Tag Archives: Christmas

Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon

3 Jan

Any book that has the opening words: “Father Christmas! Halt right there!” is bound to be interesting.

In “Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon”, by James Lovegrove, Eve Allerthorpe arrives to consult Holmes with a haunting tale of demons and death, leading to Holmes and Watson journeying to Yorkshire in search of the mysterious Christmas Demon – Black Thurrick.

The story is fast paced and interesting, with a cast of entertaining characters. A lively take on the house party trope.

James Lovegrove never fails to create characters that are rich with personality. His Holmes and Watson are also outstanding, with the friendship between the two men shining through strongly.

The ending has enough Christmas cheer to be delightful, without sticking to the palate like overcooked fudge.

Highly recommended.

Best Wishes for the Festive Season

18 Dec

Wishing all my readers all joy and happiness for the festive season.

Whatever you celebrate, Christmas, Hanukkah, Saturnalia or just the joy of being alive, I wish you all the very best for now and into the future.

I’ll be taking a break for a couple of weeks to rest and recharge after a busy year at work.

Thank you all for reading my musings and I look forward to entertaining you in 2015.

Long Weekend Observations

4 Nov

It was a (unofficial) long weekend down here in Melbourne this last weekend.  Yesterday was Melbourne Cup Day.  We’re one of the few cities in the world where the masses have a public holiday to celebrate a horse race.  However, as the holiday is always a Tuesday, those of us with benevolent employers take the Monday off and make a decent break of it.  I made a few observations over the four days that I’d like to share.  Just some odd moments, possibly interesting, if only to myself, but nothing enough to make a full blog post out of.

Observation 1: Halloween is really taking off in Melbourne.  A visit to Woolworths supermarket on Saturday morning revealed a confectionery aisle that looked like Genghis Khan and his entire Mongol horde had rampaged through it.  No doubt they were holed up somewhere sleeping off the sugar overdose.

Observation 2: When you’ve cut back the amount of refined sugar in your diet Cherry Ripe chocolate bars taste like shit.

Observation 3: Original Source Shea Butter and Honey shower gel smells like Mackintoshes Harrogate toffees.  You remember those?  The ones in the yellow plaid wrappers?  The ones that as kids we considered old people’s toffees because they were the ones the oldies went for first in the bag.  I am not sure if the shower gel makes me smell like a long forgotten toffee, or if it just makes me smell old.  Either way I’m pretty sure I won’t be buying this particular shower gel again.

Observation 4: A can of mixed berries and a can of coconut milk whizzed in the blender and frozen makes delicious ice blocks.  And ones I can tell myself are good for me.

Observation 5: Alphonse Mucha artworks seem to be the latest to be harvested for merchandising purposes.  Came across a tin of French sweets with “la Belle Epoque” on the lid, and a tin of English chocolates with “la Dame aux Camellias” on the lid.  Naturally, the French one was the more attractive tin.  Mostly because it was a direct copy.  The chocolate tin looked like Mucha’s Lady of the Camellias had been reinterpreted by a colour blind spider with delirium tremens.

Observation 6:  It is perfectly possible, with a little planning and forethought, to complete AND wrap all your Christmas shopping by 4th November.   I will now spend the run up to Christmas being unbearably smug.

Christmas Cakes in September…and Memories of Cakes Past

14 Sep

I went into the Coles supermarket at the Victoria Gardens mall here in Melbourne on Saturday and got a nasty shock whilst traversing the bakery department.  There, sitting quietly in their own display bin were Christmas cakes.  Not simply plain fruit cakes such as are available all year.  Oh no, these were iced up all pretty with the words “Merry Christmas” endorsed across the top.

I scampered quickly through the department, my mind reeling in horror.  It’s only the second week in bloody September!  How can they justify placing Christmas cakes on sale now?  I consoled myself with the thought that, maybe, just maybe, it was an isolated incident.

I. Was. Wrong.

Yesterday I went into the local Woolworths supermarket, again having to journey through their bakery department to get to my destination.  To my incredulous horror Woolworths was even worse than Coles.  I couldn’t see Christmas cakes BUT there were Christmas puddings stacked in festive little piles,   And mince pies.  Including imported English mince pies, just to give the whole affair an international flavour.

And those bloody ubiquitous rum balls.  God knows why supermarkets seem to associate rum balls purely with Christmas.  Just about every woman in my family has their own personal variation on rum balls which are produced at every family get together.  The rum levels vary from “Are you sure there’s actual rum in this?” to “Jesus! Did you drown these in a bloody distillery?”  My mother’s were at the distillery end of the spectrum.  Between the balls and mum’s boiled fruitcake, the local bottle shop tended to run out of rum before December 24th.  Most of it was in mum’s baked goods.  Never mind “peace and goodwill”, when my mother distributed her festive fare to the neighbours the usual result was “pissed and insensible”.

My father, bless him, was not a heavy drinker.  The occasional beer after a hard day’s work, and a whisky on special occasions.  Two slices of my mum’s Christmas cake tended to leave him sleeping on the couch for most of Christmas Day!  Friend’s were wise.  When they came to have a drink and nibbles with us on Christmas morning, they would carefully take a piece of cake home with them.  Eating it before driving could result in the loss of your driver’s license if the cops caught you.  My mother’s cake should have come with an official police warning.

Not that mum could see that her cake was borderline lethal.  She didn’t drink, apart from the occasional glass of sherry, and rarely did more than nibble at a tiny piece of her cake, so she never got the full belt of it.  One of my enduring memories of her cake preparations is the finished cake sitting in its tin, whilst mum stabbed it viciously with a knitting needle, then poured rum down the holes!  This was done several times in the run up to Christmas Day.  When you lifted the lid of the tin the escaping vapours were enough to get you completely shickered.

I learned young to avoid her cake  After getting comprehensively sloshed on a slice of it at age six.  I still view any fruit cake as being intrinsically evil and not to be trusted.

The same way I view anyone trying to sell me Christmas goodies three months before Christmas.

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