Sunday, 29 December 2013

The One With Bob Monkhouse

As many of you know I am a comedy nut. I have lived, breathed, written, performed, watched, listened to and studied comedy since I was a kid.

One of my earliest memories is of my Dad passing off two classic Morecambe and Wise gags off as his own; the paper bag trick and the almost compulsory urge to say "he won't sell much ice cream going at that speed" every time we heard a siren go past. 

Living, as we do, within earshot of the local hospital, I have said this to the boy ever since he was baby. This led to an awkward moment at nursery when, in the boys learning journal, they had written that when he picked up a toy ambulance he said it was an ice cream van. There was a note to discuss the difference with him. I told them not to worry as I knew why he'd done it.

I've literally never been so proud.

So this brings me to Uncle Bob. 

I loved Bob Monkhouse and his comedy. 10 years ago today he died from prostate cancer, so to commemorate this I have written an article for the British Comedy Guide all about the great man. 

It's been a great honour and privilege to do so and I hope you enjoy reading it.

British Comedy Guide - Bob Monkhouse Remembered 'Bob's Your Uncle'

"They laughed when I said I was going to be a comedian. Well, they're not laughing now."

We miss you Bob. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

The One With Christmas in July

There's only 14 sleeps left and it'll all be over.

I'm talking about the big C word.

Yes Christmas! With a fortnight to go things are really hotting up in the run up to the big day. Yet how many times do you hear people say?

‘It'll soon all be over.’


‘Lets get Christmas out of the way first.’

Or something similar and frankly quite negative.

I on the other hand adore Christmas and never want it to be over. The lead up to it is particularly exciting and my favourite time of the year.

So starting my run up to Christmas in the summer, by being invited to the Tesco Christmas in July launch of their seasonal lines, was a special treat.

Off I went to fancy London to an even fancier 5 star hotel, The Westbury Hotel, which was a beautiful setting (and had Molton Brown hand wash in the loo's – always a sign of quality) to immerse myself in festive fun. The fact that it was 30 degrees in the shade and Andy Murray was in the semi finals at Wimbledon that day didn't deter me.

Walking into the room I entered a winter wonderland. Now I love Christmas but even I had to take a sharp intake of breath at the sight that greeted me. 

These are actually made of meringue 

There was everything you could ever wish for,  decorations, toys, gifts, beauty even Christmas touches for the garden and of course food! Lots and lots of food, which is where I gravitated and pretty much stayed for the whole morning.

Gifts in food are big this Christmas, as well as food where a lot of the hard work has been done for you and you just need to add the final touches at home. This ham with oranges, which serves 20 and you cook in a bag then add the fruit, fills the kitchen with gorgeous festive smells. It tasted yummy too. Oh yes there were samples on offer. 

Or this baking brie where you add the fruit topping.

All the buyers were very knowledgable about their area of food expertise and as you can imagine I was very keen to stand and chat to them for as long as possible, especially when they had samples to taste. Or get all over you. I'd only been there half and hour and somehow I managed to tread on some pate. It's a skill being as messy as I am.

I have to say all the food looked amazing and in the next two weeks it's the busiest time for stocking up the larder, the fridge and freezer for all the roasting and feasting that lies ahead. 

Hoping hubby isn't reading this I fully intend to get him this continental meat platter, which comes with the wooden board, as a stocking filler but what I really wanted to get him was 
the Italian prosciutto 10 months matured ham, which not only comes with it's own stand but it's own carving knife and an instruction DVD! Seriously! 

Unfortunately it was out of my price range at £75 and I'm probably too late to order it in now anyway. However every year hubby and I promise ourselves we're going to buy a 'comedy ham' for Christmas - you know the kind of thing - the sort that looks like Tom is going to chase Jerry with it - with a leg end to hold and a massive white circle of bone running through it. 

This beauty may well be on our Christmas list next year!

Desserts are big this Christmas too, which is a bonus for me. I can just about knock up a trifle but, although I pride myself on being a reasonable cook, if it doesn't start with an onion I'm lost, so I often buy in a dessert.

These boozy jellies flavoured with Bucks Fizz, White Russian and Strawberries and Champagne are perfect for a dinner party with the adults on Christmas Eve after the children have, eventually, gone to bed.

For Christmas day itself this Morello cherry and dark chocolate parcel would be a stunning alternative to a Christmas pud. 

I pretty much concentrated on the food area but in the other areas of the event the styling was wonderful, either pure white winter wonderland or the red and white of Scandi Style, which I have to say is my favourite.

The feel was very traditional with a twist, the twist being that the stylists take on gingerbread houses was to construct them from old fashioned biscuits. The kind that I remember from the 'Family Circle' tin at Christmas. So we had custard creams, nice and jammy dodgers made into elaborate fairytale houses bedecked with red and white striped candy cane roofs. 

I would love to try and replicate this look at home, but I fear my 'styling' skills are more of a case of hope over any actual skill. If I did manage to get my house looking 'on trend' what the boy didn't destroy, the cat would wee over, so I'll be leaving the biscuit houses to the professionals but I have gone all red and white Scandi this year which is so effective but simple to do. 

Some bloggers had brought their children with them to the event, which was lovely to see but extremely brave. My boy would've have trashed the place in 30 seconds flat, and it was a big room!

All in all I had an amazing day out thanks to Tesco. Re-visiting all my notes and pictures this week has certainly got me in the mood for my Christmas food shopping.

If you want more inspiration for Christmas ideas then visit and have a very Merry Christmas.