Blogmas day 16 – let us howl

Our visit to the Wolf Conservation Trust near Reading, whom we met there, and what we learned!

So, I’m going to break with the Christmas posts to tell you about what I did last night – because it’s cool, and also I’d like more people to find out about the Trust.

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while will know that S and I are interested in Wolves. I published the walking with wolves post earlier in the year. While I was researching that trip, I also discovered the UK wolf conservation Trust website, and last night, S and I went with some friends to their Howl Night!

The first part of the evening is a presentation about wolf communication. We learned about ways in which they communicate with other wolves using long-distance communication, such as howls, as well as other verbal forms of communications, such as barks, growls, whimpers, yips and woofs! We then went on to look at body language – the positioning of the ears, tail, and posture, as well as the eye contact. Real footage from the centre’s wolves was used to demonstrate points about what was happening and what the wolves were trying to communicate.

The centre is home to 10 wolves in four packs – two packs of 3 and two packs of 2. After the presentation had finished, we went outside to see, and howl with them!

The first pack we saw was my favourite – Mosi and Torak. Mosi is one of the older wolves at 11 years of age, but that didn’t stop her being the most vocal with her howls! She deposed her sister Mai as alpha female, which led to her sister being moved out of the enclosure when they were younger. She was eager to respond to us with howls and interested in her visitors! Torak is a tall and proud wolf with a handsome, masculine head and the most mournful howl that you have ever Heard! He was more aloof and stayed to the back of the large enclosure, but that didn’t stop him joining in with a howl!

The next pack we came across was the arctic wolves, Massak, Pukak and Sikko. Sikko is the only female in this pack, where she lives with her brothers. They were born during a severe snowstorm in Park Safari, Quebec, and abandoned by their mother, who got out of her den with one other pup, but didn’t accept these three back as they had been touched by humans, who revived them from severe hyperthermia. Pukak loves his food and sometimes paws at the fence in anticipation. Massak is the dominant male and often lets his brother and sister go to greet visitors first. All of these wolves have thick, white coats to protect them from freezing arctic temperatures.

The next pack we saw was Mai and Motomo. Mai was separated from the pack with her sister and now lives with Motomo, an unsocialised wolf from Devon. Though partially spayed now, Mai and Motomo had been getting on better than expected as, soon after they were put together, Mai was found to be pregnant. We saw their offspring in the next enclosure. Apparently Mai likes to howl to Motomo when she is away on a walk. Motomo was only hand-reared for two weeks of his life, so he can’t be handled by the volunteers as he is still very scared of humans.

In the last large enclosure are Mai and Motomo’s offspring, now 6 years old. They were very playful when we came up, chasing and growling at one another. Nuka is the dominant male and the most adopted wolf at the trust. He already knows which humans he doesn’t want to have around him! Tala is a very friendly and inquisitive wolf, who is often put in her place by her sister Tundra, the dominant wolf in the pack. Tala’s inquisitiveness sometimes leads to the destruction of things such as Christmas trees put in their enclosure for children’s events! Tundra is a wary wolf who is less likely to come and greet visitors. If her brother and sister do silly things like playing in the pond, Tundra just looks on and doesn’t join in.

The wolves are well-cared for and have plenty of space to run around. As well as looking after the wolves in its care, the trust also supports other projects to help wolves in other parts of the world – both in terms of caring for captive wolves and educating the local population. The centre is also involved in research projects to enable people to better understand these wonderful animals.

If you’d like to support the Wolf Conservation Trust, there are plenty of different ways for you to get involved. If you can get to Reading, there are Howl Nights or wolf walks throughout the year. You can also make a donation, adopt a wolf, give a child a junior membership, or buy a wide range of wolf merchandise from the store. I’d already got myself a pair of earrings and a necklace online, but last night I also came back with a mug, a keyring, another pair of earrings and a hoodie! All for a good cause, so that’s ok 😉

Are there any nature or conservation organisations that you like to support?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

Going back to Blogmas and the advent calendars- what was behind your door no. 16?

