Hugh’s Photo Challeng: Week 8 – Charity Christmas Tree Topper Challenge

I could not resist taking part in this awesome Christmas Tree Topper Photography Challenge run by the lovely Hugh, from Hugh’s Views & News. This year he is donating to The Dogs Trust.

Here is my tree topper…

hugh photo challenge

I bought this star in January 2000 from Tenerife, and it has shone from the top of my tree every year since. It was the year of my grandfather’s 70th birthday and the whole family went on a cruise to the Caribbean. At the time I was saving to get married, so I bowed out and took a trip to visit my Aunt instead (I didn’t miss the party. He was a Christmas baby, so we celebrated in style!)

In Tenerife, celebrations generally start on the 24th of December and continue until January the 6th. As I flew out on the 27th of December, I timed the festivities perfectly and had an absolute blast! I tasted local cuisine with my Aunt’s friends, and didn’t come back down to earth (there was a lot of drinking), until a few days after I arrived.

The atmosphere was wonderful, and it’s always enjoyable to experience another culture. I learned so much on the trip. I also bought some great decorations, starting with my star.

Thanks for stopping by.

Merry Christmas or, sticking with a Spanish theme – Feliz Navidad.



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I was tagged by one of my writing friend’s, Callum McLaughlin, to take part in an original book tag he created for the festive season. It’s great fun, and you should definitely check it out.

Father Christmas: Name a book you received as a child that you treasure to this day.

As with many families, we have a tradition which involves a gift on Christmas Eve. It’s evolved slightly, and this year it includes a whole box of goodies, but originally it meant opening a book.

One year I received ‘What-a-Mess’ by Frank Muir, and I still have it. It’s a little dog-eared (pun intended), but I treasure it. I’m not sure, specifically, what it is about the book I enjoyed as a child. Perhaps it’s that we had Afghan hounds growing up and I loved to imagine what mischief they were planning. Regardless, I have fond memories of reading it with my parents.

The ghost of Christmas past: Is there a book or series you like to revisit each year at Christmas time?

I have to admit, there are a number of books I reread on a yearly basis. If I fall for a character, I want to spend time with them as often as I can. At this time of year, it depends what I have on the go. This year, I’ve fallen so behind on my reading list that, for the first time in a long time, I don’t have an old favourite on the go.

Christmas tree: Name a series that reaches new heights with every entry.

I’m a sucker for Nalini Singh, and her Guild Hunter series gets better with every instalment. But then, I always find a good series will continue to grow as the characters evolve and the author develops with them. At least in my experience.

Friends and family: Name a book with fantastic characters.

Just one? Sheesh, Callum, that’s a tough call! Oh, the pressure…I’ll have to fall back on an old favourite and say Lord of the Rings.

Decorations: Name a book with a gorgeous cover you would proudly display on your shelves.

The Gargoyle

I especially like that the edges of the pages are black, so it makes the book look dark and sinister!

Christmas cards: Name a book that carries a great message.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. I’ve always loved the book. It’s one I’ve read many times, though I haven’t read it in a number of years. I think I just found my answer to question two!

Ice and snow: Name a book that you were hoping to love but which ultimately left you feeling cold.

This is going to sound strange, because I used the book in my answer to the decoration question, but I haven’t yet finished The Gargoyle. It’s one of my regrets, mainly because the writing is excellent and I wanted to enjoy it, but I had no motivation to continue. I should probably start from the beginning, and let the story work its magic!

Christmas lunch: Name a book that was big and intimidating but oh so worth it in the end.

The Stand by Stephen King. I first read the novel in my late teens and I could barely lift the thing! Seriously, though, it was an intimidating novel to get through, but totally worth it in the end.

Mince pies: Name a book you found sweet and satisfying.

Just about anything Nora Roberts has ever written! I love her work, and she’s a dab hand with the sweet 🙂

Presents: What book do you wish you could give everyone to read?

Probably The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I keep trying to persuade my daughter to read it – to read anything – but I just can’t pin her down! I think everyone should read the book, and then reread the book. Every time I do, I learn something new. Yes, that’s definitely what I’ll be reading this Christmas!

Spreading the festive cheer:

I don’t have anyone specific to tag, because I know how busy things get at this time of year. But I’d love to see the tag continue, so if you would like to take part – please do. I’d love to learn more about your festive reading habits.

Thanks for stopping by.



Writer’s Quote Wednesday: Dickens and Hope

Writer's Quote Wednesday

It’s been a while since I took part in Writer’s Quote Wednesday. This month, to celebrate the festive season, the focus is on Christmas and other religious festivals which occur during December. Over at Silver Threading it’s a Hanukah theme.

My quotes this week relate to the spirit of Christmas, rather than the tradition itself. I love this time of year, because it’s all about a sense of community, of sharing and spreading joy.

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Thanks for stopping by.






Christmas Trees Around the World

My friend, Colleen, from Silver Threading, recently created a Christmas Trees Around the World challenge, which you can read about here.

It’s easy to take part. Basically, all you need to do is post a photograph of your tree and link back to Colleen’s post. On the 22nd of December she will create a wrap-up post displaying trees from around the world. Sounds like fun, right?

Here is my Christmas tree.

Christmas tree

I’ve collected a plethora of tree ornaments over the years, and get a new one every year. I have baubles from around the world, including Paris, Spain, Rome, Australia, America and Singapore.

Here are some of my favourites:

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Thanks for stopping by.


Cake, boardgames, and avoidance – Share Your World #50

I haven’t taken part in Cee’s Share Your World challenge for quite a while, and I’ve missed it. If you fancy joining in the fun, head on over. Cee in warm and welcoming and has some amazing photographs to share.

Do you have a signature dish? If not is their one in your family?

I don’t have a signature dish, but I get a few requests for my strawberry cheesecake! My family also particularly like my parkin* though I haven’t made any for the past few years. My dad used to make an awesome chocolate cake, and that was definitely his signature dish (he was an awesome cook). I miss them on my birthday and at Christmas. We have the recipe, which was passed down, but it just doesn’t feel right to make it – it wouldn’t be the same.

*Parkin or Perkin is a gingerbread cake traditionally made with oatmeal and treacle, which originated in northern England

Do you have a favorite board game?

I love board games, but unfortunately my family do not share my enthusiasm! I usually bribe them to play a few at this time of year, but they complain bitterly the whole time! My favourite is probably Scruples, but I don’t get to play it very often and the last time it caused a family argument! Fun times 🙂

Is there a household chore that you enjoy?

Yeah right! I can safely say that I conduct every household chore like I have a gun to my head – I do it because I have to! If I could give the housework a ‘sweeping glance’ and get away with it, I would. It is better when I have an audiobook on the go, then I get lost in another place and time and before I know it…hey presto – clean house!

 What is one thing you will never care about?

Whether or not I have a ‘fashionable’ wardrobe. I don’t care what’s hot and what’s not – I look smart when I need to, and that’s about as much effort I put into my wardrobe choice.

As for the bonus question, and the things I’m looking forward to – it goes without saying that I’m excited about spending time with family and friends this week. I have a number of books on my wish list and as I’m mostly deserving of my name being in the ‘nice’ column, that means there will be plenty of reading for me!

Merry Christmas, everyone.