What’s the collective noun for a group of Father Christmases / Santa Clauses / St Nicholases, as we met about 2,000 of them this morning?! A merriment perhaps? This week couldn’t have felt more festive if it tried!
I can’t remember the last December where building work took up more time than baking. Even four years ago, I was thinking about applying to go on Bake Off and busy making the gingerbread house in the picture above, so that I had something to put in my application form and cover up for the fact I wasn’t a very experienced baker. Little did I know how each December since then would pan out.
The past week has seen a few Swedish wreaths for demos, four Christmas cakes for various gifts and prizes (the US version of my cake recipe is here), more festive sausage rolls and 250 pieces of gingerbread for a workshop I held at my daughter’s Infant School on Thursday night (see picture above). I’m a Parent Governor and we really love our daughters’ Infant and Junior schools. With around 70% of kids speaking English as an additional language, we try to find PTA activities for parents and families that transcend any language barriers. On Thursday we had almost 100 parents and kids decorating gingerbread decorations and having a whale of a time while we played Christmas music and I helped them ice the biscuits. It was such a laugh and as an added bonus my house has smelled of gingerbread all week too.
I want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Squires Kitchen Shop
as they sent me 30 icing nozzles and loads of icing colours to use for the Gingerbread Workshop. I can’t thank them enough for doing this – it was incredibly generous. Our school, like most state schools, has suffered real funding cuts in the past few years so being able to run events like this to raise funds for play equipment is brilliant and it means I can run a similar event for Mother’s Day for the Junior School too. Incidentally, I ordered these piping bags
from eBay for the workshop and they were great – I’d really recommend them too. If you’re going to tackle a gingerbread house (like the one I made last year for STIHL
in the video above) then good icing nozzles and piping bags are a must.
Every year my Mum fills up a wooden reindeer advent calendar with different treats for the girls. My wife Sarah also got them a Smiggle
advent calendar to share this year (side note: this time last year I had no idea what Smiggle was but with 8 and 5 year old daughters, there is now a LOT of Smiggle in my life) so the girls have been counting the days for advent to start this week. One of the best things about having kids is starting new family traditions, especially at Christmas time. My parents take so much pleasure in having all seven of their Grandchildren close by and Christmas seems to turn my folks back into big kids too.
Last night we wrapped the girls up to take them to ZSL Whipsnade Zoo for the Wild Lights
event, where a kilometre trail is illuminated through the zoo (away from the sleeping animals, though you can visit the magnificent butterfly house) with different bright light displays, stilt walkers and fire dancers. It’s on next Friday and Saturday too if you fancy going (see here
) and because it’s up high on the Dunstable Downs, last night the zoo was covered in thick mist. It made the lights look even more atmospheric and magical as we wandered around drinking mulled wine, eating sausage rolls and picking up some extra Christmas presents from the ZSL shop
Regular readers of my blog will know we visit ZSL London & Whipsnade Zoos really often but I’d be happy to spend every weekend there if it were up to me. As a charity, ZSL does so much incredible conservation work
around the world as well as campaigning on major environmental issues like plastic pollution. It’s really important to me that my kids understand the conservation side of visiting zoos and ZSL promotes this really effectively.
We took our festival cart along last night, which was a really good idea as all three girls snuggled up in it under a pile of blankets to watch the fire dancer. We bought one of these carts (this one in fact
, sadly out of stock) over the summer after seeing quite a few families with them at Jimmy’s Farm Festival
. I’d recommend it as a Christmas present if you can find one. It’s one of the best child-related things we’ve ever bought as not only is it great for when our younger two children get tired, but I also use it all the time for my demos now, as I can unload all the contents of my car boot into it in one go.
Speaking of Santa, today we were up and out early on a drizzly Sunday morning to Clapham Common for the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) London Santa Dash
. Along with about 2,000 other Santas, my family ran 5km through the mud to raise money and awareness for the amazing work done by the heroes at GOSH, from doctors and nurses to research scientists, councillors and support staff. I’ve mentioned on my blog a few times that we have good friends who have seen far more of GOSH than any parents would ever want to this year. You just can’t get your head around it so they were very much in our thoughts today.
We spent the rest of today snuggled up in front of the fire together watching Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate. We still haven’t got our Christmas tree up (unlike everyone I know on Instagram!) but that’s on the to-do list this week. When does yours go up? Let me know in the poll above. Until next week, Happy Baking!