L’Occitane – this time it was another soap – the last of the 3!

M&S: this time I got a hair spray, which I won’t use, so that’s something for Mother Christmas!

We still haven’t finished our Christmas shopping, so you can guess what we’ll be doing later!

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Blogmas day 15 – office Christmas party

So, most of the time I don’t miss having colleagues too much! I love having an office to myself, and I still have plenty of people contact through working with my customers and being active in various networks. But when it gets to this time of year, I do miss the office Christmas parties!

I say “parties” because I usually ended up going to more than one! I worked for the government, so there were a lot of people in our building, which meant that departments and teams did their own thing. However they weren’t always that strict about who attended, so as well as going to my own, I sometimes got invited to other people’s events as well! I remember being quite tired at the end of December!

Most of the time it involved going for a meal somewhere followed by drinks and dancing afterwards. Once I missed the last train home the night before Christmas Eve and had to get a taxi after I’d got as close as I could on the train. I think I got in at around 4AM and then had to get organised the next day to go to my Mum’s. I didn’t feel my best that day!

They weren’t all as late as that though!

Working in the centre of London, we were spoiled for choice in terms of restaurants. You could have whatever type of cuisine you wanted, but you had to be quick. If you started thinking about your Christmas party booking in December, it was usually too late as most places were already full.

The parties were a lovely excuse to get dressed up, have a laugh, a few glasses of wine, and get to know some new people. I remember one year I was the only person from my part of the office. I was also the first to arrive and felt very self-conscious. This was compounded by the fact that I was from the Director’s Office, and people were a bit wary of talking to me. Maybe before I joined, people kept themselves to themselves from that office, I don’t know, but after a drink or two, people overcame their initial shyness and we had a really good evening!

Mainly I did it to have fun, but in such a large organisation, it was a really good way to get to know some people from other buildings or areas. I think it helped too – if they remembered you later when you needed to contact them about something, you weren’t just a name behind an email, but someone they had already met and chatted too.

I think it’s great that some companies in the private sector put on their own events for staff and I’ve been to a couple with my partner.

Now I’m self-employed, I don’t have a Christmas party, but as I’m always roping S in to help with one thing or another for my business, I said I’d take him out for dinner, or maybe lunch after the Christmas market! It’s a bit late now, but maybe I could organise something next year for other local business owners, or some kind of online event for bloggers. I don’t know. But I’d like a plate of turkey and all the trimmings that I haven’t cooked!

How about you? Will you be attending any office Christmas parties this year? Or have you already?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 15?

L’Occitane – this time it was a lip balm. I didn’t even know that they did them, but I guess this is the point of the calendar! It’s a non-flavoured one and good for a handbag.

M&S: it’s the second mascara – this time the Diego Dalla Palma Ciglione Mascara one in black. I haven’t tried this one before and I’m not going to open it yet because I don’t like to have too many mascaras on the go! But I’m looking forward to trying it out as I haven’t had anything from this brand before.

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Blogmas day 14 – winter weather expressions

English people have a reputation for talking about the weather. Have you noticed that some of the expressions we use are about winter weather?

At this time of year, there is a lot to say about ice, snow and cold, windy weather. Here are some wintry weather idioms and their meanings.

1. To be skating on thin ice
To be doing something that is dangerous or which could have negative consequences.

2. A snowball effect
A situation which gains momentum or where something increases in size or impact.

3. To be snowed under
To have so much to do that you can’t take on anything else.

4. Every cloud has a silver lining
Even if a situation looks bad, something good will come out of it.

5. To get wind of something
To learn about something, even though it was supposed to be a secret.

6. To have a face like thunder
To have a facial expression that shows that you are very angry.

7. To throw caution to the wind
This means that someone is taking a big risk.

Can you think of any more?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 14?

L’Occitane – time for another shower gel! These are like travel minis – maybe ok for the shower, but in the bath I tend to use a bit of another shower gel as well! Still, it’s good to go through the whole range of scents!

