Category Archives: Christmas

Simple Christmas Cake

To easily make your Christmas cake, you can do no worse than buying a cake kit, I found one in Marks and Spencer for £13, all you had to add was butter, eggs and an orange.

After adding up the cost of the ingredients, it worked out cheaper to buy the cake kit.

I made the cake a month ago, and fed it once with some whisky and today was the day that I was going to decorate it with a simple design of a few snowmen. I have done a step-by-step guide for an easy Christmas cake to wow your friends and family!

I used the marzipan from the Marks and Spencer kit, but to keep to the theme of simplicity I used Dr Oetker Regal-Ice Ready Rolled Icing to cover the cake.

The next thing to do was to make the snowmen: these consist of a head, body, arms and legs and that’s it.

To make the eyes, just use a cocktail stick to wiggle a circle, then using black sugarpaste make small balls and after dabbing some water in the holes to make them stick, place the balls as eyes. For the nose, make a cylinder and place it on the face with a dab of water, the smile is created with a cocktail stick. You can have some fun making scarves, bowties, buttons, top hats, anything that takes your fancy!

Finished cake!!

You can add little snowballs, I used a snowflake cutter and holly leaf cutter and the cake sprinklings from the cake kit to decorate and finished with a light dusting of icing sugar for snow.

So there you have it, a simple Christmas cake which is fun, colourful and most importantly…. easy!

History of the Christmas Charts

The official charts began in 1952, but the contest for having the Christmas number one began in 1973 when Slade and Wizzard both released festive songs, which Slade won with Merry Xmas Everybody and Wizzard’s, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday reaching number four in the charts.

Between 2002 and 2014, the top spot at Christmas was dominated by reality singing competitions: Popstars: The Rivals and The X Factor. This trend was interrupted in 2009 by a Facebook campaign to prevent Joe McElderry, X Factor winner, from reaching number one, where people were urged to download Killing In The Name by Rage Against The Machine.

More recently, non-traditional acts releasing novelty songs have been successful, most notably YouTubers LadBaby, who raised money for the Trussell Trust.

The Beatles are the only group to have had four number ones, Paul McCartney has been at the top of the charts eight times with various acts. Cliff Richard has spent four Christmases at number one; two as a solo act, one with The Shadows and one as part of Band Aid II. The Spice Girls have had three consecutive number one, with Melanie C having a fourth with The Justice Collective. YouTubers Ladbaby have had three consecutive number ones.

Bohemium Rhapsody has reached the top twice at Christmas and Mary’s Boy Child the only song to have reached number one by two different artists. Do They Know It’s Christmas has been Christmas number one for three generations of Band Aid.

1952Al MartinoHere In My Heart
1953Frankie LaineAnswer Me
1954Winifred AtwellLet’s Have Another Party
1955Dickie ValentineChristmas Alphabet
1956Johnnie RayJust Walkin’ In The Rain
1957Harry BelafonteMary’s Boy Child
1958Conway TwittyIt’s Only Make Believe
1959Emile Ford & The CheckmatesWhat Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For
1960Cliff Richard & The ShadowsI Love You
1961Danny WilliamsMoon River
1962Elvis PresleyReturn To Sender
1963The BeatlesI Want To Hold Your Hand
1964The BeatlesI Feel Fine
1965The Beatles Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out
1966Tom JonesThe Green Grass Of Home
1967The BeatlesHello Goodbye
1968ScaffoldLily The Pink
1969Rolf HarrisTwo Little Boys
1970Dave EdmundsI Hear You Knockin’
1971Benny HillErnie (The Fastest Milkman In The West)
1972Little Jimmy OsmondLong Haired Lover From Liverpool
1973SladeMerry Xmas Everybody
1974MudLonely This Christmas
1975QueenBohemian Rhapsody
1976Johnny MathisWhen A Child Is Born
1977WingsMull Of Kintyre / Girls’ School
1978Boney MMary’s Boy Child – Oh My Lord
1979Pink FloydAnother Brick In The Wall
1980St Winifred’s School ChoirThere’s No One Quite Like Grandma
1981The Human LeagueDon’t You Want Me
1982Renee & RenatoSave Your Love
1983The Flying PicketsOnly You
1984Band AidDo They Know It’s Christmas?
1985Shakin’ StevensMerry Christmas Everyone
1986Jackie WilsonReet Petite
1987The Pet Shop BoysAlways On My Mind
1988Cliff Richard Mistletoe & Wine
1989Band Aid IIDo They Know It’s Christmas?
1990Cliff RichardSaviours’ Day
1991QueenBohemian Rhapsody / These Are The Days Of Our Lives
1992Whitney HoustonI Will Always Love You
1993Mr BlobbyMr Blobby
1994East 17Stay Another Day
1995Michael JacksonEarth Song
1996Spice Girls2 Become 1
1997Spice Girls Too Much
1998Spice GirlsGoodbye
1999Westlife I Have A Dream / Seasons In The Sun
2000Bob The BuilderCan We Fix It?
2001Robbie Williams & Nicole KidmanSomethin’ Stupid
2002Girls AloudSound Of The Underground
2003Michael Andrews featuring Gary JulesMad World
2004Band Aid 20Do They Know It’s Christmas?
2005Shayne Ward That’s My Goal
2006Leona LewisA Moment Like This
2007Leon JacksonWhen You Believe
2008Alexandra BurkeHallelujah
2009Rage Against The Machine Killing In The Name
2010Matt CardleWhen We Collide
2011Military Wives with Gareth MaloneWherever You Are
2012The Justice Collective He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
2013Sam BaileySkyscraper
2014Ben HaenowSomething I Need
2015The Lewisham & Greenwich NHS ChoirA Bridge Over You
2016Clean BanditRockabye
2017Ed SheeranPerfect
2018LadbabyWe Built This City
2019LadbabyI Love Sausage Rolls
2020LadbabyDon’t Stop Me Eatin’

