24 Days of Christmas Films: Day 12-A Charlie Brown Christmas

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This is an oldie but a goodie. While my sister and I never really watched the Peanut cartoons when we were little (I preferred the comics), my mother used to love them and it was a love she used to try to pass on by encouraging us to watch this every year.

With imaginative, relatable characters and iconic music it’s not surprising that A Charlie Brown Christmas is something that still manages to compel children, long after they’ve transitioned into adulthood. It’s surprising re-watching it as an adult how profound the message is behind this short film, as when I was little all I noticed was the Charlie Brown was sad about Christmas. But as an adult I realised that it’s actually the widespread of commercialism that’s got Charlie down, and is the cause as to why he throws himself into directing the Christmas play, although alas to no avail. As Charlie’s friends come together and we see Charlie realise that there is still more to Christmas than shopping and presents, it’s not just Charlie’s spirits who are raised. Whilst Linus’ recitation of Luke 2:8-14 highlights the simple intentions of what Christmas should really be about, peace and goodwill to all men.  Whether you’re religious or not it’ll have a different impact for you, but as someone who is the latter I love this reference as it brings me back to my childhood performing the Nativity, and the genuine joy and promise that Christmas would bring every year.

At its core that is what a Charlie Brown Christmas is all about, characters coming together in a touching and sentimental way to remind us what should be most important at Christmastime, and that is something that I think we sometimes need to be reminded of.

 

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24 Days of Christmas Film: Day 11- Scrooged

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There have been over 20 film adaptations of Charles Dickens’ famous novella which would allow me to fill this list rating those alone. Unlike most popular subject matter that spawns countless adaptations, a majority of these adaptations are actually very deserving of a place on this list. So I gave it my absolute best to whittle them all down to the versions that I thought had the most to give, and with that we start with Scrooged.

It’s a kooky, kitsch version of the traditional tale with a dash of consumerism too as Bill Murray plays Frank Cross, a selfish television executive whom on the premise of his live TV version of A Christmas Carol is visited by three ghosts of his own to teach him a lesson. But these aren’t like any Christmas ghosts you’ve seen before as Frank is visited by a manic taxi driver, a verging psychopathic fairy, and a version of death who’s genuinely still scares me at 23 years of age.

As a result the first two thirds of the film are incredibly funny, and due to great performances from the whole cast make the Ghost of Christmas Future’s predictions all the more heart-breaking. It says a lot about the quality of the film that it manages to deliver great, consistent comedy, but also has the emotional pull to make the visions of the Ghost of Christmas Future truly horrifying to the audience. In my opinion it’s often this believability of the character’s relationships that drives the success of any Christmas Carol adaptation, as without it it makes the celebratory ending feel flat and false, and most importantly a lot less festive!

Scrooged is essentially A Christmas Carol and you’re not going to get much more Christmassy than that, plus it has the bonus of being a genuinely fantastic film. It’s perfect for the family members who are sick of the typical Christmas films and fancy a great laugh. Plus did I mention Billy Murray’s in it?!

24 Days of Christmas Films

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Over the years it seems that escaping from the cold and getting cosy in front of a Christmas film has become an integral part of the holiday season, and I think it’s often the easiest way to get yourself into the festive spirit. It’s certainly one of the things I look most forward to in the run up to Christmas, so I thought what better way to mark the run up to December 25th on this blog than to compile a list of what I think are some of the top Christmas movies to get you in the mood .

From tomorrow I’ll be sharing my favourites starting with the ones that give you a sprinkling of Christmas for those who are wanting to dip their toe before diving fully into the festive season, slowly building in festivity until we reach the full force Christmas favourites we all know and love. Hopefully it’ll help build the excitement for you guys and as there’ll be a few more adult choices as well, I’ve tried my best to incorporate alternatives in those cases so whatever your taste you’ll never have to miss a day!

So starting from tomorrow I hope you guys will be following along and as always I’d love to know if you guys have any particular favourites that you love to watch or hope to see on the list!

Why I Will Forever Be A Gilmore Girl

gilmoreOn October 5th 2000 the world was introduced to the fast talking world of the Gilmore Girls and their little New England town of Stars Hollow. They were welcomed with critical acclaim as the world fell in love with these two extraordinary women, and the colourful characters who inhabited their lives. The show was a pop culture  junkie’s dream (with 454 Film and TV references alone), but as the show developed it was the depth and heart of the characters that was responsible for its mass appeal, and over the course of seven seasons audiences watched enraptured as the Gilmore Girls dealt with issues of class, family, money, love, education and friendship.

