On the morning of the 1st of November, when most people are nursing their post-Halloween hangovers and swearing at their alarm clocks, I’m bouncing out of bed and diving to my wardrobe in such a state of frenzied excitement that you’d be forgiven for wondering if I were still drunk. Why, you may ask? Well, it might say on your calendar that November the 1st is All Saints’ Day, but in my diary it is something far more magical: Christmas Jumper Day.
My Christmas jumper is pretty much the best thing ever.
Halloween is nothing more than a grubby memory (although if you’re anything like me you might still have the vague hint of whiskers drawn on your face) and it is perfectly socially acceptable to move on to the next, and in my opinion the greatest holiday of all. And in my house, that holiday is not confined to December the 25th. The festivities start in November with Christmas jumpers and – even more exciting – Christmas shopping.
So I was a very happy bunny (or polar rabbit) indeed when a family outing to Fortnum & Mason was suggested. And as Fortnum’s fortune had it, we arrived just in time to witness the unveiling of the Christmas window displays, complete with carols, mulled wine and – say it in your best impression of Brian Butterfield – mini mince pies.
I spent 10 seconds looking at this and 10 minutes chasing trays of mulled wine…
Sadly I was too busy stuffing my face, ahem, I mean, enjoying the festive atmosphere, to take many photos of the fun outside the store. But once inside, I focused my attention and my lens on the visual cacophony of Christmas spirit.
A harvest of fruit in the form of baubles.
Like a woman possessed I dragged my family to the third floor, and followed the smell of cloves to a veritable Santa’s Grotto of Christmas delight.
Clove and spiced orange scented tree, smelled so good I wanted to roll in it.
Apparently I just kept saying “I’m so happy”. It’s possible I was a little bit drunk from the free mulled wine. Or perhaps slightly giddy from the Christmas-scented pot pourri.
I can’t imagine the staff at Fortnum’s can ever get depressed in the midst of all this.
In many areas of my life I’m not a fan of ‘traditional’, but when it comes to Christmas, hues of gold, red, and green make my heart happy.
It looks like beautiful Christmas candy doesn’t it? Good enough to eat!
And when it comes to fairy-lights I have absolutely no self control at all. When my room isn’t decorated for Christmas it sports three sets of fairy-lights. Three! I worry about my carbon footprint… until I turn them on, and then all my worries vanish as if by magic.
If your life lacks sparkle then pay the third floor of Fortnum’s a visit.
We had booked in to The Cavendish Hotel’s restaurant, The Petrichor, handily situated behind Fortnum’s, to ensure that the warm and fuzzy feeling in our hearts was extended to our tummies. My gorgeous little sister works at The Cavendish, and the rest of us were keen to try out the restaurant that she had been raving about. The name Petrichor means ‘the scent of rain on earth after a dry spell’ – isn’t that beautiful? The incredibly attentive staff sat us at the best table in the house, and hovered around us with warm olive bread until the food arrived.
Fennel & dill cured Scottish salmon with horseradish meringues, watercress jelly, confit beetroot, and honey grain mustard dressing.
Breaded goat’s cheese & beetroot salad with carrots, radish & beetroot vinaigrette. (If there’s one thing I love more than cheese it’s cheese with breadcrumbs.)
Scottish pan fried salmon steaks, with smoked haddock crushed potatoes, crispy skin and spinach veloute.
Suffolk chicken roulade with braised baby gem, king oyster mushroom, chorizo and truffle hollandaise.
Aldwych goat’s cheese, rocket leaves, roasted pine nuts, sun blushed tomatoes and garlic crouton. (You know I’m a sucker for a goats cheese salad.)
Vanilla Alaska with vanilla sponge, meringue peak, orange sauce and candied mint.. (Absolutely wonderful. Sort of like a delicious cloud melting in your mouth.)
If you ever find yourself getting peckish in the vicinity of the Cavendish then I highly recommend a visit.
And then, just when I thought I couldn’t feel any more Christmassy in the first week of November, I saw the John Lewis Christmas advert. It immediately became my favourite advert of all time. If you can watch it without wanting to cry then I don’t think we can be friends.