Saturday, 21 December 2013

Four sleeps until Christmas

If I were in Oz this time of year, we’d be enjoying mid 30 degree weather (40 this week), long sunny days, blue skies, a few BBQs in the backyard after work accompanied by a bottle of sparkling red, while busily preparing and counting down for Christmas day.
While I’m still trying to finish the preparations for Christmas and counting down until Christmas day, it’s a whole lot chillier in Blighty with not so much sunshine and no chance of an outside BBQ unless you want to develop frostbite on your big toe. I leave for work in the dark and I get home in the dark.  My wardrobe consists of everything long, black, thermal and padded to the effect I look like an Australian version of the Eskimo (well kind of). I’m definitely not used to the cold yet.
But it’s not all miserable.  A cold wintery Christmas, while something I’ve not experienced much in the past, is something I’m looking forward to. I’m hoping for snow but do know that’s not very likely. It doesn’t snow much in London so I’m told. When I open the curtains every morning I do momentarily hope I will see snow falling just like you see in the movies and hear in the Christmas carol… Keep dreaming Tania.
So what is different about Christmas here compared to Oz? The following comes to mind;
 1.  Christmas Lights and Window Displays in London
Ok so I know you get loads of Christmas lights in Oz, just take a drive late one night and you’ll find houses lit up like Christmas trees. But have you ever wandered the streets in London such as Oxford and Carnaby Street? And visited the likes of Fortnum and Mason to see their Christmas window displays? If you're ever in the need to make it feel like it's really Christmas then try it out.
Oxford Street
Outside Tiffanys
Fortnum and Mason window display
Fortnum and Mason window display
2.  The Christmas Jumper
In Oz you wouldn't think of wearing a jumper this time of year. Mid 30-40 plus weather and it's purely t-shirts, shorts and thongs (flip flops). So the fact 50% of the British population in London own a Christmas themed Jumper (thanks Wikopedia) is a new concept for me. I thought you only saw that in the movies e.g. Bridget Jones Diary, but no, it's all the go over here. 

I wonder if I'll get one for Christmas!
3.  Mulled Wine

The alternative to sparkling shiraz perhaps? My first try at mulled wine and I can safely say it is a good hearty warming winter drink. For those of you who haven’t ever tried it… mulled wine is typically red wine or port/claret mixed with various spices. Do drink it sparingly.

4.  Ice Skating
Temporary ice skating rinks start to pop up around key locations in London in November/ December. If you enjoy ice skating you can get your fix at places like Hampton Court Palace, the London Eye, Natural History Museum, Somerset House, Hyde Park and the Tower of London. Imagine ice skating outdoors while it’s snowing… it’s just like the movies!

5. Pantomimes & Christmas Theatre
Last year I was lucky enough to see The Nutcracker. But there is an array of various Christmas plays and theatre including the traditional Pantomime. In Oz we don't really see or hear about any pantomimes so in case you're wondering what they are... they're are a form of musical comedy for families in which the audience is expected to participate such as singing or shouting out phrases.

6.  Bread Sauce and Brussel Sprouts
Instead of the Killer Tomato it’s the Killer Brussel Sprouts for me. I have nightmares about Brussel Sprouts particularly since I'm still scarred by being forced to eat them as a child. You can jazzy them up with bacon and bits but seriously I can't eat the things.
Then there is Bread Sauce….can't say I'd heard of it before but if you want to try it with your roast Turkey this year follow the link to Delia's recipe.
And yes these are all served up with Roast Turkey which is a tradition in both countries no matter what the weather. 

Well time to go and finish some off my Christmas jobs such as ice the cakes. Thankyou for taking the time to read my blog and wherever you are in the world have a safe and happy Christmas.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Expat Blog Awards 2013

The Expat Blog Awards are on again for 2013 with a Top List theme.  So instead of finishing off my Christmas shopping, icing the rest of my Christmas biscuits and actually starting to pack for my trip back to Oz I've delayed the lot to post an entry. 

For those of you who like reading my random posts and who would like to support my entry then head over to and leave a comment.  You might want to read it first and ensure it's worthy of a vote! Also feel free to like, share and tweet about it. 

If you are still reading this then you might want to note that comments must be more than 10 words and if it's the first time you've left a comment on Expats Blog you will have to verify your email address. Comments within my blog or facebook don't count so if you want to care and share then do so within Expat Blog.


Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A 5 1/2 minute hard boiled egg

Recently while on holiday, I overheard an elderly man asking a waiter for a hard-boiled egg. It wasn’t that question that caught my attention the most but the next direct requirement that had me stunned. The egg had to be boiled for exactly 5 ½ minutes.  He actually requested that as he sat down at the dining table, crossed his legs and unfolded the newspaper with a little flick, without even a smile or a please added in there for good flavour.

With interest I leaned forward waiting for the next specific requirement such as 10 grams of salt, 5 grams of pepper and whatever other condiments might enhance the flavour of that 5 ½ minute boiled egg. Unfortunately that didn’t come.
Really, can we be that fussy that we specify how long something is cooked for down to the seconds?
Isn’t the general guideline for eggs either dippy (runny) or hard?
Perhaps this man has done some scientific testing over the years related to the optimum time it takes to boil an egg related to the best taste, texture and overall output?
If I think about what I’m fussy about in food, I suppose as a child I was a bit of a nightmare. I do recall when we dined out that I’d refuse to eat anything other than sausages and chips. Probably to the detriment of my adult life, because I can’t stand sausages now. However I’d never request specific portion sizes i.e. actual number of chips to be added.
And in adulthood the only thing I won’t eat is stinky fish aka sardines. I wouldn’t think of telling a restaurant to cook my steak for a total of 4 ½ minutes each side, rest for 2 minutes before serving. Steak is either rare, medium or well done.
Have you come across something better than the 5 ½ minute hard-boiled egg request? Do share…