The series was cancelled in 2007 after a troubled final season, but it wasn’t until 2008 that I stumbled across it when my mother by off chance started recording the series after she seen the advert on E4, and thought it might be something that would appeal to the both of us. Now most 15 year old girls and their mothers have troubled relationships at the best of times and we were no exception, so the irony is still not lost after all these years that it would be Gilmore Girls that would be the show that would help remedy our relationship.

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Everyday I’d come home from school and we’d watch it together, and soon enough as we moved through the seasons it felt as though as the show began to bookmark some of the most important moments in my life as well. The parallels of attending a highly competitive all girls school whilst struggling with exams and boys was impossible to ignore, and the show became my guiding light proving that it was fine to make mistakes whilst reassuring me that it would all be alright in the end. While Rory struggled with Dean and Jess I had my first serious relationship, and while none of my blow outs with my mother were quite as bad as that in Season 5, it emphasised to me that no matter what, family is there regardless and even the worst fights can be resolved. Gossip Girl was the other show that vied for my affection at this time, but while that show portrayed the unattainable high life of luxury, fashion and wealth, Gilmore Girls assured me that some of the best times could be spent home at the weekend with movies and pizza and crucially for a teenage girl, that you didn’t need to be invited to all the coolest parties.

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The heart-felt nature of the show is something that stayed with me as I went to university, and although the show had long since ended it continued to act as a comfort blanket for me through stressful times. I would watch it every year during my exams, and being able to watch Rory navigate her way through college and beyond cemented its place in my heart and provided with the guidance to aid me in my final stages of transition to adulthood. Still to this day I am able to identify new ways in which the show has affected me, and even the timing of the revival being announced as I was (and still am) at somewhat of a crossroads in life, to watch the trailer and see the characters I’ve grown up with feel the same way makes me feel that maybe there’s a little more guidance to be given.

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I think ultimately that’s largely the reason behind the show’s continued success and the reason why the following has continuously increased in the run up to the release of the new Netflix miniseries, everyone has their own connection to the show and can see something of themselves in the citizens of Stars Hollow. The show allows us to see the best in ourselves as well as allowing us to relish in our mistakes, but ultimately emphasising that it’s our family that is most important in whatever form that takes.

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One thing’s for sure, no matter what happens this Friday when the miniseries is released I know I’ll be sat right next to the woman who started it all for me and although everything and nothing has changed I know I still and will forever be a Gilmore Girl.

Summer Party Family Style

As my family lives far and wide across the U.K. it’s not often that we all manage to get together in the same place. But with my great Uncle’s 70th looming, him and my Aunt decided to celebrate with a big blow out to make the most of the sun with good food and good company, and boy they didn’t let us down.

We arrived and walked round the corner of the house into what must be as close as England is going to get to being a tropical paradise!

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While the children made the most of the pool the rest of us relaxed in the sun and had a good old fashioned catch up.

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For once in my life I forgot to photograph the food which should tell you just how good it was! They had laid on enough for a small army with everything from hams, salads, fresh bread, salmon, and anything else that you could possibly want.

But a special mention has to go to the wine which I did manage to photograph, which had been flown in all the way from the Alps! Crisp, fresh and fruity it was a perfect accompaniment to the delicious feast.

DSC03278DSC03281  DSC03286  After all that feasting we decided to wander around the tropical paradise (and take a few photos as well).  DSC03311 DSC03312

Hidden behind these Hydrangea’s which had me swooning they were so beautiful, I discovered a little hideaway from all the craziness, squirreled away in the tropical forest.
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What I wouldn’t give for one of these in my back garden as my own little office/ reading nook.

Swooning over, I couldn’t help but strike a pose against the beautiful flowers.DSC03361Dress: Zara (Similar here, here and here), Denim Jacket: Topshop (similar here), Bag: Kate Spade (similar here), Sunglasses: ASOS, Pumps: Topshop.

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Usually I am the type of person who dreads these sorts of ‘smart/casual’ occasions as I often end up either too smart or too casual, but this recent Zara purchase has saved me. The more eagle eyed of you will recognise this as the dress I graduated in which emphasises just how versatile it is, not to mention how obsessed I am with it! Paired with my favourite Topshop denim jacket and pumps and my Kate Spade Saturday bag which I picked up in New York shortly before they closed, I think I’ve finally nailed the smart casual brief.
DSC03408DSC03398 DSC03412  After all that ‘hard work’ there was nothing left to do but enjoy the rest of the day, which is already one of the highlights of my Summer. I’d love to know if any of you have any tips of how you strike the balance of that dreaded smart/casual dress code and your favourite ways to have fun with your family this summer!