M&S: Today I got a maringa cleansing balm from Emma Hardy. I’ve never used a cleansing balm before because I usually use a cream cleanser or micellar water, so I’m looking forward to trying this out!

Question for the day

Brussel sprouts – yes or no? I’d have to say no, unless they are the ones made entirely out of chocolate!

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Blogmas day 13 – warming winter food

On Monday a box arrived from Amazon and inside was my new pressure cooker!

The reason I’m telling you this is that I used it last night to make one of my favourite winter meals – a quick and easy winter stew!

I used to have this as a child too, although my Nan didn’t use a pressure cooker. I could smell the stew as it was cooking and I knew there would be a tasty warm meal with dumplings.

Actually I didn’t make any dumplings, because I didn’t have much time yesterday, but it’s a hearty and pretty healthy meal because all I used was fresh vegetables and some meat, though of course you could do it without the meat.

I won’t write down a recipe because my stew is different every time. Yesterday I used pork, potatoes, mushrooms, a tomato, an aubergine, and a couple of onions. I covered the meat and vegetables with gravy and whatever herbs and spices I felt like chucking in! I tasted the gravy mixture to make sure the spices were right before I poured it over the meat and veg that were already in the pressure cooker.

If you like it spicy, you can add chillis. I added two because we like our meals to have a bit of heat, but you don’t need to do this if you don’t like spicy food.

I like to make stews in the pressure cooker for two reasons – it’s super quick – after I’d prepared everything and the pressure cooker started steaming, it took about 25 minutes for the meal to be cooked. Then you just need to wait for the pressure to go down so it’s safe to open the lid. The second thing is how it makes the potatoes all soft and fluffy!

You can tell when it’s ready, because even if you can’t see the steam, it starts to hiss like a big snake, which is when you need to start timing.

I will admit that I’m slightly scared of the pressure cooker because I’ve heard stories of bad things happening, and I know that there is a lot of pressure building up inside it, but I have also heard that they are safer now than they used to be, so it doesn’t put me off from using it.

I do have a slow cooker too, and I sometimes cook casseroles in there, but sometimes I don’t feel the meat tastes quite as good as when you do it in the pressure cooker.

Making this kind of meal is a good way to use up any vegetables you have left over. We do sometimes have an excess of veg because of our vegetable box, and as I don’t like waste, I’ve been making winter soups. Having some hearty winter stews as well will be a good way to mix things up a bit!

How about you? What do you like to cook when it’s cold and grim outside?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 13?

L’Occitane – I thought it was another soap, but no! It was a sugar bath cube! I haven’t tried one of those before, so it will be interesting to see what they’re like, and as it’s a sugar one, it shouldn’t be too messy because sugar is soluble.

M&S – today I got a fragrance – blood orange from Shay and Blue. I know it’s a risky business putting a fragrance in an advent calendar, and you won’t please everyone, but I really like this. I’m glad they went for a citrus one rather than a really floral one. You get 10ml, so enough to really try it out (I can’t see the point of those little 2ml ones!), and it’s something I would consider buying full size.

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Blogmas day 11 – things I love about winter

Let it snow! It did actually snow in our part of the world last night. It has now mixed with rain, and there’s not enough to make a good snow dog, but at least it snowed! Some people got up to 32 cm of the stuff, and I do feel sorry for all the people who lost power to their homes over the weekend. Still, even as an adult, I do think there’s something magical about the fluffy white stuff – as long as I don’t have to go anywhere in it!

11 things that I love about winter

People sometimes see winter as a dull and dreary time of the year. It’s true that in England it can be cold and damp, but actually I think there’s a lot to love about winter. Here are 11 of my favourite things!

1. Winter walks
Now that I work from home, I certainly don’t miss running to the train station in the rain and spending the rest of the day trying to dry out! But when it’s dry, I love wrapping up in my big thick coat, hat, scarf, and gloves, and going for a walk. We don’t get a lot of snow around here, but the air is so fresh and crisp – it really feels as though you’re doing something good for yourself, especially as we tend to spend a lot more time inside during the winter.

