying this December in the picture book realm. I would say avoid too long and involved a story at this stage. Poetic rhymes and beautiful illustrations, things for baby’s eyes and fingers to discover, words you can learn quickly by heart are all perfection.

christmasreads

1/ The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett.

Who doesn’t love Jan Brett’s vibrant illustrations, and coupled with the traditional Christmas song, they’re a sure hit with little ones. Knowing the words off by heart is a talent likely to endear oneself to the very young: you can keep both eyes on them and their responses to the pictures, and they don’t have to wait for you to scan the pages hastily as they hop from one page to another pointing out what they see in the illustrations. However bad a singer you are, you can also be assured your little audience won’t mind.

2/ Dear Santa by Rod Campbell.

Rod Campbell’s bold, colourful and deceptively simple illustrations have been proven delightful time and time again in our household. This Christmas lift the flap one is wonderful. Your toddler can lift the flaps to see what Santa has sent in a series of wrapped presents. There’s a touch and feel element and the last flap reveals the perfect Christmas present!

3/ Spot’s First Christmas by Eric Hill.

From one and up Miranda was enchanted by the Spot Lift the Flap Series by Eric Hill – both the Easter and the Christmas ones are classics, charming without being saccharine and both easy on the eye and and to read out loud. This is the board book version, but ours is the ordinary hardcover. It was robustly made with firm pages that little fingers find easy to turn and the flaps stood up well to all the delighted lifts they’ve received from Miranda herself and other visiting toddlers over the years.

4/ On The Night You Were Born written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman

Reading this one aloud catches you in the back of your throat a bit, but it captures in the most perfect way the celebration of a baby’s birth (and in the end what if not that is Christmas about?), the words are poetic and lilting and the illustrations beautiful in a dreamy, timeless style. Nancy has also written and illustrated a more specifically Christmas title, The Spirit of Christmas, stuffed full of the sugarplums that dance in your head and definitely worth buying, but it’s this, her first book, that I’d press you to buy first. Bonus: available in every format, including board book.

5/ The Christmas Story by Ian Beck

Sadly now out of print, but readily available for 1p plus postage as an Amazon secondhand bargain, this beautifully illustrated and simply told story of the nativity story is well worth searching out. Ian Beck’s illustrations shine and illuminate every page and the language is not too complicated or sophisticated for little ones.

6/ Christmas by Jan Pienkowski

Again, now out of print, but to my mind the perfect mix of King James’ Version language with awe-inspiringly beautiful cut-outs and silhouette illustrations. A forever classic – do search one out for your own Christmas before secondhand hardcover versions go up in price and become “collectible”.

7/ Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr

Now sold as a sturdy boardbook as well as a paperback and hardcover version, what right thinking child once introduced doesn’t love Mog. Again easy to read aloud with lovely detailed illustrations and with plenty of humour to keep you smiling even on the 50th read aloud!

8/ Christmas Parade by Sandra Boynton.

Boynton has some of the best board books for the very young: simple rhymes, bold and bright illustrations and a quirky sense of humour that appeals to parents and children alike, I can’t imagine not giving a Boynton board book in a parcel for a new baby and ALL the words of her Moo, Baa, La La La! are still bubbling in my brain nearly 30 years after I first read them to Miranda. Christmas Parade has all the hallmarks of her best work and makes a lovely addition for baby’s first Christmas.

Do you have any book-buying Christmas traditions? Which are your favourite picture books to read to babies and toddlers this time of year?

Article written by Donna Mills for Miranda’s Notebook. Get in touch with Donna @penandpencilgal 

Fun Things to See and Do | December 2016

Fun Things to See and Do in London and Beyond | December 2016 via Miranda's Notebook

I love December, and I have to say that Christmas in London is remarkably pretty, with the city going full out on sparkling lights, colourful decorations and plenty of winter markets. Here are a few ideas to make this December even more magical, in London and beyond:

1/ Colouring. I definitely recommend this as an antidote to all the general business and rushing around that December brings. I had so much fun going to an event with the fantastic Johanna Basford earlier in the week with my lovely friend (and fellow blogger) Talitha. We sat and coloured in Johanna’s beautiful Christmas colouring book and chatted, with Christmas carols playing in the background. It was bliss, and I felt a new woman after, refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

2/ Meet friends for cinnamon rolls and coffee over a lunch hour. I’ve got plans for exactly that today, and I can’t wait! It will be very hygge.

3/ Create your own Christmas tradition. Some of my favourite traditions are to buy a new Christmas book each year and to shop for one special Christmas ornament.

4/ Start to reflect on the past year and think about what went well and what you might want to change in 2017. I’m looking forward to spending part of the holidays looking over my blog analytics and forming some fresh ideas and plans for content in the New Year.

5/ Go to a Christmas Carol Service. I’ve booked tickets to attend this special concert with my Mum.

6/ Organise fun plans for January. After the excitement of Christmas, January and February can feel particularly dreary, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and make sure you have some fun in your diary. So far, I’ve scheduled cocktails with friends, meeting up with a blog-reader and a week in Geneva. These plans have definitely made me more excited for my least favourite months of the year.

7/ See the Winterlights at Dulwich Picture Gallery. The gardens of this lovely Gallery have been completely transformed and look magical.

8/ Make the rounds of some of London’s biggest Christmas Markets at the Southbank, Leicester Square, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland etc. The Southbank in particular is my favourite!

9/ Enjoy a special afternoon tea with your girlfriends. Here are suggestions for some of the best Christmas Afternoon Teas in London.

10/  Buy a pretty new diary and calendar. I can’t wait to start using this diary from kikki.k.

A Few More Things I’m Looking Forward To This Month…

++ Having a small gathering of friends round for mulled wine and mince pies.

++ Meeting Sophie for a festive lunch at Pidgin.

++ Recording Tea & Tattle interviews for January – there are some great ones coming up!

++ Taking it easy and having a break from social media over the holidays.

++ A day in Cambridge. I’m hoping to pay a return visit just before Christmas.

What are your plans for December? I hope you all have a thoroughly jolly festive month ahead of you.

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T&T 06 | Party Etiquette Tips

teaandtattletemplate_partytips

Click here to listen.

In this episode, Sophie and I are getting into the festive spirit, as we discuss etiquette tips to help guide hosts and guests alike through the whirlwind of the party season. We provide our most handy hints for smooth sailing when you’re entertaining and tackle common bug-bears such as how to get people to RSVP promptly, whether it’s acceptable to ask guests to remove their shoes (assuming there’s no cultural custom to do so) and what hosts should do when a drink invariably spills.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts too!

What are your best etiquette tips for parties? Do you have any handy hints for getting people to RSVP, or how to deal with early arrivals as a host? Do you mind being asked to take off your shoes?

Happy Listening!