My Top Five Christmas Pop Songs

It’s nearly time for those Christmas songs to be hitting the airwaves, or for the supermarkets to pipe them into the shop when you’re desperately searching for that packet of bread sauce. Christmas songs are their own breed, some stick around for years and years, some are hits just for that year and then fade away not be heard of again.

There are some Christmas songs which I groan when I hear them, or when I ask, “Alexa, play some Christmas songs,” and these end up on her playlist. Personally, the song that I don’t like hearing at Christmas is Do They Know It’s Christmas, controversial I know, but I think it’s because when it was released that’s all I heard and now I’m a bit fed up with it.

Anyway, so now you know my least favourite Christmas track, here’s a list of my top five.

Number Five: Stop the Cavalry – Jona Lewie

This record peaked in the British charts at number three in December, 1980, it was kept from number one by two re-issued John Lennon songs, who had been murdered on 8 December. Jona Lewie states that this was never meant to be a Christmas song, it was in fact a protest song, but the line, “Wish I was at home for Christmas,” and the brass band accompaniment made it sound like a song to be played around Christmas time.

Why do I like this song?

I love the tempo of this song and can’t resist joining in with the Dub-a-dub-a-dum-dums whenever I hear this song.

Number Four: Step Into Christmas – Elton John

Written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, it was released as a stand-alone single with the aptly titled B side: Ho Ho Ho (Who’d Be A Turkey At Christmas?). It was the ninth most played Christmas song of the noughties in the UK and its highest chart position was number 8 in 2019 and 2020. The video had a cameo appearance of Taupin, and showed Elton John holding a Watford F.C. supporter’s card, he later went on to own the club.

Why do I like this song?

It’s a lively song and one which I can’t help singing along to.

Number Three: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday – Wizzard
Merry Xmas Everybody – Slade

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday was released in 1973 and was beaten to the number one spot by, yes, you’ve guessed it, Merry Christmas Everybody. Both records have entered the charts almost every year since their release and have each been covered by numerous artists including Robbie Williams, Oasis, Spice Girls, Kylie Minogue and Girls Aloud. There was no promotional video for Merry Xmas Everyone, with Slade preferring to promote the song on Christmas television programmes.

Why do I like these songs?

Who could not like these songs? I grew up listening to these songs during the festive period and what Christmas party isn’t complete without a drunken dance to these classics?

Number Two: All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

The best selling Christmas song by a female artist, reportedly earning $60 million in royalties. It was number one in most countries, although it didn’t reach the top of the charts in the UK until 2020. The song also featured on the British film Love Actually. The clip below is from the film sung by Olivia Olson.

Why Do I Like This Song?

This is the song that when you sing it, you realise that you can’t sing, but you still give it a good go. It doesn’t lose its freshness and vibrancy.

Number One: Last Christmas – Wham!

Last Christmas was released in December, 1984 and was prevented from reaching number one by Band Aid’s, Do They Know It’s Christmas! Which ironically brings me back to the song I like least to hear at Christmas! This song spent five weeks at number two, but eventually reached number one in 2021, making it the longest journey to number one since Tony Christie’s (Is This The Way To) Amarillo.

Why do I like this song?

George’s vocals, the great video, it’s Christmas all wrapped up. When I hear this song, I am totally filled with Christmas spirit!

Honourable mentions:

Yes, I know I said it was one of my least favourite Christmas songs, but it was the fastest selling single in UK history and it did raise a lot of money for famine relief, so here it is, Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid.

Bournemouth Christmas Tree Wonderland



Amount of time spent there:

We were there for about an hour and a half.

Suggested Christmas Tree Trail

My Review:

We try and do something each year to celebrate the holiday season. For a few years we went to the London Palladium to watch the pantomime and then walk around London to see the Christmas lights, another year we went to Longleat Festival of Lights, but due to Covid, obviously last year we didn’t do anything. So this year, we decided to go to Bournemouth, which is about a 45 minute drive from us and we took our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren to the Christmas Tree Wonderland.