2. Winter food
I’m not just talking about Christmas dinner here, although I do enjoy roast turkey with all the trimmings! I also mean the home-made pumpkin soups and the hearty stews and casseroles that I make when it’s cold outside. These are really healthy too because they’re basically just meat and vegetables with a few additional herbs and spices for flavour.
I’m not a fan of the traditional desserts like Christmas cake or Christmas pudding, but I do enjoy a slice of chocolate log (a kind of cake) or a mince pie (a sweet pastry case filled with dried fruit and spices).

3. Christmas
Not just Christmas Day though – I mean the whole time leading up to Christmas with all the preparations, getting the tree, decorating it, buying presents, wrapping them, making Christmas food, listening to the music…

4. Winter clothes
AT the moment I’m wearing a soft, thick fleece with a wolf on it. Winter gives me the chance to get out all my warm snuggly clothes that would be too hot at any other time of the year. I think there’s something really comforting about being wrapped up warm!

5. Snuggling up on a cold evening
The wind is howling outside, the rain is lashing down – but it’s ok, because you’re in the warm, snuggled up with a blanket on the sofa, reading a good book, watching a film, or just enjoying a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

6. Christmas markets
They are actually a German tradition, but they are becoming quite popular in the UK now. It’s basically a collection of stalls with people selling gifts, hand-made products, and food. You can usually pick up a tasty treat and find some gifts for Christmas presents, or just for yourself, that are a bit different to what you can find in the shops.

7. Decorating the house
I mentioned this earlier in the part about Christmas. I don’t go for the crazy lights and garden decorations that you can see for miles, but I do like to have a tree, the singing snowman and some greenery around the house.

8. Advent calendars
They really started to be a thing here last year, and now so many shops and brands are doing them. They used to be just for chocolate – you got a little chocolate treat every day, but now there are make-up ones, skincare ones, perfume ones, ones with candles, ones for pets, and ones with food or drinks inside. I love to see the variety, and getting a little treat each day from 1st till 25th December is of course fun too!

9. Snow
We don’t get a lot of it where I live in the south of England, but when we did get some, my dog used to love it. She would roll around on her back in it, burrow down into it with her paws, and do her best to catch the snowballs that I threw for her. Then she’d be really confused about where they disappeared to if they hit the ground.
When I was still at primary school, my family moved to the north of England, where there was more snow. The children used to get excited when it snowed because it often meant that the school would close and they could go sledging!

10. Time off work
I haven’t always taken holiday around Christmas time, but people don’t usually want training courses at this time of year, so now I usually take a couple of weeks off at the end of December. I don’t usually go away, so it’s holiday at home with my partner, and it gives me time to catch up with family and friends.

11. New Year
I’m not a fan of huge parties for New Year. Most years I stayed home with my dog, or celebrated locally with friends. When I used to live in London, I wasn’t interested in going to join the huge crowds. But I like New Year because it’s a new beginning – a fresh new year with so many possibilities. Like a blank page waiting to be filled, or a new chapter in a book.

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 1?

L’Occitane – today I got another shower gel, this time the shea one. L’Occitane shower gels are lovely, and I prefer them to the oils. I haven’t had this one before, but I like the range.

M&S – after being so happy with yesterday’s mask (I tried it out yesterday), today’s offering was a make-up sponge. I can’t get excited about make-up sponges and do feel that this was a bit of a filler gift. It’s the first thing that I won’t use, so I suppose that’s not bad. I’ll find someone to give it to or put it in my give-away box – It’s not a bad product, I just can’t get very enthusiastic about it!

Question of the day

Today’s question – do you give or receive Christmas stockings? I don’t any more, but I always had one as a child, usually after Christmas dinner.

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Blogmas day 10 – gifts for coffee lovers

Some ideas for what you can buy the coffee lover in your life!