Graduation Belfast Style

So as you will probably know last week I headed back up to Belfast to finally pack up the remnants of the past three years of my life, and probably more importantly to graduate university! I’m still waiting for it all to sink in and the possibilities that now lie ahead of me, but in the meantime I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite parts of the day.

After the ceremony (which went by in the blink of an eye) I finally got my piece of paper proving that those three years of hard work weren’t for nothing and left me severely needing a drink. With the family in tow we headed to the newly opened Miel et Moi which is Belfast’s first licensed patisserie for some cocktails and cakes (my favourite combination).

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And boy did we have plenty to choose from! From tarts and eclairs to cakes and gateaus they have everything you could dream of, and with them all freshly baked every morning it was hard to resist not getting one of everything.
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In the end we managed to cut it down to just four deciding that dividing and conquering was the best way to tackle the amazing treats on offer. Trying to tick every box we went for viennese whirls, lemon madelines, a strawberry and white chocolate eclair and a rosewater gateau.

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Note the problem of ‘resting bitch face’ (of which I am a chronic sufferer of), but I can assure you that faces actually translates into me having the time of my life haha.DSC02943 DSC02948

As you can see they were so good it was impossible to get pictures of them all before we’d sneaked a bite. I have to say as a girl who has tasted her fair share of cakes and pastries the bar was set pretty high, but I can honestly say these blew me away. I have never tasted a viennese whirl so buttery and crumbly with the lemon curd cream filling perfectly providing a balance of tartness to the sweet. The lemon madeline (which I had to order to channel my inner Sansa Stark, Game of Throne fans you’ll know what I’m talking about) was so incredibly moist and fresh I could’ve eaten hundreds of them. Now while eclairs aren’t exactly my bag, my eclair obsessed sister assures me that it was the best she’s ever eaten, but my favourite has to be the rosewater gateau. I have never experienced a sponge like it,, it had the texture of air while melting in your mouth and the delicateness of the rosewater can only be described as the taste of summer. Paired with a combination of teas and bellinis with freshly made coulis it was the perfect high tea to celebrate the end of my time at university. Not to mention the setting was pretty idyllic too.DSC02917DSC02972

After all that it’s probably not really a surprise that we couldn’t resist going home without picking up a couple for the road. But with pastries this delicious it’s just too hard to say no!  DSC02912

If any of you are in or around Belfast, or even visiting in the future I highly recommend you swing by for a visit as with breakfast, lunch or dinner menus it’s perfect for every sort of celebration or even for an everyday treat. I’m still coming to terms with the post graduation blues so I’d love to hear your graduation stories, or if you have any cute places you like to visit I am always on the lookout for new recommendations. And if you haven’t graduated yet, good luck!

Time For Family

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Last Sunday before I made the slog back to university and immersed myself back into the life of books, essays and lectures I had just enough time for one last family dinner before I left. And what a dinner it was.

I am exceptionally lucky that my home is in the lovely Hertfordshire and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to lovely places to eat, but this time we went for the firm favourite of Hermitage Road. The restaurant which is a converted music concert hall is hidden away up a tiny average looking entrance and winding staircase, But when you enter it leads into a massive light filled space which is the epitome of “shabby chic” providing the perfect background for a special occasion or casual breakfast.

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WP_20140907_13_16_05_ProWP_20140907_13_16_52_ProWP_20140907_13_20_36_ProWP_20140907_13_23_14_ProThey offer a special Sunday menu which offers the typical roast dinner options, but I chose instead to go for the surf and turf which came with some of the biggest prawns I’ve ever seen, not to mention a pretty great steak.WP_20140907_13_44_17_Pro

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After thinking I couldn’t possibly eat anymore they brought the dessert menu out which is my ultimate weakness, so I couldn’t help but give in to a dark chocolate and salted caramel mousse with hazelnut brittle. I mean come on even the sound of it is making me drool. WP_20140907_14_33_43_ProWP_20140907_14_35_35_ProWP_20140907_14_35_44_ProWP_20140907_14_36_48_Pro

The staff were so lovely and accomodating and as we finished the dinner with a celebratory bottle of champagne, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed at how full and content and loved I felt. Soppy I know. After walking out with the high that only comes after a great meal, it further deepened my love for the place and if you’re in the area I highly recommend it!