Life has been hectic enough without Christmas coming along so suddenly! Just a few weeks ago we had visitors and had a lovely week out and about. We popped off to Belfast to see the Titanic exhibition. It’s really awesome and well worth going to. Here’s a shot of the famous yellow cranes of Belfast shipyard:

The building itself is really cool and you can see the shape of the ship cleverly incorporated into the design.

Fast Forward. It’s Christmas Eve.

By now, everything should be done. Amazon shelves totally bare and the shops emptied out, though, probably not, it just feels as though they should be judging from the piles of presents and the debits mounting ever-higher on the bank account statements… The house spick and span…

Or not… My house still looks as though the builders are in. Today I really (* I really must*) tidy round and clean the loos  and get the place looking less ‘lived in’. As I type, I can hear the washing machine getting through a wash load. The cake is sitting in its Lock ‘n’ Lock admonishing me for not giving it a coat of golden marzipan. I am definitely doing that today. The cake won’t be ready tomorrow but that’s not a bother. There’s plenty to eat and we won’t starve for the want of a slice of fruit cake. But. Bleh. Cleaning up on Christmas Eve.

I can report that the presents are bought, wrapped, delivered or under the tree. That is an amazeballs achievement for me who leaves wrapping to the last minute usually.

This time last week, I was in Manchester visiting family and naturally had to have a wander around the spectacular Christmas market! Apologies for the blurred picture – it was packed and there were were no little niches or spaces to stand still for a photo. It was a constant jostle.

The market is H-U-G-E – absolutely GINAGEROUS and sprawls for several blocks between the big stores there. The DJ on radio Nova said it ranked as one of the top five Christmas markets in the world. It would take some doing to get around them all in one evening. I didn’t but enjoyed three or so happy hours there. The squares were lit up and the atmosphere was vibrant and festive. The air had wonderful smells of bratwurst sausages cooking (bought a pack, uncooked, obviously, for Mr Tree)  and the log cabins selling steins of German lager were plentiful. I bought the heaven of headwear – a sheepskin hat, fluffed up like a Russian Cossack. (The Aer Lingus check-in guy asked me if I was going to Russia when I came back to Ireland). It’s flamboyant, champagne coloured and gorgeous. Fifty English squids but it made me feel like a million dollars.

Despite my love of robots, I didn’t succumb to these vintage temptations. I really wanted to but only had hand luggage and knew that I’d probably not have the room….(turned out I was right, groan).

The following day we went to Skipton.  A very celebrated pork pie shop indeed – Mr Tree was delighted when I brought back a huge pork pie (I went over to England by myself). This fine establishment should be a national treasure. The pie was superb.

We drove on to Ilkley and stopped for a mooch around the lovely little shops there. Loads of charity shops! I popped into each and every one of them – glorious! In one, I picked up a bag with 8 or so full square yards of cotton fabrics – gorgeous designs, four Amy Butler designs – and a brand new ball of knitting/crochet cotton for a fiver (one of the UK’s new plastic ones)! I would have paid in the region of €70, or more, for it all over here. Brilliant find.

There was a small Betty’s Teashop there. Betty’s is a quintessentially English tea room and has a flagship store in York that I’ve been to a couple of times. I didn’t know they had a little one in Ilkley. There were some lovely decorated Lebkuchen on display:

Think this is pretty?

The alpine village scene, made up from panels of Lebkuchen houses and trees was a real show stopper. Isn’t it gorgeous? This was taken outside the shop:

And this shot is of the back of the ‘cake’ from inside the shop. It is actually comprised of three tiered ‘boxes’ of Lebkuchen, each coated with a rough snow of royal icing.

It had a price tag of £500. I didn’t buy it!

Anyway, my fruit cake won’t marzipan itself so I’d better get a wiggle on.

Wherever you are, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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  • Mary
    December 25, 2016 2:16 pm

    Wow! Thank you for the virtual tour of the spectacular Christmas market, the treasures you found, and for sharing the trip to Skipton and Ilkey with Betty’s… Merry Christmas.

    • webmaster
      December 25, 2016 5:11 pm

      Hi Mary,
      A very Merry Christmas to you, too. Hope you’re having a lovely day.

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