So, yesterday was a festive day for us – shopping in town and baking Christmas biscuits. I wasn’t so impressed with the cookie cutters I bought, but we ended up with almond Christmas trees and cinnamon hearts.

Gifts for coffee lovers

Maybe you know someone who’s always got a cup of coffee on the go, or who likes to try new and different types of coffee? If so, here are some ideas for a perfect gift for them.

1. Skincare

Those who have been following my blog for a while will already have seen my skincare for coffee lovers post. Basically I was looking for skincare that wasn’t your usual coffee scrubs. Some of the best things I found were:

A coffee lover’s lip balm gift set with 3 moisturising lip balms in Americano, Latte and Mocha.
Anatomicals Java Lather shower gel – it’s called a body cleanser, but it’s really a body wash for the bath or shower and it smells amaaazing!

2. Mugs

If you’re going to have a cup of coffee, you need a nice mug. Try to think about the person’s likes and find something that ties in with that. I got this 3d owl mug > for my birthday and I love it.

Alternatively you could find something with a funny saying on it. I don’t have this don’t talk to me until this mug is empty coffee mug, but it would suit me!

If your friend likes ground coffee, but doesn’t always have access to a coffee machine, you could get them one of these infuser mugs. I got one last Christmas and it’s great for a single cup of coffee or loose-leaf tea.

3. Clothing

If you know someone well enough, why not get them some comfy winter pyjamas? Your coffee-loving friend might like this one that I bought today with coffee and chill printed on it. I also like these because they are true to size – there’s nothing worse than buying pyjamas and finding they came up too small.

I also have this All I need is a cup of coffee owl t-shirt.

4. Food and drink

These coffee chocolates from the Chocolate Imporium are among the best coffee chocolates I’ve tasted and I would definitely recommend them!

I tried this hazelnut coffee at a friend’s house, and Whittard of Chelsea does a wide range of speciality coffees if you’re looking for something a bit different.

One year a friend got me a box with different types of coffee to try from around the world. I can’t find the one I got, but this selection box is similar, with coffee from Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Peru, and Kenya.

5. Postboxed gifts for coffee lovers

You may remember that I did a review on Postboxed a company that specialises in gifts that fit through the letterbox, so you don’t have to worry whether the recipient is at home. Postboxed has a couple of gifts for coffee lovers too:

This coffee towel is printed with an infographic that tells you how to make different kinds of coffee drink.

A bar of roast espresso chocolate for the chocolate-loving coffee drinker.

11 coffee shops in London that you must not miss is a small book with notes and colour photographs for coffee lovers who live in or plan to visit London.

You can buy these things individually, or put them together in a gift box. If the items you select won’t fit in one letterbox-friendly box, they will be packed into two and sent off at the same time.

Let me know if you have any other good ideas for coffee lovers!

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 10?

L’Occitane – today I got another bar of soap, this time the Verbena scent. I know I was a bit underwhelmed about the last soap, but I put it out in the bathroom yesterday and it’s actually really nice!

M&S – Formula Innovate radiance reveal peel. I was a bit worried about this because I don’t like those masks that you have to pull off along with half your face!But this has to be rinced off with warm water, so I don’tthink it’s one of those. I haven’t tried anything from this brand before, so I’ll give it a go later today.

Question of the day

Today’s question – do you send Christmas cards?

I used to, but I haven’t done so for about 10 years now. When I was a child, I used to write my messages in Braille and my Nan wrote underneath them so that people could read them. When I was a bit older and not living with my Nan, I printed out labels with the addresses and messages, but it became too much hassle trying to remember what was on each label that I couldn’t read. Now it would be a bit easier because there are text recognition apps for blind people to use on their smartphones, but I decided instead to do something for the environment and just contact or message the people whom I wanted to wish a happy Christmas!

How about you? Do you send out Christmas cards?

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Blogmas Day 9 – how do people from the UK experience Christmas in other parts of Europe?

On day 6, we looked at what people from other parts of Europe thought about Christmas celebrations in the UK. Today I have some interviews from people who were originally from the UK and who now live in France, Germany, and Spain. Actually I don’t think Molly lives in Spain any more, but she spent some time living there.

