Three Christmas Geese: 1989



This is my last tea towel blog of 2015 and fittingly it is a pure linen, Christmas tea towel that I gave to my mother for Christmas in 1989, her last Christmas.  I cannot remember why I chose this particular one because we never had goose for Christmas dinner; in fact I have never eaten goose.  That is a New Years Resolution – try goose since I have eaten a lot of unusual foods like sparrow in China, Guinea Pig in Ecuador, crocodile in Kenya, kangaroo in Leicester….  On my Twitter account I am being followed by someone who asked me what I considered to be ‘adventure’.  I am not a very daring sort of a person but trying something new is always an adventure: in 2016, goose here I come.

Haappy New Year to all my readers. In a couple of days time the voting will open for the UK Blog Awards for which I have been entered in the category “Best Story Teller”.  If you are bored one day perhaps you would consider voting for me.

Best wishes




North Conway, New Hampshire: 2008


My holiday in ‘New England in the Fall’ continued from Vermont into New Hampshire (see previous blog).  New Hampshire is a beautiful state with the White Mountain Range; the White Mountains are famous for the slow changing colours of the leaves in the autumn.  This is because of (a) the climate (b) the mixture of deciduous and conifer trees (c) the intermixture with maple trees.  This is the reason so many people travel to New Hampshire to see those glorious colours.

In North Conway, a small typical clapperboard town with a population of around 2000, I found this tea towel.  North Conway is renown for its shops.  The tea towel is simple: three conifers under which is written North Conway NH.  OK, you could argue that this wasn’t a Christmas tea towel because it doesn’t say Happy Christmas and you could argue that it was more representative of the reason people come to New Hampshire i.e. The Fall.  However, in my eyes, it is pure, classic Christmas, Christmas trees.

New Hampshire is on the border with Canada; it was the first North American colony to establish a government, independent of Britain.  New Hampshire was one of the original 13 United States of America.  For someone with a background in American history this was very exciting.  However, more exciting was the fact that the small town of Gilmanton, which we passed through, was the inspiration for Peyton Place. Do you remember Peyton Place, both the book (written in 1956) and the TV series which started in 1964?  Do you remember Dorothy Malone, Mia Farrow, Ryan O’Neal and Barbara Parkins?  If you don’t,  you missed the first ‘Soap’ which ran for 514 episodes, three times a week.  Peyton Place was one of the first adult books I read; it was gripping but I don’t think I missed an episode of Peyton Place (and that was something in an era where there wasn’t the opportunity to record anything).  When I use this tea towel, I remember the leaves turning orange, red, brown, tangerine, yellow; I remember the White Mountains and I remember those heady days of Peyton Place and the disappointment when I heard for the last time “The continuing story of Peyton Place” which was the introductory line to every episode, from the very beginning.

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Christmas Trees and Snowflakes: 2010


I like this tea towel: a good quality Ulster Weavers tea towel, using just the colours of red and cream effectively, as a design with Christmas trees and snowflakes.  It stands out from the rest; you can spot this tea towel in the airing cupboard pile of Christmas tea towels.  I bought it in November 2010 when I was doing my Christmas shopping in the Cotswolds.  I often find it easier to go away to a different part of the country to do my Christmas shopping – somewhere with interesting, independent shops where you can buy unique gifts that other people won’t be buying, something different.  If I set my mind on a short break, I can have a focussed Christmas shopping trip when I can complete everything, including wrapping all the presents and writing Christmas cards, within a weekend.  This, somehow, makes Christmas shopping interesting, fun, with the knowledge that I won’t be trying to do Christmas shopping every day of December.  For me, this is the short-cut to preparing for Christmas and enables me to be organised, with more time to spend with friends and family.

In 2010, I decided that Christmas shopping would take place in Stow-on-the-Wold, a good shopping venue – plenty of shops and plenty of tea rooms serving loose leaf tea. And I was right.  I did a lot of shopping but then moved on to Broadway, a few miles down the road where I bought this tea towel.  Broadway certainly lights up for Christmas; all the shops highly decorated and full of Christmas gifts.  I remember it was a joy walking up and down the Main Street, window shopping and, of course, it was at that point that I saw a shop where I knew there would be a potential for a tea towel.  I definitely have a sixth sense about this; I can spot a tea towel at a hundred yards.

If you are bored with trundling through all the big department stores and shopping centres doing Christmas shopping, then I would recommend you try one day in the Cotswolds and I bet you could complete your shopping list – whether you are looking for food, toys, china, clothing, jewellery, perfumes, household goods, books, train sets; there are shops to supply the lot.  And if you want a tea towel there are plenty of shops to meet that need too.  I remember the day we went was sunny, cold and crisp, starting with a heavy frost, which made it perfect for Christmas shopping and would definitely be a place that I would return to.

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The Christmas Collection

Christmas Tea Towel from Canada: 2009


This is one of my favourite tea towels from my Christmas collection, although as I look at it I can see that it is not necessarily a Christmas tea towel per se, maybe a seasonal one for winter.  It will, however, stay in my Christmas collection because it has a feel of Chrsitmas: snow-covered fir trees, snowflakes.  However, there are a lot of images that are associated with Canada – bears, maple trees and falling leaves, canoes, fish, the deck chairs that sit on the clapperboard porches of homes in rural towns.

I note the date printed on the bottom of the tea towel is 2002; I did, in fact, buy it when we went to Canada in 2009.  We were staying in Quebec and bought this tea towel in a gift shop opposite a small square where there were some young lads skateboarding; my goodness they were good and we sat and watched them for nearly an hour.

