• Wishing You All A Frugal Winterval!

    by  •  • London

    Having just received my first ever semi-ironic Christmas circular, a brilliant and original thought occurred to me. I should write a Christmas circular!

    The document in question originated from the general Dalston area and was penned by this man, who apparently specialises in stereotypical fiction. (The BEST kind of fiction.)


    To be honest, it’s not going to be all that circular. It’s just a blog post listing random things that have happened in the recent-ish past.

    The year began for us both in Bristol, with me working for the BBC. That’s right… That whole adventure wasn’t even a year ago. Gordon moved back into London to spend more time devoted to his abiding passion for sharks by working at Discovery Channel. The initial shame of living in West London eventually wore off as he realised how easy it was to walk to work and how close he was to museums and many delightfully middle class shops.

    So began five months of alternate weekends in Bristol and London for Gordon and James. This was unbelievably tiring but had the benefit of never being more than a fortnight away from a Bath Ale. We also both became very familiar with the Victoria Bus Station which will come in handy if we are ever homeless and need somewhere to sleep rough. (You have to pay to use the toilets but they’re cleaner than the ones in the pub across the road. They’d be easier to wash the heroin sweat off your face in.)

    From May, we had a couple of months of fortuitous timing as a dear friend of mine from Australia (Megan… Something.) began her London adventure by living in what became my library.

    James moved back into London at about this time and took a job with an M&S that was literally at the end of the street we used to live on in Islington. That’s what you call ironic, Alanis.

    Having finally received my passport back, we spent late August in Paris, which was absolutely awesome. This was followed a couple of months later by a super-awesome trip to Rome, which I can’t link to because I haven’t written the post because it was overwhelming and I have way too much to say about it. So here are some highlight photos instead. We saw the Pope but he wasnt wearing his stupid hat so, as always with us, a mixed bag there.

    Upon our return from Rome, James took a brand new -significantly fancier- role at the giant M&S in the even more giant Westfield Shepherd’s Bush -conveniently located an eight minute bus ride from our house.

    I went to Stockholm for work, then followed this up about a month later by returning to Sweden to ruin Ellen’s PhD graduation by MC’ing the celebration dinner. I also found out I am way too ADD to be good at Swedish mushrooming. All around, the trip wasn’t that great for the self-esteem when you think about it. But it was still super-awesome for those of us that weren’t hospitalised. (One of us was.)

    Overseas visitors for the year were: Mum and Dad (allegedly to visit us but really mum wanted to go crop circle chasing), Mel, Royce, Ra (James’s brother), Freya and Merryn. (Sorry if I left anyone off.)

    My time at Discovery came to an end a few days ago with the canning of almost the entire UK team. Easy come, easy go. I met some great people and got to talk about sharks a lot. Plus it has given me ample free time to prepare for the world’s most awesomest, most savings-est Christmas dinner ever! The addition of frequent snowfalls over the last week has made this more fun than I technically thought possible.

    Through hours of planning, repeated re-reading of Delia’s and Nigella’s Christmas books and strategic use of James’s M&S discount we have:

    • Homemade chili jam and pickled onions to match some amazing British cheeses
    • Homemade fresh cranberry sauce for the day in question
    • Drinks: red wine will be Chateauneuf du Pape, champagne will be actual champagne, the port is aged 21 years and all for a few quid a head. (The trick is to combine the 20% staff discount with ’25% off when you buy a half dozen’ then buy 18 bottles.)
    • Ham, Nigella turkey (steeped outside in water and herbs for two days), Harrod’s pudding, the world’s most alcoholic trifle, etc, etc, etc

    I am honestly so unbelievably excited about this. But then I have to live up to all the money we spent on ornaments. Also it’s at the top of my mind because we just this morning returned from round three of laying in all the food I will be preparing for the massive and exciting Antipodean orphans Christmas I’ll be cooking. The checkout lady at Chiswick M&S said “well, you’re having a very M&S Christmas, aren’t you?” When we agreed, she continued with “is there any other kind?”


    So with that, may I just wish you an unbelievably awesome Christmas and New Year from myself, James and apparently the whole team here at Marks & Spencer.

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