I asked when the Christmas celebrations take place, what new traditions they have discovered, what differences there are in terms of food, and whether there is anything that they miss.

Corinne –

Corinne moved to Berlin, where she now works as an English teacher. You can find out more about Corinne on her website, Byte Sized English.

The main celebration is on 24th December. The tradition is that the family goes to church and the strongest person in the house, normally the dad, get’s the tree into position. The kids come back to the house with a tree full of decorations and presents underneath it. The official start of the Christmas celebrations is the First of Advent (so this year this Sunday) . We have a Christmas wreath with four candles and the first candle is lit for the first time on the 1st Sunday of Advent, then the 2nd on the 2nd Sunday of Advent and so on. The wreath is a big deal here and can work out quite expensive. People are happier to spend money on a wreath than on a Christmas Tree which is only in the house from 24th December till 6th January. There is still a strong tradition of the Three Kings singing carols here too, kids from the church dress up as the 3 Kings and go from house to house singing carols, every house gets a chalked message

Reading aloud from a story book seems to be a lovely family tradition here that doesn’t wear off once the children can read independently in fact the older the kids get, the more involved they get reading for the rest of the family.

Cleaning boots is still very much part of the Nikolaus tradition here.

I missed mince pies. I make my own cranberry sauce now but you can’t get Port so easily, I miss that too

Jane

Jane is a German to English translator who now lives in Germany. You can find out more about Jane on her website Jane Eggers Translations.

The main celebration is on 24th December, in the late afternoon/evening

One thing we really like is the “Weihnachtsplätzchen” or Christmas biscuits. People bake big batches of them during Advent, serve them to guests, give them as presents etc. There are lots of different sorts. And the Christmas markets are a big part of Christmas too.

In my husband’s (German) family there is less emphasis on the food altogether. In our house, though, we tend to do Christmas dinner British style, with a roast and all the trimmings. I also like to bake mince pies and Christmas cake, which are not traditional here.

I miss the music. I find Christmas carols are very evocative, and the British ones still transport me back to the magical Christmasses of my childhood in a way the German ones don’t. So I make an effort to listen to some British carols while eating a mince pie or two, and then all is well!

Cara

Cara is an online English teacher who focusses on helping upper intermediate to advanced students to understand spoken English. Cara now lives in France. You can find out more about Cara on her website Leo Listening.

In France, the main celebration takes place on Christmas Eve, the 24th of December. People get together for a meal and open their presents on that day, rather than on the 25th like in the UK.

I haven’t really discovered any new customs, because I’ve only celebrated Christmas once in France and I think we actually had our celebration on the 25th rather than the 24th that time! One example is that people don’t really send Christmas cards like we do in the UK. They send each other New Year cards instead.

In terms of food, the main difference I can think of is ‘foie gras’ which people eat at New Year in France. This is a controversial French product made from goose liver. Their livers are fattened up through force feeding.
You can also find a special type of chocolate at Christmas (I’ve seen the first packets in the shops this week) called ‘papillotes’. They’re chocolates wrapped up in shiny packages with a little message on a piece of paper. It can be a quote or a proverb or a joke. The filling in these chocolates is generally praline. They’re pretty good!
People also eat Yule logs. My partner’s mum always makes one for us.

I find the UK more Christmassy than France which is why I make sure, as far as possible, that I’m there for Christmas. In terms of food, I really like mince pies. I even got my parents to send me a couple of packets one year so that I could share them with a group of students I was teaching. I’ve never found any ready-made ones here (I suppose I could have made them myself!). My parents have just sent me and my partner a couple of advent calendars through the post (we’re in our 30s!). You do get them in France, but these are Dairy Milk ones and Cadbury’s chocolate can be tricky to find here.