We arrived at Bournemouth at about 6:15 PM, after inexplicably getting lost, even though we’ve driven to Bournemouth numerous times! The first stop was to get some fish and chips and where better to go than Harry Ramsden’s. We had a lovely meal there, the batter really is very light and tasty!

So then it was time to wander through the Christmas Tree Wonderland…

There were an array of different lighted up Christmas trees, with a few other displays as well including a reindeer, polar bear and, of course, the main man himself, Father Christmas.

We walked around the park, it was lovely to see Harry’s face as he saw each Christmas tree, he’s nearly three, so just beginning to understand what happens this time of year. He loved the bright lights and excitedly ran from one display to the next.

At the end of the park, we came across an ice rink and we stopped to watch the would-be Torvill and Deans, skating around a fairly huge ice rink. There was the usual people hanging onto the sides, gingerly making their way around the rink, and I have to say, that would be me, skating is definitely not my thing!

View of the ice rink

You need to pre-book the ice rink, there are sessions of an hour each, from 10:30 AM until 20:30 PM throughout the day and prices are:

ADULT -£12.50 CHILD – £10.50 SENIOR CITIZEN – £11.50 and FAMILY – £41.00

A quick look around the stands in the city centre, which were mainly food outlets and we headed back into the park to walk along the back path where there were even more displays to see.

Gingerbread men, one of Harry’s favourite biscuits!

One last stop at the Carousel, it cost £3 per person, but it seemed to go round forever. Harry chose his horse and held on tight!

Gee up Neddy or Coleen!

We were very impressed with Bournemouth’s light display, it must have cost the council a lot of money to stage this and for it all to be free as well is wonderful.

Top Five Comedy Christmas Films

It’s about this time of year that I start to watch the Christmas films that are being shown on channels such as Christmas 24, True Christmas and Hallmark.  There is something comforting about the format of these films: girl has to come back to home town, boy is there whom she doesn’t get on with, some kind of parade, cookie competition or nativity play has to be organised by Christmas Eve, couple get thrown together and fight against each other, after a few obstacles couple find out that they really love each other and get engaged on Christmas Eve!

This has made me think about my top five comedy Christmas films and I came up with the list below, I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but these are my go to Christmas comedy movies for when the decorations are up, Christmas tree lights twinkling, with a cup of hot chocolate and a tin of Quality Street.

Firstly, number five is Elf, 2003 film starring Will Ferrell and James Caan.

elfDid you know?  Jim Carrey was originally asked to portray Buddy, but he turned down the role.

Film summary:  Buddy, is a regular-sized man who was raised as an elf by Santa Claus. When Buddy is told that he’s not a real elf, he decides to head back to his place of birth, New York City in search of his biological family.

Favourite part: When Buddy sees that Father Christmas at Gimbels is not real, stating, “You sit on a throne of lies.”

At number four is The Muppet Christmas Carol, 1992 film starring Michael Caine and of course, the cast of the Muppets.

muppetsDid you know?  This film was dedicated to the memory of Muppet’s creator, Jim Henson who died during pre-production.

Film summary: A retelling of the classic Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, miser extraordinaire. He is hld accountable for his dastardly ways during the night-time visits by the Ghosts of Christmas Past Present and Future.

Favourite part: When the two rats are lighting up the lampposts and one is accidentally set on fire, “Light the Lamp, not the Rat!”

Number three is Christmas With The Kranks, 2004 film starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis.

kranksDid you know? This was based on the book, Skipping Christmas, written by John Grisham who is usually known for writing thrillers like The Pelican Brief, The Firm and The Client.

Film summary: With their daughter away, the Kranks decide to skip Christmas altogether until she decides to come home, causing an uproar when they have to celebrate the holiday at the last minute.

Favourite part: Luther has some botox and then meets Nora for lunch, but he can’t eat anything as his face won’t move and he tries different techniques, nearly choking himself in the process.

Number two is Jingle All The Way, 1996 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad.

jingleDid you know? The Parade took three weeks to film with 1,500 extras being used and three custom built floats.

Film summary: A father vows to get his son a Turbo Man action figure for Christmas. However, every store is sold out of them, and he must travel all over town and compete with everybody else in order to find one.

Favourite part: When Howard is in the warehouse and ends up fighting with the Santas, plenty of slapstick fighting which is very funny.

My number one film is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989 film starring Chevy Chase and Beverley D’Angelo.

national-lampoonDid you know? This film originated from a short story by writer John Hughes called Christmas ’59 and was published in the December 1980 issue of National Lampoon magazine.

Film summary: It’s Christmas time and the Griswolds are preparing for a family seasonal celebration, but things never run smoothly for Clark, his wife Ellen and their two kids. Clark’s continual bad luck is worsened by his obnoxious family guests, but he manages to keep going knowing that his Christmas bonus is due soon.

Favourite part: All of it!

So there you go, I hope you enjoyed my list of five favourite Christmas comedy films – have I missed yours, if so, let me know which it is by commenting below.