I like using this tea towel because it is very good quality cotton, thick material and very absorbant.  I like looking at the images on the tea towel and remembering the holidays that I have spent in Canada and thinking how much I would like to go back.

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Making Christmas Merrier since 1707: 2014


This is a beautiful Fortnum and Mason’s Christmas tea towel that I bought in the small Fortnum and Mason’s shop and tea room in St Pancras Station, in 2014.  Every year I go to the London Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery, in Queen’s Square for an outpatients appointment, regarding my epilepsy.  I have been going once or twice a year since 2003.  As long as I have the option of being seen by Professor Duncan, I will travel to London rather than being seen locally.  The appointments may only last 20 minutes but it is worth that journey to see one of the best consultants in the UK, with an international reputation.  It is only since attending the Queen’s Square Hospital that my seizures have been clearly identified and appropriate treatment given.  You can’t ask for more than that.  Epilepsy is often difficult to diagnose and treat; the journey has not been easy and the outcome has not been fully controlled seizures but my trips to London have been worth it for the improved quality of life it has given me.

My trips to Queen’s Square have meant I have been able to combine a hospital visit with ‘making a day of it’.  By travelling on the earliest possible train and going back at about 9pm, this gives me the chance to look around the shops, go to a matinee or visit a museum (or more likely, seek out some good tea rooms).  A visit to Camden Market or a trip on the London Eye have also been included in my day trips to London. I have to say one of my favourite places for a quick visit is Cosmo China on Cosmo Place, just off Queen’s Square.  They do some really quirky, hand-painted china by many different artists.  I have some lovely Christmas mugs and plates, which I have collected over the years. In 2014, my hospital visit was in late November so this was my chance to do some Christmas shopping.  I have to say that I could spend a whole day just at St Pancras Station.  I love it.  I love the atmosphere that comes with the EuroStar hub.  I like seeing the huge statue of two people saying goodbye and the much smaller John Betjemen statue.  I love the Champagne Bar and the St Pancras Hotel.  I could spend all day just wandering around shops like Hamleys, John Lewis (in miniature), Hatchards, Paperchase, M&S Food, Cath Kitson, some great perfume stores, clothes stores.  I like the fact that there is a piano in the main concourse which is open to any passing stranger to play.  You can hear some very talented players.  After a long day at the hospital, followed by a trip down Oxford Street for some Christmas shopping, I found my way back to St Pancras Station, and the Fortnum and Masons  Tea Room for some Devilled Kidneys and a pot of Queen Anne Blend tea.  Absolutely delightful.  But then out of the corner of my eye I saw a wicker hamper that was draped in tea towels, this tea towel.  Irresistible.  It is a beautiful teal colour with a scene of an outdoor ice-skating rink, surrounded by Christmas trees.  Fortnum and Masons have ‘sponsored’ a Christmas outdoor skating rink at Somerset House in London for many years and this tea towel celebrates that fact.

When I use this tea towel, I remember buying some great musical, biscuit tins from Fortnum and Masons which can be wound up to play ‘We wish you a merry Christmas…’ with some spicy Christmasy biscuits.  I also bought some Christmas tea ready for Christmas celebrations, which was great.  But best of all was the tea towel, certainly ‘making Christmas merrier’ for me!!

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Vermont, New England: 2008


We went to see New England in the Fall in 2008.  It was one of those holidays I had always dreamed about but always slightly hesitant that it might be a disappointment and not quite live up to expectations.  I shouldn’t have had doubts; it was a really brilliant holiday.  Was this going to be the year that the trees turned colour  late, or not at all?  I couldn’t believe the autumnal colours could be so vibrant, just like in the movies.  The colour spectrum of yellows, oranges, reds, russets, browns and a hundred shades of green were breath-taking.  What was charming about New England is that it was really full of small towns with white clapperboard houses and churches, vibrant communities welcoming tourists but not taken over by them.  I loved the New England food.  Clam Chowder has to be my favourite; you can guarantee fresh fish and and great home cooked food in New England.

The other thing that New England towns specialise in is Christmas shops – shops open all year round selling Christmas decorations and artefacts, often alongside other shabby chic and shaker-style furnishings.  In one shop I bought a Christmas tree decoration of a wooden lounger that you find on the porch of the clapper board houses; at another I bought a tiny bird house to hang on our tree.

I bought this tea towel in Wilmington, Vermont, a delightful town with a great ice cream bar – first thing I spotted and had a banana ice cream sundae.  There was a shop selling linen – tablecloths and napkins, towels, bed linen and, of course, tea towels.  This Christmas tea towel is very much understated, in two-tone green (although the photograph is deceptive and it looks blue), with Vermont written down the two long sides and some Christmas symbols – trees and snowflakes.  It is a lovely tea towel to use because it is made of soft and absorbant cotton – great for drying glasses and delicate china.

Using this tea towel brings back some wonderful memories of New England in the Fall – don’t let anyone persuade you that New England in the Fall isn’t as good as the publicity makes it out to be.  Well worth a visit, a visit of a lifetime.

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If I do the Christmas Stocking….: 2011


This is an Emma Bridgewater tea towel; Emma must have designed hundreds of tea towels of all sorts.  I was given this one as a Christmas Eve present by Liz.  I love the bartering simplicity of the message – ‘If I do the Christmas stockings please oh please will you do the washing up?’.  With a tea towel like this one, of course I would.  One of the good things about this tea towel is the size; it is larger than the average size tea towel – just what you need at Christmas.  What I like about this tea towel is that the Christmas Eve present-giving was something I introduced to Liz and she not only took it up with enthusiasm, she introduced it to her own daughter and grandchildren.  And in 2011, my Christmas Eve present from Liz was a tea towel.  What more could a girl ask for?

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