Molly

How Spain celebrates Christmas is something I studied around 5 years ago during School and again in College. Whilst most of us Brits have Christmas Dinner on Christmas Day, the Spanish tend to have theirs on Christmas Eve. At midnight they may go to Midnight Mass or “La Misa De Gallo”, here they will walk around with torches and play music. Although the 25th December is prominently celebrated as the main Christmas Celebration, Spain does not do things by halves they celebrate the festive season on many days as religion is important here.
On the 28th December is Day of the Innocent Saints or “Día de los Santos Inocentes”, this is basically April Fools Day in Spain where they all play pranks on each other!
New Years Eve is also a very exciting time to be in Spain (I will be back in Barcelona and I am very excited!). It is the same environment as the UK, everyone is out in the streets and there are fireworks but Spain has a very different tradition. As the clock has twelve strikes at midnight, with each strike you have to eat 12 grapes and if you do in time you are meant to be lucky in the next year! The grapes here are seeded and rather large so it is a challenge!
The final celebration of Christmas is on the 6th January, it is called the Epiphany and it is about the Christmas Story. In Spain it is called Fiesta de Los Tres Reyes Mages which translates as the Festival of the 3 Magic Kings and celebrates when the 3 Wise Men bought gifts for Baby Jesus. Some presents are opened on Christmas Day but the majority are opened on the 6th January (I used to hate that my mum made me wait till 6pm on the 25th!), children write letters to the Kings on Boxing Day. The night before the Epiphany they leave shoes on windowsills or under the tree to be filled with presents!
This tradition of Catalonia which is obviously where I live is new to me, I am currently writing an article for my job and it is about Christmas and any research I find always comes back to this tradition and it is rather odd.
There is a character at Christmas called “Tió de Nadal” (the Christmas log) or he is also known as “Caga Tió” which is funnily referred to as the “pooping log”. The wording is very funny to me but the concept is nice. It is a small hollow log with legs and a face painted on the end. From the 8th of December Catalan Families give it food to “eat” and a blanket to keep it warm. On Christmas Eve/Day, the log gives out small gifts and people sing songs and hit it with sticks to help it´s “digestion”. The log then drops sweets, nuts and dried fruits. When garlic or onion falls out, all the treats are finished for the year!
The food from what I have read in articles is the same food as England but just cooked a different way and with other foods. They have Turkey but it is stuffed with Truffles! In Galicia the most common food to eat is Seafood, I am not a seafood person I have never liked it so being in Barcelona is tough because it is everywhere! I am very much looking forward to having my Christmas Chicken Roast Dinner with all the trimmings! I think I have eaten all the tapas Barcelona has offered so far!
The main thing that I miss about the festive season in the UK and to be honest I have missed it throughout my time here is … Roast Dinners. They are a staple for Sunday lunches throughout the year. In Barcelona I haven´t seen any restaurants that sell Roast Dinners and to be honest I do not want to have one here in case I am disappointed by them, and I really want to wait because when I have my roast dinner at Christmas with my family it will be more special! If I could I would make them but I cannot find gravy, Yorkshire puddings or pigs in blankets so I may have to sneak some gravy back on the plane with me in my luggage! That is the only real thing I miss, apart from the Christmas Adverts of course! Luckily I have a Netflix account so I can watch all the Christmas Movies I want and the same with YouTube with the Christmas Songs but Christmas lights are already up so there´s not much to miss!

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

Is nobody else doing advent calendars? I can’t believe that! If you do have one, what did you find behind door no. 9?

L’Occitane – today I got the repairing shampoo to go with the conditioner, which I have already used. I’m not mad about the scent, but it’s a nice enough product.

M&S: Molten Star nail varnish from Nails Inc. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with nail varnish. At school I got my nails done in exchange for help with homework! Then I went for a long time without wearing it because although I can do it, I can’t get it as good as someone who can see, which made me not want to bother. Now I have a nail fairy and have just accepted that everyone needs help with something, and in my case one of those things is nail varnish – so I’m looking forward to trying this out!

Question of the day

So, as there are people from different parts of the world reading this blog – when does your family celebrate Christmas?

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